The Restoring Internet Freedom act replaces strong net neutrality laws with “light-touch, market-based” rules to be regulated by the toothless Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FCC did this despite the fact that just about nobody wants it.
The old net neutrality rules provided a vital safeguard for all internet consumers against the rapacious greed of big-name Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who are the only ones to benefit from the changes.
It is unsurprising then, that public outcry and resistance to the FCC ruling has been fierce. Most notably, a number of States that said they will continue to enforce net neutrality rules in defiance of the FCC’s ruling.
The Congressional Review Act
Fight for the Future (FFTF) is a grassroots digital rights advocacy group that has been that has been at the forefront of resistance to the FFC and its attack on net neutrality. And it has hit upon a new line of attack…
“The Congressional Review Act (CRA)… empowers Congress to review, by means of an expedited legislative process, new federal regulations issued by government agencies and, by passage of a joint resolution, to overrule a regulation.”
In other words, it allows elected officials to in Congress to overrule decisions made by federal agencies such as the FCC.
“The CRA would cleanly reverse the FCC's December 14 decision and restore the previous net neutrality rules that should never have been repealed. Facebook, Twitter, and Google all said they support the CRA effort in a statement to Senator Markey on the Hill. In addition to being the clearest path to restoring the rules, it is playing a crucial role in staving off bad ISP-backed legislation, which has turned into a non-starter thanks to the momentum behind the CRA.”
27 February - A day of action!
Fight for the Futures says that it already has 50 Senators committed to supporting use of the CRA to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality order. In order to pass a resolution in the Senate, just one more vote is needed!
If the CRA passes in the Senate then it will put a huge amount of political pressure on the House, which is well aware of how unpopular the FCC’s blatant cronyism is with the electorate.
Getting the CRA through the House will not be easy, though. A simple majority (218 votes) is needed, which will require winning over more than 20 Republican members of the House. As Pierce Stanley from FFTF told us,
“It will be a serious uphill battle, but it's doable.”
Most importantly, for now, is that it is another battle for another day. The first thing is to get the CRA through the Senate, which means bringing one or more Republican Senators on board. FFTF is now calling for a push on 27 February, to get that last vote.
what can I do to Fight Net Neutrality?
US citizens who want to help get the CRA through the Senate can push calls and emails to Congress as part of a concerted effort with other companies and public interest groups on 27 February 2018.
To get involved, please join the Battle for the Net campaign organized by FFTF. Remember – just one more vote is needed for it to pass in the Senate!
Net Neutrality - a primer
Just in case you have been living on Mars these last few months, net neutrality is the idea that ISPs and governments treat all internet traffic equally. It means “not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.”
It is a cornerstone of innovation and free expression on the internet. Without net neutrality, the internet simply wouldn’t have been the success that it is. Without net neutrality:
ISPs Can Discriminate Against Rival Services
For example by throttling (or even blocking) content providers such as Netflix, Facebook, and Google, while giving customers’ unlimited, prioritized access to their own services.
This is happening already. Verizon exempts its Go90 service from its customers’ data plans, AT&T does the same for its own DirecTV Now online streaming, and T-Mobile has made deals with content providers to allow their customers to bypass its usual data limits.
Innovation Is Stifled
Netflix, Facebook, and Google can probably afford to pay ISPs to supply increased bandwidth for their services. Start-up companies, however, will be unable to do this. This will effectively leave small, innovative companies dead in the water, while strengthening the monopolistic stranglehold that large, established companies have on the internet.
The Internet Will Become Fragmented into Two or More “Tiers”
Less well-off customers will be targeted for special “cable-style” internet packages that only provide access to selected services. Unrestricted access to the internet will only be made available to those who can afford to pay for it. This will deepen the digital divide and lead to increased economic and social inequality.
There is also nothing to prevent ISPs from throttling or even completely censoring content on political, social, or religious grounds. In other words, big money will be permitted to ride roughshod over the interests of the common people.
Net neutrality is vital for a free and egalitarian internet, so the fight for net neutrality is a fight for the very soul of our ever more digital society.
Do we want to live in a world where access to the most transformative technology available to humankind since at least the invention of the printing press is a closed garden whose gatekeepers are large corporations dedicated to greed and self-interest?
If not, then please join the battle for net neutrality, starting with FFTF’s day of action on 27 February.