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Internet Providers Insist They Love Net Neutrality. Seriously?

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The broadband industry has scored a major victory: The Federal Communications Commission just took the first step towards overturning its own Obama-era net neutrality protections.

The rules won’t disappear overnight. In a party-line vote today, the FCC formally agreed to start the process of gathering feedback before drafting a more specific plan, which could take months (#bureaucracy). But FCC chair Ajit Pai has made it clear that, barring a successful legal challenge, the agency will give up its authority to actually enforce net neutrality regulations.

The rules, first passed in 2015, ban internet service providers from blocking, slowing down, or otherwise discriminating against lawful content. Without these rules in place, your home internet provider would be free to slow down your Netflix connection to try to keep you paying for cable TV. Your mobile carrier would be allowed to block Skype in order to promote its own voice plan.

Naturally, the country’s largest broadband providers say you have nothing to worry about. In fact, the industry now claims to love net neutrality. But what the industry is calling “net neutrality” doesn’t really fit the full definition. It’s a version of net neutrality that doesn’t cover the loopholes internet providers have already discovered. If the FCC decides to drop its own protections, you probably won’t wake up one day to find YouTube or Slack blocked. But the principles that made the internet what it is today could still erode over time.

We believe in an open internet & give customers the #netneutrality protections they expect: https://t.co/RAa22WEQOA pic.twitter.com/IcyMPB7XZT

— Comcast (@comcast) April 26, 2017

Although the telecommunications industry group US Telecom sued the FCC to try to reverse its net neutrality protections, most big internet providers say they support net neutrality in principle. Their beef, they say, is just that the FCC went too far in reclassifying broadband access as a “Title II” common carrier service, much like telephone services.

“The FCC is not talking about killing the net neutrality rules and in fact not we, or any other ISP are asking them to kill the open internet rules,” Verizon general counsel Craig Silliman said in a video the company released last month.

“Comcast supports strong, legally enforceable net neutrality protections that ensure a free and open internet for all of our customers,” Comcast executive Dave Watson wrote in a blog post.

There’s quite a bit to question in these seemingly supportive statements. Comcast, for example, sued the FCC in 2008 over Bush-era net neutrality protections adopted in 2005. In 2010, the FCC passed a new set of net neutrality protections that were more detailed than the Bush-era FCC policies. Verizon successfully sued the agency to overturn those rules in a case decided in early 2014.

But the bigger problem is that without Title II classification, the FCC won’t have the authority to actually enforce net neutrality anyway—a judgment rendered by the federal court that decided Verizon’s case against the FCC. The general consensus in the industry seems to be that

Read More At:  https://www.wired.com/2017/05/fcc-votes-begin-dismantling-net-neutrality/


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