Officials in Queens have voiced their displeasure with the Federal Communication Commission after it ruled last Thursday to scrap rules requiring internet service providers to treat all online content equally.
Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, the FCC implemented net neutrality on February 26, 2015. These regulations prevented ISPs from blocking customers from accessing sites or servicers, slowing down websites for users, and providing faster access to any content in exchange for cash.
Obama, a supporter of net neutrality throughout his presidential tenure, advocated for an Internet that could provide equal access for businesses and entrepreneurs.
“You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed,” he said.
However, a month after Donald Trump became president, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the agency would repeal these regulations. Pai views net neutrality as the agency overstepping its responsibilities and pushed net neutrality at the behest of the White House.
“On express orders from the previous White House, the FCC scrapped the tried-and-true, light touch regulation of the Internet and replaced it with heavy-handed micromanagement,” Pai said on Thursday.
Yet the decision led to major concerns among officials. U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) explained that the FCC decision was “unacceptable” as it would affect innovation in the country.
“A free and open internet has been a driving force of American ingenuity. The FCC’s decision to end net neutrality will not just restrict Americans’ ability to innovate, it will impinge on our freedom to communicate,” he said.
Furthermore, Crowley noted that most Americans favor keeping net neutrality. A poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation found over 80 percent of those surveyed oppose any repeal of the Obama-era rules.
“But President Trump’s FCC has instead decided to ignore these voices, so they can have the final say over what Americans see online. This is yet another way the Trump administration and Republicans are stacking the deck against the middle class,” he said.
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), who is a member of the Committee on Technology and Innovation, also voiced her displeasure with net neutrality rules being scrapped.
“Net neutrality was a way for the government to protect consumers and guarantee equal access to the internet,” she said. “This access is no longer a privilege, but a necessity for many and to allow large corporations to take advantage of the public in this way is wrong.”
While the rules no longer apply, New York officials vow to reinstall the rules. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also announced he would sue the FCC to protect net neutrality. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) promised to hold a Senate vote on ensuring the regulations are reinstalled.
“Our economy works best when innovators, entrepreneurs, and business of all sizes compete on a level playing field. Net Neutrality, very simply, says that everyone deserves the same, fair access to the internet,” he said.