The Next Step to Revert Obama’s Open Internet Rules
As a proceeding step to the turnaround of Obama’s previously existing open internet rules, the FCC has voted on Thursday, 18 May, to launch a process to revert the net-neutrality rules that were implemented in Obama’s era.
Ajit Pai, the chairman of FCC has proposed these rules set which end up with vote 2-1 along party lines. The Republicans, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly have voted in favor of these rules, however, Democrat Mignon Clyburn has voted against it.
The matter of this rule being implemented or upheld could take a long period of time. Even in the case of the rule being ordered by the commission could not be the end. The defenders of previous net-neutrality rules could challenge these new rules. Also, the process could take a couple of years with almost 10 months to change the proposal into official policy and about 15 more months to be upheld in court.
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But the rule set has already created a havocking situation.
Newly Proposed Net-Neutrality Rules Further Empowering ISPs
The pre-existing net-neutrality rules by FCC are using Title II authority which restricts the internet providers from blocking, throttling and prioritizing certain websites and traffic to gain financial benefit. For instance, an internet provider could not slow down streaming speed of YouTube TV service to promote their own streaming service. Also, they cannot charge search engines such as Google for providing faster speeds.
However, Pai’s proposals are constructed to reverse the Title II classification of ISPs to Title I which is “information service providers.” Pai has overviewed the previous rules as an expanded FCC authority which gives FCC power to strike down future misuses that aren’t absolutely covered by official rules. According to Pai, these rules could frustrate internet providers and could prevent them to invest in their network.
Pai has expressed support for the “no blocking” rule, however, has asked for comments on these net-neutrality rules. Republicans and internet providers are in support of such rules which support to punish after any abuse instead of pre-applied restrictions. Whereas, the supporters of existing net- neutrality rules are the Democrats, Consumer advocacy groups, and almost all the internet based companies.
According to them, Title II authority is not harming the network investment and is actually the one to promote net neutrality.
As the matter of fact, on two occasions the Title I authority is been stopped from being implemented through court by ISP lawsuit. However, the popular ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T have claimed not to block or throttle content even if the new rule is being implemented.
Tech Giants opposing the rule
As soon as the new net neutrality rules are being proposed by Ajit Pai, the protests are initiated. Yet, in addition to the FCC’s demanded public verdict on this proposal, the participants of online protest have also encouraged users to leave comments to support the existing rules.
Some of the popular websites which are observed following such practices are;
- Reddit displays a pop-up notice on their web page that disclaims users about the possible harmful effects of overturned net-neutrality rules and encourages them to post a comment. Also, a slow loading logo is displayed on the page.
- Websites such as Netflix, Spotify, Twitch, and many others have banners on their homepage with a link to a page from their advocacy group, The Internet Association which asks users for a comment.
- Google, Twitter, and EFF have published blogs in support of the current net neutrality rules. Again, they encourage users to post a comment in favor of existing net-neutrality rules. Twitter has also created a “#netneutrality” hashtag.
- However, more than 80,000 websites have taken part in an online protest on Wednesday, 12 July and have displayed alerts, advertisements and short videos in support of the “internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality.”
Also, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have posted their views in support of the FCC’s current rules. Yet, they also expressed their willingness to work on the solution with the Congress members.
Could Such a Public Offense Force FCC to Take Back Rules
This is not the first time that protests are being raised against the implementation of such biased rules. Also, these protests were successful in restricting the new proposals from becoming law. However, this time doubts are being raised that, could this immense response and rejection will repeal the new net-neutrality rule set or not.
The reason for such views and perspective is the determination from FCC chair who seems keen to revert the rules implemented in 2015, by the Obama’s administration.
With the title “Restoring Internet Freedom”, the FCC has proposed this plan earlier this year in May and was kept open for public comment until July 2017. The proposed net-neutrality rules seeming to have such drastic consequences are opposed by thousands of websites including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Reddit, and Netflix. Under the name of “Today’s Day of Action”, they have worked for a collective wake up call to alert the public about the destructive changes the internet could face.
— Owen Williams ⚡️ (@ow) July 12, 2017
However, an immense response and turnoutwas seen with over 5 million comments on the FCC’s website. This huge rate was almost double than the one seen before. Yet, the official action by the websites on july 12, has further empowered the verdict to retain the current net-neutrality rules.
Now, it’s time to see whether such a huge protest could force FCC to take back their proposal or not.