HomeTechnologyInternetWhere we stand on Net Neutrality in 2022

Where we stand on Net Neutrality in 2022

For both proponents and opponents of net neutrality, 2022 will be a big year. This is the year when the 2017 repeal will get undone, and the FCC will reestablish federal authority over broadband carriers.

A Net Neutrality Recap Prior to the Biden Admin

Net neutrality as a concept appeared sometime during the early aughts. The debate became real in 2007 when the FCC limited Comcast’s ability to throttle bandwidth, and it continued ramping up until 2015, which is when the Obama administration FCC put net neutrality regulations in place.

Those regulations, however, would be short lived. One of the first things President Trump did in office was appoint FCC Chair Ajit Pai who then repealed the net neutrality regulations. The case did go to court, but proponents lost despite that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of some form of net neutrality regulation.

Establishing Federal Authority and the Fights Ahead

Proponents of net neutrality knew during that campaign that net neutrality regulation would return should Biden win the election. It certainly did not progress as far as most proponents would like, but there were a number of extenuating factors, including the pandemic itself.

But President Biden has finally been able to make it official: Jessica Rosenworcel, a net neutrality proponent, is the FCC Chair and Gigi Sohn, a net neutrality pioneer, joins her on the FCC leadership team.

This year, they will reestablish the 2015 Open Internet Order and reestablish federal oversight over broadband carriers. Of course, this will not happen without fight, and there will certainly be court cases in our future.

The Pandemic Changed How We Use the Internet

Before we continue down that path, it is worthwhile to pause for a moment and reflect on the current landscape, which is quite a bit different now than it was pre-pandemic. It forced people of almost all ages to use the high-speed internet in many different ways faster and for longer periods than they otherwise would have.

It greatly accelerated the pace at which our society embraced remote working and schooling. The TV streaming industry grew faster than expected as more people stayed home to be entertained, and it transformed the video game landscape with consumers purchasing digital copies of games and subscriptions at a rate that would have unfolded much more slowly if the pandemic had not occurred.

State Power and the California Law

Authority over broadband carriers is not limited to the federal government. State governments have this power too, and California almost immediately exercised those rights in the wake of the FCC repeal.

Anyone who thinks the FCC does not have a fight on its hands needs to look closer at what has unfolded in California. What AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have been fighting for in California certainly lends weight to the belief that broadband carriers are seeking to avoid any consumer protections at all rather than seeking to avoid overreach that is stifling investment.

Consider that Verizon is even fighting a ban that prevents them from throttling first responder networks during emergencies.

EFF and the Push to Adopt New Net Neutrality Laws

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes internet civil liberties and helps to fund legal defenses. The EFF is among the leading proponents of net neutrality and has often been integral in the successes achieved thus far.

For 2022, the EFF plans to help with the court cases that will undoubtedly arise but also push for the adoption of new rules. The goal here is not just to expand the rules but to ensure that they accurately reflect our needs in the post-pandemic world. The California law may establish the baseline for now, but even it was drawn up before the pandemic.

Final Thoughts

The Emergency Broadband Benefit was designed to help low-income families during the pandemic. Some of the major broadband carriers used it to squeeze out grandfathered plans that were not as profitable.

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