As the FCC’s Net Neutrality repeal goes into effect, states issue lawsuits to fight internet deregulation
Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of Net Neutrality, a set of internet regulations to ensure equitable treatment of data, officially went into effect. As many politicians repeated criticisms of FCC chairman Ajit Pai for the unpopular repeal, several states have taken legal steps to protect Net Neutrality from nationwide deregulations.
Net Neutrality was a principle enforced by the United States which made Internet Service Providers (ISPs) treat all data the same. This meant ISPs could not charge different prices based on content, websites, users, etc., or discriminate against internet sites that pull more data.
Net Neutrality was initially accomplished using part of section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996 and Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934. However, as internet processes evolved, it was officially instituted on February 26th, 2015, when the law deemed broadband internet must be regulated.
Ajit Pai stated in a CNET article that the repeal’s purpose was to keep the Internet “an open platform where you are free to go where you want” and it “will protect consumers and promote better, faster Internet access and more competition.”
While Pai denied that ISPs would violate net neutrality, internet providers have done so in the past, such as when AT&T blocked Facetime. The FCC has also struggled to hold internet providers accountable as they have eliminated rules that require ISPs to be more transparent with consumers.
In the age of tech giants like Facebook and Google misusing users’ information, many people are worried about the implications of a deregulated Internet.
Chris Lewis, VP at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that advocates for an open internet, said in a statement, “Not only is the FCC eliminating basic net neutrality rules, but it’s joining forces with the FTC to say it will only act when a broadband provider is deceiving the public. This gives free reign to broadband providers to block or throttle your broadband service as long as they inform you of it.”
While the FCC repeal makes states’ opposition inconsistent and therefore inadmissible, several states including New Jersey, California, Washington, and Oregon have issued a lawsuit to repeal the repeal.
23 state attorney generals are suing the FCC’s repeal order.