U.S. Federal Communications Commission scraps net neutrality rules

U.S. Federal Communications Commission scraps net neutrality rules

 
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WASHINGTON (TIP): The 
U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines on 
December 14 to repeal Obama era landmark rules aimed at ensuring a free 
and open internet, setting up a court fight over a move that could 
recast the digital landscape.


New York Attorney General Eric T. 
Schneiderman has already announced that he will lead a multistate 
lawsuit to stop the rollback of net neutrality.


Schneiderman released a statement which 
read, “The FCC’s vote to rip apart net neutrality is a blow to New York 
consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet. The
 FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving 
internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over
 consumers. Today’s rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we 
see, what we do, and what we say online. That’s a threat to the free 
exchange of ideas that’s made the Internet a valuable asset in our 
democratic process.


Today’s new rule would enable ISPs to charge consumers more to access sites like Facebook and Twitter
 and give them the leverage to degrade high quality of video streaming 
until and unless somebody pays them more money. Even worse, today’s vote
 would enable ISPs to favor certain viewpoints over others.


New Yorkers deserve the right to a free 
and open Internet. That’s why we will sue to stop the FCC’s illegal 
rollback of net neutrality.


Today’s vote also follows a public 
comment process that was deeply corrupted, including two million 
comments that stole the identities of real people. This is a crime under
 New York law – and the FCC’s decision to go ahead with the vote makes a
 mockery of government integrity and rewards the very perpetrators who 
scammed the system to advance their own agenda.


This is not just an attack on the future
 of our internet. It’s an attack on all New Yorkers, and on the 
integrity of every American’s voice in government – and we will fight 
back.”


The approval of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s 
proposal marks a victory for internet service providers like AT&T, 
Comcast and Verizon Communications and hands them power over what 
content consumers can access.


Democrats, Hollywood and companies like Google parent Alphabet and Facebook had urged Mr. Pai, a Republican appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, to keep the Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content.


Consumer advocates and trade groups 
representing content providers have planned a legal challenge aimed at 
preserving those rules.


The meeting was evacuated before the 
vote for about 10 minutes due to an unspecified security threat, and 
resumed after sniffer dogs checked the room.


FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a 
Democrat, said in the run-up to the vote that Republicans were handing 
the keys to the Internet to a handful of multi-billion-dollar 
corporations.


Mr. Pai has argued that the 2015 rules 
were heavy handed and stifled competition and innovation among service 
providers. “The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a 
digital dystopia. To the contrary, the internet is perhaps the one thing
 in American society we can all agree has been a stunning success,” he 
said on December 14.


The FCC voted 3-2 to repeal the rules. 
Consumers are unlikely to see immediate changes resulting from the rule 
change, but smaller startups worry the lack of restrictions could drive 
up costs or lead to their content being blocked.


Internet service providers say they will
 not block or throttle legal content but that they may engage in paid 
prioritization. They say consumers will see no change and argue that the
 largely unregulated internet functioned well in the two decades before 
the 2015 order.


WHAT EXACTLY IS NET NEUTRALITY?


The net neutrality rules were approved 
by the FCC in 2015 amid an outpouring of online support. The intention 
was to keep the internet open and fair.


Under the rules, internet service 
providers are required to treat all online content the same. They can’t 
deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites or 
apps, nor can they put their own content at an advantage over rivals.


To take a classic example, this means 
Comcast can’t just choose to slow down a service like Netflix (NFLX) to 
make its own streaming video service more competitive, nor can it try to
 squeeze Netflix to pay more money to be part of a so-called internet 
fast lane.


As Michael Cheah, general counsel at 
video site Vimeo, previously told CNNMoney: the point of the rules is 
“allowing consumers to pick the winners and losers and not [having] the 
cable companies make those decisions for them.”


WHY IS NET NEUTRALITY SUCH A BIG DEAL?


If there’s one thing that both sides can
 agree on, it’s that the internet is increasingly central to our lives. 
Any change to how it’s regulated is a hot button issue. (Remember the 
uproar over repealing internet privacy protections earlier this year?)


“Everyone uses the internet, and 
everyone uses these tech platforms,” Michelle Connolly, a former FCC 
official who supports Pai, previously told CNNMoney. “So, issues that 
are coming up right now, people are seeing from a very personal 
perspective.”


SO HOW WILL INTERNET PROVIDERS BE REGULATED?


The FCC is doing away with rules barring
 internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to online 
content. The FCC would also eliminate some rule barring providers from 
prioritizing their own content.


In the absence of a firm ban on these 
actions, providers will be required to publicly disclose any instance of
 blocking, throttling or paid prioritization. It will then be evaluated 
based on whether or not the activity is anti-competitive.


As part of this shift, oversight of internet protections will shift from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission.


Maureen K. Ohlhausen, the acting head of
 the FTC, said in a statement Monday that the agency is “committed to 
ensuring that Internet service providers live up to the promises they 
make to consumers.”


But consumer advocacy groups are less than optimistic.


 
“Not only is the FCC 
eliminating basic net neutrality rules, but it’s joining forces with the
 FTC to say it will only act when a broadband provider is deceiving the 
public,” Chris Lewis, VP at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that focuses 
on the open internet, said in a statement this week. “This gives free 
reign to broadband providers to block or throttle your broadband service
 as long as they inform you of it.”


AND HOW WILL REPEALING NET NEUTRALITY AFFECT ME?


First, it’s important to say what won’t 
happen: Billion-dollar services like Netflix are not going to disappear 
overnight without net neutrality. They have large enough audiences and 
bank accounts to survive in a changing regulatory landscape.


Instead, net neutrality advocates worry 
how repeal will impact the next Netflix. Upstart companies may struggle 
to strike deals with providers and pay up to have their content 
delivered faster. That could fundamentally alter the future internet 
landscape.


The repeal could change how customers 
are billed for services, both for good and bad. T-Mobile, for example, 
was criticized by net neutrality supporters for effectively making it 
cheaper for customers to stream videos from Netflix and HBO, putting 
other video services at a disadvantage.


Without net neutrality, internet 
providers may pursue similar offers more aggressively, which would 
likely be viewed as a positive by consumers looking to save money on 
their streaming media.


Yet, some fear it’s also possible 
internet providers will one day begin charging customers more to access 
services like Netflix that are currently included as part of your 
monthly bill.



   




SO, IS THIS A DONE DEAL?


Not quite. It’s very like this issue could end up being decided in court, or perhaps even by legislation in Congress.


“Whenever we do anything big and major, 
people go to court,” a senior FCC official said last month. “I certainly
 would not rule that out.”



Source:https://www.theindianpanorama.news/unitedstates/u-s-federal-communications-commission-scraps-net-neutrality-rules/

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