No, Net Neutrality Isn't Officially Dead (Yet), And The FCC Is Stalling For A Reason

from the buying-time dept

Numerous news outlets this week proudly, but inaccurately, declared that net neutrality was now officially dead. CNET was one of several outlets forced to walk back its headline and story proclaiming net neutrality’s premature demise after industry watchers pointed out that wasn’t actually the case. If you look at the actual net neutrality repeal order, you’ll note that it’s actually pretty wishy washy in terms of the actual repeal date:

“Effective dates: April 23, 2018, except for amendatory instructions 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8, which are delayed as follows. The FCC will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date(s) of the delayed amendatory instructions, which are contingent on OMB approval of the modified information collection requirements in 47 CFR 8.1 (amendatory instruction 5). The Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order will also be effective upon the date announced in that same document.”

Consumer advocate Harold Feld, who arguably knows more about FCC policy than anybody else in the States, dug deep into the policy weeds over at his blog explaining what’s going on. The overly-simplistic version: Before net neutrality gets formally repealed and flimsy replacement policies take effect, the FCC will wait for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review the much weaker transparency rule under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Once OMB signs off, the FCC will publish a second notice in the Federal Register announcing when everything goes into effect.

That’s expected sometime in the next month or two, but it hasn’t happened yet, meaning that net neutrality rules remain on the books, for now. Feld, meanwhile, notes this odd bureaucratic delay is not normal, but appears to be very much by design:

“This is, to say the least, highly unusual. There is absolutely no reason for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to have stretched out this process so ridiculously long. It is especially puzzling in light Pai?s insistence that he had to rush through repeal of net neutrality over the objections of just about everyone but the ISPs and their cheerleaders because every day ? nay every minute! ? ISPs suffer under the horrible, crushing burden of Title II is another day in which Princess Comcast Celestia, Princess Twilight Verizon Sparkle, and all the other Broadband Equestria Girls must endure the agonies of a blasted regulatory Hellscape rather than provide us all with wonderful new innovative services at even lower cost than they do now.”

The question then becomes: why is Ajit Pai’s FCC taking so long to formally repeal rules he (falsely) claims are devastating Comcast, AT&T and Verizon?

My informed guess (supported by at least two industry lawyers I’ve spoken to) is that Pai is trying to buy time. Why? ISPs know that the FCC’s repeal is on shaky legal ground thanks in large part to bizarre FCC behavior and numerous ethical gaffes. ISPs like Comcast are also nervous about the fact that more than half the states in the country are now pursuing their own net neutrality rules. As such, ISP lobbyists and hired wonks are pushing for a fake, loophole-filled net neutrality law with one real purpose: pre-empting tougher state laws and preventing the 2015 rules from being re-established should the FCC lose in court.

It’s likely the FCC bogged things down in bureaucracy intentionally to buy time for ISP lobbyists to try and drum up support for this bogus law. Unfortunately, as they have throughout this entire affair, ISPs appear to have misjudged the political environment here, and have faced a steep uphill climb in getting support for the crap law they wrote (incarnations of which are being pushed by Marsha Blackburn in the House and John Kennedy in the Senate).

As ISPs grow more nervous about losing in court and state net neutrality efforts, calls for an ISP crafted “Congressional solution” have only grown. But by and large most net neutrality supporters on the streets and in Congress appear to not be falling for this little ruse, knowing full well that the chance of this cash-compromised Congress actually passing tough rules are virtually nonexistent.

If you’re a fan of net neutrality, the best chance in saving the rules rests with a reversal by the courts during the looming court battle. Failing that, your best bet is voting in politicians that prioritize healthy competition, truly open markets, and consumer and small business welfare over monopoly protectionism and cronyism.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “No, Net Neutrality Isn't Officially Dead (Yet), And The FCC Is Stalling For A Reason”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
ryuugami says:

Re: so... fake news then right?

so… fake news then right?

Don’t be an idiot. Making a mistake and later correcting it is not "fake news".

On the other hand, the phrase seems to have lost the meaning it once had. It no longer says anything about the news story itself, it only signals that the one using the phrase is either being sarcastic or really, really stupid. Which one are you?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fake News

The same thing happened to terrorist. At the point Jason Leopold was being called a FOIA Terrorist, the term terrorist had come to mean someone you don’t like Similarly, Fake News now means news you don’t like or more accurately news Trump doesn’t like since he is the one most often accusing given stories of being fake news.

Terrorism has a long history of being a more neutral term, Fake news entered vogue much more recently, but the concept has been around a long time. In older times when people spoke with more syllables it was called yellow journalism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Pai is hoping/waiting for the Republicans to introduce a law that will allow the ISPs to use ‘Paid Prioritisation’, multitudinous ads and spam phone calls, paid fast lanes, extra charges for EVERYTHING CONCEIVABLE for the public and services which are even more piss poor than they are now!! it’s about time the American public grew a pair and rebelled against this shit!

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Dragging this out isn’t going to make people any less pissed off at the ISP’s abuses and monopoly practices.

At this point the only point for Pai to drag it out anymore isn’t for the ISP’s, it’s to avoid having the GOP get slaughtered so badly in the midterms.

If Pai’s repeal kicked in right now, there would be plenty of time for voters to feel the pain and take revenge on the congressional GOP who backed Pai’s plan.

Anonymous Coward says:

I was kind of hoping nobody would immediately notice that NN was “not dead yet”.

Following that, all the people waiting for it to be dead to do unethical things could go ahead and do them… and THEN someone could point out the fact that NN was still in effect and punish them for their actions.

And then we’d have a really good set of examples for why we need NN in the first place.

Annonymouse (profile) says:

So when will something be done?

The root caise is top to bottom and end to end integration. Carriers should never be content providers … EVER.

The pipes should be independent and be treated like a utility.
Either do it like the power utilities. Not great but it works.
Better yet treat them like roads and local taxpayers cover fixing the potholes. Let smaller service companies fight to service and maintain the infrastructure.

Anyone breaking those rules through any means should be stripped of all worldly assets and made to break big rocks into small rocks. Replace the slap on the wrist with a financial guillotine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hey "Improbus": don't think I missed your SIXTY-FIVE month gap!

Had you listed as RE-ACTIVATED ZOMBIE sometime last year. — I don’t even comment on MOST of the zombies, folks! This isn’t a few and MAYBE, it’s BLATANT once noticed.

Began Apr 10th, 2010. So we’re to believe that you’ve been reading and kept track of account details for just over 8 years now — but with inexplicable GAP — made 18 comments, just barely 2 per year, and are now again interested enough to make trivial one line comments? BALONEY!

And again, there are at least SEVEN "accounts" with over SIX year gaps.

Yet Techdirt (site and fanboys) remain studiously uninterested! Sheesh.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...