First responders and members of other public safety organizations organized to call for Congress to restore net neutrality regulations following an incident from earlier this month that saw Verizon cripple the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s firefighting vehicle OES 5262 while it was combating a major fire. The effort comes in the form of an open letter that has already been signed by over 1,000 emergency workers in the United States and is still making the rounds online. The communication will be sent to Congress later this year, according to Fight for the Future, one of the most vocal nonprofits in the country advocating for the return of net neutrality.
The 2015 Title II protections preventing Internet service providers from throttling online content based on its source have been repealed by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year as part of what proved to be an extremely polarizing move. A bill that would turn the principles of the open Internet into law has been introduced by Republican Representative Mike Coffman last month but is unlikely to move anywhere before this year’s mid-term elections taking place in early November. While nonprofits are using Verizon’s gaffe as another argument for reinstating the rules, net neutrality protections likely wouldn’t have prevented the incident from happening as the fire department in question was throttled because it exceeded its monthly data cap, i.e. its ability to use the firm’s mobile service has been limited in an indiscriminate manner.
In response to the outcry, Verizon vowed to deliver a specialized plan devised for public safety agencies that will prevent such scenarios from happening again. The FCC has been heavily criticized for its net neutrality repeal that many advocates argue only benefits ISPs and puts countless small businesses at risk of being effectively censored from the World Wide Web. While AT&T and a number of other parties that benefit from the lack of such protections recently called for net neutrality to be codified by Capitol Hill, they’re still opposing any move that would outlaw paid prioritization, what critics claim is just a differently presented version of throttling.