Facebook, Google and start-ups oppose net neutrality U-turn

The damage this change will inflict pales however in comparison to Pai’s most cherished goal–the elimination of net neutrality rules

Another key change is that the proposal gives significant additional authority to the Federal Trade Commission. These rules are the basis for the ongoing Net Neutrality debate. The FCC, now led by Commissioner Ajit Pai, President Donald Trump's nominee to serve as FCC chairman, is preparing to eliminate this regulatory albatross on Internet innovation and investment.

"Given the unknown needs of the networks of the future, it is our determination that the utility - style regulations potentially imposed by Title II run contrary to the public interest". The new proposal also empowers internet providers to introduce fast lanes and kill the startups who are unable to pay for these lanes. The FCC has sold out to the wishes of the companies it is supposed to regulate over the consumers it is supposed to protect.

"Moreover, those smaller edge providers may benefit from tiered pricing, such as paid prioritization, as a means of gaining entry", the proposal reads. New CRTC chair Ian Scott told an industry conference earlier this month that "as companies continue to innovate in their offerings to Canadians, the CRTC will continue to ensure that Canada's internet neutrality provisions are respected ... the owners and operators of the country's communications may not discriminate against content based on its origin or destination". In such a market, it would be impossible for a user to simply switch to a better option. People complain to the FCC about nudity they see on TV, for example, and the commission reacts appropriately.

"The hypocrisy is staggering", writes Gigi Sohn, a former counsel to ex-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. The rules mandate that they give equal access to all online content and apps. "From all we've heard, this order will go a long way in restoring regulation of the Internet back to the bipartisan light-touch framework that worked for two decades prior to the unprecedented and unnecessary 2015 order". "People were still relying quite a bit on dial-up to access the internet at that time so for those reasons it was concluded that it shouldn't be considered part of universal service and covered under our universal service program".

AT&T executive vice president Joan Marsh said new rules requiring ISPs to disclose their management practices will keep them honest. However, as The Verge notes, it doesn't say exactly who "would bring that suit against Comcast and bear the costs". Sinclair Broadcast Group, already the biggest US broadcaster with 191 TV stations, wants to buy Tribune Media, which has 42 stations. The Quartz piece even took the liberty of making its main image a mock-up of what the end of net neutrality might look like in the USA for home internet instead of showing the example from Portugal. How far does the government need to step in to make sure internet service providers are treating all internet traffic equally? Once the ISPs started to interfere with the applications and content, it became critical for the government to enforce actions that stopped such discriminatory conduct.

The idea here is that public disclosure of these historically banned practices - and a reduction in other, more technical reporting obligations - will allow consumers to make informed decisions about their internet provider.

The goal has remained the same - no one should be able to decide what the consumer sees on the internet. ISPs would not be allowed to prioritize or disfavor political content, by, for instance, slowing down or charging more for content associated with a particular political party or ideology. However, all of this is going to change when these new rules get approved.

If the goal of the current FCC majority is to widen existing divides, and ensure that our nation's most vulnerable are less likely to be connected, this item sets us on that path. Misuse of identity online by the hundreds of thousands should concern everyone - for and against net neutrality, New Yorker or Texan, Democrat or Republican.

In another odd twist, a recently published statement from New York State Attorney Eric T. Schneiderman suggested the FCC has been stifling his office's attempts to investigate the sources of those behind the mass spamming of the comment process.

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