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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

REPEAT: Net Neutrality on the Ropes

IMPORTANT EDITORIAL NOTE: Yesterday, my blog host again suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and both this blog and The Elder Storytelling Place were unavailable until late in the day.

Therefore, I am leaving the Monday stories on both blogs at the top of the list today, Tuesday, so they don't get lost in the persistent internet rush forward of new information day after day.

Not to mention that in addition to your being unable to get to the blogs, I couldn't get into the back end to prepare the new stories for today.


Interest was high on this page last week when we discussed net neutrality in the lead-up to release of a proposal for new regulations from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

That proposal was released by FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler on Thursday and it was as net neutrality supporters had feared. Here's how Reuters explained the proposed rule change:

"[It] would ban Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites but may let them charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.”

Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth: no websites may be slowed down but sites that pay more to their ISPs (internet service providers) can be speeded up. More on the proposal from the Washington Post:

”The plan, approved in a three-to-two vote along party lines, could unleash a new economy on the Web where an Internet service provider such as Verizon would charge a Web site such as Netflix for the guarantee of flawless video streaming.

“Smaller companies that can't afford to pay for faster delivery would likely face additional obstacles against bigger rivals. And consumers could see a trickle-down effect of higher prices as Web sites try to pass along new costs of doing business with Internet service providers.”

That, at least, is approaching what I worry about that no one in media is explaining directly: if these new regulations are enacted, it won't be long until additional, new charges for speedy delivery will trickle down to the rest of us - small business trying to get some traction, non-profit charities and partisan political sites, personal websites like mine and yours, for example.

I mean, it's not like Comcast, Verizon and Time-Warner ever left behind a single dime they could gouge out of anyone.

The proposal was approved by the FCC on Thursday in a 3-2 vote, the three being the commissioner and his two fellow Democrats. Just so you know, Commissioner Tom Wheeler spent many years of his career as a lobbyist for the cell phone and and cable companies before being appointed to the FCC six months by President Barack Obama. And as Gothamist pointed out:

”...Wheeler managed to drum up about $700,000 in campaign contributions to both of Obama's presidential runs.”

So even though the president campaigned in 2007 for an open internet, nowadays it's probably not a good idea to look to him for support. After the FCC vote last week, presidential spokesperson, Jay Carney said,

“We will be watching closely as the process moves forward in hopes that the final rule stays true to the spirit of net neutrality. The President is looking at every way to protect a free and open Internet, and will consider any option that might make sense.”

In hopes? Hardly a ringing endorsement for a free and open internet.

The text of the FCC net neutrality rules proposal is here. They are not in effect yet – the purpose of the vote was to open the period of public comment which runs until 15 July 2014.

You can do that at the website of the FCC. This page gives you many choices on how to contact the Commission in general or individual commissioners.

There will undoubtedly be many petitions around the web – please sign them. And I'll be back here to remind you to write or phone the FCC between now and mid-July.

If you have any questions about how the speed up/slow down would work if the proposal is approved, this short, little explanation from The New York Times makes it easy to understand.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Who Wants to be a Scammed Millionaire?


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Ever since the Bush years, I've found it so easy to succumb to evil-fatigue: so many bad things, all at the same time!

My point being, I wonder if it would be more useful here just to tell us one simple place (address provided, web or otherwise) to go to speak out on this issue....?

I am so glad you re-posted this blog, Ronni, or rather left it up. I particularly appreciated the NY Times summary - especially David Carr -- and for more clear and useful information, I suggest that readers go to Moyers.com and find the interview Moyers did with Carr and a woman whose name I have forgotten. David Wheeler seems such a cynical choice to make the decision on this vital issue -a wonky issue, yes, as Carr says, but vitally important [vital-- as in life-important]. As you write, there are many petitions out there as well.

Shelley...
I am baffled by your comment. I supplied one link to the most important place - the FCC - where you can make a choice whether to email, snailmail or telephone.

It would help me if you would explain how I can make that easier for you?

For those of us who live and work here, it's a mess. Horrifying.

I can't tell you how many petitions I have signed on this issue. I got another one this morning and I sign them all.

Your blog wasn't the only one attacked. I was unable to get on several sites yesterday. I finally got on yours, but was unable to comment. Thank you for repeating this important issue.

I checked out the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this morning, using the link in this post.

Obviously, the document is extremely long (170 pages), but the actual proposed rule is only 3 pages long. All the rest is the Preamble and certain sections required in every NPRM.

I'm wondering what the most effective strategy would be. If suggested wording for comments opposing the proposed rule were written, and the FCC received huge numbers of such comments, would that do any good?

It doesn't seem likely, but what else can we do?

Madeleine...
Write or phone or email the FCC. Sign petitions. And keep doing it. The comment period goes on until 15 July. Mark your calendar and call or email or write once a week.

I have signed gazillions of petitions, many from Democratic politicians, and I have contacted the FCC several times directly by email (and have received acknowledgement from Tom Wheeler that my emails were received).

On the other hand, they're gonna do whatever they want (or the President) wants to do. Based on our experience over the past few years, both the President and the Cabinet and Congress seem to ignore the wishes of the majority of the people and are just doing whatever they want to do.

Whether the subject is the budget, Social Security, food stamps, or unemployment, the result seems to be the same. There may actually HAVE to be a revolution before this country gets back on track as the democracy it still claims to be rather than the oligarchy it has become.

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