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22 States Are Suing the FCC Over Net Neutrality Repeal

Burger King helps consumers understand net neutrality with their video parody on Whopper Neutrality on YouTube.

Burger King helps consumers understand net neutrality with their video parody on Whopper Neutrality on YouTube.

Photo courtesy of YouTube

Photo courtesy of YouTube

Burger King helps consumers understand net neutrality with their video parody on Whopper Neutrality on YouTube.

Aiden Deming, Guest to the Quest

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In an aggressive attempt to repeal net neutrality, more than 22 states, including California, have filed lawsuits, introduced bills, and filed executive orders in protest against the Federal Communications Commission. The recent and controversial issue of Net Neutrality has some people scratching their heads wondering what all the fuss is about, but state politicians are leading the witch hunt to take down the Federal Communications Commission. One by one, 22 states began the process of filing a lawsuit against the FCC, and a coalition of attorney generals from both red and blue states joined legal and political forces.

The lawsuit, led by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York, was the first to say he would “sue to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality.” The state of California quickly followed and was the second state to join the lawsuit. On the website of Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California, the State of California of Justice Office of the Attorney General writes, “Today, the FCC failed to do what is right. The FCC decided that consumers do not deserve free, open, and equal access to the internet. It decided to ignore the millions of Americans who voiced their strong support for our existing net neutrality rules.”  Next to join the lawsuit was Virginia, then it was Illinois until finally Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Alaska completed the lawsuit of 22 plaintiffs.

In a recent article in Fortune magazine, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts explained, “..all 49 Democrats in the upper chamber backed the repeal….Democrats need 51 votes to win any proposal in the Republican-controlled Senate because Mike Pence can break any tie… and overturning a presidential veto requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers.”  The resolution may seem like an uphill battle, but there are other state representatives like Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania who said, “[I have] 81 members of Congress willing to cosponsor legislation to protect net neutrality. Traditionally, a bill needs 218 votes to pass in the house.”  Although these 22 states stand united in their lawsuit, there are still a handful of states that are pursuing additional means calling the FCC decision, “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion” as reported by the Associated Press.

While 22 states prepare to join the national lawsuit, individual states are in a hurry to protect their states consumers. In California – a state that is home to many huge internet software companies such as Google, Youtube, Reddit, Microsoft, and many more – should not be at the mercy of the FCC. Currently, a bill known as SB 460 has been passed in the California state 21-12, to force ISPs to follow the net neutrality rules. This makes it illegal for Internet Service Providers to throttle, manipulate, or charge more for certain internet services, but more importantly, the bill protects California consumers.

Other states such as New York, Montana, and Alaska have also followed in California’s footsteps. Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order to protect net neutrality in the state of Montana, “…the state can’t be stopped from protecting net neutrality, and ISPs that don’t like it, don’t have to do business with state agencies.”  In Alaska, Representative Scott Kawasaki introduced House Bill 277 which would allow the state to regulate the Obama-era net neutrality rules as if it were the federal government stating, “The recent FCC decision eliminating net neutrality was a mistake that favors the big internet providers and those who want to restrict the kinds of information a free-thinking Alaskan can access. That is not the Alaskan way, and I am hopeful my colleagues in the House and Senate will agree by making House Bill 277 a priority in this session. The resolution introduced…is meant to urge Congress to act,” explained Kawasaki. 

New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington have all followed New York, California, Montana, and Alaska by filing their own state bills and executive orders, but the fate of each state still hangs in the balance as states may hit an unforeseen roadblock to house bill success. According to The Verge, a tech company website, author Colin Lecher writes, “…executive orders [may not] stand. When it passed its repeal of net neutrality rules late last year, the FCC specifically included a provision blocking states from passing their own rules. New York, like other states that attempt similar plans, will likely face a legal challenge.”  Until all state bills reach the Senate, advocates for net-neutrality remain in uncertainty, particularly in the act of overriding state blocking of what is considered to be a federal matter.

“I didn’t think that ordering a Whopper would open my eyes up to net neutrality.”

Most politicians understand the FCC’s financial gain by supporting big business ISPs, but not at the cost of a free and open internet. This ongoing fight and the controversial issue will continue to spark interest amongst Americans and lovers of the internet, but in case American’s remain in the dark corner of blissful ignorance, just watch the trending Burger King analogy of net neutrality video on YouTube to understand the significance of the fight. It’s ridiculous to think someone would pay $26.00 for a Whopper, but in a world of fast-food, fast passes, Front of the line, Fast-trak, and high-speed, 5Gmust-haves, it won’t seem so ridiculous once the parody’s message sinks in.

States will keep fighting; their protests to repeal net neutrality are not just a national coalition but a promise to their statewide constituents and consumers. Representatives from 22 states recognize they have a responsibility to their citizens to keep the internet open and free. When American’s finally understand what’s at stake and what’s coming in terms of internet bundles, they will finally understand what 22 states, possibly their own, are fighting for.

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22 States Are Suing the FCC Over Net Neutrality Repeal