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Rollback of Net Neutrality to Move Forward Next Week

by Countable | 5.12.17

On Thursday, May 18, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a vote to formally propose its unwinding of the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules. While it won’t mark the end of the process — the newly proposed rule will need to go through a public comment period before it’s finalized — it will be a milestone in the regulatory rollback of net neutrality, which also faces a looming threat from Congress.

What is net neutrality?

It’s the term applied to the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet rules, which classified internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers and prohibited them from blocking content, throttling traffic based on content, or being paid to prioritize certain content through "fast lanes." The FCC used Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which was originally enacted to regulate the Ma Bell telephone monopoly during the Great Depression, to justify the rules which have so far survived legal challenges.

Supporters of net neutrality believe that the rules are essential to keeping the internet free and open, and that all content on the internet should be treated equally. They say that won’t be the case if ISPs are allowed to prioritize certain content relative while slowing content from other sources.

Detractors say that net neutrality stifles innovation that would allow ISPs to find ways to better deliver services like streaming video. They call fears that ISPs will block content unfounded, because consumers would then choose rival ISPs with better offerings, and that the internet has always been open to all — even before net neutrality came into being two years ago.

What’s happening at the FCC next week?

In an open meeting, the FCC will vote on what’s called a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," which is basically an official announcement and explanation of the agency’s plan for the regulation that undoes net neutrality, the “Restoring Internet Freedom” rule. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who has advocated for the new rule, and the two other commissioners will vote on it, at which point it will be published in the Federal Register and opened up for a public comment period before the rule is potentially amended and finalized.

It should be noted that as of today, the FCC’s commissioners entered what’s known as a "Sunshine Period" in the buildup to Thursday’s meetings, in which public comments and presentations to commissioners are temporarily suspended so that they have time to reflect for themselves on the upcoming agenda. This period will end when the FCC releases its official plan on Thursday, or if the Restoring Internet Freedom rule is removed from the agenda.

What’s happening in Congress?

Lawmakers are also eager to get in on the repeal of net neutrality, viewing legislation as a tool to prevent the FCC from re-imposing similar net neutrality rules in the future and a complement to regulatory action. In recent weeks, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Restoring Internet Freedom Act that would accomplish both the repeal of net neutrality and prevent the FCC from reinstating the rule without Congress’s approval.

While his plan has the backing of 10 Republican senators who signed on as cosponsors, it may not end up being leadership’s preferred bill on the issue. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), whose committee has jurisdiction over communications issues, is drafting legislation that he hopes will gain the bipartisan support needed to get the 60 votes required to pass the bill in the Senate.

Click below to read and vote on Sen. Lee’s bill to repeal net neutrality, or use the "Take Action" button to tell your reps what you think.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Public Domain via Pixabay)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(881)
  • dwsnyc
    05/12/2017
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    The Internet has become *essential* to the function of our society, and it only functions well if net neutrality is in place.

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  • Steven
    05/12/2017
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    Other than Healthcare, this is one of the most important issues we are facing. The internet should be free an open. What we have today is a result of enforced information equality. Republicans are supposed to be believers in the free market, and the market cannot be free without net neutrality.

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  • Tim
    05/12/2017
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    ISPs must not be allowed to influence the content I view or the ways in which I use the Internet. The argument that "innovation will be stifled" is obvious subterfuge. Block this attack on your constituents's access to the Internet - do not favor corporations over voters.

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  • Desiree
    05/12/2017
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    Keep the internet neutral and treat it like a public utility.

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  • RishiGandhi
    05/12/2017
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    Net Neutrality is an extension of our basic freedoms. To roll it back will create various private fiefdoms for ISPs to influence and control how consumers use the internet. Without net neutrality we will be less free in this information dense world we live in.

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  • Steven
    05/12/2017
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    Net neutrality needs to remain in place, all traffic must be treated equally.

