Why Net Neutrality Repeal Is Extremely Bad News for Porn

CYBERSPACE—Within minutes of a party-line Federal Communications Commission vote to repeal rules protecting “net neutrality,” at least three states announced measures to keep the rules—set up to guarantee a level playing field for internet consumers, users and businesses—in place. quickly outlined a mixture of legal actions and legislative moves to keep net neutrality in place, which more than a dozen states expected to follow.

Whether the states can succeed in stopping the Donald Trump-era elimination of the Barack Obama-era net neutrality requirements is of to adult content providers and consumers, because porn appears likely to be among the hardest hit of all industries affected by the rollback.

Why? Because porn comprises about one third of all internet traffic, and there are pages of porn on the World Wide Web, meaning that the giant corporations that now control internet access for most Americans will envision almost unimaginable profits to be reaped from slapping users with extra fees to access their favorite adult content.

refers to the practice of internet service providers treating all online services equally. In other words, massive sites such as Facebook and Google have the same access to broadband “pipes” as any small business—or adult content provider. Under the administration of President Barack Obama, the FCC put rules in place to enforce net neutrality in 2015.

But just two years later and with a new Republican majority on the five-member FCC board, those rules are now lifted with the FCC’s 3-2 vote on Thursday. Without those rules, giant corporate ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are free to block or slow down connections to adult sites—or any sites. They could also increase their profits by selling separate “packages” for specific internet services.

For example, rather than flat monthly rate to access the full internet including porn and everything else, ISPs could now charge an additional monthly fee for a package of adult sites, or for a social media package that would include Facebook and Twitter—or any price they want for access to anything they ISPs choose.

But porn sites appear among the most likely to be targeted for additional fees by companies hungry to inflate their profits, simply because the demand for adult content is extremely high.

Porn, , accounts for anywhere from 30 percent to 37 percent of all data on the internet, making it a potential goldmine for ISPs who decide to package access to adult sites at premium prices.

The free porn mega-site Pornhub, alone, is estimated to pull in 75 million visitors each day. Even if ISPs charged users an extra $1 per day, or $30 per month, to access Pornhub, the pool of cash to be divided among the small number of major ISPs would add up to more than $25 billion each year.

Another free porn streaming mega-site, YouPorn—owned by MindGeek, also the parent company of Pornhub— to transmit 28 million gigabytes of data per month.

Though the net neutrality rules were repealed on Thursday, there is no set date for when internet users may see the effects of the rollback, and find themselves faced with tightly restricted online access. With the attorneys general of both and announcing plans to sue the FCC, courts could grant injunctions against lifting the rules until the cases are decided.

California State Senator Scott Wiener, however, will battle the rollback by passing its own, state-level net neutrality rules.

"California can regulate business practices to require net neutrality, condition state contracts on adhering to net neutrality, and require net neutrality as part of cable franchise agreements, as a condition to using the public right-of-way for internet infrastructure, and in broadband packages," Wiener said on Thursday.

But any new state laws requiring net neutrality are sure to spark new legal battles, because the measures passed by the FCC board on Thursday from putting their own net neutrality regulations in place, and in a statement accompanying Thursday’s vote, Republican FCC Commission member Michael O'Rielly said that the FCC will take an aggressive approach to crushing state-level attempts to keep net neutrality rules in place.