US regulator votes to restore net neutrality rules

Lindsay Chestnut of Baltimore holds a sign that reads "I like My Internet Like I Like my Country: Free & Open".
Lindsay Chestnut of Baltimore holds a sign that reads "I like My Internet Like I Like my Country: Free & Open". Copyright AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File
Copyright AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File
By Euronews with AP
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The move effectively reinstates a net neutrality order the commission first issued in 2015.


A US regulator voted on Thursday to restore "net neutrality" rules which prevent internet providers from favouring certain websites over others.

The move will bring back "a national standard to ensure the internet is fast, open, and fair," the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Thursday.

It restores an order that was first issued in 2015 under the Obama administration and later repealed under the Trump administration.

The measure passed Thursday on a 3-2 vote split along party lines, with Democratic commissioners in favour and Republicans opposed.

Net neutrality requires internet service providers to treat all traffic equally, banning them from "paid prioritisation" of certain content.

The public interest group Public Knowledge describes net neutrality as “the principle that the company that connects you to the internet does not get to control what you do on the internet".

'Broadband now an essential service'

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement that during the pandemic it "became clear that no matter who you are or where you live, you need broadband to have a fair shot at digital age success".

"It went from nice-to-have to need-to-have for everyone, everywhere. Broadband is now an essential service. Essential services – the ones we count on in every aspect of modern life – have some basic oversight," she added.

The FCC said the vote would allow the regulator to monitor internet service outages as well.

But the move isn't expected to noticeably change users' experience.

Public Knowledge legal director John Bergmayer credits that to several states having passed their own net neutrality measures before 2015, all of which remained in force when the FCC reversed course two years later after Trump's election.

“Some of the absolute worst excesses from (internet providers) were kept in check by state-level oversight,” Bergmayer said.

The telecommunications industry opposed the reintroduction of the federal rules, as it has before, declaring them an example of unnecessary government interference in business decisions.

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