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.