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Net Neutrality on the Horizon, or Not

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 18, 2018 6:58 AM

By the laws of the universe, like everything else, net neutrality was destined to die.

Even as the U.S. Senate voted to save net neutrality, the pundits said it would not survive the House of Representatives. The President, who those pundits believe would kill it given the chance, may never have to because the idea was doomed from the beginning.

It's like evolution, survival of the fittest, and capitalization of internet traffic. You can't stop big service providers from driving web traffic where it will make them money.

Too Late to Save the Internet?

In one way, the last nail in the coffin started to go down on April 23. That was the deadline to save net neutrality -- to ensure equal treatment for all internet users -- under the Congressional Review Act.

The law allows Congress to reverse agency rules within 60 days of their publication. But Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, vowed to end Obama-era internet rules long before that.

"I don't know whether this plan will be vacated by a court, reversed by Congress, or overturned by a future Commission. But I do believe that its days are numbered," he said, objecting to net neutrality regulation when he was but an FCC commissioner.

With AT&T, Comcast and ISP lobbyists behind him, Pai fulfilled his own prediction soon after President Trump appointed him to lead the agency.

End Game Ahead

The House is not likely to follow the Senate's attempt to restore net neutrality rules. Republicans, and the Trump administration, say the old regulations stifled innovation.

The FCC's deregulation, Democrats say, will allow cable and phone companies to set "fast lanes" for some users and "slow lanes" for others. Netflix and Spotify, among others, fear their users will be stuck in traffic.

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