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Net Neutrality Repeal: the end of an open and free internet?

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is all over the news. Those who follow my social media posts will understand that I believe net neutrality is one of the most important challenges facing the technology community since the invention of the internet. There are arguments on both sides. Proponents of net neutrality argue that the concept facilitates a free and open internet for all users as opposed to only the big corporations. Those opposed to the net neutrality regulations believe that less government regulation will actually open up competition in the sector and ultimately benefit the end consumers.

Irish Legal News recently interviewed me to explain to its readers what the repeal of the net neutrality protections in the U.S. could mean for users around the world. You can read the full interview here.

Since that interview, President Trump’s nominee for Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, has successfully led the charge to abolish net neutrality in the U.S. On 14 December a majority of the FCC voted in favour of repealing net neutrality. In effect, this unwound Obama Administration-era legislation that regulated the internet like a utility, similar to gas or electric companies. The repeal means there will no longer be protections against ISPs blocking content, slowing down access or charging for accessing certain premium content.

Time will tell if the FCC’s ruling is final and what, if anything, it means for internet users the UK and Ireland. The FCC has received 22 millions pieces of correspondence on the changes. A bill has been presented to the U.S. Senate by Democratic Senators, which aims to reverse the repeal. Mr Pai has had to cancel a scheduled talk at the The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas due to threats from activists. The FCC may also face legal action trying to overturn its decision. With all of this in play it will be interesting to watch the developments unfold over the next few months.

 

Photo credit: Pixabay

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