On Net Neutrality, Your Rights, and Your Voice

It’s time to remind everyone that attacks on net neutrality are still alive and well in Washington, DC. There have been some developments in this very pressing – and it is pressing – matter, and few of them are good.

The FCC continues to try and undermine the rights of Americans

Not everything that the FCC does is bad. In fact, the commission just struck a pretty high note by proposing rules that would end robocalling. I am unsure how many of our readers are afflicted by numerous robocalls, but they can be incredibly annoying. It pleases me that the FCC is working to end them.

However, even as the FCC seems to try and protect some rights, it’s continued its massive campaign for a wholesale repeal of Obama era net neutrality rules – which is a direct attack on free speech rights and digital rights at large. It is frustrating to see these two, asymmetrical sides of the same coin.

Worryingly, it appears that if the commission gets its way, then it may be incredibly hard to ever enshrine digital speech rights into law again. As it stands, big telecommunications companies and the FCC are courting each other, flirting with money and rights. There is a very real possibility that part of a hypothetical FCC repeal of net neutrality could include clauses which would prevent the United States from writing net neutrality laws back into the books.

If that happened, it would be as devious as it would be clever. The FCC would do the heavy lifting to get net neutrality repealed, then place the onus on the next group to try and reinstate them. Even if a law was passed stipulating that the US couldn’t rewrite net neutrality back into law, that law could be repealed. The strange beauty of the legal system is that it is just organized chaos built on previous decisions. Individual decisions can be overturned, but it takes work to do so. Given that the American public can barely be bothered to protect their rights, the gamble that there would not be a strong push to reinstate those rights is probably pretty safe for the FCC and big telecom.

An increasingly frequent trend

Sadly, it is not just big telecom we see receiving increasingly favorable treatment – to the detriment of citizens – from lawmakers and the executive branch. Wall Street, large financial institutions, and data sellers all are benefiting from lax regulation or a willingness to look the other way. Recently, a tie was broken by Vice President Mike Pence that declared consumers – US citizens – do not have the right to hold big institutions accountable for the latter’s misdeeds in (mis)handling sensitive personal data. This is bad news for pretty much the entirety of credit-holding America who got doxxed by a company they never signed up with. It is sickening.

That being said, I don’t want to end on a bad note. The good thing is that you can be vocal about this. Writing and calling lawmakers actually can be effective sometimes. Just remember, you have to protect your rights, because clearly others won’t do it for you.