Net Neutrality is About to Revert to Pre-2015 State

Okay, ISPs, but you have to super-pinky-promise not to throttle Netflix.

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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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  • reply
    April 7, 2017 11:45 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Net Neutrality is About to Revert to Pre-2015 State

    • reply
      April 7, 2017 4:39 PM

      It was nice using Netflix while we could. <sniff>

      • reply
        April 7, 2017 4:43 PM

        remember re-downloading games with impunity? syncing things to the cloud? yeah.

        • reply
          April 7, 2017 4:44 PM

          Well, we can still do those things. Overnight. Downhill. With the wind at your back.

          Oh, and turn your headlines off if you're doing it at night.

        • reply
          April 7, 2017 5:30 PM

          I have Comcast, so no, actually.

    • reply
      April 9, 2017 11:31 AM

      This change is even more ominous now that ISPs are getting into the streaming service business left and right. Which is not surprising. It's not just to try to get some of that money back from cord cutters and trimmers. It's an easy way to get new business in areas where they don't have a physical presence. No need to hassle with local politicians, apply and wait for pole rights and permissions, and lay miles of cable when you can just beam your TV service in using the local ISPs in the area.

      But where they *do* have a physical presence it gives them back the ability to throttle their chief competition - Netflix and Amazon, or charge them extra for the bandwidth they are already paying for on the front end. Which of course will get passed on to you know who.