The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to repeal the Open Internet Order, effectively eliminating net neutrality. These rules were in place to prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking and throttling internet traffic, helping to keep the Internet open and fair.
Two years ago, the FCC invoked its authority to classify broadband service providers as Title II common carriers. While classified this way, the FCC maintained the ability to regulate broadband service providers, preventing unfair practices like blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of certain websites. In addition, Title II classification carried provisions for network construction, universal service, competition, network interconnection, and Internet access for disabled people.
The net neutrality debate has been steeped in controversy. Fake FCC comments, stymied investigations of those comments, and Ajit Pai’s open mockery of net neutrality protesters have ruined any chance of proper discussion over net neutrality. Big telecom companies have “invested” $101 million in members of Congress to repeal net neutrality.
"FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s open mockery of net neutrality protesters has ruined any chance of proper discussion."
Things look bad right now, but there is still a chance. Pro-neutrality groups are have been preparing legal challenges ever since Pai’s draft text for the order became public. Challenges to FCC orders have to be filed within ten days of the order’s issuance, but the actual case may not take place for a full year to reach an appeals court, and longer if it makes the Supreme Court.
It’s unclear what legal basis lawyers will use to reverse Pai’s decision, but irregularities in the comment process and a probe by New York’s state attorney general may provide enough reason to bring it to court.Unfortunately, ISPS are free to do whatever they want for now. “Cable packages” of your favorite websites, throttling competing services and more might become the norm until net neutrality gets its day in court.