In a move that should come to as a shock to nobo­dy, con­s­i­de­ring the raft of hor­ren­dous laws, reforms, and moti­ons that have come with this US admi­nis­tra­ti­on, the Federal Com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons Com­mis­si­on (FCC) has deci­ded to dis­mant­le 2015 Oba­ma Era pro­tec­tions on net neu­tra­li­ty, paving the way for an upen­ding of how the inter­net ope­ra­tes.

 

In the wor­ds of The New York Times, “The agen­cy scrap­ped the so-cal­led net neu­tra­li­ty regu­la­ti­ons that pro­hi­bi­ted broad­band pro­vi­ders from blocking web­sites or char­ging for hig­her-qua­li­ty ser­vice or cer­tain con­tent. The federal government will also no lon­ger regu­la­te high-speed inter­net deli­very as if it were a uti­li­ty, like pho­ne ser­vice. The action rever­sed the agency’s 2015 deci­si­on, during the Oba­ma admi­nis­tra­ti­on, to have stron­ger over­sight over broad­band pro­vi­ders as Ame­ri­cans have migra­ted to the inter­net for most com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons. It reflec­ted the view of the Trump admi­nis­tra­ti­on and the new FCC chair­man that unre­gu­la­ted busi­ness will even­tual­ly yield inno­va­ti­on and help the eco­no­my.”

 

We touched on the sub­ject of net neu­tra­li­ty in a recent post. We were oppo­sed to repe­aling the 2015 regu­la­ti­ons then and we still are. Con­tra­ry to the FCC Chairman’s pro­cla­ma­ti­ons that it was strang­ling inno­va­ti­on, most peop­le in the know and all the evi­dence say this was fal­se. Ins­te­ad, it has remo­ved power from ever­y­bo­dy and trans­fer­red it to just a hand­ful of cable com­pa­nies. But what else could we expect from a for­mer lob­by­ist for the same indus­try?

 

The repeal of net neu­tra­li­ty has been tor­rid. In the run-up to the vote, rese­arch from Jeff Khao of Hacker­noon sug­gested that several mil­li­on com­ments to the FCC had been crea­ted using NLG. With tho­se auto­ma­ted com­ments taken out, the­re was over­whel­ming support—reportedly, 99.7 per cent—for making no chan­ges to the then-regu­la­ti­ons. Ajit Pai, the FCC’s chair­man and an appoin­tee of Pre­si­dent Trump, found him­s­elf the tar­get of inter­net abu­se, inclu­ding having piz­zas sent to his hou­se every thir­ty minu­tes and his children’s details made public in an act of intim­i­da­ti­on. Right now, the guy can­not even do the ‘Har­lem Shake’ without someo­ne threa­ten­ing a law­su­it.

 

Like ever­y­thing about this US admi­nis­tra­ti­on, we are see­ing the worst of both sides of an argu­ment. Some neu­tra­li­ty is nee­ded in this day and age. But with this repeal, we move fur­t­her away from it.