FCC Moves to Close the Open Internet

FCC Moves to Close the Open Internet

Posted December 20th, 2017 by seanm

FCC Pulls the Plug on Open Internet Rules

After Federal Court Upholds FCC's Open Internet Ruling - Trump's FCC Pulled the Plug
Title II Requirements are Removed - Corporate Welfare!

In June of 2016, the Federal Appeals Court in the District of Columbia rejected industry efforts to overturn the FCC and upheld the "Open Internet" rules, adopted on a thin 3-2 FCC vote the previous year, that classify broadband access to internet as a Title II service under the Communications Act. Court ruling online here: https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/3F95E49183E6F8AF85257FD200505A3A/$file/15-1063-1619173.pdf

Following the 2016 national election and President Trump's appointment of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to chair the FCC in January 2017, a new majority took the reins and immediately launched efforts to reverse the Open Internet Rules - and particularly the Title II designation of internet service providers.

The latest move to reverse Title II designation was another historic online battle with new record numbers of participants supporting open internet, and the introduction of bots with identity theft - that proceeding culminated at the FCC on December 14, 2017 with adoption of FCC Chair Pai's order to take the FCC out of their role to protect consumers and public interests with regard to Internet. In a nutshell, Pai's claim is that Federal Trade Commission jurisdiction is adequate to fulfill the FCC's role.

Responding to FCC's move on December 14, 2017, Access Humboldt's executive director Sean McLaughlin released this statement:

"The FCC's action to abandon consumer protections and ignore public interests is misguided and can not stand. The FCC's move amounts to corporate welfare for the private industry that already maximizes profit by managing scarcity. We know that real open and secure internet services are essential for a healthy democracy that meets human needs and interests. Community media and broadband access are created to help preserve localism, competition and diversity in the marketplace of ideas.

"Without consumer protections, network operators owned by media conglomerates will monetize the basic connection service by restricting access, favoring certain content or users, monitoring and gathering customer information without consent and otherwise exercising market power to maximize profits. Gated and closed network-managed access has a fundamental design flaw that harms local voices, reduces competition and strips cultural and social diversity from the conversation. Liberty and justice require that people have open secure network access with editorial control left to the individual humans involved."

National public interest and consumer advocates for open networks know that there are other profit-motivated moves planned - including a "trojan horse" maneuver where telecom network owners' advocates will propose legislation that pretends to protect open internet - and claim that it is a Congressional fix to the terrible and very unpopular policy adopted by the FCC. But the legislative result will have fatal flaws that give ultimate legal control to the corporations who own and operate internet service providers. Thoughtful citizens are forewarned.

Meanwhile, there is an immediate and real opportunity for Congress to review and reject the FCC's new policy outright. That is an act of Congress that we do support!

History shows that anything short of Title II oversight will fail to protect consumers and public interests.

Access Humboldt - Open Internet Background
Through the Broadband Policy Project launched in 2008, Access Humboldt has been active in supporting universal access to open internet with direct advocacy at local, state and federal jurisdictions
[Note: Community media folks had been watching this issue since at least 1998 and the landmark case involving AT&T, the City of Portland and Brand X, which ultimately was decided by the Supreme Court in 2005 with a determination that the FCC has jurisdiction to determine designation of Internet services as Title I or II. http://www.techlawjournal.com/topstories/2005/20050627b.asp ]

Statement of Sean McLaughlin, executive director for Access Humboldt from June 2016:

"Local community voices, especially for remote rural and low income folks, require an open internet to protect us from potential abuses of absentee owners and profiteers who seek to manipulate and control the marketplace of ideas. Today's ruling affirms the principle of open networks and net neutrality. As we celebrate this solid victory, we also know that eternal vigilance will be required to maintain freedom of information and expression for all.

"Back in February of 2011, Access Humboldt originally hoped for stronger open network protections, and joined other public interest groups in filing a Federal District Court action to challenge the FCC's ruling as too weak - [ http://www.times-standard.com/20110223/access-humboldt-taking-part-to-in... ]. But while our work continues, today we can celebrate the DC District Court's validation of Title II designation for Internet access which will have profound impact on proceedings that are ongoing at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Issues such as broadband privacy, zero rating 'second-class' Internet service for the poor, and expansion of the Lifeline program to include broadband will all be supported by the legal foundation established in today's ruling."

Here are links to earlier Access Humboldt releases regarding:
Open Internet http://www.accesshumboldt.net/site/hear-us-now-open-networks-or-bust
http://www.accesshumboldt.net/site/open-internet-rules-upheld
Broadband Privacy
California: http://www.accesshumboldt.net/site/broadband-internet-privacy-act-advanc...
Federal: http://www.accesshumboldt.net/site/broadband-privacy-rules-adopted-fcc
http://accesshumboldt.net/site/broadband-privacy-call-action
Zero Rating http://accesshumboldt.net/site/zero-rating-discriminatory-needs-regulati...
Broadband Lifeline http://accesshumboldt.net/site/lifeline-comments-filed-fcc
Rural Phone Transition http://www.accesshumboldt.net/site/public-interests-move-protect-rural-n...
http://www.accesshumboldt.net/site/technology-transition-policies-advanc...

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Access Humboldt is a non-profit, community media organization formed in April 2006 to manage local cable franchise benefits on behalf of the County of Humboldt, California and the Cities of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, Rio Dell, Ferndale and Blue Lake.

Community media resources of Access Humboldt include: cable access TV channels; a wide area broadband network with dedicated optic fiber connections to twenty locations serving local jurisdictions, educational institutions and other public facilities; broadband access wireless networks; a Community Media Center with studio and other production equipment and training on the Eureka High School campus; and ongoing operational support for public, educational and governmental access media services from franchised cable operator, Suddenlink Communications.

Access Humboldt’s Board of Directors convenes regular public meetings, provides local accountability and sets governing policy to guide the organization

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For more information, contact Sean McLaughlin, c: 707-616-2381, or e-mail: sean@accesshumboldt.net

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