Conceding yesterday that they don’t have the Congressional support to pass a law that would stop the FCC creating a net neutrality regulation policy, Republicans have all but given up even attempting to sound the alarm about the supposed dangers of the internet being regulated as a utility.
The resulting FCC policy is expected to address the following concerns expressed by millions of consumers and hundred of internet companies including popular platforms like Tumblr and Twitter.
- The Internet would be regulated as a “public good.”
- It would any “pay for play” scheme wherein broadband providers would charge internet companies for faster or preferred access, the result of which would likely be a tiered internet.
- It would ban “throttling” of speeds by broadband providers the intention of which would be to pressure internet companies to pay to again achieve normal delivery speeds.
While Republicans still hope to achieve legislation striking down net neutrality, that does not seem likely at this time.
Republicans hoped to pre-empt the F.C.C. vote with legislation, but Senate Democrats insisted on waiting until after Thursday’s F.C.C. vote before even beginning to talk about legislation for an open Internet. Even Mr. Thune, the architect of draft legislation to override the F.C.C., said Democrats had stalled what momentum he could muster.
The expected new FCC regulations are being portrayed as a victory of the little guy over the big guy by many net neutrality advocates and the Obama administration has noted that nearly four million Americans had expressed support for net neutrality during a public comment period back in November. Support among the public and internet companies only increased afterwards.
Since then, the lobbying has grown only more intense. Last week, 102 Internet companies wrote to the F.C.C. to say the threat of Internet service providers “abusing their gatekeeper power to impose tolls and discriminate against competitive companies is the real threat to our future,” not “heavy-handed regulation” and possible taxation, as conservatives in Washington say.
For their part, Republicans have seemed unable to understand the viewpoints and concerns of Internet companies and opted to characterize net neutrality as “Obamacare for the internet.”
“Tech companies would be better served to work with Congress on clear rules for the road. The thing that they’re buying into right now is a lot of legal uncertainty,” said Mr. Thune. “I’m not sure exactly what their thinking is.”
The FCC is expected to undergo protracted lawsuits against the new regulatory policy by broadband providers and cable companies over the next months.
Millions of Americans have feared that allowing broadband providers and cable companies to create a tiered internet would effectively allow them to decide who succeeds and who loses on the web which would result, over time, in nearly wholesale control of the web by providers. Below is an interesting hypothetical graphic that shows what that might look like.