Will Massive Net-Neutrality Protest Change The FCC’s Mind?

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Publish Date:
July 11, 2017
Author(s):
  • Bordelon, Brendan
Source:
National Journal
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Summary

On Wednesday, major tech companies and web platforms in the United States will team up with activists for what’s being billed as a watershed moment in the net-neutrality fight—a massive “Day of Ac­tion” opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to undo the legal underpinning of rules prohibiting the blocking, throttling, or prioritization of web traffic.

The protest is slated to include Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Reddit and virtually every other major web platform in America. It will be the largest online action of its kind since 2012, when a coalition of activists and top tech firms “blacked out” large swathes of the internet and channeled millions of angry comments to lawmakers supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. The outcry killed both bills, which had been widely expected to pass, in a matter of days. Activists hope that a repeat performance Wednesday will similarly derail the netneutrality rollback expected at the FCC this fall.

But Barbara van Schewick, a law professor and net-neutrality expert at Stanford University, believes that the FCC’s independence has its limits. “Chair­man Pai is up for renomination,” she said, adding that Republican lawmakers were “burnt really badly” by their repeal of the commission’s im­pending internet-privacy rules earlier this year. “I think that has demonstrated to a lot of members that these are issues that their constituents care about passionately.”

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