Welp, they did it. Federal Communications Chair Ajit Pai and the other two Republican members of the FCC voted to end Net Neutrality. They did so with zero public hearings, a comment system marred by fake comments—including Russian-submitted comments in favor of ending Net Neutrality—and overwhelming public support for Net Neutrality regulation.
Net Neutrality is the name for the idea that all Internet traffic must be treated equally. Voting for repealing Title II classification that enforced Net Neutrality were Ajit Pai, Michael O’Rielly, and Brendan Carr. Voting to preserve Title II classification were Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel. Gizmodo published their dissenting opinions in full.
What Ending Net Neutrality Regulation Means
This vote allows broadband providers to do with your traffic what they want. Under the regulations just voted in by this cabal of buffoonery, broadband providers can block sites or apps, throttle them, speed up others, charge content providers more to use their pipes, or whatever they want. They could even charge you more to use, say, social media platforms or streaming video services. As long as those providers disclose to their consumers what they’re getting, they can do what they wish.
The rational used by Ajit Pai is that disclosure equals competition, and that consumers will now be free to choose the services they want. This, of course, is a lie, because a huge chunk of America has no competition to choose from, and that’s according to the FCC’s own data.
Broadband providers have publicly stated they would never do any of these awful things. But then, they were doing these awful things before the FCC voted in 2015 to impose Title II classification on them—which is why it happened. So, please forgive my utter lack of trust in companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.
Challenging the FCC’s Action
Lots of groups have promised to challenge Thursday’s action in court, while others have promised to take this to Congress. As noted above, the public overwhelmingly supports Net Neutrality regulation. The Washington Post noted that a University of Maryland survey published on Tuesday found that 83% of Americans opposed the FCC’s plan, and that includes 75% of Republicans.
Which could be why Ajit Pai held zero public hearings on ending Net Neutrality. Zero. None, despite bipartisan calls to do so. In addition to we, the people, being opposed this idiocy, tech companies, Tim Berners-Lee, consumer groups, and others also opposed it. Broadband providers, though—the people the FCC is supposed to regulate—were all for it.
What You Can Do about Net Neutrality
If you are interested in restoring sanity to internet regulation, the first thing you can do is remember that toolbox pictured above.
Mr. Pai, we will remember you.
While it’s possible court challenges will reverse part or all of what happened today, it’s not likely. That means making Net Neutrality something you vote on when it comes to elections.
That statement isn’t about partisanship or Democrat/Republican. As noted above, Net Neutrality has bipartisan support. Demand that your senators and representatives support Net Neutrality, whichever party you support. In the next election cycle, support only candidates that care about this issue, starting in the primary process.
The internet as we know it was built on the principles of Net Neutrality. It is up to we, the people, to put politicians in power who respect our access to information, and to demand that they restore Net Neutrality immediately.