The climactic net neutrality showdown has begun: Following the release of Federal Communications Commission’s final proposal to enforce net neutrality rules, conservative advocacy group Protect Internet Freedom released a video bashing the FCC’s proposal to regulate the internet as a utility.
The video opens with a woman waiting to get her broadband installed but is interrupted by a barrage of bureaucrats who need to verify and document all of her online habits — from the type of webcam she uses to how much video and music she streams.
Protect Internet Freedom’s video paints the FCC’s plan as intrusive and overbearing, but seems to be an answer to political satirist and comedian John Oliver’s hugely popular video on net neutrality that aired last year. Oliver called net neutrality “hugely important” because it treats all data the same, allowing startup companies to uproot more established companies in the same arena.
Republicans have been adamantly against net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all internet traffic equally, since their inception in 2010. After a federal judge determined the FCC did not have the legal authority to enforce the rules in 2014, conservatives have vowed to try to shoot down any effort to reinstate them.
Weeks before FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released the agency’s latest proposal Wednesday, Republicans in Congress were already planning to undermine it. Politico and the Wall Street Journal reported conservatives believed treating the internet as a utility went too far and were planned to use their majority in both houses to pass legislation blocking the FCC’s proposal.
The FCC is set to vote Feb. 26 on its proposal, which not only gives the FCC legal authority under Title II of the Communications Act to regulate the internet as a utility, but bans fast lanes.
Previous FCC proposals allowed paid prioritization deals that let some online services, such as Netflix, pay ISPs extra to make sure their data was delivered faster than others, giving more profitable companies a distinct advantage over newer or less lucrative startups. The agency has since changed course, aligning its latest proposal with the White House’s plan announced in November.