FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Save Net Neutrality

by

News reports are circulating that the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) plans to introduce new rules to end net neutrality.   According to the New York Times, “the principle that all Internet content should be treated equally as it flows through cables and pipes to consumers looks all but dead.”

The FCC currently adheres to what is known as the “Open Internet rules,” an extension of the analog-era 1934 Communications Act.  It requires all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) — like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T – to maintain “net neutrality” standards, thus treating all data equally and barring them from slowing down or blocking websites.

The FCC actions come as a result of a critical federal court decision, Verizon v. FCC, decided earlier this year.  The DC circuit court found that the Open Internet rules were inappropriate established by a Bush-era FCC decision shifting it’s classification from the old “common carrier” model used for POTS (plain-old-telephone-service) to an “information service” not subject to the Communications Act.

The FCC’s proposed new rules will be formally voted on May 15th.  Under the rules, the FCC will permit the leading ISPs to introduce a new priority pricing mechanism creating, in effect, a two-tier online distribution network.  “Broadband providers would be required to offer a baseline level of service to their subscribers, along with the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers,” the FCC announced. “In all instances, broadband providers would need to act in a commercially reasonable manner subject to review on a case-by-case basis.”  What is “a commercially reasonable manner”?

These new rules shift the Internet from an open system where all data travels at the same rate to a pay-to-play system favoring preferential treatment for the giant content providers like Netflix or Google’s YouTube.  Apparently, the new rules will continue to prohibit blocking or discriminating against online content.  Had the new rules been adopted a decade ago, its anyone’s guess whether Netflix or YouTube would be viable companies today.

The FCC’s likely actions to end net neutrality is a result of a systemic campaign to privatization of the Internet and further the monopolistic efforts of the giant telecom and media companies.  Over this period, both Republican (e.g., Michael Powell) and Democratic (e.g., Julius Genachowski) commissioners of the FCC have been water-carriers for corporate interests; the one major exception was former commissioner Michael Copps.

Tom Wheeler’s appointment as FCC chairman in November 2013 is emblematic of this process.  He served as head of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) from 1979 and 1984; Bush-era chairman, Powell, now heads the trade group. Wheeler previously ran the Cellular Telecom and Internet Association (CTIA) from 1992 through 2004.  Before his current appointment, he was managing director at Core Capital Partners, a venture-capital firm, and was a longtime Obama fundraiser.

Over the last decade-plus, there’s been an increasingly close relationship between the FCC and its corporate clients – to the detriment of the public. This was most graphically displayed in 2011 when Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, shortly following her approval of Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal, took a well-paying position with the cable giant.

The FCC’s revolving door is evident in the career paths of the three most recent chairmen. Kevin Martin, a Bush-II appointee, is now with Patton Boggs, a leading Washington, DC, law firm and lobbyist. Powell, Gen. Powell’s son who now heads the NCTA; and William Kennard, also appointed by Clinton, previously an executive with the banking firm, Carlyle Group, now serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.  And Obama’s former chairman, Genachowski?; he’s now with the Carlyle Group.

“The FCC is inviting ISPs to pick winners and losers online,” Michael Weinberg, vice president at Public Knowledge, a Washington-based consumer-advocacy group, said in a statement. “This is not Net neutrality. This standard allows ISPs to impose a new price of entry for innovation on the Internet.”

The “simple” solution to the likely end to net neutrality is to reclassify the Internet as a common carrier service.  But “simple” is never simple, especially for the Obama administration where rhetoric has replaced reality as the mark of its “progressive” commitments.  While FCC Chairman Wheeler and the White House will moan and groan the fate of net neutrality, they will do little to really address the underlying problem.  The end of net neutrality is at hand.

David Rosen can be reached at drosennyc@verizon.net.

David Rosen is the author of Sex, Sin & Subversion:  The Transformation of 1950s New York’s Forbidden into America’s New Normal (Skyhorse, 2015).  He can be reached at drosennyc@verizon.net; check out www.DavidRosenWrites.com.

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and My Late Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy after All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail