]]>

Net Neutrality FCC Vote Today December 14, 2017

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by hmscott, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Senate Dems searching for one last vote to revive FCC's net neutrality rules
    Kevin Breuninger Published 4 Hours Ago Updated 3 Hours Ago
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/16/all...port-net-neutrality-bringing-total-to-50.html

    "Forty-nine Democrats and independents in the Senate plan to co-sponsor Sen. Ed Markey's legislation undoing the FCC's repeal of net neutrality.
    Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced her support of Markey's bill earlier this month.
    But the chances of the bill passing the House, or being signed by a president who doesn't support net neutrality, are extremely slim."
    104948064-GettyImages-902992520.1910x1000.jpg
    Getty Images
    Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (L) is flanked by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)while speaking about a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would undo action by the FCC and restore the 2015 net neutrality rules, on Capitol Hill January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.

    "Half the Senate plans to support a bill reversing the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of so-called net neutrality rules.

    The new tally, revealed in a press release from Senate Democrats on Tuesday, brings the total number of declared votes against the FCC's recent action to 50 — a dead-even split in the chamber. Just one more vote would be enough to pass Democratic Sen. Ed Markey's bill in the Senate, which if made law would effectively restore Obama-era rules on internet service providers.

    Markey's bill, if passed, would be a blow to a Trump administration seesawing between inflections of populist empathy and often starkly unpopular conservative policy.

    But even if the bill does pass the Senate, it's still a long way off from becoming law.

    The bill would also need a majority in the House, where Republicans command more seats. Whereas Republican control of the Senate has slimmed to a razor-thin majority of 51 seats, the GOP boasts 239 out of 435 spots in the House.

    And, of course, the bill would need to be signed by President Donald Trump, who holds the constitutional power to veto any legislation that crosses his desk.

    The chances of either event occurring are vanishingly small, despite net neutrality's relative popularity.

    While net neutrality rules lost significant support in the months leading up to the FCC's repeal, Americans who favored the rules still strongly outnumbered those who opposed them. Some 52 percent of registered voters favored net neutrality, compared with 18 percent in opposition,according to a November poll from Morning Consult and Politico.

    All 47 Senate Democrats — and both independent senators — are planning to co-sponsor the legislation, according to the press release. Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced her support of Markey's legislation earlier this month.

    "When we force a vote on this bill, Republicans in Congress will — for the first time — have the opportunity to right the administration's wrong and show the American people whose side they're on: big ISPs and major corporations or consumers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in December struck down the 2015 rules, which prohibited internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast or AT&T from slowing traffic to certain websites."
     
  2. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal
    By Harper Neidig - 01/16/18 03:53 PM EST
    http://thehill.com/policy/technology/369203-states-sue-fcc-over-net-neutrality-repeal

    "Twenty-two state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the agency's repeal of its net neutrality rules.

    “An open internet — and the free exchange of ideas it allows — is critical to our democratic process,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said in a statement. “The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers — allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online."

    The lawsuit was filed Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

    The FCC voted last month to scrap the Obama-era rules governing how internet service providers handle web traffic, sparking intense backlash.

    The state officials were joined by the web company Mozilla and consumer groups including Public Knowledge in petitioning the court. They argued the FCC's move was "arbitrary and capricious" and violated the Administrative Procedures Act.

    The Obama-era rules prohibited internet service providers from blocking or throttling legitimate traffic or creating fast lanes for websites to buy.

    Republicans like FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argue the rules were heavy-handed and unnecessary and that antitrust and consumer protection laws already on the books are sufficient to prevent broadband companies from abusing their power.

    But net neutrality supporters say the rules are essential to maintaining a level playing field on the internet.

    “Internet access is a utility — just like water and electricity," Xavier Becerra, California's Democratic attorney general, said in a statement. "And every consumer has a right to access online content without interference or manipulation by their internet service provider."

    "However, in repealing the net neutrality rules, the FCC ignored consumers’ strong support for a free and open internet,” he added.

    A spokeswoman for Pai declined to comment on the lawsuit.

    The FCC's move is now being fought in the courts and in Congress. The lawsuit comes on the same day that Senate Democrats announced that they need just one more Republican to back a bill that would block the net neutrality repeal and send it to the House.

