Lately it seems like good news is far and few between, so I’m pleased to be able to share this small glimmer of hope with you. The FCC has finally sworn in a fifth commissioner to break the deadlocked committee split 2-2 along party lines that has prevented the FCC from doing practically anything since Biden took office in 2021. Shortly after the fifth commissioner was confirmed, the FCC chair announced their plans to reinstate Net Neutrality, something we have written about here numerous times before.
What this means for you
The previously Republican-tilted FCC under the previous president’s leadership was perhaps best known for repealing the Net Neutrality rules adopted in 2015 which were established to frame internet and mobile bandwidth as a utility, giving the FCC regulatory oversight to ensure fairness and availability of what is inarguably an essential service for everyone. This decision was widely viewed as favoring corporations over people, resulting in numerous and sometimes grotesque exercises in being “off the leash” including an incident where Verizon throttled the Santa Clara Fire Department’s bandwidth during the worst fire emergency in California’s history, and then proceeded to upsell them on a better data plan instead of behaving like normal human beings. Normally disputes like this would have been settled quickly by the FCC, but without a fifth commissioner to break what was likely to be a partisan tie, the industry was left to self-regulate, which led to a lot of, “We investigated ourselves and found ourselves not guilty.” Before you get out the champagne, these plans are a long way from being implemented, but now with a Democrat as the tiebreaker, there may be opportunities for consumer interests to be valued ahead of corporations in a critical regulatory agency, if only for a little while.
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