Chairman Wheeler Predicts FCC Will Beat Legal Challenge To Net Neutrality

30 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chairman Wheeler Predicts FCC Will Beat Legal Challenge To Net Neutrality.

Now that the FCC is the subject of several lawsuits, and its leader, Chairman Tom Wheeler, was dragged in front of Congress repeatedly to answer the same battery of inanity, it’s worth checking in to see how the agency is feeling. Long called the “nuclear” option, the FCC preemptively triggered Title II Internet regulation ostensibly to prevent potential new net neutrality problems, which the FCC admits it can’t yet identify. The open Internet, or net neutrality, rules give the Federal Communications Commission authority to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or throttling content users want to access and from seeking payments in exchange for faster delivery. a practice called “paid prioritization.” Last year, the federal court tossed out the FCC’s previous open Internet rules with the argument that “you’re trying to impose common carrier-like regulation without stepping up and saying, ‘these are common carriers’,” Wheeler said. “We have addressed that issue … Telecom Association — a major trade group — and Texas-based Web service company Alamo Broadband filed separate lawsuits against the FCC orders, claiming that they violate the law. It presumes end to end, and top to bottom, FCC control of a vertically-integrated AT&T monopoly, including local and long distance communications, telecom equipment and devices manufacturing, Bell Labs R&D and content, publishing and advertising in Yellow Pages directories.

It’s unclear whether those particular challenges will be heard, since the rules have not yet been printed in The Federal Register, the government’s compendium of regulations. Most every functional part of the 1934 Title II monopoly AT&T ecosystem has a functional communications equivalent in the 21st century Internet ecosystem.

He went on to say that “the big winners will be America’s consumers and innovators and our economy as a whole,” according to a text of the speech made available by the FCC. “We will finally have strong, enforceable rules that assure that Internet remains open now, and into the future.” Wheeler appeared before five different Congressional hearings over the past two weeks. No, it’s not that one senator or another is having a hard time downloading the latest episode of “Supernatural,” but there’s been some contention about how to regulate the Internet that will impact everyone who uses the World Wide Web. Title II also is inherently an adversarial, command and control regulatory ecosystem designed for one provider and one decider — the AT&T telephone monopoly network and the FCC monopoly regulator, respectively.

In their 80-page dissenting opinions against the regulations, Republican FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly poked legal holes in the regulations, accusing the agency of moving forward too quickly and not providing enough justification for the action, among other things. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., expressed concern that Republicans were turning the rules “into another wedge issue to attack the president.” Before that hearing, Wheeler had appeared at three other House hearings and a Senate Commerce oversight hearing in the previous two weeks. After several years and looking into a few suspicious cases, the FCC realized that ISPs were doing some sneaky things like limiting bandwidth to specific websites like Netflix.

At the same time, their plan would seek to limit the FCC in some ways, such as by preventing it from ever treating the Web like a public utility and restricting its ability to use broad legal powers to reduce barriers to the growth of broadband Internet services. If broadband is now telecommunications, IP addresses are now the legal equivalent of a phone number, and the Internet itself is now the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) per the FCC’s Internet Order, then are any apps that involve telecommunications of any kind, such as instant messaging, VoIP, or video communications etc., Title II telecommunications as well? He referenced the experience in his speech, thanking officials for asking him to appear there. “It’s great to be here, and I’m not just saying that because I spent five of the previous eight weekdays testifying before Congress,” Wheeler said. Those Republicans have yet to find supportive Democrats — who would be crucial to avoid both a Senate filibuster and presidential veto — though several have expressed some willingness to negotiate, if only to ensure that the FCC’s regulations aren’t undone by a court.

He told the crowd that “the Commission’s Open Internet Order rests on a basic choice – whether those who build the networks should make the rules by themselves or whether there should be a basic set of rules and a referee on the field to throw the flag if they are violated.” Do online advertisers who use Title II Section 222 customer proprietary network information (user identifiers) in their cookies that telecommunicate back to their data centers, have to protect customer privacy like broadband providers do? Just a few of the problems were broadband throttling, which makes certain websites or certain types of content download slowly, unlawful blocking of lawful content and a paid prioritization of content, which is basically the opposite of throttling in that a business can pay an ISP a certain amount of money to make their website download faster than others. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) calling for “clear and certain rules” that “preserve and protect the open Internet.” “Passage of this amendment is a good omen that Congress can come together, on a bipartisan basis, to address uncertainty facing the Internet and consumers,” he said in a statement. Even if the courts rule in favor of the FCC and Congress doesn’t act, the new regulations are guaranteed only as long as the agency doesn’t decide to change course.

A little over a month ago, the FCC voted in some new rules that basically do the same thing the 2010 rules would do, but under different legislation so they would have power to make and keep these rules. Innovators face the new and unnecessary uncertainty of FCC second-guessing and after the fact rejection of their innovations by opaque, arbitrary and unnecessary FCC innovation permission panels. But if that should happen to change — for instance, if a Democratic president is unable to move their nominees through a GOP-controlled Senate after the current commissioners’ term expire — the agency could be stuck in a 2-2 deadlock, which would automatically grant an exemption, known as forbearance. “It’s not too far out there,” former Rep. While it might be in vogue to be apathetic towards government and all things political, this is one issue that students should stand up and be heard about. Write your elected official, (if you live in Ogden or northern Utah, it’s Rob Bishop), sign a petition or support cause groups through social media.

One of the big ways citizens got President Obama’s attention about net neutrality was through a White House petition forum called “We the People.” Because of this site, President Obama posted a video and gave speeches encouraging the kind of tough rulings Americans expressed that they wanted on the We the People forum. No matter what it is you do, like a political cause on Facebook, write a letter to Rob Bishop or become a lobbyist, the point is we can’t sit by and let old men in Washington make all the important decisions for us, especially with important and life-changing issues like net neutrality.

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