Yesterday, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) passed the inappropriately-named “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” by a vote of 3-2. This order serves to repeal the Title II regulations put in place by 2015’s Open Internet Order. The strong regulations imposed by Title II protected consumers and Internet infrastructure companies from being held hostage by the companies who control what is called the “last mile” of the Internet. i2Coalition worked hard to prevent the vote from turning out this way. Now that it has, we are committed to continuing the fight and will seek strong Net Neutrality protections through other means.
It is possible that the implementation of the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” will be delayed in court. The reason that FCC Chairman Pai issued an NPRM in the first place was that the law required a legitimate public comment period. Lawsuits are expected to challenge the notion that the comment period was legitimate. Courts may decide that the public wasn’t heard, and force the process to re-start.
However, i2Coalition will focus its attention on trying to ensure that this issue gets fixed in Congress.
Without strong Net Neutrality rules, there are bad ramifications to free speech, and the whole Internet ecosystem gets economically disrupted. One way or another, strong Net Neutrality protections must be restored. The path for that may not be through the FCC, and may not even be restoring Title II protections. It may be something that is left to Congress to address. Congress can pass a law that sets new standards for Net Neutrality, ensuring that regulators have the proper mechanisms to follow through on enforcement.
i2Coalition is not done demanding strong Net Neutrality rules. This fight isn’t over, it has turned to Congress. This is only beginning – and indeed the future of the free and open Internet is at stake.