The battle for net neutrality: state war

Less than a month remains before the abolition of the US neutrality rules. On this occasion, disputes do not cease in the country, and the peculiarity of the confrontation is that it joined the authorities at the state level.

In previous articles, we traced the history of network neutrality from its inception to its adoption and abolition in less than 3 years. Today we will consider what has changed after the landmark decision of the FCC at the end of 2017.


/ Flickr / backbone campaign / cc

Civil War for Network Neutrality


Everything went to the abolition of the rules of network neutrality since 2016. The new president represents the Republican Party. Over the past years, its members have opposed the classification of communication services that has been in force since 2015. Ajit Pai, the head of the FCC since January 2017 and an open opponent of the idea of ​​network neutrality, so the rejection of the previous rules and classifications is an expected step of the Commission.

The reaction of proponents of net neutrality could also be foreseen.

A week after the FCC vote, Democratic Senator Edward Markey, another 25 of his party members and independents promised to legally overturn the Commission’s decision and restore the previous rules of net neutrality. Ed brands announced that he has enough votes to start the review process of the FCC decision. However, for this, a group of senators must obtain the signature of the president, who now supports the Commission.

There is also information that an association of large technology companies, including Google, Amazon and Twitter, will help organizations that plan to sue the FCC. Mozilla took decisive action - in January, the developer filed a lawsuit with a motion regarding the FCC decision. After the official publication of a new approach to the activities of providers, their lawsuits filed in March and other IT companies, including Etsy, Kickstarter, Foursquare, and Shutterstock. The association, which includes Facebook, Netflix, and Uber, has filed a petition with the Court of Appeals, demanding that the FCC decision be rescinded.

Burger King intervened in the conflict with a video explaining the consequences of net neutrality. Fast food visitors were offered to pay extra for the speed of preparation or wait for an order indefinitely. So the company illustrated the problem of priority access to sites and services.
В свою очередь стороны, которые поддерживают действия FCC, — в основном провайдеры, — также подали ходатайство о вмешательстве в политику Комиссии. Они считают, что ее действия были оправданы.
The main feature of the FCC opposition this time was disagreement with the decision of the Commission of entire states. Attorneys-General of 21 states filed a lawsuit in January to challenge the abolition of net neutrality. Montana was the first state to uphold the rules of network neutrality, despite the decision of the FCC. On March 6, Washington joined her .

Lawmakers in California, New York, Rhode Island, Nebraska, and Massachusetts have introduced similar bills. This means that at the federal and regional levels in the United States, various approaches to regulating the telecommunications industry are beginning to take effect. A total of 35 states have attempted to maintain network neutrality.


/ Flickr / backbone campaign / cc

Возникает вопрос , имеют ли право отдельные штаты сохранить сетевой нейтралитет. The FCC official document contains a provision that gives the Commission the “last word” in this matter - it is the highest federal body that makes decisions regarding the regulation of providers in the country. However, lawyers on the side of the opponents of the FCC decision argue that the situation is ambiguous.

In judicial practice, there is an example of how the Commission lost , trying to prove its advantage over state laws, and won in similar matters.

Net neutrality worldwide


The day after the December vote, the British publication Independent suggested that "changes in the US could be a dangerous precedent for governments in other countries that might want to follow suit." For example, the European Union has a single legislative framework governing network neutrality. Some European countries, however, have developed local laws. Among such countries are the Netherlands, which became the first state in Europe and the second largest in the world after Chile, which passed the law on network neutrality in 2012.
Здесь провайдерам строго запрещается взимать плату с пользователей за приоритетный доступ к каким-либо сервисам.
Its net neutrality rules have been officially in force in India since 2016. They appeared in response to the launch in the country of free, limited Internet from Facebook.

The telecommunications regulator considered this a manifestation of discrimination and decided to ensure equal access to the Internet for all residents. Now the regulator’s recommendations are considered “one of the most progressive policies in the world to ensure equal Internet access for all.”


/ Wikimedia / Viggy prabhu / CC
Network neutrality actually acts in Russia . At the beginning of this year, providers asked for permission to restrict the traffic of individual resources at their discretion. The government claims that they are not going to refuse the principles of network neutrality in RuNet.

There are a number of countries in which there are no rules of net neutrality. So in Guatemala, many people have two SIM cards at once, because one can get free access to WhatsApp, and the other - to Facebook. In Morocco, in 2016, several Internet service providers blocked voice applications such as Skype and WhatsApp to force users to pay more for telephone calls.

What does the abolition of net neutrality mean?


Under the new rules, providers will have the opportunity to promote the offer of their own services and the services of paying customers on priority channels, lowering the speed of transmission of competing resources.

Telecommunications company AT&T has its own streaming service DirecTV Now, Verizon has Go90. With the abolition of network neutrality, it is likely that access to other applications for subscribers of these providers will be difficult. Not excluded also block content that does not violate US law, but not in the interests of telecommunications companies. You can learn more about how providers can prioritize their services from second part of a series of articles.

Regarding the FCC, the Commission denies “apocalyptic” scenarios. Chairman Pai believes that the new rules will make the activities of Internet providers more “transparent” and expand the choice of consumers. Earlier, he argued that the Internet did not need additional regulation, and the adoption of the rules of net neutrality was a “mistake”.

Whether it is so or not, the question is debatable.

The problem of net neutrality in the United States against the backdrop of the cancellation and participation in disputes of large companies attracted public attention. Given that most states have taken steps to maintain the repealed rules, the main intrigue is whether they will be able to defend this right and whether the court will reverse the FCC decision shortly after its entry into force. The history of net neutrality shows that the adopted rules on this issue are quickly reversed.

A few more articles from the VAS Experts corporate blog:


Other parts of the story of the battle for net neutrality: