FCC Ignores The Will Of The Public, Votes To Begin Dismantling Net Neutrality

from the ignoring-the-will-of-the-people dept

Surprising absolutely nobody, the FCC today voted 2-1 along strict party lines to begin dismantling net neutrality protections for consumers. The move comes despite the fact that the vast majority of non-bot comments filed with the FCC support keeping the rules intact. And while FCC boss Ajit Pai has breathlessly insisted he intended to listen to the concerns of all parties involved, there has been zero indication that this was a serious commitment as he begins dismantling all manner of broadband consumer protections, not just net neutrality.

As you might have expected, the FCC was quick to release a statement claiming that gutting the popular consumer protections would usher forth a magical age of connectivity, investment, and innovation:

"In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC proposes to return to the bipartisan framework that preserved a flourishing free and open Internet for almost 20 years. First, the Notice proposes to reverse the FCC’s 2015 decision to impose heavy-handed Title II utility-style government regulation on Internet service providers (ISPs) and return to the longstanding, successful light-touch framework under Title I of the Communications Act."

Except as we just got done noting, the FCC's net neutrality rules already were 'light touch." The rules were relatively basic, the FCC has consistently shown zero interest in rate regulations, the rules didn't really cover zero rating, and numerous ISP executives have candidly and clearly stated the rules didn't harm them in the slightest. As we've also noted, the plan to shift ISPs back to Title I and an over-extended FTC is a plan that ends with less accountability and oversight of some of the least competitive companies in American industry as they move to grow even larger via media megamergers.

Anybody that believes consumers, competitors or the health of the internet benefits from giving Comcast additional leeway to abuse the lack of last-mile broadband competition is either intentionally trying to mislead you, or simply hasn't been paying attention.

What happens next? Again, net neutrality isn't technically dead yet. There will be another vote later this year, followed by inevitable lawsuits -- which supporters have a good chance of winning. Today, with the formal introduction of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) the FCC should soon re-open the agency's comment system, allowing you to share your thoughts on the killing of net neutrality. And while you might be inclined to think that your thoughts on this policy decision don't matter, these comments will come in handy in the inevitable looming legal fight to come.

You see, when Pai is inevitably sued by competitors and consumer advocates, he'll need to convince the courts that things have changed dramatically enough since the FCC's appeals court victory last year to warrant such a severe reversal in agency policy (they haven't). And these public comments, which again show massive public support for the rules, only make that job that much harder for Pai to claim the move was in the public's best interest.

As a former Verizon lawyer Pai knows this, and is launching an NPRM attack on the rules in partial hope that things never get that far. We've noted how ISPs (and all the politicians, think tankers, policy wonks and "consultants" paid to love them) are pushing for a new Congressional law on net neutrality. The sales pitch for this law is that it will "put the net neutrality debate to rest" as a "compromise." The reality you're supposed to ignore is that AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter lawyers will be the ones writing it, ensuring that the loophole-packed legislative "solution" is likely worse than having no net neutrality rules at all.

The short version? The battle for a healthy, open internet is far from over. And there will, sooner or later, be notable repercussions for any regulator and politician that thought ignoring the public interest on this subject was a good idea.

Filed Under: ajit pai, fcc, net neutrality

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous, 18 May 2017 @ 2:20pm

    FCC ignores the will of the public

    As a former Verizon customer care agent, IT and escalations supervisor. And working a second job that later turned to my only job went from L1,2 and 3 tech support agent, Floor manager, Network Administrator/Engineer and now IT security professional. I've worked behind the scenes for over 20 years for ISPS and have known most of our countries(the USA) communications carriers business models and practices.Ending Verizon work about when the Motorola razor was famous (2006 ish). I know that Verizon is a greedy company that has bathed themselves in overage fee's with minute and data caps that I've seen bills in THOUSANDS of dollars. With the ISPS I worked for over 13 businesses, starting from the beginning when they all started as DIAL UP on to today's modern internet tier bandwidths. I have always been against doing away with net neutrality when it was in peril and is a main reason why I left the outsourcer ISP that I worked for because I didn't want to be working for corrupt business like Verizon that capped and throttled Internet(which many of them were doing). It's not a matter of opinion. It's a FACT that all major communications carriers(Time Warner,AT&T,Verizon,Comcast etc) have abused the internet for financial gain. I was there when the FCC was hanging on a thread to be able to do anything about it in legal battles. All the while the COMS companies were capping internet and throttling service getting away with charging overages perverting their business models and filling their greedy pockets. I was there during the decade of legal crap the FCC went through just to classify net neutrality as Title II making a fair and open internet possible again. And now, it's going to be done away with due to Ajit Pai the SCUM BAG! Yea Ajit Pai is a SCUM BAG! DOUCHE BAG POS! He's the new boss who's a dumb ass and comes along like so many others do with businesses that new hire a manager and they decide to screw up what doesn't need to be fixed. He's that much of a SCUM BAG and POS! And I think that saying that he's the most hated man on the internet is an understatement.

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