The FCC’s order to overturn net neutrality protections was published in the Federal Register today, and it didn’t take long for it to get challenged. The attorneys general of 22 states and Washington, DC have filed a lawsuit challenging this order. Originally, this suit was filled earlier in the year, but they agreed to withdraw it until the FCC published the actual order. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the following in a statement:
“Today, the FCC made official its illegal rollback of net neutrality, and, as promised, our coalition of attorneys general is filing suit. Consumers and businesses in New York and across the country have the right to a free and open internet, and our coalition of attorneys general won’t stop fighting to protect that right.”
This decision was officially made in mid-December, and now with this report being published, it’s going to take another two months before the rules are finally removed. Normally the wheels of government move pretty slow. While I’m not saying that 4 months is “fast”, but it does seem quick by government standards.
I kind of want to talk about what net neutrality is. Because it seems kind of convoluted, and even the way that it’s worded is kind of confusing. Net neutrality is the idea that all traffic on the internet is treated equally. I mean, it’s 2018, so we shouldn’t be having conversations about equality – internet traffic or otherwise. That should just be a given. During the time when Barack Obama was President, rules were passed that prevented companies from doing things to make the internet not equal. Like slowing or blocking access to certain websites or services. It also prohibited internet service providers (ISP’s) from charging companies a fee to access customers more quickly.
There are a lot of people who support net neutrality – including some companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. But the big broadband providers – like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon all support the repeal of the rules. Of course, they do. They stand to directly benefit from this repeal. But now, the publication of the repeal in the Federal Register allows anyone to challenge the rule change. This is how the law works. Lawsuits challenging the repeal can (and have been) be filed as soon as this rule gets published.
The publication of the order to repeal the rules also starts the clock on a deadline for Congress to pass legislation that could nullify the FCC’s actions. Using the Congressional Review Act, Congress has 60 legislative days to pass a resolution that would reverse the repeal and keep the rules in place. Democrats say that, with the promise Republican Susan Collins of Maine will side with them, they. But will that be enough?
I certainly hope so because this is not something that we should be discussing at this time. I mean, sure we should be discussing it. But the fact that we’re trying to sort out whether or not the internet should be open to everyone is a joke. I am really looking forward to hearing how this plays out in the next 60 days.