Red Alert for Internet Users – Trump Takes Aim at Net Neutrality

November 21, 2017

The Internet.
It ain’t broke, so it’s time someone fixed that.

They hope to squeeze this poison pork through while you’re having Turkey.
John Oliver’s worthwhile explainer is above.

Wired:

Jettisoning net-neutrality rules would make it easier for companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon to give their own streaming video services priority over others, such as Amazon Prime or Netflix. It could also make it easier for companies to impede voice and messaging tools like Skype and WhatsApp.

Of course well-established services from deep-pocketed companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft will likely remain widely available. But net-neutrality advocates argue that smaller companies that don’t have the money to pay for fast lanes could suffer. In other words, protecting net neutrality isn’t about saving Netflix, but about saving the next Netflix.

Previous FCCs have largely agreed. The agency first moved to protect net neutrality in a 2005 policy statementdeclaring that internet users had a right to access the content and services of their choosing. Under that policy, the FCC in 2008 ordered Comcast to stop slowing BitTorrent connections; the cable giant challenged the ruling, arguing that the agency had overstepped its authority, and won. The Obama-era FCC passed a more robust set of rules in 2010, but those were struck down in 2014 following a lawsuit filed by Verizon.

Under then Chair Tom Wheeler, the FCC then decided that the best way to ensure its authority to enforce net-neutrality rules was to reclassify broadband internet providers as common carriers.

Despite broad support for net neutrality among both Democratic and Republican voters, Republican politicians rallied against Wheeler’s net-neutrality rules before they even passed. US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet,” and Donald Trump warned, nonsensically that it would “target conservative media.” The FCC ultimately passed the rules along a party-line vote.

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is preparing a full repeal of net neutrality rules that require broadband providers to give consumers equal access to all content on the internet, putting more power in the hands of those companies to dictate people’s online experiences.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the F.C.C., plans to reveal a sweeping proposal to scrap the net neutrality rules on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are not public. The rules, created during the Obama administration, prohibit broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or charging more for the delivery of certain internet content. The proposal will be presented in a December meeting of F.C.C. commissioners and is expected to pass in a 3-to-2 vote along party lines.

A rollback of net neutrality regulations would represent a significant victory for broadband and telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast and would amount to a strike against consumers. When the rules were passed in 2015, they underlined the importance of high-speed internet to the lives of Americans and the need to more strongly regulate the communications service like a utility, as essential as electricity and the telephone.

But under a repeal, companies like AT&T and Comcast may be able to charge people higher fees to access certain websites and online services. The companies may also be able to prioritize their own services while disadvantaging websites run by rivals.

Consumer groups and Democrats denounced the proposed changes.

“It ain’t broke, so why fix it?” Julius Genachowski, a former Democratic chairman of the F.C.C., said in an interview. “The core rules of no blocking, no discrimination, and transparency have worked to create an ecosystem of innovation and investment that’s the envy of the rest of the world.”

Net neutrality has long been a thorny topic that has ignited lobbying battles and heated debate between internet and telecom companies. On one side, broadband companies have argued that the regulations encumbered their business plans. On the other side, tech giants like Google and Amazon said that without such rules, the broadband providers could become gatekeepers of what internet content reached consumers.

While some of the largest companies can afford to pay for faster delivery of their online content, start-ups like Etsy and Reddit, which have been fierce defenders of net neutrality, have said smaller companies would be squashed by what they view as tolls just to make sure their sites reach consumers.

New York Times:

Somewhere at a comedy club, a new comedian is about to hit the stage for the first time. She will bring with her the modern tool of the trade: her cellphone, equipped with the notes she has typed, a recording app, and five minutes of material that isn’t worth all that technology. This set is going to bomb. Hard. But she will repeat this process — night in, night out, until over time, that five-minute performance becomes tighter and more polished. Eventually, she’ll ask a friend to use a phone to record a set. And that night she will kill. Utterly destroy the room. That will be the first time she uploads footage of herself performing to the internet. Her life will never be the same.

O.K., maybe things won’t change for her overnight, but you get my point. Suddenly her material will be available to the world. Whenever anyone wants to see her set, boom! It’s right there on the internet. Anyone — her friends, bookers, fellow comedians or maybe just millions of strangers — can search for it or stumble upon it. They can hit “play” and the set will immediately begin and run as seamlessly as it did that night at the comedy club. If this happens frequently enough (and it does), then her life and career will change. Then she gets the ultimate break: being invited to do the same set on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Instant fame.

This kind of thing has happened, countless times. And not just to comics but also to magicians, singers and people who were embarrassed on camera but managed to monetize their shame. It will happen again. But it may not happen much longer if the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, follows through on his plan to roll back the network neutrality rules that ensure that anyone who puts something on the internet has a fair shot at finding a life-changing audience.

The current rules, which have been in place since 2015, ensure that internet service providers treat all data — websites, shows, emails — the same. That means nobody has to pay extra money to make sure his or her content loads quickly. This fair internet, where everyone from an amateur comedian to a celebrity to a huge media company plays by the same rules, means you don’t need a lot of money or the backing of someone with power to share your content with the world.

To understand how consequential this is, imagine a young woman walking into the HBO offices and saying, “Hi, I’m an awkward black girl and I think I have some pretty hilarious misadventures that you should make into a TV show!” HBO’s only question probably would have been, “How did you get in here?” Now picture this: “Hi, I’m Issa Rae. I have hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers and hundreds of millions of YouTube views. And I’m an awkward black girl.” HBO’s question: “When can you start?” I’m exaggerating. But only slightly. Issa Rae started the web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” on YouTube in 2011. Thanks in large part to its success, six years later, her comedy series, “Insecure,” is set to air for a third season on HBO. It’s hard to imagine this happening in a world without net neutrality.

 

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2 Responses to “Red Alert for Internet Users – Trump Takes Aim at Net Neutrality”

  1. webej Says:

    While I favor net neutrality, there is also an unsolved problem. Businesses such as Netflix essentially piggy back on the back of the provider, using a ton of band-width. Since the provider has to recoup their costs, that could mean higher rates, with some users essentially cross-subsidizing other users’ band-width consumption. Of course you could meter by the gigabyte, but doing so would be a competitive disadvantage.


    • That “unresolved problem” is one of the stock ISP lies about this.

      Here’s how it really works:

      A content provider, such as Netflix, buys internet access from an ISP or, if they’re big enough, an NAP. The content provider pays for the bandwidth they need to provide their content.

      The users, (e.g. you), buy internet access from an ISP. The users pay for the bandwidth they use under whatever package the ISP chooses to offer, (i.e. some combination of speed and usage limits).

      _Everything_ is paid for already. The ‘piggy backing’ is paid for by the users who are accessing the content. There is no subsidizing going on unless that’s how the ISP chooses to set up its selection of access packages, (e.g. they only offer high priced large cap/unlimited packages, forcing a grandmother who uses email and Facebook a couple times a week to pay as much as a gamer who is downloading a 100Gib+ game every couple of days).

      In fact, getting rid of net neutrality would lead to the exact cross-subsidies you worry about. We know this because that is what was actually happening in Canada before the CRTC clamped down. What happens is things like having data from CraveTV, (Bell), or Shomi, (Rogers/Shaw), not count against bandwidth limits while Netflix and YouTube do. This resulted in Bell users who watched Netflix subsidizing users who watched CraveTV.


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