Net neutrality rules to end April 23 under FCC order

The Federal Communications Commission released its final rule to repeal so-called "net neutrality" regulations. The rule is slated to go into effect April 23.

The FCC voted 3-2 to dismantle net neutrality rules in December. Established in 2015, the Obama-era rules commonly referred to as "net neutrality" prohibit broadband companies from prioritizing or blocking some content over others. The regulations also prevent internet service providers from charging additional fees for select capabilities, such as high-quality streaming.

The FCC's final rule, titled Restoring Internet Freedom, "restores the light-touch regulatory scheme that fostered the internet's growth, openness and freedom" prior to 2015, according to a document published in the Federal Register Feb. 22. The rule aims to undo the "heavy-handed" net neutrality regulations that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said have discouraged broadband development.

To address concerns on how the FCC will oversee internet service providers, the final rule requires these broadband companies to disclose information about network management practices, performance characteristics and commercial terms of service.

"Transparency is sufficient to protect the openness of the internet," the final rule reads.

A draft of the proposal, which Mr. Pai released in 2017, garnered more than 22 million comments from various stakeholders, according to Reuters. In July, the American Academy of Family Physicians penned a letter to Mr. Pai, claiming the repeal may have unintended healthcare consequences, such as allowing broadband providers to restrict the flow of health information.

"The internet forms the backbone on which the healthcare industry is building capabilities for health information exchange," AAFP wrote. "Lack of health information exchange is literally life-threatening. It is paramount for the health and well-being of U.S. citizens that no barriers be placed hindering the free and open appropriate exchange of health information."

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