telecommunications act

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Trump’s FCC chairman announces plans to abandon net neutrality enforcement

  • On Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced a plan to roll back the FCC’s enforcement of net neutrality.
  • Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should provide equal access to all applications of the internet.
  • Pai said he would introduce new rules revoking the 2015 Open Internet Order, according to Gizmodo
  • That order established the principles of the open internet in law and reclassified internet service providers as “common carriers” obligated to provide equal service under the Telecommunications Act.
  • “Two years ago, I warned that we were making a serious mistake,” Pai said at the Newseum in Washington, where he laid out the plan in a speech, according to the New York Times.
  • “It’s basic economics. The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.” Read more (4/26/17 10 PM)

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This is a perfect example of how political discourse and national policy have been moved further and further to the right - by the Republican Party and neoliberals, the Tea Party, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and his group of neo-Nazis trying to rebrand themselves as the Alt-Right.

The idea behind the Overton Window is that you start off by asserting something that was once thought completely unacceptable. Something incredibly wild, like “murder people,” but then a ~reasonable~ voice offers a more centrist idea, a compromise like, “just beat people horribly.” The Overton window normalizes extremism

In the example above, although we haven’t agreed it’s socially acceptable to indiscriminately murder anyone, we have agreed that a more centrist, “reasonable” compromise is to indiscriminately assault people, instead of randomly killing them.

Here’s the secret to fighting fascism and other regressive, conservative, Republican ideas, without being dragged through the Overton Window: Do not debate fascists. Their goal is not to win the debate. It’s to reposition the Overton Window of what is acceptable discourse and therefore, what is acceptable policy. When you engage them in a “let’s hear both sides” debate, they’ve already won because they’ve gotten you to show people it’s okay to consider what they’re proposing.

The problem is aggressors (fascists, racists, neoconservatives, Republicans, etc.) have learned to use politeness as a weapon against the oppressed. We’ve been taught that getting angry is always wrong, and politely listening to absolutely anyone & everyone is always the civilized, and right thing to do. But not everything is up for reasonable debate. And often, anger IS the justified, appropriate response. You do not owe it to racists to hear “their side” when their side is to dehumanize others. You wouldn’t debate a 5-year-old about whether or not they get to take a loaded weapon to school for show-and-tell, and no one owes fascists nationally televised “reasoned” debates on whether or not fascism is acceptable.

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An open letter to Tumblr about Net Neutrality

To Whom it May Concern (which is basically everybody),

As a regular Tumblr user, I was disappointed to see Tumblr’s open support of so-called “Net Neutrality.” I find it terribly ironic that a company which is able to exist solely because of the current state of internet freedom, supports regulation that would essentially hand over internet liberty to the federal government. “Save the Internet”? From what, exactly? Conditions that allowed your company to flourish? How…unselfish of you.

In the spirit of liberty, I celebrate everyone’s right to openly express any opinion, regardless of how much I might disagree with it. That being said, I’d like to exercise my right to free speech by pointing out that your support of “Net Neutrality” is either misguided or intentionally misleading. 

1.  Net Neutrality is a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

Supporters of so-called “Net Neutrality” will tell you that the government needs to have the power to regulate how ISPs prioritize their connection speeds to ensure that they don’t favor one internet user over another. But here’s what they never tell you: It’s a fictitious problem. It only exists theoretically. This, of course, is nothing new. The government is famous for concocting problems that it can only “solve” by assuming more control. Understand, I’m not suggesting that ISPs don’t prioritize connection speeds. They do. But often this is a good thing, not a bad thing. An internet company should be able to prioritize, say, Netflix over CrazyAndSillyCats.com. It only makes sense.

But here’s the rub: it is natural for the free to self-adjust, but history has shown that it is decidedly unnatural for the Federal Government to do so.  If CrazyAndSillyCats.com suddenly becomes an international success, and consumers suddenly demand faster access, they get to vote with their pocketbooks and only the service providers who adjust will succeed. Ten years ago, nobody could have imagined the success that a company like Netflix would have streaming HD movies on demand.  At first, the service was clunky and slow, but now that consumers have demanded the content, ISPs have adjusted and Netflix movies and shows can be streamed without interruption.  The Federal Government is not capable of that kind of rapid adjustment.

