WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to dismantle rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet.
The result of the vote, which likely will be challenged in federal courts, grants ISPs the power to potentially reshape online experiences in the U.S.
As predicted, the vote passed the commission in a 3-2, party-line vote, with Republicans voting for the repeal and Democrats voting against it.
The FCC put a halt to net neutrality regs that prohibited service providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The U.S. government also will no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility.
The Free Speech Coalition’s executive director, Eric Paul Leue, told XBIZ today that without net neutrality, the landscape for minority populations, sexual health educators and adult consumers, performers and producers will “radically” change.
“We warned after the election last year that we would see massive infringements on our freedoms and sadly — we were right,” said Leue, who heads up the adult entertainment trade group.
“We are now likely to see attempts to slow, segregate or outright block adult content on networks, just as we have seen in any space where corporations have seized control of the public square — social media, online advertising and marketplaces," Leue said.
“But the battle isn't over,” Leue said. “We will be working with our partners at organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the ACLU to preserve the rights of not only adult consumers, but of those who believe that a free internet is central to innovation and democracy.”
Industry attorney Corey Silverstein, of Silverstein Legal, told XBIZ that after today's vote it is now "a game of wait and see."
"We knew this was going to happen and now it has happened," Silverstein said. "I don’t see any lawsuits being instantaneously filed but I’m quite certain that as the large ISPs begin to change their policies and strategies with the handcuffs of net-neutrality being gone, the lawsuits will follow.
"ISPs now have an entirely new way to increase their profits by selling faster access speeds to select websites, and I don’t think they are going to wait too long to start cashing in on their new revenue stream," Silverstein said.