FCC’s latest decision may lead the way for internet service providers to discriminate against online content
INDIANAPOLIS – As the FCC prepares to vote this month to reverse its net neutrality policy and grant internet service providers the right to discriminate against content they don’t like, not a single GOP candidate has spoken out to protect consumers.
Last month the FCC, under new commissioner Ajit Pai, announced it would vote in mid-December to reverse its net neutrality position. The Commission’s new plan will reclassify internet service providers and place them under the control of the Federal Trade Commission, where they’ll face more lenient oversight. Internet Association CEO Michal Beckerman has called the proposalthe “end of net neutrality as we know it.”
The FCC’s net neutrality principle, now several years old, is crucial for an open internet and guarantees that all content on the internet is treated equally. Specifically, it prevents internet service providers from the opportunity to block or intentionally slow access to specific sites and content, potentially with the purpose of driving consumers towards the providers’ own or provider-sponsored content.
In addition to facing opposition from open internet advocates, the new proposal is immensely controversial among consumers, with a record 22 million comments on the FCC’s latest plan – approximately seven times more than the previous record. If Indiana’s three GOP Senate front-runners have an issue with a potential restriction of Hoosiers’ internet use, however, they’re not showing it. While Joe Donnelly has made clear he supports an open internetand that he opposes the FCC’s new plan, none of the candidates have gone on record regarding the principle of net neutrality.
“If Hoosier businesses are to continue to succeed in the 21st Century – or if Hoosiers are even able to fully utilize their First Amendment rights in the modern world – then net neutrality must be protected,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Commissioner Pai’s attempt to reverse the FCC’s previously held position isn’t grounded in anything beyond knee-jerk partisan considerations—not common sense, not an interest in small business, and certainly not free access to information. The longer Indiana’s GOP Senate candidates fail to make clear that they support net neutrality, the more Hoosier voters must wonder whose side they’re on.”