US regulator scraps net neutrality rules that protect an open internet

The move will have a huge effect on the way the internet works.

US media regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have ended net neutrality.

The decision was made today (December 14) at a meeting in Washington, with a vote of three to two to scrap the net neutrality rules that were put in place back in 2015, to protect an open internet. The decision was announced by FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who was brought in shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, back in January.

Net neutrality prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from giving preference to certain sites’ traffic, and ensuring they treat all sites equally. Without it, providers can effectively divide up the internet, deciding which sites to give preferential treatment to, potentially based on whoever can afford to pay them more. This could stifle smaller business and startups who simply don’t have the funds to pay their way to the top.

So, how might this affect you? Say, for example, you use Netlix, but your ISP has a deal with Amazon Video. They could deliberately slow connections to Netflix, causing you to give up and move to a site (most likely Amazon Video) that actually loads at a decent rate, as you’re probably more likely to do that than change your ISP.

The move also has massive implications for free speech – if a service provider doesn’t like what a certain site is saying, they can slow traffic to it.

“The consequences will be particularly devastating for marginalized communities media outlets have misrepresented or failed to serve,” writes protest group Save the Internet.

“People of color, the LGBTQ community, indigenous peoples and religious minorities in the United States rely on the open internet to organize, access economic and educational opportunities, and fight back against systemic discrimination.”

Internet service providers welcomed the change, saying it will help them get more revenue to provide a better service, while online companies like Reddit have previously protested against scrapping net neutrality.

Save the Internet has started a petition calling for members of congress to pass a “resolution of disapproval” reversing the FCC’s vote. The petition can be viewed here.