In Wake Of Trump Win, ISPs Are Already Laying The Groundwork For Gutting Net Neutrality

from the deep-shit dept

With Donald Trump now the President elect, all eyes in telecom have turned to what happens now in regards to FCC telecom enforcement generally, and our shiny new net neutrality rules specifically. Trump has proclaimed he opposes net neutrality, despite making it abundantly clear he doesn’t appear to actually know what it is (he appears to falsely believe it has something to do with the fairness doctrine). As such most people believe he’ll work to gut the current FCC, which as we’ve noted has, for the first time in arguably twenty years or so, actually been doing a few things to actually help broadband consumers and sector competition.

Trump is said to have appointed Jeffrey Eisenach, “a crusader against regulation,” who has consistently criticized current FCC boss Tom Wheeler, to handle his telecom transition team:

In 2012 Eisenach arrived as a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute ? and in that role, he?s been an outspoken antagonist of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and his policies. In his research and advocacy, often backed by tech and telecom interests, he’s slammed the Obama administration’s efforts on net neutrality, broadband investment and more.

As such, any newly-configured FCC is more than a little likely to consist of the kind of revolving door regulators that either will move to strip back net neutrality protections (difficult but not impossible), or (potentially more likely) simply refuse to enforce them. ISPs are already making it clear they see an opportunity to role back “onerous FCC regulations” at the behest of giant ISPs — likely in the form of a complete Communications Act rewrite courtesy of the Republican-controlled House and Senate.

This enthusiasm includes former Congressman Rick Boucher, who at one point in time was a fantastic crusader for fair use rights, but has since made his living playing parrot for the telecom industry over at Sidley Austin, a law firm that effectively acts as an AT&T policy arm. Not wasting any time, an e-mail dropped into Techdirt’s inbox this morning by the Internet Innovation Alliance (also part of AT&T’s telecom policy efforts), featuring Boucher proclaiming that it was time to “return to the bi-partisan light regulatory oversight of broadband”:

The first order of business for the new FCC should be a return to the bi-partisan light regulatory oversight of broadband launched during the Clinton administration. The decision to treat broadband as an information service unleashed a wave of investment in internet infrastructure that enabled our communications network to become the envy of the world. That progress has been undermined by the Commission’s decision to treat broadband as a telecommunications service with regulatory requirements designed for the monopoly era of rotary telephones. Few regulatory changes would do more to promote investment and a stronger U.S. economy than a return to the time-honored light regulatory regime for broadband.

If you’re playing along at home and don’t speak telecom sock-puppet, Boucher’s effectively arguing Trump should back off the FCC’s recent decision to reclassify ISPs as common carriers (which put the FCC on the proper legal footing to enforce net neutrality) and return to the FCC’s earlier mantra of going out of its way to avoid doing much of anything that would hinder incumbent ISP profits. That’s unfortunate, given that this was a period during which we pretended that if we let ISPs dictate all regulation they would magically deploy amazing new competitive broadband networks.

Generally speaking, most of you should be able to see how well that worked out for us based on, well, looking at Comcast or your over-priced and slow AT&T DSL line. Meanwhile pay TV providers like Dish, rather unsurprisingly, made it clear they see this being a possible end to net neutrality:

That said, it’s worth reminding people that while Democrats were already waffling on the net neutrality rules they helped pass (Clinton was expected to be overly cozy with telecom in her own right), a Trump FCC is likely to be notably, significantly worse for broadband consumers and net neutrality. The FCC’s recent decision to pass some basic privacy protections for broadband users is certain to face turbulence, and efforts to bring competition to the cable box and the broadband sector in general will be all-but-certainly derailed.

In other words there’s every indication that we’re headed back in time — to a bygone era not that long ago where folks like AT&T and Comcast dictated policy to FCC Democrats and Republicans alike, resulting in a weak-kneed regulator whose sole purpose was to dumbly nod each and every time AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or Charter made a policy proposal.

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Comments on “In Wake Of Trump Win, ISPs Are Already Laying The Groundwork For Gutting Net Neutrality”

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aerinai says:

What is worse than a Dingo?

Well, after 8 hard-fought years to get a piece of paper that no one was enforcing (Net Neutrality), we are now going to throw away that piece of paper because someone in the future might enforce it. At least this way it buys them 8 more years….

If Wheeler was a baby-eating dingo, what exactly would that make Eisenach?

DebbyS (profile) says:

Re: Anonymous "A huge majority"

I’m assuming you mean “a huge majority of the voters”, but interestingly, Clinton won the popular vote by around 250,000 votes (as of the last count at
). Not that she would be innovative unless she gets the big $$$ to be, IMO, but it’s likely she’d understand innovation better than DJT and his handlers.

DebbyS (profile) says:

Re: Anonymous Coward, "ego stroking"

He’ll pass anything confusing (which for him is 99% of what he hears) (it is thought he is illiterate, so don’t write him a letter) — he’ll pass it on to Pence, who is the one who has to be stroked. Good luck with that, because Pence will enjoy it, but proceed to do whatever the far right has always dreamed of doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As a european, american internet has always been seen as a good thing to look at for finding out how not to do it!

