Tag Archives: Net-neutrality

Jason Stapleton: Net Neutrality Expands; Equality to Trump Freedom

On today’s show Jason will be talking about Net Neutrality.  Let us know your thoughts on Net Neutrality in the comments.

The Jason Stapleton Program is live from 11:05 am to noon eastern. Enjoy replays from earlier episodes before and after the live show. You can also find recorded episodes on iTunes.

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Congressional Republicans Move To Override FCC Net Neutrality Rules

By Giuseppe Macri 

Republicans in the House of Representatives this week made a legislative move to override the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules.

Fourteen Republicans, led by Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, filed a resolution disapproving of new FCC regulations banning Internet service providers (ISPs) from segregating Web traffic based on speed and price, which they argue threatens industry innovation and expansion. (RELATED: FCC Votes In Favor Of Net Neutrality)

“Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of protecting and promoting the open Internet,” the eight-line resolution reads. “[A]nd such rule shall have no force or effect.”

Under the Congressional Review Act, the resolution can be brought directly to the floor for votes on both sides of Congress and bypass the threat of a filibuster by Democrats in the Senate.

“The agency is stretching old definitions to fit its regulatory agenda,” Collins, who serves as vice-chair of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, said in a statement Monday describing the new FCC regulations scheduled to take effect in June.

Under the regulations, ISPs are essentially reclassified as public utilities and subject to authority granted in Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act — authority based on that used to regulate the Bell telephone monopoly and open up telecommunications competition in 1934.

“Only businesses with the greatest resources will survive Washington, D.C.’s latest bureaucratic expansion into a growing and dynamic industry, particularly mobile broadband.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, along with Democrats in both chambers, believe those rules are necessary in order to safeguard Internet content creators and users from paying higher prices for acceptable service speeds and unsegregated traffic.

Pro-net neutrality advocates argue the need for such rules was made apparent in deals brokered between Netflix, AT&T and Verizon last year, in which the video streaming website agreed to pay more after alleging both companies were intentionally throttling its transmission speeds to users.

“My House colleagues and I want a free and open Internet, one that increases access and participation, but legislating solutions needs to happen in public, in the halls of Congress,” Collins said.

Other resolution co-sponsors include Reps. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Steve Chabot and Bob Latta of Ohio, Lynn Westmoreland, Rick Allen, Barry Loudermilk and Buddy Carter of Georgia, Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, Bill Posey, Vern Buchanan and Dennis Ross of Florida, Ryan Zinke of Montana and Sam Johnson and Ted Poe of Texas.

Though a Republican majority in both houses could pass the measure, the bill would likely be dead on arrival to the President Obama’s desk. Prior to Wheeler’s announcement of the new rules in February, Obama called on the agency to implement Title II authority over broadband and wireless providers last November.

Republicans in the Senate led by Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune are working on their own legislative solution to peel back Title II reclassification, while setting up the many of the protections called for by net neutrality advocates, including bans on content blocking, throttling and higher-priced service speeds. The bill has yet to draw any Democratic co-sponsors. (RELATED: Republicans Are Not Giving Up The Net Neutrality Fight)

The agency’s new rules were officially published in the Federal Register on Monday, setting off a countdown to their official implementation on June 12. on the same day, USTelecom filed the first of many legal challenges expected from industry trade groups and service providers, which seeks a repeal of the rules based on the assertion that the FCC’s reclassification violates federal law.

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FCC reclassifies the internet, approves net neutrality rules

The Federal Communications Commission has just approved their plan for net neutrality, which also reclassifies broadband Internet as a public utility.

Under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the reclassification of the internet as a public utility allows the FCC to place regulations on Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon. These regulations would mandate these service providers to transmit all Internet content at the same speed, regardless of what interests are involved, according to Newsweek.

According to engadget, the FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, said, “It [the internet] is our printing press; it is our town square; it is our individual soap box and our shared platform for opportunity… That is why open internet policies matter. That is why I support network neutrality.”