    It's unlikely that the bill will succeed, but Democrats hope to put Republicans in an uncomfortable spot ahead of what is shaping up to be a challenging midterm cycle for the GOP.

    “When we force a vote on this bill, Republicans in Congress will — for the first time — have the opportunity to right the administration’s wrong and show the American people whose side they’re on: big ISPs and major corporations or consumers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement earlier on Tuesday.

    This story was updated at 4:51 p.m."
     
  3. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Net neutrality repeal a political battleground
    By Chuck McFadden Posted 01.18.2018
    http://capitolweekly.net/net-neutrality-repeal-battleground-political/

    "The latest skirmish in California-vs.-the-Trump-Administration is developing around the repeal of “net neutrality,” in which purveyors of internet access treat all data equally.

    The Federal Communications Commission, chaired by former Verizon executive Ajit Pai, repealed net neutrality in a Dec. 14 ruling on a party-line 3-2 vote, with the Republican commissioners in the majority.

    Critics contend the repeal ultimately will allow ISPs to set up two-tier data delivery systems, forcing content providers such as Netflix to pay more for the data to stream their movies.

    The language in the ruling called the previously existing net neutrality rule “heavy handed” and argued that it stifled innovation and investment by Internet Service Providers, or ISPs.

    But 50 U.S.senators have since endorsed a reversal of the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. The total includes all 49 Democrats and one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine. The 50-vote total leaves supporters of net neutrality just one vote shy of the 51 needed for a Senate vote disapproving of the FCC’s action.

    Among other things, critics contend the repeal ultimately will allow ISPs to set up two-tier data delivery systems, forcing content providers such as Netflix to pay more for the data to stream their movies — cost increases that could get passed on to consumers.

    The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines net neutrality as: “the idea, principle, or requirement that Internet Service Providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source, or destination.”

    And that’s the way it should be, argues state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco. He has introduced a bill aimed at nullifying the repeal in California. So has state Senate Leader Kevin de León, also a Democrat.

    “Without strong net neutrality rules, there’s nothing to stop the companies that already monopolize the internet from blocking websites or information altogether.” — Kevin de León

    Wiener’s officer says his bill will “effectuate net neutrality in California utilizing the state’s regulatory powers.” That means the state would use net neutrality as a condition in state contracts, cable franchise agreements and the agreements that let companies place wireless broadband equipment on utility poles.

    “California must step in to protect a free and open internet,” Wiener said in a prepared statement.

    In a telephone interview with Capitol Weekly, Wiener professed not to be worried about the competing bill from de Leon.

    “The more the merrier,” Wiener said. “It’s great having the leadership backing the effort. We’ve talked and I’m confident that we’ll collaborate.”

    “In today’s digital world, the internet is critical to free expression, free speech, and democracy,” de León said in a statement. “Without strong net neutrality rules, there’s nothing to stop the companies that already monopolize the internet from blocking websites or information altogether, so if the Trump Administration won’t protect consumers – the State of California will.”

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerrra joined 20 other states and the District of Columbia in a federal court lawsuit aimed at reversing the FCC ruling.

    No one on either side doubts that the politically charged issue will wind up in court, with a principal argument revolving around whether states have the power to block the FCC ruling within state boundaries.

    “We don’t believe the FCC has the power to prevent states from acting against the ruling,” Wiener said.

    On Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerrra joined 20 other states and the District of Columbia in a federal court lawsuit aimed at reversing the FCC ruling. It is the latest in a series of high-profile suits filed by California challenging Trump administration policies.

    In a prepared statement, Becerra said: “Internet access is a utility – just like water and electricity. And every consumer has a right to access online content without interference or manipulation by their internet service provider. However, in repealing the net neutrality rules, the FCC ignored consumers’ strong support for a free and open internet.”

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he’s suing to “stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality.” Other states interested in legal action include Oregon, Illinois, Iowa, and Massachusetts, among others.

    The repeal will “restore the longstanding, bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework that has fostered rapid Internet growth, openness, and freedom for nearly 20 years.” — Ajit Pai

    The California lawsuit is finding a warm welcome from the Big California-based content providers, who don’t like the repeal at all.

