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Opinion

There’s still work to be done in the net neutrality debate

Carl Meeker

January 31, 2018

On December 14, 2017, in a 3 to 2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission repealed the Title II Common Carrier regulations for the internet, ending net neutrality. Is it really the end, though?

It has been a little over a month since that day, and the fight for net neutrality has not yet ended. Numerous parties have come forward to fight the FCC decision. Part of the repeal that was passed at the behest of broadband providers prohibits state and local municipalities from passing their own net neutrality laws, laws to protect the privacy of Internet users and a variety other consumer protections.

First: Congress. Within the House and the Senate, there has been a large push to invoke the Congressional Review Act, or the CRA. The CRA allows Congress to review federal regulations by government agencies. This in turn allows Congress to overturn the new regulations and prohibit the agencies from reissuing  the regulations.

The CRA, however, must be invoked by a majority vote before 60 legislative days from the time the new regulations have been entered into the Federal Registry. At this time, the Senate has the majority votes needed to pass such a resolution, but it is having greater difficulty finding traction within the House due to the larger Republican majority that is in control. Even should the CRA pass, it would have to be signed in by President Trump, who has been vocal in his support of the FCC decision from last month and is likely to veto it as it comes across his desk.

Second: 21 state attorneys generals and the attorneys general of the District of Columbia have filed lawsuits against the FCC, arguing that the FCC’s ruling was “arbitrary and capricious,” and lacked justification for the changes in regulation. In addition to these attorneys generals, multiple corporations including Facebook, Netflix, Google, and Mozilla have begun to band together and will fight against the repeal as well.

Third: At this time, six states have begun to explore ways to get around the prohibition preventing state governments from enacting their own net neutrality laws. Even a few Governors have weighed in on the issue, going from general support of consumer protections of net neutrality to others issuing executive orders protecting net neutrality.

In the lead up to the repeal, polls across the country showed a large majority of Americans in support of the Title II Common Carrier regulations of broadband, which protect net neutrality. We must begin to question who the FCC serves if it is so free to go against the will of the people that it was established to serve. This is a growing and endemic problem to governmental regulatory bodies known as regulatory capture.

Make your voices heard! There are numerous means to reach out to your state and federal representatives. Let them know that you will not stand for the casual disregard of the people they have been elected to represent. United, we can work together to make our voices known, and to make our great country once more “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

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