Few things are as important to The Verge as keeping the internet free and fair for everyone, and that’s why we supported the FCC when it passed net neutrality provisions in 2015. The Open Internet Order codified the principles of net neutrality, established a level playing field by, among other provisions, preventing internet service providers from throttling certain sites — including ones they own — over others. But now net neutrality is under threat. The Trump-appointed Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has expressed skepticism over the Open Internet Order, and says it stymies competition. In opposition of advocates, the broad majority of the general public, and even republican lawmakers, in November 2017, the FCC, is set to rescind the Open Internet Order. But the FCC is meeting tough resistance. This is the fight to keep the internet free.
May 13A slap on the wrist for data harvesters who faked millions of net neutrality comments.
Ads, surveys, a data breach: all were used to turn unsuspecting people into fake net neutrality comments. This report (pdf) from the NY Attorney General’s office details some shady shit; firms even cheated their own subcontractors.
President Joe Biden has signed an executive order meant to promote competition — with technology directly in the crosshairs.Read Article >
The order, which the White House outlined earlier this morning, calls on US agencies like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to implement 72 specific provisions. The topics include restoring net neutrality provisions repealed during the prior administration, codifying “right to repair” rules, and increasing scrutiny of tech monopolies.
May 6, 2021
The New York attorney general’s office issued a report Thursday confirming that some of the US’s largest broadband providers engaged in a massive campaign to flood the Federal Communications Commission with fake comments in the run-up to the commission’s 2017 order to roll back net neutrality.Read Article >
The attorney general’s multi-year investigation found that fake comments accounted for the vast majority of comments received in response to the order — nearly 18 million, out of a total of 22 million.
Mar 6, 2019
Today, Democrats officially launched their efforts to save net neutrality once and for all. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have announced bills with the intention of reinstating the net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission moved to repeal back in 2017.Read Article >
The dual bills share the title of the Save the Internet Act. The full text is three pages, and, according to lawmakers, it will put in place the same rules that the FCC worked to remove over a year ago. The bill would not only codify key pillars of net neutrality, like no blocking or throttling, but it would also consider internet access a “utility” under Title II of the Communications Act, which is the hottest point of contention between Republicans and Democrats.
Oct 26, 2018
California has agreed to delay the enforcement of its “gold standard” net neutrality bill, according to a statement from the law’s sponsor Sen. Scott Wiener. The net neutrality rules were set to go into effect next year, but California officials have agreed to wait until the courts have resolved any pending litigation over the Federal Communications Commission’s roll back of the federal rules late last year.Read Article >
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai cast the delay as a victory for the Commission. “This substantial concession reflects the strength of the case made by the United States earlier this month,” Pai said. “It also demonstrates, contrary to the claims of the law’s supporters, that there is no urgent problem that these regulations are needed to address.”
Oct 17, 2018
The New York Attorney General’s Office subpoenaed over a dozen different telecommunications lobbying groups on Tuesday to help determine whether they were behind an estimated 9.5 million fraudulent comments posted in support of the rollback of net neutrality, according to a report from The New York Times.Read Article >
The investigation was launched last November, only a month before the Federal Communications Commission was set to vote on a proceeding that would roll back the open internet regulations instated under the Obama administration. Millions of comments were filed prior to that vote, and according to the attorney general’s office, 9.5 million of those may have been fraudulent.
Oct 3, 2018
Four lobbying groups representing some of the largest telecom companies in the country filed a lawsuit Wednesday opposing California’s net neutrality law in an attempt to stop it from going into effect next year.Read Article >
The four industry groups filing the lawsuit were USTelecom, CTIA, NCTA, and the ACA —groups which represent telecom corporations like AT&T; Verizon Wireless; Charter Communications; and Comcast, and mobile companies like T-Mobile. This is the second lawsuit filed following the passage of California’s net neutrality law on Sunday. The first was fired off by the Department of Justice only hours after the bill received its final signature from Governor Jerry Brown.
Jul 17, 2018
In a much-anticipated effort to reinstate net neutrality provisions, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) introduced a bill today that would codify free internet regulations into law. Titled The 21st Century Internet Act, the measure would institute the basic outlines of the Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 Open Internet order, which banned the throttling and blocking of content as well as harmful paid prioritization practices. In an even more surprising move, however, the Republican congressman has signed on to a Democrat-led effort to reinstate the net neutrality rules that the FCC voted to repeal late last year.Read Article >
Last December, when the FCC called a vote to repeal net neutrality, Coffman was the first Republican to ask the commission to delay its vote. In an open letter, the congressman asked the FCC to allow time for the legislature to craft a replacement bill that could work as a compromise between the regulations put in place by the Open Internet Order and earlier, more lax rules.
Jul 5, 2018
After it was viciously gutted last month, many observers thought California’s net neutrality bill was a lost cause. But today, lawmakers announced that they’d reached an agreement to ensure that the legislation will move forward after all, and include tough regulatory provisions.Read Article >
Introduced in the wake of the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality provisions, SB 822 and SB 460 reinstated the net neutrality rules outlined in the 2015 Open Internet Order, banned harmful zero-rating programs, and prohibited broadband providers from charging websites access fees.