    “Today’s decision from the Federal Communications Commission to end net neutrality is disappointing and harmful,” said Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, in a prepared statement.

    “An open internet is critical for new ideas and economic opportunity — and internet providers shouldn’t be able to decide what people can see online or charge more for certain websites. We’re ready to work with members of Congress and others to help make the internet free and open for everyone.”

    Said Netflix, in a company tweet: “We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.”

    Opposition to the FCC repeal is also coming from the Internet Association — whose member companies include Google, Facebook and Netflix. The group said last week it is prepared to join a legal battle against the repeal.

    Pai argues that abolishing net neutrality would lead to more investment by ISPs, allowing them to develop new services. This could translate into more competition, potentially benefiting consumers and increasing the number of Americans with access to the Internet, Pai argues.

    Repeal will “restore the longstanding, bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework that has fostered rapid Internet growth, openness, and freedom for nearly 20 years,” the FCC declared.""
     
  4. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    California Senate Passes Law Protecting Net Neutrality
    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=California+Senate+Passes+Law+Protecting+Net+Neutrality
    VICTORY: California Senate Passes Law Protecting Net Neutrality
    Published on Feb 1, 2018
    The state of California is on the cusp of becoming the first state to protect net neutrality legislatively, as their Senate voted to approve a bill that makes violations of net neutrality illegal. With control of all branches of the state's government, the bill will most likely pass.

    California Just Made Ajit Pai Very Sad
    Published on Feb 3, 2018
    California just approved a bill to restore net neutrality in the state. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola, the hosts of The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

    Read more here: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...-net-neutrality-law-in-defiance-of-fcc/?amp=1

    “The California State Senate yesterday approved a bill to impose net neutrality restrictions on Internet service providers, challenging the Federal Communications Commission attempt to preempt such rules.

    The FCC's repeal of its own net neutrality rules included a provision to preempt state and municipal governments from enforcing similar rules at the local level. But the governors of Montana and New York have signed executive orders to enforce net neutrality, and several states are considering net neutrality legislation.

    The FCC is already being sued by 21 states and the District of Columbia, which are trying to reverse the net neutrality repeal and the preemption of state laws. Attempts to enforce net neutrality rules at the state or local level could end up being challenged in separate lawsuits.

    No blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization
    California may be the closest to passing such legislation after yesterday's Senate approval of SB-460, a bill proposed by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

    The bill passed 21-12, with all 21 ayes coming from Democrats. The bill is now being moved to the State Assembly, where Democrats have a 53-25 majority over Republicans.”

    California Senate defies FCC, approves net neutrality law
    Net neutrality takes big step forward in California, but lawsuits loom.

    JON BRODKIN - 1/30/2018, 8:09 AM
    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...proves-net-neutrality-law-in-defiance-of-fcc/

    "The California State Senate yesterday approved a bill to impose net neutrality restrictions on Internet service providers, challenging the Federal Communications Commission attempt to preempt such rules.

    The FCC's repeal of its own net neutrality rules included a provision to preempt state and municipal governments from enforcing similar rules at the local level. But the governors of Montana and New York have signed executive orders to enforce net neutrality, and several states are considering net neutrality legislation.

    The FCC is already being sued by 21 states and the District of Columbia, which are trying to reverse the net neutrality repeal and the preemption of state laws. Attempts to enforce net neutrality rules at the state or local level could end up being challenged in separate lawsuits.

    No blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization

    California may be the closest to passing such legislation after yesterday's Senate approval of SB-460, a bill proposed by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

    The bill passed 21-12, with all 21 ayes coming from Democrats. The bill is now being moved to the State Assembly, where Democrats have a 53-25 majority over Republicans.

    The bill would prohibit home and mobile Internet providers from "Blocking lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices," except in cases of reasonable network management.

    Throttling would also be outlawed, along with "paid prioritization, or providing preferential treatment of some Internet traffic to any Internet customer." More generally, the bill prohibits ISPs from interfering with "a customer's ability to select, access, and use broadband Internet access service or lawful Internet content, applications, services, or devices of the customer's choice, or an edge provider's ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to a customer."

    ISPs would be forbidden from using deceptive or misleading marketing practices "that misrepresent the treatment of Internet traffic or content to its customers."

