Chad Marlow: Fate of net neutrality on the line

American Civil Liberties Union

On June 11, net neutrality protections ceased to exist.

This means your internet service provider is now able to engage in content-based discrimination. Internet content it favors for political or financial reasons can be delivered at top speeds, while content it disfavors is slowed or locked.

But did that start happening on day one? No, because the big telecoms that fought so hard to kill net neutrality are smarter than that.

Internet service providers spent millions lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to end net neutrality, and they are certainly going to expect a return on that investment.

While the ISPs are clearly expecting to increase their profits eventually, they are likely to be patient. Their wisest course of action for them is to eliminate net neutrality drip by drip over time, in hopes consumers won’t notice or will stop caring.

The big telecoms know bipartisan legislation to reject the FCC’s abandonment of net neutrality is pending before the House, after being approved by the Senate last month. They know 86 percent of all Americans favor restoring net neutrality. And they know three state Legislatures and six state governors have already adopted net neutrality measures, with more surely to come. Given that, they are unlikely to alter their behavior right away.

Shortly after casting his vote in favor of the Senate bill aimed at restoring net neutrality, Louisiana Republican John Kennedy said, “If you trust your cable company, you’re not going to like my vote today. If you don’t trust your cable company, you will.”

Kennedy’s analysis is correct. And his comments hint at the likely next step in ISPs’ net neutrality playbook.

When June 11 came and went, the ISPs took no action in response. After some time has passed, they can point to their inaction as proof we were wrong to distrust them.

But guess what is likely to happen next? Drip. Drip. Drip. And before you know it, a flood washes away the free and open internet we all rely on.

So, yes, net neutrality officially ended June 11. When we will first feel the impact remains unknown, but the fight is far from over.

To bring net neutrality back, call your congressional representatives and insist they vote to join the Senate’s effort under the Congressional Review Act. For extra effect, mention that net neutrality will be on your mind when you go to the polls in November.

Although we may have lost net neutrality in the short run, 82 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of independents favor restoration of net neutrality. If they make their voices heard, there is no doubt we will win in the end.


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