The Federal Communications Commission will soon announce their plans to reinstate the net neutrality rules that were wiped away by the Trump administration, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Sources tell the outlet that Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is ready to begin the work that many advocates have been waiting for since the beginning of the Biden administration.
This good news has taken 31 months of conservative gridlock to come to fruition. But with the confirmation of Anna Gomez to the FCC earlier this month, Rosenworcel finally had the majority needed to begin doing the commission’s work in earnest. Rosenworcel has been waiting for this moment since 2017, when she denounced the protections’ repeal, saying the “decision puts the Federal Communications Commission on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.”
Broadband providers will not go quietly into the night, of course, and Bloomberg reports that even with a Democratic administration in office, reinstating the Obama-era protections will likely be a battle. The telecommunications industry is sure to argue that they haven’t broken any of the rules since former Chairman Ajit Pai rescinded them. However, Americans need only look back to March 2020, when Pai and his defanged FCC scrambled to get ISPs, such as AT&T and Comcast, to do the things that net neutrality required, like lifting price-gouging data caps during the global pandemic.
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The telecom industry has thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at the battle against consumer protections like net neutrality. The unintended consequences, not unlike what we are now seeing with anti-abortion laws in states, led to municipalities pushing back to create their own consumer protections. Big telecoms have decidedly lost important legal cases trying to fight against these democracy-driven outcomes.
Before Bloomberg’s story broke, Sens. Ed Markey and Ron Wyden called on the commission to make net neutrality its first point of order.
Beyond an announcement, the FCC’s next steps would be a vote, a period of comments and notes, then a final vote. After that, Big Telecom will surely try to litigate the protections away. It is important to note that the last time Big Telecom did this, they argued they should not be treated as a “common utility,” then subsequently lobbied for big tax breaks from the government because they were like a “common utility.”
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