"Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content", Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the commission who voted against the repeal, said in an emailed statement to the New York Times.
The repeal of "net neutrality" took effect six months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to undo the rules, which had barred broadband and cellphone companies from favoring their own services and discriminating against rivals such as Netflix. This, according to Pai, "will allow consumers to make an informed decision about which Internet service provider is best for them". For example, users who oppose the repeal of net neutrality fear that internet providers will start bundling services like Facebook and Instagram together, in the same way cable companies bundle certain channels together for a price.
Pai's primary defense of the FCC's new lax rules on ISPs is the "transparency rule", which requires ISPs to notify consumers of any policies that violate previous Net Neutrality guidelines.
Today marks the first day of a post-net neutrality world, one in which rules introduced during the Obama administration under previous FCC chairman Tom Wheeler are officially repealed.
Net neutrality advocates have heard that argument before and don't buy it. There were some exceptions (emergency services, mostly), but for the most part, the rules made it illegal for ISPs to slow down (throttle) internet traffic based on content, so long as the data was legal. It will head to the State Assembly, where hearings will begin in June and must be voted on by the end of August. Ahead of the December 14 commission vote that ended those Obama-era net neutrality regulations, current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called those same rules a " heavy-handed, utility-style.mistake" and pledged to stop the federal government from "micromanaging" the internet by introducing a new set of "internet freedom" regulations. The rules also banned paid prioritization, preventing any internet fast lane for those who paid a premium.
The agency said the regulations were unnecessary and unhelpful.
"In the short term, I don't think consumers are going to see any change at all from the Internet experience they've come to cherish", Pai told The Washington Post on Friday. "Democrats are fighting in the courts and in the Congress to protect Americans' interests and restore these vital protections, and we will continue to demand a vote on Congressman Mike Doyle's resolution to force a vote to restore net neutrality". Several states including NY and Washington, have passed regulations that impose net neutrality on a local level.