FCC releases final version of order scrapping net neutrality rules

5 Jan 2018

Net neutrality protestors in Washington DC. Image: Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr

The final text of the FCC’s repeal is more than 500 pages long.

It has been almost a month since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to dismantle Obama-era net neutrality rules, and Thursday (4 January) saw the release of the final text of its repeal.

The text will enter the federal register, and is not too dissimilar to a draft previously released as part of FCC chair Ajit Pai’s plan to show the public how the commission works.

FCC commissioners make statements on net neutrality

Statements from all FCC commissioners who voted during the process are also included in the release, including Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, who both voted to retain the regulations upholding net neutrality.

The two commissioners who voted to keep net neutrality are Democrats, while the three who chose to scrap it are members of the Republican Party.

Clyburn’s response is particularly damning of the decision, and the nine-page statement described the new regulations as the “fiercely spun, legally lightweight, consumer-harming, corporate-enabling Destroying Internet Freedom Order”.

‘soon-to-be-toothless’ FCC

Clyburn also noted how there were no comments cited in the order from consumers, although millions had signed petitions and protested against the repeal of net neutrality rules. “The public can plainly see that a soon-to-be-toothless FCC is handing the keys to the internet over to a handful of multibillion-dollar corporations.

“Despite the millions of comments, letters and calls received, this order cites not even one consumer comment. That speaks volumes about the direction the FCC is heading. That speaks volumes about who is being heard at the FCC.”

According to Recode, once the text of the repeal is published in the US federal register, net neutrality defenders can then file lawsuits against the FCC for its decision, which many say will throttle the internet for less-well-off Americans.

As was reported last year, we may see lawsuits from the likes of Google or Netflix as well as advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Congress is also currently the site of a major rally to reverse the rules, and this battle seems to be only just beginning.

Of course, Pai’s statement paints a different picture of online life post-net neutrality: “Simply put, by returning to the light-touch Title I framework, we are helping consumers and promoting competition.

“Broadband providers will have stronger incentives to build networks, especially in unserved areas, and to upgrade networks to gigabit speeds and 5G.

“This means there will be more competition among broadband providers. It also means more ways that start-ups and tech giants alike can deliver applications and content to more users. In short, it’s a freer and more open internet.”

Net neutrality protestors in Washington DC. Image: Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects