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FCC move to kill net neutrality a 'boon for telecoms, bane for consumers,' media law professor says

Friday, December 15, 2017

LAWRENCE — The Federal Communications Commission has voted to kill rules designed to protect consumers from service providers blocking certain websites or charging for higher-quality service. The commission voted 3-2 along party lines to scrap the net neutrality rules implemented in 2015 during the Barack Obama administration.

Chairman Ajit Pai said removing the rules would help spur innovation, while those opposed claimed it would allow giant telecom industries to charge more, block content from competitors and make it too expensive for startup companies to compete. The changes won’t be seen immediately, as 18 state attorneys general and others opposed to the changes have said they will sue to stop the change. The move, if implemented, will favor providers over consumers, a University of Kansas journalism professor and media law expert said.

“The FCC’s elimination of net neutrality is a boon for telecoms and a bane for consumers. It opens up the ability for online service providers to create ‘fast lanes’ and privilege some communications over others,” said Genelle Belmas, associate professor of journalism. “This means that those individuals and companies who can pay more have more capability to have their messages heard, and that those of us who rely on the Internet will likely be paying more to get the services on which we rely.”

Belmas specializes in media law and teaches courses in that subject as well as gamification, communication technology, media ethics and computer-assisted reporting. Her research has been published in the Yale Journal of Law & Technology and the Federal Communications Law Journal, among others. She can discuss net neutrality, the original rules, the FCC’s decision to overturn them, media law, the future of Internet communication and related topics.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or mkrings@ku.edu.

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