(UPI) — Net neutrality rules expired Monday, following a vote last year by the Federal Communications Commission to end the protections.
The rules, enacted during the Obama administration in 2015, oblige Internet service providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to enable access of all content and applications, regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said the FCC overextended its authority when it imposed the regulations. The end of protections comes as House Democrats press for a resolution to reinstate the 2015 rules.
Proponents of net neutrality argue that withdrawing the protections allows major service providers the opportunity to raise costs and limit online access. Thus far, 22 states, the District of Columbia and several web companies have sued to overturn the decision made in December by the Republican-led FCC board of commissioners.
While some states have begun creation of their own net neutrality rules, the FCC repeal order blocks individual states from instituting them. Further court showdowns are expected, The Hill reported on Monday.
“I don’t think anything gets better for consumers,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the five-person commission. “Consumers want an open Internet. They don’t want their broadband providers blocking websites or censoring content, and this agency gave broadband providers the legal right to do so. I think that’s crazy.”
Pai has said that Internet access for consumers will become cheaper and faster with the overhaul of the rules. Under the new plan, the Federal Trade Commission will police Internet service providers. Companies offering broadband service must disclose their web-traffic management practices so regulators can identify anti-competitive practices.
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