Monday, 19 November, 2018

Texomans react to net neutrality repeal

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai pushed to overturn his agency's 2015 net neutrality protections Joshua Roberts Reuters FCC Chairman Ajit Pai pushed to overturn his agency's 2015 net neutrality protections
Olivia Ford | 15 June, 2018, 10:29

The Internet Association said Monday that the "internet industry remains committed to restoring net neutrality protections through the courts, legislation, and administrative action".

Monday marks the end of net neutrality rules in the US, following GOP members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voting to end the protections a year ago.

In Washington, though, House Bill 2282 went into effect Monday night.

Net Neutrality protections prohibited internet providers from favoring or blocking access to particular products or websites. "These positive and profound benefits of a free and open internet - among many others - are here to stay". This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

The way we access the internet is about to change.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who spearheaded the deregulatory move, says the repeal will improve broadband service. After an intense marketing and lobbying campaign, internet companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast convinced the FCC to allow them to slow or restrict access to certain websites. "That idea sits at the foundation of internet services, reflects how consumers enjoy the internet today, and despite claims to the contrary, has never truly been in jeopardy".

He wrote that the biggest US internet companies - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft - controlled much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to almost all of the online ad business.

Now, they are free of a requirement to treat all web traffic equally and have only to be transparent about how they manage their networks, with any breaches of promises or uncompetitive behavior being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission rather than the telecom-focused FCC.

Net neutrality is no longer the law of the land.

To start, activists today will rally to gather support for an effort to use the Congressional Review act to reverse the FCC's repeal with a majority vote in the House and Senate. Such a scenario could be particularly devastating for startups with ambitions of becoming the next Netflix or Hulu, as they will have a much harder time paying ISP fees to compete early on.

Those might sound the same, but in practice they're very, very different. The 2016 election, with its broad abstention by the working class amid widespread hostility to Hillary Clinton, the favored candidate of Wall Street, and the subsequent strike movement by teachers independently of the unions, has made clear to the ruling elite that the imposition of internet censorship is necessary for the defense of its domination of society.

It could mean service providers will charge their customers more.

More than 20 states have sued the FCC to stop the repeal. If the only providers that can serve state governments are those that observe net neutrality, these states reason, then it could shape what services consumers are offered, too.

"If certain services are blocked or throttled, they get it", Mr. Doyle said. Several states including NY and Washington, have passed regulations that impose net neutrality on a local level.

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