Although the issue of net neutrality may not be making the headlines as it was earlier this year, the fight for the open internet still continues. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that everything will be OK. We still need legislation that will protect us from prioritized content, bandwidth/data throttling and any other type of scheme broadband providers and internet service providers might try to pull in light of the Federal Communications Commission’s reversal of the net neutrality rules.
On Feb. 22, the FCC published its new rules, published under the misnomer the “Restoring Internet Freedom” order. The publication of the rules in the Federal Register started the 60-day clock for Congress to be able to put a stop to the repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules.
While most of the changes are set to go into effect April 23, there were some that required the approval by the Office of Management and Budget of modified data- collection requirements because of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Basically, the OMB has to ensure that any new ways the FCC requires broadband providers and ISPs to collect information do not place an undue burden on them.
The data-collection rules are the FCC’s way of making sure that ISPs and broadband providers are transparent about the ways in which they are operating and providing service to their customers. In turn, the Federal Trade Commission will be able to determine if their business practices are unfair, deceptive or anticompetitive, and the Justice Department will be able to determine whether their operations violate antitrust laws
The FCC turned that information over to OMB on March 27, and that submission was published by the Federal Register on March 28.
The OMB 30-day comment period started on March 28. The public and other federal agencies have the opportunity to comment on the information collection, specifically:
[W]hether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the mission’s burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.
Even with all these new rules on information gathering and being transparent in the way in which ISPs and broadband companies do business, the FCC’s new rules do not prohibit such firms from blocking content, throttling service or engaging in the practice of paid prioritization for certain content.
Ultimately, those are the practices we should all be fighting against. Those practices are the most harmful to consumers and go against the very idea of an open and free internet.
You can help. Write Congress. Lawmakers still have time to stop the repeal through the Congressional Review Act. Find out where your state’s representatives stand on the issue, and contact them if they are on the wrong side of it. Talk to your friends and family and get them involved too.
The fight for net neutrality is a First Amendment fight. It’s a class fight. It’s a race fight.
It’s the people’s fight.
Don’t just stand there. Do something.