It feels weird to sit here—writing, waiting—on the edge of something, to know with certainty that a bad thing’s about to happen.
In a few short hours, the FCC is going to repeal a set of regulations that ensure “net neutrality” in the United States.
There’s nothing we can do to change this. Despite an open comment period that was massively flawed, with millions of fake anti-neutrality comments posted, no amount of phone calls will stop the FCC. Members of Congress could delay or stop the vote, but they seem disinclined to do so—which isn’t surprising, given the mountains of cash donated by regulation-averse internet service providers. And if the FCC chair’s smug, boastful videos about deregulation weren’t enough of a reminder, the FCC is a partisan body, with the chair appointed by the sitting president. In other words,
anti-regulation pro-business anti-consumer conservatives have a 3-2 majority.
This all means that, as of today, the Title II consumer protections—the framework that ensures network providers treat all traffic equally, regardless of source—are dead. (And might already be, by the time you read this.) All this despite the fact that net neutrality is fundamental to providing access to quality healthcare, to the health of the broader digital economy, and to ensuring free speech.
So I sit here—writing, waiting—on the edge of something, and I know with certainty that a bad thing’s about to happen. And as I do, it’s helpful for me to think about what happens next.
Various states are going to take the issue to court. Certain states are moving to enact their own, more localized net neutrality protections. As Quinn Norton reminds us, we need legislation that enshrines these consumer protections at the national level, protections the current FCC seems hell-bent on stripping. Organizations like Fight For The Future, Public Knowledge, and The Center for Media Justice have been at the forefront of this fight, as have voices like Malkia Cyril’s. If you’re looking to help ensure net neutrality remains a third rail issue as we enter the congressional midterm elections, look to these folks, and others like them. Volunteer some time. Donate some money. Make some calls. Get involved.
So, yeah. We’re going to lose this vote. But as I sit here, feeling furious and powerless and more than a little sad, I need to look past the vote. I need to spend some time thinking about how we’re going to get net neutrality back—and I need to try to understand how I can help make it happen.
Maybe you’d like to join me.