Legally Dubious Hybrid Proposals Won’t Protect Internet Users


The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night that the Federal Communications Commission is redrafting its proposed open Internet rules. The new plan, based on filings from Mozilla and the Center for Democracy and Technology, would reportedly “separate broadband into two distinct services: a retail one, in which consumers would pay broadband providers for Internet access; and a back-end one, in which broadband providers serve as the conduit for websites to distribute content.” Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the follow statement:

“This Frankenstein proposal is no treat for Internet users, and they shouldn’t be tricked. No matter how you dress it up, any rules that don’t clearly restore the agency’s authority and prevent specialized fast lanes and paid prioritization aren’t real Net Neutrality. “The good news is that the FCC seems to have abandoned the disastrous proposal it put out in May.

President Obama: No Internet Fast Lanes

The New York Times
The Federal Communications Commission, which could soon allow phone and cable companies to block or interfere with Internet content, has been deluged with more than a million comments. Last week, President Obama offered some thoughts of his own by saying that the Internet should be left open “so that the next Google or the next Facebook can succeed.”
The F.C.C. is trying to decide whether telecommunications companies should be able to strike deals with powerful firms like Netflix and Amazon for faster delivery of videos and other data to consumers. Mr. Obama’s statement about “the next Google” highlights one of the biggest problems with such agreements: Small and young businesses will not be able to compete against established companies if they have to pay fees to telephone and cable companies to get content to users in a timely manner. Mr. Obama also argued against efforts by some countries to control and censor information on the Internet. “Closed societies that are not open to new ideas, eventually they fall behind,” he warned.

Obama on net neutrality: My administration is against Internet fast lanes

By Brian Fung
Washington Post

The last time President Obama weighed in on net neutrality, it was to offer a vague, tepid response — claiming to support the idea without really defining how he understood it. It was a big contrast from what he’d previously said on the campaign trail in 2008. On Tuesday, however, Obama offered a much more forceful defense of net neutrality, more clearly describing what activities he viewed as antithetical to the open Internet. Addressing reporters at a summit for African leaders in Washington, Obama said making the Internet more accessible to some at the expense of others was against his administration’s policy:
One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers. That’s the big controversy here. So you have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster.

Net neutrality becomes a key battleground in encryption fight

By Stephen Lawson
Plans to favor some Internet packets over others threaten consumers’ hard-won right to use encryption, a digital privacy advocate says. Activists and tech companies fended off efforts in the U.S. in the 1990s to ban Internet encryption or give the government ways around it, but an even bigger battle over cryptography is brewing now, according to Sascha Meinrath, director of X-Lab, a digital civil-rights think tank launched earlier this year. One of the most contested issues in that battle will be net neutrality, Meinrath said. The new fight will be even more fierce than the last one, because Internet service providers now see dollars and cents in the details of packets traversing their networks. They want to charge content providers for priority delivery of their packets across the network, something that a controversial Federal Communications Commission proposal could allow under certain conditions.

The Internet Association Comments on FCC Net Neutrality Proposal

By The Internet Association


The Internet Association today submitted its comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging Commissioners to take strong and decisive action to guarantee an open Internet for the future. The Internet Association’s comments mark the first time that more than two dozen of the world’s most-recognizable and successful Internet companies have spoken with a unified voice on the issue of Net Neutrality. “Segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of The Internet Association. “The FCC must act to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules and apply them equally to both wireless and wireline providers.  

The Internet Association’s comments to the FCC can be distilled into three key tenets necessary to secure and preserve an open Internet for the future:



A Threat to Internet Freedom

The New York Times
The last few months have been critically important for the future of Internet freedom and access. The concept of “network neutrality” has been so central to our experience of the Internet, and such a driving force for innovation and expression, that most of us have taken it for granted. This Op-Doc explains the basic idea: when you visit a website, the phone or cable company that provides Internet access shouldn’t get in the way. Information should be delivered to you quickly and without discriminating about the content. To view the Op-Doc please visit the original article on the New York Times website.

What Everyone Gets Wrong in the Debate Over Net Neutrality

By Robert McMillan

Even Sunday night HBO watchers are worried the Federal Communications Commission will soon put an end to net neutrality. Earlier this month, on the HBO comedy news show “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver went on a 13-minute rant against the new set of internet rules proposed by the FCC. He warned that the rules would lead to a world where internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon can sell special treatment to web companies like Google and Netflix, charging extra fees to deliver their online videos and other content at fast speeds, and he urged viewers to bombard the FCC website with protests, saying the rules would end up hurting smaller web outfits that can’t afford to pay the fees. The next day, the FCC site buckled under the traffic and went offline. It was just part of a sweeping effort to squash the proposed rules.

Music Freedom Or Holding Consumers Hostage? Letting ISPs Pick Winners And Losers Is A Problem

By Mike Masnick

With all of the current arguing over net neutrality lately, it’s important to recognize that the people who actually supply your internet access have pretty much already figured out ways to get around anything the FCC is currently talking about. As we’ve discussed, Comcast (and others) recently realized that they can get the exact same solution (fast lanes and slow lanes, and getting big internet services to double pay for the bandwidth you already bought) by focusing on interconnection issues and purposely letting their ports get clogged. Separately, AT&T and Verizon are increasingly putting their focus on wireless over DSL/fiber anyway — in part because they know that the original (now rejected by the courts) open internet rules and any new FCC rules don’t apply to wireless networks. AT&T has exploited this with its sponsored data efforts, in which service providers can pay AT&T so that their data doesn’t apply towards the ridiculously low data caps they’ve placed on their mobile broadband offerings. T-Mobile has now done something similar, though it’s not quite as nefarious.

Wheeler dealing: The FCC’s net-neutrality plan

The Economist

ONE thing was certain when Tom Wheeler, a former cable-industry lobbyist who now chairs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), formally unveiled his proposal for an “open internet” at a public meeting on May 15th: few people would like it. Protesters have been camped outside the FCC’s Washington, DC digs for days, claiming that Mr Wheeler was out to destroy “net neutrality”—the idea that all digital traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs). Protests have been organised around the country to “save the internet”. Almost 2m people have signed petitions. Millions of bytes have been crafted into words that are anything but neutral about Mr Wheeler’s net intentions (some by this publication).

Internet ‘fast lane’ proposal crumbles as 150 tech companies voice net neutrality support

By Gregory Ferenstein

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to allow paid Internet ‘fast lanes’ is quickly losing support as more than 100 technology companies sign on to save the current net neutrality law. “The cracks are beginning to show in Chairman Wheeler’s plan that would undermine net neutrality,” said president of public policy group, Free Press, Craig Aaron, in a statement. “The more people learn about this proposal, the more skeptical they become. That list of skeptics now includes two Democratic commissioners who have taken the unusual step of questioning the Democratic chairman’s approach.”

Tech titans, including Facebook, Ebay, Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Twitter, Reddit, and dozens of startups, have all signed on to a letter [PDF] urging the commission to reject the proposed changes. Tech companies are bolstered by internal dissent.