USA gutting net neutrality

There is world wide concern over the potential effects of the 3-2 vote by the US Federal Communications Commission to overturn net-neutrality rules that have required Internet service providers to treat all online communications equally.

The Nation: Gutting Net Neutrality Is the Trump Administration’s Most Brutal Blow to Democracy Yet

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to eliminate “the First Amendment of the Internet,” and in so doing it delivered the Trump administration’s most brutal blow yet to democracy in America.

Despite overwhelming public support for a free and open Internet, the CFC’s Trump-aligned majority engineered a 3-2 vote to overturn net-neutrality rules that have required Internet service providers to treat all online communications equally—and, in a related move, the commission majority rejected the authority of the FCC to protect a free and open Internet. Commission chair Ajit Pai, the telecommunications-industry lawyer who has done Donald Trump’s bidding in debates on a host of media and democracy issues, has cleared the way for service providers to establish information superhighways for political and corporate elites, while consigning communications from grassroots activists to digital dirt roads.

Addressing the American people on the day when the FCC dismissed millions of appeals on behalf of net neutrality, dissenting Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said Thursday: “What saddens me is that the agency that is supposed to protect you is abandoning you.”

That’s the words of one of the Commissioners.

Pai and his associates have moved to create what former FCC commissioner Michael Copps refers to as “a gatekeeper’s paradise,” where “our civic dialogue—the news and information upon which a successful self-governing society depends upon—would be further eroded.”

“Telecom and media consolidation have wreaked havoc with investigative journalism and turned political campaigns into a crass reality show and our ‘news’ into bottom-feeding infotainment,” warns Copps, who now works with Common Cause on media and democracy issues.

I don’t believe democracy can survive on such thin gruel. Throw in [the fact] that we, the people, will be paying ever-more exorbitant prices for this constricted future and you will understand why so many millions of people all across the land have contacted the FCC and Congress telling them to preserve our current net-neutrality rules.

I don’t know whether this will affect us here in New Zealand – it must to an extent. We are already suffering from a media rush to bland, populist click bait trivia.

Much of the debate about overturning net neutrality has been focused on the damage the move will do to consumers, and there can be no question that clearing the way for unprecedented profiteering by telecommunications corporations barters off our digital future to the same grifters who have turned broadcast- and cable-media platforms into vast wastelands of commercial excess.

But the biggest cost of eliminating net neutrality will be to the American experiment in citizen-driven dialogue, discourse, and decision making. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says:

The internet makes it easier for people to get organized and amplify their voices. Ending Net Neutrality will make it harder for the people to fight powerful interests.

That assessment was confirmed by activists who rallied outside the FCC headquarters Thursday. “You don’t have the modern day anti-police violence movement without the open Internet,” said editor and cultural critic Jamilah Lemieux.

“Saving the Net is a civil rights issue that effects Asian Americans across the US,” said Deepa Iyer, a senior fellow with the Center for Social Inclusion.

Symone Sanders, who served as press secretary for the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and is now a CNN commentator, said: “There is no resistance without a free and open Internet.”

Big business and profit motives are essential parts of modern society, but they need to have controls and limitations or they will have too much control and influence over our society.

Somewhat ironically Trump uses Twitter to bypass big media companies and speak straight to the people.

Both dissenting FCC commissioners, Clyburn and Rosenworcel, used their statements prior to Thursday’s vote to encourage resistance.

“I’m not going to give up—and neither should you,” says Rosenworcel.

If the arc of history is long, we are going to bend this toward a more just outcome. In the courts. In Congress. Wherever we need to go to ensure that Net Neutrality stays the law of the land. Because if you are conservative or progressive, you benefit from internet openness. If you come from a small town or big city, you benefit from Internet openness. If you are a company or non-profit, you benefit from Internet openness. If you are a start-up or an established business, you benefit from Internet openness. If you are a consumer or a creator, you benefit from Internet openness. If you believe in democracy, you benefit from Internet openness.

On a disappointing day for the defenders of democracy, the commissioner concluded by assuring them that this struggle is far from finished.

“So let’s persist. Let’s fight. Let’s not stop here or now,” declared Rosenworcel. “It’s too important. The future depends on it.”

The fight for freedom and neutrality on the Internet is not over, but it will be difficult.

There was some merit in ‘draining the swamp’ of bureaucratic control, but handing control over to big business may be a frying pan to fire sort of movement.

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  1. Gezza

     /  December 16, 2017

    This was big news on Aljazeera. Most of the commentary was against it for the reasons stated in the post.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  December 16, 2017

      Are the reasons valid? Surely if businesses pay more for privileged service levels most consumers will pay less? Why would providers not want to retain existing customers and the democratic information sharing services they currently enjoy?

      Wild allegations are easy to spray around but what are the rational facts?

      • Gezza

         /  December 16, 2017

        Hard to say Al. Give it two years to see if the big players start to block out the websites that don’t pay assuming filthy rich arseholes can afford to pay them to do it.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  December 16, 2017

          That would just hand money to other providers willing to give the customers what they want. Won’t happen.

          • Gezza

             /  December 16, 2017

            Yep. That’s the theory. You’re probably right. Sheer volumes & advertising should make it worth their while. But who knows. Changes happen really fast on the net.

  2. robertguyton

     /  December 16, 2017

    “This was big news on Aljazeera. Most of the commentary was against it for the reasons stated in the post.”
    “Wild allegations are easy to spray around but what are the rational facts?”
    Be still, my beating heart!

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  December 16, 2017

      Attractive as the notion of your heart stopping is, Robert, do you think the consumer would be better off if airlines were forced to charge the same and offer the same services to all passengers?

      And why are internet services not similarly motivated to offer the best range of services and prices to all their customers?

      Or has your brain already stopped?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  December 16, 2017

        It’s a saying, Alan; there are a few variations like ‘Be still, (my) foolish beating heart !’ It’s used sarcastically to indicate extreme emotion that the person is not really feeling.

  3. phantom snowflake

     /  December 16, 2017

    Yet another step towards the dystopian corporatocracy of countless sci-fi movies…

  4. NOEL

     /  December 16, 2017

    Aw tell the Yanks to harden up.
    What they’re left with is no different than here.
    Except they can enforce anti competition laws which are ineffectial here.