June 11 (UPI) — Net neutrality rules enacted under former President Barack Obama expired Monday, completing a move last year by the Federal Communications Commission to end the protections.
The rules oblige Internet service providers, or ISPs, to enable access of all content and applications, regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said the agency under Obama overstepped its authority when it imposed the 2015 regulations. The end of the rules comes as House Democrats are pressing for a resolution to reinstate them.
Supporters of net neutrality say killing the protections lets ISPs charge more and limit online access. Nearly two dozen states and several companies have sued the government to try and preserve the rules. Some states are creating their own net neutrality rules, but are barred by the FCC from implementing them.
“I don’t think anything gets better for consumers,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the five-person commission. “Consumers want an open Internet. They don’t want their broadband providers blocking websites or censoring content, and this agency gave broadband providers the legal right to do so. I think that’s crazy.”
Pai says Internet service will become cheaper and faster with the rules now gone. Under a new plan, the Federal Trade Commission will police the ISPs.
The FCC chairman said in an op-ed Sunday the new protocols are a return to an older and more successful system.
“At the dawn of the commercial Internet, President [Bill] Clinton and a Republican Congress agreed on a light-touch framework to regulating the Internet. Under that approach, the Internet was open and free,” he wrote. “But then in 2015, the FCC chose a different course.
“Rules designed for the Ma Bell monopoly during the era of rotary phones were a poor fit for the greatest innovation of our time, the Internet.”