Net neutrality is officially gone.
The FCC's repeal of the rules put in place under President Obama goes into effect today. Those rules required Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer equal access to everything online: They weren't allowed to prioritize content from companies who paid more, block legal content, or throttle traffic. Now, they can do so legally.
Since the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality regulations in December, the backlash has been fast and furious. Many politicians, business people, and private citizens — including Senator Kristen Gillibrand, and major tech companies, including Google and Twitter — have expressed their concerns, citing the rules as ones that are necessary to preserve freedom of speech and innovation. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, meanwhile, has argued that the regulations were "heavy-handed" and that the repeal was needed in order for the government to "stop micromanaging the Internet."
In March, it looked like the tide might turn: Senate Democrats successfully introduced a resolution to undo the the repeal. It passed the Senate in May, but still needs to pass the House and then be signed by President Trump. But that is a long shot — many believe the resolution will have a much harder time passing the House. Meanwhile, the repeal continues.
However, individual states are taking action on their own. So far, 29 states have introduced bills that keep certain components of the net neutrality rules alive. Of those 29, 12 states failed to pass their proposed bills, and many more are pending. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont have successfully passed net neutrality legislation, and governors from Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont, have signed executive orders to protect net neutrality in their respective states. (Head here to see where your state stands.)
If you're in a state that hasn't passed legislation, will you notice a difference? At first, probably not. Some ISPs, including Verizon and Comcast, have promised they will maintain an open internet. Still, over time, subtle changes from other providers could cause certain websites and video streams to load more slowly than others. In a worst case scenario, you could be forced to pay more for some services: In 2012, for example, AT&T introduced a policy that threatened to block user access to FaceTime on the newest iPhones, unless those users opted into a certain data plan. It was later reversed, but not before plenty of public outcry.
Want to protect net neutrality rules? The best course of action is to write to Congress and and reach out directly to your state representatives to make your voice heard.