In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to more strictly regulate internet service providers (ISPs) and to enshrine the principles of "net neutrality" as law.
The vote reclassified wireless and fixed-line broadband service providers as Title II "common carriers", a public utility-type designation that gives the FCC the ability to set rates, open up access to competitors and more closely regulate the industry.
"The internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet," said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. "It's simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field."
Two years on and Trump's new FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has pushed to overturn the 2015 order. On 18 May the FCC voted to support a new proposal that would repeal the order, and started a 90-day period in which members of the public could comment. The deadline for feedback is 17 July, after which the FCC has to provide reply comments by 16 August before a final vote later in the year.
Who Supports Net Neutrality?
Content providers including Netflix, Apple and Google. They argue that people are already paying for connectivity and so deserve access to a quality experience.
Mozilla, the non-profit company behind the Firefox web browser, is a vocal supporter, and argues that it allows for creativity, innovation and economic growth.
More than 800 startups, investors and other people and organizations sent a letter to Pai stating that "without net neutrality the incumbents who provide access to the internet would be able to pick winners or losers in the market. They could impede traffic from our services in order to favor their own services or established competitors. Or they could impose new tolls on us, inhibiting consumer choice."
Many consumers support the rules to protect the openness of the internet. Some of them may have been swayed by Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, who pointed out that "there are multiple examples of ISP [misdeeds] over the years" so restrictions are important.
Who Doesn't Support the FCC's 2015 Net Neutrality Rules?
Big broadband companies including AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Cox. They argue that the rules are too heavy-handed and will stifle innovation and investment in infrastructure and have filed a series of lawsuits challenging the FCC's authority to impose net neutrality rules.
Publicly, however, the message is different. Verizon released an odd video on the topic insisting that they were not trying to kill net neutrality rules and that pro-net neutrality groups are using the issue to fundraise.
Comcast also launched a Twitter campaign insisting it supported net neutrality.
Are There Other Reasons Why People Don't Like the 2015 Rules?
Yes. Opponents don't like the idea of putting the federal government at the center of the internet when, as Pai has said, "nothing is broken."
The new FCC chairman argues that the 2015 rules were established on "hypothetical harms and hysterical prophecies of doom" and that they are generally bad for business.
"It's basic economics. The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you're likely to get," he said.
The big broadband companies publicly state they are quibbling the Title II "'common carrier'" designation rather than net neutrality per se. They believe they shouldn't be regulated in the same way that telecommunications services are and prefer the light touch regulation they would otherwise be subject to under their previous Title I designation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The FCC lacks the direct authority to regulate Title I "information services."
Who Is Behind the Day of Action on July 12?
Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund and Demand Progress have teamed up to create the Battle for the Net campaign. They have signed up almost 200 participants in the day of action, and created explainer videos, banner advertisements, tools and suggested messaging for communicating with users en masse about why net neutrality matters.
How Does This Tie in to Trump's Approach to the Internet?
Trump's Republican party is showing its colors as friendly to big corporations even if it leads to the unfettered accumulation of corporate power.
It's the second major roll-back of Obama-era internet protections. In March, Congress voted to allow ISPs to sell the browsing habits of their customers to advertisers. The move, which critics charge will fundamentally undermine consumer privacy in the US, overturned rules drawn up by the FCC that would have given people more control over their personal data. Without the rules, ISPs don't have to get people's consent before selling their data -- including their browsing histories -- to advertisers and others.