Last week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, announced a plan to effectively end net neutrality, which prevents them from blocking access to web pages, slowing some connections, or prioritizing some content over others. In other words, big telecoms will, in theory, be able to alter their fee structures so that you have to pay more to access social media websites, and still more to get on Netflix, and still more if you want to game. More troublesome, though, is that some of these internet service providers are also in the content game, so they could prioritize their content and make you pay for their competitors.
“Pai has maintained that the rules, adopted in 2015, are ‘heavy-handed,’ and his proposal would eliminate them entirely. To critics, it would open the door for so-called online fast lanes, where broadband providers charge content makers for faster delivery of their movies or music. To Pai, it would help broadband investment in the United States. A vote is slated for December.”
In a speech yesterday, Pai blasted critics, including Hollywood types and Silicon Valley. “Pai sought to make an example of Twitter. He specifically raised the fact that the company at one point prevented a Republican congresswoman from promoting a tweet about abortion, only to change its mind amid a public backlash. ‘Now look: I love Twitter,’ Pai began. ‘But let’s not kid ourselves; when it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is a part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.’”
Yesterday, the FCC published a “fact sheet” purporting to bust “myths” about net neutrality. As The Verge describes it, “It lists a series of ‘myths’ about the commission’s proposal, followed by ‘facts’ that supposedly debunk them—except the facts are often wrong, or directly confirm the myth that they’re trying to debunk.”
Pai has also argued that net neutrality has harmed smaller internet companies while allowing the big ones to solidify their holds on the market. However: “In June, 40 small internet service providers sent FCC Chairman Ajit Pai a letter supporting the current net neutrality rules and sharing their concern that without them, they'll be crushed by the cable giants.”
“The new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, formerly worked as a lawyer for Verizon. His plan to eliminate net neutrality is a bigger gift to Verizon than anything he's ever done before.”
“Without net neutrality, Internet service providers will be able to charge web companies for ‘fast lanes,’ which they can't do now. Smaller online video or videogame providers could be relegated to the slow lane. The biggest service providers (Netflix, Google, Amazon, and others) may have to cough up extra money, but the consumers won't see any of that–all the benefits will go to the ISPs. Consumers could see their rates go up. Higher fees for lousier service. Does this sound familiar? That's how cable companies have operated for years.”
“Not surprisingly, virtually everyone hates this idea except the cable companies themselves. The telecommunications industry, though, is very excited about the prospect of all the money they're going to make.”
And here are John Oliver’s thoughts on the subject.
WHAT’S NEXT: The vote is next month, and repeal of net neutrality is almost certain.
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