Thanks, at least in part, to Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (that open letter from pretty much everybody who ever has or will play Coachella probably didn’t hurt), net neutrality advocates are celebrating today as the FCC moves to approve new regulations that will reclassify Internet service as a public utility. This will prohibit Internet service providers from demanding websites pay them in return for faster, more reliable access to their customers, as Comcast did to Netflix last year. So while Comcast will still arguably be a bunch of assholes, at least now the company can’t ruin your binge-watching plans because Netflix failed to make its tribute payments on time.
And despite the complaints soon to be registered by amateur pundits with screen names like ObummerSuxx and RgnGrl69—complaints rendered, ironically enough, on the Internet—this does not give the federal government the power to tax the Internet. The FCC has no tax authority, and not taxing the Internet is one of the few things that Congress and the President agree on. The New York Times reports that Congressional Republicans, despite deriding the decision as “Obamacare for the Internet,” are unlikely to pursue legislation to reverse the decision. Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast, however, are expected to drag the FCC into a long, expensive, and protracted legal battle over the new regulations, simply because they care.