Net Neutrality is About to Revert to Pre-2015 State

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has shared more details on his plans to change net neutrality rules, which will essentially revert to their state before a 2015 order that defined ISPs as common carriers. That will keep net neutrality intact, but give enforcement back to the Federal Trade Commission. 

The Verge reports that giving control to the FTC would mean Internet service providers would pledge to follow basic net neutrality principles, with FTC punishments coming to those who break their pledge. Currently, ISPs are defined under Title 2 of the Communications Act. This rule change would end that practice, because the FTC can't investigate "common carriers" as defined by the current law. 

Net neutrality is especially important to gamers and other tech power-users who tend to make heavy use of bandwidth. Net neutrality prevents ISPs from throttling traffic based on the source. For example, if an ISP also owns a cable company, net neutrality rules prevent it from throttling traffic from competing web companies like Netflix. The 2015 decision was a step towards making net neutrality rules more permanent by making them subject to the same strictures as traditional telecoms like phone companies–but Republicans in general, and Pai in particular, have opposed the move, saying it's an example of the FCC overreaching its authority.

For the time being, net neutrality appears to be mostly safe. The FTC will continue to enforce the rules, and ideally, the threat of punishment will keep ISPs in-line. The move does leave an opening for companies to push further, however, so we're likely to see a political battle when the rule changes become official.

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