The Federal Communications Commission, led by chairman Ajit Pai, voted on Thursday to end Net Neutrality. The regulations, enacted in 2015 under President Obama, are designed to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing or preventing access to content they deem disagreeable, and from charging users extra to access certain websites. Providers like Comcast have spent years and millions of dollars lobbying against net neutrality.
The FCC's 3 Republicans voted to end net neutrality, while the 2 Democrats voted against. However, net neutrality remains widely popular, with one poll showing 83% of Americans opposing the FCC's vote against it.
New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced that he would open a multi-state lawsuit against the FCC soon after the vote was confirmed. "Today’s rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do, and what we say online," he said in a statement. "That’s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that’s made the Internet a valuable asset in our democratic process."
Jacob Kastrenakes at The Verge writes that it's unlikely that ISPs will start mass-blocking or restricting content right away, but will instead favor access to content it owns. The problem is that it prevents smaller competing services without the funds from getting a foothold. "We may not know what products and services we missed out on because they never made it through the mess."
Net neutrality's popularity all but guarantees pressure on both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to enshrine net neutrality into law. Twitter users like @JonahGreen are already mobilizing followers to contact their representatives: