Fox News has reported that the Trump Administration has issued an emergency order requiring internet service providers to shut off service to US citizens, which will mean people will have to resort to other means to communicate with family and friends.
The order was first reported by the Associated Press on Friday, and was quickly denounced by the US Senate’s top Democrat, Joe Manchin, who called it “unconstitutional”.
The order, signed by Donald Trump, is a clear attempt to stifle free speech and to punish anyone who engages in political dissent, Manchin said.
“The order is designed to chill free speech in America and to stymie dissent, to silence dissent, and to silence all those who speak out against the Trump agenda,” he told CNN.
The Trump Administration’s threat comes amid growing concerns that US citizens are being shut out of the internet due to a lack of capacity, as US government agencies are under heavy pressure to cut costs.
The Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing the US Government’s plan to roll out nationwide net neutrality rules, which are meant to keep the internet open and neutral.
If implemented, the rules would require internet service companies to treat all online content equally, as well as allow customers to choose their internet service provider.
The FCC has estimated that the rule would cost the country $7 billion, and that it will cost the US economy up to $1.7 trillion by 2019.
Trump has long made the internet the most important issue facing his presidency, and the internet is seen as a key element in his agenda to bring back jobs and improve the US’ economy.
The internet was also at the centre of the US Presidential election campaign, as Republican Donald Trump campaigned to protect net neutrality and to end government interference with the internet.