WASHINGTON DC: Yesterday marked the end of US government rules regarding net neutrality, but the new policy faces legal challenges from individual states, some of which have also developed their own rules on the matter.

The proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lift what chairman Ajit Pai described as “heavy-handed, utility-style regulations” on broadband internet service providers (ISPs) was first mooted late last year.

Now, they are free of a requirement to treat all web traffic equally and have only to be transparent about how they manage their networks, with any breaches of promises or uncompetitive behavior being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission rather than the telecom-focused FCC.

“I think ultimately it’s going to mean better, faster, cheaper internet access and more competition,” Pai told the Washington Post.

And he rejected arguments that the move would lead to ISPs restricting access to online content, by blocking sites or charging a premium for faster delivery.

Having visited many states and small-town America, he reported that many people felt they were “on the wrong side of the digital divide … They are not concerned that internet service providers are going to block access to lawful content,” he said.

That view is being challenged in the deferral court, however, which is due to hear an argument from net neutrality advocates – backed by the attorney generals of about as many states as Pai visited – that he acted arbitrarily in overturning Obama-era rules.

At the same time, several states have taken their own actions aimed at ensuring continued net neutrality, either by adopting open-internet laws or by the use of executive orders.

Pai remained unmoved. “I’m confident that our decision is the one that best vindicates consumers’ concerns going forward, and protects them in the internet economy that we have, and promotes a stronger economy for them going forward,” he said.

Sourced from Washington Post; additional content by WARC staff