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ISPs Are Now Free To Discriminate Against Internet Services

FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai

The FCC, led by its new chairman, Ajit Pai, voted to repeal the net neutrality rules first proposed in 2014 and passed in 2015. Pai, along with commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr, voted to repeal the rules, while Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel voted to preserve them.

Pai Argues That Repeal Will Spur Competition

In the open hearing before the vote, Pai tried to make the case for the repeal of the net neutrality rules. He argued that without these strict rules, ISPs will be free to invest more money in broadband expansion, and that it would be easier for smaller ISPs to compete.

Although that sounds good in theory, the reality is that in almost half the country, ISPs have effective state-granted broadband monopolies, making it at least extremely difficult for any small player to try and compete.

As for the investment argument, Comcast’s CEO recently told investors that Title II hasn’t made things any worse for their investments:

On Title II, it really hasn't affected the way we have been doing our business or will do our business. We believe on Open Internet and while we don't necessarily agree with the Title II implementation, we conduct our business the same we always have…

Net neutrality may indeed not normally be needed, if the market was highly competitive and consumers could easily switch from one ISP to another in their local areas the moment one ISP began to misbehave. However, as most Americans know, that’s hardly the case right now.

Throttling And Blocking Of Internet Services

The idea for net neutrality appeared when people started realizing that the big ISPs, which have local monopolies or duopolies in many areas, could (and did) use their power to throttle, restrict, block, or generally discriminate against certain internet services.

One of the early cases of an ISP’s abuse of power was when Comcast started throttling BitTorrent traffic. The act caused some outrage against the company\, and the FCC ended up ruling against Comcast in that case. However, the new FCC doesn't seem to have a problem with Comcast doing that.

AT&T also blocked Apple’s FaceTime service over 3G until a similar backlash against the company was created.

Verizon also blocked Google Wallet for years, as it was waiting to roll out its competitive mobile payments service called Isis (no, not that ISIS). Both Verizon and Comcast were capping Netflix and YouTube before the net neutrality rules passed, as many users reported online back then, and Verizon has already started doing it again today.

Some of the same ISPs have also been found guilty of spying on their customers’ browsing, injecting ads into their browsing streams, overcharging them on their monthly bills and equipment they didn't order, and so on.

Therefore, Pai’s theory that with net neutrality rules out of the way, the ISPs and carriers would not only behave but would make the internet better for consumers, doesn’t seem to have too much evidence supporting that, but quite the contrary.

The big internet providers have already proven that given the chance to hurt competition or to simply save some money by restricting certain types of traffic, they will take it, especially if there isn’t too much competitive pressure not to do that and get away with it.

What’s Next?

The FCC chairman has already warned states not to try and pass their own net neutrality rules, implying that those rules will not count because the ISPs only need to follow FCC’s federal rules. However, this will probably have to be proven in court, which means some states will pass their own rules, and if the ISPs don’t follow them, those states can then sue the ISPs. It will be up to judges to decide whether or not the states have power over ISPs.

Congress is always an option, too. Instead of relying on an executive body such as the FCC to define what rules the ISPs should follow every four years, or whenever there’s a change in FCC leadership, Congress could establish those rules into law. The current Congress makeup doesn’t seem to lean in favor of doing that, but with new elections coming up next year, an opportunity to set net neutrality rules into law will arise.

In the meantime, New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has already committed to suing the FCC over the repeal, after Pai completely ignored the fact that two million of the “pro-repeal” public comments were made under stolen identities. Because of this, the NY AG believes that the FCC’s repeal of the rules was done under false pretense.

  • Martell1977
    Government sanctioned monopolies are the real issue here. It's just like how they limited health insurance companies from selling over state lines. In my area I have only 3 choices for internet, Frontier, Spectrum and satellite. I use too much data and need too much bandwidth for satellite to be viable, Frontier is atrocious, so reality for me is that it's Spectrum or nothing.

    They should have restored competition first...but that's government for you, putting the cart before the horse. The NN regulations were a band-aide, competition is what was actually needed.
    Reply
  • lperreault21
    Well, we're screwed
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    The FCC chairman has already warned states not to try and pass their own net neutrality rules, implying that those rules will not count because the ISPs only need to follow FCC’s federal rules.


