The Senate recently received notice of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC)’s intention to scrap net neutrality in the United States. Receiving the notice officially starts Congress’s 60-day deadline to undo or block the plan using Congressional Review Act (CRA) regulations. Support for and against net neutrality is split among senators, with both Republicans and Democrats fighting against its removal on the basis of the CRA.
• If net neutrality is successfully removed, Americans could see prices for data services change and expand. Rather than the current flat rate for a specific speed, ISPs will likely move to a piecemeal approach where users pay premium rates for specific types of data, such as streaming or video content.
• The removal of net neutrality also gives ISPs the ability to filter out or block content if customers don’t pay. Someone surfing the Internet without a premium plan, for example, may find themselves blocked from sites like Netflix, YouTube, or high-resource websites.
• Currently, ISPs must provide an average speed for all data access. If net neutrality is removed, this, too, would change. It will give ISPs the ability to adjust speed based on usage patterns or access types, essentially creating a premium-access, “pay for convenience” system.
• Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is leading the charge to use the CRA to stop the removal of net neutrality. He needs just one more vote in order to move forward with the plan to use CRA regulations to block or reverse the order.
• Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who has not yet voted, is expected to make up the 51st vote if he decides to support net neutrality. Fight for the Future, a net neutrality lobbying group, is currently putting pressure on him to vote in their favor.
• Even if the group succeeds in securing Kennedy’s vote, it still may not be enough. The CRA cannot be utilized until the bill has enough votes in the house, something that may or may not happen.
• There is one final hope for net neutrality if the CRA fails: lawsuits. A handful of lawsuits against the FCC for their decision to scrap net neutrality, mostly focusing on human rights and fraud within the decision.
• Investigations into the decision to scrap net neutrality do show inconsistencies. One investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that as many as 2 million net neutrality comments filed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of a public feedback campaign were fake. Frighteningly, many of the comments used stolen identities sourced from real Americans.
• Strangely, the net neutrality vote may even be influenced by Russian interference. 400,000 of the original comments were tied to Russian email addresses, although it wasn’t immediately clear if the comments were sent from Russia or from American soil.
What are your thoughts about net neutrality?