Landmark U.S. “net neutrality” rules will expire on June 11, and new regulations handing providers broad new power over how consumers can access the internet will take effect, the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday in setting the date.
The FCC in December repealed the Obama-era open-internet rules set in 2015, which bars providers from blocking or slowing down access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.
The prior rules were intended to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to web content and bar broadband service providers from favoring their own material or others.
The new rules require internet providers to tell consumers whether they will block or slow content or offer paid “fast lanes.”
Comcast Corp, Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc have all pledged to not block or discriminate against legal content after the net neutrality rules expire.
Reuters first reported the June 11 effective date, disclosed in an FCC document on Thursday.
Acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, a Democrat, said “the repeal of net neutrality would allow internet service providers to put their profits before the consumers they serve and control what we see, do, and say online.” A spokeswoman for Underwood said the state attorneys general have not sought a stay of the FCC order yet.
A group of 22 states led by New York and others have sued to try to block the new rules from taking effect, and the U.S. Senate may vote as early as next week to reject the December repeal.
The revised rules were a win for internet service providers, whose practices faced significant government oversight and FCC investigations under the 2015 order, but are opposed by internet firms like Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc.
Some internet providers have said they could eventually offer paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization, for some future internet traffic.
The repeal of net neutrality is the latest thread in a broader pattern of Republican Trump administration reversals of Democratic Obama administration policies or achievements, such as the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear agreement.
Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told reporters on Thursday the rollback of the rules would not harm consumers and would return the internet to the pre-2015 era. “The effect of this will be better, faster, cheaper internet access and the free and open internet that we have had for many, many years,” he said.
Pai said the FCC gave internet providers 30 days to comply with the new transparency rules. He said many politicians had sought to “mislead” the public about the repeal’s impact.
“Now everyone will be able to see the truth for themselves,” Pai said.
“The agency failed to listen to the American public and gave short shrift to their deeply held belief that internet openness should remain the law of the land,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said on Thursday. “The FCC is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people.