The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules on Thursday in a 3-2 vote that fell along party lines, with Republicans voting for the repeal and Democrats against it.
Ajit Pai, current FCC chairman and former Verizon lawyer, said that the removal of net neutrality rules would help consumers because it will allow for Internet Service Providers to offer a greater variety of service options for customers.
“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Mr. Pai said in a speech on Thursday. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”
For ISPs, the ruling will potentially allow them to block, throttle and prioritize internet traffic should they choose to do so. For example, an ISP such as Comcast could charge more money per month for a user to access Netflix, or could throttle a user’s connection if they are streaming video on YouTube or downloading a game off of Steam.
Critics of the changes say that customers may have more difficulty accessing content online and that tech companies, particularly start-ups, will have to pay to reach them. The FCC has come under fierce opposition from tech companies and consumer advocate groups as a result of the rollback, with some stating that they would be filing lawsuits against the FCC in the coming weeks.
In Canada, net neutrality has been enshrined in law since the Telecommunications Act in 1993, which has classified ISPs as utilities since 1993. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed support for net neutrality in a speech in November.
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