Your internet use could change as 'net neutrality' ends

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This isn't something that ISPs did before net neutrality rules took effect, and proponents of the repeal argue that the open market will work itself without the rules in place. The repeal takes effect Monday. But unlike with the issues of blocking or slowing access to internet services, they've been much less definitive on fast lanes.

Most notably, the repeal removes the Title II classification of broadband internet that put it in line with essential utilities like electricity. The intention was to keep the internet open and fair. In other words, no speeding up, slowing down or blocking specific websites or online services. Instead, the agency will only require providers to publicly disclose how they treat internet traffic, and will leave it up to the Federal Trade Commission to make sure they are doing what they said and aren't being anticompetitive.

FILE PHOTO: Chairman Ajit Pai speaks ahead of the vote on the repeal of so called net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2017.

Net neutrality advocates have heard that argument before and don't buy it. "Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC's rollback of Net Neutrality, Internet providers have the legal green light, the technical ability, and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate what we see, read, and learn online".

Some states are trying to ensure that net neutrality is in effect, these states include Washington, Montana, and NY; other states have legislation pending. Despite efforts from state officials and members of Congress, there will now be fewer rules governing how Internet providers can operate.

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"Those "fast lanes" will put those who won't or can not pay in the slow lane, making the internet look a lot like cable TV", Sohn says.

In the meantime, some ISPs have promised in the absence of the federal net neutrality rules to not slow data or block it, and with state laws in flux and a federal showdown possible, it's unlikely any would push the envelope at present.

For instance, both the ISPs and the FCC have claimed that net neutrality has hurt investment. Legislation in other states, like California and NY, is still proceeding and likely to be as strict as Washington's. Some states are moving to restore net neutrality, and lawsuits are pending.

"The public is outraged and fighting tooth and nail to get Congress to overrule the FCC - and it's likely that that will happen before ISPs can do too much damage", Greer said. They can even prevent us from being able to access information on certain topics, news events, or issues the ISP doesn't want us to know about. They counter that internet providers will slowly and quietly begin manipulating the internet with moves that will change the web from a level playing field to one tilted in favor of big companies.

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