On Wednesday, multiple media sources reported that lawmakers in California had passed a bill that will effectively restore net neutrality in the state. This news comes just months after the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) decided, in what has proven to be a controversial act, to reverse the net neutrality protections put forth during the Obama administration on a federal level.
In essence, net neutrality refers to a series of government regulations which prevent internet service providers from charging websites for expediting access to consumers. Advocates of the law argue that these regulations are necessary for the protection of information and democracy on the web. Critics, such as FCC chairman Ajit Pai, insist that such regulations are not necessary and simply add extra overhead costs to internet service providers, who in turn pass these costs onto end users.
Regardless, lawmakers in California are treating the news as a win for a more free and open internet. Not surprisingly, California voters overwhelmingly support net neutrality, and the new vote, in many ways, will give incumbent lawmakers “brownie points” ahead of the 2020 midterm elections.
However, it is not just California voters who support the move; the state’s second largest industry does as well. Technologies throughout the Silicon Valley praised Wednesday’s decision, claiming that the laws are necessary in order to protect users who rely on the internet as their daily source of information, and in some cases income.
Many now speculate that the landmark passing of this bill will set the stage for other states to bring forth net neutrality bills of their own. However, whether states will be able to band together to essentially reverse the FCC decision made earlier in the year is still unknown.
The bill now heads to the state assembly, where it is largely expected to pass.
The senate voted 52-47 to overturn FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s decision to overturn Obma-era net neutrality rules. Despite overwhelming public opposition to the repeal, the decision of the FCC board was unanimous, and President Trump expressed his support of the repeal.
Tech sites, unless they are owned by telecommunications company overwhelmingly support keeping net neutrality rules in place. Verizon, Sprint, Comcast and other telecom providers routinely oppose it and misrepresent the definition of the concept.
Net neutrality means that ISPs must treat all traffic the same regardless of source. An ISP cannot block or throttle traffic as long as the content is legal. Representatives of the telecom industry support repealing the rules because it means they can charge higher prices.
Ajit Pai’s decision has also been scrutinized. Pai served as a Verizon lawyer before being appointed to his current position by then President Obama. When the decision to repeal net neutrality rules were made, he said the Internet now belonged to the software and hardware engineers. He added comments that it would promote development. Steven Wozniak, formerly of Facebook, has spent a good deal of time trolling Ajit Pai on Facebook for what Wozniak considers to be a bad decision.
The passage of the senate bill does not mean Pai’s decision will not stand. The bill merely goes to the house, where the votes of at least twenty republicans are needed to overturn the bill. Because Republicans seem to oppose the bill and are more likely to be lobbied by telecom providers, it is uncertain the house version of the bill would gain enough votes to pass.
Esquire Magazine hailed the vote as a victory for common sense. The Wired and the PC Mag websites were more restrained in their coverage, but they praised the three Republican senators who voted across party lines for making the right decision. Even if the House passes reviewing the rules under the Congressional Review act, the bill faces a final hurdle. President Trump needs to sign it for it to become law.
Late last year, led by former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon lobbied against net neutrality. In 2015, laws were put in place by President Barack Obama to prohibit major ISPs from blocking consumer access to certain websites and applications. In December 2017, Ajit Pai and the Republicans of the house fought tooth and nail to repeal this law. In the end they succeeded. This was only on a Federal level though. After the ruling, there were a handful of states that banded together against the FCC. Washington and Oregon already put their own state-level net neutrality laws in place. This was particularly smart because the State Constitution overrides the Federal Constitution. Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana and Vermont also got on board shortly after. The latest state to join the fray is California.
Tuesday of this week, California had a hearing before the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. Various ISPs sent representatives to the state capitol in order to oppose California’s new net neutrality law. Just as a refresher, net neutrality basically means that your ISP can block websites that it does not like. AT&T can block Verizon’s website, FiOS can block AT&T and vice versa. ISPs can block sites like Twitter altogether or they can charge you a “Social Media” package that costs an extra $15 just to access the site. This package system is already implemented in some countries overseas, Brazil being the most notable. This is what California is fighting against.
Each ISPs argument is that net neutrality regulation is great for the future and is in a nutshell asking California to trust them and take their word that they won’t abuse their power but history shows that this is not the case. In 2009, users of the iPhone were not able to Skype on AT&T’s data network. In 2011, AT&T also prevented IPhone users from using FaceTime unless they got a higher monthly plan. When questioned about this particular act, AT&T stated that it was done temporarily to prevent network overload. With net neutrality being eradicated on ederal level, AT&T can resume these practices with no explanation. California has taken those first steps towards net neutrality on a state level and it is taking the necessary precautions to make sure that it is not overturned.
The debate surrounding net neutrality has reached an all-time high. Just recently Washington state past the country’s most stringent legislation in regards to this issue. ( https://www.fastcompany.com/40537222/washington-just-passed-the-countrys-toughest-net-neutrality-legislation ) This legislation had aims to help regulate Internet access for residents of Washington state and was cleared by the state Senate with a vote of 35 to 14. In a rare display of bipartisan action, the bill to protect net neutrality was passed by the House of Representatives in a 93 to 5 vote on February 9.
