It’s Done! Net Neutrality Protections Ending on April 23

Rafia Shaikh
net neutrality ftc fcc
GOP congressman introduces new bill to reinstate net neutrality protections (Illustration: The Verge)

After Ajit Pai-led Federal Communications Commission decided to repeal net neutrality rules, the Commission has today announced that the repeal will go into effect on April 23. The date was revealed after the agency's order to revoke net neutrality protections was published in the Federal Register earlier this morning.

The repeal removes critical protections against the wishes of millions of citizens who made their voices heard but were ignored by the agency. For what it's worth, after today it will become possible for opponents to take action as the new rules weren't exactly official until now. As now these rules legally exist, expect to see a number of lawsuits, congressional reviews, and more.

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What happens after net neutrality...

After April 23, it will become legal for ISPs to offer fast lanes, throttle connections, and potentially censor whatever they don't like on the internet. [For a quick glimpse on what activities ISPs exactly engaged in before net neutrality rules were passed, take a look at our earlier timeline]

Experts have warned that along with the end user, startups will also suffer because they won't be able to afford to compete against tech giants who can pay for the fast lanes. There is also the danger of ISP-approved content and services, which means if Verizon, for example, starts offering a service that competes against a startup (or even a tech giant, for that matter), they won't have any chance at success. ISPs would also be able to charge customers a premium for certain types of content or block access to certain sites if they wish.

However, all of this was communicated to the FCC before the repeal. It should also be noted that none of this will actually start happening right after April 23. The internet will change but in subtle ways that might not make it to breaking news all the time, but will certainly be more than enough to change the open internet as we know it.

As for legal actions, until April 23, those who oppose the repeal won't stay silent as the attorney general of New York is suing the commission with support from more states and groups coming in. The move has also been opposed by major tech companies and leaders.

The upcoming "Restoring Internet Freedom" order (available here) will kill the net neutrality protections in their entirety and put the Federal Trade Commission in charge of any enforcement of anti-competitive internet practices. However, as the FTC had itself said by the time it will take any action, much of the damage would have already been done by the ISPs. "It might take years before the agency could get a court order halting the [mal]practice," FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny had said.

"During that time, the dominant ISP could continue to discriminate against its rival, potentially driving it out of business. At the end of the day, the dominant ISP might lose the antitrust suit and yet still wind up better off."

- How Much ISPs Paid to the Lawmakers Who Support NetNeutrality Repeal

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