US FCC Votes To Kill Net Neutrality, Capping A Year Of Endless Bullshit

You tried, America. You tried.

Despite overwhelming bipartisan support for safeguarding the open internet, the US Federal Communications Committee voted to ignore the public and kill net neutrality protections.

With his familiar shit-eating grin, FCC chairman Ajit Pai went through the motions of holding a committee hearing on his "Restoring Internet Freedom" initiative. The hearing was as much of a fraud as the title of the item: It was a foregone conclusion that under Pai's leadership the FCC would hand big telecoms an early Christmas present.

In a 3-2 vote along party lines, the Republican-led commission decided to eliminate the current net neutrality rules and remove the shackles that prevent ISPs from blocking online content, slowing a competitor's website, or charging you extra just to access YouTube. (You can read the dissenting opinions here.) It paves the way for an ISP free-for-all, baby, and you can bet telecom executives have plenty of lucrative plans in mind that we haven't even considered.

The vote was briefly delayed after Pai's comments were interrupted by security. The room was evacuated and searched by Federal Protective Service before Pai resumed. The nature of the threat was not immediately disclosed.

From the moment President Donald Trump appointed Pai, we knew he was dead-set on killing net neutrality protections. He's advocated for ISP interests for years. Before joining the FCC, Pai was a lawyer for Verizon, and he worked as counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee under mega-conservative former Sens. Sam Brownback and Jeff Sessions. But make no mistake - just because Pai is a Republican doesn't mean this is a partisan issue for the American public.

Studies show that the vast majority of Americans support regulating ISPs to guarantee that they treat all internet traffic equally. A new survey published on Tuesday found that four out of five Republicans support net neutrality.

California representative Jerry McNerny requested the opportunity to speak at today's hearing but he was denied by the Chairman. As part of her dissent, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn read a statement from McNerny. It said, in part:

Why such a bipartisan outcry? Because the large majority of Americans are in favour of keeping strong net neutrality rules in place. But the saddest part, to me, about all of this, and it's painful for me to say this, is that this is the new norm at the FCC. A norm where the majority ignores the will of the people. A norm where the majority stands idly by while the people they are committed to serve, that they have taken an oath to serve, are about to lose so much.

In August, a study funded by the broadband industry found that 98.5 per cent of unique comments submitted to the FCC regarding net neutrality were opposed to gutting the rules that went into effect in 2015.

We have to specify unique comments because the FCC was overwhelmed by 23 million comment submissions, and many that supported killing net neutrality were filed by fraudulent bots robo-signing forms and stealing real people's identities, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office.

Even though the FCC is required to consider public comments for a specified time period, it has refused to cooperate with Schneiderman's criminal investigation into the corruption of its commenting process. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the two Democratic commissioners who voted to keep net neutrality rules in place, explicitly said this week, "there is evidence in the FCC's files that fraud has occurred," but the agency won't cooperate.

Regardless of the process, or the criminal investigation, or the protests, or the opposition from lawmakers - including fellow Republicans - Pai and his cronies were always going to ignore the public. The chairman has made his disdain for the public's input and any study that disagrees with his position absolutely clear. He will go down as one of the Trump administration's most effective pro-corporate puppets. And when he leaves office, he'll be welcomed by the telecoms with open arms.

But that doesn't mean all is lost. Even though ISPs have been softening their statements that promise never to violate net neutrality principles, they must wait to take full advantage of their newfound freedom. There's too much public scrutiny at the moment for them to start installing fast lanes or censoring content. Lawsuits challenging the decision will head to court from every direction. And with the right push from voters, Congress could even do the right thing by passing a law to correct this injustice.

Net neutrality is dead. Long live net neutrality.

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Comments

    With Disney buying Fox, and AT&T buying Warners, the net neutrality being scrapped could result in a real mess for streaming services.

      Just a side note, given that Disney has (effectively) bought 21st Century Fox, does that mean Foxtel down here is going to be re-branded as DisTel?

      X-P.

        You DO realise how bad a dad joke that is, don't you?

    It just shows that the overwhelming will of the people means nothing when there is money and greedy politicians in charge.

      Welcome to "democracy". If you ask the Americans, anything else is Communism.

      Australia has the exact same problems. Money and corrupt politics. All you have to do is look at the Dastyari debacle.

        Precisely. That's the American industrial-political propaganda machine at work. The dumber section of the American public have been taught to unquestioningly lap up this sort of shit, and anyone who dares protest it is instantly branded "anti-American" or "a communist" or some other nonsense. I can't believe that some people still fetishise the USA - what a shit country.

        Democracy isn't perfect, It's just best alternative..

          What we have is not democracy?

          When 500,000+ citizens of Australia protested against Australia entering a war in Iraq our then Prime Minister said "I am NOT going to be dictated to."

            We have a republic in that we don't directly vote on most issues (same-sex marriage excluded), but the outcome of those protests was certainly democratic.

            I think, implied in Prime Minister Howard's statement was that he was not going to be dictated to by a vocal minority.

