Net neutrality was abolished in the US on April 28th but the dispute endures. While legal proceedings to cancel the FCC ruling are still underway, several states took measures to reinstate net neutrality. The telecom lobby threatens to sue them. It is now a certainty: the FCC ruling was only a skirmish.
April 23rd, 2018: two months after it integrated US law, the FCC decision to abolish net neutrality is now effective.
Safeguarding neutrality: the parliamentarians failure, hope regarding legal actions.
A large part of US parliamentarians, especially Democrats, hoped to nullify the decision before came into force. A majority was needed in two chambers. Senate and the Chamber of Representatives remained loyal to Donald Trump, FCC CEO Ajit Pai, and telecom operators.
Only two appeals remain. A legal challenge of the FCC decision before the courts is most likely to succeed. Law experts believe this abolition of net neutrality is not defensible in the court of law. Several State Attorneys General are getting ready to launch a legal action. It will be long but could prove successful.
Eight states have legally ensured net neutrality. 35 out of 50 could do so too.
Meanwhile, some states just refused the FCC decision. Last March, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed a project safeguarding an open internet in Seattle and Portland. Kate Brown, the Oregon Governor, did the same in April.
By doing so, they joined Governors of Montana, New Jersey, Hawai, New York, California, and Vermont. Those governors had issued ordinances or laws protecting net neutrality in their states.
Initiatives forbidden by the FCC decision…
About 35 states are willing to adapt their laws in that way. Out of 50 states of the Union. This is remarkable proof that the FCC decision doesn’t have wide local support, whether it be authorities or citizens.
Still, this outcry might only end as a symbolic gesture. The FCC included clauses in its anti-net neutrality measures. They prevent States legislation on the matter, or even just having rules that differ from federal provisions. In theory, all these state rules or laws can be nullified by a competent jurisdiction.
… and condemned by the telecom lobby which is ready to strike
The states might soon be confronted with USTelecom, the powerful telecom lobby. It regroups telecom giants such as Verizon or AT&T and also smaller operators or internet providers. They defend the idea that ending net neutrality will generate revenue and help “deploy more sophisticated, faster and larger networks”.
This seems dim compared to the Governors’ revolt. USTelecom adds: “we will aggressively challenge state or municipal attempts to fracture the federal regulatory structure that made all this progress possible.”
The future of net neutrality is not written. But it will probably unfold in a tribunal, one way or other.