Jun 20, 2018
A Democratic state lawmaker from California gutted the nation’s toughest net neutrality bill by railroading through standard procedure and forcing a vote on a set of amendments removing the stricter regulations.Read Article >
On Monday, two California lawmakers struck a deal to combine two competing net neutrality bills in the hopes that it would speed through the committee process and provide the state with a stable net neutrality regulatory framework. The bills, SB 822 and SB 460, from Senators Scott Wiener and Kevin de León, respectively, were both introduced as responses to the Federal Communications Commission’s reversal of the 2015 Open Internet Order last December.
Jun 11, 2018
Today, the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order takes effect, effectively repealing net neutrality protections in the US. The effects probably won’t be sudden; we’ve explained what might happen without the rules and what’s already happened since the vote last year. But no matter what happens this week, repeal opens the door to some real abuses of internet service providers’ power — not hypothetical scenarios, but real predatory practices we’ve already seen in the past.Read Article >
These incidents show how complicated the issue of net neutrality is: all of these transgressions happened after the 2005 Internet Policy Statement, which laid out four “open internet” principles that would guide the agency’s decisions. Some happened during periods where firm rules were standing, others during periods when they’d been struck down. Companies reconsidered their choices because of public outcry, official investigations, and practical changes in technology. So while today is a disappointing day for net neutrality, keeping internet companies in check isn’t just about having the right rules in place. It’s about having regulators and an American public that will make trouble for anybody breaking them.
Jun 11, 2018
As of June 11th, the legal protections against content discrimination on the internet are gone. As far as the FCC is concerned, net neutrality is dead.Read Article >
The policy’s fate was sealed back in December 2017, when FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order was approved in a 3-2 vote along party lines. Pai’s order, which goes into effect today, rolls back the net neutrality protections that were put in place by former chairman Tom Wheeler. They promise — in name, at least — unrestricted access to online content minus the burden of regulation. But in fact, the new ruling clears the way for massive internet service providers to do practically whatever they like — including paid prioritization, throttling, and otherwise messing with traffic as it moves across the internet. It will take a long time to see the practical effects of the new rules, but make no mistake: this is a big deal, and it’s the first step in a long, slow process that will reshape the internet in very ugly ways.
Jun 8, 2018
Congress is less than 50 votes from passing a measure that would restore net neutrality rules to the internet. The motion, which passed the Senate on May 16th, would use the Congressional Review Act (or CRA) to undo Ajit Pai’s December order, effectively restoring the net neutrality protections passed in 2015.Read Article >
In May, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) filed a discharge petition that would force the House to vote on the CRA motion, and has been steadily collecting signatures ever since. Under current rules, a majority of 218 representatives are required to force a House vote again to pass the motion, sending the petition to the president’s desk where it would be subject to veto. As of press time, 170 representatives had signed on in support.
Jun 4, 2018
If the California net neutrality bill passes through Assembly, the state’s size and influence on the market might make it the new broadband standard nationwide.Read Article >
The bill, S.B. 822, is one of the most comprehensive measures any state has put forward in the six months following the FCC’s vote to roll back the original Obama-era regulations. If it passes, it would be the third state to enact net neutrality rules and the first to prohibit some zero-rating programs.
May 30, 2018
The California Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a bill that would reinstate the net neutrality regulations repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December.Read Article >
The bill, S.B. 822, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco), was introduced in March and passed through three committees, all along party-lines. The bill was approved 23–12 and will now head to the state Assembly.
May 16, 2018
This afternoon, the Senate is set to vote on whether to nullify the FCC’s removal of net neutrality protections. A group of Democratic senators forced the vote under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to roll back agency regulations — in this case, the 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order. The resolution needs 51 votes to pass, which means a couple of Republicans will need to throw in their support; so far, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has crossed the line.Read Article >
The vote is expected to happen around 3PM ET today, but the Senate will start discussing it at 12PM ET, and you can catch the debate live on C-SPAN. As we’ve mentioned before, the resolution has a long road ahead even if it passes the Senate. It would need to be approved by a majority of the House of Representatives, then signed by President Trump, who would be rolling back a regulation crafted by his own FCC chairman Ajit Pai. But at the very least, it’s a chance to see where politicians come down on net neutrality.
Feb 27, 2018
A group of senators has formally moved to overturn last year’s net neutrality repeal, now that the FCC’s new rules have been published in the Federal Register. Today, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a long-promised resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress strike down new rules with a simple majority vote. The bill currently has 50 supporters, putting it one vote shy of a majority.Read Article >
Senate Democrats have been raising support for the CRA since last year, but the Federal Register publication starts a 60-legislative-day countdown clock for voting on it. The bill goes to committee for consideration first, but after 20 days, a group of 30 senators can force the Senate to put it on the calendar. Markey and his co-sponsors have more than enough supporters to force a vote this way, but to pass the resolution, they need to win over one more Republican in addition to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who has already expressed support for the move.
