It surprised me to find that the first interview I did via Skype with my former husband Alex Bennett was published here way back last September. (Blame that damned time-goes-faster-as-you-get-older phenomenon.)
Ever since, Alex has been nudging me to do more of such chats and from my end, there never seemed to be time until earlier this week.
Below is the full interview, about 30 minutes. For the second time, we had audio sync difficulties - it appears to be a feature, not a bug, of Skype. Oh well.
NET NEUTALITY SET TO BITE THE DUST
As Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai has been threatening since before he was appointed to that post, yesterday the agency filed its net neutrality revocation order in the Federal Register.
The ruling, misleadingly titled The Restoring Internet Freedom Order which can be found online here, goes into effect, if not stopped, on 23 April 2018.
”Net neutrality forced ISPs [internet service providers] to treat all content equally; without these rules in place, providers can charge more for certain types of content and can throttle access to specific websites as they see fit.”So, for example, big rich companies could afford hefty fees to providers so their web pages arrive faster in your browser than – oh, let's say political groups that depend on donations or blogs like yours and mine that are throttled because they can't bear the increased cost.
Also, ISPs may offer new tiered systems of subscription where we, the users, could be required to choose websites and content based on the price we are willing or able to pay for a certain package level.
There are many more ways ISPs can favor one kind of content. The Verge explains another:
”One current practice that’s a sign of things to come is zero-rating, where internet providers offer free data when you use certain services. This sounds great on the surface (who wouldn’t want free data?), but it gives a huge advantage to the sites and services that the internet provider chooses to support.
“AT&T, for instance, offers free streaming of its own video services, like DirecTV Now, whereas subscribers still have to pay in order to stream Hulu. That means an AT&T customer may be more inclined to sign up for DirecTV than Hulu, which would make life harder for Hulu and other streaming video competitors.
“Over the long run, this could allow established tech and telecom giants to pick the services that win and lose, rather than having them all compete on an even playing field and letting consumers pick which they like better.”
Publication of the FCC order in the Federal Register is important because now, notes Reuters,
”...state attorneys general and advocacy groups will be able to sue in a bid to block the order from taking effect.”
”...the attorney general of New York is set to sue the FCC over the repeal of net neutrality, and more states and advocacy groups will follow.
“Democrats in the Senate have the votes to restore net neutrality (but not the two-thirds majority required to override the president's veto, which would surely follow any action on their part.)”
Most of the news coverage of this filing yesterday suggested it will be difficult if not impossible for Democrats in Congress to override Republican approval of the revocation order. Reuters again:
”Even if Democrats could win a majority in the Senate, a repeal would also require winning a vote in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a larger majority, and would still be subject to a likely veto by President Donald Trump.
“Democrats need 51 votes to win any proposal in the Republican-controlled Senate because Vice President Mike Pence can break any tie...
“The approval of Pai’s proposal by the FCC marked a victory for internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc and hands them power over what content consumers can access.
“Earlier this month, technology companies including Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc threw their weight behind the congressional bid to reverse the Trump administration’s plan to repeal Obama-era rules designed to protect an open internet.”
Do recall, everyone, that during the public comment period for this order, the FCC received more than a million fake comments supporting their proposed repeal of net neutrality.
Rather than investigate the false comments to get an honest count of the public's position, Chairman Pai ignored the intrusion and went forward with safeguarding the internet for corporations. (See this Salon story.)
Net neutrality is a consumer issue but it is also an important free speech issue. Because the internet has become indespensible for almost everything we do in life, it is crucial to individual wellbeing, support of the Constitution and equality.
Between now and 23 April, please contact your federal representatives and urge them to vote down the hypocritically named Restoring Internet Freedom Order.