FCC Starts Net Neutrality Protections Rollback

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to roll back net neutrality protections will move forward. Pai and commissioner Michael O'Rielly voted to move the proposal forward; commissioner Mignon Clyburn voted against it.

Pai revealed his proposal in late April. At the same time, the FCC said that removing the net neutrality regulations introduced under former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler would create jobs, encourage companies to improve their networks, and offer better internet access to rural Americans. The decision to regulate ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, we were told, was the only thing standing in the way of those advances.

Rights groups quickly decried Pai's proposal. Former FCC commissioner Michael Copps said in a statement issued by Common Cause that Pai's proposal would be a "body blow to the open dialogue upon which successful self-government depends." Copps also called the proposal a "red light for democracy and a green light for cable and telecom giants to control where we go and what we do on the internet."

The proposal also caught the ire of Last Week Tonight and its host, John Oliver, who urged his viewers to speak out against Pai's proposal. Depending on who you ask, the segment worked. The FCC said after the episode aired that its site was hit by distributed-denial of service (DDoS) attacks; the Fight for the Future rights group said it's more likely that Oliver's segment inspired people to express their problems with the proposal.

Yet the FCC said in a press release about today's vote that it "took the first step toward restoring Internet freedom and promoting infrastructure investment, innovation, and choice by proposing to end utility-style regulation of broadband Internet access service." It also said Pai's plan revolves around three things: rolling back Title II regulations, classifying mobile broadband internet service as a private mobile service, and eliminating the internet conduct standard. All three are supposed to return internet regulations to their pre-Wheeler state and offer ISPs more freedom.

The backlash was swift--and it didn't come only from tech-focused organizations. Here's what Rashad Robinson, executive director of the Color of Change racial justice organization, said in a statement about the FCC's vote:

Today’s move by the FCC and Chairman Ajit Pai to gut net neutrality rules will devastate Black communities. Net neutrality is essential to protecting our free and open Internet, which has been crucial to today’s fights for civil rights and equality. Our ability to have our voices heard in this democracy depends on an open Internet because it allows voices and ideas to spread based on substance, rather than financial backing. Net neutrality helps to ensure that the Internet is a place for innovation and opportunity for all, rather than just the wealthy few.

This isn't an abstract problem that only affects the ease with which you can stream videos, download games, or visit certain websites. The internet has become a core part of modern society, and Robinson's statement probably won't be the only one warning about the broader implications of deregulating U.S. internet providers.

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  • dstarr3
    And America inches itself closer still towards losing its first-world nation status.
    12
  • caustin582
    Anonymous said:
    If any of you actually believe that NN was concocted with the purpose of preventing monopolization of carriers, offering high speed internet access to rural areas, and prohibiting ISPs from throttling as it was sold to the public, then you are fools. Ask anyone in Orlando area how well it's worked out having dealt with Brighthouse and Time Warner and now are dealing with Spectrum. The FTC did nothing to stop it. NN would not stop it either.

    It's nothing more than federal government overreach with more control over what content would be allowed on the internet. We need regulation of ISPs. We do not need another fascist government entity mandating what we can and cannot see on the internet. In the words of Tim Wu, the law professor who coined the term "net neutrality", the internet rules are about "shaping media policy, social policy, oversight of the political process, [and] issues of free speech.”



    Wow, where to begin?

    First of all, I don't think anyone is claiming that net neutrality exists to prevent monopolies or extend access to rural areas. Those are separate issues unaffected by net neutrality. The third thing you listed--throttling of content by ISPs--is exactly what net neutrality is about, and it's a very real concern. Comcast and Verizon have both been caught in the act, and now thanks to Ajit Pai, this is going to be standard business practice.

    Net neutrality laws do not enable the government to censor anything. Do you have any example of this actually happening under the justification of NN, or can you point out something in NN policy that would even theoretically justify such censorship? NN simply means that all internet traffic must be treated equally. If the government is controlling what people can and cannot see on the internet, then that by definition is not net neutrality.

    I hate to make personal assumptions, but it sounds like your cynicism regarding government or your infatuation with the private sector is short circuiting your ability to properly identify which side is working in the general public's best interests on this issue. Put agenda and politics aside for a moment and the answer should become obvious.
    12
  • Spazzy
    What a crock, now ISP's will be more brazen than before Net Neutrality was enacted. Pai just told the ISP's they can do as they wish. If some law is bothering you, let me know, we will get rid of it for you. Somebody should fire that fool, Pai! Net Neutrality is a good thing!
    10
  • Other Comments
  • dstarr3
    And America inches itself closer still towards losing its first-world nation status.
    12
  • Spazzy
    What a crock, now ISP's will be more brazen than before Net Neutrality was enacted. Pai just told the ISP's they can do as they wish. If some law is bothering you, let me know, we will get rid of it for you. Somebody should fire that fool, Pai! Net Neutrality is a good thing!
    10
  • jaber2
    We never have a choice, its either this or that and if this and that are pushing for the same thing then it don't matter which to choose.
    3