Net Neutrality Repealed: What Now?
The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines to dismantle Obama-era net-neutrality rules on Thursday.
Heading into the vote, multiple protesters surrounded the FCC building as well as stores of major telecom companies across the country. The protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with recent discussions of repealing the equal internet access regulations. People also took to social media to write about their concerns and attack the commission’s chairman, Ajit Pai.
As FCC chairman, Pai has been at the center of the net neutrality discussions. Back in October, the Senate confirmed Pai to lead the commission, putting Congressional Republicans and President Trump a step closer to fulfilling their agenda, which includes deregulating Obama-era regulations.
Pai has long argued that reversing Obama’s Title II rules, which maintain the internet free and open to all, “will bring high speed Internet access to more Americans.” He also said that “repealing [net neutrality] will help spur innovation and competition” among the telecommunications industry.
Net neutrality was previously seen as a partisan issue, but it seems like that’s no longer the case. In recent poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, 83 percent of voters supported to keep the FCC’s net neutrality rules under Obama, with 75 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats on board with safeguarding the measures.
Top heads from the social media companies and video streaming providers also weighed in on the debate. Michael Beckerman, the Internet Association’s CEO, said that “Internet Service Providers should not be allowed to use this gatekeeper position at the point of connection to discriminate against website and apps.”
With Thursday’s vote, ISPs like Verizon and AT&T will be able to create fast and slow lanes, charging customers additional fees for faster access to certain websites. ISPs will also be able to slap pay tolls to gain access to lesser known websites and allow cable companies to prioritize their own content and block or stall its competitors’ websites.
Even with these regulations lifted, politicians on Capitol Hill are calling for Congressional action. Earlier this week, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) called on “both sides of the aisle” to create bipartisan legislation aiming “to preserve a free and open internet for decades to come.”