As feared, the FCC has decided to dismantle Obama-era net neutrality rules, rules that protected consumers from ISP throttling. In a nutshell, the classification of broadband as a Title II carrier ensures all Internet users and website operators share Internet traffic equally with no government or big business restrictions. With rules removed, the winners of course, are ISPs, cable companies, and wireless companies. The losers – the American consumer. The changes are expected to be approved at a Federal Communications Commission meeting on December 14, 2017.
The previous rules had required ISPs treat all web traffic equally, keeping all corners of the Internet equally open to consumers. The rules also prohibited providers from using control of the pipes to favor their own content (or the content of companies willing to fork out extra dollars for favorable treatment). Those that argue that this is intended to foster innovation are loons. Providers such as Netflix (see this old article about Netflix throttling), Hulu, and Amazon pay massive dollars for bandwidth from ISPs. The dismantling of rules does more than just allowing ISPs to double-dip in the coffers – it lets them prioritize their own traffic or traffic of others (read “agenda”) without any oversight or repercussions.
The proposition to kill net neutrality is being led by FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai. Pai is a former attorney for Verizon, one of the largest ISPs who will benefit from a closed Internet system.
Net neutrality protests will be cropping up quickly. I’ll post more news as it becomes available.
What you can do
Attend a protest on December 7 at Verizon stores
VerizonProtests.com has a list (and map) of nation-wide protests to take place on December 7, 2017, one week before the vote to kill net neutrality and during the peak (busy) Holiday season for extra visibility. Protests will be held at area Verizon stores (FCC Chairman is a former Verizon attorney).
Follow Battle for the Net campaign
Follow Fight for the Future (Battle for the Net) and help them spread the word (retweet) when requested.
EFF – Electronic Frontier Foundation email tool
Of course, jump over to EFF for the latest news and action points. They also have a email form that will let you lookup and email your representative.
5 Calls phone template
Use 5 Calls for a cool phone template that will provide you a phone script and contact information for Congress and more importantly, the Internet’s Most Wanted – FCC Chariman Ajit Pai.
Free Press Action and Save the Internet phone directories
CREDO Action guide
CREDO Action has a guide to calling your reps.
ACLU news and scripts
Even the ACLU is involved with this battle. They’ve teamed up with Fight for the Future for net neutrality. Check out their script here.
Contact Ajit Varadaraj Pai (FCC Chairman)
Ajit Pai will say he’s a proponent of the Internet and will point out past endeavors such as lobbying for more Internet access for rural areas (i.e. more dollars for the big ISPs). Fact is, he has had close ties with Verizon for a long time. Many believe he’s a puppet for the company shaping the FCC agenda to fit Verizon’s business model. Contact Pai and let him know you are against gutting net neutrality rules.
The following appeared in a Ajit Pai dox and may be valid contact points if you cannot reach him through his official FCC contacts.
- klout- /AjitPaiFCC
- About.me- /ajitpai
- Twitter- /ajitpai
EFF explanation of Net Neutrality
Network neutrality—the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services—is a principle that must be upheld to protect the future of our open Internet. It’s a principle that’s faced many threats over the years, such as ISPs forging packets to tamper with certain kinds of traffic or slowing down or even outright blocking protocols or applications.
In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) attempted to combat these threats with a set of Open Internet rules. But its efforts were full of legal and practical holes. In 2014, after a legal challenge from Verizon, those rules were overturned, and the FCC set about drafting a new set of rules better suited to the challenge.
It was clear that the FCC was going to need some help from the Internet. And that’s exactly what happened. Millions of users weighed in, demanding that the FCC finally get net neutrality right, and issue rules that made sense and would actually hold up in court. EFF alone drove hundreds of thousands of comments through our online portal DearFCC.
As a direct result of that intense public activism and scrutiny, the FCC produced rules that we could support—in part because, in addition to the bright line rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of Internet traffic, they include strict “forbearance” restrictions on what the FCC can do without holding another rulemaking.
There’s no silver bullet for net neutrality. The FCC order plays a role by forbidding ISPs from meddling with traffic in certain ways. But transparency is also key: ISPs must be open about how traffic is managed over their networks in order for both users and the FCC to know when there’s a problem. Local governments can also play a crucial role by supporting competitive municipal and community networks. When users can vote with their feet, service providers have a strong incentive not to act in non-neutral ways.
We want the Internet to live up to its promise, fostering innovation, creativity, and freedom. We don’t want regulations that will turn ISPs into gatekeepers, making special deals with a few companies and inhibiting new competition, innovation and expression.
Statements from the dolts at the FCC
Below are the official statements (discount the nonsense in the statements calling them “unofficial”) from the dolts at the FCC. Included are contact information (phone numbers, Twitter handle, website contact, etc.) in case you want to bend their ears.
Statement from Office of Commissioner Brendan Carr
Jamie Susskind, (202) 418-2200
For Immediate Release
STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER BRENDAN CARR
On the Circulation of a Draft Order on Restoring Internet Freedom
WASHINGTON, November 21, 2017—FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr released the
following statement regarding the circulation of a draft order in the Commission’s Restoring Internet
“Today, the Chairman circulated a draft order that would restore Internet freedom by reversing
the Obama-era FCC’s regulatory overreach. Prior to the FCC’s 2015 decision, consumers and innovators
alike benefited from a free and open Internet because the FCC abided by a 20-year, bipartisan consensus
that the government should not control or heavily regulate Internet access. The Internet flourished under
this framework. So I fully support returning to this approach, which will promote innovation and
investment for the benefit of all Americans. I look forward to casting my vote in support of Internet
Office of Commissioner Brendan Carr: (202) 418-2200
ASL Videophone: (844) 432-2275
TTY: (888) 835-5322
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official
action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).
