Net neutrality hangs in the balance as people await FCC announcement

Alex Brinkhorst

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working to undo the 2015 internet protections set by the Obama administration.

Chairman Ajit Pai’s initiative “Restoring Internet Freedom” states that the FCC is working to restore the internet from the “1930s-era utility-style regulation,” according to the FCC’s website.

But what are these regulations that the FCC are planning to undo exactly? The regulations the FCC and Pai refer to are the Communications Act of 1934, but most importantly, Title II. Title II is the section that designates “Common Carriers” and how they are allowed to operate, according to the FCC website.

On Feb. 26, 2015, the FCC adopted the designation for Internet Service Providers (ISP), like Spectrum and Eluawit, to be viewed as Common Carriers, according to the FCC website. This meant that the FCC could prevent ISPs from throttling speeds or blocking sites.

Title II would be used over the Telecommunications Act of 1996 Section 706, which briefly laid out that the FCC and the state commissions were given “regulatory jurisdiction.” This new classification was a huge leap in quantity of regulations, from roughly three paragraphs in Section 706 to 102 pages under Title II.

The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to adopt Title II, according to the New York Times.

Now, Pai said he wants to change back. He explained in the “Restoring Internet Freedom” initiative that the 2015 decision “appears to have put at risk online investment and innovation, threatening the very open internet it purported to preserve.”

However, this caused a great amount of concern. The FCC opened a public commenting period from July 17 to Aug. 17, but announced on Aug. 11 that the deadline had been extended to Aug. 30.

As of Sept. 10, more than 22 million comments had been filed, according to the Washington Post. This set the record for amount of comments the FCC had received from the public.

About 60 percent of the comments were in favor of keeping the current regulations, according to reporting by Wired about analysis by a company called Emprata. However, there is a problem with the comments, according to Wired: Many were filed under obviously fake names, calling into question the legitimacy of all the comments.

The current situation is rather unclear on what the FCC will do next. There has been no statement from the FCC about net neutrality since the announcement of the extended deadline. Much of the FCC’s recent news on its website has been centered around the hurricane damage, which included loss of internet access for many.