Remember the net neutrality repeal? It will go into effect April 23rd

Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Net neutrality rules will officially be off the books starting April 23rd.

"In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) returns to the light-touch regulatory scheme that enabled the internet to develop and thrive for almost two decades". "We are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence". With the repeal, ISPs will be allowed to prioritize traffic and create paid so-called "fast lanes" for companies that are willing to pay more to deliver their content quicker. Critics said that may pose barriers for smaller companies and startups, which can't pay the fees that established web companies can better afford, or won't have the heft to brush aside demands for payments.

Supporters of the repeal argue that criticisms of the FCC's action are overblown, even hysterical. All we are left with is Big Cable and Big Telco telling us to "trust them" not to violate net neutrality principles.

However there are historical examples of bad behavior and global analogies that suggest the FCC's critics are far from hysterical. Once published, Congress has a 60 day window to pass or defeat the measure before it becomes United States law. The Senate is reportedly evenly split, with 50 votes in favor of reversing the action. The Republican-led agency narrowly passed the repeal in December by a vote of 3-2.

On Friday, a coalition of more than 20 state attorneys general and advocacy groups agreed to withdraw a protective petition filed in January that sought to preserve the right to sue. The lawsuit was filed by Balderas and the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Finally, the rule improperly and unlawfully includes sweeping preemption of state and local laws. Congress has exclusive authority to regulate interstate commerce, which is the basis of the FCC's legal argument. Other blue states might follow suit if the repeal of net neutrality goes forward on April 23.

"While the Commission has a long history of facilitating the introduction of new technologies and services, the regulatory path from technological breakthrough to authorization of service has often been too long and arduous", the FCC majority asserted.

Whether the states can be legally successful with their challenges remains to be seen, says Brent Skorup, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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