FCC Expected to Repeal Net Neutrality Rules in Vote Next Month

FCC chairman Ajit Pai today announced that his controversial Restoring Internet Freedom order is headed to vote on December 14.


The order, proposed in May, would roll back the Barack Obama administration's classification of internet service providers as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

As common carriers, internet providers are required to act as neutral gateways to the internet. In other words, companies like Comcast are not allowed to speed up or slow down content passing through their networks.

If the order passes, ISPs will be reclassified as "information service" providers, as they were between February 1996 and February 2015.
For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.
Apple and dozens of other large technology companies urged the FCC to reconsider its proposal. The FCC also received a record-breaking 22 million comments from the public during a feedback period that ended in August.

Those against the order believe that the FCC rolling back the internet's classification as a public utility will hurt net neutrality, as it could eventually divide internet users into so-called "fast lanes" and "slow lanes."

In a letter submitted to the FCC in August, Apple warned that paid fast lanes could result in an "internet with distorted competition."
Broadband providers should not create paid fast lanes on the internet. Lifting the current ban on paid prioritization arrangements could allow broadband providers to favor the transmission of one provider's content or services (or the broadband provider’s own online content or services) over other online content, fundamentally altering the internet as we know it today—to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation.
Pai, who was designated as FCC chairman by Donald Trump, insists the Obama-era internet regulations are a "mistake." Under the new rules, he said the FCC will "stop micromanaging the internet" to foster innovation.
Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades. Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. Instead, the FCC 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.
Despite the significant backlash from tech companies and the public, it is widely expected that the FCC will vote in favor of the order next month.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Apple Urges FCC Not to Roll Back Ban on Internet ‘Fast Lanes’ in Push for Net Neutrality

In a letter submitted during the Restoring Internet Freedom comment period, Apple has urged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission not to roll back regulations that prevent "paid fast lanes" on the internet.

Image via Change.org. Apple logo added by MacRumors.
Broadband providers should not create paid fast lanes on the internet. Lifting the current ban on paid prioritization arrangements could allow broadband providers to favor the transmission of one provider's content or services (or the broadband provider’s own online content or services) over other online content, fundamentally altering the internet as we know it today—to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation.
Apple warns that paid fast lanes could result in an "internet with distorted competition" based on an online provider's ability or willingness to pay, which in turn could put some customers in the "slow lane."
Consumers today seek out the content and services they desire based upon numerous factors, including quality, innovation, ease of use, and privacy considerations. Paid fast lanes could replace today’s content-neutral transmission of internet traffic with differential treatment of content based on an online providers' ability or willingness to pay. The result would be an internet with distorted competition where online providers are driven to reach deals with broadband providers or risk being stuck in the slow lane and losing customers due to lower quality service. Moreover, it could create artificial barriers to entry for new online services, making it harder for tomorrow’s innovations to attract investment and succeed. Worst of all, it could allow a broadband provider, not the consumer, to pick internet winners and losers, based on a broadband provider's priorities rather than the quality of the service.
In May, under the leadership of chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC proposed to roll back the Barack Obama administration's classification of internet providers as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Apple is far from the only major technology company that has urged the FCC to reconsider its proposal. Last month, companies including Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Netflix hosted an internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality.

The FCC received a record-breaking 22 million comments from the public during the comment period, which closed Wednesday. The FCC will now revise and vote on the proposal, at which point it could become official policy.

Full Letter: Apple's Reply to "Restoring Internet Freedom" via Recode

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Donald Trump, Peter Thiel beckon tech leaders to Trump Tower

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One month after his election as president of the United States, we may get a better idea of what to expect from Donald Trump’s relationship with tech as he’s summoned tech leaders to his gilded tower in Manhattan for a roundtable non Dec. 14.

According to USA Today, the key members of Trump’s transition team who extended the invitation included the president-elect’s future chief-of-staff Reince Priebus, son-in-law Jared Kushner and sole tech pal, Peter Thiel. 

Trump famously claimed he doesn’t use a computer, but he does partake (too much) in communicating with his followers via Twitter, where he has bashed big-time tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon. Read more…

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Feds to AT&T and Verizon: Your free data deals violate net neutrality

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The government’s most important media regulator just sent a clear message to America’s biggest wireless companies: Your free data streaming programs are a violation of net neutrality. 

The question, though: Will it matter?

In letters to AT&T and Verizon sent Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission made it clear to the telecom giants that their free streaming programs are a violation of the rules put in place to ensure net neutrality. 

It’s the most aggressive stance yet against so-called “zero rating,” in which people can stream certain content over their phone, without it counting against their data plans. While these programs are somewhat popular with consumers, they’ve also created concern that companies could use these programs to favor their own content, and force other companies to pay up.  Read more…

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