Tag Archives: net neutrality

What We Found in Trump’s Drained Swamp: Hundreds of Ex-Lobbyists and D.C. Insiders


By Derek KravitzAl Shaw and Isaac Arnsdorf. Published 3-7-2018 by ProPublica

When the Trump administration took office early last year, hundreds of staffers from lobbying firms, conservative think tanks and Trump campaign groups began pouring into the very agencies they once lobbied or whose work they once opposed.

Today we’re making available, for the first time, an authoritative searchable database of 2,475 political appointees, including Trump’s Cabinet, staffers in the White House and senior officials within the government, along with their federal lobbying and financial records. Trump Town is the result of a year spent filing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests; collecting and organizing staffing lists; and compiling, sifting through and publishing thousands of financial disclosure reports. Continue reading


Net Neutrality Fight ‘Not Over’: Groups Launch Internet-Wide Campaign Pushing Congress to Overrule FCC Vote

“The internet has given ordinary people more power than ever before. We’re going to fight tooth and nail to make sure no one takes that power away.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-14-2017

“Now every member of Congress will have to go on the record and decide whether to stand up for the free and open internet or face the political consequences of awakening its wrath in an election year,” said Fight for the Future in a statement. (Photo: Fight for the Future)

The Republican-controlled FCC voted along party lines on Thursday to repeal net neutrality, but open internet defenders are urging the public to not be swayed by the proliferation of “net neutrality is officially dead” headlines—the fight is “not over,” they say.

Just hours after the FCC’s vote, the coalition of activist groups behind Team Internet and BattlefortheNet.com announced the launch of “a massive internet-wide campaign” calling on members of Congress to overturn the FCC’s move by passing a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which only requires a simple majority in the House and Senate. Continue reading


Warning Against Abdication of Duty, Senators Demand FCC Abandon Net Neutrality Vote

Ajit Pai’s plan would leave the U.S. with a “gaping consumer protection void,” say 39 senators

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-12-2017

At one of hundreds of protests last week, net neutrality supporters in New York City demanded that the FCC abandon its plan to repeal net neutrality protections. (Photo: TeamInternet/Flickr/cc)

Thirty-seven Democratic senators, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), sent a letter (pdf) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday, urging the panel to abandon its “reckless plan to radically alter the free and open Internet as we know it.”

If pushed through, the letter warns, the move, spearheaded by Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai, “would amount to the largest abdication of [the agency’s] statutory responsibilities in history.”

Continue reading


FCC Commissioner Urges Fraud Investigation Ahead of Net Neutrality Vote

Jessica Rosenworcel argued on Saturday that her own agency should be investigated for its fraudulent public comment process, days before a vote on net neutrality protections

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-10-2017

Protesters gathered at a Verizon store in MIssion Viejo, California on Thursday to demand the FCC uphold net neutrality rules. The demonstration was one of hundreds held all over the country. (Photo: Brendan Cleak—Team Internet/Flickr/cc)

Calls grew over the weekend for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate potential fraud regarding its call for public comments on net neutrality—before the panel votes on the issue on Thursday.

At Wired, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel—one of two Democrats on the commission who are expected to vote against a net neutrality repeal—raised alarm with an editorial about the integrity of the 23 million comments that have been left on the FCC’s website. Continue reading


Protests Planned Nationwide as Vote on FCC’s ‘Catastrophic’ Plan to Kill Net Neutrality Looms

Open internet supporters are demanding that lawmakers answer a simple question: “Do you stand for your constituents’ ability to communicate and connect, or do you stand for Verizon’s bottom line?”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-4-2017

“Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future. (Photo: Battle for the Net)

With the FCC set to vote on chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to kill neutrality in just over a week, a diverse coalition—ranging from consumer protection organizations to progressive lawmakers to Harvard professors—is denouncing the FCC’s proposals and scheduling nationwide protests to combat the agency’s move to let massive telecom companies “cash in on the internet” at the expense of consumers.

This is the free speech fight of our generation and internet users are pissed off and paying attention,” Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement. “Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents.” Continue reading


‘You Can’t Make This Up’: Comcast Threatens Legal Action Against Net Neutrality Proponents

If FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s plan “is enacted, there would be nothing preventing Comcast from simply blocking sites like Comcastroturf.com that are critical of their corporate policies”

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-23-2017

“This is exactly why we need Title II net neutrality protections that ban blocking, throttling, and censorship,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future. (Photo: Alyson Hurt/cc/flickr)

Open Internet proponents who have been fighting the Trump administration’s rollback of net neutrality protections, which has been enacted at the bidding of the telecom industry, said Tuesday that Comcast is now threatening legal action saying the website Comcastroturf.com is infringing on its trademark.