Official statement from Office of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
Travis Litman, (202) 418-2400
For Immediate Release
STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL
ON FCC LEADERSHIP’s PLAN TO ROLL BACK INTERNET RIGHTS
WASHINGTON, November 21, 2017. — FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
released the following statement:
“Today the FCC circulated its sweeping roll back of our net neutrality rules. Following
actions earlier this year to erase consumer privacy protections, the Commission now
wants to wipe out court-tested rules and a decade’s work in order to favor cable and
telephone companies. This is ridiculous and offensive to the millions of Americans who
use the Internet every day.
Our Internet economy is the envy of the world because it is open to all. This proposal
tears at the foundation of that openness. It hands broadband providers the power to decide
what voices to amplify, which sites we can visit, what connections we can make, and
what communities we create. It throttles access, stalls opportunity, and censors content. It
would be a big blunder for a slim majority of the FCC to approve these rules and saddle
every Internet user with the cruel consequences.
I’ve called for public hearings before any change is made to these rules, just as
Republican and Democratic Commissions have done in the past. We should go directly to
the American public to find out what they think about this proposal before any vote is
taken to harm net neutrality.”
Office of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes
official action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).
And finally, the official statement from the lead dolt himself, Office of Chairman Ajit Pai
Tina Pelkey, (202) 418-0536
For Immediate Release
CHAIRMAN PAI CIRCULATES DRAFT ORDER TO
RESTORE INTERNET FREEDOM AND ELIMINATE
HEAVY-HANDED INTERNET REGULATIONS
Public Draft Will Be Released More Than Three Weeks Prior to Vote
WASHINGTON, November 21, 2017—Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai
released the following statement on his draft Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which was
circulated to his fellow Commissioners this morning and will be voted on at the FCC’s Open
Meeting on December 14:
“For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach
established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the
private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United
States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.
“But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it
imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake.
It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.
“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. Under my
proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. Instead, the FCC would
simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers
can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can
have the technical information they need to innovate.
“Additionally, as a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able
to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015. Notably,
my proposal will put the federal government’s most experienced privacy cop, the FTC, back on
the beat to protect consumers’ online privacy.
“Speaking of transparency, when the prior FCC adopted President Obama’s heavy-handed
Internet regulations, it refused to let the American people see that plan until weeks after the
FCC’s vote. This time, it’ll be different. Specifically, I will publicly release my proposal to
restore Internet freedom tomorrow—more than three weeks before the Commission’s December
“Working with my colleagues, I look forward to returning to the light-touch, market-based
framework that unleashed the digital revolution and benefited consumers here and around the
Office of Chairman Ajit Pai: (202) 418-2000
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order
constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).
Op-Ed from FCC member Jessica Rosenworcel AGAINST gutting Net Neutrality rules
Right now, you can go online and connect with friends, watch videos and read the news. There’s a good chance you are reading this online right now.
We do much more on the internet than consume content, however. Increasingly, the internet is also where we create. We use online platforms and digital services to develop, share and spread ideas around the corner and around the globe.
This is the open internet experience we all know, and it’s a big part of why America’s internet economy is the envy of the world.
But this week, the leadership at the Federal Communications Commission put forth a plan to gut the foundation of this openness. They have proposed to end net neutrality, and they are trying to force a vote on their plan on Dec. 14.
If the idea behind the plan is bad, the process for it has been even worse.
It’s a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans who work and create online every day.
Net neutrality is the right to go where you want and do what you want on the internet without your broadband provider getting in the way. It means your broadband provider can’t block websites, throttle services or charge you premiums if you want to reach certain online content.
Proponents of wiping out these rules think that by allowing broadband providers more control and the ability to charge for premium access, it will spur investment. This is a dubious proposition.
Wiping out net neutrality would have big consequences. Without it, your broadband provider could carve internet access into fast and slow lanes, favoring the traffic of online platforms that have made special payments and consigning all others to a bumpy road. Your provider would have the power to choose which voices online to amplify and which to censor. The move could affect everything online, including the connections we make and the communities we create.
This is not the internet experience we know today. Americans should prevent the plan from becoming the law of the land.
There is something not right about a few unelected FCC officials making such vast determinations about the future of the internet. I’m not alone in thinking this. More than 22 million people have filed comments with the agency. They overwhelmingly want the FCC to preserve and protect net neutrality.
At the same time, there are real questions about who filed some of the net neutrality comments with the FCC. There are credible allegations that many of the comments were submitted by bots and others using the names of deceased people. What’s more, some 50,000 recent consumer complaints appear to have gone missing.
As he announced this week, New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman has been investigating these apparently fake comments for six months. The Government Accountability Office is also looking into how a denial-of-service attack may have prevented people from getting their thoughts into the official record.
In short, this is a mess. If the idea behind the plan is bad, the process for commenting on it has been even worse.
Before my fellow FCC members vote to dismantle net neutrality, they need to get out from behind their desks and computers and speak to the public directly. The FCC needs to hold hearings around the country to get a better sense of how the public feels about the proposal.
When they do this, they will likely find that, outside of a cadre of high-paid lobbyists and lawyers in Washington, there isn’t a constituency that likes this proposal. In fact, the FCC will probably discover that they have angered the public and caused them to question just whom the agency works for.
I think the FCC needs to work for the public, and therefore that this proposal needs to be slowed down and eventually stopped. In the time before the agency votes, anyone who agrees should do something old-fashioned: Make a ruckus.
Reach out to the rest of the FCC now. Tell them they can’t take away internet openness without a fight.
Jessica Rosenworcel is a member of the Federal Communications Commission.