The Fight For Net Neutrality Accelerates, Invokes New Tactics

Net Neutrality

The recent FCC ruling that undermines the concept of net neutrality isn’t the final say as new political and tactical countermeasures gain momentum.

Two articles this week spell out the very positive prospects in the fight to preserve net neutrality.

In the first article, Digital Trends reports how the powerful and influential Internet Association is putting significant pressure on the U.S. Senate to reverse the FCC’s ruling that undermines net neutrality.

Internet Association members.
Internet Association members.

The Internet Association is a trade association that represents its many member companies on matters of public policy. Members include Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix to name a few. (But not Apple for some reason.)

Digital Trends writes:

In an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the IA argues that a free and open internet is to the benefit of all users, and that the net neutrality rules need to stay in place to combat the ruthless monopoly held by broadband providers in many areas.

This effort has more weight than it seems because it is supported by other internet technology leaders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), according to Ernesto Falcon of the EFF.

The Hill reports that a bill to overturn the FCC’s decision has garnered the support of the entire Democratic party and a single Republican senator. This means that only one more Republican senator is needed to push the bill through.

In the second article above, from the Washington Post, a few states are taking an interesting business and legal approach. If a company wants to do business in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, or Montana, it will have to abide by net neutrality rules. From WaPo:

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) this week became one of the latest to adopt the strategy, signing an executive order that effectively forces Internet service providers (ISPs) that do business with the state to abide by strong net neutrality rules.

Rather than directly regulating the broadband industry, the executive order imposes procurement obligations on state agencies. Under the order, state officials contracting with ISPs for service may only do so if the providers agree not to block or slow websites, or to offer websites faster delivery to consumers in exchange for an extra fee.

Questions have been raised about the prospects for success with this tactic, but it does demonstrate that several states that are looking out for the best interests of their citizens and local corporations are developing remedial strategies. Even if those don’t succeed, it could set the stage, I surmise, for new approaches in concert with the Internet Association.

The bottom line is that while net neutrality seems to have taken a short-term hit for political purposes, several powerful organizations and states are effectively fighting back.

Tune into our Background Mode podcast on February 12 to hear the EFF’s Legislative Counsel, Ernesto Falcon, fill in the details of the fight to restore net neutrality.

Next Page: The News Debris For The Week of February 5th. Sizing up the HomePod.

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