“Fake” Net Neutrality Comments At Heart Of Lawsuit Filed Against FCC

Getty Images | designer491

By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica – Prechtel argued that the data he requested can be used to determine whether “any groups of comments submitted by particular e-mail addresses correlate with what other previous comment analyses suspect are fake comments” and “if any suspicious e-mail address URLs (lobbyists, PR firms, .gov addresses, non-US domain names, etc.) were allowed to submit bulk comments.” Prechtel also argues that suspicious comment uploading patterns might shed light on the FCC comment system’s downtime on May 8, an event the FCC has blamed on multiple distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Democratic lawmakers have criticized the FCC for failing to provide information substantiating the DDoS claims and have called for an independent investigation. “I believe the API key log information I requested can help identify who was behind the alleged FCC cyberattack on May 7-8,” Prechtel told Ars. But so far, his efforts to get that information have been met with silence, he said. “It has now been over three months since anyone at the FCC has reached out to me, and nearly two months since they have been legally required to respond to my request or request another extension to process it,” he said. Prechtel is being represented by Loevy & Loevy, which also represented him in a previous FoIA lawsuit involving the Chicago Transit Authority.

The Internet Was Always A Common Carrier

Getty

By Fenwick McKelvey for Algorithm Media Observatory – This summer, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched an initiative to revisit the previous administration’s “Fair and Open Internet Order,” which established an approach to regulating the Internet commonly called network neutrality. The current FCC hopes to “end the utility-style regulatory approach” of the past administration, which the FCC represents as an aberration in the Internet’s history of increasing freedom and openness, and replace it with a “light-touch regulatory framework.” If undertaken, this move will reclassify the Internet as an information service, rolling back the decade-long struggle that led to the Internet being considered a common carrier. The FCC claims this reclassification will serve as a course correction for Internet regulation, but their proposal is out of step with the Internet’s established history as a common carrier. Common carriage is an old idea with a long and tested regulatory tradition. Simply put, it makes a judgement about the importance of certain infrastructure for the public and sets regulatory conditions to ensure these special services work on behalf of the public good. Railways, telephone lines, and Internets have been vital to society and the economy and are thus common carriers.

We Need The Internet Now More Than Ever, But Time Is Running Out To Save It

COFOTOISME VIA GETTY IMAGES

By Evan Greer for The Huffington Post – At midnight on Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shut its doors to public comment on the agency’s latest plan to gut net neutrality ― the basic guiding principle that makes the internet awesome, and prevents internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from charging extra fees, slowing access to websites and apps, or outright blocking online content. The FCC’s deadline represents a milestone, but it’s far from the end of the fight. What happens over the next several months will have a profound effect not only on the the future of the internet, but on the future of democracy and freedom of expression. As the FCC, lead in corrupt “comic book villain” fashion by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, rushes forward with its plan to strip internet users of basic free speech protections, members of Congress who take big checks from Big Cable are plotting a follow-up attack. They want to ram through legislation that crushes the legal framework for net neutrality once and for all, disguised as a “compromise” they hope will look enticing once the FCC rules are slashed. They know that if bad legislation passes, reinstating real net neutrality rules becomes nearly impossible, or at least a tortuous uphill battle.

500# Small Businesses Urge FCC To Protect Net Neutrality

Getty

By Staff of FIght For Our Future – We are a group of businesses empowered by unencumbered access to an open Internet. We are deeply concerned with the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to roll back its existing strong net neutrality rules based on Title II of the Communications Act. We urge you to maintain the existing rules instead. Today, broadband is vital to American enterprise; connectivity is absolutely essential to businesses. We also depend on a strong competitive framework and legal foundation to ensure that Internet service providers (ISPs) cannot discriminate against websites, services, and apps, or impose new fees that harm small businesses. The open Internet has made it possible for us to rely on a free market where each of us has the chance to bring our best business ideas to the world without interference or seeking permission from any gatekeeper first. This is possible because the principle of net neutrality ensures that everyone has unimpeded access to the Internet. The Commission’s long-standing commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open Internet are a central reason why the Internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Nine Members Of Congress Targeted In Billboards By Net Neutrality Campaign

From fightforthefuture.org

By Evan Greer for Fight For The Future – Today digital rights organization Fight for the Future unveiled 3 more crowdfunded billboards targeting Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Bob Latta, and Greg Walden, members of Congress who have publicly supported the FCC’s efforts to gut net neutrality protections that keep the web free from censorship, throttling, and extra fees. The three new billboards are the latest in an ongoing campaign focused on lawmakers who oppose Internet freedom. Earlier this month the group launched an initial round of net neutrality billboards targeting six different lawmakers in states across the country. The move comes just hours before the FCC’s final deadline for public input on their controversial plan to repeal net neutrality. With lawmakers still in their home districts, the billboards – paid for by hundreds of small donations – appear in three different states.

