By Morgan Hanson
The Federal Communications Commission sold out the American people when it voted to repeal regulations that safeguarded them from anti-consumer practices by internet service providers, or ISPs.
The vote to overturn the 2015 landmark decision to reinforce the rules governing ISPs passed 3-2 on Dec. 14, 2017, despite massive public outcry organized by media figures such as television comedian John Oliver and YouTube personality PewDiePie, according to Fortune.
Over 22 million public comments were submitted to the FCC, and while some comments appear to have been manufactured by bots, 99 percent of the man-made comments were in favor of maintaining net neutrality regulations, according to Fortune.
The voice of the American people is being ignored, and it’s creating a dangerous situation.
The vote to repeal net neutrality was interrupted by a bomb threat, according to CNBC. Ajit Pai, FCC chairman, has been the target of racist vitriol and death threats. He was forced to cancel an appearance at a major tech industry event, the 2018 International Consumer Electronics Show, for security reasons.
The repeal of net neutrality regulations by U.S. government officials promotes corporate interests to the detriment of consumers. Pai claims the regulations put in place under the Obama administration were excessively restrictive. “The internet wasn’t broken in 2015,” Pai said in a statement during the Dec. 14 FCC hearing. “We weren’t living in a digital dystopia.”
However, ISPs previously restricted access to competing services over their networks prior to the regulations. Verizon blocked the Google Wallet payment app in 2011 and AT&T blocked Apple’s FaceTime and Google’s Hangout services for certain data plans in 2012, according to The Verge.
The 2015 decision that instituted net neutrality came after Verizon challenged the FCC’s authority to regulate ISPs under the former regulations.
NETFLIX DROPS OUT
Netflix’s shifting stance is a perfect case study of how anti-competitive the new net neutrality legislation is. In 2015, Netflix was one of the most avid advocates for net neutrality, according to Fortune. But now that the company has grown due to its large base of subscribers, it no longer feels the need to fight for a free and open internet.
According to Fortune, in an interview with Recode, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, said, “[Net neutrality] is not narrowly important to us, because we’re big enough to get the deals we want.”
Comcast was the 14th biggest spender on federal lobbying in 2017, spending over $15.3 million, according to The Center for Responsible Politics. AT&T was the ninth largest spending nearly $16.8 million. When these companies drop large sums of money, it’s because they have even more to gain by doing so.
“Paid prioritization is a part of American life,” Greg Walden, House Energy and Committee chairman, said in response to efforts to repeal the FCC’s ruling, according to Reuters. “Where do you want to sit on the airplane? Where do you want to sit on the Amtrak?”
Since its inception, the internet has been a place where ideas could be exchanged and weighed based on merit. The internet has had a dramatic impact on our culture, giving everyone access to mass communication via social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Brick-and-mortar stores have crumbled in the wake of internet titans such as Amazon and eBay Inc.
Google is changing the technological landscape of the world with research into self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, among other projects.
These are such revolutionary companies that sprouted from the internet ecosystem of net neutrality, they couldn’t be imagined 50 years ago. By destroying the environment that made their creation possible, these corporations are suffocating the future’s untold wonders in the womb.