Friday, 19 October, 2018

U.S. net neutrality rules expire, court battle looms

This week could reshape the internet Net neutrality rules expire and AT&T-Time Warner decision is due U.S. net neutrality rules expire, court battle looms
Emmett Howard | 13 June, 2018, 21:44

Those regulations prevented internet providers from blocking or interfering with or discriminating against the content they distribute.

Current FCC chairman Ajit Pai spearheaded the effort to return the internet to the way it was before the rules took effect, and despite the overwhelming support for keeping the rules intact, the FCC voted 3-2 to reverse course.

"We once again call on Congress to pass, this year, a law protecting the core principles of an open internet - no blocking, no throttling, no censorship, no unfair discrimination based on online content - and including robust consumer privacy protections that apply to all entities in the internet ecosystem and no matter how consumers access the internet". In fact, some have made clear they want to have the freedom to prioritize certain kinds of traffic over others.

The net neutrality rules were approved in 2015.

"Our framework will protect consumers and promote better, faster internet access and more competition".

"Washington has a long history of working across party lines for consumer protection", Hansen said.

While the now-defunct net neutrality rules didn't specifically address interchange disputes, they did give the FCC broad latitude to oversee the "general conduct" of broadband providers to determine if the companies were being anticompetitive or interfering with customers' ability to access internet sites and services.

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Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai defended his agency's repeal of Obama-era network neutrality rules in an op-ed for C-Net. In reality, the FTC will only be able to enforce a company's own terms and conditions, which won't do anything to stop the spread of paid fast lanes, zero-rating, or anti-competitive behavior across the industry.

Washington and OR now have their own net neutrality laws, and a bill is pending in California's legislature. "They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road".

Still, several of these measures have failed, some are still pending, and not every state has taken such actions. Under that approach, the internet was open and free. Network investment topped $1.5 trillion. So it's not far-fetched to think a company like Comcast could throttle Netflix (or other innovative content providers) and make it impossible to watch a movie or other content without constant buffering.

But many advocates expect that sooner or later, broadband providers will act in ways that would have violated the former rules.

Perhaps the repeal won't change the direction of the internet.

"If that puts upward pressure on the federal government to enact robust net neutrality rules, then that's a good thing", said Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator and the bill's chief author.

"At the FCC, we have a transparency rule where every company in the USA has to disclose their business practices, and the Federal Trade Commission is empowered to take action against any company who engages in any anti-competitive conducts", Pai said.

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