Net Neutrality Supported By 74 Percent In United States

Photo (c) Natalia Merzlyakova - Fotolia

By Mark Huffman for Consumer Affairs – Net Neutrality can be something of a complex subject, but another poll shows consumers not only understand what it is, they want to keep it. In short, Net Neutrality holds that internet service providers (ISP) have to treat all web content the same. That means they can’t charge extra to sites that use more bandwidth, and they can’t favor the content of one site over another. Some ISPs have protested, saying they’ve spent millions of dollars building out their networks and should be allowed to manage them as they see fit. In the latter years of the Obama Administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established Net Neutrality as policy, over the protests of some ISPs.

Even Many ISP-Backed Allies Think Ajit Pai’s Attack On Net Neutrality Is Too Extreme

From arstechnica.com

By Karl Bode for Tech Dirt – With its quest to gut net neutrality, privacy and other consumer broadband protections, the FCC is rushing face first toward stripping meaningful oversight of some of the least-liked — and least competitive — companies in America. The FCC’s plan, based on flimsy to no data and in stark contrast to the will of the public, involves gutting most FCC oversight of broadband providers, then shoveling any remaining authority to an FTC we’ve noted is ill-suited, under-funded, and legally ill-equipped for the job. That’s a real problem for a sector that’s actually getting less competitive than ever in many markets. Giant ISPs and their armies of policy allies often try to frame the effort as a noble quest for deregulation, often insisting they’re somehow “restoring internet freedom” in a bare-knuckled attempt to pander to partisan constituents. But by any sane measure the FCC’s quest is little more than a massive gift to despised duopolies like Comcast — at what might be the worst possible time for a severely dysfunctional industry. But there are signs that even many traditional big ISP allies think Ajit Pai’s plan is absurdly extreme.

AT&T’s Slow 1.5Mbps Internet In Poor Neighborhoods Sparks Complaint To FCC

Getty Images | Steven Puetzer

By Jon Brodkin for ARS Techinica – AT&T is facing a complaint alleging that it discriminates against poor people by providing fast service in wealthier communities and speeds as low as 1.5Mbps in low-income neighborhoods. The formal complaint filed today with the Federal Communications Commission says that AT&T is violating the Communications Act’s prohibition against unjust and unreasonable discrimination. That ban is part of Title II, which is best known as the authority used by the FCC to impose net neutrality rules. But as we’ve explained before, Title II also contains important consumer protections that go beyond net neutrality, such as a ban on discrimination in rates, practices, and offerings of services. “This complaint, brought by Joanne Elkins, Hattie Lanfair, and Rachelle Lee, three African-American, low-income residents of Cleveland, Ohio alleges that AT&T’s offerings of high-speed broadband service violate the Communications Act’s prohibition against unjust and unreasonable discrimination,” the complaint says. AT&T is not immune to the ban on discrimination “merely because its discrimination is based on investment decisions,” the complaint also says.

Voices For Internet Freedom Coalition Applauds NAACP's Support For Strong And Enforceable Net Neutrality Rules

Getty

By Timothy Karr for Voices for Internet Freedom – WASHINGTON — The Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition, which fights for the digital rights of communities of color, applauds the NAACP for calling on the Federal Communications Commission to protect Net Neutrality and supporting the agency’s legal authority to enforce its rules. In a column published last week in The Hill, Derrick Johnson, the NAACP’s interim president and CEO, wrote: “With the fate of net neutrality on the line, the NAACP urges Chairman Pai to respect the congressional intent behind Title II of the Telecommunications Act, to protect the free flow of information and not jeopardize it by removing high-speed broadband from the equalizing framework of Title II. ISPs should not be able to discriminate against any information, or against any groups of people, based on their profit margins or their whims. Information is power and no one should be allowed to strip that power away — and definitely not on our watch.” In 2015, the Obama FCC adopted strong Net Neutrality rules that prohibit internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from blocking, censoring or discriminating against any online content.

Net Neutrality Activists Launch Crowdfunded Billboards Targeting Key Members Of Congress

Screenshot 2017-08-16 at 9.42.41 AM

By Tiffiniy Cheng for Fight For The Future – Today digital rights organization Fight for the Future unleashed a series of crowdfunded billboards targeting lawmakers who support FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to repeal the country’s net neutrality rules. With members of Congress back in their home districts, the billboards – paid for by hundreds of small donations – appear in six different states just weeks before the FCC’s final deadline for public input on their proposal to gut net neutrality rules that prevent companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from charging extra fees, throttling, or blocking websites, apps, and online services. Since the massive July 12th day of action, millions have contacted their representatives – who have oversight over the FCC – to ensure these key protections are not changed or removed. The billboards send a strong message to any Members of Congress contemplating support for the FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality, which is currently being tracked through a “congressional scorecard” on BattleForTheNet.com. So far very few lawmakers have been willing to publicly support Ajit Pai’s plan, likely in light of polling that shows voters – including Republicans – overwhelmingly oppose it.

