Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2017

FCC votes along party lines to repeal ‘net neutrality’

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai takes his seat for an FCC meeting where they will vote on net neutrality, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai takes his seat for an FCC meeting where they will vote on net neutrality, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

December 14, 2017, 9:19 a.m. Updated December 14, 2017, 4:07 p.m.


The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT & T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit or charge more for faster speeds.

In a straight party-line vote of 3-2, the Republican-controlled FCC junked the long-time principle that said all web traffic must be treated equally. The move represents a radical departure from a decade of federal oversight.

The push toward eliminating the rules has touched off protests and stirred fears among consumer advocates and ordinary Americans that cable and phone companies will be able to control what people see and do online. On Thursday, about 60 demonstrators gathered in the bitter chill in Washington to protest the FCC's expected decision.

But the broadband industry has promised that the internet experience for the public isn't going to change.

The telecommunications companies lobbied hard to overturn the rules, contending they are heavy-handed and discourage investment in broadband networks.

"What is the FCC doing today?" asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican. "Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence."

The FCC vote is unlikely to be the last word. Opponents of the move plan legal challenges, with New York's attorney general vowing to lead a multi-state lawsuit, and some hope to make it an issue in the 2018 midterm elections. There is also some hope that Congress might overturn the FCC decision.

Mark Stanley, a spokesman for the civil liberties organization Demand Progress, said there is a "good chance" Congress could reverse it.

"The fact that Chairman Pai went through with this, a policy that is so unpopular, is somewhat shocking," he said. "Unfortunately, not surprising."

The FCC subscribed to the principle of net neutrality for about a decade and enshrined it in rules adopted in 2015.

Under the new rules approved Thursday, the Comcasts and AT & Ts of the world will be free to block rival apps, slow down competing services or offer faster speeds to companies that pay up. They just have to post their policies online or tell the FCC.

The change also eliminates certain federal consumer protections, bars state laws that contradict the FCC's approach, and largely transfers oversight of internet service to another agency altogether, the Federal Trade Commission.

AT & T and other big internet service providers welcomed the decision. AT & T senior executive vice president Bob Quinn said in a blog post that the internet "will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has." Quinn said the company won't block websites and won't throttle or degrade online traffic based on content.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama, lambasted the "preordained outcome" of the vote that she said hurts small and large businesses and ordinary people. She said the end of net neutrality hands over the keys to the internet to a "handful of multibillion-dollar corporations."

With their vote, she added, the FCC's Republican commissioners are abandoning the pledge they took to make a rapid, efficient communications service available to all people in the U.S., without discrimination.

But Michael O'Rielly, a Republican commissioner appointed by Obama, called the FCC's approach a "well-reasoned and soundly justified order."

The internet, he said, "has functioned without net neutrality rules for far longer than it has with them." The decision "will not break the internet."

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, has been investigating what appears to be large numbers of fake public comments submitted to the FCC during the net neutrality comment process. Schneiderman said 2 million comments were submitted under stolen identities, including those of children and dead people.


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 months ago

We are suppose to trust internet providers who are in this for the money, not for equal usage of the internet? Wow, they must believe we are chumps. Well, some are, but most of us aren't.

Bob Summers 3 months ago

We're suppose to trust people in government who are in it for the benefits paid for by hard working tax payers??

Look what these government swamp people have done to Veterans at VA hospitals.

Good lord!!

I'll competition over congenital Liberal bullying any day.

Calvin Anders 3 months ago

Dorothy, I have to disagree with you. We are all chumps. We are chumps because, even though most of us can see how awful the repeal of net neutrality rules are, we allowed it to happen anyway. We don't get the government we need, we get the government we deserve. In America's tenacious sleep walking through our political process, in our apathy about educating ourselves about the issues or even showing up to vote, in the ease by which we are distracted by manufactured wedge issue, we have allowed government to be usurped by greedy corporate interests who are too greedy and short sighted to understand how much they are hurting our environment , our culture and the infrastructure that supports our existence.

Josh Berg 3 months ago

I definitely do not trust our monopoly here in Lawrence that goes by a different name every few years. Whether it is Wow!, Knology, or MIDCO it does not matter because for people like me on the east side of town, there are no other options so I am forced to stick with this monopoly no matter what. Wow! extorted me for hundreds of dollars on charges for modem rentals when I own my modem. If they start to throttle certain websites or charge me like tv channels then they will lose my business immediately.

Rick Masters 3 months ago

Is AT&T not available in your area?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 months ago

I have AT&T, which I like, but I still don't trust them to be fair about the internet, if the neutrality is removed.

Thomas Shorock 3 months ago

At my address (quite central Lawrence), no. U-Verse never got built here. We had 6 Mb DSL once upon a time at this address, but AT&T will no longer provision new DSL connections. Even Wicked doesn't cover. Short of Midco, you're looking at cell-phone tethering plans.

Louis Kannen 3 months ago

I've always been of the opinion that 'BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE' elected Representatives in Washington are there to enact Legislation that WE, our Country's overwhelming MAJORITY support. With Net Neutrality potentially on death's doorstep, my trusting naivety is certainly showing as, once again, Big Bu$ine$$ is rearing it's grotesquely avaricial, bloated, toothy face. So much for primordial swamp draining...we on the verge of the introduction of Jurassic Behemoth 'Big Bu$ine$$' Carnivores...

Brandon Devlin 3 months ago

This article is silly, starting with the comment about "a radical departure from more than a decade of federal oversight." Net Neutrality legislation didn't' come into existence until 2015. (A simple Google search will tell you that.)