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  • Joanne
    05/12/2017
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    The rollback of Net Neutrality must be stopped!!! Ajit Pai is moving this for the big money companies like AT & T. Net Neutrality is needed to keep the internet free and open at affordable prices for consumers. If this is allowed to happen they get to choose what what they believe is priority and slow down what they don't, causing consumers to pay more for faster service. Also, I believe, our privacy is at risk. Please do what you can to stop this. Thank you.

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  • Caleb
    05/12/2017
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    If you support the FCC's current attempt to dismantle net neutrality rules you are not acting in the interest of conservatism. You are not acting on the interests of your constituents. You are not acting in the interest of the country. You are solely acting in the interest of corporations. It's that simple. You will once again be abandoning the people you are supposed to represent to protect the corporations that you actually represent. I will do everything in my power to make sure that every voter I know is aware of this as well. Do the right thing for a change. Support net neutrality rules and tell Ajit Pai, "NO!"

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  • Kunphormyst
    05/12/2017
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    Net neutrality ensures equitable access to information on the internet, which is becoming increasingly essential in our modern world. I do not want corporations censuring the information I can reach or making the process of reaching non-preferred sites impossible it laborious. Would my internet company be able to filter out information about competing services? Would they make deals with content creators and block access to news organization if they don't have a deal? These thoughts terrify me. Please do not let us lose net neutrality on your watch.

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  • Jesse
    05/12/2017
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    This issue does not align with either party much like when Congress decided to let companies sell our browser info to advertisers and ISPs. The vast majority of Americans were against that action, and the same will go for this except now we face a much bigger threat to the way we experience the internet.

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  • Allison
    05/12/2017
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    The internet is no longer optional. Net neutrality is key to ensuring everyone has equal and fair access to it, and that includes business's access to it too.

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  • Christine
    05/12/2017
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    I am simply not interested in having internet service providers (who we pay money to) filter, block, or impede on the consumer's ability to use the internet freely. The argument that we would simply find another provider with better service is not sustainable nor fair by any means.

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  • Philip
    05/12/2017
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    The net neutrality is best for the people.

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  • Anthony
    05/12/2017
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    The free and open internet has become ESSENTIAL to our society and ANY rollbacks of regulations ensuring neutrality are ABSOLUTELY unconscionable!

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  • Brian
    05/12/2017
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    "Restoring" the Internet will only break it. By not allowing ISPs to prioritize data they are ensuring companies large and small can compete on a fair playing field. By allowing these same ISPs to create throttled content lanes they ensure that only large companies, with the bankroll to pay for these "fast lanes" can guarantee service and content. Many areas of the country only have 1 or 2 options for internet service-we can't all just "switch to another one that doesn't do that." And if they all do that well guess what-the little guys go under and we're left with the bankrolled conglomerates that get to decide what we see. Quit taking steps towards state-sponsored entertainment and information; we're not Russia or China (yet.)

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  • Barbara
    05/12/2017
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    It's vital that net neutrality be preserved.

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  • Clare
    05/12/2017
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    The Internet is an essential public resource to all Americans for countless reasons. The people with money and in power MUST NOT be allowed to manipulate the connection of content they don't want citizens/consumers to see. Eliminating net neutrality would allow major unethical actions by ISPs/Cable companies and their connections to lawmakers. It would seriously threaten the modern free nation.

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  • Ross
    05/12/2017
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    Net neutrality is essential. If you charge "tolls," you give a huge competitive advantage to the super-rich and hamper access for everyone else

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  • Evan
    05/12/2017
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    Net neutrality is one of the most important aspects of our countries source of knowledge. The internet is what aids us to be educated and stay educated, without it we would become an ignorant society. There is truly nothing worse than ignorance, and rolling back on net neutrality would be a catalyst to our countries already severe problem with ignorance. Knowledge is power, those words will always be true. Any attempt to thwart knowledge is an attack on our countries foundation.

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  • wedensmore
    05/12/2017
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    The policies governing net neutrality should remain as they are. No one should have the advantage of buying their way to omniscience. All start-ups must be allowed to succeed or fail on their own merits. Please vote no when this bill is introduced.

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