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Net Neutrality Rules Ready for Fadeout

Expire June 11, barring further developments like action in Congress

U.S. “net neutrality” rules will expire on June 11, the Federal Communications Commission said last week.

In December the FCC repealed the open-internet rules that had been set in 2015, barring providers from blocking or slowing access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.

“The prior rules were intended to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to web content and bar broadband service providers from favoring their own material or others,” Reuters reported.

“The revised rules were a win for internet service providers, whose practices faced significant government oversight and FCC investigations under the 2015 order, but are opposed by internet firms like Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc.”

The new rules require internet providers to tell consumers whether they will block or slow content or offer paid “fast lanes.” Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have all pledged to not block or discriminate against legal content after the rules expire. Some internet providers have said they could eventually offer paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization, for some future internet traffic.

A group of 22 states led by New York and others have sued to try to block the new rules from taking effect, and the U.S. Senate could vote to reject the December repeal. Acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said, “The repeal of net neutrality would allow internet service providers to put their profits before the consumers they serve and control what we see, do, and say online,” as quoted in the same article. A spokeswoman for Underwood said the state attorneys general have not sought a stay of the FCC order yet.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has led the move to change the rules. Even if the Senate were to block this change, that effort would not likely survive the more heavily Republican House of Representatives or a presidential veto.