FCC Chairman finally admits there will be internet taxes...after passing Net Neutrality, of course
Repeat this to yourself: Government never gets smaller.
When we tried to warn everyone that so-called “Net Neutrality” would eventually lead to massive tax hikes we had people laugh at us and write us angry emails, politely informing us that we didn’t know what we were talking about. Well how about now?
From CNS News:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler acknowledged in congressional testimony today that an Internet tax–which he had previously said would not be imposed–could be imposed in the future. Wheeler’s remarks came during a Tuesday appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he was asked to shed light on the process by which the FCC passed rules last month regulating the Internet. Wheeler’s admission came after Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) asked him to go on the record with his previous assurances that there would be no new taxes. A fact sheet Wheeler issued about the rules on February 4 stated: “The Order will not impose, suggest or authorize any new taxes or fees–there will be no automatic Universal Service fees applied and the congressional moratorium on Internet taxation applies to broadband.”
However, the new FCC rules reclassified Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as Title II utilities, which are normally subjected to a USF fee. The fund is meant to enable the provision of universal service to customers of the utilities that contribute. The commission’s decision granted ISPs “forbearance” from the requirement to pay the fee, but it would not protect them from contrary decisions in the future. In fact, two FCC members warned in dissenting opinions that a new Internet tax was imminent.
Verizon's response to the FCC's decision to regulate the internet using a law from 1934 is perfect
Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission decided on a 3-2 party-line vote to begin regulating the internet using a law from the 1930s. The law is the Communications Act of 1934, specifically Title II, and it gives the FCC broad power to tax, censor, and disrupt the free enterprise of the internet.
Verizon responded to the news in appropriate fashion, using morse code, the form of communication that the original 1934 law would have been regulating.
Here’s the translation:
Today (Feb. 26) the Federal Communications Commissionapproved an order urged by President Obama that imposes rules on
broadband Internet services that were written in the era of the steam
locomotive and the telegraph. The following statement should be
attributed to Michael E. Glover, Verizon senior vice president, public
policy and government affairs:
“Today’s decision by the FCC to encumber broadband Internet services
with badly antiquated regulations is a radical step that presages a time
of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors. Over the past two
decades a bipartisan, light- touch policy approach unleashed
unprecedented investment and enabled the broadband Internet age
consumers now enjoy.
“The FCC today chose to change the way the commercial Internet hasoperated since its creation. Changing a platform that has been so
successful should be done, if at all, only after careful policy analysis,
full transparency, and by the legislature, which is constitutionally
charged with determining policy. As a result, it is likely that history
will judge today’s actions as misguided.
The FCC’s move is especially regrettable because it is wholly
unnecessary. The FCC had targeted tools available to preserve an open
Internet, but instead chose to use this order as an excuse to adopt 300-
plus pages of broad and open- ended regulatory arcana that will have
unintended negative consequences for consumers and various parts of the
Internet ecosystem for years to come.
“What has been and will remain constant before, during and after
the existence of any regulations is Verizon’s commitment to an open
Internet that provides consumers with competitive broadband choices and
Internet access when, where, and how they want.”
Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to regulate access to the Internet as it would a public utility, under something called Title 2 of the Communications Act of 1934. Critics of the FCC say it’s an old, dusty law meant to apply to phone service, not the complexities of the modern Internet. But there are some parallels to the days when Title 2 was enacted.
Flash back to the 1920s and early 1930s. When you picked up a phone in that era, you would hear a voice (always a woman’s) asking what number you wanted to reach. An army of hundreds of thousands of women operated America’s manual telephone switchboards. They were the public face of American Telephone and Telegraph.
“The telephone operator was right there bringing in people who could help correct the problem,” says Dan Schiller, professor emeritus of communication at the University of Illinois, “or even talking to subscribers to reassure them that help was on the way.”
Net Neutrality is a crucial juncture in India where telecom companies could penalize the usage of apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype, Viber and so on because it eats into their profits. If you’re Indian, that means if the TRAI does follow what these companies want, then we’ll have to pay more for our internet usage on these sites or apps, or be forced to deal with much much slower internet speeds on these sites unless the websites purchase data from the companies.
