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The Fight Over Net Neutrality

- March 16, 2018
Are internet service providers becoming too powerful?
Featured Report

Advocates of an unfettered internet are fighting to restore Obama-era regulations requiring Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all internet traffic equally in terms of speed, access and cost. The so-called net neutrality rules, instituted in 2015 when Democrats controlled the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), were repealed in December 2017 after Republicans regained control of the agency. The FCC is led by former telecommunications lawyer Ajit Pai, a free-market champion of deregulation who has criticized the net neutrality rules as burdensome and unnecessary. More than 20 states are suing to preserve net neutrality, arguing that federal regulations are needed to keep the large ISPs from becoming too powerful. But defenders of the FCC vote say net neutrality harms the ability of the ISPs to improve their networks and ultimately hurts consumers and businesses. The European Union, meanwhile, has passed laws protecting net neutrality and labeled equal access to the internet a basic right.

Flurry of Lawsuits

A coalition of state attorneys general is challenging the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality.

States Act

Net neutrality bills are under consideration in 27 states.

Senate Debate

Democrats are leading an effort to reverse the FCC action.

1880s–1920sFederal regulatory powers grow.
1930s–1940sDebate over access to airwaves foreshadows net neutrality controversy.
1960s–1990sRise of the internet leads to net neutrality debate.
2000s-PresentNet neutrality is passed, then rescinded.

Is regulation necessary to ensure unfettered online access?


Heather West
Senior Policy Manager, Mozilla.


Margaret McCarthy
Executive Director, Mobile Future.


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