    Violations would be punishable under the state's existing consumer protection laws, which allow for injunctions and financial damages. The California bill would also prohibit state agencies from buying Internet service from an ISP "unless that provider certifies, under penalty of perjury, that it will not engage in" the activities banned by the bill.

    The Montana and New York executive orders focus exclusively on the purchasing requirements for state agencies instead of imposing requirements directly on ISPs. The California bill is a more direct challenge to the FCC's preemption order because it requires all ISPs to follow net neutrality rules regardless of whether they provide Internet service to state agencies."
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  5. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Sorry, FCC: Charter will lower investment after net neutrality repeal
    FCC claims Charter raised investment because of repeal, but that isn't happening.
    JON BRODKIN - 2/8/2018, 8:41 AM
    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...tment-after-net-neutrality-repeal/?comments=1

    "The Federal Communications Commission's quest to prove that killing net neutrality is somehow raising broadband investment recently focused on Charter Communications.

    Charter, the second largest US cable company after Comcast, "is investing more in its broadband network and workforce because of the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom Order [that repealed net neutrality rules] and last year's tax reform legislation," FCC Chief of Staff Matthew Berry claimed in a tweet Friday.

    But as we noted earlier this week, Charter raised its capital investment in 2017 while the net neutrality rules were in place. And with the repeal soon to take effect, Charter says it is preparing for a "meaningful decline" in spending on building and upgrading broadband networks.
    This doesn't mean that Charter boosted investment because of the presence of net neutrality rules or that it is now lowering investment because of the repeal. That would be an overly simplistic conclusion, when the reality is that ISPs make investment decisions based on a variety of factors such as changes in customer demand and the peaks and valleys of technology upgrade cycles.

    But the opposite, equally simplistic conclusion—that broadband investment falls because of net neutrality rules and rises when net neutrality rules are repealed—is exactly what FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his staff have repeatedly claimed despite what the evidence shows. This argument is what drove the FCC's public defense of its decision to eliminate popular rules that prevent ISPs from blocking, throttling, or speeding up Internet traffic in exchange for payment.

    Charter spending rises and falls
    The FCC's specific claim on Friday that Charter is boosting investment because of the repeal and recent tax cut was disproved by Charter's own statements on the same day.

    Charter's earnings announcement said its capital spending rose from $7.5 billion in 2016 to $8.7 billion in 2017, with the net neutrality rules in place both years. Capital spending rose as a percentage of revenue, from 18.7 percent of $40.02 billion in 2016 to 20.9 percent of $41.58 billion in 2017. The increases helped pave the way for gigabit broadband services and an increase in minimum speeds to 200Mbps in some markets.

    Going forward, Charter anticipates declines in capital spending both as a percentage of revenue and in dollar amounts. Charter expects its 2018 capital expenditures "as a percentage of revenue to be a bit lower than 2017," Charter CFO Christopher Winfrey told investors on Friday. "Next year, 2019 that is, should deliver a meaningful decline in capital intensity in dollars."

    Separately, Charter announced Friday that it is raising the minimum wage for all its employees to at least $15 an hour, and the company attributed the decision to tax cuts and the net neutrality repeal.

    Oddly, the announcement indicates that Charter might have stopped upgrading its networks if not for tax reform and the net neutrality repeal.

    "Today, with tax reform and the removal of the Title II statutory framework [over net neutrality] both a reality, Charter will continue the capital investment program we started last year and will complete it by 2020," the company said.

    But if tax cuts and the net neutrality repeal were needed to "continue" a spending program, how was Charter able to begin the investment program in 2017 before the tax cuts and repeal? And if tax cuts and the repeal are fueling network spending, why is the spending going down over the next two years instead of up?

    Upgrade plans were made years in advance
    In March 2017, Charter promised President Trump that it would spend $25 billion on broadband infrastructure and technology over four years. But this was also simply a continuation of previous investment and did not include plans to serve new customers beyond the amount Charter had already committed to serve.

    In reality, Charter's broadband plans were in the works for years. Charter promised major broadband expansions to the FCC when it was allowed to purchase Time Warner Cable in 2016. As a result of the Obama administration's approval of the merger, Charter is required to bring broadband with speeds of at least 60Mbps to at least two millionnew residential and small business locations.

