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Net Neutrality

Renomination Of Gigi Sohn Gives Public Another Chance To Be Heard

This month President Joe Biden renominated the highly qualified Sohn, whose confirmation has now been stalled for a record-breaking amount of time. With a 50/50 split in the Senate, Democrats had failed to muster enough support for a vote in the face of strong opposition from deep-pocketed big media corporations like Comcast. The FCC has been operating without a fifth member for well over a year, which has left it deadlocked with two Democratic and two Republican members. That’s great news for the telecom industry, which is enjoying the FCC’s inability to do things like restore net neutrality (which was implemented under Obama and repealed under Trump), ensure equal access to broadband, prevent further consolidation of big media, and crack down on wireless carriers’ abuse of private user location data.

The Internet Is Not Facebook

Cloudflare’s recent headline-making decision to refuse its services to KiwiFarms—a site notorious for allowing its users to wage harassment campaigns against trans people—is likely to lead to more calls for infrastructure companies to police online speech. Although EFF would shed no tears at the loss of KiwiFarms (which is still online as of this writing), Cloudflare’s decision re-raises fundamental, and still unanswered, questions about the role of such companies in shaping who can, and cannot, speak online. The deplatforming followed a campaign demanding that Cloudflare boot the site from its services. At first the company refused, but then, just 48 hours later, Cloudflare removed KiwiFarms from its services and issued a statement outlining their justifications for doing so.

Biden Executive Order Calls On FCC To Restore Net Neutrality

Washington, DC — On Friday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, to enact measures protecting internet users against the anti-competitive practices of large telecommunications and internet companies. In the order, Biden calls on the FCC to “restore Net Neutrality rules undone by the [Trump] administration.” In 2017, the agency under then-Chairman Ajit Pai repealed the Open Internet Order and abandoned the FCC’s jurisdiction over broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. Today’s executive order also calls on the FCC to require more transparency from broadband providers about their prices and terms of service, and to examine the impact of early termination fees and other punitive practices imposed on broadband customers.

We Already Knew Broadband Should Be A Public Utility

Broadband allows people to participate in the digital world, which encompasses our daily lives. It connects people with their families and friends, news on what is happening in the country and abroad, and gives access to an unlimited amount of important information and resources. During the COVID-19 pandemic, broadband has been critical in supporting online school and work, access to healthcare and medical information, and even vaccine distribution. Eighty-seven percent of people reported that the internet has been important to them during the outbreak, and fifty-three percent of people reported that broadband is essential for critical purposes and everyday tasks. If broadband is so essential, then why doesn’t current federal policy enable the Federal Communications Commission to regulate broadband as we regulate other public utilities — similar to the way we treat electricity, water, and phones?

DOJ Drops Lawsuit To Block California Net Neutrality Law

The US Department of Justice under President Joe Biden has dropped a department lawsuit filed under former President Donald Trump that challenged California's net neutrality rules. California's law, considered more strict than federal rules adopted during the Obama administration, could set the baseline for future federal rules.  The DOJ formally dismissed the lawsuit Monday. The suit was first filed in 2018 under ex-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Trump appointee. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the California law in October 2018. California adopted the new rules after a Republican-led FCC in 2017 repealed federal rules that had been established under President Barrack Obama. 

Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai Praised By Industry Organizations

Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who said Monday he will depart the commission on Jan. 20, leaves behind a controversial legacy: He’s regarded as either an exemplary change agent or an ideologue who forfeited consumer interests for commercial ones. To cable, telecommunications and consumer-electronics companies, Pai has been a model of transparency and a champion of free markets who cut away outdated regulations and laid the groundwork for the expansion of broadband to millions of Americans.

A Tale Of Two Titles

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a reliable broadband connection is a health and safety necessity. Families need the internet to connect to remote work, virtual classrooms, election information and telehealth care while maintaining social distance. But roughly 60 percent of low-income parents say their students will experience digital obstacles when attending online school this fall — including 40 percent who say they will have to seek out public WiFi because they don’t have a reliable internet connection at home. And students aren’t the only ones who need internet access to learn, work and thrive at home — at all times, but especially now.

