Back in 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO) which provided “a framework for protecting an open internet while paving the way for better, faster, and cheaper internet access for all consumers.” Shortly after the proposals were approved, CNN famously proclaimed the decision was the “end of the internet as we know it.” John Oliver’s segment on Last Week Tonight covering RIFO led 150,000 Americans to file comments opposing the new rules.
The previous rules, which were imposed just two years before, required internet services to be treated in the same regulatory manner as a 1930s-style public utilities (referred to as Title II regulations) and required Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to “treat all internet traffic the same.” Classifying ISPs under Title II regulations also allowed the federal government to “supervise their rates and practices, force them to provide service and ban practices that it decides are unjust or unreasonable.” The new rules reclassified internet services as an information services, as opposed to common carriers, while adding numerous consumer protections.
Despite CNN’s apocalyptic claims and the substantial grassroots campaign satire comedians unleashed, three years after the proposals were released the internet is not only still functioning, but it is more accessible than ever.
Given the current coronavirus pandemic, access to fast and reliable internet has never been more important. The positive outcomes for consumers stemming from RIFO illustrates why the FCC should continue in its desire to replace “heavy-handed regulations” with “common-sense rules that will promote investment and broadband deployment.”
A recent study by the Pew Research Center highlights the significant improvement in access to broadband internet after RIFO. In