We have been looking to Sweden and South Korea with envy. USA haven’t had a communications network that was an envy of the world for the last 30 years at least. Boucher seems to have an onerous relation to the truth, if he isn’t straight up a lying man with no decency left.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

The only people who believed this were alt-right conspiracy nutjobs. I’ve never seen liberals espouse this.

And why would wanting to not live in an authoritarian oligarchy suddenly make a ‘despotic’ Cuba attractive? Or are you so far to the right that centrists and communists look about the same?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The left is the most racist, bigoted, condescending group of people I have ever met. Just look at the comments, tweets, Facebook posts, news articles and comments by the politicians. We are called every name in the book including deplorable. For the most part you do not see this from the right. How you think this country will ever get along with the hate the comes from your mouths I will never know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Deplorable” isn’t a racist or bigoted word. It’s a polite way of saying “does things I don’t like”.

Endlessly blaming people for problems based on their skin color and/or gender is by far the biggest problem with the left. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind the racial and gender shaming that’s commonplace among the left disaffected enough liberal Democrats to just not vote at all. Because if the choice is Trump or someone surrounded by people who hate you based on physical attributes you’re born with, voting ends up as a choice between two awful candidates.

Hell, Nurlip blaming whites several posts above is an example of this problem. His case is minor, but still an issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Casebook example of self delusion

Biased? Yes. Racist, sexist, bigoted, blah, blah, blah. No. I have seen Facebook posts where lefties are crying so hard they actually believe there will be blood in the streets because the right will start killing people. I have no idea how these people even get out of bed in the morning with that kind of unwarranted fear!? I mean, if the past is any predictor of the future, and this stuff hasn’t been happening before or going on right now; how do they dream this up?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Casebook example of self delusion

Let’s see here; Obama loved killing people with drones, including American citizens. Gitmo is still open, still have troops in harms way. Explain to me again how peaceful the left is?

But the killing I was referring to was libs saying that we would be killing people here in the US. Proves how irrational and emotional libs are.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Casebook example of self delusion

Characterizing Obama as either “left” or “liberal” seems like a stretch if you are living in a civilized country.

If the U.S.A. political system were a plane it would not be flightworthy since a plane needs a left wing and a right wing, not two right wings in minimal distance.

It’s sort of built like a flatfish.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Casebook example of self delusion

fwiw: racism, sexism, bigotry are all a form of bias.

you said:
“they actually believe there will be blood in the streets “

I ask:
Have you been watching the news in the past idk, few decades? Shit’s been going down like forever, nothing new here .. but don’t let that stop you from feeling entitled. I guess people of color are not human and therefore do not count? Is this what you really think? Sure seems that way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

All of this is especially hilarious considering the financial impact deregulation of ISPs and telecoms will have on the uneducated whites that elected Trump.

Calling someone who voted for Trump uneducated is like calling them racists, fascists, etc. It doesn’t help your argument any and it really makes you look bad.

Not everyone who voted for Trump was uneducated (ignorant, yes you could very much argue that and I’d agree with you on it, but not uneducated.) I know a great deal of folks who voted for him who had master’s and doctor’s degrees, including a medical doctor, and I’d have a hard time saying they were uneducated. Yes, there probably were many in the set of people who voted for Trump who were uneducated, or racist, or fascist, but the entire set was not those things.

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

While the Telco’s and ISP’s would love to see a rollback in policy and be allowed to fuck the consumer carte-blanche like they are already doing , they ought to remember how the people and a lot of Internet companies came strongly out against these very changes.

Trump would be well advised that the SOPA style rage that came out against SOPA may rear it’s head once again if the Telco & ISP’s try to screw the public once again, citizens will definitely be pissed in ways that Trump wouldnt like if he allows the ISP’s & Telco’s to gouge the consumer any further.

David says:

How is being clueless a problem?

Trump has proclaimed he opposes net neutrality, despite making it abundantly clear he doesn’t appear to actually know what it is (he appears to falsely believe it has something to do with the fairness doctrine).

So? Take a look at the Affordable Healthcare Act. Modelled after Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare legislation, the Democrats thought that surely Republicans would not object to a plan in line with that of their own presidential candidate and implemented policy.

Now just call it "Obamacare" and everybody is against it. Simple as that.

All that Trump needs to do is call net neutrality "Obamanet" and it’s dead.

People will be out in the streets demanding their right not to have the right of choosing their own broadband provider.

U.S. policymaking is as stupid as that. If you want to bet against the stupidity of people, you’ll end up on the side of the losers.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It actually is. This is hopefully the administration that proves that the alt-right view of “limited government,” i.e. “let corporations run amok and drop taxes on the people who actually have the money” is utter twaddle. Bush II didn’t settle the question but Trump should.

This doesn’t mean I automatically favour regulating “all the things!” It does mean that where there is a boxing match we need the Queensberry rules to be enforced by a referee willing to stand up to either boxer.

sorrykb (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This is hopefully the administration that proves that the alt-right view of "limited government," i.e. "let corporations run amok and drop taxes on the people who actually have the money" is utter twaddle.

That’s not cause to celebrate.

This isn’t some abstract intellectual exercise. The cost of this proof will be huge, and will be borne disproportionately by those who can least afford it.

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