The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted today to repeal net neutrality in a purely partisan vote.
This is a terrible decision. By ending net neutrality rules, the FCC and the Trump administration are going against millions of Americans who want and deserve consumer-friendly Internet regulations. This decision gives big corporations an unfair advantage over small businesses. https://t.co/XyCMJZ1Cwb
— Nanette D. Barragán (@RepBarragan) December 14, 2017
The rules were set in place to regulate Internet service providers (ISPs), like Comcast, Verizon, and TimeWarner, so they don’t harm American consumers. Essentially, net neutrality made it so ISPs had to treat all web traffic equally, meaning that no website could get preferential treatment over another. It also made it so ISPs couldn’t force you to pay more for faster service.
The vote came down to a 3:2 decision in favor of eliminating net neutrality, which more than 80 percent of Americans are in favor of protecting. The decision fell to party line, with three Republican men voting to eliminate the consumer protections and two Democrat women voting to preserve the right to fair and equal Internet. Repealing the Open Internet Order, the official name of the net neutrality rules, could bring disastrous consequences for free speech on the Internet, according to experts.
So, what can happen when companies aren’t regulated by net neutrality rules? An example is when AT&T blocked costumers from using FaceTime unless they changed their plans. Consumer watch groups threatened to take their complaints to the government, which forced AT&T to open up FaceTime capabilities to all the iPhones and iPads on their system.
Several politicians have come forward denouncing the FCC’s decision to roll back Internet protections for Americans. However, the impact of the vote won’t be immediate.
I am disappointed by the @FCC’s vote to roll back #NetNeutrality protections despite numerous calls from Congress & the public to delay it. The #Internet is a pillar of our freedom and economy, and any changes require thoughtful public deliberation. -JG https://t.co/lA2FC4lqO9 pic.twitter.com/l8VGebmo2B
— Rep. Jimmy Gomez (@RepJimmyGomez) December 14, 2017
According to TechCrunch, Internet lovers should not be too concerned just yet. While the vote might have been super rushed, as many unpopular Republican decisions have been lately, the government will continue to move at the slow pace it always has. The vote today does not mean that net neutrality is instantly gone. The FCC will still have to get the decision entered into the federal register and that could take a couple of months.
Several states are already gearing up for a legal battle to challenge the ruling in an effort to reverse it.
I’ll be leading a multistate lawsuit bringing the resources of AGs across the country to bear in the fight to protect the internet and the millions of Americans who rely on it. #NetNeutrality pic.twitter.com/wHVFDD8HsJ
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) December 14, 2017
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a multi-state lawsuit against the FCC to stop what he calls an “illegal rollback of net neutrality.” Schneiderman warns that the decision could mean that consumers will have to start paying to access websites like Twitter and Facebook because it will be up to he ISPs who regulate traffic.
The states joining the lawsuit include: Virginia, Delaware, Hawaii, California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont, and District of Columbia.
While most politicians have spoken out against the move, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro might be using it as a way to undermine Sen. Ted Cruz’ campaign.
I support net neutrality. They don’t. https://t.co/dGb8e9tHWm
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) December 13, 2017
The recent electoral loss of Roy Moore in Alabama has given Democrats a new lease on elections. There has already been a lot of speculation that Moore’s loss has set Democrats up to take on people like Cruz to and take back the House.
Major Internet companies have come out against the decision that will impact everyone who uses the Internet.
We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 14, 2017
In a speech before the vote, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai claimed the repeal of net neutrality is in favor of Internet consumers.
“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Pai said before the vote, as reported in the New York Times. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”
Yet, experts claim that the opposite will happen.
“If we don’t have net neutrality protections that enforce tenets of fairness online, you give internet service providers the ability to choose winners and losers,” Steve Huffman, chief executive of Reddit, told The New York Times. “This is not hyperbole.”
Even though the affects of this vote will not be felt immediately, the backlash is swift and widespread.
When 83% of US citizens don't want the FCC to repeal #NetNeutrality and yet they do it anyway, it is hard to believe our government is "of the people, by the people, for the people."
— Norman Caruso (@GamingHistorian) December 14, 2017
While most Americans are in favor of net neutrality, Schniederman discovered millions of fraudulent comments have been made online under names and identities dead people, children, or other people who’s identities were used. Schneiderman’s office is investigating the identity theft and will be using it to attack the recent vote.
The fight to save the Internet is not over. Please call your elected representatives and let them know you want to protect a fair and equal Internet for all Americans.
Just to be clear, the FCC voted to repeal #NetNeutrality (which we already knew would happen) but Congress still hasn’t voted (which is what we’ve been campaigning for)
Simplified: WE HAVEN’T LOST YET CALL YOUR DAMN CONGRESSPEOPLE pic.twitter.com/BYwgVzAbWg
— Jonah Green (@JonahGreen) December 14, 2017
If you don’t know who to call, you can find your elected officials here.