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Net neutrality rules are gone. What's everyone saying?

The FCC’s reversal of Obama-era laws protecting an open internet goes into effect. Here’s the reaction.

net-neutrality-protest-cropped-for-door

People are erupting in debate over net neutrality today. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The rules governing net neutrality may be dead, but the chatter over how to ensure an open internet is livelier than ever.

After months of votes and procedural and bureaucratic moves, the Federal Communication Commission's decision to end the Obama-era laws governing net neutrality went into effect on Monday.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who marked the occasion with an op-ed about the open internet on CNET, defended the move as necessary to remove what he has described as onerous regulations that restrict investment in new networks. Critics, however, argue that the demise of the rules strips away all authority by the FCC and leaves internet service providers to police themselves.

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The FCC's rollback has the potential to change how the internet works -- down the line. ISPs are technically free to prioritize traffic and offer more expensive high-speed lanes connecting businesses to consumers, although it's unlikely to happen right away.

From the Twitter-sphere to Washington, a lot of people are talking about net neutrality. Here's a round-up of notable comments (comments are edited for length):

Proponents of stronger net neutrality laws

Senator Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts:
"The repeal of net neutrality officially goes into effect today, but the fight is far from over. The people saying we can't pass the resolution to #savetheinternet in the House are the same people who were saying we couldn't do it in the Senate. Ignore them. Just keep fighting.

There will be no eulogy today for net neutrality. The FCC will not have the last word when it comes to net neutrality, the American people will. The fight to restore net neutrality rules has new urgency today and moving forward as we continue to work in the House of Representatives to repeal the FCC's terrible decision."

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (Democrat):
"Last year, I voted against the FCC's decision to roll back our net neutrality rules. Today, the FCC's misguided repeal of net neutrality goes into effect. This is bad news for all of us who rely on an open internet for so many facets of civic and commercial life.

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.

If the arc of history is long, we are going to bend this toward a more just outcome. The momentum around the country — from small towns to big cities, from state houses to court houses, from governors' executive actions to action in Congress — is proof the American people are not done fighting for an open internet."

Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York:
"By refusing to bring up the Senate-passed resolution to restore net neutrality, which passed the Senate by a powerful bipartisan vote, House Republican leaders gave a green light to the big ISPs to charge middle-class Americans, small business owners, schools, rural Americans, and communities of color more to use the internet. That's exactly why the entire Senate Democratic caucus sent a letter last week urging Speaker Ryan to schedule a vote immediately to save the internet."

"It's now as clear as day to every American that — with the exception of three Republicans in the Senate — their Republican representatives in the Congress chose to protect special interests and the biggest corporates over middle-class families, average consumers, entrepreneurs and anyone who relies on the free and open internet. Every Republican who opposed this vote will own any and all of the damaging consequences of the FCC's horribly misguided decision."

Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania's attorney general, tweeted:
"As of today, net neutrality is dead. I've filed suit to protect an open internet and will continue the fight. We need an internet where we can watch, read, and share freely."

Michael Beckerman, CEO of the Internet Association:
"The internet industry remains committed to restoring net neutrality protections through the courts, legislation, and administrative action. Americans in every state and across the political spectrum support rules that ban ISPs from blocking, throttling, and prioritizing web traffic. IA and our member companies remain outcome-oriented and will continue to advocate for protections that allow Americans to access the entire internet, not a version curated by ISPs."

The ACLU tweeted:
"#NetNeutrality protections end today but that isn't slowing us down from fighting back. Take action to demand your representative save the internet."

Gigi Sohn, an adviser to former FCC Tom Wheeler who helped craft the 2015 Open Internet Rules:
"The end of the 2015 net neutrality rules and the legal authority on which they are based will allow companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to take control of consumers' Internet experience and favor or disfavor websites, programming services and applications at will. Equally as important, should consumers or innovators have a complaint about fraudulent, discriminatory, privacy violating or predatory pricing practices of broadband ISPs, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) won't answer their call. For the first time since the creation of broadband, the agency will not take responsibility for protecting consumers or competition.

If, as some expect, a federal judge allows AT&T and Time Warner to merge, consumers should expect to see the first chapter in the "cable-ization" of the Internet. This FCC has already given AT&T permission to favor its DirecTV programming on its mobile broadband service.  Expect that AT&T will also favor HBO, TNT, CNN and other Time Warner properties. Just like a cable company, AT&T and its broadband brethren will be able to pick and choose winners over the Internet."

