After over nine hours of debate over mostly failed amendments, and delays, legislation that would re-regulate internet access by reinstating the Federal Communications Commission's 2015 Open Internet Order's Title II-based net neutrality rules is on its way to a vote in the full House, where it is likely to pass. An amended version of the Save the Internet Act (HR 1644) was approved by the House Commerce Committee on a party-line vote.
Federal Communications Commission General Counsel Thomas Johnson faced a skeptical panel of judges of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as he defended the agency's repeal of net neutrality rules and deregulation of the broadband industry.
The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the broadband industry's challenge of the Federal Communications Commission's 2015 order to impose net neutrality rules and strictly regulate broadband.
The US Senate voted to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor of net neutrality. The Senate approved a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would simply undo the FCC's December 2017 vote to deregulate the broadband industry.
The Federal Communications Commission will move ahead with its vote to kill network neutrality rules Dec 14 despite an unresolved court case that could strip away even more consumer protections. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that net neutrality rules aren't needed because the Federal Trade Commission can protect consumers from broadband providers. But a pending court case involving AT&T could strip the FTC of its regulatory authority over AT&T and similar ISPs.
On May 8, when the Federal Communications Commission website failed and many people were prevented from submitting comments about network neutrality, the cause seemed obvious. Comedian John Oliver had just aired a segment blasting FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to gut net neutrality rules, and it appeared that the site just couldn't handle the sudden influx of comments. But when the FCC released a statement explaining the website's downtime, the commission didn't mention the Oliver show or people submitting comments opposing Pai's plan. Instead, the FCC attributed the downtime solely to "multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS)." These were "deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host," performed by "actors" who "were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather, they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC." The FCC has faced skepticism from net neutrality activists who doubt the website was hit with multiple DDoS attacks at the same time that many new commenters were trying to protest the plan to eliminate the current net neutrality rules. According to FCC CIO David Bray, FCC staff noticed high comment volumes around 3:00 AM the morning of Monday, May 8. As the FCC analyzed the log files, it became clear that non-human bots created these comments automatically by making calls to the FCC's API. Interestingly, the attack did not come from a botnet of infected computers but was fully cloud-based. By using commercial cloud services to make massive API requests, the bots consumed available machine resources, which crowded out human commenters. In effect, the bot swarm created a distributed denial-of-service attack on FCC systems using the public API as a vehicle. It's similar to the distributed denial of service attack on Pokemon Go in July 2016.
President Joe Biden's failure to nominate a fifth Federal Communications Commission member has forced Democrats to work with a 2-2 deadlock instead of the 3-2 majority the president's party typically enjoys at the FCC. Additionally, things could get worse for Democrats starting in January; if Biden doesn't make his choice quickly enough to get Senate confirmation by the end of 2021, Republicans could get a 2-1 FCC majority despite Democrats controlling both the White House and Senate. This is because acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel's term expired in mid-2020.