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FCC Vote Kicks Off A Battle Over Regulation Of The Internet

FCC Vote Kicks Off A Battle Over Regulation Of The Internet

The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted yesterday to start undoing a key decision from the Obama era, in a move aimed at easing regulations on internet providers.

Net neutrality rules, which govern whether or not broadband providers are allowed to charge more for certain traffic types than others, have frequently been hailed as essential for maintaining an open internet by digital rights activists. This means they can't block access to any websites or apps, and can't meddle with loading speeds.

The FCC's members voted two-to-one in favour of a review of the rules, which will aim to heavily loosen or abolish numerous protections established under Obama.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants the commission repeal the rules that reclassified Internet service providers as if they were utilities. The Internet Association, whose members include major web companies such as Amazon and Netflix, said it opposes "any changes to FCC regulations governing net neutrality". By Friday morning, the docket showed 2,174,196 comments, though some unknown number of those were duplicates (a thousand or so, for example, were the identical pro-Title II comment from a "Yoni Schwartz", who made it into the "top 10 filing names"). "Except that here, there was no flea".

The net neutrality rules were approved in February 2015 when Republicans were in the commission's minority.

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The process of eliminating net neutrality is officially underway.

According to the FCC's lone Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, the decision to revisit the rules was merely the latest in a broader effort by Republicans to undercut its own mission. "If you unequivocally trust that your broadband provider will always put the public interest, over their self-interest or the interest of their stockholders, then the Destroying Internet Freedom NPRM is for you". The action begins months of consideration leading to a second, conclusive vote after a comment period that ends in August.

Despite seeking public comment on whether to impose new net neutrality rules without the use of Title II, the Republican majority did not propose the use of any specific legal authority that could enforce such rules, she said. Joining the protest were members of advocacy groups including Free Press, the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has said to expect that total to be minuscule compared with this time around, and Schatz was clearly looking for the flood as well. During the 2015 effort to the write the net neutrality rules, more than 4 million comments poured into the agency, a lot of them in support of strict regulations.

Bright-Line Rules: The 2015 Order had also adopted three bright-line rules prohibiting blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Before the Title II reclassification, interconnection disputes were harming the quality of video streaming and other Internet services, but those disputes were quickly resolved once the rules were in place.


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