Last week, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to change the classification of the Internet from a carrier service, where no one type of internet traffic could be prioritised over another, in favour of rules that allow service providers in the US to give priority to different types of internet traffic, mainly for the commercial benefit of service providers. Those rules, theoretically, come into effect 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register. But a challenge in the US Senate, as well as court proceedings, might slow the whole process down.
The FCC’s Net Neutrality will have consequences for everyone, not just US citizens. And there are many politicians in the US who don’t want to change the laws.
What makes this a little more interesting is the result of the Senate election in Alabama last week which resulted in the Republican majority in that house reduced to a bare 51-49. If just two Republicans cross the floor, the laws will, at the very least be delayed.
If that happens, and the vote then proceeds to the House, it’s likely the it will be crushed by the Republicans, who are largely in favour of letting service providers decide how to prioritise traffic. That is, ending Net Neutrality. And even if that vote went against the FCC’s decision, the President could veto the opposition and make the FCC’s ruling law with a stroke of his own pen.
While all these shenanigans are going on in Washington DC, a number of states are launching their own legal challenges to the FCC decision through the courts. This is because the FCC’s ruling, as well as giving ISPs the power to determine how to prioritise traffic, blocks the states from setting their own laws.
In other words, while the end of Net Neutrality seems nigh, there is a chance it could be delayed for a while. And the United States of America is looking increasingly dis-united every day.