The federal government is working to roll back some internet regulations – and a lot of people, like Sen. Al Franken, are worried it'll give unfair advantages to certain websites.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) publicly released a 57-page "Fact Sheet" on Thursday, and it includes plans to undo some rules it approved in 2015 designed to keep the internet an open and fair place.
According to CNN Tech, the net neutrality rules were to prevent internet providers (Comcast, AT&T etc.) from favoring certain websites – including ones they own – by doing things like speeding up or slowing down traffic (known as throttling).
Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed FCC chairman, has been critical of those regulations. He’s argued the rules have slowed investments in the broadband industry, and could get in the way of a widespread adoption of 5G service, WIRED said.
So basically, the FCC is saying it should get rid of some of these rules – known as Title II – so that internet providers have more freedom to grow and progress.
What opponents are saying
A lot of people, including Sen. Franken, have been speaking out against the FCC's new plans.
The senator sent out a string of tweets Wednesday in favor of net neutrality, saying it allows small businesses to compete at the same level as big corporations. He added that it makes sure those big corporations can't pick and choose what its users see.
Removing net neutrality protections could create a two-tiered internet, where providers can charge websites more for faster performance, leaving other, probably smaller, websites behind.
Hundreds of startup businesses also banded together to write Pai a letter about their concerns regarding his plans. The letter explains that the small businesses are worried they won't have a chance if net neutrality isn't protected.
Franken retweeted the letter saying he stands with those small businesses.
Rep. Keith Ellison sent out a series of kind of confusing tweets regarding the topic. But in the end, his message seemed to align with Franken's.
Earlier this month, Amazon, Ebay, Google, Netflix, Reddit, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, Uber – plus 32 other internet companies – announced they don’t want current net neutrality rules to be deleted.
What supporters are saying
Not everyone is against Pai's plans, though. In fact, many supporters have said they're fans of an open and free internet, and that less regulation would help achieve that.
Verizon released a statement saying it wholly supports net neutrality, as well as Pai's plans to roll back Title II regulations.
"Title II is the wrong way to ensure net neutrality; it undermines investment, reduces jobs and stifles innovative new services," Veriozon Senior Vice President Kathy Grillo said.
The proposal is to be voted on by the FCC on May 18 – then it will gather public feedback.