The FCC made the unpopular decision to overturn Obama-era net neutrality rules last year, but the exact moment when the laws actually started to be repealed remained an unknown future date. Now that the FCC’s decision has officially entered the Federal Register as of Thursday morning, net neutrality laws will officially begin disappearing on April 23.
Although that date feels frighteningly close, it does also mark the beginning of the fight. Many entities—from Netflix to state attorneys and half the Senate—pledged to fight the decision to eliminate the protections by challenging the repeal in court. They could only legally do so after the official order was published, so that they could block it from happening. Now that the date has been published, those efforts can begin in earnest.
Some lawsuits have already been filed. In January, the state attorneys of 22 different states, as well as tech company Mozilla and The Open Technology Institute, filed a lawsuit in a Washington D.C. appeals court that claimed the FCC chairman Ajit Pai acted in “an arbitrary and capricious manner” and that the FCC ignored the public’s will. Many other tech giants have expressed their intent to take legal action, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and even Etsy. In addition, Medium, Tumblr, Etsy, Github, Sonos, Imgur, and Vimeo are among the companies planning a day of online mass protest on Feb. 27 to demonstrate their support for net neutrality.
#NetNeutrality advocates and major web platforms like @medium @tumblr @etsy @vimeo @buyvpnservice @imgur @DuckDuckGo @github @Sonos and others are planning a mass online protest on Feb 27 called Operation: #OneMoreVote to get that final vote we need. https://t.co/1k26KwiDFN— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) February 21, 2018
"Etsy sellers and other microbusinesses depend on strong net neutrality protections to start and grow their businesses online," Althea Erickson, head of advocacy and impact at Etsy, said in an emailed statement to BuzzFeed News. "Now that the FCC has made their attack on net neutrality official, we’re jumping into action to fight back on all fronts."
There is yet another way to fight back against the repeal of the net neutrality law, and that is through Congress. In January, Senate Democrats announced they had secured 50 votes to overturn the repeal, and were just one vote short. This path is perhaps the trickiest path to take: the Senate might be one vote short, but the repeal would also need to pass through the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a larger majority. The repeal of net neutrality is generally supported by Republicans, because of course it is. Trump, who would also have veto power in case the repeal did pass the House, also supports the FCC’s decision.
States can also work to protect net neutrality. The governors of Montana and New York have already signed executive orders that would protest net neutrality laws within their states.
The net neutrality laws made it illegal for big internet service providers like AT&T, Charter, Comcast, and Verizon to slow down websites intentionally or to charge for faster service or higher quality streaming. In case you need a refresher or an explainer, Burger King has one of the best videos out there doing just that (that sounds like a joke, but it’s really not.)