Imagine turning on Netflix . . . but having to pay extra to watch it fast and at a normal speed. That doesn't happen now, thanks to net neutrality rules, but thanks to the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that could change.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality, known more commonly as the Open Internet Order of 2015, established rules on how internet service providers (ISPs) can operate. It requires ISPs to treat any content on the internet the same - meaning no throttling or favoring of certain types of content. Net neutrality helps consumers and keeps the internet fair and open. Opponents of net neutrality, like FCC chair Ajit Pai, believe it causes companies to become less innovative and is another example of government overregulation.
What is the FCC chair doing to net neutrality?
On April 26, Pai announced that the FCC wants to get rid of all Obama-era regulations on the internet and transfer the regulatory role to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These proposals will come to a vote on May 18. If they pass the commission, the public can file comments, but Pai seems certain that these rules will go through no matter what.
"Make no mistake about it: this is a fight that we intend to wage and it is a fight that we are going to win," said Pai in a speech at the Newseum.
How do ISPs, Republicans, and Democrats feel about the change?
Plenty of companies applauded the move. "We applaud FCC Chairman Pai's initiative to remove this stifling regulatory cloud over the internet," wrote Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, in a blog post. "Businesses large and small will have a clearer path to invest more in our nation's broadband infrastructure under Chairman Pai's leadership."
In a joint statement, Senators John Thune and Roger Wicker, as well as Representatives Greg Walden and Marsha Blackburn, are also happy about the move, reports The Hill. "We have long said that imposing a Depression-era, utility-style regulatory structure onto the internet was the wrong approach, and we applaud Chairman Pai's efforts to roll back these misguided regulations," they wrote.
Democrats felt differently. "Gutting these rules robs Americans of protections that preserve their access to the open and free internet," said Senator Bill Nelson in a statement. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Chuck Schumer also disavowed the proposal.
#NetNeutrality is the basic principle that all internet users deserve a level playing field & no content can be favored, slowed or blocked
- Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) April 26, 2017
Today, FCC chairman announced a dramatic step in the wrong direction for the future of the internet w/ his plans to unravel net neutrality.
- Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 26, 2017
The fight to keep the internet free and open is just beginning, so prepare yourself and keep a close eye on what Donald Trump's administration continues to do.