Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC's rollback of net neutrality, Internet providers have the legal green light, the technical ability, and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate what we see, read, and learn online. Pai, a Republican, who voted against the 2015 rules enacted under an Obama-era FCC, was appointed chairman by President Trump in January 2017.
Net neutrality is - or was - the rule that ensured telecommunications companies would treat all internet traffic equally, could not speed up or slow down certain websites and could not charge more for using certain services.
Ajit Pai, who chairs the FCC, was known to oppose net neutrality and in the past had said it was a brake on innovation. But other tech companies and many content providers support a neutral internet. "We're going to make them". We're still not creating fast lanes. That means no speeding up or slowing down connection speeds, and no blocking of specific websites.
If there's one thing that both sides can agree on, it's that the internet is increasingly central to our lives. Meanwhile, at least 29 states have pending legislation that would require ISPs to uphold net neutrality rules, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"Net neutrality ensures equal access to online content regardless of who is providing or requesting information", Florian Schaub, an assistant professor at the University of MI who specializes in internet privacy, wrote in a paper recently published in the academic journal Media and Communication. Chances are they were saying that to make it more likely that the FCC's rules would be repealed, or so they could support a bill with much weaker regulations and perhaps even some benefits for the ISPs.
Media captionWhat is net neutrality and how could it affect you?
Any changes are likely to happen slowly, as companies assess how much consumers will tolerate.
Pai argues that net neutrality was part of the FCC's regulatory overreach during the Obama administration.
So net neutrality's path through Congress is an uphill battle, but some are still optimistic that net neutrality will win out in the end.
The new rules approved by lawmakers who were heavily paid by the ISP lobbyists also take the oversight powers away from the more powerful and resourceful FCC to the Federal Trade Commission. ISPs usually offer zero-rating plans to promote a particular service that they own or have a stake in. Per the net neutrality order, states can not enact any legislation that attempts to circumvent the repeal. However, without Title II, the FCC was no longer able to regulate ISPs due to a lawsuit that Verizon brought against the FCC to revoke the 2010 basic net neutrality rules.
Zero-rating programs weren't specifically barred under the now-defunct net neutrality protections.