Fear-mongering at it's best.

Daniel Kennamore 3 months ago

Not to let facts get in the way of your talking points, but that's false. The most current change was in 2015, but the foundation of NN reaches all the way back to George W's administration. The FCC just voted to undo the better part of 15 years precedent so telecomm companies can hose you even more than they already do.

"Under President George W. Bush, the FCC outlined a series of guiding principles that would eventually lead to the 2015 net neutrality rules. Then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell, in a 2004 speech, said Internet users should enjoy four fundamental freedoms: The freedom to access any Web content of their choice, so long as it was legal; the freedom to use any online application; the freedom to use their home broadband connections on any device; and the freedom to get subscription information from their own providers."

Brandon Devlin 3 months ago

Sorry, but aren't you just putting a different spin on what I already quoted from the NY Times? The FCC outlined a series of "guiding principles," ie, didn't create any laws, just outlined talking points that would be enacted in 2015?

Daniel Kennamore 3 months ago

The FCC is a regulatory organization. They don't ever make (or undo) laws.

The first actual example of them regulating to NN principles was in 2004...and they continued to do so until today.

William D'Armond 3 months ago

This is how the Cable companies will begin to push the majority of Americans back into their greedy clutches. If you are one of the hundreds who have went to streaming services, unless those services start paying a fee to maintain those speeds one of 2 things is going to happen. Either the internet provider is going to dog your speed to the point that you are not getting what you are paying them for, or they are going to give you an optional fee to be able to keep your speed the same.

It very much like what they do with ESPN now. If you want to use WatchESPN for live sports, you have to pay for a tier package of cable that has ESPN in it. If you are streaming, they restrict it to where all you can watch is replays. So if you are using Amazon Prime, Netflix or any other service of the sort be prepared to be screwed. Hopefully this gets tied up in the court system and someone call bull scat on this crap.

Cable companies are getting to be as bad as insurance and pharmaceutical industry. Stuff enough money in the right pocket and they screw the American people.

Brandon Devlin 3 months ago

Really? I pay for high speed internet through Midco and get WatchESPN. I don't subscribe to their TV package.

I mean, I have to pay for the internet service, but don't I need to do that anyway?

Chris Bohling 3 months ago

The WatchESPN example isn't really that good. What could actually happen now is this: Midco could charge you by the site. Want to access Facebook? That's $4.99/month to Midco. Want to access Netflix? That's $10.99/month to Midco on top of your Netflix fee. Want to access You can't, because Midco's blocked it because they don't want people to see Bernie Sanders' policy positions.

Richard Heckler 3 months ago

I urge the democrats to appeal this vote to the Supreme Court.

Daniel Kennamore 3 months ago

New York AG already started the process. Hopefully a few other states join.

Cary Ediger 3 months ago

When I worked at Sunflower Broadband this was a huge issue and SBB was 100% for Net Neutrality. Think about it this way, all the ISP's (internet service providers) get their service from somewhere/someone . What if that somewhere/someone decided to block something ?

Michael Kort 3 months ago


This is obviously the Trump version of whatever screws the end consumer the worst in favor of a precious few delusionals monopolists, who think that they are doing us a favor by picking our bones financially .

Richard Heckler 3 months ago

But the fight isn’t over yet. Congress can still overturn the FCC’s decision – click here to sign the petition and tell Congress: all Americans deserve free and equal access to the internet. Elizabeth%20warren&utm_source=GS&utm_campaign=BPI2017-LB-GS-US_A&utm_term=Elizabeth%20warren

Don’t let the FCC gut net neutrality.

Net neutrality matters. For the startup founders working around the clock on a shoestring budget to build an invention that can change the world, net neutrality matters. For the small family business that depends on online customers to keep its lights on and its doors open, net neutrality matters. For the journalist or the writer who works each day to bring us important news about our communities, our government, and our world, net neutrality matters.

For every American who likes to stream movies or talk to family members in far-away places or use the internet for any reason, net neutrality matters.

Repealing the neutrality rules will have terrible consequences for the public interest. It’s just another move to put more money in the pockets of the rich at the expense of working people across the country.

This is not the way it should work in America. The internet doesn't belong to big internet companies; it belongs to all of us, and all of us should be part of this fight.

I’m fighting my heart out in Washington to stop Chairman Pai and the FCC from repealing net neutrality, today and every day to come – but Richard, I can’t do it alone.

Click here to take a stand and tell Congress: do not let the FCC sell out our right to an open internet to line the pockets of the wealthy.

Bob Summers 3 months ago

Brought to you by the same type of people that bully global warming, no wait, "climate change" down critical thinking folk's throats.

Nice try Mr. Heckler.

Steve King 3 months ago

"It's the Internet stupid" it's a public "utility". It's a information source. 83% support keeping it unrestricted. 3 people decided to restrict it. A new appointee pushed the "party line". Restriction equates supression. Double digit states are suing. Slicing, Dicing and Blocking internet access smacks of supression.

Steve King 3 months ago

I repeat. So, 97% of highly educated scientists say Climate Change is real and 3% say no, who do you believe? Some poster on your local newspaper blogs? People with zero scientific credentials? Who's go to phrase is "the liberal condition"? If 100 people look up and 97 say the sky is blue and 3 say no it's green, who do you believe? If 100 people witness a single car accident and 97 say the car was Blue and 3 say no, it was Red, who do you believe? People believing the 3 are certainly outside the realm of reality. More like conspiracy mongers. Rabble rousers. Trolls. Pick your own verb. Sad.

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