The FCC ends net neutrality: A new tip sheet explains

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 14, 2017, voted 3-2 along party lines to end rules that prohibited Internet service providers from blocking websites or charging varying fees for speed and access to online content and services.

By reversing Obama-era rules that protected a free and open Internet, the FCC is moving us all into uncharted territory. This could mean a slowdown of certain sites while others load more quickly. Broadband giants could begin repackaging services so we have to pay more for access to the content we want online. Start-ups, small businesses, local news organizations, individual blogs and small or rural health providers could fall behind in their ability to serve their customers online. This decision could exacerbate the digital divide and health disparities.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who voted to reverse the Obama-era rules, called these scenarios “baseless fear-mongering.”

To what extend online life will change because of this decision is not yet known. The rules may never fully go into effect if Congressional action or legal challenges win out. Net neutrality could be a hot-button issue in the 2018 mid-term elections.

I’ve created a new tip sheet on net neutrality to help journalists better understand the issue as it unfolds, and will be updating it regularly.

1 thought on “The FCC ends net neutrality: A new tip sheet explains

  1. Fran Hopkins

    Hi Rebecca! Thank you for this tip sheet on net neutrality. May I ask a question, please? The Obama-era rules went into effect on February 26, 2015. There were no such rules for decades before that. So how could the FCC be “moving us all into uncharted territory”? Aren’t we just back to where we were on February 25, 2015? The tip sheet describes all the negative things that “could” happen; were they happening before net neutrality rules were enacted? I believe it’s our responsibility to avoid upsetting people about the potential adverse consequences of the FCC’s action unless we have some facts on which to base such concerns (and perhaps we do, and I’m just not aware of them). Thank you. — Fran Hopkins (AHCJ member)

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