What Does the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean?

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Updated January 5, 2023

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.


  • Without net neutrality, internet service providers (ISPs) can block legal content and websites on First Amendment grounds.
  • ISPs can provide paid network prioritization for customers and online businesses.
  • ISPs can lock specific apps and online services behind a paywall, just like a cable company that provides TV channel packages.

For more information, read up on what net neutrality means, what issues it has, and what the Data Protection Act covers.

Insider Tip

You can use a VPN to bypass throttling and content blocks from your internet provider.

What Do Network Neutrality Rules Do?

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.

What Did the Net Neutrality Repeal Do?

The FCC repealed the Obama-era net neutrality rules in 2017 and reclassified internet access service providers under Title I. Proponents of the repeal claimed that fewer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.

Throttled Internet Traffic

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.

Prioritized Internet Connections

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.

Limited Consumer Protections

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)

What Does the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean FAQs

What countries have net neutrality rules?

Over a dozen countries have net neutrality protections for their citizens and businesses. The EU, Japan, South Korea, and Switzerland have net neutrality protections, among others. While each nation’s rules vary to some degree, they usually aim to ensure an open and fair internet within their borders.

Does the US have net neutrality?

As of 2022, there have been multiple attempts at net neutrality legislation, but they haven’t reached a vote in the House. After the 2017 repeal, the United States only has net neutrality rules at the state level. Additionally, the federal government under the Biden administration has stopped challenging state-level network neutrality legislation.

Can ISPs block websites?

Without FCC regulation, internet providers can block lawful internet traffic and other online content. Sometimes, ISPs are legally required to block access to internet content like illicit sites and illegal streaming platforms. Lastly, ISPs have First Amendment protections to block anything they choose.
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