The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just voted 3-2 in favor of ending Obama-era net neutrality protections. Votes towed party lines, with both Democratic members dissenting and Republicans unanimously voted to return the internet to the free market, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai says.
Net neutrality is the idea that internet access is treated as a public utility like water or electricity. Government protections stopped internet providers from throttling content providers bandwidth. For example: Verizon is a internet provider and soon will be offering their own original content through a streaming platform.
Under the new rules Verizon could allow their content to stream faster while stifling bandwidth for competition. Customers with Verizon internet could potentially pay increased rates to use Netflix or other competitors content at the same speed as Verizon’s content. One-third of Americans who only have a single internet service provider (ISP) to choose from, Motherboard reports. This puts over 100 million Americans at risk of unfair pricing for content they get for free or at low cost currently.
Pai has long been a critic of net neutrality, saying it hampers ISP’s. Title II protections give internet service providers strong legal backing, The Verge reports. Pai says removing Title II returns the internet to the free market and that the internet as we know it won’t change drastically, and this will encourage ISP’s to create more services and content packages, but critics strongly disagree.
“I dissent, because I am one of millions outraged,” Mignon Clyburn said. Clyburn is a dissenting FCC board member, New York Times reports. Clyburn fiercely condemned the commission for ignoring the millions of citizens that vocalized their support for net neutrality protections. She continued by saying “the FCC pulls out its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the nation’s broadband consumers.”
“As a result of today’s misguided action, our broadband providers will get extraordinary new power from this agency,” said Jessica Rosenworcel said. Rosenworcel is the second FCC board member that voted no, The Hill reports.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing Pai and the FCC, challenging the Title II removal in court. Schneiderman said in a statement that his requests to delay the vote we’re repeatedly denied. The FCC also refused to help with Schneiderman’s investigation into the millions of fake comments that poured into the FCC website, tainting the public record. Critics say this shows the FCC’s disdain for public opinion, NPR reports.
Washington state also vowed to defend its citizens and challenge the FCC in court. Gov. Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington states representatives released a statement Wednesday night stating their case against the FCC.
“This is not a partisan issue because Republican and Democrats agree that a free and open internet is good for consumers and good for this state,” Democratic Rep. Drew Hansen said. “We certainly wish the FCC would do the right thing, but if they don’t do the right thing, we will act and we will protect consumers here.”
Watch Washington’s full response below and other reactions to today’s net neutrality repeal.
Net Neutrality Reactions From Around The Web
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) December 13, 2017
We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 14, 2017
I plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution that would restore the Open Internet Order and reverse the @FCC’s historic mistake of repealing #NetNeutrality. This fight is far from over. pic.twitter.com/FTyqf1U83X
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) December 14, 2017
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn's closing remarks before the 3-2 vote to repeal Obama-era #NetNeutrality rules:
"What saddens me the most today is that the agency that is supposed to protect you is actually abandoning you." pic.twitter.com/eA44FDqyIt
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 15, 2017