All other state governments have been scrambling to scrap the regulations put on net neutrality by the federal government Washington’s policy officially the grandest. This law applies to all Internet service providers that serve residents regardless of any deals made with the state. In accordance with this law, any blocking of Internet service would be illegal. This disallows the use of premium Internet fast lanes which companies have tried to offer.
This is all in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s recent abolishment of net neutrality regulations which it deemed restoring Internet freedom. This decision was met with controversy however the Federal Communications Commission claimed that policy with preemptive of the authority of state governments. Washington state has challenged this presumption arguing that just because the Federal Communications Commission claims that it has the power to preempt state laws does not mean that it actually is capable of doing so.
Net neutrality continues to be a source of contention among Internet service providers who are trying to implement new changes that will regulate the way the Internet is used. The residents of Washington state are very grateful to have a government which they claim is supportive of their freedoms and rights as individuals. In fact, it is now popular for many to say that access to the Internet access to more than just a business concern but a matter of personal freedom. As legislation continues to be made regarding these issues, it is sure that this is not the end of the road. While this issue will almost certainly be heading to court, it is refreshing to see a state government which has the interests of its citizens put ahead of the interests of corporations.
The Internet as we know it did not end with FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s decision to repeal Obama’s net neutrality measure, but activists were crestfallen anyway. The debate online reached heated levels, complete with dramatic threats and suicide pacts on the part of the activists. Now, the US Senate has amassed enough sponsors to block the FCC’s decision. If this goes through, the matter of whether to make the FCC be the steward of net neutrality might be taken out of Ajit Pai’s hands.
Ajit Pai isn’t necessarily taking a stance that the Internet shouldn’t be free and accessible to everyone, but merely that the FCC isn’t the organization to oversee it, and that this political battle is being stated on false fronts in the first place. Activists have framed it as “big corporations vs. the people,” but it’s actually “access providers vs. content providers.” Social media websites have taken up arms in activist support of net neutrality, while telecom companies have protested it. For Ajit Pai’s part, he tried to lighten the mood with a humorous video just before Christmas where he tried to communicate his aims via popular Internet memes such as Star Wars references and the Harlem Shake dance, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
The actual policy that was set up for repeal is also widely misunderstood. Even reporters at Washington Post report the 2015 measure as having the effect of preventing Internet service providers from showing favorable traffic preferences based on websites or content. Surely, that was the eventual intent, but all that then-president Obama actually passed in 2015 was a reclassification of the Internet to fall under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This act was initially designed to moderate communication “by wire and radio.” At this point, the political system is beginning to show its strain in trying to keep up with the rate of technology progress.
Nevertheless, this ad-hoc solution is widely seen as a step better than no steps at all, so pro-net-neutrality activists are vowing to make support of Title II Internet moderation a campaign issue.
We’ve been hearing a great deal about net neutrality as of late. But what exactly is net neutrality? In short, it is the mechanism by which all of the internet must be treated equally in all forms. When you think of cable services, you know that some providers offer channels that are exclusive to that package. The idea behind this is that consumers will pay more in order to gain access to this exclusive content. The internet is quite the opposite however, while individual websites are able to charge consumers to access its content, internet providers are not allowed to do this. Internet providers are required to provide the same speeds of loading and overall quality for every website under current net neutrality rules implemented during the Obama administration back in 2015. If they were to be repealed we could start seeing a very different internet every time we log in to our laptops. Internet providers could drastically slow down certain websites in order to promote the use of their own versions of the same product. If two video streaming services are the same price but one consistently loads faster than the other then consumers will naturally gravitate towards the one that is most convenient. The problem with this is that the product may not actually be worse and in fact could be superior to the competition but an internet provider could artificially degrade its quality. Many news sources are covering this issue very closely and as new developments arise we will undoubtedly hear about them immediately. A fair internet means that no one can be discriminated against or lack access to information because of their inability to pay for it. The best way to speak out against a full repeal of net neutrality is to contact your state and local representatives to ensure that they understand the position on this issue of the people that they promised to represent and protect their best interest. The fate of Net Neutrality is actually not decided yet. What the FCC has voted on is only the first step of repealing the rules currently in place. Until the process is complete we will continue to have an internet that cannot be influenced in any way, shape, or form by those who provide it.
On December 14, 2017 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote to repeal the Net Neutrality Rules of 2015 put in place by the Obama administration. It is an almost forgone conclusion that the repeal vote will succeed as there are two republicans along with the head of the FCC, Mr. Ajit Pai, that will vote to repeal the law. This gives them a majority of the five-person committee.
First of all, what is ‘net neutrality’? It is a set of rules that basically make all traffic on the internet equal. It ensures that all content passed over the internet will be treated the same way no matter who the provider is for the network service and more importantly, how much bandwidth they are using. In other words, Comcast cannot charge Netflix more money for use of their pipe simply because they use a lot of bandwidth. It also means that Comcast cannot throttle bandwidth for anyone because they feel that their usage is excessive.
