“Net neutrality” is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat online data equally, by not discriminating based on user or content. It is essential to the free, open internet that we know and love. Without equal access to the internet, we lose our rights to be heard and to hear others. But, today, net neutrality is under threat.
In 2015, under the Obama administration, the FCC classified ISPs as “common carriers,” which gave the FCC the power to prohibit ISPs from halting, slowing, or otherwise tampering with the transmission of data online. ISPs then challenged the law in federal court as a violation of their constitutional rights — and we joined up with our allies, and the government, in successfully arguing that net neutrality rules preserve and protect individual free speech rights rather than harm them.
But now the Trump FCC — under Chairman Ajit Pai — is considering a rollback of those protections.
In May 2016, the FCC proposed a rule that would rescind the “common carrier” classification. That would give a few large corporations the authority to control access to the internet, and it would open the way to pay-to-play “fast lanes” for those who can afford it. The FCC sought public comment on the proposal. The ACLU submitted an initial comment followed by a reply comment, both times urging the FCC to reject final adoption of the proposal.
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