Net neutrality – the fat lady hasn’t sung

SUMMARY:

To no one in particular’s surprise, the FCC has rolled back consumer protections for Internet usage. Now the fun really starts.

via WordstreamThe FCC vote to gut net neutrality in the US took no-one by surprise. Now the real fight begins. But before everyone loses their shit over this topic it is well to remember that the 3-2 vote by the FCC is the first step in a process.

Unsurprisingly, we’ve already seen outrage from AWS, Microsoft, Netflix and Facebook – four of the largest tech companies and also those with most to fear from a rolling back of what many believe was a hard fought win against rapacious telco/ISPs. This from Werner Vogels, CTO AWS as an example:

 

It is a racing certainty that US states’ attorneys will launch a series of lawsuits challenging the decision. Heck, New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, announced he will lead a lawsuit challenging the FCC’s decision. Here is the full script of what Schneidermann said:

The FCC’s vote to rip apart net neutrality is a blow to New York consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet. The FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over consumers. Today’s rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do, and what we say online. That’s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that’s made the Internet a valuable asset in our democratic process.

Today’s new rule would enable ISPs to charge consumers more to access sites like Facebook and Twitter and give them the leverage to degrade high quality of video streaming until and unless somebody pays them more money. Even worse, today’s vote would enable ISPs to favor certain viewpoints over others.

New Yorkers deserve the right to a free and open Internet. That’s why we will sue to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality.

Today’s vote also follows a public comment process that was deeply corrupted, including two million comments that stole the identities of real people. This is a crime under New York law – and the FCC’s decision to go ahead with the vote makes a mockery of government integrity and rewards the very perpetrators who scammed the system to advance their own agenda.

This is not just an attack on the future of our internet. It’s an attack on all New Yorkers, and on the integrity of every American’s voice in government – and we will fight back.

In the meantime, AT&T, which stands to gain significantly from this decision had this to say:

For more than a decade, under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, AT&T has consistently made clear that we provide broadband service in an open and transparent way.  We do not block websites, nor censor online content, nor throttle or degrade traffic based on the content, nor unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic. These principles, which were laid out in the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order and fully supported by AT&T, are clearly articulated on our website and are fully enforceable against us.  In short, the internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has.  Despite the existence and the enforceability of all of these commitments, we have, since 2010, also repeatedly called for a non-Title II legislative solution that would make these consumer protections permanent. We continue to support a legislative solution and will work with any interested members of Congress to achieve that solution.

I find AT&T’s argument misleading. Along with others, and based upon experience, I argue that US citizens have little if any choice as to who can provide service. Rolling back service bundling protections exposes customers to predatory behavior by what amount to pre-existing monopolies. AT&T and others have a well-documented history of behaving in exactly that manner. The FCC chairman’s argument that the proposed changes allow for greater competition is nonsensical.

In short, if you want a lens into the current insanity that is the United States legislature, then look no further than this crazy decision. What will follow is bound to be a bitter and acrimonious series of lawsuits and commentary.

Image credit - via Wordstream