    Charter made its merger-related broadband expansion promises to the Obama administration even as it was promising to follow the net neutrality bans on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization "regardless of the outcome of the litigation over the Open Internet Order."

    If a net neutrality repeal was needed to continue broadband investment, how was Charter able to promise both a broadband expansion and compliance with net neutrality?

    Charter has since dropped its paid prioritization promise but still says it won't "block, throttle or interfere with the lawful activities of our customers."

    Forecasting a “meaningful decline”
    We asked Charter for more information on what its capital spending will look like this year and beyond. A Charter spokesperson said the company doesn't provide guidance on future revenue or capital expenditures, and it referred us back to Winfrey's remarks.

    Winfrey did discuss some of the factors shaping Charter's network investments. A big spending increase in Q4 2017 was "primarily driven by higher spending on CPE [customer-premises equipment], scalable infrastructure, and support," he said. The spending included "purchases for 2018 activity, including significant CPE inventory purchases."

    Having upgraded customer equipment in stock will help Charter shift customers to "all-digital" video packages and version 3.1 of DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification), which allows faster Internet speeds, he said.

    "As we look to 2018, our cable capital expenditures should be driven by many of the same factors as last year, including customer growth, Spectrum migration, all-digital and in-sourcing and integration," Winfrey said.

    2019 will bring the "meaningful decline" in capital spending because the shift to all-digital video, DOCSIS 3.1, and other upgrades will have been mostly completed, he said.

    Winfrey's description of Charter's capital spending—a big increase in 2017, a leveling-off in 2018, and a significant decrease in 2019—matches what we've noted in previous stories. As AT&T told the FCC in 2010, capital investments are based on technology upgrade cycles and should not be expected to rise year after year. Capital investments are naturally "lumpy," rising and falling from one year to the next based on specific needs at specific times, AT&T said at the time.

    Technology improvements that drive greater efficiency can also lower capital investment. The cost of Internet bandwidth has been falling for years, for example. Bandwidth "costs tend to trend down over time, driven by competition and decreases in the costs of underlying hardware," Cloudflare noted in 2016.

    Tax savings boost the bottom line
    Charter's expected spending decline isn't the only example of ISP spending remaining stagnant or decreasing despite the net neutrality repeal and tax cuts. Comcast said it will invest more than $50 billion in infrastructure over the next five years because of the repeal of net neutrality rules and the new tax overhaul. But Comcast would exceed that milestone anyway if itcontinues increasing spending at the same rate as it did with net neutrality rules in place.

    AT&T cited "higher efficiency" driven by technology improvements last month when itexplained a new round of layoffs.

    Verizon, meanwhile, said that its capital spending in 2018 will be just slightly above or below its 2017 spending. Verizon won't use its tax savings to upgrade broadband networks. Some of the benefits will flow to employees in the form of new stock shares, but the tax savings "will be used primarily to strengthen Verizon's balance sheet."

    Last week, Pai's FCC claimed that broadband deployments by AT&T, Verizon, Frontier, and Alaska Communications were caused by the net neutrality repeal. In fact, as we wrote, three of these four deployments were planned during the Obama administration, two were funded directly by the FCC before Pai was chair, and all four came from ISPs that had announced broadband expansions before Pai took over—with the net neutrality rules in place.

    We don't know what actual capital spending across the industry will look like in the next few years, but one thing is a certainty: Pai's FCC will tout any progress it finds as proof that the net neutrality repeal is creating more broadband."
     
  6. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Vermont becomes fifth US state to boot up its own net neutrality rules
    Governor Phil Scott signs executive order as battle lines are drawn
    By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco 16 Feb 2018 at 23:04
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/16/vermont_net_neutrality_rules/

    "Vermont has become the fifth US state to adopt net neutrality regulations, joining Montana, New Jersey, Hawaii, and New York.

    State governor Phil Scott signed an executive order Thursday noting that "the principles of net neutrality are inherently tied to the provision of reliable, high-quality broadband Internet service for the State," and ordering all state agencies to only use ISPs that agree not to block, throttle or prioritize network traffic.