Net neutrality, also known as open Internet, is an idea which says all Internet networks and content are equally available to all legal content generators, according to USA Today. Therefore, a practice called “paid prioritization” which results in ISPs showing preference towards companies who pay more for higher transmission speed of content, would be illegal.

The new reclassification also affects wireless data providers. The new plan places similar regulations on phone companies as those placed on other ISPs.

However, some people have spoken out against the new net neutrality plan.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president-external and legislative affairs, said, “What doesn’t make sense, and has never made sense, is to take a regulatory framework developed for Ma Bell in the 1930s and make her great grandchildren, with technologies and options undreamed of eighty years ago, live under it.”

Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai said, according to FOX News, the plan represents a shift of power to allow the government to control the internet. Pai also warned the new plan would result in intended and unintended consequences, such as rate regulations. “The order explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes… Read my lips: More new taxes are coming. It’s just a matter of when.”

The FCC has said the new regulations will be posted online soon and will be published in the Federal Register. The new regulations will also go into affect 60 days after their publication.

Ben Swann Talks With David Christopher About FCC’s New “Net Neutrality” Proposal

David Christopher of OpenMedia.org appeared on Ben Swann’s radio program to talk about net neutrality and the widely debated issue of the future of unconstrained internet. New media, as opposed to traditional print and television media owned by large corporations, heavily relies on the internet to disseminate information. Much of new media is run by small, independent companies.

The value of people being able to connect freely and quickly to one another using the internet is astounding, and Christopher said this is the basis of the recent surge in independent media. More people have the power to choose their sources of information than ever before. Christopher noted that there is a level of distrust in mainstream media due to the fact that many of the large media companies are owned by even larger telecommunication companies that provide internet service.

Christopher told Swann that on May 15th, the FCC will consider a proposal being pushed by large telecommunication companies to transfer control of internet content speed to the telecommunication companies. The FCC is discussing allowing internet service providers to charge more to content providers for faster delivery of their internet content. “The telecoms basically want to create an internet slow lane for everyone who can’t afford to pay these kind of ridiculous new fees that they’re proposing,” said Christopher. He added that this proposal will have a “terrible effect” on independent media companies.

Ben asked Christopher about this “slow lane/fast lane” FCC proposal. Christopher clarified that this proposal places burden on content producers (independent media for example) to pay more money for their content to be streamed faster. Companies that could not afford the extra cost of putting their content in the “fast lane” would be doomed to have it instead placed in the “slow lane” where transmission of the content would be much slower. Christopher explained that real net neutrality is the state of all content being treated equally; that all videos and news items have the same right, whether it comes from an independent source or a corporate-controlled source such as NBC or CNN, to travel through networks at the same speed.

“It’s simply a matter of fairness at the end of the day,” Christopher said. “It’s a matter of freedom. Because if you’re sitting at home, you want your media content from an independent outlet, you should have the right to access that content on the same basis as you would any media from the big guys.”

If the FCC proposals pass, Christopher says this will be a step backwards, making the use of internet more costly. He referred to Netflix, a large company that uses a massive amount of internet traffic. While Netflix can afford the cost of using the “fast lane”, that cost will be passed down to customers. “That’s why so many are saying this is a terrible idea, from right across the political spectrum as well, this is one of those issues that is not a left and right sort of thing,” he said, adding that the only huge push for the FCC proposal is coming from the “giant telecom conglomerates, and they’re pretty powerful.” Christopher expressed concern that these telecommunication giants have an enormous amount of influence on politics.

Swann and Christopher discussed the possibility of internet providers packaging internet content the way that cable companies create television programming bundles. Christopher said that experts agree that the internet could follow the same pattern as cable companies, where the choices of content are narrow. “It really takes all the power away from the customers, hands it over to the big telecom companies and it’s going to stifle free speech, it’s going to stifle freedom, and it’s also going to stifle innovation,” mentioning that any startup wanting to be the “next Netflix” or “next Facebook” would have a difficult time getting off the ground without equal access to all internet content.

