The end of net neutrality is here

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Monday, that repeal went into effect.

Net neutrality was created to prevent internet providers from blocking, speeding up, or slowing down access to specific online services. "These positive and profound benefits of a free and open internet - among many others - are here to stay".

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you've heard about the impending death of net neutrality. One specific fear is that smaller companies and startups will not have the same opportunities to grow if ISPs can pick and choose companies and services to favor in what is called "paid prioritization". With startups unable to pay for these lanes, there is no chance that small, unsupported entrepreneurs will turn into future Snapchats or Facebooks, as this repeal only preserves the monopoly that the handful of tech giants now enjoys along with the powers of a few ISPs.

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said the agency under Obama overstepped its authority when it imposed the 2015 regulations. Those Obama-era rules prevented ISPs from blocking or slowing legal traffic, or from being paid for prioritized, faster delivery.

"The people really want a free and open internet", Hansen said. "The Internet is coming for net neutrality".

He wrote that the biggest USA internet companies - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft - controlled much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to almost all of the online ad business. Some states are creating their own net neutrality rules, but are barred by the FCC from implementing them.

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But while ISPs think they've scored a major victory here by convincing Ajit Pai and the Trump FCC to ignore the public, ignore the experts, and cuddle up to telecom duopolies, this policy middle finger aimed squarely at consumers is likely to result in a policy and political backlash they're going to be navigating for years. AT&T has had a contract with Netflix since 2014, but they don't have a contract with Hulu. Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC's rollback of net neutrality, Internet providers have the legal green light, the technical ability, and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate what we see, read, and learn online. Yet critics say companies are likely to invest simply because they now believe they can ramp up prices and earn more money from consumers and websites. Over 20 state attorneys have filed lawsuits to block the repeal.

Broadband providers "remain committed to the principles under which internet innovation has thrived", Mr. Spalter said. For example, an ISP could charge a base fee for basic internet, and $5 extra for a social media package that includes Facebook and Twitter, or a $10 entertainment package that bundles in streaming music as well.

But both of these approaches are expected to lead to court challenges by the FCC, whose new policy on net neutrality contains explicit language that tries to preempt states from doing exactly what the legislation and executive orders are meant to do.

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