2.  Net Neutrality will ultimately lead to censorship.

The only developed countries in the world that do not a have free and open internet are countries where the government will simply not allow it to be free. The internet is censored in China. The internet is censored in Cuba. The internet is censored all over the Middle East. This is something that we in America have never had to fear because the government lacked the legal authority to censor, but by deeming the internet a “public utility,” that’s exactly what would happen. Why would we want to voluntarily give the power to censor to government?

Right now, internet content is free and open and controlled by no one (generally speaking). People can exchange information freely precisely because of the fact that the government doesn’t control it. Users aren’t required to have licenses to post things deemed controversial by those in power. I know, I know…you might think that it’s far fetched to suggest that the federal government would suddenly start blocking certain users from saying certain things online. That’s tinfoil hat stuff. but the truth is, it’s already happening. The FCC censors what can and can’t be said or shown on over-the-air television, radio and satellite mediums because these have been deemed “public utilities.” Why are we so confident that this won’t happen to the internet – with this administration or when a new one comes to power?

Furthermore, in the past, this hasn’t just applied to obscene content, it has applied to political speech as well:

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced.

In other words, every political view shared by every broadcaster had to be monitored and approved by government. This isn’t liberty. On the contrary. Fortunately this terrible law that censored broadcasters has been repealed. Look, if you think the government won’t attempt to regulate political speech (or punish certain behavior or try to control certain behavior) on the internet by fines, selective licensing, or other coercive measures, you’re being short-sighted and utterly naive.

3.  Net Neutrality will usher in internet taxes.

There are some that claim that this isn’t true because taxes aren’t mandated in the FCC regulations, but read the fine print. By changing the classification of the internet, the federal government opens up the possibility of state and local utility taxes, which is, of course, another way of saying that local and state governments will tax the internet (because that’s what governments do. If they can tax it, they will). Here’s one analysis from the Progressive Policy Institute:

By regulating broadband service under Title II…broadband would likely become burdened with a host of new state and local taxes and fees, the kind we pay on our monthly home and/or wireless phone bills. These taxes and fees are normally passed on to consumers; when they rise, consumers end up paying more. Expect the same with broadband.
According to Litan and Singer, these new state and local fees will increase by $15 billion, impacting consumers to varying degrees. The average American household with a fixed broadband connection would pay in the range of an additional $51 to $83 per year, and those with one smartphone or other wireless broadband device (tablet) would pay $72 more annually.

But local taxes aren’t the only ones that will show up on the average consumer’s bill. The FCC has long required fees of all of the entities it regulates in order to support its so-called “Universal Service Fund.” Allow Wikipedia to explain:

The Universal Service Fund (USF) is a system of telecommunications subsidies and fees managed by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) intended to promote universal access to telecommunications services in the United States. The FCC established the fund in 1997 in compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The fund reported a total of $8.33 billion in disbursements in 2013, divided among its four programs. The fund is supported by charging telecommunications companies a fee which is set quarterly. As of the fourth quarter of 2014, the rate is 16.1% of a telecom company’s interstate end-user revenues.

So they won’t tax you, per se. They’ll just charge you fees. Sound familiar?  That’s exactly what happened with Obamacare. They might not call it a “tax,” but make no mistake, getting several billion dollars into Uncle Sam’s pockets is one of the primary reasons for Net Neutrality, not fairness (however that’s defined). New taxes will come if the FCC’s plan comes to fruition. It’s not a question of if, but a question of when.

4. There is no reasonable argument for Net Neutrality.

I’ve seen memes. I’ve seen Facebook posts. I’ve read progressive articles. I’ve listened to progressive politicians. And when it comes to Net Neutrality, they all have the same argument: “We need to #SaveTheInternet from the evil cable companies.” It’s the same tactic that has been used to push through countless other liberty-killing bureaucracies, laws, taxes and regulations: a fear and hatred of corporations. But this is an argument based on emotion and personal bias rather than reason, history, principle or fact.

