The fight to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s changes that end net neutrality protection is headed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco.
So far, 22 challenges to the FCC’s anti-net neutrality rules have been filed. Opposition to the Restoring Internet Freedom order includes state Attorneys General, California’s Public Utilities Commission, internet companies, and public interest groups, according to Reuters.
Net Neutrality was essentially codified in 2015 when the FCC reclassified Internet Service Providers as utilities. That change let the FCC regulate internet services and impose rules that prevent providers from throttling or blocking content passing through their networks.
Net neutrality is the idea that all data should pass freely and unfettered between content providers, online services, and users. Netflix dealt with the exact opposite of this a few years ago when Comcast and Verizon throttled its video streams to viewers until the company agreed to pay extra money. Once Netflix agreed to the deal, problems with its video streams stalling or dropping out went away.
Without net neutrality rules, ISPs are free to charge companies to get their content delivered to users, block or manipulate online search results, and slow down or block content that competes with their own services.
Ajit Pai Hates Net Neutrality
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has openly opposed net neutrality controls ever since they were enacted, and when he was appointed to his position vowed to undo his predecessor’s work. His Restoring Internet Freedom order was filed with the Federal Register on February 22nd, opening the door for the inevitable lawsuits.
Now that the lawsuits contesting the order are coming in the U.S. Judicial Panel is funneling them into the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco. Those lawsuits, coupled with the still needed approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget for some aspects of the order, will keep ISPs from abandoning net neutrality for now.
Even if the FCC’s net neutrality reversal stands, there’s still a chance a free and open internet in the U.S. will live on. Federal law makers are discussing the possibility of new legislation to protect net neutrality, and some states are working on laws requiring ISPs to honor net neutrality.
For now, that means Ajit Pai is close to killing net neutrality in the U.S., but he hasn’t accomplished his goal yet.