Americans who believed net neutrality was settled had a rude awakening.
The landmark Federal Communications Commission (FCC), February 26, 2015 decision presumably secured Internet treatment as a public service (Title II Order). However, political developments ended up overturning net neutrality rules that had been in effect for only two years. These were the most important developments.”
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1. Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States in 2016.
Trump’s extraordinary path to the Oval Office was driven largely by economic populism and nativism. He also had a profound dislike for America’s media, political and entertainment establishment.
Trump’s views on net neutrality can be difficult to understand, as he has been publicly critical of Big Cable’s (e.g. Verizon, Comcast and AT&T monopolistic practices. He is likely to rely on free enterprise and deregulation rhetoric and to defer to prominent voices that have been opposed to net neutrality for many years. Peter Thiel is a prominent high-tech backer of President Trump during his presidential campaign.
2. Appointment to Ajit Pai as the New FCC Chairman.
Since his 2012 appointment to the FCC Commission by President Obama, Chairman Pai has made it clear that he is anti-net neutrality. The former Verizon attorney, Pai, was undoubtedly its most prominent and articulate critic in 2015, being one of only two commissioners to vote against Net Neutrality. Pai, the FCC chairman was able to remove these crucial internet oversight rules.
The 2-1 vote by the FCC board on May 18, 2017 was the first step in reversing net neutrality in the United States. The net neutrality was officially reversed by the December 2017 vote. While activists may continue to make their case before the courts and in the halls Congress, net neutrality has been officially rescinded.
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Net Neutrality Day of Action – Defending Internet Freedom
Reddit and Amazon, as well as Kickstarter, declared July 12, 2017 a “Net Neutrality Day of Action” in defense of internet freedom. They took a variety of creative approaches to inform and educate the public about the negative effects that FCC Title II protection would have upon all Americans, regardless of their occupation or income.
Three organizations led a grassroots “Battle for the Net”, which was spearheaded in part by Fight for the Future and Demand Progress. They are trying to make the following points:
Net neutrality is an economic issue. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and startups need open internet access to expand, market, and prosper.
Net neutrality is a matter of liberty and freedom. It is important to maintain Title II enforcement on Internet traffic to stop telecommunications giants blocking, throttling, or interfering with it.
Net neutrality is a social justice and racial issue. Maintaining an equal playing field for visible minority groups, the LGBT community, and other historically disadvantaged group to create, organize, and develop without being subject to “electronic discrimination” from powerful gatekeepers.
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Do not assume that net neutrality is settled. There are many powerful and articulate voices that strongly disagree with the FCC ruling. We will explore another side of this debate. In another article, we will examine the arguments in favor of a more regulated Internet and the implications for creativity and innovation.
Alert for Net Neutrality
The FCC voted against Net Neutrality. However, the Senate will vote on a resolution that would override the FCC and restore Net Neutrality through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts is leading the effort to pass CRA to overturn FCC decision.
Many websites have begun to “go red” to support the resolution. This is to increase awareness about the issue and the vote, which will begin on May 9th 2018 and continue until it takes place. Fight for the Future is spearheading the movement, which is also known as the “Red Alert for Net Neutrality”. Demand Progress and Free Press Action are supporting the cause.