First of all, as has already been stated, there is no problem. Internet users in America have the ability to blog about whatever they’d like, watch Netflix almost immediately – even on their phones, listen to religious broadcasts, participate in things that some might find offensive, share controversial ideas, criticize government and, yes, even rail against evil corporations. No one is censored. No one is threatened (legally). No one has their rights violated. There is no problem. The government shouldn’t be going around solving problems that don’t exist.

Second, as anyone who is vaguely familiar with economics would surmise, even if a cable company did begin to throttle particular users and allocate resources for reasons other than traffic demand, they would begin losing customers to competitors and the problem would be immediately fixed. That’s how the free market works. It can adjust to market forces and demand instantaneously. The government? Not so much.

Third, not only is there no problem, but the competition in the free marketplace has been an undeniable success. In 1994, there were dial-up modems that supplied internet at a laughable (by today’s standards) 28.8 kbit/s. Now, gigabit connections are available in many communities nationwide. That means that our internet is 35,000 times faster now than it was just two decades ago. No government agency made that happen. The free market did.

Fourth, you may not like them, but corporations do not have the power that government does. Corporations can’t put you in jail. Corporations can’t coerce you. Corporations can’t tax you. Corporations can’t pass regulations that infringe upon your rights in any way. Government, however, can do all of these things. It has the monopoly on force.  If you think dealing with Comcast or ATT is bad, you should be petrified of dealing with the Federal Government.

5. Net Neutrality will create yet another way for corporations to get in bed with politicians.

Everyone claims to hate crony-capitalism, but when we have a real chance to curb corporate influence on government, we rarely take it. In fact, often laws, taxes, regulations and spending projects are initiated, not because they are needed, but because a corporation with powerful lobbyists pays off, bribes, or blackmails politicians to get them passed because they know it will benefit them in some way. And giving the government the power to grant (or not grant) internet licenses will likely cause this problem to increase exponentially.

You might slyly ask why many large ISP companies would be in favor of such a law if it truly will regulate them, raise taxes, take away liberty, usher in unprecedented amounts of red tape and raise the price of virtually everything related to the internet. The answer: The elimination of competition. Why is Amazon in favor of the proposed internet tax that they’ll have to pay? Is it because Amazon is so noble that it is just chomping at the bit to build more roads and bridges? Hardly. It’s because Amazon knows that its smaller competition couldn’t possibly afford to compete with its deep pockets and they would eventually go out of business. It’s not all cupcakes and rainbows when the government and corporations mix. I regularly hear people of all political stripes decry the cozy relationship that corporations have with politicians, and rightly so. So why would we want to encourage it?

6. Net Neutrality takes away liberty.

You may hate corporations. More specifically, you may hate cable companies and ISPs. That’s super. Good for you. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t (or shouldn’t) have the right to run their businesses as they see fit. Please understand, if they violate the Constitutional rights of someone, then they should face consequences. No question about it. But apart from that, they, like everyone else, should be allowed to conduct business without the thumb of government on them.

The vast majority of the time, people enter into contracts with ISPs for their internet service. These contracts generally outline the pricing structure, define the terms of service and often lock a user in for a limited time. But notice, the ISPs don’t come to anyone’s house, hold a gun to their head and force them to sign anything. These people enter into binding contracts of their own free will. And, a person who enters into a binding contract is obligated to abide by the terms of that contract, plain and simple. If they don’t have to abide by them, then what’s the point of the contract? And if the two entities agree that an ISP has the right to allocate bandwidth, then the ISP has the right to allocate bandwidth. No need for government intervention.

There are some who would argue that as long as communication companies receive special privileges, tax breaks and, in some cases, subsidies from the government, they need to be regulated. I could not agree more. This is why we need to eliminate these special considerations for all companies, regardless of the type of business they conduct. Just as all people should have exactly the same rights, companies should be treated exactly the same by all governing bodies.

