DemDaily: What is Net Neutrality?

December 15, 2017

Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to roll back Obama-era regulations that prohibited internet service providers (ISPs) from restricting the flow of data to and from websites.

The Commission voted 3-to-2 along party lines to reverse the historic 2015 regulations, which established the internet's guiding principle of "net neutrality," or a free and open internet.

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.

The February, 2015 regulations, passed by then-FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and made on President Obama's recommendation, reclassified broadband internet service as a telecommunications service. In doing so, it prevented the segregation of internet access by cost, and preserved net neutrality.

Thursday's repeal of those rules, led by FCC Chair and Trump appointee Ajit Pai, was immediately decried as a violation of the First Amendment's right to free speech by denying equal access to any part of the internet to any individual, based on their ability to pay.

Supporters of the decision hail it as a victory for investment and innovation.

Proponents of net neutrality include consumer advocates, human rights organizations, online and internet application companies, Electronic Frontier Foundation, ACLU, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Reddit, Vimeo, Yahoo!, Vonage, eBay, Amazon, IAC/InterActiveCorp, Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, Etsy, others.

Opponents include internet infrastructure service providers, AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, National Music Publishers Association, US Telecom & Broadband Association, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cisco, Tekelec, IBM, Intel, Panasonic, Ericsson, others.

"Just as your phone company shouldn't decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn't interfere with the content you view or post online" --

What Now?
A rapidly growing list of states have, or are expected to, file law suits against the action, including New York, Washington, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Iowa.

Under the Congressional Review Act, and with a two-thirds majority vote in both houses, Congress can pass a "Resolution of Disapproval" and overturn the FCC's decision.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources:, Mic, Wikipedia, FCC, CNN Tech, Engadget, Wired

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