Sorry to ruin your Thursday, but the FCC has announced when its new rules concerning internet service providers will go into effect. The FCC’s laughably-named “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” will take effect in June, removing regulations that prevented internet service providers from blocking or throttling internet traffic and implementing paid prioritization. The repeal vote took place in Demember 2017, despite repeated polls that show the US public greatly favors net neutrality protections and regulations.
Still, the FCC presses on, and today announced that its order will go into effect on June 11, 2018. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai delivered a statement in today’s announcement, claiming that the repeal of these “heavy-handed” regulations will allow for more innovation within the realm of broadband internet. Pai also claims that the repeal of these regulations will help the US become a leader in the roll out of 5G.
“I strongly support a free and open Internet,” Pai says in the FCC’s announcement. “And that’s exactly what we’ve had for decades, starting in the Clinton Administration. The Internet wasn’t broken in 2015, when the prior FCC buckled to political pressure and imposed heavy-handed Title II rules on the Internet economy. It doesn’t make sense to apply outdated rules from 1934 to the Internet, but that’s exactly what the prior Administration did.”
The worry is that ISPs will use the repeal of these regulations to implement anti-competitive fast lanes that charge businesses and users extra for prioritization. Pai has done his best to convince us that the repeal of Title II protections is a good thing, but thus far, all that’s amounted to is the argument that Title II rules are outdated and harmful, without any real evidence as to how they restrict innovation. Pai did make this cringe-fest of a video, though, to somehow convince us that net neutrality going away won’t be bad at all.
It’s worth pointing out that not everyone at the Republican-led FCC agrees with the agency’s decision. “Today, the FCC gave notice that net neutrality protections will be taken off the books on June 11. This is profoundly disappointing,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a separate statement today. “The agency failed to listen to the American public and gave short shrift to their deeply held belief that internet openness should remain the law of the land. The agency turned a blind eye to serious problems in its process — from Russian intervention to fake comments to stolen identities in its files.”
When Rosenworcel says that the FCC is failing to listen to the American public, she isn’t wrong. Many polls have shown that US citizens are mostly in favor of keeping net neutrality, with an April 2018 poll from the University of Maryland finding that 86% of respondents oppose repealing these protections. 82% of the Republicans polled said they oppose repeal as well, which is actually an increase from 75% in a similar poll from December, so this doesn’t really seem to be a partisan issue, despite what Ajit Pai would have us believe.
There is hope for net neutrality yet. The US Senate will vote on whether to kill or keep net neutrality at some point before June 12. Here’s hoping that those senators concerned only about voting along party lines consider the polls that have expressed overwhelming support for net neutrality, but just in case they don’t, you can find and contact your senator through the US Senate website and tell them what you expect of them when it comes to this vote.