Feb 26, 2018
Online platforms haven’t given up on net neutrality just yet. Along with organizations Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press Action Fund, companies including Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, and Medium are participating in a day of online and offline protests on February 27th. The protest — called Operation: #OneMoreVote — will call upon businesses, web users, and more to “flood lawmakers with phone calls and emails from constituents.”Read Article >
The FCC voted in December 2017 to remove the net neutrality rules previously put in place, predictably sparking backlash from online communities, some lawmakers, and even fast-food joints like Burger King. The #OneMoreVote protest is working to obtain the final vote needed in order to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution in the Senate, which could block the repeal.
Dec 19, 2017
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has introduced a bill in response to the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules, but supporters of net neutrality aren’t happy with it. The Open Internet Preservation Act would prevent blocking or degrading the quality of legal web traffic, but would also ban the FCC from making any rules that go beyond those two requirements. It would override any state net neutrality laws, like those recently proposed for California and Washington. And it firmly defines broadband as an “information service,” which would mean it couldn’t be regulated more strictly as a Title II service, as it was under the newly repealed Open Internet Order.Read Article >
Blackburn, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, says the bill is supposed to provide “light-touch regulation so companies can invest and innovate.” It would theoretically settle the long-running debate over net neutrality regulation, but it would allow some practices that net neutrality advocates consider unacceptable — like paid prioritization, where service providers speed up favored web traffic. “Blackburn’s bill would explicitly allow internet providers to demand new fees from small businesses and Internet users, carving up the web into fast lanes and slow lanes,” says Evan Greer, campaigns director of Fight for the Future.
Dec 19, 2017
“In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face.”Read Article >
It was 1968, and J.C.R. Licklider, a director at ARPA, had become convinced that humanity was on the cusp of a computing revolution. In a landmark paper called “The Computer as a Communication Device,” he described “a radically new organization of hardware and software, designed to support many more simultaneous users than the current systems, and to offer them… the fast, smooth interaction required for truly effective man-computer partnership.” For Licklider, this wasn’t just a new technology, but a new way for human beings to exist in the world.
Dec 15, 2017
The FCC voted to put an end to net neutrality, giving internet providers free rein to deliver service at their own discretion. There’s really only one condition here: internet providers will have to disclose their policies regarding “network management practices, performance, and commercial terms.” So if ISPs want to block websites, throttle your connection, or charge certain websites more, they’ll have to admit it.Read Article >
We’re still too far out to know exactly what disclosures all the big ISPs are going to make — the rules (or lack thereof) don’t actually go into effect for another few months — but many internet providers have been making statements throughout the year about their stance on net neutrality, which ought to give some idea of where they’ll land.
Yesterday, FCC chairman Ajit Pai successfully led a vote to repeal the Open Internet Order, effectively killing net neutrality rules. The full order hasn’t been released, but advocacy groups are already preparing for the fight to defend a neutral internet once Title II is repealed. Passing net neutrality protections in 2015 was relatively straightforward, but getting those protections back requires going through every potential legal avenue. Meanwhile, ISPs will be testing their ability to control internet traffic — possibly in very blatant ways.Read Article >
Lawsuits are coming
Dec 14, 2017
As expected, the FCC voted today to roll back net neutrality protections, a fateful decision that will shape the future of the internet.Read Article >
The vote passed the five-commissioner agency on a 3-2 party-line vote. But the two commissioners who dissented — Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, who helped pass net neutrality rules in 2015 — used their opportunity before the vote to deliver statements sharply critical of the FCC’s proposal.
Dec 14, 2017
Lawmakers and public officials are responding to the FCC’s decision to gut net neutrality with promises of action. In the hours following the FCC hearing, officials from around the country announced lawsuits and bills intended to counter the FCC’s decision.Read Article >
In New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that he’s leading a multi-state lawsuit to challenge the FCC’s vote, though he didn’t give further details on the suit or who would be joining him. Calling today’s decision an “illegal rollback,” he described it as giving “Big Telecom an early Christmas present.” Schneiderman has headed efforts to investigate fake net neutrality comments for the past seven months, finding that 2 million comments were posted with stolen identities.
Dec 14, 2017
It’s a red letter day for the media industry. Disney just took control of 21st Century Fox’s media empire, and the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality regulations that prevent internet providers from discriminatory behavior. These two industry-shaking events will set media companies on a dramatic collision course with ISPs. It is the conflict that threatens the internet.Read Article >
This week you might have seen lots of talk about fast and slow lanes, blocked websites, and the end of the internet. But the death of net neutrality is not going to look like a sudden apocalypse. It’s going to look more like things we’ve already seen: data caps, “free” data for apps, and service bundling, like an AT&T mobile plan that comes with HBO. These schemes will change the internet slowly, and they might even seem boring.