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Net neutrality is dead, but it could make a comeback

The Federal Communications Commission’s ruling against net neutrality took effect on Monday, June 16, ending three years of internet protective measures that were enshrined during the last presidency. While many supporters lament its demise, however, state legislators could make it so that most U.S. citizens end up enjoying the benefits of net neutrality again in the future.

Net neutrality is both a principle and legislation that is designed to make the internet a level playing field for everyone — consumers and businesses. It makes it so that companies cannot charge different content providers different rates for different content, and ensures that internet users can access anything online at the full speed of their internet connection, regardless of the sensibilities of their internet service provider.

Originally protected under law by the Obama administration’s Open Internet Order, that was voted to be repealed in late 2017 and now that repeal has come into effect. The key proponent and driving force of the repeal is FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who claimed in an op-ed on CNET that the legislative change would actually be a good thing for consumers and could usher in a new age of faster internet and protections against anti-competitive behavior.

Many organizations and legislators think otherwise, though. There have been calls to block the repeal since it was enacted by advocacy groups and politicians. While those cries may have fallen on the deaf ears of Pai’s FCC though, local legislators have been making some headway. The New York Times points out 29 states have introduced bills to ensure net neutrality is maintained within their borders. A number have already failed, but Oregon’s has been enacted, as have Vermont’s and Washington’s. The majority are still pending, so if you live in any of the states listed on the National Conference of State Legislator’s website, your state may end up retaining net neutrality at the local level.

Even then, a number of companies have pledged to not throttle content without net neutrality preventing them from doing so. As Common Dreams reports, a number of U.S. city mayors have also refused to do business with companies that don’t continue to abide by the principle of net neutrality.

Even with net neutrality effectively dead at the federal level, and no real sign of that changing any time soon, it could be that grassroots campaigns and local government officials can maintain the open and free internet that so many people enjoy today.

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Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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