Net neutrality fight continues. Final decision to be made December 14.
Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its final proposal to end net neutrality. Since then, policymakers, key figures in the FCC and citizens from across the nation have voiced their oppositions. This proposal repeals the net neutrality protections established by the Obama Administration which will now enable internet providers (ISPs) to have much more control over the flow of information and media consumers will see while surfing the web. FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, has been talking about ending net neutrality since May of this year and the final decision will be made next month on December 14th.
Their first move is to “end utility-style regulation of the internet” and incorporate market policies that they feel will “preserve the future of internet freedom.” This allows ISPs to play with fast and slow information lanes, arrange the flow of their own traffic along with restricting or delaying access to various applications. Secondly, they’re removing consumer protections saying that it’s not needed because ISPs will now be overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and not the FCC. Finally, they are requiring all ISPs to disclose their “network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of service.” Pai believes that previous net neutrality provisions hinder economic growth and these changes:
will promote future innovation and investment. And more investment in digital infrastructure will create jobs, increase competition, and lead to better, faster, cheaper Internet access for all Americans, especially those in rural and low-income areas.
Sounds great right? Well not everyone shares Pai’s enthusiasm and he’s well aware. In a fact sheet released on Wednesday that attempted to simplify the 210 page proposal it clearly states that Pai’s agenda:
ignores thousands of consumer complaints and millions of individual comments that ask the FCC to save net neutrality and uphold the principles that all traffic should be created equal.
Interestingly enough, even Pai’s colleagues in the FCC aren’t fully in agreement with his proposal. FCC Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel believes that the commission needs to take more consideration into how this will impact the consumer. However, she says getting clarification from the FCC is like pulling teeth and leaves many people confused of the specifics.
They need to get out from behind their desks…and speak to the public directly. The FCC needs to hold hearings around the country to get a better sense of of how the public feels about the proposal.
However, it doesn’t take much to see how the American people feel about this. In August, Ars Technica reported that over 98% of comments regarding net neutrality directly oppose Pai’s proposal. Former FCC commissioner, Michael Copps, boldly said:
There can be no truly open internet without net neutrality…Pai is handing over the internet to a few humongous gatekeepers who see the rest of us as products to be delivered to advertisers, not as citizens needing communications that serve democracy’s needs…the Trump FCC fecklessly casts aside years of popular consensus that the public needs net neutrality.
In addition to Pai’s past and present colleagues, lawmakers expressed similar concerns. Congressmen Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Raúl Grijalva of Arizona said lifting net neutrality will effectively “rig the internet” and is “an assault on the freedom of speech and therefore our democracy.”
Just yesterday, Senator Susan Collins became the first Republican to openly object FCC’s proposal telling the Bangor Daily News that:
internet providers must not manage their system in an anti-competitive way that limits consumers’ choices.
Collins was also accompanied by 2 of 4 Maine’s congressional delegation; Democrat Chellie Pingree and Independent Angus King. Pingree said that Pai’s judgment is “plain wrong” and that this proposal will restrict or enhance accessibility to the internet “based on who can afford it.” King agreed with Pingree saying in an official statement:
[The internet is] a vital part of 21st century life and a critical driver of a modern economy. The proposed repeal of net neutrality threatens those advancements by putting speed and availability of information for sale to the highest bidder.
With just weeks away from the final decision, activists and proponents of net neutrality are scrambling to get legislative support. If you’d like to call your local representative and express your concerns, follow this link.
What are your thoughts on Pai’s proposal? Let us know how important net neutrality is to you by dropping us a note and make sure to stay tuned for the latest updates!
Net Neutrality: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
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