December 14, 2017 — The FCC recently voted to kill Net Neutrality, and unsurprisingly, the vote passed with 3-2 in favor of gutting it. What exactly is Net Neutrality? What comes next? Is there any hope of reviving it?
On February 26, 2015, the FCC under the Obama Administration ruled in favor of Net Neutrality and modified Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Obama’s FCC supported Net Neutrality by classifying broadband Internet as a telecommunications service. Internet Service Providers such as Verizon and AT&T see the Internet as a commodity rather than a service, which is why they’re so keen on regulating it and controlling it through paywalls.
Without Net Neutrality, ISPs can control the flow of their customers’ internet by slowing down or even blocking certain sites, requiring them to pay for them to have full access. Their customers would be forced to use the “preferred” services. For instance, back in late July of 2017, Verizon throttled connections to Netflix. Although they claimed it to be “testing”, their users were met with a frustrating loading screen and no clear explanation. Maybe the throttled connections to Twitter and Facebook will revive our long-lost comrades, such as Myspace and AOL Messenger. I really hope not.
Is there any hope of avoiding a strongly regulated internet? Will we really have to pay $15 more a month to see grandma’s pictures on Facebook? Most likely, yes. However, the process to get Net Neutrality officially rolled back could take a while. In fact, it takes just a couple of months for the Communications Act and Telecommunications Act to be amended. Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the FCC, has been met with heavy resistance by several Democratic senators, as well as other organizations who are determined to file lawsuits and block his successful vote.
For now, Net Neutrality is dead, although it could take several months to fully see the effects of the FCC’s vote. The best hope for reviving Net Neutrality is hoping in the future of a Democratic FCC that will repeal Pai’s vote. Until then, Facebook and Tweet like there’s no tomorrow.