Neutrality of the Net is not dead – not yet.
the Law on Safeguarding the Internet, unveiled in both chambers of Congress of 6 March 2019, seeks to overturn the FCC decision of December 2017 to repeal network neutrality.
The obvious question is: What if it does not work out? The least obvious answer is this: the bill can help win the battle for the neutrality of the Internet, even if it does not pass.
Before looking at the impact of this bill, let’s look at some basic facts.
What is net neutrality?
The 2015 rules on Internet neutrality prohibited Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking, strangling or slowing down the lawful content of any website or application, or from creating “fast” lanes for preferred content and “slow” lanes for others. However, net neutrality repeal of December 2017 ISPs such as AT & T, Verizon, Comcast and others have two functions:
Startups and small businesses are the most vulnerable in a world without net neutrality. They simply can not afford to pay huge fees to ISPs to make sure their websites or apps are not slowed down.
Violations of network neutrality after the abrogation of 2017.
After the 2017 repeal, there have been several incidents of speed limitation and site blocking. Here are some notable violations in 2018.
The California incident In August 2018, during the biggest fire known in the history of California, Verizon has limited the Internet speed of the Santa Clara County Fire Department at 0.5 percent of its original speed. Fire officials said this had serious consequences for their rescue operations.
WatchTV AT & T: The lack of internet neutrality rules allows ISPs to use degressive pricing to give their own services a significant advantage over other competing services. Zeroing means that any data used to consume AT & T services, such as WatchTV will not count in the monthly consumer data caps.
In an email interview, Ryan Singel, a strategy and media researcher at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society and founder of Contextly, said, “AT & T continues its policy of tax-freeing its own video services while avoiding competitors. services. With the acquisition of Time-Warner, there is even more reason to continue this unfair practice. ”
Sprint Strangling Skype: A study conducted by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts revealed that Sprint has selectively restricted Skype – the popular video chat tool from Microsoft. The researchers said the reason is that Skype competes with Sprint’s call service.
How will “Save the Internet Act” help?
the Law on Safeguarding the Internet aims to do three things:
Singel said, “This highlights the fact that the 2015 order was comprehensive and cautious, blocking known loopholes and giving the FCC the clear power to protect public safety and investigate new ones. potential violations, such as setting zero or blatant data caps, and acting accordingly. . ”
Can the new bill become law?
The bill must be passed by both houses of Congress, then by President Trump’s signature before becoming law and restoring the neutrality of the Internet.
The bill should be passed by the House controlled by the Democrats. However, a hearing in the House on March 12 revealed that Republicans are not eager to support this bill. Therefore, there is little chance that it will be passed by the Senate, under Republican control. Even if it is, President Trump still has the power to veto him.
What happens if the bill is not passed?
The bill has value even if it is not passed by the Senate or does not signal to President Trump. Save the Internet Act can influence future events in several ways:
Impact of current lawsuits: Several lawsuits challenge the FCC’s cancellation of network neutrality in 2017. The most important is before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal District of Columbia Circuit. This is led by Mozilla (the company behind the Firefox browser) and supported by 22 attorneys general.
The fight carried out by the Ministry of Justice against The new California law protecting the neutrality of the Internet. Even if the bill is only passed by the House, the vote could beinterpreted by the courts as the will of the people and influence judgments.
Encouraging actions at the state level: California passed its Network Neutrality Protection Bill in 2018 and the governors of New York, New Jersey and Montana announced measures to not sign contracts with Internet service providers violating neutrality network. Any bill passed in the House would encourage more states to propose their own measures to prevent Internet service providers from enacting new violations.
Galvanize public support: Finally, the bill will keep the issue of Net Neutrality in the minds of people. Henry C. Su, a partner in the Constantine Cannon LLP law firm and a former US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawyer, told me in an email interview, “From the perspective of the suppliers of Internet services, I do not know if you characterize the bills themselves as a deterrent, especially if they are unlikely to pass. Deterrence, if it exists, comes from galvanizing voters and the press around a problem that is clearly not going away. ”
Singel also pointed out, “At least that keeps the question of topicality, which increases the likelihood that ISPs will refrain from repeating their 2013-2015 interconnect behavior.”
Hold ISPs on leash: Internet service providers did not commit offenses for a simple reason. The public interest, lawsuits, state actions and political pressures have created considerable uncertainty. As you know, any business does not like to perform too much change in the face of uncertainty.
Su said, “ISPs, without any difference from other companies, have developed business models that they believe are effective and profitable. They are not going to make a lot of money and do something different just because they can now in the current regulatory environment. ”
Keep the discussion alive
Save the Internet Act may or may not become law. However, it will certainly support dozens of ongoing battles on several fronts to restore Net Neutrality. You can also contribute to the fight for the restoration of network neutrality by writing about it, by talking about it in social media, professional events or in your neighborhood.
The key is to keep the problem alive in people’s minds. As long as people claim their right to a free and fair Internet, the neutrality of the internet will remain alive.