Evan Greer, deputy director of digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future:
"Hold the obituaries. net neutrality is not dead. Ajit Pai's absurd repeal of basic free speech protections is the most unpopular decision in the history of the FCC, and it will not stand. The Senate already passed a historic bipartisan resolution disapproving the repeal. Now the entire Internet is laser focused on getting the House of Representatives to do the same."

Matt Wood, director of consumer advocacy group Free Press:
"Ajit Pai and the ISPs that give him his marching orders will undoubtedly be pleased today as this decision to rob internet users' of their rights takes effect. We are confident that their happiness will be short-lived, as Congress wakes up to the overwhelming public support for the Net Neutrality rules we've lost, and as the courts move closer to reviewing Pai's unlawful decision.

"Pai and his colleagues will celebrate a temporary victory on Monday. They will repeat the same propaganda used to justify their ill-advised vote in the first place. They'll claim that the rules dampened broadband investment — even though Free Press and others have proven broadband deployment, speeds and performance continued to improve with the rules in place.

Proponents of less regulation on an open internet

Joan Marsh, AT&T's executive vice president of regulatory and state external affairs, wrote:
"As the FCC's open internet order takes effect today, two things will remain unchanged. First, the internet will continue to function just as it did yesterday, empowering this generation and those that follow with robust access to information, entertainment and, most importantly, to each other. Second, our commitment to an open internet will not waiver, just as our customers expect and deserve.

"In January, our Chairman published an open letter reiterating that commitment to support internet freedom on our network and calling for an Internet Bill of Rights that guarantees consumer protections applicable to all internet companies. If that sounds as good to you as it does to us, we hope you'll join us in working towards permanent and bipartisan legislation that will ensure consistent rules of the road for all companies and across all websites."

Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast Cable, wrote in a blog post:
"I want to make sure our customers have the facts about their Internet service with all the recent news about an open Internet and net neutrality.  Nothing about Comcast's broadband service changes as the FCC's recent net neutrality order goes into effect today. Your Comcast service isn't different today. And it won't be different tomorrow.

We still don't and won't block, throttle or discriminate against lawful content.  We're still not creating fast lanes. We still don't have plans to enter into any so-called paid prioritization agreements.

What do these regulatory changes mean for our customers?  These commitments are legally enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission — so they aren't 'voluntary' commitments. They are binding commitments that can and should be enforced by regulatory authorities.

Comcast has long supported principles of net neutrality.  We strongly supported the FCC's first set of rules on these issues way back on 2010.  Unfortunately, the past eight years have seen regulatory ping pong and endless court cases on these issues.  We continue to believe the best way to ensure lasting net neutrality rules that protect consumers and promote investment is for Congress to enact legislation."

Verizon:
"We still strong open internet rules. For us, nothing has changed."

Doug Brake, director of broadband and spectrum policy for think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation:
"The Obama Administration's net neutrality rules, grounded in Title II of the Communications Act, put the United States on the path of regulating broadband like an unchanging public utility. It is time to put the Title II chapter in the net neutrality saga behind us.

"Chairman Pai's efforts return broadband to a regulatory environment better suited to encouraging an innovative, evolving communications platform. The Chicken Littles claiming 'the end of the Internet' will now be proved wrong. However, there is still much to be done to achieve a stable, lasting legal framework that gives everyone in the Internet ecosystem confidence to invest in and use this crucial technology. Now is the time for policymakers to work toward bipartisan compromise legislation that will stand the test of time."

The Internet & Television Association, the cable industry's lobbying group, wrote:
"June 11, 2018 is the day that the internet returns to the light-touch regulations that marked most of its history and gave rise to its tremendous growth.

What consumers will notice today, tomorrow, next month, next year or pick your date, is quite literally — nothing. Nothing, that is, other than the same high-speed internet access service that lets consumers decide what they read, what they say, what they create, what they watch, and what they listen to over the internet.  This is because whether governed by one set of rules or another, an open Internet with the core principals of net neutrality at its foundation is baked into the internet experience. Consumers expect it and deserve it.

That is also why we are confident that despite a new round of outlandish claims and doomsday predictions from groups dedicated to stoking political controversy, consumers will be able to see for themselves that their internet service will keep working as always has and will keep getting better."

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