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Democrats Ask FCC to Scrap Plans to Sell Net Neutrality to Comcast and Telecoms

— December 13, 2017

Democrats are trying to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from voting on the future of net neutrality regulations.

Planned for Thursday, the vote determines a plan to repeal net neutrality rules aimed at keeping Internet access unrestricted. Most political analysts expect the repeal to succeed, with Republicans members of the FCC most likely to push a corporate agenda.

On Tuesday, 39 senators wrote and sent a latter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, recommending that he call off his crusade against net neutrality.

“Your plan gives a broadband provider the ability to significantly alter their subscribers’ internet experience,” the letter reads. “Once adopted, this proposal will permit that provider to freely block, slow down or manipulate a consumer’s access to the internet as long as it discloses those practices — no matter how anti-consumer — somewhere within mounds of legalese in a new ‘net neutrality’ policy.”

In the House, some Democrats are drawing up legislation to override Pai’s probable end-game. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) promised to introduce a bill that’d bring back Obama-era net neutrality rules, should they be dismissed by the FCC.

But Pai, writes, isn’t likely to bend in the face of pressure.

The former Verizon executive “vowed” to move forward with the vote, which would give the Federal Trade Commission full authority to police internet service providers (ISPs) violating fair business practices.

“Instead of saddling the Internet with heavy-handed regulations, we will work together to take targeted actions against bad actors,” Pai said on Monday.

“This approach protected a free and open Internet for many years prior to the FCC’s Title II Order and it will once again following the adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” he said.

The Restoring Internet Freedom Order will, if passed, give ISPs the ability to restrict consumer access to certain websites. On top of that, providers could throttle traffic speeds on certain websites, charge extra money to ensure better connections, or give preference to particular domains.

Less than 24 hours after the Trump administration announced its intent to end net neutrality, ISPs responded with a subtle sort of enthusiasm.

Comcast, for instance, removed a pledge from its website which reassured customers it wouldn’t create online “fast-lanes.” The corporate back-track would put profits into the pockets of telecommunications companies while stifling the ability of consumers to seek out independent content.

Matt DeRienzo, executive director of Local Independent Online News Publishers, told The Guardian that “big internet and wireless providers will be able to charge individual publishers for levels of speed and access, a scenario in which a handful of big companies with deep pockets could squeeze out” their less-affluent competitors.


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