The Federal Communications Commission voted on December 17, 2017 to implement Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to end net neutrality.
Net neutrality prevents internet service providers from prioritizing data for businesses and other organizations that they favor or that pay more. The rules keep the internet open, free, and unrestricted, preventing ISPs from becoming gatekeepers that can control and manipulate what people access on the internet.
Jay Stanley, American Civil Liberties Union senior policy analyst, said:
Since the end of the dial-up era, the FCC has enforced network neutrality principles and helped create the internet as we know it. Today’s misguided FCC action represents a radical departure that risks erosion of the biggest free speech platform the world has ever known.
Today’s loss means that telecommunications companies will start intruding more on how people use the internet. Internet service providers will become much more aggressive in their efforts to make money off their role as online gatekeepers.
But the fight for network neutrality is not over by any means. The ACLU and our allies will be fighting back in every possible arena to restore these crucial protections.
On February 1, 2018, the ACLU of Alaska called on Governor Bill Walker to join the governors of Montana and New York in ordering internet service providers with state contracts to protect net neutrality.
On December 14, 2017, the FCC repealed regulations that stopped internet service providers (ISPs) from (1) charging different rates for content and (2) slowing down or blocking websites. In response, the governors of Montana and New York issued executive orders stating that to receive a state contract to provide telecommunications services, the provider “must not block lawful content, throttle, impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, engage in paid prioritization, or unreasonably interfere or disadvantage the users’ ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service.”
“Network neutrality isn’t just a consumer protection issue, it is also one of the foremost free speech issues of our time,” said ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua A. Decker. “In this day and age, it is close to impossible to get through life without using the internet— which is why it’s essential that our free speech rights are protected both on- and offline. After all, freedom of expression isn’t worth much if the forums where people actually make use of it are not themselves free.”
Decker continued, “As the chief executive of our state, Governor Bill Walker has an obligation to stand up for the rights of Alaskans, especially when leaders in Washington, DC won’t. We encourage the Governor do just that by using the State’s full legal and financial weight to protect Alaskan’s access to free and open communication on the internet.
“The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed. The legislature shall implement this section.”
Article 1, Section 22 of the Alaska Constitution.