FCC Extends Deadline For Net Neutrality Comments

Getty

By Harper Neidig for The Hill – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday agreed to extend a deadline for submitting comments on its proposal to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules. The deadline for responding to the first round of public comments, which closed last month, has been extended from Aug. 16 to Aug. 30. Groups supporting net neutrality filed a motion for an eight-week extension to respond to comments in favor of the repeal effort, submitted largely by the cable and telecom industries. Those industry groups opposed the extension arguing that both sides of this long-running debate have had “multiple opportunities to weigh in on the core issues in play here for over fifteen years across a range of public dockets.” “While it is the policy of the Commission that ‘extensions shall not be routinely granted,’ we find that an extension of the reply comment deadline is appropriate in this case in order to allow interested parties to respond to the record in this proceeding,” Daniel Kahn, the FCC’s chief of the competition policy division, wrote in Friday’s order.

Ajit Pai’s Anti-Net Neutrality Plan Gets The Facts And Law Wrong

Enlarge / Democrats vs. Republicans.

By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica – The FCC has prioritized one metric above all—the amount of money Internet providers have spent on upgrading networks since the rules were passed in 2015, Democrats wrote. The argument that investment has decreased is based on “scant evidence and questionable assumptions,” and in any case, network investment should not be the FCC’s only consideration, they wrote. Pai has said he will make his net neutrality decision based on the “facts and the law,” but the lawmakers argued that he has gotten both the facts and the law wrong. The FCC, Democrats wrote, “is prohibited from ignoring the effects of its actions on important national priorities such as free speech, democracy, small businesses, economic opportunity, jobs, and privacy.” The FCC comment was submitted by Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Col.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.).

Internet Censorship Bill Would Spell Disaster For Speech And Innovation

From eff.org

By Elliot Harmon for EFF – There’s a new bill in Congress that would threaten your right to free expression online. If that weren’t enough, it could also put small Internet businesses in danger of catastrophic litigation. Don’t let its name fool you: the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) wouldn’t help punish sex traffickers. What the bill would do (PDF) is expose any person, organization, platform, or business that hosts third-party content on the Internet to the risk of overwhelming criminal and civil liability if sex traffickers use their services. For small Internet businesses, that could be fatal: with the possibility of devastating litigation costs hanging over their heads, we think that many entrepreneurs and investors will be deterred from building new businesses online. Make no mistake: sex trafficking is a real, horrible problem. This bill is not the way to address it. Lawmakers should think twice before passing a disastrous law and endangering free expression and innovation.

Google’s New Search Protocol Restricting Access To Leading Leftist Web Sites

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Andre Damon and David North for WSWS – New data compiled by the World Socialist Web Site, with the assistance of other Internet-based news outlets and search technology experts, proves that a massive loss of readership observed by socialist, anti-war and progressive web sites over the past three months has been caused by a cumulative 45 percent decrease in traffic from Google searches. The drop followed the implementation of changes in Google’s search evaluation protocols. In a statement issued on April 25, Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to “offensive” sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content.” The World Socialist Web Site has obtained statistical data from SEMrush estimating the decline of traffic generated by Google searches for 13 sites with substantial readerships. Of the 13 web sites on the list, the World Socialist Web Site has been the most heavily affected. Its traffic from Google searches has fallen by two thirds. The new statistics demonstrate that the WSWS is a central target of Google’s censorship campaign. In the twelve months preceding the implementation of the new Google protocols, the WSWS had experienced a substantial increase in readership. A significant component of this increase was the product of Google search results.

Obama FCC Chief Says Net Neutrality Repeal Will Turn The Internet Into Cable

Protestors organized a "light brigade" outside the White House on Thursday night to promote net neutrality. (Photo by Nancy Scola/The Washington Post)

By Giuseppe Macri for Inside Sources – The former chief of the Federal Communications Commission under President Barack Obama on Wednesday warned the Trump administration’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules could make accessing the internet like buying a cable TV package. Tom Wheeler, who led the passage of the embattled rules at the FCC in 2015, said the new Republican plan to undo them would let broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon carve up internet access like premium cable channels. “Do you want your access to the internet to look like your cable service?” Wheeler told a crowd in BaltimoreWednesday. “Stop and think about it — cable operators pick and choose what channels you get. Cable operators pick and choose who they let on. Cable operators turn to you and say, ‘Oh you want that? That’s going to be a little bit more.’” The Republican proposal by Wheeler successor and Trump appointee Ajit Pai raises the possibility of repealing core net neutrality rules barring internet providers from web content blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Throwing out those rules, especially the latter preventing providers from making deals with popular websites like Netflix to reach subscribers faster than competitors, opens the door for broadband service packages that copy the cable TV model.