    The order may have already had the desired effect: the vice president of regional telecoms group, the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, has said his group will maintain net neutrality provisions, although he also argued for a "clear and predictable national standard" rather than "a disruptive patchwork of inconsistent state actions."
    That national standard is likely some way off, as noted by one clause in Scott's order. It's common in such directives but will be especially relevant in this case: "Nothing in this order shall be construed to supersede any federal law."

    The question over whether Scott's order conflicts with federal law is almost certain to become a key legal battle in the years ahead, with federal telecoms regulator the FCC being encouraged by large cable companies to challenge any efforts to introduce state controls over "interstate" services i.e. internet access

    The governors' orders are likely on pretty firm ground: they only cover state agencies, and the issue would appear to fall down pretty solidly down the side of states' rights in the perpetual states versus federal debate in the United States.

    Other governors in other states are expected to adopt similar measures, not least because net neutrality provisions are incredibly popular with the electorate right across the political spectrum.

    Broader effort
    But other efforts underway – most notably in California – hope to expand the introduction of neutrality rules beyond just state agency usage and effectively make it impossible for an ISP to operate within Cali if they don't follow net neutrality principles.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has warned that the current law under consideration in California – which has passed to the state's assembly having passed the Senate – is unlikely to stand up to the inevitable legal challenge from Big Cable.

    Rather than simply demand that ISPs abide by net neutrality rules – something that the cable industry and possibly the FCC will claim is an attempt to supersede federal law – the EFF has argued that a better approach is to withhold money and permissions for ISPs that don't follow its rules.

    If an ISP wants to receive the millions it gets in subsidies for poor customers from the state government, or if it wants to use the state-owned utility poles to hold network gear (it does), or wants to maintain franchise agreement in specific cities, then it needs to agree not to block, throttle etc content.

    This is not the only approach being taken by states to push back against the FCC's controversial decision to tear up existing net neutrality rules.

    No less than 22 state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC against the FCC's action calling it "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion."

    That's not all: the US Senate has attempted to get enough votes to overturn the FCC's order – and grown close – and browser maker Mozilla has also filed a complaint.

    Oh, and Pai-face
    In short, a big fight is brewing. So far no one has any idea how the other side – big cable companies and the FCC – is going to react. For all their bluster and millions in lobbying dollars, cable companies don't like to alienate their own customers, especially if it sends them into the arms of competitors.

    And the FCC… well, it has it own problems to deal with, including the not insignificant fact that its chairman Ajit Pai is under investigation after passing rules that directly benefit a huge corporation, in this case Sinclair Broadcasting.

    And lawmakers are demanding information over how the FCC dealt with the millions of fake comments sent to the regulator's public comment period on getting rid of net neutrality.

    And you hoped that we might have heard the end of the net neutrality debate. "
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2018 at 10:46 AM
  7. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Pressure mounts on FCC to cough up answers over fake net neutrality comments
    House Dems send snotagram to watchdog boss
    By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco 14 Feb 2018

    "Analysis US lawmakers have weighed in on the FCC's controversial vote to scrap America's net neutrality rules, demanding information on the millions of fake comments submitted to the watchdog's public consultation on the decision – and asking pointed questions about how the federal regulator handled them.

    "We write to request information that will help both us and the public better understand how the Federal Communications Commission managed the record in its recent net neutrality proceeding," begins a letter sent today by all the Democratic representatives on the House Energy and Commerce committee.

    The missive notes that the comment period was "notoriously replete with fake comments" and argues that as a result it "raises novel questions about how an agency can properly handle and interpret the public's feedback to make sound policy decisions."

    The seven-page memo [PDF] contains no less than 16 pointed questions over how the FCC handled abuse of its comment system, while noting that its subsequent decision to approve the controversial repeal of the nation's net neutrality rules provided "scant detail" on that aspect.
    The letter also makes it plain that the lawmakers believe that the legitimacy of the FCC's decision is in doubt. "While we may not support the outcome of this proceeding, we hope you agree with us that transparency in the process is crucial," it reads. "In order to restore public confidence in the integrity of the process and give the American people a better understanding of how the FCC analyzed the comments filed in this proceeding, we request that you provide us information on how the agency reviewed the public comments."

