The FCC repealed net neutrality — but can they enforce it? Now, 7 U.S. states are directly challenging the FCC with pro-net neutrality provisions, while more than 20 are outright challenging the legality of the rollback.
If the FCC wanted a fight, they got an MMA death-match. Now, more than 7 U.S. states have measures outright challenging the FCC’s December rollback of net neutrality. And that’s a number likely to increase.
On Thursday, Vermont governor Phil Scott issued an Executive Order mandating that all ISPs with state contracts adhere to net neutrality provisions. That closely follows a similar order from Hawaii state governor David Ige, as well as earlier Executive Orders from governors in New York, New Jersey, and Montana.
Perhaps more menacing to the FCC are fast-moving bills in both California and the State of Washington. Legislators in both states have fast-tracked bills into their respective upper chambers, with clear legal requirements for ISPs to follow net neutrality guidelines.
Both bills were passed with extremely lopsided majorities, making their passage into law highly likely.
In total, that means 7 U.S. states are in outright defiance of the FCC and its chairman, Ajit Pai.
In total, that represents a population of more than 78.3 million people, or 24.2 percent of the entire U.S. population.
Here’s the quick math on this pushback, per 2016 census estimates:
California (39.25 million) + New York (19.75 million) + New Jersey (8.94 million) + Montana (1.043 million) + Hawaii (1.429 million) + Vermont (625,000) + Washington (7.3 million) = 78.34 million
/ United States total population (323.1 million) = 24.2%
Meanwhile, ISPs are starting to realize that Ajit Pai may have been a poor choice for FCC chairman. And a disastrous leader.
The cocky FCC Commissioner seemed like the perfect choice, and an effective choice for ripping apart net neutrality regulations. But Pai obviously lacked the political savvy required to make the repeal work. In fact, his blunt repeal has triggered a reaction so incredibly strong, ISPs are realizing that the repeal may become a useless piece of paper.
Even worse, the pushback could serve to actually strengthen net neutrality resolve nationwide. And no ISP wants to deal with state-by-state compliance differences. Accordingly, ISPs are backing away from the radioactive measure. That includes the CEO of AT&T, who declared the rollback a stupid idea in public comments.
Others are also reacting. In response to the Vermont Order, the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association urged a redrawn, nationwide ‘standard’ on net neutrality. Otherwise, the group warned of “a disruptive patchwork of inconsistent state actions,” all of which lowers profits.
Overall, that newer reality will likely be worse than the uniformed, nationwide net neutrality order implemented under the Obama administration. At least from the perspective of ISPs.