On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unveiled its plans to rollback its own 2015 Net Neutrality rules—a move that has been long expected, and dreaded, by Net Neutrality advocates.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing to change the commission’s classification of home and mobile ISPs, meaning that they’ll no longer be classed as common carriers. This will eliminate the legal justification for the net neutrality rules and a number of other consumer protections.
As the FCC is Republican-controlled, the proposal is likely to pass in December when voted on.
In a beautiful example of Orwellian doublespeak, Pai named his proposal the Draft Order To Restore Internet Freedom And Eliminate Heavy-Handed Internet Regulations.
Of course, as we’ve talked about before on this blog, these regulations are the ones that force ISPs to treat all web content equally. They stop ISPs from creating a two-tier internet and charging for access to premium services. They stop them from prioritizing companies that can pay higher tariffs to have their content seen first.
This proposal would, without a doubt, change the internet as we know it.
Pai, however, frames this as a move to stop the government from “micromanaging the internet.” In a statement, he said:
Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades.
…the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.
The reality is that without Net Neutrality, small business will find it a lot harder to innvoate—in fact, will find it a lot harder to get a foot on the ladder and to have their ideas seen.
Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn dubbed the proposal the “Destroying Internet Freedom” plan. He then went further in his criticism:
[The plan will] dismantle net neutrality as we know it by giving the green light to our nation’s largest broadband providers to engage in anti-consumer practices, including blocking, slowing down traffic, and paid prioritization of online applications and services.
In pushing this proposal, Pai and the FCC are ignoring the widespread calls to maintain Net Neutrality—not just from internet users, but from the industry on a much wider scale.
So we have to keep on voicing our support for Net Neutrality.
The vote to finalize the repeal is set for December 14th, so in the mean time, all your representative, call your party, call your mayor, call your Mom. Let everyone know how aggressively you condemn these proposals, and don’t stop saying it until they’ve listened.
Contact Congress via the Electronic Frontier Foundation here.