Don’t Let Corporations Pick What Websites You Visit

Flickr/Backbone Campaign

By Razan Azzarkani for Other Words – Think about the websites you visit. The movies you stream. The music you listen to online. The animal videos that are just too cute not to share. Now think about the freedom to use the internet however and whenever you choose being taken away from you. That’s exactly what Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs), are trying to do. Right now, those companies are constrained by a principle called net neutrality — the so-called “guiding principle of the internet.” It’s the idea that people should be free to access all the content available online without ISPs dictating how, when, and where that content can be accessed. In other words, net neutrality holds that the company you pay for internet access can’t control what you do online. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted strong net neutrality rules that banned ISPs from slowing down connection speeds to competing services — e.g., Comcast can’t slow down content or applications specific to Verizon because it wants you to switch to their services — or blocking websites in an effort to charge individuals or companies more for services they’re already paying for. But now the open internet as we know it is under threat again. Net neutrality rules are in danger of being overturned by Donald Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai and broadband companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

10 Things AT&T Could Do To Actually Support Net Neutrality

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By Craig Aaron and Candace Clement for Free Press – We’re still picking ourselves off the floor from all the laughing we did when AT&T issued a press release this afternoon announcing that it was joining the “Day of Action for preserving and advancing the open internet.” As co-organizers of this day of action and people who have been fighting for internet freedom for more than a decade, we’d be thrilled to finally have AT&T’s full-throated support of Title II protections for Net Neutrality. Because that is, indeed, what it means to join the Day of Action that more than 80,000 companies, websites, organizations and internet users have pledged to take part in tomorrow. If only it were true. In reality, AT&T is just a company that is deliberately misleading the public. Their lobbyists are lying. They want to kill Title II — which gives the FCC the authority to actually enforce Net Neutrality — and are trying to sell a congressional “compromise” that would be as bad or worse than what the FCC is proposing. No thanks. AT&T has spent more money than maybe anyone except Comcast and Verizon to undermine the open internet and destroy Net Neutrality. It has hired hundreds of lobbyists.

Trump TV, Coming To A Market Near You

(Photo: Shutterstock)

By Craig Aaron for Other Words – Political appointees are changing the rules to let administration allies crowd out local voices on local TV. Donald Trump’s favorite local TV chain is about to get a lot bigger thanks to — wait for it — Donald Trump. Trump’s Federal Communications Commission is paving the way for Sinclair Broadcast Group — already the nation’s largest TV conglomerate — to take over Tribune, which owns 42 stations in many of the country’s big cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Denver. You may not have heard of Sinclair. But if you watch your local news, there’s a good chance you’re already watching a Sinclair-owned station. Sinclair already owns 173 stations, which are local affiliates in different cities for national networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. If this merger goes through, Sinclair will own a whopping 215 stations. No company has ever had that degree of control over local TV news, which is still the top news source for a majority of Americans. This deal would have been unthinkable in any other administration. But Trump’s FCC is actually rewriting the rules to make it happen — and to give one of the administration’s loudest media boosters an even bigger megaphone.

Cable Industry Lobbyists Write Republican Talking Points On Net Neutrality

Mark Wilson/Getty Images. The hearing room at the Federal Communications Commission headquarters in Washington, on Feb. 26, 2015.

By Lee Fang and Nick Surgey for The Intercept – FOLLOWING THE VOTE last week by the Federal Communication Commission to unwind the net neutrality rules enacted during the Obama administration, House Republican lawmakers received an email from GOP leadership on how to defend the decision. The email was shared with The Intercept and the Center for Media and Democracy. Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers must treat all web traffic in the same way. If the FCC eventually undoes the Obama-era regulations in their entirety, an ISP like Comcast could demand that websites pay it fees in order not to slow or block them. Large companies like Facebook would easily be able to afford such charges, but smaller companies might not, creating an uneven playing field. “Want more information on the net neutrality discussion?” wrote Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference. “Here is a nifty toolkit with news resources, myth vs reality information, what others are saying, and free market comments.” The attached packet of talking points came directly from the cable industry.

Cable Industry Lobbyists Write Republican Talking Points On Net Neutrality

Mark Wilson/Getty Images.  The hearing room at the Federal Communications Commission headquarters in Washington, on Feb. 26, 2015.

By Lee Fang and Nick Surgey for The Intercept – FOLLOWING THE VOTE last week by the Federal Communication Commission to unwind the net neutrality rules enacted during the Obama administration, House Republican lawmakers received an email from GOP leadership on how to defend the decision. The email was shared with The Intercept and the Center for Media and Democracy. Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers must treat all web traffic in the same way. If the FCC eventually undoes the Obama-era regulations in their entirety, an ISP like Comcast could demand that websites pay it fees in order not to slow or block them. Large companies like Facebook would easily be able to afford such charges, but smaller companies might not, creating an uneven playing field. “Want more information on the net neutrality discussion?” wrote Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference. “Here is a nifty toolkit with news resources, myth vs reality information, what others are saying, and free market comments.” The attached packet of talking points came directly from the cable industry.

