The FCC has released its official proposal for repealing the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules. Hoping to turn it into a divisive campaign issue for Republicans, Democrats are beginning to rally grassroots efforts to spark public outrage and cost Republicans 2018 votes.
The Republican-led FCC ultimately has final say on the rules, but Democrats are hoping public outcry will persuade the agency to withdraw or at least soften its proposed roll-back. As they stand now, the Obama-era regulations prevent internet providers from blocking, slowing or charging extra fees to websites in order to prioritize their content. Democrats argue that scraping these regulations would create fast and slow lanes for the internet, harming consumer choice and protections. Republicans argue that this limits internet provider’s ability to innovate and find new revenue sources.
While a legislative compromise is unlikely in the current political climate, some experts argue it would be the only way to prevent the issue from reversing with each new administration. Hal Singer, an economist at George Washington University’s Institute for Public Policy told The Washington Post, “If they don’t reach a compromise that involves some level of protection for websites, then we will forever toggle between zero protection under a GOP-led FCC, and maximal protection under a Democratic-led FCC…This back and forth is not good for websites, and it’s not good for ISPs.”