With the net neutrality vote officially over and won in favor of Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai’s call for repeal, denizens from across the web are caught between disbelief and rage. Recent stories have revealed that many public comments in support of the measures passing were created using fake accounts, and many are criticising Pai for a lack of impartiality given his previous position as a lawyer for communications giant and supporter of the repeal Verizon. While protesters who fought against the repeal of the Obama-era policy are still licking their wounds, political opponents of the current administration are urging their constituents and the United States as a whole to continue the fight.
United States Senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Ed Markey of Massachusetts are rallying a group of a dozen or so senators to reignite the fight to save net neutrality. Supported by their coalition, the two Democratic senators are calling for a Congressional Review Act that would cancel out the FCC’s controversial decision and restore the Obama-era regulations that codified net neutrality laws and regulations for American ISPs.
The recent decision, which undid policies in effect since 2015 happened after Republicans won a shocking 3-2 win that also removed the FCC as the governing body in charge of regulating internet service providers. With the regulations removed, these ISPs are free to throttle internet connections to web services as they see fit, possibly forcing customers to pay for premium packages if they hope to use streaming services like Youtube or Netflix. The controversial decision came after widespread protests across the internet, with users making mocking memes of Chairman Pai and sending out calls via social media for users to contact their local representatives.
Assuming the Democrats fail in their renewed efforts against the FCC and the current administration’s new policy toward net neutrality, the vote will have effectively ended about 20 years worth of debate over internet regulation. Once left to its own devices as a sort of digital “wild west,” it is a topic that has become increasingly relevant thanks to drug sales, terrorist activities, and other illegal goings-on that use the open internet as a medium. To support this effort to restore net neutrality, states Washington and California have plans to enact legislation that override the federal rules and keep net neutrality intact. Unfortunately, they are likely to face resistance and ultimately be struck down by the FCC if the issue goes to court.