JUST AS everyone expected (and feared), the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to abolish Net Neutrality on Thursday.
Specifically, a 3:2 vote led by Chairman Ajit "Hair" Pai ruled to abolish the Obama-era rules stating that the internet should be protected as a Type II Communication utility. The rest will write itself in the coming months.
Of course, that's the simplified end of the story. But given that the vast majority of people with an opinion want Net Neutrality protected for all the same reasons we've been saying over the years, then expect it to go down kicking and screaming.
Reactions from across the internet have been almost universally negative.
Netflix, who will more than likely be impacted most as it currently carries nearly half the internet traffic in the US and therefore will likely be forced to pass the fast lane charges on to customers, said:
We're disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.— Netflix US (@netflix) December 14, 2017
Senator Bernie Sanders:
This is an egregious attack on our democracy. The end of #NetNeutrality protections means that the internet will be for sale to the highest bidder. When our democratic institutions are already in peril, we must do everything we can to stop this decision from taking effect. https://t.co/8GGrJFMdrU— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 14, 2017
Donald "Trust Me, I'm A" Trump Jr. countered with
I would pay good money to see all those people complaining about Obama's FCC chairman voting to repeal #NetNeutality actually explain it in detail. I'd also bet most hadn't heard of it before this week. #outrage— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 15, 2017
completely missing the point that Ajit Pai was hired by his Father and is, in fact, a staunch Republican and millions of people have lobbied the FCC on the issue, a fact it staunchly refuses to acknowledge.
The official line from the FCC is that the decision "will protect consumers at far less cost to investment than the prior rigid and wide-ranging utility rules."
However, experts from across the internet point out that it could harm the advancement of science, and even kill the Blockchain (and therefore burst the Bitcoin bubble).
At present, The EU is protected by Net Neutrality rules that came in last year, whilst several other countries have already enshrined them into law.
But for us in the UK, there are two issues. One, we've discussed here (remember, we're leaving the EU soon), and Two, what the FCC did cannot be viewed in isolation - so much traffic goes through the US, and so many companies are based there that even though the decision will only directly affect America, it has repercussions for the whole world, including Madame Blighty.
We'll learn in the coming days who is going to sue who in final attempts to overturn the decision, but the fight isn't over. It has just begun. Be part of it. µ
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