The FCC’s neutrality rules prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling Internet traffic, prohibit prioritization of traffic in exchange for payment, and require the ISPs to disclose network management practices.
These rules “shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act,” the Internet Freedom Act states.
“Once the federal government establishes a foothold into managing how Internet service providers run their networks they will essentially be deciding which content goes first, second, third, or not at all,“ Blackburn said in anannouncement yesterday. "My legislation will put the brakes on this FCC overreach and protect our innovators from these job-killing regulations.”
In the latest election cycle, Blackburn received $25,000 from an AT&T political action committee (PAC), $20,000 from a Comcast PAC, $20,000 from a cable industry association PAC, and $15,000 from a Verizon PAC,according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Blackburn’s legislation would also wipe out the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband as a common carrier service subject to some of the Title II obligations imposed on wireline telephone and mobile voice. But while Internet providers and some Republicans have claimed to support net neutrality rules while opposing Title II reclassification, this bill would not leave any network neutrality rules in place. That’s not surprising, given that Blackburn has been trying to get rid of net neutrality rules for years.
Over the past year, Internet providers and Republicans have claimed that they are willing to accept the FCC enforcing net neutrality rules without a Title II classification, even though the FCC did just that in 2010 and still faced a lawsuit from Verizon. (Verizon won that lawsuit a year ago, forcing the FCC to reconsider how its net neutrality rules should be justified legally.) One Republican effort announced in January would enforce a version of net neutrality while gutting the FCC’s authority under Title II and Section 706, the latter of which was used by the FCC to preempt state laws that restrict municipal broadband projects. (Blackburn also filed legislation last week to overturn the municipal broadband decision.)
Blackburn’s Internet Freedom Act wouldn’t even enforce a weaker version of net neutrality, consistent with her past proposals. In 2011, she filed an "Internet Freedom Act” that would have struck down the FCC’s original net neutrality rules that were enforced without a Title II reclassification.
In February 2014, long before FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler decided to use Title II, Blackburn introduced another “Internet Freedom Act” that would have prohibited the FCC from issuing any new net neutrality rules.
Blackburn’s announcement yesterday notes that she “has been leading the fight against the Obama Administration’s Net Neutrality regulations since they were first proposed in 2010 by Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski.” Blackburn is Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) have discussed legislation to overturn the FCC’s vote while keeping some version of net neutrality in place, but they haven’t finalized a bill yet. “We don’t really have a Walden bill yet,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who cosponsored Blackburn’s legislation, Politico reported today. The Upton/Thune bill is “just theoretical,” but the Blackburn bill at least has “some language to address what we think is a problem,” Shimkus said.
Upton, the House Energy & Commerce Chairman, told Politico that “there are a lot of people who want a strong expression of opposition to the FCC’s actions, and I expect [the Blackburn bill] will be one of many opportunities to weigh in.“
The full text of the FCC’s net neutrality rules has not yet been finalized. They will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. FCC General Counsel Jon Sallet described the process in ablog post Monday.
FCC ready to defend rules in court
Wheeler is expecting lawsuits, but he believes the commission’s latest rules rest on strong legal authority. The appeals court decision that overturned previous net neutrality rules faulted the FCC for imposing per se common carrier obligations without classifying Internet providers as common carriers. Classifying them as such ”addresses that issue,“ Wheeler said last week.
Internet providers that today claim they would be happy with net neutrality rules that don’t rely on Title II are said to be ”furious“ with Verizon for challenging a weaker set of rules, allowing them to be replaced with stronger ones. AT&T hinted at that displeasure in a blog post that called the 2010 rules "a bipartisan win.”
Back in 2010, AT&T said it preferred to avoid “government intervention” but also praised then FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski “for seeking a fair middle ground.” At the time, AT&T said, “Today’s vote, we trust, will put this issue behind us.” But thanks to Verizon’s intervention, and legislation like Blackburn’s latest Internet Freedom Act, the net neutrality debate is far from over.
Net Neutrality is real. The internet was briefly united by llamas making a run for freedom. Facebook has implemented a tool for suicide prevention and further diversified its gender options by eliminating its preset list and allowing users to type in whatever they’re most comfortable with.