Internet service providers, or ISPs, deny that they would engage in such a practice - yet consumer watchdogs worry that consumers would have little legal recourse if they did.
Corporate advocates of net neutrality-which include most Internet-centered firms, like Google, Facebook, Spotify, and Netflix-argue that eliminating net neutrality would reduce competition and innovation, and allow ISPs to offer their own services at an advantage.
"From this day forward, I think our interest is making sure that we have a free and open internet and that consumers are able to get better, faster, cheaper internet services", Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman said.
Having visited many states and small-town America, he reported that many people felt they were "on the wrong side of the digital divide ..."
Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content. The rules also restricted ISPs from charging extra for certain traffic, creating so-called fast lanes for companies and consumers.
Beginning Monday, however, the USA government no longer explicitly prohibits those practices. "But it has sparked an unprecedented backlash from across the political spectrum, and internet users are coming out of the woodwork to fight tooth and nail in Congress, in the courts, and at the local and state level". ISPs would only be punished by the FCC if they fail to disclose what the commission used to consider net neutrality violations. "And in the medium- to long-term, I think we're going to see more investment in high-speed networks, particularly in rural areas that are hard to serve". Democrats quickly charged that Pai had ignored roughly 22 million comments that flooded the agency as part of its official deliberations.More news: Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade's deaths are part of a growing problem in the US
Pai said "misinformation" was behind some of the visceral online reaction he faced. At least 29 states have introduced more than 65 bills aimed at protecting net neutrality and seven states - Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana, Rhode Island, Oregon and Vermont - enacted executive orders that made it illegal for state agencies to enter contracts with ISPs that don't uphold net neutrality.
"The FTC does not have specialized expertise in telecommunications".
Why is net neutrality such a big deal? "That may be true next week, but over time I suspect they will start violating".
"Under the Federal Communications Commission's Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which takes effect Monday, the internet will be just such an open platform". And states like NY have signed executive orders to keep net neutrality in place. "There's widespread agreement that we need Net Neutrality legislation".
In the wake of the FCC's repeal of its net neutrality rules, several states have adopted their own protections.
Net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers (ISP) treat all data on the Internet the same.