Late last year, the United States Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in favor of dismantling Obama-era regulations that prohibited ISPs from privileging content. This was a huge defeat for internet rights activists and consumers everywhere. However, while the case seems shut to many, there is still a resistance ongoing – with some rather large companies in its ranks.
Netflix tweets litigative threats at the FCC
While I find it truly amazing that our world today has tech giants, government agencies, and influential people all duking it out 280 characters at a time, a tweet from Netflix demonstrates just how willing the company is to defend net neutrality.
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 5, 2018
The tweet reads: “In 2018, the Internet is united in defense of #NetNeutrality. As for the FCC, we will see you in court.” I imagine that many of us expected to see these kinds of lawsuits begin to crop up in the wake of an absolute perfect storm of a vote, where voices were muffled and decisions made with poor information. (My opinion is that the vote should have been delayed to at least get everything properly laid out so that the decision could be made properly. I’d be less wary of the same outcome if the process had been better executed.)
What happens next with these sorts of lawsuits is anyone’s guess, but it will definitely be interesting to follow, especially for any law junkies in our readership. The implications of these sorts of lawsuits and decisions will be massive.
My prediction is that these court cases will be dramatic, with content creators and ISPs vying for both the blessing and support of the United States government. At the end of the day, even though companies like Netflix and Google are currently aligned with the majority of the American public, they likely are more closely aligned with their bottom lines.
Who should guarantee your rights?
Largely, my issue with the repeal, and what worries me about large companies suing the FCC over it, is the question of who should guarantee your rights. Clearly the FCC has interests with a certain group and has marginalized the digital rights of US citizens, but I don’t know that we should all be ready to jump into bed with big businesses. After all, they are beholden to their shareholders, not the public. While companies like Netflix and Google may be useful in (maybe) clawing back the digital rights guaranteed by the UN Human Rights Council – not to mention the US Constitution’s First Amendment – we should still be very skeptical of their motives if net neutrality does get saved at the last minute or reinstated later as a result. Giant corporations’ interests can align – and do quite often, in fact – with the best interests of citizens, but not often enough that they should be who we look to for help – unless we hold shares in them.