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Battle lines are drawn. Trump’s FFC chairman Ajit Pai is on record against Net Neutrality, saying its days are numbered.
He took the first step. On November 22, he’ll publish his plan to kill digital democracy, letting users access all content without restrictions, limitations, or discrimination, an online level playing field for everyone – on the 54th anniversary of Jack Kennedy’s state-sponsored assassination.
His plan will let ISP giants establish toll roads or premium lanes, charge extra for speed and free and easy access, control content, as well as stifle dissent and independent thought – a dismal prospect.
His order will also ban states from imposing their own Net Neutrality rules, forbidding them from overriding federal regulations.
He’ll reverse Title II classification of ISPs, classifying them as common carriers, restricting their actions, an “information service” classification replacing it. A federal court ruled it’s less comprehensive, weakening consumer protections.
Pai issued a statement, saying
“(u)nder my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet.”
“Instead, the FCC 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.”
Free Press.net issued a stinging indictment of his policies since becoming FCC chairman in January, saying:
“(Y)ou’ve turned over our collective resource of the public broadcast airwaves to a company whose business model is built on tearing apart the fabric of communities by pushing racist fearmongering in the guise of news.”
“You granted Sinclair the ability to not simply broadcast this hate, but to maximize its already inflated profits by targeting its seeds of hate.”
“You’ve removed the last barrier preventing one voice from monopolizing every aspect of news production in America’s smaller communities, ensuring future generations will remain ignorant of the corruption taking place around them.”
“You’ve ripped away a literal lifeline to the world for millions of families struggling in ways you will never understand.”
“You’ve taken away basic connectivity to the forgotten seniors who worked their entire lives only to find themselves in abject poverty, failed by politicians like you who pay them cynical lip service and then spit on them when the cameras are off.”
“And you’re on the verge of turning over control of the internet on-ramps to a handful of companies so they can steal even more from their captured customers, and cut them off from the promise of an open and connected world.”
“You did all of this not for any legitimate public-policy reason; your actions will move us further from your own stated goals.”
“No, you are cruelly punishing the public and enriching the already fabulously wealthy in service of a radical and immoral ideology.”
Trump’s FCC has three Republican and two Democrat commissioners. Dem Jessica Rosenworcel blasted Pai’s plan, saying it
“hands broadband providers the power to decide what voices to amplify, which sites we can visit, what connections we can make, and what communities we create.”
“It throttles access, stalls opportunity, and censors content.” It’s an affront “to the millions of Americans who use the Internet every day.”
Dem commissioner Mignon Clyburn said
Pai’s rules “would dismantle net neutrality as we know it by giving the green light to our nation’s largest broadband providers to engage in anti-consumer practices, including blocking, slowing down traffic, and paid prioritization of online applications and services.”
On December 14, FCC commissioners will vote on Pai’s plan, approval almost certain with a GOP majority.
Rules he’ll establish ISP giants like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are designed exclusively for maximum profit-making, not consumer protections or service the way it should be for everyone.
Once changes are made and take effect, likely in January, the Internet won’t resemble the way it is now.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said Pai’s plan “invites a future where only the largest Internet, cable, and telephone companies survive, while every start-up, small business, and new innovator is crowded out – and the voices of nonprofits and ordinary individuals are suppressed.”
“Costs will go up, as ISPs take advantage of monopoly power to raise rates on edge providers and consumers alike.”
“The FCC (is) abdicat(ing) a fundamental responsibility” to assure competition, along with “protect(ing) consumer” rights.
ACLU policy analyst Jay Stanley warned that
“(g)utting net neutrality will have a devastating effect on free speech online. Without it, gateway corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will have too much power to mess with the free flow of information.”
Once voted on and approved, new policies will be published in the Federal Register and take effect in weeks.
Congressional legislation can rescind them – unlikely with GOP control and Trump as president. Whether virtually certain court battles can change things remains to be seen.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”