The Federal Communications Commission today followed through on a promise it's been making all year. It scrapped the US net neutrality rules. These are the regulations that are there to stop cable companies, telephone companies from blocking or limiting traffic that flows over the internet. And, in the process, it hasn't only gone back and under Obama-era regulations. It's actually gone way back to the beginning in US telecom regulation, and got rid of all the efforts over the last 15 years to put some sort of controls in place.
Now, the rhetoric on this was really turned up high today. On the one hand, we have the FCC itself, the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who says, look, all I'm doing here is turning back the clock a couple of years. We going back to the era we had when the internet really took off. We're going to have light touch regulation. This is what internet companies want. It worked really well right up until 2015, so there's nothing bad to fear.
And the cable and telecom companies lining up behind him and saying, we're not going to go out, and block the internet, and stop you seeing things. This is all a storm in a teacup.
On the other side of the fence are the internet companies themselves and civil liberties groups. And they're warning that whatever these companies say, they will now have the power to limit particular services if they want to. All they have to do is be transparent about what they're doing, but they can do whatever they want. And so the whole idea of an open, fair, neutral internet has just disappeared.
The immediate response to this has been a threat of a lawsuit by Eric Schneiderman, who is the attorney-general in New York. He says he's going to lead a number of states in challenging the FCC on this. We knew this was coming. We knew that it was going to lead to yet more legal action.
The history of net neutrality in the US is effectively a series of legal battles. In fact, the Obama FCC didn't even want to impose the neutrality rules it came up with. It was essentially forced into that as the only option, because every other avenue was shut out by the courts. And I think for the very same reason, we'll see the Trump FCC pushed into a corner. It now has to fight and defend its actions.
I think essentially what the large part of the internet industry want to see is Congress acting here rather than something being batted around in the courts, and then these complete changes, swings, regulation to deregulation from one administration to the next. I think there's a real desire now to see a compromise, to see bipartisan agreement on a realistic regime for the internet. Of course, bipartisan is not strong at the moment. And so I think all the eyes will be on the law courts rather than Congress for the next year or two.