It seems every victory for internet freedom leads to another battle just around the corner: TPP, SOPA, PIPA — and now net neutrality. With the FCC scheduled to vote on the current net neutrality rules on December 14, pro neutrality efforts are trying to rally support. But as previous efforts have shown, it can be hard to marshal a disengaged public to speak out about dense regulatory proceedings most have trouble understanding. Unfamiliar with the Title II classification of the Communications Act of 1934? Not to worry.
To put it simply, the current net neutrality rules ensure that all internet traffic has to be delivered at the same speeds — from Google searches, to streaming on Netflix, to that Geocities site you built back in 1999 that still exists for some reason. Internet service providers (ISPs) are not allowed to deliver some internet traffic faster than other internet traffic.
Much like cable TV packages, ISPs will be able to charge extra for faster — or even "normal" — access to websites.
Before the FCC can vote, they must have a period open for public comment, and the commentary has been as controversial as the issue itself. The FCC opened public commentary back in May. After a wave of pro-neutrality comments, those opposed to the regulations began flooding in by the tens of thousands.
It turns out that many comments were from unwitting Americans who later denied making them. The FCC claimed the fake comments were the result of an attack on its website, but so far have been unable to provide any documentation of the attack.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been the public face of the net neutrality debate. Pai, who was appointed as chairman by President Trump in January, used to work as a lawyer for Verizon, one of the largest ISPs in the country. Before becoming chairman, Pai developed a reputation at the FCC for being pro-merger and anti-regulation.
When talking about repealing Net Neutrality regulations, Pai's go-to answer about the possibility of ISPs prioritizing content has been "it's all hypothetical." Pai's assertion is that just because ISPs would be legally allowed to engage in anti-competitive behavior doesn't mean that they would or ever have.
Net neutrality is in a tenuous position. Despite growing public sentiment against deregulation, the FCC appears to be moving forward with its vote to repeal. While congressional intervention would be able to overturn an FCC decision, pro-neutrality advocates emphasize that best chance of saving net neutrality is to call your representatives before the vote in December.