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Understanding what repealing net neutrality protections means for consumer privacy and internet freedom is essential, even for casual surfers. After Ajit Pai and the FCC voted to remove Obama-era net neutrality rules in 2017, American internet users lost several consumer protections. Internet service providers (ISPs) also have fewer guardrails to prevent bad business practices. So, stick around to learn what the repeal of net neutrality means for the average internet user.
For more information, read up on what net neutrality means, what issues it has, and what the Data Protection Act covers.
You can use a VPN to bypass throttling and content blocks from your internet provider.
The 2015 Obama-era regulations reclassified internet providers to Title II, which put them under the same rules as a telephone service. Advocates for internet accessibility and freedom of speech applauded the 3-2 vote.
Under the net neutrality laws, broadband providers could not censor websites, lawful content, or non-harmful devices. Additionally, broadband service providers could not throttle the quality of service for specific websites, activities, or online content applications. Lastly, federal rules prevented companies from paying for prioritized broadband internet speeds.
The FCC repealed the Obama-era net neutrality rules in 2017 and reclassified internet access service providers under Title I. Proponents of the repeal claimed that fewer regulations would deliver a better internet economy and broadband investment. That said, multiple consumer advocacy groups have pointed out multiple questionable actions from post-regulation ISPs.
Broadband internet service providers have throttled internet traffic to major websites and streaming video platforms. Without net neutrality protections, ISPs can reduce speeds to competing services while providing high speeds for their own content platforms.
Some ISPs currently offer internet “fast lanes” for gamers and high-bandwidth internet users. Forcing users to pay for network prioritization was illegal under the 2015 FCC neutrality regulations. The lack of regulation also allows for larger websites to pay for better service while small companies lose consumer access.
Broadband companies can throttle your high-speed internet if you visit bandwidth-hungry websites or consistently download large files.
ISPs can charge consumers modem rental fees whether the customer uses the modem or not. Additionally, there are fewer protections for how companies monetize customer data and analytics. Without net neutrality protections, ISPs can split the internet like cable companies split up cable TV bundles.
STAT: A 2019 Pew Research Center survey found that 81% of Americans felt they had little control over the data that companies collect. (source)