Furthermore, I personally want my ISP to be able to be able to allocate bandwidth as it sees fit. I would expect that a large telecommunications company would know the most efficient way to serve its customers, including me. Think about it, supporters of these regulations are demanding that it be illegal for me to enter into a private contract with a company that might prioritize bandwidth. Even if I want to. Again, this isn’t liberty. It should never be illegal for two consenting entities to enter into contracts with one another. But it seems that it has become impossible for most people to separate the things they don’t like from the things that they believe should be illegal.

7.   Net Neutrality is nothing but a usurpation of power.

For some reason, there is a belief among millions of Americans that, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, the federal government generally has the best interest of the American people at heart. I’m not sure how this belief system got started, but it is astounding how prevalent it is. But at best, the government is made up of imperfect people who want to get reelected. At worst (which is unfortunately the most common state) it is made of up of power-hungry bureaucrats hell-bent on gaining control of every aspect of our lives. Liberty (or even pragmatism) is rarely, if ever, the goal. Power is. And they’ll bribe, lie, get in bed with corporations, backstab and blackmail to get it. Whatever gets the job done.

Again, I ask you not to be naive. It kills the statists in Washington that the government doesn’t control our internet communication. After all, one of the planks of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto is to centralize the means of communication in the hands of the state. That’s precisely what this is. No, I’m not suggesting that supporters of this law sleep with copies of Communist Manifesto under their pillows at night, but this belief that the government is good and that the private sector is bad is instinctual to statists. It’s something they all have in common, by definition. Perhaps every American politician until the end of time will be noble and honorable and Net Neutrality will never be used in a sinister way at all. But maybe it will. Why would we risk it?

8.  Net Neutrality should be abhorrent to Liberals and Conservatives (and everyone else too!)

Up to this point, most of the vocal opposition to Net Neutrality has come from conservatives and libertarians. However, there was a time in the not-so-distant past when anyone who called themselves a “liberal” would be automatically and unequivocally opposed to any proposal that might give government the power to regulate speech or any other form of communication. Those days are gone. Liberals, those who once supported liberty in all forms, especially in regards to speech, are now eager to grant virtually unlimited regulatory power to a small panel of unelected bureaucrats, all under the guise of keeping the internet “neutral” – a term that seems more closely to resemble the Newspeak of George Orwell’s 1984 than something heard in The United States of America.

Tumblr, I implore you to reexamine your views on Net Neutrality. Or, at least admit that there might be a few reasonable arguments against it. You have thousands and thousands of users with political views all over the map. Please don’t continue to alienate those with whom you disagree by publicly taking sides on such a controversial issue.

Ted Cruz responded to something I sent him about internet regulation and

“Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding Internet freedom. Input from my constituents significantly informs my decision-making and empowers me to better represent the state.

The FCC’s Title II reclassification of the Internet as a public utility is an antiquated regulatory approach intended to regulate technology that has long since left the marketplace, such as the rotary phone.  If we want to ensure an open Internet, we should not leave it up to unelected regulators, but should welcome an open debate in Congress.

It has been nearly two decades since Congress last updated our communications laws, and technology has changed dramatically within that time. No one in 1996 could have imagined a world in which the iPhone existed or that streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube would consume close to half of the Internet’s bandwidth. And regulators should not be the arbiter of innovation.

Congress wrote the Telecommunications Act of 1996 - not the FCC - and it should be the responsibility of this body to review it and ensure that the existing framework still addresses the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me. Please feel free to contact me in the future about any issue important to you or your family. It is an honor to serve you and the people of Texas.”


….idk exactly what he means.

President Obama is urging the Federal Communications Commission to protect net neutrality. Read his statement on keeping the internet open and free:

An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.

“Net neutrality” has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

When I was a candidate for this office, I made clear my commitment to a free and open Internet, and my commitment remains as strong as ever. Four years ago, the FCC tried to implement rules that would protect net neutrality with little to no impact on the telecommunications companies that make important investments in our economy. After the rules were challenged, the court reviewing the rules agreed with the FCC that net neutrality was essential for preserving an environment that encourages new investment in the network, new online services and content, and everything else that makes up the Internet as we now know it. Unfortunately, the court ultimately struck down the rules — not because it disagreed with the need to protect net neutrality, but because it believed the FCC had taken the wrong legal approach.

