Net neutrality is done for in the US as of early next month.
The Federal Communication Commission’s rules protecting consumers from discriminatory behavior by ISPs are officially scheduled to come off the books on June 11th. The final portion of the order revoking the rules is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow and will go into effect 30 days later. An FCC spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that there would be no net neutrality rules as of June 11th.
The FCC has chosen to replace its popular net neutrality rules with next to nothing. Instead of having rules that stop internet providers from dividing the internet up into fast and slow lanes and prioritizing their own content, the new order allows internet providers to block, throttle, and prioritize content if they want to. The only real rule standing in their way is that they have to publicly disclose any of this behavior.
While there have been some last-minute attempts to block the repeal of net neutrality, chances are exceedingly slim that they’ll make it through. Ultimately, the legislature and executive branch are controlled by Republicans who largely dislike the rules and want ISPs to be able to do what they want with internet traffic. The FCC’s current leader believes that by allowing ISPs more flexibility, they’ll be able to make more money, and therefore will be more likely to extend service to areas of the US that aren’t currently profitable to reach.
While net neutrality may be on its way out, many of its core tenets probably aren’t going to be gone for good. There’s growing consensus among legislators that something needs to be done to address net neutrality. And some have viewed the FCC’s revocation of the rules as a way to force Congress’ hand.
Chances are, no net neutrality law is going to be passed in any kind of timely manner. Congress has a lot of higher priority items to get to and a major partisan divide. And whenever Congress does get around to addressing net neutrality, it isn’t clear that the ultimate law will be as strong as what the FCC has on the books today (and is about to get rid of). But it at least means that net neutrality advocates’ fight is going to continue, and the only next step seems to be for Congress to come up with a final answer.