The fight to save the freedom of the internet and prevent the repeal of net neutrality isn’t over just yet. During the “Operation: #OneMoreVote” day of action on Tuesday, thousands of people rallied across the country to pressure members of Congress to vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, which would undo the controversial decision of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to end net neutrality and the principle of equality that is essential to a thriving internet.
On Capitol Hill, numerous members of Congress spoke out about the importance of protecting the free and open internet. Currently, 50 senators (the entire Democratic caucus, plus Maine Republican Susan Collins) have said that they will vote for the CRA resolution—one vote short of the simple majority needed to advance the effort to halt the FCC’s decision.
Despite extreme public opposition, the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality has officially been entered into the Federal Register. Now Congress have just under 60 days to stop the repeal and save the internet or big corporate service providers will have the control over the internet, enabling them to slow down connection speeds, charge for certain website usage and internet fast lanes, and filter and censor content at their own will.
As if anyone needed clarity to which side of the fight big corporations are on, the National Rifle Association (NRA) last week, showed their staunch support of ripping away internet freedom when they decided to give Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai an award for destroying net neutrality. More specifically, the NRA gave Pai the Charleton Heston Award for Courage at the CPAC conference for repealing the popular consumer protections. A reportedly “tone deaf” affair, many were left wondering whether American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider and other attendees even had a clear understanding of what net neutrality is. Schneider went so far as to call the FCC frontman the “most courageous, heroic person that I know”:
“Pai “fought to preserve your free speech rights” as a member of the FCC’s Republican minority during the Obama administration, Schneider said. Pai “fought and won against all odds, but the Obama administration had some curveballs and they implemented these regulations to take over the Internet.” “As soon as President Trump came into office, President Trump asked Ajit Pai to liberate the Internet and give it back to you,” Schneider added. “Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know.”
This statement made it abundantly clear that all that this move by the Republicans has actually done is ignore the public, ignore the experts, and ignore all objective data in support of telecommunication monopolies like Comcast. Pai’s repeal is widely considered one of the worst tech policy decisions in the modern internet era.
In addition to the award and recognition, Pai was also gifted an antique musket by the NRA, a move the many were quick to call out as a clear FCC ethics violation, accepting a gift from a registered lobbyist organization.
Luckily, there are some on the inside that still have an objective view of these new policies. Jessica Rosenworcel is an FCC commissioner, but she doesn’t agree with some of the agency’s recent decisions.
Barring Congressional action, net neutrality protections will end on April 23, thanks to a party-line 3-2 vote in December. In Rosenworcel’s view, that is more than a mistake; it is a “blunder.”
In an interview with Mobile World Congress, she said, “We handed our broadband providers the right and power to block content, throttle services, and to censor things you see online,” Rosenworcel told PCMag. “I don’t think that is smart.”
“The FCC made this blunder, it made this error, but in its wake something amazing happened,” Rosenworcel said. “We woke up this sleeping giant: the American public.”
Rosenworcel also noted that there has been an unprecedented number of letters written to her office on the issueand there has been an immense groundswell of activity in state and even local governments to enact some form of net neutrality protections. “That makes me feel like there is some hope,” she said.
The public still has the opportunity to help in the battle for internet freedom. Individuals who live in a state with a Republican senator who still hasn’t made a decision can go to www.battleforthenet.com to contact their representatives. The site also provides updates to the movement and the when are where subscribers can find rallies supporting net neutrality.