Advocates of the repeal believe that ‘net neutrality’ has ham stringed the big carriers and kept newer technologies from being implemented because of the costs involved. If the providers could charge more on a usage basis then they would take the extra earnings and build a more efficient and robust internet. This would ultimately raise prices on some services that use a great deal of bandwidth.
In addition, the large carriers believe that competition between providers will keep the costs down and in many cases the services will be lowered. This last point is somewhat dubious in as much as there are several areas of the country that have only one provider. The end user is at the mercy of that provider and can only hope that whoever the provider is will be fair, honest, and transparent.
There are arguments for both sides of this issue but ultimately it is the end user, you and I who may end up paying a heavy price for repeal of ‘net neutrality’. There seems to be very little middle ground in the debate and it is the hope of all internet users that the large providers treat them in a fair and open manner.
The net neutrality concept says that internet providers should treat all data on the internet the same and not limit or block certain content or sites. Major companies have been fined for blocking or slowing content from certain sites. This could all change very soon.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making a controversial decision to end net neutrality protections with a planned vote on December 14. The vote is expected to pass, but the measure could be halted in court because it lacks evidence for such a drastic change in policy. The Supreme Court states that all federal agencies must make a good case for any such extreme actions. The rules were put into place in 2015 under the previous administration and the FCC says that these rules have decreased investment in the internet. This statement appears to be inaccurate because data shows that investment in the internet has increased in recent years.
The vast majority of Americans seem to support net neutrality and are against the changes by the FCC. The FCC also plans on preventing governments from regulating broadband service. Many experts feel these changes will create legal challenges. It is unclear exactly why the FCC is taking these controversial actions since they don’t have data or public support on their side. On the surface, this appears to be continued movement of rollbacks of the previous administrations policies. The original net neutrality policy dates back to 2005 and existed under former presidents Bush and Obama. Once the proposed changes go into effect, it could take a very long time to come to a resolution as it goes through the court system and could eventually end up in the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately, once the FCC vote passes on December 14, the public may soon start feeling the effects of the changes.
Recently, the FCC has given notice that it will do away with Net Neutrality in an upcoming vote. Most people in the country are not very tech literate, so the fact of this vote is floating under the radar. Those people who are knowledgeable about such things see this as an alarming occurrence.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has stated that he plans to get rid of the protections that net neutrality provide. He has intimated that doing so would allow the free market to govern the growth and prosperity of the internet and that this move by the FCC is a good thing. In actuality, this move could prove to be disastrous to general public.
Net Neutrality affords the general public a number of protections. The basic tenet of net neutrality is that ISP’s should treat all internet traffic equally. This means that they should not throttle or block specific on purpose or allow companies to pay for special treatment and faster speeds.
This could be very detrimental to consumers companies transfer their increased cost to use the internet to their customers. Services such as Spotify, Netflix, Pandora, and others could see a sharp increase in price for end users without the protections that net neutrality provide.
As of now, the votes are there to end net neutrality. The measure would pass 3-2. The is hope, however, to block this potential calamity. The court has stated in matters, such as these, that agencies must provide satisfactory reasoning behind the decisions that they make. In the case of net neutrality, Pai’s reasoning is far from satisfactory. That fact, coupled with the public’s overwhelming support of net neutrality, will more than likely find that the Court would oppose the elimination of net neutrality on legal grounds. The possibility of losing net neutrality may be disturbing, but it is far from a certainty.
The concept of a free Internet is experiencing growing pains. On Wednesday, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, decided to address the issue of net neutrality.
Net neutrality states that Internet Service Providers are required to allow access to all content and areas of the Internet without discrimination. How does it affect the everyday user? Before the regulation was put into place ISPs could have an impact on download times for services that were in direct competition with their company. It also gave them liberties in showing preference to affiliates. The protocols created in 2015 stopped this.
So on April 26th, 2017, Pai decided to repeal the stringent regulations of net neutrality. After accepting the position of chairperson by President Trump three months ago, Pai decided to overturn existing policies supported by Obama. Pai stated this is an intrusion upon the free internet, and current rules need to be revised.
The FCC found inspiration for this policy from the Title II of Communications Act of 1934. That’s right; they created a strategy based on some rules concocted over 80 years ago. Such a loophole allowed the FCC to classified ISPs as utilities allowing them to govern “industry” regulations as they would over an electric company.
Many people are divided evenly down the middle in regards to opposing or supporting net neutrality as is evident by comments found on Reddit . Content providers such as Google and Apple support net neutrality. They feel individuals paying for internet services deserve equal access and should not have their experience be limited to or by ISP decisions. Those directly affected, broadband companies such as Comcast and Verizon, stand against this proposal stating that the regulations are too stiff and that it will affect future innovations and investments. They support the open internet but feel that the rules are too stringent.
Pai is standing firm in his belief in reevaluating current policies. The FCC will be voting on new changes towards the end of May after allowing the public to voice its concerns and opinions. This decision will influence future changes the FCC incorporates into existing regulations. The final decision is still up in the air.