The Federal Communications Commision, headed by President Trump’s chairman pick Ajit Pai, voted 3-2 on Thursday to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections. Celebrities, as well as politicians and Netflix, spoke out across social media to denounce the decision.
“We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement,” a statement from Netflix read. “This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.”
“EVERYONE should care about this,” Captain America actor Chris Evans tweeted. “It benefits no one unless you’re a faceless, mega corporation. NOBODY is asking for it.”
Carrie Coon (The Leftovers) called the announcement “bad news,” while House of Cards creator Beau Willimon tweeted how “generations who haven’t been born yet will look back and be grateful for the millions who fought to save our country from those driven purely by shameless greed.”
Others — including Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), Asia Kate Dillon (Billions), and Orlando Jones (American Gods) — began retweeting statements from politicians and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in response.
Net neutrality, which was partially approved in 2010 and expanded upon in 2015, is the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) — like Verizon and Comcast — cannot block access to or discriminate against individual websites. The laws encouraged ISPs to treat all sites equally, allowing consumers the same access speed and availability to all websites. Without them, there lies the potential for providers to charge different companies — like Netflix or Amazon — to improve the performance of its sites.
The problem is that many Americans don’t have access to multiple providers. This is what many experts, politicians, free speech advocates, and companies argued when publicly opposing the repeal of net neutrality. It’s no surprise, too, that Verizon was one of the companies supporting the repeal efforts.
Pai, a former general counsel for Verizon, has long tried to dismantle net neutrality. As chairman of the FCC, he referred to net neutrality as “heavy-handed government regulation” and its repeal an order for “restoring internet freedom.”
“The internet wasn’t broken in 2015,” Pai argued in his remarks made on Thursday. “We weren’t living in a digital dystopia. To the contrary, the internet is perhaps the one thing in American society we can all agree has been a stunning success.”
But, as the Mr. Robot Twitter account wrote, “The fight isn’t over.” Some, including New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, promised to sue to stop the FCC from rolling back these protections.
According to a recent poll from the University of Maryland, 83 percent of voters supported the existing net neutrality laws.
“Today the FCC voted along party lines to repeal net neutrality. It is outrageous that they ruled in favor of multi-billion-dollar broadband companies over the interests of consumers,” California Senator Kamala Harris tweeted. “Americans deserve a fair and open internet.”
See more reactions from celebrities and politicians below, including from FCC’s Jessica Rosenworcel, who tweeted the repeal decision “shows enormous contempt for public opinion.”