The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone. I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online. The rules I am asking for are simple, common-sense steps that reflect the Internet you and I use every day, and that some ISPs already observe. These bright-line rules include:

  • No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
  • No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
  • Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
  • No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.

If carefully designed, these rules should not create any undue burden for ISPs, and can have clear, monitored exceptions for reasonable network management and for specialized services such as dedicated, mission-critical networks serving a hospital. But combined, these rules mean everything for preserving the Internet’s openness.

The rules also have to reflect the way people use the Internet today, which increasingly means on a mobile device. I believe the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks.

To be current, these rules must also build on the lessons of the past. For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business. That is why a phone call from a customer of one phone company can reliably reach a customer of a different one, and why you will not be penalized solely for calling someone who is using another provider. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call, or a packet of data.

So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies.

Investment in wired and wireless networks has supported jobs and made America the center of a vibrant ecosystem of digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity. Importantly, network investment remained strong under the previous net neutrality regime, before it was struck down by the court; in fact, the court agreed that protecting net neutrality helps foster more investment and innovation. If the FCC appropriately forbears from the Title II regulations that are not needed to implement the principles above — principles that most ISPs have followed for years — it will help ensure new rules are consistent with incentives for further investment in the infrastructure of the Internet.

The Internet has been one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known. The FCC was chartered to promote competition, innovation, and investment in our networks. In service of that mission, there is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet. I thank the Commissioners for having served this cause with distinction and integrity, and I respectfully ask them to adopt the policies I have outlined here, to preserve this technology’s promise for today, and future generations to come.

Protesters will gather outside the White House and in a dozen US cities on Thursday to demonstrate against a “hybrid” solution now being considered to end a stalemate over regulating the internet.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently redrawing its rules for regulating the internet after a series of court defeats at the hands of cable and telecoms companies that effectively hamstrung its ability to oversee the industry.

Protests are planned in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, on Las Vegas’s boulevard, Federal Plaza in Chicago and at the headquarters of Comcast, the largest cable company, in Philadelphia.

“What President Obama’s FCC chair is reportedly pushing is not a compromise, it’s a sham. Nearly four million internet users submitted comments to the FCC against having fast and slow lanes on the internet, but this proposal explicitly opens the door for them. Worse, it’s based in overly complicated and untested legal theories that are likely to fail in court,” said Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future which is organising the campaign alongside Popular Resistance, Free Press and Reddit.

Cable and telecoms companies are pushing for the ability to be able to create “fast lanes” for high volume customers, like Netflix, that would charge more money for the bandwidth they consume. But opponents fear such a move would effectively kill “net neutrality” – the principle that all traffic online should be treated equally.

The FCC has been inundated with comments as it has weighed its options. A record 3.7m were sent to the regulator, at one point crashing the FCC’s systems. The Sunlight Foundation analysed the first 800,000 and found that fewer than 1% were opposed to net neutrality enforcement.

The “hybrid” proposal now under consideration has not been finalised but according to media leaks and discussions with interested parties they would expand the FCC’s powers to regulate broadband while also allowing a carve out for cable providers to charge more money for fast lanes.

Net neutrality’s defenders want the internet to be regulated under Title II of the Communications Act – a move that would classify the service as a “common carrier” and give the FCC the power to stop cable companies introducing “unreasonable discrimination” and ensure they work “in the public interest”. Cable companies argue such a move would hamper innovation by tying the industry in red tape.

The FCC has also considered using Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which is less stringent in its language and enforces the regulator’s powers to “promote competition” and “remove barriers” to investment. In January Verizon successfully challenged the FCC’s power to use Section 706 to justify anti-discrimination rules in a ruling that led to the current regulatory malaise.

The hybrid solution, which may be presented to the FCC at a meeting on 11 December, is likely to use both pieces of legislation as the regulator struggles to reconcile the powerful telecom and cable industry lobby and its numerous and vociferous opponents.

