Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Beginning of the End of "Net Neutrality"?

In February 2015, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler pushed a reclassification of the Internet through the rule-making process of the FCC and declared the Net a Title II public utility, introducing the advent of “Net Neutrality.” There was little doubt then — at least among those who where honest enough to say so — that Wheeler was simply following orders from the Obama administration. Now that Obama is gone and Trump occupies the Oval Office, Wheeler’s plan seems to be coming unraveled.

One of those honest enough to call Wheeler out as Obama’s minion was Ajit Pai, who served as a minority Republican member of the FCC until he was appointed by President Trump in January to replace Wheeler as the chairman of the FCC. When Wheeler introduced the new rules for regulating the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act, he did so in a voluminous document that was meant to be seen only by commissioners and kept — at least initially — out of the reach of the public. Pai wasted no time decrying the plan as what it was: a “massive intrusion into the Internet economy.” As The New American reported then:

At least one FCC commissioner sees the newly proposed regulations as a real threat to the liberty of Internet users. Commissioner Ajit Pai tweeted a picture of himself (right) holding the plan with a picture of President Obama in the background. His tweet read, "Here is President Obama's 332-page plan to regulate the Internet. I wish the public could see what's inside." He also issued a press release listing several points that call the 332-page secret document into question. His release begins by setting the tone in clear, bold language: "The American people are being misled about President Obama's plan to regulate the Internet. Last week's carefully stage-managed rollout was designed to downplay the plan's massive intrusion into the Internet economy and to shield many critical details from the public. Indeed, Chairman Wheeler has made it clear that he will not release the document to the public even though federal law authorizes him to do so." Pai then lays out, point by point, why this is bad news for all who value Internet freedom.

Before it was made public, “President Obama's 332-page plan to regulate the Internet” had swelled to more than 400 pages. The New American reported on what was in those pages and why it was bad for the Internet, business, and America. Of course, by the time the rules were made public, “Net Neutrality” had passed through the rule-making process of the FCC along strictly party lines. As this writer said of the asinine idea of treating the Internet in the same way as other utilities at the time of “Net Neutrality’s” passage and before the rules were made public:

Read the entire article