June 25, 2017

Internet firms winding up for a fight on 'net neutrality'

27 April 2017, 02:22 | Ignacio Smith

Kill net neutrality and you'll kill us, say 800 US startups

AP Explains: What is net neutrality and why does it matter?

At a closed door meeting in Washington Wednesday, Pai outlined what The New York Times described as "a sweeping plan to loosen the government's oversight of high-speed internet providers, a rebuke of a landmark policy approved two years ago to ensure that all online content is treated the same by the companies that deliver broadband service to Americans".

Pai outlined the history of internet policy, saying that for nearly two decades the FCC respected a "competitive free market" for the internet, one that was "unfettered by Federal or State regulation". Pai's vow to scrap it has been met with fierce and immediate condemnation from these same groups. We renew our support for bipartisan legislation that will end this decades-old legal controversy and permanently enshrine enforceable open internet principles in statute. For example, this means Comcast can not stream its own video app at high quality while reducing the quality of videos streamed over, say, Netflix or charge Netflix extra to deliver its service at normal quality levels.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today launched the process to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules, which he claimed were hindering broadband deployment. So internet service providers would not be classified as utilities, which they are now.

In 2015 the FCC put in place light touch net neutrality rules that not only prohibit certain harmful practices, but also allow the Commission to develop and enforce rules to address new forms of discrimination, the letter explains, expressing the signatories dismay over reports that Pai wants tp replace this system with a set of minimum voluntary commitments. Title II refers for regulations such as "net neutrality". "We do not block, throttle or otherwise interfere with consumers' desire to go where they want on the internet".

The group signed a letter to Federal Communications Commission's Chairman Ajit Pai asking him not to reverse existing rules. Democrats on the Hill and various consumer advocacy groups strongly favor the current rules, as do several major and minor internet-based companies. "Many Republicans are now understanding how passionate Americans are about these issues".

One way to delay the rollback would be for FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn not to vote such a proposal, which would deny the Republicans the quorum they needed to proceed, but neither Markey nor Blumenthal, who weighed in, said they would advise Clyburn to take such action, or inaction as it were, saying that was up to her. Markey did say he would talk to Clyburn, who is the only remaining commissioner who voted for the Open Internet order.

John Nichols, writing for The Nation, said "no act of the recklessly authoritarian Trump administration poses a greater threat to the democratic discourse than the now-announced plan to gut net neutrality rules".

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"Chairman Pai is kissing the ring of the Big Money lobbyists who too often call the shots in the Trump administration", Copps said in a statement.

Pai anticipated this attack, calling the pro-free-speech argument against his proposal "a lie".

"This is not something they can sneak through", Aaron said. After that, the agency would collect comments from the public and the stakeholders before crafting a detailed approach and scheduling another agency vote to adopt it. But I don't believe that is the right path forward.

Also on the call were Craig Aaron of Free Press and Evan Greer of Fight for the Future.

"The internet has given more people a voice than ever before".

Chairman Ajit Pai said in a speech Wednesday that a Democratic-led FCC during the final two years of former President Barack Obama's tenure nearly oversaw the demise of a "free and open" internet.

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