            3 per cent of the country protesting and then 52.7 per cent of the country voting to re-elect the Coalition in the 2004 election, knowing that it was a policy to continue the war in Iraq, shows that a democratic outcome was acheived.

            I was one of those people who protested ... BUT I have to say no democratic system holds public votes on every issue (which is why the marriage equality poll was ridiculous). Our system gives our leaders autonomy once elected and then holds them to account at the next election.

            It's far from ideal but I can't think of a better one. Can you imagine if we all voted on every issue?

              The problem is "being held to account next election" isn't really a threat because we have crappy choice A and crappy choice B. So you vote the scumbag politician out and just get a fresh scumbag politician instead :(

                Yes, as South Park so eloquently put it...the choice is between a giant douche or a turd. ;)

                Yes, the 2 party system is certainly the centre of the problem.

              A system where people could vote on everything? Yes, I could see that. There are a few options.
              1. You don't need the whole population - you set a "quorum" (60 to 70%)
              2. Using online services, you can register to align with a party, an individual, or a policy.
              3. When over 90% of an electorate register, the politician no longer represents that electorate - just those who have registered and aligned with the standing member.

              If, at any time, the standing member is not reflecting the will of the people, online voters can place their support elsewhere.

              If the people want "Boaty McBoatface" as the name of a ship, their vote carries the day.

          Democracy isn't actually democracy when it's hijacked by money and influence. When the votes of a small number of rich and powerful people or corporations over-rules the wishes of voters, and maintains its hold on power through propoganda and manipulation, it becomes an oligarchy.

          The US is already an oligarchy, it's probably too far gone to save - there's clear signs of corruption in all levels of government.

            Democracy only works if people not only have the right to vote but if each persons voice carries equal weight. As long as the media is controlled by a small elite then there will be a bias in politics. If the concerns of the people of Midwest America were given as much airtime as the Billionaires in New York then Americans would have a very different view of their nation and what matters most.
            In Australia it's even worse. We have one man in NYC that can shout so loud that he drowns out the voices of 20 million Ordinary Aussies. That is not democracy....

    Duck and run Ajit Pai. You made almost everyone who uses the internet and what it stands for your enemy.

    No way this stands up after the Orangutan get turfed in the next election. Netflix et al aren't companies you want to make angry.

      Unless the US gets a radically different president, nothing will change. Hint: HRC is not radically different.

        Well let's hope that they get someone in with some balls and a mandate then.

        But HRC would not have done this, or done many of the other terristupid things that Trump has done or tried to do.

          Clinton's leaked emails suggest she was actually ambivalent about net neutrality despite what she had said publically during 2016. She also has plenty of ties to corporate USA and is a typical politician. With enough lobbying she almost certainly would have folded.

          Sanders, on the other hand...

            I think it's very unlikely she would have overturned it. Not because she's good but because there is deep support for net neutrality in the democratic party.

            I thought you were putting forward the argument that Trump and Clinton are just the same so it doesn't matter who gets in. Clinton is far from perfect but would have been a MUCH better option than Trump in every way.

              Anything would have been better than Trump. But Clinton was no friend of the people either. Post-Trump she's taken on the almost mythological saviour in waiting status, but she probably wouldn't have been anything new or different. If anything, her corporate ties probably would have been worse than Obama.

                At this point I'd happily take the status quo over the wrecking ball that is Trump.

                I'm just annoyed at the "it doesn't matter who you vote for, they're all the same" people. It's their apathy that got Trump elected. Clearly as we are seeing now, it does matter and they are not all the same.

                  I see you are at it again @soldant ! Trying to deflect from the fact that TRUMP IS 100% RESPONSIBLE for this. Not Clinton, or Obama, or Antifa or Communists.... It's TRUMP once again supporting the elites and hitting ordinary Americans...

                  Trump won due to populist rhetoric, not apathy. The apathetic were those who assumed Clinton would win. Trump is fucking insane but he knew how to market himself to the electoral college and those who felt disenfranchised by the incumbent administration (e.g. rust belt). Clinton didn't bother with those voters and paid the price for it. It was her campaign to lose - and she fucking lost it, and we all pay the price.

                  I don't disagree that Trump is shit, but Clinton almost has a cult of martyrdom built up around her post defeat. She's the exact same politician the US has known for decades. Bernie Sanders represented real change, but they picked Clinton instead. Worst fucking move ever.

                  @978lee Lol I didn't deflect anything, I just commented that a Clinton-led administration would be just as much in the pocket of corporate America. Perhaps you should read more carefully?

                Well I'm with you on Bernie was the only decent option!
                But he didn't win either and he isn't responsible for this either, it's all on Trumps lying head.

      A bit of cognitive dissonance here.

      The loss of net neutrality is only potentially a threat if Comcast et al, abuse their power. Thus they would be the companies to be afraid of, not Netflix and Alphabet, who are supposedly altruistic victims (while in fact they use up to 75 per cent or more of bandwidth and pay for none of the transmission infrastructure).

