On Thursday, the Federal Communication Commission FCC voted along party lines 3-2 in favor of repealing Obama era net neutrality protections. The repeal was championed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai who was appointed by Donald Trump. The repeal marks another step in the Republican push for deregulation under the Trump administration.
What is Net Neutrality and What Does it Mean to Repeal The Protections?
Net neutrality is a policy that allows for the free flow of data on the internet. In other words, it means internet service providers ISPs have to let everyone access Instagram, Twitter, Netflix and every other site without having to pay more. Aswell, net neutrality means that ISPs have to let everyone access Facebook and a website your neighbor made at the same speed.
The repeal of net neutrality means that ISPs will be able to sell access to the internet piece by piece, with access to social media, music streaming and video streaming sites all coming at additional prices. It also means that ISPs could charge sites for faster speeds leaving sites that don't pay up to load slower than those that do. ISPs will also be able to block you from any sites that they don't want you to see. That means ISPs could block you from competitor search engines like Google or stop you from seeing any bad news about the company online. For more info on what the end of net neutrality means check out our story here.
Democrats in Congress are expected to take the fight for net neutrality to capitol hill and push for legislation to protect net neutrality. California's junior senator, Kamala Harris(D), has been a vocal opponent of the repeal.
"It is outrageous that they ruled in favor of multi-billion-dollar broadband companies over the interests of consumers," Harris tweeted after Thursday's vote. "Americans deserve a fair and open internet."
There are also plans to protect net neutrality through legislation at the state level in California. State Senator Scott Wiener tweeted out his plans to introduce a bill to adopt net neutrality in California. "When CA Legislature reconvenes in January, I'll introduce a bill to adopt net neutrality as a requirement in CA," Wiener tweeted. "If FCC won't protect free/open internet, we will."
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a statement voicing his opposition to the FCC's vote. "Here in California – a state that is home to countless start-ups and technology giants alike – we know that a handful of powerful companies should not dictate the sources for the information we seek or the speed at which our websites load," Becerra said. "We remain committed to ensuring that our internet can continue to represent freedom and opportunity, innovation and fairness." His office has said Beccera is currently reviewing his legal options.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he will sue to halt the FCC's repeal of net neutrality. Schneiderman had called for the FCC to delay the vote as his office investigated thousands of comments made during the FCC's public comment period that allegedly used stolen identities to call for the repeal of net neutrality. Schneiderman has said that his office has already found two million fake comments using stolen identities. However, Pai has been dismissive of Schneiderman's claim and unwilling to cooperate in any investigati0n.
"We will be suing but we need everyone to stay strong and keep speaking out," Schneiderman said.