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How You Can React to the End of Net Neutrality

Some recommended steps, including actually caring about 'terms of service' updates
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2018 9:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – June 11 isn't just the day that IHOP reveals what IHOb means: It's also the day that net neutrality is officially no more, a move put in place by a December FCC vote. The Obama-era rule forced internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and AT&T to treat all internet traffic equally, meaning they couldn't slow or block consumers' access to certain sites or charge companies more for quicker delivery of their content (Burger King explained the concept via this ad for a $26 Whopper). Here's what you need to know:

  • "Catastrophic or inconsequential?" Which will it be? If you're in the camp that believes we've just ushered in the former situation, Fast Company offers four moves you can make to insulate yourself from potentially negative effects. Its recommendations involve subscribing to a virtual private network (VPN) and switching to an ISP that has come out in support of net neutrality, and it points you to resources that outline your options on these fronts.
  • "Day 1 of a worse internet:" So reads the headline of April Glaser's piece for Slate. She writes that ISPs now just have to reveal they might throttle speeds in their terms of service in order to do so, and that leads to a recommendation: "Be on the lookout Monday and over the next few weeks for notices from your internet service provider with changes to your terms of service. If you get an email from Comcast saying it's updated its policies, don't immediately delete it. Take a look: Nestled inside may well be the first strikes against net neutrality."

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  • But do you live in Montana? The New York Times reports that a number of states have taken action, including Montana and New York, whose governors used executive orders to mandate net neutrality. It cites data from the National Conference of State Legislatures that shows as of last month, 29 state legislatures had introduced bills designed to preserve net neutrality, though not all have been taken up, and some have failed.
  • And it's not just states taking action: Bloomberg reports on a joint effort by web companies and states to sue to get the FCC's decision flipped. Congress is also making moves: The Senate approved a resolution geared toward reversing the FCC's move. Democrats need to secure almost 50 votes to move it forward in the House. But CNET notes the so-called Congressional Review Act would need President Trump's signature, and "it's unlikely that Trump would countermand [FCC Chair Ajit] Pai, one of his appointees."
  • Pai makes his case: Pai appeared on CBS This Morning Monday to defend the rollback, saying the Federal Trade Commission will now be empowered to weed out any "bad apples in the internet economy," meaning "any company that might act in any competitive way." He elaborated on the FTC's role in a piece for CNET, writing that the FTC was stripped of its "authority over internet service providers" in 2015 by the FCC; that power "to police internet service providers for anticompetitive acts and unfair or deceptive practices" has now been restored, to consumers' benefit, he argues.
  • Monday isn't the only D-Day: In a piece for the Washington Post, Tony Romm notes that Tuesday brings a major event, too: a federal judge's decision on whether AT&T—America's No. 2 wireless network—can move forward with its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, whose assets include CNN and HBO. "The two events in Washington could lead to further consolidation of wireless, cable, and content giants," he writes, raising fears "that behemoths like AT&T might someday prioritize their own TV shows and other content over rivals'."
(Read more net neutrality stories.)

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