Net Neutrality

FCC Repeals Net Neutrality, RIP Information Age

 

Following today’s vote on net neutrality, people are collectively losing their minds and I don’t blame them. This afternoon, the FCC voted 3-2 in favor of repealing net neutrality, a decision that is vehemently unpopular among literally, everyone I know. The vote followed party lines, despite being a non-partisan issue, with the three Republican commissioners voting to repeal and the two Democratic commissioners voting against. Over 80% of Americans opposed repealing net neutrality.

 

For over a decade, the FCC has been pro-net neutrality. They began promoting open internet rules since the mid-2000s, with formal regulations coming to be in 2010. In 2014, they were overturned when Verizon sued the FCC, though the court told the FCC to try again using Title II, which it did in 2015. Those rules are the ones overturned today.

 

Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the two Democrats on the commission, called the vote a “rash decision” that puts the FCC “on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.” The decision gives internet providers the “green light to go ahead and discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic. This is not good,” said Rosenworcel. “Not good for consumers. Not good for businesses. Not good for anyone who connects and creates online.”

 

Since the vote came to public attention, the American public has been firmly against repealing net neutrality. After the FCC opened the proposal to feedback, over 22 million comments were recorded. Then, of course, there’s the hubbub about how many of those comments are spam–a staggering 7.5 million, according to the FCC. Not that it really matters anyway. Since the beginning of the proceeding, the commission made it quite clear that it wasn’t interested in most public comments, despite a requirement to accept and consider them. Regardless of the spam, the net neutrality proceeding has been the most commented ever for the commission. 

 

It’s safe to say that there will be some sort of appeal, considering that barely two hours after the repeal, 17 different states have announced they’re planning to sue the FCC in order to preserve net neutrality. And that’s just so far. In court, the FCC will have to prove that enough has changed since 2015 and that there is enough evidence in their comments to back up their conclusion to revoke net neutrality. 

 

So what does all this actually mean for readers in America? So far, we really have no idea. Yesterday, The Verge published an op-ed piece written by the heads of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Library, and the Queens library systems which argued that the end of a free and open internet would worsen the inequality of education and opportunity, widening “the already yawning digital divide.”

 

Super. 

 

Anthony Marx (president, CEO of the New York Public Library) and Greg Cram (associate director of information policy) further delved into the issue, explaining exactly which library resources net neutrality protects, who would be hurt the most by the rollback, and why this move is threatening the basic foundation of American democracy. “We live in a world where access to information is essential for opportunity, for learning, for success, for civic life, for checking facts. Anything that reduces that, particularly for people who can’t afford alternatives, is a body blow to the basic democratic principles that the library stands for,” said Marx. 

 

Sure, people are pissed because the idea of paying for the free and fair use of the internet is absurd. With many complaints centered around social media, I’m shocked people aren’t more upset about online references like Wikipedia, JSTOR, or LexisNexis, let alone public library online resources. The amount of information currently available for free is staggering, and the public’s access to this information is about to be limited in a very real, very ridiculous way.

 

 

We have no way of knowing just how companies like Verizon, AT&T, and others plan to use the repeal, but it’s safe to say it won’t be to our benefit.

 

Text “BATTLE” to 384-387 to contact Congress and show your support for net neutrality. 

 

Featured Image Via Battle For The Net.