Policy Summary
In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) promulgated the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order.” That order rolled back regulations from 2015 that were originally intended to bar Internet service providers from blocking or slowing down access to content or charging users more for selected content. The order curtailing the 2015 regulations went into effect on June 11, 2018. In addition, the FCC also passed regulations that banned individual states from passing their own net neutrality regulations.

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Edmund “Jerry” Brown, Jr. signed Senate Bill (SB) 822 which would put back into place the 2015 FCC regulations that were curtailed by the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. The California bill would apply to internet service providers located in California and is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2019. On the very same day that Governor Brown signed the bill into law, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against California to block the law from ever going into effect. On October 26, 2018, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that an agreement had been reached with DOJ. The Department of Justice agreed to temporarily suspend their lawsuit against the state while California agreed to delay enforcement of the law after January 1st, 2019 until a separate net neutrality lawsuit being heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is resolved which could take years. LEARN MORE

The ongoing battle over the future of net neutrality regulations, which have always been contentious, made further headlines with the speed with which the battle is being fought. After the Restoring Internet Freedom Order took effect in June thirty states introduced bills to try and preserve net neutrality in their states while six state governors signed executive orders declaring that their individual state will not do business with internet service providers that violate net neutrality. And, DOJ did not even wait a day to oppose California’s SB 822 as they filed suit opposing the bill the very same day Governor Brown signed the bill into law which clearly shows DOJ knew what was coming and was prepared to fight it out.

What the FCC and the Federal Government have failed to recognize is that they are engaging in a fight for a policy that does not have wide support. The mis-named Restoring Internet Freedom Order does nothing of the sort. What the order does is it will give internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast the ability to determine which content they want to prioritize and provide to consumers. Lawful content not to their liking can be blocked or slowed down or even subject to an additional fee. The 2015 regulations sought to provide an even playing field by forcing companies to provide all lawful content at the same technical speed and by preventing companies from charging an additional fee for other content that was not their own. The fact that more than half of the states in the U.S. introduced bills preserving the 2015 net neutrality regulations should have alerted these companies that there was not wide support for the Restoring Internet Freedom Order that changed those 2015 regulations.

The FCC also made a tactical mistake by stating in the order that individual states could not pass their own net neutrality regulations. That section of the order was seen as a way for the FCC to thumb their noses at the rest of the country and say that the states could have no say in the future of net neutrality. That only seemed to fire up the net neutrality opponents even more. Had the FCC been more attuned to the pulse of ordinary citizens instead of beholden to the monetary donations of internet service provider companies and not been so arrogant in trying to silence individual states from having a say on the issue, then they would have seen that the new regulations is not something that the American public wants. The FCC would do better to reach out and objectively determine what most ordinary Americans want with their Internet instead of trying to force a policy that only the large telecommunications companies wanted. Instead, the FCC will get bogged down in a long litigation case and become potentially a loser in a fight that they did not have to fight in the first place. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org

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