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FCC Announces Plan To 'Gut Net Neutrality'

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai revealed a proposal to roll back the net neutrality protections introduced by the Obama administration. The commission released a fact sheet, background on internet regulation, and full text from a speech from Pai claiming that this proposal would allow more Americans to go online, create jobs, and encourage companies to continue investing in the nation's infrastructure.

The FCC previously introduced safeguards that would prevent ISPs from charging some companies more for access to their networks or creating "fast lanes" that favored paying services over their non-paying counterparts. The idea was to prevent ISPs from creating a multi-tier internet that hindered some companies, such as Netflix and Hulu, by requiring them to fork over some money if they wanted their services to have viable performance. This decision was also supposed to prevent consumers from having to pay more for internet access depending on what sites they wanted to visit.

Pai said he wants to roll back those protections for various reasons. Most come back to wanting the FCC--the agency of which he's in charge--to be less active in regulating the internet. This is made evident in the materials published today, such as this quote from Internet Regulations: Myths vs Facts, which is entirely devoted to criticizing the Title II regulations introduced to protect net neutrality:

Government regulation is not the friend of free speech, but an enemy. For example, the First Amendment doesn’t give the government power to regulate. It denies the government that power. Additionally, greater government regulation of the Internet is strongly supported by many who are fundamentally hostile to free speech.

Another document, Restoring Internet Freedom For All Americans, also opposes Title II regulations. The FCC said in the document that Title II regulations have led to a decline in investment in broadband networks and the shelving of plans to update broadband infrastructure. "Thousands of good-paying jobs were lost due to lower infrastructure investment," the FCC said, and it added that online privacy was weakened because it was going to be regulated by the FCC instead of the FTC. The commission said that Pai's proposal would solve all those problems in the following ways:

It will spur broadband deployment throughout the country and thus bring better, faster Internet service to more Americans.It will create jobs by putting Americans to work deploying broadband networks and by creating the networks and online opportunities necessary for additional job growth and economic opportunity.It will boost competition and choice in the broadband marketplace.It will secure online privacy by putting the FTC—the nation’s premier consumer protection agency—back in charge of broadband providers’ privacy practices.It will restore Internet Freedom by ending government micromanagement and returning to the bipartisan regulatory framework that worked well for decades.

Many Americans simply don't have access to broadband internet. The FCC said in January 2016 that 10% of all Americans lack access to a 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up connection. Pew said in December 2015 that many Americans can't afford broadband access or are in "hard-to-reach" areas that won't get broadband any time soon. This is at least partly attributable to the monopolies or duopolies ISPs hold in many markets. Many people have only one broadband internet provider available to them, and without competition from other companies, those providers have little incentive to expand or upgrade their networks. It's also easier for them to charge whatever they want for their service if there's no alternative.

In a statement released by Common Cause, a rights organization, former FCC commissioner Michael Copps said:

Chairman Pai is kissing the ring of the Big Money lobbyists who too often call the shots in the Trump Administration. Ending net neutrality would be a body blow to the open dialogue upon which successful self-government depends. It would be a red light for democracy and a green light for cable and telecom giants to control where we go and what we do on the internet. The FCC, Congress, and President Trump are risking the wrath of millions of Americans who depend daily on affordable access to the open internet.

Pai said in his speech that he will publish the full text of his proposal tomorrow afternoon. You can read his full speech on the FCC website.

  • dstarr3
    Trump & Co. are doing this in the name of keeping government regulation out of business, which isn't entirely braindead at a glance, except for the fact that the government has had to intervene with its recent regulations because corporations have made a habit of excessively and severely negatively exploiting the nation's citizens for profit. And this is just another instance of the swamp trying to roll back on every protection citizens have from corporate exploitation.
    Reply
  • why_wolf
    You'll all notice how Pai tried to bury this announcement behind Trumps tax announcement. Sneaky, sneaky.
    Reply
  • LORD_ORION
    Profit growth needs to be maintained.
    Prepare to pay more.

    Want don't you privatize roads and see how that works out. ;)
    Reply
  • WRXSTIGuy
    The internet was great when the government wasn't involved. It seems like whatever they touch turns to dirt.
    Reply
  • toadhammer
    FCC Myth: We'll let ISPs do whatever they want, and somehow consumers will benefit.
    FCC Truth: We think you're all stupid, and money is more important.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    "Many Americans simply don't have access to broadband internet. The FCC said in January 2016 that 10% of all Americans lack access to a 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up connection. Pew said in December 2015 that many Americans can't afford broadband access or are in "hard-to-reach" areas that won't get broadband any time soon."

    So what? If you live out in the middle of nowhere, you have limited medical care, grocery shopping and retail shopping options too. Why should internet access of any speed be any different than that? I am a co-owner of a mountain cabin in western North Carolina. We have barely 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. That's a heck of a lot faster than what we had 15 years ago *anywhere*. That has nothing to do with the original root intent of NN which was to stop throttling and unfair trade practices. Like the complaints of "fast lanes" where some could pay more and get certain services not available to others (same complaining we hear about HOV toll payers who get to use them and just pay more for acces driving as a single driver).

    "It's also easier for them to charge whatever they want for their service if there's no alternative. In a statement released by Common Cause, a rights organization, former FCC commissioner Michael Copps said {blah blah blah}:"

    Since when is high speed internet or internet access at all a "right" like a civil right or something? Who says so? The Constitution sure doesn't. Oh sure, the "promote the general welfare"and all that, but the last time I checked, people can live without the internet in their home. There's free WiFi out there just about everywhere and even free computers at public libraries (where public transportation can take you in larger cities if you don't have a car).

    19614708 said:
    The internet was great when the government wasn't involved. It seems like whatever they touch turns to dirt.

    First it was whining about internet access at all is limited, now it's that not everyone can get "cheap" high speed internet. Thank GOD we don't have the federal government taking over our ISPs now. Want a glimpse into the crystal ball what that would have been like: just look at the rollout disaster of the Affordable Care Act. They couldn't even keep the website up, lol.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    <sniff> <sniff> I smell POLITICS involved in how this piece is put together.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    19614801 said:
    Since when is high speed internet or internet access at all a "right" like a civil right or something? Who says so? The Constitution sure doesn't. Oh sure, the "promote the general welfare"and all that, but the last time I checked, people can live without the internet in their home. There's free WiFi out there just about everywhere and even free computers at public libraries (where public transportation can take you in larger cities if you don't have a car).

    Since people have redefined and exploited parts of the Constitution to include things that were never intended to be issues, let alone covered, by it. So called rights defined by happiness and all that.

    EDIT: I guess by the down-votes, I've hurt someone's feelings... they now need to hurry to their safe space.
    Reply
  • WRXSTIGuy
    19614870 said:
    19614801 said:
    Since when is high speed internet or internet access at all a "right" like a civil right or something? Who says so? The Constitution sure doesn't. Oh sure, the "promote the general welfare"and all that, but the last time I checked, people can live without the internet in their home. There's free WiFi out there just about everywhere and even free computers at public libraries (where public transportation can take you in larger cities if you don't have a car).

    Since people have redefined and exploited parts of the Constitution to include things that were never intended to be issues, let alone covered, by it. So called rights defined by happiness and all that.

    You are correct. The constitution was written to limit the power of a central government, not to give them additional powers.
    Reply
  • Morbus
    Meanwhile, the world laughs.
    /laughs
    Reply