FCC releases final version of proposal to end net neutrality

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The FCC has released the final version of its proposal to kill net neutrality. The full document is almost 200 pages long, so it will take some time for everyone to go through it all. So far, it is clear that the Commission is depriving itself of the powers that allow it to control ISPs in the name of more investment. The Commission also believes that there should be no concerns about poor ISP behavior, as there are federal consumer protection and antitrust laws that could be used for these issues.

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The proposal calls the landmark 2015 net neutrality decision a “legally flawed approach”. Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, also wants to reclassify broadband internet service as an information service, not a public service. “In the communications industry, incumbents have often used Commission regulation under the guidance of ‘public interest’ to thwart innovation and competitive entry into the sector and to protect existing market structures.” , indicates the proposal.

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“Given the unknown needs of the networks of the future, we are determined that the utility-type regulations potentially imposed by Title II are contrary to the public interest.”

This means that if this proposal is approved in December, the Title II regulations will no longer apply. The new proposal also allows internet providers to introduce fast lanes and kill startups that are unable to pay for those lanes. Pai argues that these small tech companies can fight such issues under federal antitrust laws or consumer rights. The Commission actually suggests that startups could even benefit from these fast lanes because they could demand more money from their investors.

“Additionally, these small edge providers may benefit from tiered pricing, such as premium tiering, as a means of entry,” the proposal says. “New economy startups have demonstrated that capital markets are ready to provide funds for potentially profitable ideas.”

Under this new proposal, broadband companies with monopoly powers can prioritize their own services and products and block any competitive content. According to the Commission’s own data shared in 2016, 51% of Americans have only one choice of broadband service and 38% have only two choices. In such a market, it would be impossible for a user to simply switch to a better option.

The only thing the new proposal keeps from the existing net neutrality rules is that ISPs publicly disclose when they engage in any of the above cases.

The FTC will be the responsible body

The Commission also transfers the application of the rules from itself to the Federal Trade Commission. “By restoring the classification of broadband Internet access service information services, we are returning jurisdiction to regulate the privacy and security of broadband data to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC),” the proposal states. “Restoring the FTC’s jurisdiction over ISPs will allow the FTC to apply its vast expertise in privacy and data security to provide the consistent online privacy protections that consumers expect and deserve. “

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The application of the rules becomes complicated under the commercial authority because it only transmits the complaints to the courts. The former FCC chairman previously warned that replacing the FCC with a more lenient FTC would not be enough to keep ISPs under control. The FTC “has executive power, not regulatory power,” former chairman Tom Wheeler said earlier this year. “They can say ‘we think this is an unfair and deceptive act or practice’, but they can’t say ‘this is how networks have to work to be fast, fair and open’.”

US Comcasts will be able to block BitTorrents from the Internet

When Comcast began discriminating against online content in 2008, an Associated Press report and a subsequent campaign by the Electronic Frontier Foundation prompted the agency to prevent Comcast from blocking BitTorrent on its network. The ISP interfered with “certain types of traffic on its network” including, but not limited to BitTorrent.

Under the new proposal, the FCC will have no power to prevent Comcast and other ISPs from blocking what they wish to block. The proposal suggests that companies can challenge these cases under – again – antitrust or consumer laws on a case-by-case basis. However, as The Verge notes, it does not say exactly who “would bring this action against Comcast and bear the costs.” Would it be BitTorrent or FTC users?

While Pai has continued to say over the past few months that nothing was right with the internet until 2015, when the net neutrality rules were passed, a lot of things actually happened that eventually gave way to those rules. Since its inception, Internet access has been guided by the principle of freedom and non-interference. Once ISPs began to interfere with apps and content, it became essential for the government to enforce measures that put an end to such discriminatory behavior. The government imposed merger conditions (now removed by Pai) and introduced enforceable rules.

The goal has remained the same: no one should be able to decide what the consumer sees on the Internet. ISPs shouldn’t be able to pick winners and losers by promoting some content and blocking the rest. However, that will all change when these new rules are approved.

FCC ignored public comments on net neutrality

Before repealing these rules, which were adopted after “real” problems began to arise with the unlimited powers available to ISPs, the Commission was also required to seek public comment, which it did. He now says more than 7 million out of 21 million comments were “bogus” and had reported a DDoS attack during the comment period.

However, it is unclear why the Commission is not providing any evidence or providing access to the systems as New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has continued to offer assistance. GA’s office during investigation contacted FCC at least 9 times over 5 months but received no response from the Commission.

It remains clear that the agency is unwilling to take into account what the public wants. In the end, nothing can potentially be done after the approval of this new proposal (full text), but the Americans have until mid-December to call their representatives. The vote will take place in public session on December 14.

Relevant: Ajit Pai continues to work for ISPs – Senate votes to rescind FCC privacy protections


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