The picture has become more complicated now that the Republicans have taken control of Congress after the midterm elections. Proposals for more regulation will face tougher opposition come January when the Republicans take control.

Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, a consumer advocacy group that has called for full Title II reclassification of the internet, said: “This proposal divides up the internet in a way that is highly theoretical and not based in the law.”

“We are very skeptical that it would work. It’s troubling in a lot of ways: it’s bad politics, bad policy and bad law,” he said.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/05/net-neutrality-protest-hybrid-fcc-solution

BREAKING: FCC Chairman @TomWheelerFCC pens op-ed in WIRED explaining plan for ensuring net neutrality

After more than a decade of debate and a record-setting proceeding that attracted nearly 4 million public comments, the time to settle the Net Neutrality question has arrived. This week, I will circulate to the members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed new rules to preserve the internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression. This proposal is rooted in long-standing regulatory principles, marketplace experience, and public input received over the last several months.

Broadband network operators have an understandable motivation to manage their network to maximize their business interests. But their actions may not always be optimal for network users. The Congress gave the FCC broad authority to update its rules to reflect changes in technology and marketplace behavior in a way that protects consumers. Over the years, the Commission has used this authority to the public’s great benefit.

The internet wouldn’t have emerged as it did, for instance, if the FCC hadn’t mandated open access for network equipment in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network. The modems that enabled the internet were usable only because the FCC required the network to be open.

Companies such as AOL were able to grow in the early days of home computing because these modems gave them access to the open telephone network.

I personally learned the importance of open networks the hard way. In the mid-1980s I was president of a startup, NABU: The Home Computer Network. My company was using new technology to deliver high-speed data to home computers over cable television lines. Across town Steve Case was starting what became AOL. NABU was delivering service at the then-blazing speed of 1.5 megabits per second—hundreds of times faster than Case’s company. “We used to worry about you a lot,” Case told me years later.

But NABU went broke while AOL became very successful. Why that is highlights the fundamental problem with allowing networks to act as gatekeepers.

While delivering better service, NABU had to depend on cable television operators granting access to their systems. Steve Case was not only a brilliant entrepreneur, but he also had access to an unlimited number of customers nationwide who only had to attach a modem to their phone line to receive his service. The phone network was open whereas the cable networks were closed. End of story.

The phone network’s openness did not happen by accident, but by FCC rule. How we precisely deliver that kind of openness for America’s broadband networks has been the subject of a debate over the last several months.

Originally, I believed that the FCC could assure internet openness through a determination of “commercial reasonableness” under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While a recent court decision seemed to draw a roadmap for using this approach, I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers.

That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.

Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.

All of this can be accomplished while encouraging investment in broadband networks. To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling. Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules, proving that modernized Title II regulation can encourage investment and competition.

Congress wisely gave the FCC the power to update its rules to keep pace with innovation. Under that authority my proposal includes a general conduct rule that can be used to stop new and novel threats to the internet. This means the action we take will be strong enough and flexible enough not only to deal with the realities of today, but also to establish ground rules for the as yet unimagined.

The internet must be fast, fair and open. That is the message I’ve heard from consumers and innovators across this nation. That is the principle that has enabled the internet to become an unprecedented platform for innovation and human expression. And that is the lesson I learned heading a tech startup at the dawn of the internet age. The proposal I present to the commission will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future, for all Americans. [WIRED]

theverge.com
We won the internet back

And we did. The FCC’s move to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act is a wonky legal maneuver — when I talk to people in Washington, they’re amazed that so many people throughout the country know what it is and have demanded it so loudly. And it was demanded, and loudly: the FCC’s computers crashed multiple times under the commenting load, John Oliver sent the entire agency into a tizzy, and eventually the president stepped in to reassure the people that they had been heard. Just a few months ago the FCC was still figuring out how to allow fast lanes and slow lanes, and the internet protested again — this time through newly motivated tech companies and an entirely new constellation of advocacy groups dedicated to preserving the open internet.

That’s worth repeating: the hundreds of thousands of people who called and emailed and wrote to the FCC and their elected officials over the past year demanding that the government protect the internet were actually heard. Sometimes the system does work.