Even Fox News Warns Net Neutrality Repeal Is Bad for Porn

CYBERSPACE—The threat to the porn industry, and to consumers of adult entertainment online, posed by the repeal of net neutrality rules is so urgent that even Fox News is sounding the alarm. The right-wing news network > Tuesday headlined, “Net neutrality's impact on free porn could be significant, experts say,” and indeed last week’s trashing of the Obama-era rules could spell trouble not only for free adult sites on the internet—but for any porn at all.

The term “net neutrality” refers to the broad standards of online freedom that governed the internet by a kind of unwritten agreement for most of the global network’s history. But as access to the internet was in 2002 of 7,000 different providers nationwide into the current situation—where access is in the hands of just a few giant telecommunications corporations, primarily Comcast and AT&T—the need arose to codify the internet’s tradition of freedom and equality into a set of government regulations.

That’s why, in 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the “,” the first official set of legally enforced “net neutrality” rules. The regulations guaranteed that all data transmitted over the internet must be treated equally by the ISPs that provide the on ramp to what used to be called “the information superhighway.”

In other words, the data bits that you send to your friend or your co-worker in the form of an email—or the data from any adult video or image on a porn site—must be handled by an ISP no differently from a Facebook page or Amazon purchase. ISPs were barred from slowing down or blocking traffic from some sites, while giving special treatment to others.

The ISPs were also prohibited from charging extra, or separately, for different types of traffic. Your ISP under net neutrality may not add on an extra fee for Google searches or for viewing your Twitter feed. Or for online.

But last Thursday all of that changed, as the three Republican FCC board members outvoted the panel’s two Democrats and tossed the 2015 net neutrality rules into the dustbin of history.

What does that mean for the porn industry? According to the Fox News story and several others sources—everything. Censorship now becomes a serious threat. With three states—Utah, South Dakota and Virginia—now officially declaring pornography a “,” nothing stops ISPs from blocking access to porn completely in order to curry favor with, and possible tax breaks from, state governments, in the interests of “public health.”

Another, perhaps more likely possibility, is that the big ISPs would offer adult internet “packages” at a premium fee, similar to the packages for social media and other services offered in countries where the lack of net neutrality rules allows ISPs to tack on premium pricing options above the regular monthly data fees.

According to the Fox News story on Tuesday, the FCC’s net neutrality rollback could also lead to online suppression of depictions of specific sexual acts, in favor of others.

A “heteronormative version of sexuality” is likely to be granted favorable treatment by United States ISPs, which would begin to mirror “more conservative regimes across the world, not just in terms of porn, but also ideas about sexuality,” the story quoted xHamster spokesperson Alex Hawkins as saying.