Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been seeking to apply net neutrality rules for a few months now in which ISPs and government regulators would be able to put restrictions on the internet.
But more than 10 million comments have been received by FCC on the proposal to roll back net neutrality rules of 2015. These comments are more than twice as they received comments in 2015 about the current net neutrality rules.
However, the first public comment period on FCC’s proposal has ended on Monday, additional comments would be allowed opening rebuttal period until August 16. FCC recorded 2 million comments in the last week which is a huge number made possible with the efforts of tech companies, individuals and activists who ran online protest campaigns to educate people about benefits of net neutrality who eventually took part in submitting their comments on the proposal.
This huge number of comments indicates the beliefs of American people to stick with existing rules that ensure ISP’s cannot block or slow down their access and charge them to deliver faster service.
But on the other side Chairman FCC Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O’Rielly have been opposing the net neutrality rules of 2015 since long and submitted their proposal to reverse these rules arguing the rules could curb the telecom investments and growth, Both have a strong intention to blow up these rules.
The tech giants responded to the current debate in a positive manner. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix said, dismantling net neutrality rules of 2015 would provide too much control to ISPs to over the content people can access online, reversing these rules would be a disaster for SMEs to survive in the market in future.
From the Internet association, including Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix wrote a letter to FCC opposing and condemning the proposal. The companies opposed throttling, blocking, paid prioritization and other discriminatory practices.
AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and other Internet service providers also filed their comments asking FCC to stick with current rules. The ISPs say they support the current open internet rules, they also support some regulations but not the way FCC is proposing, they oppose FCC’s legal basis which is inclined towards the rules back during Telephone and Telegraph era. These rules are outdated now and don’t comply with modern broadband services and consumerism. It also curbs investments because investors fear the government would take more control over the services and may regulate prices.
The debate is heating up, political players are struggling from both sides to win the case, however, both parties have claimed fraudulent comments filed. Net neutrality supporters have claimed over 450,000 phony comments which are anti-net neutrality. The FCC side also claims more than 550,000 fake comments are submitted to support the current rules.
Chairman FCC Pai said on Wednesday during a Senate hearing that he “They will make a full and fair review of the record, before applying any changes” It is important to mention that Pai’s term in the office expires this year. President Trump has nominated Pai again, along with Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel as well as Republican Brendan Carr, to form a five-member commission. Rosenworcel was the commissioner from 2102 to 2016, but her renomination was held up when Republicans refused to reconfirm her before her term ended in January. Carr is the current FCC general counsel advising Pai’s office.
Once those nominations are confirmed by the Senate, the FCC will still be controlled by Republicans with three votes to two votes from Democrats.
By just looking at the chronicle which has developed lately, President Donald Trump’s victory still has question marks on it, banning the Laptops on some airlines, the victory of Republican Karen in Georgia special election, indicates the power of Republicans to overthrow public sentiments. Now, net neutrality is the second biggest event after the presidential elections in which millions of American people participated to record their sentiments.
If recent history repeats itself then, Americans have to face yet another ferocious regulation coming ahead.
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