    The way the U.S. Constitution reads, despite what the Feds want it to read, and have acted like it reads, The States are in charge of the Fed Gov't, NOT the other way around, which means States should and do have the right (it was never a right explicitly granted to the Federal Govt. All non-explicitly given authority was given to The States and The People.) to make any laws they wish as long as it doesn't violate The U.S. Constitution, and The People accept the law.

    So yes, the States have the authority to make their own NN laws.... doubt they'll try though as, like others have pointed out they did squat about increasing competition and improving quality of service.
    Reply
  • velocityg4
    20483956 said:

    The way the U.S. Constitution reads, despite what the Feds want it to read, and have acted like it reads, The States are in charge of the Fed Gov't, NOT the other way around, which means States should and do have the right (it was never a right explicitly granted to the Federal Govt. All non-explicitly given authority was given to The States and The People.) to make any laws they wish as long as it doesn't violate The U.S. Constitution, and The People accept the law.

    So yes, the States have the authority to make their own NN laws.... doubt they'll try though as, like others have pointed out they did squat about increasing competition and improving quality of service.

    They'll just say it falls under the Commerce Clause. Which they have full control over. As it is one of the enumerated powers. Then it will come down to whether or not the Supreme Court plays ball. As they lost interest in the constitution a long time ago.
    Reply
  • Martell1977
    20484028 said:
    They'll just say it falls under the Commerce Clause. Which they have full control over. As it is one of the enumerated powers. Then it will come down to whether or not the Supreme Court plays ball. As they lost interest in the constitution a long time ago.

    Once Trump can replace Ginsberg, that should help restore a Constitution based SCOTUS. But it will likely fall under the CC and the Supremacy Claus, but it will come down to whether or not they care enough to fight states.
    Reply
  • pyro411
    Sadly I see a possible issue with individual states making NN laws... If the laws target the company AKA corporate headquarters, most likely the company will find a state without a NN law to plunk down in, also if they attempt to state they can't limit/shape traffic within their state to any service, there's nothing stopping said ISP from immediately starting to shape traffic 1nm past the state border for traffic on it's way to a service that crosses state lines.
    Reply
  • Martell1977
    20484118 said:
    Sadly I see a possible issue with individual states making NN laws... If the laws target the company AKA corporate headquarters, most likely the company will find a state without a NN law to plunk down in, also if they attempt to state they can't limit/shape traffic within their state to any service, there's nothing stopping said ISP from immediately starting to shape traffic 1nm past the state border for traffic on it's way to a service that crosses state lines.

    I don't think it will be that segmented, however, they could potentially raise prices in states with their own NN laws. In this case, something like NN needs to be done as a Union or not at all.
    Reply
  • Wisecracker
    Reply
  • urdrwho
    God I can't believe all this nonsense from people. Net Neutrality was signed a few years ago. Tell me Einsteins --- what has it changed in your life? Did we not have the Internet before Net Neutrality?

    The people who are whining and pulling your chain to scream are the corps like Google, Amazon, Netflix, etc. They don't want to pay anymore $$$ for their bandwidth use and their use of it has grown exponentially. Bezo is worth $500 billion and he wants us to help subsidize his business model.

    I didn't see any drop in prices after it was passed in 2015. Now Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. might start getting charged for the bandwidth they are using ---- maybe?

    It may even bring competition and what a great day it would be when there are multiple ISP's vying for our business.

    "There is a reason that Google backs net neutrality. As I wrote in April:

    Google was in favor of net neutrality; that’s because, as Robert E. Litan and Hal J. Singer wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Absent net neutrality restrictions, entrepreneurs in their garages would devote significant energies trying to topple Google with the next killer application.”

    Of course, Google became an opponent of net neutrality when it came to GoogleFiber, which the government conveniently neglected to make subject to net neutrality.
    Reply
  • urdrwho
    Oh adding a pic of GWB sure makes me feel warm and cozy. The man with the administration that passed the Patriot Act. Yeah --- that's a real good argument.
    Reply