Net neutrality: Debunking the arguments used to repeal it

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to end net neutrality in the US, but all is not as it seems.

The controversial move was led by FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who also released a document listing the “myths” and “facts” about the net neutrality repeal ahead of the vote, designed to justify his standpoint. 

However, the biggest claims made at this week’s FCC meeting and in the document are either misleading, highly contentious or impossible to prove.

Paid prioritisation

Without the net neutrality rules in place, internet service providers (ISPs) are no longer required to treat all internet traffic equally.

That means they are now free to create so-called internet “fast lanes”, prioritising certain online sites and services over others. Without net neutrality, ISPs can charge websites a fee in exchange for preferential treatment and a faster and more reliable connection. 

“I am hopeful that if Congress does go down this path it will see merit in rejecting the ban on paid prioritisation,” said FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who voted in favour of ending net neutrality, this week. “I for one see great value in the prioritization of telemedicine and autonomous car technology over cat videos.”

However, Commissioner Pai dismisses the belief that broadband providers will start charging customers a premium to reach certain online content as a “myth”, because “This didn’t happen before the Obama Administration’s 2015 heavy-handed Internet regulations, and it won’t happen after they are repealed.”

However, this is a hope rather than a fact, and cannot be guaranteed. 

What the net neutrality repeal does is kill off the rules that prevent ISPs from driving up prices for online services, whether directly or indirectly. If, after all, a website pays an ISP to be prioritised, it could in turn pass the cost onto customers with price rises. 

Throttling and blocking

Commissioner Pai has also branded the argument that the net neutrality repeal will allow ISPs to block customers from visiting certain websites as a “myth”.

Instead, he brought up the “heavy handed” argument again, claiming, “Internet service providers didn’t block websites before the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed 2015 Internet regulations and won’t after they are repealed. 

“Any Internet service provider would be required to publicly disclose this practice and would face fierce…

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