The FCC Voted to Repeal Net Neutrality. Here’s What Happens Next
On Thursday, December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held their highly-publicized hearing to gut net neutrality regulations enacted under the Obama administration. In a 3-2 vote, the Commission moved forward with its massively unpopular plan to repeal net neutrality. While this move is a major setback for advocates of a free and open Internet, the battle is far from over; it’s merely changing venues.
Net neutrality regulations prevented Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from prioritizing some Internet traffic above others, requiring them to treat all traffic fairly. This means ISPs weren’t allowed to slow down your Internet speeds on one website or platform while granting full speeds on a different, competing platform. It also prevented providers from dividing access to websites, apps, and services into individual packages, the way most cable subscriptions are handled.
Now that those protections are gone, many are worried that the Internet will be divided into the haves and have-nots: where the wealthy can pay extra for the same Internet freedoms we all once enjoyed, while the poor will be left with severely limited access. This hobbling of one of mankind’s greatest achievements would make it harder for people to communicate with one another, limit their ability to find jobs, and would almost assuredly be a death sentence for thousands of small businesses who rely on the Internet.
But, like with any great conflict, the loss of a battle doesn’t mean the war is decided. The fate of net neutrality will likely head to the courtroom, as advocate groups like the Free Press and others will challenge the FCC’s decision.
It’s also inevitable that Congress will play a role in the ultimate fate of net neutrality, as advocacy groups have already begun calling on representatives to overturn the decision and enact binding legislation to protect Internet freedom.
The FCC’s decision struck a near-fatal blow to Internet freedom, but there’s still time to fight back. Contact your representatives, educate your friends and family about net neutrality, and use the power of the Internet to make your voice heard while it’s still an option.