The US has officially repealed rules that governed the way Internet service providers treated the data that travels across their networks. The FCC said the repeal does away with “unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations” and replaces them with “common-sense regulations” that will promote investment and broadband deployment, suggesting it is returning to the successful, bipartisan framework that helped the Internet grow and flourish for two decades prior to 2015, and that the light-touch approach will protect consumers and deliver better, faster, cheaper Internet access and more competition to consumers.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said repealing the rules would be good for consumers because it would lift regulations that stopped some telecoms companies investing.
While the move was supported by the telecom industry, it has been srongly opposed by others. Various advocacy groups are still pushing to save the rules through legislation and litigation.
Net neutrality looks set to partially live on regardless, as some US states are enacting legislation that will require telecoms companies operating in their territories to abide by similar laws. Washington’s law on treating data equally went into force as the federal rules expired. And three other states, California, Illinois and New York plan to pass their own versions soon.
In addition, the FCC is facing legal challenges from consumer rights groups and some state Attorneys General over its decision. The US Congress also plans to debate a motion to overturn the FCC decision.