    Some questions...
    It then gives the federal regulator three weeks to respond to queries including:

    • How it decided which comments to ignore
    • Why there are no references to comments from citizens in its final report
    • Why it has refused to assist the New York Attorney General in hisinvestigation of Americans' identities being hijacked to send in fake comments
    • How it verified the identity of commenters, including corporations
    • A variety of other questions over how it dealt with the flood of messages, real and fake
    The letter also demands that the FCC hand over any relevant internal communications.

    While the letter is unlikely to provide a smoking gun, it does keep up political pressure on the FCC over how it handled the public comment process.

    The sad reality is that because the extraordinary abuse of the public comment process resulted in a useful outcome for the FCC's Republican majority – specifically, it muddied waters thanks to millions of comments on both sides of the net neutrality debate – the federal regulator decided to simply shrug its shoulders and move on. (That, and claim it was subject to a cyber-attack.)

    Well would you believe it
    Those who have analyzed the millions of comments, however, have consistently found that once fake comments are removed, an overwhelmingly majority opposed the FCC's course of action.

    Faced with almost universal opposition to its plan, the regulator would have had a harder time voting to scrap net neutrality without going through another revision process.

    Public consultations are a critical aspect to any public policy decision-making. However, the net neutrality issue became so famous and polarizing – it was even fodder for late-night TV shows – that what is normally a quiet and obscure process was subject to the full force of the internet.

    So far, the FCC has demonstrated no intention of investigating what went wrong or how it can be mitigated in future. In fact, in an increasingly partisan atmosphere, even mentioning that the comment process was entirely undermined has become a political statement.

    The three majority Republican commissioners running the FCC are simply ignoring the issue, and the two Democratic commissioners are using it as a cudgel against their colleagues. Unfortunately, while this letter purports to be concerned about the decision-making process of a critical body, the truth is that it is just one more partisan punch in an endless, tedious Washington DC fight.

    The FCC should, of course, be horrified that its system for gathering public input is effectively worthless. But it isn't. Because admitting it has no effective way to gauge public sentiment could open the watchdog up to having its decisions challenged.

    Plus, of course, having an indecipherable cloud of public comment makes it easier for the regulator to approve what it wants without the extra hassle of having to listen to outside voices. Which is, of course, the exact reason that the public comment process is written into federal decision-making in the first place.

    We have no doubt that when the Democrats are back in charge of the FCC, one of the first things they will do is insist on a complete overhaul of the comment process to ensure it is fit for purpose.
     
  8. Fishon

    Fishon I Will Close You

    Reputations:
    7,741
    Messages:
    1,334
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Trophy Points:
    531
    I don't think the real issue is if they are template or format emails, but which were sent organically by real citizens.
     
    hmscott likes this.
  9. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Yup, that's not the real issue, this is:

    "The seven-page memo [PDF] contains no less than 16 pointed questions over how the FCC handled abuse of its comment system, while noting that its subsequent decision to approve the controversial repeal of the nation's net neutrality rules provided "scant detail" on that aspect."
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/14/fcc_fake_net_neutrality_comments/
     
    Fishon likes this.
  10. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    4,001
    Messages:
    14,526
    Likes Received:
    17,617
    Trophy Points:
    931
    New Jersey governor signs net neutrality order
    BY HARPER NEIDIG - 02/05/18 04:21 PM EST
    http://thehill.com/policy/technology/372409-new-jersey-governor-signs-net-neutrality-order

    "New Jersey on Monday became the latest state to implement its own net neutrality rules following the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of the Obama-era consumer protections.

    Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order prohibiting all internet service providers that do business with the state from blocking, throttling or favoring web content.

    “We may not agree with everything we see online, but that does not give us a justifiable reason to block the free, uninterrupted, and indiscriminate flow of information,” Murphy said in a statement. “And, it certainly doesn’t give certain companies or individuals a right to pay their way to the front of the line.

    “While New Jersey cannot unilaterally regulate net neutrality back into law or cement it as a state regulation, we can exercise our power as a consumer to make our preferences known,” he added.

    Murphy is following the lead of his counterparts in New York and Montana, who are pushing back on the FCC order, which also expressly preempted states from implementing their own net neutrality regulations. The executive orders will likely feature heavily in an upcoming court battle challenging the rollback.

    Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey’s attorney general, also announced on Monday that the state would be the 22nd to join a lawsuit against the FCC.

    “We are committed to taking whatever legal action we can to preserve the internet rights of New Jersey consumers, and to challenge the federal government’s misguided attack on a free and open internet,” Grewal said. “Our position is that the Federal Communications Commission acted arbitrarily and against the evidence before it when doing its about-face on net neutrality.”"

    To kill net neutrality, FCC might have to fight more than half of US states
    Bucking FCC and Ajit Pai, lawmakers across US have proposed net neutrality laws.
    JON BRODKIN - 2/16/2018, 7:50 AM

    "The legislatures in more than half of US states have pending legislation that would enforce net neutrality, according to a new roundup by advocacy groupFree Press. So far, the states that have taken final action have done so through executive orders issued by their governors. Those are Vermont, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, and New York.

    The legislative process obviously takes longer and is more uncertain because it requires votes by state lawmakers in addition to a governor's signature. Many bills are submitted in state legislatures without ever coming to a vote. But it wouldn't be surprising if some states impose net neutrality laws through the legislative process. The Washington State House of Representatives approved net neutrality rules by a vote of 93-5 on Wednesday, pushing the bill along to the state's Senate. In California, the state Senate passed a net neutrality bill last month.

    The 27 states with pending legislation are Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Free Press haslinks to the pending bills or articles about the pending bills in nearly all of these states. (Free Press listed 26 states with legislation but we found out after this article published that Kansas also has pending net neutrality legislation, bringing the total to 27.)

    "In the eight weeks since the FCC voted to take away net neutrality, a groundswell of activism by local advocates and politicians has revived prospects for lasting open-Internet safeguards," Free Press strategy director Timothy Karr wrote.

    Multiple approaches to net neutrality
    The potential role of states in regulating net neutrality is uncertain. The Federal Communications Commission repealed its own net neutrality rules and is attempting to preempt state and local laws that regulate net neutrality.

    The executive orders from Vermont, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, and New York require ISPs to follow net neutrality principles if they sell Internet service to state agencies. Vermont's governor was the latest to sign such an order, doing so yesterday. Instead of imposing net neutrality restrictions on all Internet providers, these states are using their status as buyers of Internet service to protect net neutrality.

    "Through the order, the State of Montana acts as a consumer—not a regulator," Montana Governor Steve Bullock said. "Because there's no mandate, and no new regulations, there's certainly no federal preemption. Companies that don't like Montana's proposed contract terms don't have to do business with the State."

    Some legislative attempts, such as this Rhode Island bill, also use the approach of enforcing net neutrality through the state procurement process. But others would go beyond that by imposing net neutrality rules on all ISPs regardless of whether they contract with state agencies. The bill that passed the California Senate would essentially replicate the FCC's repealed prohibitions on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, for example.

    Possible legal roadblocks
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is worried that the California Senate approach is likely to be thrown out of court when ISPs sue to overturn the rules. States are more likely to survive legal challenges if they use indirect approaches, such as requiring recipients of state funding to abide by net neutrality, the EFF argues.

    But Harold Feld, a telecom lawyer and senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, argues that states can pass their own net neutrality laws.

    The FCC decided in its net neutrality repeal "that Congress withheld authority over broadband from the FCC," Feld wrote. "If Congress explicitly withheld authority over broadband from the FCC, it withheld from the FCC the power to preempt any 'contrary' state authority."

    One thing net neutrality advocates agree on is that reinstating the FCC rules in full would work better than a state-by-state approach. The attorneys general from 22 states and the District of Columbia have sued the FCC to reverse the net neutrality repeal and preemption of state and local laws. Separately, Democrats in Congress are trying to push through a vote to reinstate the FCC rules.

    There have also been municipal efforts, such as San Francisco requiring net neutrality protections in a potential city-wide fiber network.

    "It's important to have action across the map," Free Press wrote. "City and state protections are encouraging, and would likely withstand legal challenges from the phone and cable lobby, but they offer only a piecemeal solution to a national problem. If we're to protect net neutrality for everyone we must restore the Title II standard of the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order.""
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018 at 5:46 PM
Loading...

Share This Page