FCC Votes to Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules

Posted on April 27, 2024

According to The Hill, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to reinstate net neutrality regulations. The restored rules governing Internet service providers (ISPs) ensure the impartial routing of traffic which is vital for keeping the Internet an open medium of free speech.

Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs, and any other entities handling Internet connections, must route all Internet traffic with equal speed. This prevents ISPs from preferentially serving some websites, applications, or services faster than others, which would have the effect of skewing Internet communication toward those entities with the money to buy access to the ISP’s “fast lane”. Considering that the majority of Americans live under a de facto ISP monopoly, net neutrality is the only thing standing between them and their ISP dictating terms.

The history of net neutrality regulations in the US has been tumultuous, to say the least. The rules were imposed for the first time under the Obama administration. These were swiftly rolled back under Trump. Now, late in Biden’s first term, net neutrality has been established once again.

While this recent development is certainly welcome news for free speech advocates, it underscores the precariousness of relying on executive branch regulatory powers to protect net neutrality. Future administrations hostile to net neutrality, which could arrive as soon as January should Trump win reelection to the presidency in November, could simply install a new FCC majority and repeal the measures again.

For this reason, legislation passed by Congress and signed into law enshrining net neutrality is the only means of securing a lasting victory for free Internet communication. Unfortunately, regardless of which party holds the majority, Congress has shown little appetite to take up the issue. The potential downside of the recent reestablishment of net neutrality is that civil liberties advocates might rest on their laurels rather than press on to enshrine lasting net neutrality protections.

You can read the full article from The Hill here.