Christoper told Swann that the goal of Open Media is to encourage people to “raise their voices” to try to ensure that politicians listen to citizens first, rather than the giant telecommunication companies. He said that protesters have been camped outside the FCC building in Washington for over a week, and their organization is “piling on the pressure” in hopes that the FCC will listen to individual citizens.

On Open Media’s website, openmedia.org/slowlane, people can add their name and Open Media will transfer the message to directly to the FCC. Christopher said these next few hours are vital to make individual voices heard by the FCC.

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LOTFI: Obama administration moves to virtually kill the internet?

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2014– Reports have been circulating that the Obama administration is trying to destroy the internet by killing off net-neutrality. In order to see if the claims check out, you need to meet Tom Wheeler. Just who is Tom Wheeler? If you credit Kathleen Sebelius with the death of the American healthcare system, you could soon credit Wheeler with the death of the internet, or at the very least, as we know it to be now. The Obama administration’s supposed plan is an innate result of crony corporatism and could well be their next big lie.

In November, 2013, President Obama appointed Wheeler to head-up the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). First, never mind that Wheeler raised more than $700,000 for Obama’s two elections.

Second, never mind that 2007 presidential candidate Obama made a solemn promise to protect internet neutrality while visiting Google headquarters in California.

“We have to ensure free and open exchange of information. That starts with an open internet. I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality. Because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose. The internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way.”

That promise is starting to sound a lot like Obama’s, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.” You know, the promise that won PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year.  Considering the current moves, the administration’s audacity to leave this net-neutrality campaign video posted on their official YouTube account is astonishingly insulting to proponents of net-neutrality.

Finally, never mind that Wheeler is a former cable and internet lobbyist giant. You know, one of those lobbyists that candidate Obama swore to never hire if he was elected. For decades, Wheeler is credited with lobbying for “deregulation” of the industry.

Is it not peculiar Obama would tap a man, the very man that supposedly wanted to deregulate the cable and internet industry, to lead the massive federal bureaucracy that regulates that very industry?

It’s not as strange as one may think. Two types of “small government” lobbyists exist. One truly wants the government out of everything. The other uses the government to deregulate his own business, while simultaneously lobbying for regulation or unfair disadvantages on competitors, which is often done under the guise consumer protectionism, or blatant corporate protectionism [Enter Wheeler].

So, what is net-neutrality or “open internet”?  In layman’s terms, net-neutrality is actually a government regulation pressed on internet service providers (ISPs). The regulation seeks to ensure that all ISPs enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and do so without favoring or blocking particular websites and products.

When approached from an economic vantage point, net-neutrality, in its most basic definition, actually inhibits the ISP free-market.

In most cases, those in favor of small government and free-markets would likely champion such deregulation. Meanwhile, those in favor of market regulation point to fears of censorship.

For example, an ISP like Comcast could limit its end-user subscribers’ ability to access BenSwann.com if it wanted to increase traffic (revenue) to a news website the company owned (MSNBC), or it could begin downgrading BenSwann.com’s connection quality if a friendly competitor like TheBlaze.com was willing to pay higher fees to knock out the competition.

The question we must ask is as follows: Does this deregulation actually move towards a more free marketplace? In this case, probably not. These corporatist giants have used the government to secure no bid contracts, geographical subscriber exclusivity and more. The companies are now formed into a government sponsored quasi-monopoly. This is corporatism- not free-market capitalism.

Last January, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FCC could not regulate net-neutrality. According to the Court plurality, the FCC lacked “regulatory jurisdiction” under the provided framework. Appellant Verizon seems to win the day. Net-neutrality is dead.

However, the Court left a loophole by stating that the FCC could rewrite the rules under a more acceptable framework.