Pai’s Destroying Internet Adoption, Not Just Net Neutrality

Washington, DC (October 29, 2020) - During Tuesday’s FCC open meeting, I was tweeting about the failures and falsehoods in the agency’s latest open-internet vote — a decision that involves so much more than just Net Neutrality rules, and that’s all about the Trump FCC’s unlawful abdication of its responsibility for broadband policy. The agency just released the final order, so this explainer recaps that Twitter thread and the Free Press research it came from. During tumultuous times it can be hard to focus on internet and media policy issues like these.

Trump FCC Turned The Internet Into A ‘Wild West’ For The Telecoms

Five years ago, the movement for internet freedom won an important victory when the Federal Communications Commission reclassified the internet as a common carrier, making it like a utility that everyone should have equal access to without discrimination. That was quickly reversed in 2017 under the new chair of the FCC, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, who deregulated the internet giving the government no authority to oversee the internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T. I speak with Josh Stager of the Open Technology Institute about the ongoing fight to protect the internet and what we need to do next.

OTI Condemns ‘Unhinged’ FCC, Urges Restoration Of Net Neutrality

Washington, DC - On October 27, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to reaffirm its 2017 repeal of net neutrality. The vote is a response to Mozilla v. FCC, a 2019 court ruling that found the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality was “unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service” and ignored the government’s duty to protect public safety, digital equity, and broadband competition.  In February 2020, the FCC abruptly announced a short public comment period to address the ruling and the court-ordered remand, or do-over, of the net neutrality proceeding.

FCC’s Repeal Of Net Neutrality Is Still Wrong

Washington - In a blog post on Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wrote that he stands by the agency's unpopular repeal of Net Neutrality rules. Pai also circulated a proposal to address three issues raised in 2019 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit when it remanded critical parts of that repeal and sent it back to the agency. At that time, the court commanded the FCC to examine the impacts of removing Title II as a source of authority for broadband’s inclusion in the Lifeline subsidy program.

FCC Ordered To Disclose Data About Net Neutrality Commenters

Siding with The New York Times, a federal judge has ordered that the Federal Communications Commission must disclose information about users who submitted comments during the 2017 net neutrality proceeding, despite the agency’s objections that doing so could compromise people’s privacy. U.S. District Court Judge Lorna Schofield in the Southern District of New York ruled Thursday that disclosure of the data — including commenters’ IP addresses, time stamps and user-agent headers — is in the public interest, particularly given concerns that many comments were fraudulent.

With Net Neutrality Axed, Local Governments Are Racing To Save The Open Internet

Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon are free to slow down, block or prioritize internet traffic as they wish, without interference by the federal government. That’s the effect of an October ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a 2017 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that reversed rules requiring what is called “net neutrality” – treating all internet traffic equally, regardless of where it’s from or what kind of data it is. Giving corporate telecom giants this power is wildly unpopular among the American people, who know that these companies have overcharged customers and interfered with users’ internet access in the past.

Court Decision On Net Neutrality Opens Doors To Next Steps

In 2015, under great pressure from a broad media justice movement, the FCC passed Net Neutrality policies that guaranteed the universal right to go where users want to go on the Internet. In 2017, the Trump FCC under Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai moved quickly to repeal Net Neutrality. The movement responded with several tactics to win Net Neutrality back. One of those was a challenge in court, Mozilla v FCC. Last week, the court finally announced its decision. We speak with Craig Aaron of Free Press about that decision. While the court did not restore Net Neutrality, it did open the doors for the movement to use other tactics to achieve a free Internet. Aaron describes what those are and the bigger picture of an Internet for everyone.

Next Phase Of The Battle For Net Neutrality & People’s Control Of The Internet

Last week, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals finally issued a decision on a challenge to the Trump administration's "Open Internet" rule, which ended Net Neutrality protections in 2017. While the court reversed and remanded important parts of the rule, it upheld the reversal of Net Neutrality regulations. This decision opens the next phase of the struggle in the Battle for the Internet -- a battle between control of the Internet by a handful of big corporations versus an Internet that serves the people. The Internet freedom movement enters this conflict in a strong position as there is a public consensus that the Internet should be open and neutral, i.e. people should be able to go to websites without Internet Service Providers restricting their access. Millions of people have shown they will take action on behalf of a people's Internet.
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