Net Neutrality

FCC Announces End Of Net Neutrality

Very bad news:

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it planned to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites.

The proposal, put forward by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration that prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of websites, or charging extra fees for the best quality of streaming and other internet services for their subscribers.

The clear winners from the move would be telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast that have lobbied for years against regulations of broadband and will now have more control over the online experiences of American consumers. The losers could be internet sites that will have to answer to telecom firms to get their content in front of consumers. And consumers may see their bills increase for the best quality of internet service.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Mr. Pai said in a statement. “Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

This is not good for consumers and the way you can tell is that the businesses are cheering, while the consumers are storming the castle.

A couple of comments to the NY TImes reflect my feelings exactly:

Scott Mooneyham- Fayetteville NC

Pai’s words are absurd and he knows it. The big, incumbent telecom providers are virtual monopolies and he knows it. As such, government has always had a role in significant regulation of such utility companies, and that is what they are. To suggest that all small businesses’ need is technical information to succeed is more deception and absurdity. The big telecoms will continue to block innovation, squeeze out middle-mile/data storage tech companies, take over and dominate content providers, and the result will be that the US economy will fall further behind as government treats infrastructure critical to all US businesses like it is Sears or Best Buy. Why not give the Interstate system to a single company and let them dictate which companies can transport which goods down it? Ten years from now, when people are writing about the demise of the US as a world economic power, they will be writing about this decision. We are indeed following the Russian model.

Tom Krebsbach – Washington

The only way to view this decision is to view it as a gratuitous gift to the plutocracy and a total subjugation of the common man to the desires of powerful corporate interests. At a time when this country is trying to deal with the dramatic increase in inequality between the ordinary person and those who harvest the riches of this society, this decision is a giant slap in the face to the common man and woman. We can blame Trump and the Republicans for this. 

If Trump supporters actually believe that he cares about the ordinary citizen, this decision should disabuse them of that notion. Is this guy and his appointees capable of doing anything good? I haven’t seen it yet.

smurphy – Massachusetts

This is the beginning of the end of any hope of truth in media and our rights to free speech. The throttling, re-direction and micro-management of discussion and access to issues belonging in the “public square” will be killed by this move. The sale of our country to the corporatists has been completed.

Net Neutrality Win

This might get unnoticed, but it shouldn’t.  It will have long-standing repercussions about the Internet:

WASHINGTON — High-speed internet service can be defined as a utility, a federal court has ruled, in a sweeping decision clearing the way for more rigorous policing of broadband providers and greater protections for web users.

The two-to-one decision from a three-judge panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday came in a case about rules applying to a doctrine known as net neutrality, which prohibit broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers.

Those rules, created by the Federal Communications Commission in early 2015, started a huge legal battle as cable, telecom and wireless internet providers sued to overturn regulations that they said went far beyond the F.C.C.’s authority and would hurt their businesses.

The court’s decision upheld the F.C.C. on the historic declaration of broadband as a utility, the most significant aspect of the rules. That has broad-reaching implications for web and telecommunications companies and signals a shift in the government’s view of broadband as a service that should be equally accessible to all Americans, rather than a luxury that does not need close government supervision.

What the internet providers (and some Republicans) wanted to do was to basically treat some Internet data as “more important” than others.  They could charge higher rates to, say, CNN, so that CNN would get on a faster lane to your computer than say, a blog.

But this ruling allows the FCC to promulgate and enforce rules that will allow all Internet data to be treated equally (hence, net neutrality).  Had the service providers got their way, the Internet would look VERY different.

Obama’s Triangulation: A Shot Across The Bow

Obama got on the Intertubes this morning and said this:

For those not wanting to watch or listen, he basically called for a strict policy of so-called net neutrality and formally opposed any deals in which content providers like Netflix would pay huge sums to broadband companies for faster access to their customers.  (Net Neutrality, according to Wikipedia, is “the principle that Internet Service Providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.” )

Net neutrality is very big among progressives and young people (including young conservatives).  To ensure net neutrality, you need government regulation.  Which conservatives don’t like.

This put Republicans in a quandary about how to respond.  Check out Ted Cruz’s reaction (via Colin Campbell of Business Insider):

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came out swinging after President Barack Obama wholeheartedly endorsed new internet regulations Monday morning.

Cruz, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, compared the entire concept of “net neutrality” — which posits that internet companies should not be allowed to speed or slow down their services for certain users — to Obama’s much-maligned healthcare reform.

‘”Net Neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government,” Cruz wrote on Twitter.

The more Republicans extend their philosophy of absolute private property and unregulated markets into areas that affect aspects of daily life, the more they may ultimately undermine their own message that government is always the problem and big avaricious companies can do no wrong. This was a good move for Obama.