Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Brutal Death of Net Neutrality...

It all seemed to innocent, based on a few simple common sense principles:
Net neutrality regulations, which ensure all traffic on the internet is treated equally, prevents broadband and wireless providers from blocking or slowing online content.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai doesn't want to prevent anything, but instead wants to see what happens, taking legal steps only after American consumers are hurt, robbed of their money, or treated unfairly:
Pai: "Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades."
Net neutrality failed? Missed that. Pai also wants you to believe that the internet isn't about communicating anymore, turning oversight responsibility over to the Federal Trade Commission:
Pai's is stripping the FCC of its authority to regulate the internet.

Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said Pai's proposal "raises hypocrisy to new heights" as the agency abdicates its authority to the FTC. "They are 'protecting consumers' by disavowing responsibility to do just that. They are providing for 'better regulation' by giving authority to the FTC, which has no regulatory authority."
And because net neutrality made the internet a "utility," rates were regulated to prevent providers from pricing consumer out of their only life line for help. Say goodbye to that:
Companies like AT&T and Verizon have argued that as a public utility, (it was) a disincentive to invest in their networks. They say they were less likely to build their networks in hard-to-reach areas like rural regions or to offer faster, more innovative service because they were afraid the government would regulate rates or force them to open the infrastructure to competitors.
Skies the limit, and we'll be paying outrageously high rates for this "freedom:"
Gigi Sohn, a former adviser to Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman who championed the 2015 rules, said, "In a few short weeks, the big broadband providers will be free to double their prices, extract extra tolls on fast lanes for online businesses, and track and sell their customers' web browsing activity. When they're done, what will remain of consumer protection on the Internet will be nothing more than a carcass."
But FCC Chairman Pai isn't done yet, promising full and transparent disclosures by the only ISP in your area, so you and your attorney can approve or disapprove getting any internet or not. Lots of choices huh? And can they make the legalese and print any smaller?
Small print disclaimer nightmare!
Companies will also be required to disclose any paid priority services they offer and explain how they manage network congestion.
Here's the Republican version of "small government," a blanket law nationwide:
The proposal would also ban states from passing their own versions of the old rules.
Anti-competitive Customer Robbery: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is quietly encouraging it: 
In February, for example, he ended an investigation into whether ATandT and Verizon used data limits for anti-competitive purposes, effectively ruling that the two companies could exempt their own video services from customers' data caps but still charge for data used by their competitors’ services.
Wacky "Government Controlling Everything" Theory: Lacking any substance, right wing Chicken Little's can always rely on this:
Fox News: "All the nonsense about paid prioritization and Internet fast lanes that would favor some content over others is nothing but fear mongering by consumer groups that want government controlled everything. Net Neutrality is ObamaCare for the Internet."
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Washington Post: "Your Internet isn’t getting any faster, but the government might soon call it ‘high-speed’ anyway:" Yup, Pai wants to replace the word "slow" with "fast." It's magic:

That year, the agency revised its minimum definition of broadband to be any service that offered at least 25 Mbps downloads and 3 Mbps uploads. By this definition, the FCC said, 55 million Americans lacked high-speed Internet. Almost overnight, the FCC essentially created a big mission for itself to solve, using all of the policy tools and money at its disposal.

Pai has asked whether it would be appropriate to use a looser standard to define broadband. Specifically, he's asked if it makes sense to use a 10 Mbps down / 1 Mbps up definition. In Pai's view, continually moving the goal posts is counterproductive.

Democrats say reverting to a definition that makes it easier for the FCC to claim it's done its job simply sweeps the problems of affordable access under the rug. Concluding that there's nothing to see here has myriad implications for the average consumer. If there is no problem, there is no need for action.
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Washington Post: "FCC net neutrality process ‘corrupted’ by fake comments and vanishing consumer complaints, officials say." This is a huge story. 
“The process the FCC has employed,” wrote New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week in a letter to the FCC, “… has been corrupted by the fraudulent use of Americans’ identities” ... more than a million comments, supporting Pai's effort to repeal net neutrality, may have been faked ... the FCC has declined to provide further evidence that could help move the investigation forward, such as data logs and other information.“It’s scary to think that organic, authentic voices in the public debate  are being drowned out by a chorus of spambots,” said Jeff Kao, a data scientist who published a study of the pro-repeal comments Thursday, in a blog post.
The FCC's Response? You won't believe this...
Brian Hart, an FCC spokesman, said the agency lacks the resources to investigate every comment. Supporters of the net neutrality rules are not blameless either, he added, pointing to 7.5 million comments filed in favor of the regulations that appeared to come from 45,000 distinct email addresses, "all generated by a single fake e-mail generator website." Some 400,000 comments backing the rules, he said, appeared to originate from a mailing address based in Russia. "The most suspicious activity has been by those supporting Internet regulation," said Hart.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic FCC commissioner added that some 50,000 consumer complaints appear to have disappeared from the agency's records. She also highlighted a Government Accountability Office probe into an alleged denial-of-service attack that the FCC claimed prevented consumers from filing submissions on the net neutrality plan.
Keep this list as an "I told you so" reminder:
1. Marketplace WeekendBy keeping the web neutral, these regulations ensure that every site is accessible at the same speed. Netflix can't pay to load faster than Hulu, internet service providers like Spectrum and Verizon can't block specific sites or make subscribers pay more to access them

2. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said "the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet." 

3. Internet service providers will be raking in the dough without net neutrality ... ISPs can create tiers of service to access different sites and can charge businesses more for faster speeds ... 

4. But it could hurt small businesses. If ISPs can block sites or make them more expensive to maintain ... And that could mean fewer businesses and less competition. Think of Facebook ... it was run entirely out of a college campus. Without net neutrality, it might not have made it new businesses could be iced out in the future.

5. Uncompetitive prices or increased membership costs will hit customers right in their wallets,

6. Wired: INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS like Comcast and Verizon may soon be free to block content, slow video-streaming services from rivals, and offer “fast lanes” to preferred partners. When ATT customers access its DirecTV Now video-streaming service, the data doesn’t count against their plan’s data limits. Verizon, likewise, exempts its Go90 service ... T-Mobile allows multiple video and music streaming services to bypass its data limits, essentially allowing it to pick winners and losers in those categories.