FCC Votes To Repeal Net Neutrality, Throwing The Internet's Future Into Question
Many individuals and companies, including Twitch, have been in favor of keeping net neutrality regulations in place.
Despite a strong outcry, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to repeal net neutrality. These rules mandated that internet service providers treat all websites and online services the same way, ensuring fairness and open access to everything on the internet to everyone in the United States. Following this vote, the free and open internet we currently have access to suddenly faces an uncertain future.
The 3-2 vote followed party lines, with Republican FCC members voting for the repeal and Democrats against it. The vote took place after the room in which the FCC's meeting was held had to be briefly evacuated to allow security to inspect it with bomb-sniffing dogs. Chair Ajit Pai, in casting the deciding vote, stated, "The sky is not falling, consumers will remain protected."
Those in favor of the repeal suggest the move will allow internet providers to more freely innovate without the burden of additional regulations. Net neutrality proponents believe it will result in ISPs offering so-called slow and fast lanes for certain services on the internet, increase costs, and provide a hurdle for free speech.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, one of the two votes against the repeal, stated, "What saddens me the most today is that the agency that is supposed to protect you is actually abandoning you."
Net neutrality rules were implemented in 2015, though some of what this vote undoes has existed for far longer. The potential for a repeal has been a real possibility since 2016's Presidential election, which led to Pai being named Chair of the FCC. A number of those in the games industry have spoken out against such a possibility. Most recently, Twitch--which stands to be impacted as a streaming service that consumes a great deal of bandwidth--expressed its support for net neutrality.
"Net neutrality has played an important role in the history of Twitch," CEO Emmett Shear wrote. "Without it, we might not be here today, and our streamers might not be here tomorrow."
The vote, while contentious in its own right, proved to be further controversial due to the discovery that a large number of comments submitted through the FCC's website were fake. However, Pai opted to move ahead with the vote despite calls from a number of US lawmakers to delay or cancel the vote.
Already, some are taking action against the move, with the Attorney Generals of New York and Washington announcing plans to sue to block the repeal from taking place. Other states are expected to join them.