The U.S. Federal Communications Commission screwed up royally yesterday by repealing net neutrality in the U.S.. Those rules, which aimed to ensure a free and open internet, went into effect in June 2015, but the repeal goes back even further. I won’t go into the details of why this is not just bad but completely backwards — many have already talked about the various forms of blocking, throttling, and censoring that this vote will allow. But I do want to say that while internet protections were dealt a serious blow yesterday, by a buffoon no less, net neutrality is not dead.
As someone who doesn’t reside in the U.S., I find myself often reminding my American counterparts when news only affects them and when it reaches the rest of the world as well. This is one of those cases where you can argue both sides. On the one hand, these rules only affect the U.S., and there are many countries, like my home of Canada, that are sticking with net neutrality regardless of what party is in power. On the other hand, because many U.S. companies offer internet services used around the globe, and various countries look to the U.S. for internet policy guidance, there are far-reaching consequences to this move.
So yes, the FCC has struck down net neutrality in the U.S. and this affects many around the world, but net neutrality is not dead. Net neutrality is alive and well in many nations.
You may think I’m just arguing semantics for the sake of arguing semantics. Not at all. The U.S. has simply transformed from a country where net neutrality is taken for granted to one where it is actively being fought for.
Yes, I’m being optimistic. This move still sucks. But look at everything that has happened since the FCC voted yesterday:
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) December 14, 2017
The @FCC's vote to gut #NetNeutrality rules is a body blow to innovation and free expression. We will continue our fight to defend the open Internet and reverse this misguided decision. https://t.co/TXTQWDiBNC
— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) December 14, 2017
We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 14, 2017
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 14, 2017
The FCC's decision to abandon its traditional role in protecting an open and free Internet will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in Internet policy history.
We will fight in the courts, in the states, and in Congress to restore #NetNeutrality.
— EFF (@EFF) December 14, 2017
States are filing lawsuits. Big companies are siding with the public. Democrats, and some Republicans, are declaring this decision will be reversed. Rights groups are preparing for battle. The public is revolting.
ISPs are naturally the only ones that aren’t up in arms. They’re promising not to make any changes, but don’t believe them.
This fight is far from over.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.