As the organization Fight for the Future quipped on Twitter, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

The website in question is currently providing a tool for the public to see if their names are among those stolen and used by anti-net neutrality bots to post comments in support of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plan to undo Title II protections that classify the internet as a public utility. Continue reading


The future of US net neutrality under Trump

Administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. But now, net neutrality in its purest form is in peril.

By Michael J. Oghia. Published 3-17-2017 by openDemocracy

Welcome and Opening Remarks from Commissioner Ajit Pai, May 2014.Wikicommons/Federal Communications Commission.Public domain.

As this openDemocracy series has poignantly highlighted, digital rights should never be taken for granted. For all those keeping a close eye on US politics, this reality could not resonate more ominously. With the new Republican administration of Donald J. Trump, there is plenty of kindle to fuel a fire of discussion and, often enough, outrage.

Yet, behind all of the grandstanding, tweeting, and obscene showmanship, there lies a political machine forged in the corridors of Capitol Hill, skyscraping towers of corporate America, and musty legal libraries ready to take up the bureaucratic responsibility of running the United States. You see, outside of the more widely covered political issues such as immigration and healthcare, administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. Continue reading


Wipe The Tiers Away

By Federal Communications Commission (FCC Website Vectorized by Hazmat2) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Federal Communications Commission (FCC Website Vectorized by Hazmat2) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On April 24th, the FCC proposed new regulations to replace the net neutrality rules that were overturned in Verizon v FCC. I covered that decision and the possible consequences of it in an earlier post. So, what does the proposal cover, and should we be worried about it?

I’ll answer the second question first – yes, we should be worried. As for the first question, while the proposed rules specifically state that they won’t allow the ISPs to slow down access, they also would allow the larger ISPs to charge content providers such as Netflix premium fees for the ability to deliver their content faster. The problems with this should be self evident; there’s a finite amount of bandwidth available, and the smaller ISPs and content providers won’t be able to afford to stay in the game for very long.

A New York Times article reports Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman, as saying that speculation that the F.C.C. was “gutting the open Internet rule” is “flat out wrong,” and that the new rules will provide for net neutrality yet “follow the roadmap established by the court as to how to enforce rules of the road that protect an open Internet.” He further states that the new proposal would prevent them from acting “in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.” Personally, I can’t see how any tiering at all could be considered enforcing neutrality.

Is this the end of the road? Fortunately, not quite yet. The FCC should vote on introducing the proposed rules for public comment on May 15th. Before and during the public comment period, you can contact your Congressthing and let it know that this is not a good plan. Sign the new White House petition, and tell your friends and neighbors why they should sign it, too.

Net neutrality’s still not dead, but it still smells funny…


Neutrality: The Only Option

By GNOME icon artists (GNOME SVN / GNOME FTP) [GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By GNOME icon artists (GNOME SVN / GNOME FTP) [GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

On  January 14, the DC Court of Appeals struck down key parts of the Open Internet Order, the means by which the FCC defines net neutrality rules. To understand the implications of this, we need to review what the term “net neutrality” means.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. A simple example from the commercial side would be that if AT&T is your ISP, it cannot block or slow down streaming content from Hulu, which is owned by Comcast – a direct competitor.

Without these rules in place, service providers could legally limit or slow down your access to sites not associated with the service provider, or block access entirely. If this sounds like more corporate control of speech to you, you’re right- it is. It’s also a slap in the face to smaller service providers, as the larger players in the game could put in place restrictive licensing fees, slow down out of network online activities or block access to the content that they host, thus creating a tiered service model. It doesn’t take a paranoid mindset to imagine a future scenario where political or social commentary outside what the powers that be deem acceptable wouldn’t be able to be expressed online.

However, with all the doom and gloom postulated in the above paragraphs and various blogs/articles I’ve read on the ruling, all’s not lost. The Court of Appeals overturned the provisions on a technical ground saying that the FCC hadn’t clearly defined their common carrier rules; not on the constitutionality of such a law. This leaves a clear path forward for the FCC to define what common carrier means as far as internet usage goes, as they did with cell phones (it’s why you have roaming with a cell phone out of its normal network instead of no reception at all). And, the service providers are still required to disclose their activities as far as blocking content, etc. goes; something the large service providers wanted struck down.

What can you do? Call or write your Congressthing. Call or write your service provider.  Sign Al Franken’s net neutrality petition. Make your voice heard!

Gigaom has a good series of articles about the ruling, starting with this one. Follow their links in the related stories sidebar for other takes on the subject. Ars Technica also has a good piece. For the MSM spin on the whole thing, try the Wall Street Journal.

Net neutrality isn’t dead – it just smells funny.