Newsletter United To Save The Internet

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. The former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai, who now chairs the Federal Communications Commission has taken the first official steps to destroy the free and open Internet by proposing the end of Title II net neutrality rules on May 18. This would be a giveaway to Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other large Internet Service Providers that would allow them to control access to content on the Internet and charge users more fees. Chairman Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, is an example of the revolving door between government and industry that serves big business interests, and not the people. Pai has demonstrated during his first few months as chairman that he will say anything, including obvious lies, to serve the telecom industry. We must act quickly to save the Internet from going the road of cable TV

On Net Neutrality The Dishonesty Of The Telecoms Is Evident To All

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

By Nilay Patel for The Verge – The fight over net neutrality is starting to heat up — and the big difference between this time and 2015 is that big ISPs seem incredibly emboldened to say whatever they want without any regard for the truth. For example: here’s some sponcon from Verizon, where someone named Jeremy “interviews” Verizon general counsel Craig Silliman about what the FCC is up to and the resultant backlash, and Silliman says a bunch of things that are just flatly not true. How not true? He casually ignores the fact that Verizon sued the FCC to kill net neutrality in the past; losing that case is why the agency had to use the stronger Title II approach in the first place. (I’m not the only one to notice this; Motherboard pointed it out earlier.) Anyway, I’ve lined up almost everything Silliman says in this video against that simple fact. It is astounding. Enjoy.

Stop One Of The Biggest Mega-Mergers In History

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By Candace Clement for Free Press – AT&T is an enormous media, telecom and internet gatekeeper with a horrible track record of overcharging you, limiting your choices and spying on you. It’s still fighting Net Neutrality. It helps the government spy on people by turning over its customer records to the NSA. It tries to stop communities from building their own broadband networks.

Win For Telecom Giants As Court Puts Dagger In Municipal Broadband

The decision "appears to halt the promise of jobs, investment, and opportunity that community broadband has provided in Tennessee and North Carolina," said FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler. (Photo: DeclanTM/flickr/cc)

By Andrea Germanos for Common Dreams – For his part, Wheeler, who had promoted the policy,said the decision “appears to halt the promise of jobs, investment, and opportunity that community broadband has provided in Tennessee and North Carolina,” adding, “The efforts of communities wanting better broadband should not be thwarted by the political power of those who, by protecting their monopoly, have failed to deliver acceptable service at an acceptable price.”

FCC Approves Merger To Create Price-Gouging Cable Giant

Protesters hold a rally at the FCC headquarters in Washington to support net neutrality. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

By Timothy Karr for Free Press – WASHINGTON — According to several news reports, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to approve Charter Communications’ $90 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The merger combines the nation’s second-, third- and sixth-largest cable-TV and Internet providers. After the merger closes, two Internet service providers, Charter and Comcast, will control nearly two-thirds of the nation’s high-speed Internet subscribers.

NSA Spying Relies On ATT’s Generous Cooperation

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By Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson in ProPublica – THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY’S ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed NSA documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.” AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the NSA access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks.

Canada Takes Major Step To Affordable Internet

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By Open Media – A major ruling today from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) signals a significant step forward for Canadians’ ability to access affordable Internet options independent of Canada’s large telecom providers, says OpenMedia.ca. In late 2014, OpenMedia delivered crowdsourced inputfrom over 30,000 Canadians as part of the hearing that informed today’s decision–and is claiming victory. The ruling is the first step towards ensuring small independent ISPs are able to sell fibre Internet in Canada, which should expand access and affordability for users.

Free Press Blasts Industry Court Filings Against Net Neutrality

Note: Below is an excellent analysis from our colleagues at Free Press about the new FCC net neutrality rules. We got what we demanded, it is well rooted in law, and ensures equal access for all (without the government or corporations controlling content) because the Internet will be classified as a common carrier under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

By Free Press – Phone and cable companies and their lobbying groups filed an initial series of legal briefs on Thursday as part of their legal challenge against the Federal Communications Commission’s Feb. 26 Net Neutrality order. After the FCC properly decided to reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecom service under Title II of the Communications Act, various industry groups filed 10 different lawsuits to prevent the agency from enforcing the open Internet protections. The court ordered those challengers to join together and file a total of three separate briefs today (rather than allowing all 10 petitioners to file separately). In June the same federal court rejected efforts by the broadband industry to delay the Net Neutrality rules from going into effect.

Net Neutrality Rules Already Forcing Companies To Play Fair

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (L), Chairman Tom Wheeler (2L), Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (2R) and Commissioner Michael ORielly (R) watch as protesters are removed from the dais during a hearing at the Federal Communication Commission(FCC) on December 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. The protesters were advocating for net neutrality. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The FCC’s net neutrality rules don’t even go into effect until June 12, but they’re already benefiting consumers. You’ll recall that the last year or so has been filled with ugly squabbling over interconnection issues, with Level 3 accusing ISPs like Verizon of letting peering points congest to kill settlement-free peering and drive Netflix toward paying for direct interconnection. But with Level 3 and Cogent hinting they’d be using the FCC’s new complaint process to file grievances about anti-competitive behavior, magically Verizon has now quickly struck deals with Level 3 and Cogent that everybody on board appears to be happy with. And it’s not just Verizon; Level 3 also quickly managed to strike a new interconnection deal with AT&T, and Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer recently proclaimed Comcast has also become suddenly more amicable of late, turning on ports for capacity quickly and when needed.

Net Neutrality: Trade Group Led By AT&T & Verizon Sues FCC

Note: Below is an excellent analysis from our colleagues at Free Press about the new FCC net neutrality rules. We got what we demanded, it is well rooted in law, and ensures equal access for all (without the government or corporations controlling content) because the Internet will be classified as a common carrier under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

The Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules haven’t taken effect yet, but they’re already facing lawsuits from Internet service providers. One such lawsuit was filed today by USTelecom, which is led by AT&T, Verizon, and others. Another lawsuit was filed by a small Internet service provider in Texas called Alamo Broadband. (The Washington Post flagged the lawsuits.) Internet providers are now common carriers, and they’re ready to sue. The net neutrality order, which reclassifies broadband providers as common carriers and imposes rules against blocking and discriminating against online content, “is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” USTelecom alleged in its petition to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.