Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Last Call For Take It Out Of Neutral

As expected Trump FCC head Ajit Pai is announcing the end of "net neutrality" rules on the internet, allowing your internet provider to charge you per site rather than just per gigabyte.

The proposal, put forward by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of websites, or charging extra fees for the best quality of streaming and other internet services for their subscribers. Those limits are central to the concept called net neutrality.

The action immediately reignited a loud and furious fight over free speech and the control of the internet, pitting telecom giants like AT&T against internet giants like Google and Amazon, who warn against powerful telecom gatekeepers. Both sides are expected to lobby hard in Washington to push their agendas, as they did when the existing rules were adopted.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Mr. Pai said in a statement. “Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

The proposal from Mr. Pai, a Republican, is widely expected to be approved during a Dec. 14 meeting in a 3-to-2 party line vote from the agency’s five commissioners. But some companies will probably put up a legal fight, or actions by lawmakers, to prevent it from taking hold.

The clear winners from the move would be the giant companies that provide internet access to phones and computers, which have fought for years against broadband regulations. A repeal of the rules would allow the companies to exert more control over the online experiences of American consumers.

Big online companies like Amazon say that the telecom companies would be able to show favoritism to certain web services, by charging for accessing some sites but not others, or by slowing the connection speed to some sites. Small online companies say the proposal would hurt innovation. Only the largest companies, they say, would be able to afford the expense of making sure their sites received preferred treatment.

And consumers, the online companies say, may see their costs go up to get quality access to popular websites like Netflix.

Imagine having to pay Netflix your monthly subscription fee, and then either having to pay your internet provider an extra monthly charge to go to Netflix's site and get their streaming services, or for your internet provider to demand billions a month in order for Netflix to access the ISP's customers (and Netflix in turn jacking up your subscription fee in order to cover it.)

Or you know, your internet provider doing both of those.  It would be flat out extortion, and that's exactly what Pai and the Trump FCC are voting to allow next month. It would also mean that the most powerful companies on earth would be internet service providers and mobile carriers, because they would literally get to decide what information you get to see.

And it would be a total and complete repeal of all these protections.

Six months from now, when Comcast announces a "market test" to charge customers extra for accessing Google, Facebook, Netflix, or Yahoo, when the cost of everyone's internet doubles or triples, maybe people will care then.

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