“I intend to accept that invitation by proposing rules that will meet the court’s test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among Internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how Internet Service Providers manage traffic, and enhancing competition,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Preserving the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace is an important responsibility of this agency.”

But wait, isn’t Wheeler against net-neutrality and in favor of helping his old employers out? That’s what many headlines are reporting, and here is where things get confusing.

If one was to read the Verizon v. FCC case, it seems as though the FCC was trying to protect net-neutrality all along, and the Court ruled in favor of the corporations instead. Obama’s promise upheld. Right? After all, the administration can’t necessarily control what the Court says.

However, the Court gave the FCC the go-ahead to write rules under a new framework. Rather than continue and try to protect net-neutrality, reports now insinuate that the administration will re-write the rules to instead favor the giant ISPs Wheeler lobbied on behalf of for decades.

It is possible that the Verizon v. FCC case was a test case. Many such cases have been brought forth throughout the history of the federal judiciary. The goal of a test case is to figure out just what will be tolerated and in what way. Sometimes we know immediately whether or not a case is a test. However, it sometimes takes decades until such cases are exposed. In most all cases, the federal Court system now creates new tests, frameworks, and alternative ways for which a law or rule could be considered constitutional, or in this instance, within regulatory jurisdiction. This is one way the Court illegally legislates from the bench. The goal of such a test case could have been to get the Court to define ways to incorporate corporate protectionism into the FCC rules. Of course, at this time, this is only speculation. However, it would help to explain what happened next.

According to multiple reports, the FCC is playing a game of Orwellian semantics. While the commission maintains it is protecting net-neutrality, the reports show the new rules could kill net-neutrality by allowing ISPs to create a “fast lane internet”. The possibility of fast lane internet being incorporated into the new FCC rules validates the concerns of net-neutrality proponents.

Although the Court has already ruled that the FCC could not enforce net-neutrality, it seems as though Wheeler’s FCC is now attempting to use the Court’s new framework to write such protection into the actual FCC rules. This could allow ISPs an added layer of protection by throwing the weight of federal regulation on top of the Court’s ruling.

The new rules won’t be fully released until mid-May. For now, all is speculation.

Meanwhile, to fill in the gaps while we wait for new rules to be fully released, one should follow the money.

COMCAST

Brian Roberts, Comcast CEO, is good friends with Obama. He is regularly invited to the White House and has been golfing with Obama. In fact, Roberts even served on Obama’s jobs council. Comcast Vice President David Cohen has raised more than $2.2 million for Obama’s elections since 2007. Since 2008, Comcast has spent more than $91.2 million lobbying the government. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that Comcast is the parent company of the hard left-leaning Obama mouthpiece known as NBC Universal which operates the MSNBC cable news station.

TIME WARNER CABLE (TWC)

In 2008, TWC donated $618k to Obama’s election. In 2012, they donated $422k.  Since 2008, TWC has spent more than $25.5 million lobbying the government.

VERIZON

In 2008, Verizon donated more than $218k to Obama’s campaign. In 2012, Verizon donated $224k to Obama’s reelection campaign. Since 2008, Verizon has spent more than $97 million lobbying the government.

AT&T

In total, At&T has given Obama more than $484k for his two elections. The company has spent more than $30 million lobbying the government since 2008.

COX ENTERPRISES 

In 2008, Cox donated $64k to Obama’s campaign. In 2012, the group donated more than $47k. Since 2008, the group has spent more than $28 million lobbying the government.

Together, these five companies represent the top five ISPs in the country. They also represent Obama’s top donors. With Wheeler driving the FCC and Obama’s top campaign donors pulling the puppet strings, it is hard to imagine the administration actually fighting to maintain net-neutrality.

Government sanctioned neutrality is parallel to government sanctioned equality. Backlash and economic dead weight loss are the byproducts of such interference. With the ensuing death of net-neutrality, many are asking a similar question. Will it kill the internet? Doubtful. However, the government sponsored ISP quasi monopoly makes it too soon to tell.

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