Net Neutrality Regulations in US

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers treat all data on the Internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication [1].

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The rules, enacted by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2015, prohibited internet providers from charging more for certain content or from giving preferential treatment to certain websites. The original rules laid out a regulatory plan that addressed a rapidly changing internet. Under those regulations, broadband service was considered a utility under Title II of the Communications Act, giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broad power over internet providers. The rules prohibited the following practices [3]:

Blocking: Internet service providers could not discriminate against any lawful content by blocking websites or apps.

Throttling: Service providers could not slow the transmission of data because of the nature of the content, as long as it was legal.

Paid Prioritization: Service providers could not create an internet fast lane for companies and consumers who paid premiums, and a slow lane for those who didn’t.

Net neutrality in the United States has been a point of conflict between network users and service providers since the 1990s. Ajit Pai, the FCC’s chairman, has long opposed the regulations, saying they impede innovation [2]. Mr. Pai argued that the repeal was good for consumers because it restored the Federal Trade Commission’s authority over internet service providers. On the other hand, the advocates of net neutrality argue that keeping the internet an open playing field is crucial for innovation. If broadband providers pick favorites online, new companies and technologies might never have the chance to grow. For example, had internet providers blocked or severely limited video streaming in the mid-2000s, we might not have Netflix or YouTube today [4]. Other advocates highlight the importance of net neutrality to free expression: a handful of large telecommunications companies dominate the broadband market, which puts an enormous amount of power into their hands to suppress particular views or limit online speech to those who can pay the most.

On 14 December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal these net neutrality regulations. On June 11, 2018 the landmark U.S. net neutrality rules expired and new regulations gave broad power to service providers regarding how consumers can access the internet. In short: the FCC would allow network owners (Verizon, Comcast, etc.) to create Internet “fast lanes” for companies (Disney, The Atlantic) that pay them more.

After the commission voted to repeal the rules in December, it faced a public outcry, legal challenges from state attorneys general and public interest groups, and a push by Democratic lawmakers to overturn the decision. The opponents argued that the repeal would open the door for service providers to censor content online or charge additional fees for better service, something that could hurt small companies, and several states have taken steps to impose the rules on a local level. Many consumer advocates argued that once the rules were scrapped, broadband providers would begin selling the internet in bundles, not unlike cable television packages.

For instance, if a user wants access to Facebook and Twitter, under a bundling system, getting on those sites could require paying for a premium social media package. Another major concern is that consumers could suffer from pay-to-play deals [5]. Without rules prohibiting paid prioritization, a fast lane could be occupied by big internet and media companies, as well as affluent households, while everyone else would be left in the slow lane.

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Net Neutrality Regulations In US. (2019, Apr 11). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from

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