Defenders of net neutrality say dismantling the current rules is anathema to a free and open internet, and hurts online companies and consumers alike.
Tim Wu, the law professor who coined the term "net neutrality", said the concept dates back to the 1970s, when regulators sought to ensure that the telecom monopoly at the time, AT&T, did not block or discriminate against emerging data services over phone lines.
Like the FCC's two dissenting commissioners, protesters in every corner of the nation, rock stars, Pornhub, and legendary internet pioneers, Wiener believes net neutrality is essential for maintaining an open internet where internet service providers "treat websites equally" and don't "play favorites based on who pays more". The rules bar broadband service providers from blocking or slowing access to content, or charging consumers more for certain content. Although it's impossible to predict precisely how the new rules will affect Internet access for the average user, critics suspect that they'll result in higher prices for certain online services and less competition in online industries in general.
After a meeting voting to end net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai answers a question from a reporter in Washington on Thursday.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said in a written dissent released on Thursday that the decision grants internet providers "extraordinary new power" from the FCC. They just have to post their policies online or tell the FCC.
Pai, who cast his own dissenting vote in 2015, said the rule changes instituted then were not necessary at the time, nor are they now necessary. You see heavy users of the internet love having all traffic treated the same under the law.
"We're disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement". "The legend of a cable company breaking the internet ... isn't reality", he said.
Once repealed, several state attorneys general have said they will work to oppose the FCC ruling, citing problems with comments made to the FCC during the public comment period.
The FCC did uphold one of the original requirements of the 2015 rules: providers have to disclose what, exactly, they're doing to web traffic. "This is the beginning of a longer legal battle".
Beyond the freedom to extract more money from publishers and consumers - the FCC claims it's restoring "internet freedom" - the ISPs seek to create tiered and bundled pricing because they have not been able to make money from internet advertising and their cable businesses are faltering.
While a variety of opinions about a whole host of issues abound on YouTube, one thing that the creator community seems to agree on is that net neutrality is a good thing. "These fundamental tenets of net neutrality are also key components of our core network and business practices - they govern how we run our internet business", Comcast said.
With their vote, she added, the FCC's Republican commissioners are abandoning the pledge they took to make a rapid, efficient communications service available to all people in the USA, without discrimination.
But Michael O'Rielly, a Republican commissioner appointed by Obama, called the FCC's approach a "well-reasoned and soundly justified order".
"The FCC's vote to repeal net neutrality is wrong & disappointing".
"The internet was not broken in 2015", he said.
A group of almost 20 state attorneys general asked the FCC to delay the vote until the issue of fake comments is addressed. He said 2 million comments were submitted under stolen identities, including those of children and dead people.