      If this is ever changed, those are the companies you would be scared of making angry, (if indeed you already ascribe negative motivations to them).

    Can we really, once and for all now admit that Trump does not and never did give a sh*t about ordinary Americans and always has and will be on the side of the 0.1% He is an elitist and his agenda is to take money & power from ordinary Americans and give it to his Billionaire buddies. I hope this FCC decision puts to rest any lingering doubts.

      He's too dumb to realise what's going on. Seriously.

    So out of interest, how will this impact us in Australia?

      Just give our pollies time to be paid by those with a vested interest and we'll be going down the same path. Just look at the bullshit that happened to our universities, Gough made them free and Fraser helped to make them user pays. Money talks and apparently bullshit does too.

        There are no net neutrality laws in Australia. If any ISP wanted to implement any of the sky is falling crys we're hearing about, they could. The fact is, they don't want to do this, as there's plenty of competition. In fact we've seen the opposite happen here in Australia more recently, with even the like ot Telstra offering unlimited plans, effectively making the paid content free like Netflix/Foxtel et al.

          True, but corporate greed isn't just a catchphrase, Murdoch is my biggest worry atm.

            Really, at this point in time, when Murdoch is selling off a huge part of his media interests? He will soon be at his least influential in over 30 years.

            Isn't this what you've been wanting all these years?

            While he will retain control of most assets in Australia, here is clearly not looking to build a dynasty, so it's likely that he will sell these at some point as well. This is the start of a journey towards him having little to no influence.

            As for corporate greed, that is not a charge he has ever been labelled with to my knowledge. Exerting undue influence over his media channels sure, but the Australian newspaper runs at a loss and his other newspapers are barely profitable, so it's not like he's bleeding customers dry.

            Foxtel is a 50-50 split ownership with Telstra, so you can hardly pin the high cost (and i don't think it is particularly high vs international comparisons anyway) on Murdoch alone.

          Yes we have plenty of competition here so don't necessarily need net neutrality enshrined in legislation in Australia. It certainly wouldn't hurt though.

          But in the US around 40% of households only have access to a single high speed internet provider (25+mbps). And to make matters worse, it's usually the cable company who will be the most likely to try and shove their content down their customers throats at the expense of others.

          We do actually see lots of net neutrality breaches in Australia, but they tend to be of the least serious type - "zero rating". This is not charging for or including in quotas specific types of traffic, often to specific commercial providers.

          For example, free video streaming on optus (only applies to netflix, stan, ABC and optus TV)
          http://www.optus.com.au/shop/entertainment/tv-movies/mobile-tv-streaming

          As I said this is at the milder end of the spectrum and most people don't care much as it benefits them. But it wouldn't be much of a stretch from there to start slowing down the other streaming providers to make their preferred ones more appealing (perhaps they already de-prioritise them, who knows). And from there maybe provide an extra package for a cost where the other providers are not de-prioritised.

          It's a slippery slope.

          ^ this

          no need to worry... our gov't *cough* tried to stamp out media barons *cough* owning *cough* the landscape through *cough* media ownership laws

          watch Robert Reich's doco on netflix...!

      1) Most of the internet companies we deal with Netflix, Valve, Sony, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon etc are all American Based Companies. Increased operational costs through "restructured" pricing models and fast lanes will result in them increasing revenue to compensate. Increase advertising, subscription fees etc. Biggest impact will be in high data services like streaming, 4K movies, and gaming... those costs will be transferred to consumers.

      2) Australian ISPs can be forced to pay more to push Australian traffic across the United States, or our traffic may just be slowed to priortise paying American customers first. I am unaware of the current service agreements past the transpacific ocean cables, but the cancellation of Net Neutrality also gives American Telcos/Cable the authority to slow traffic based on the point of origin.

      3) Increase mobile roaming data charges in the United States.

      4) Increase costs for tourists (generally this will increase US Cost of Living and Taxes across the country - as everyone uses the net).

    The NN laws are barely 2 years old. The internet was coping perfectly fine before they were introduced.

      Yeah, you might want to read up on the state of internet fair use before they introduced NN.

      The current NN laws came in as a result of Verizon suing the FCC to have previous NN regulations removed. The only way to bring them back was to change the definition of an internet service to Title II (which essentially treats it like a phone service). That's what Obama did in 2015.

      This page gives a good history and many examples of ISP's breaching net neutrality in the past. It's not just a theoretical problem.
      https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history

      No It wasn't fine... it was under constant attack as cable companies started seeing less demand for cable new and television services (their main income) in favour for internet news and streaming.

      They have been over a decade of pressure the FCC and FTC to allow them to charge more for throttling services for some time, even then having some success.

      For example in Austin Texas when Google started laying down Gigabit Fibre, a lot of cable consumers were in a matter of weeks offered immediate and free upgrades to higher speeds (on existing infrastructure) to stop them switching. The Higher speeds were already existing on the network but never offered caused it was more profitable for the cable company to halve the internet speed in the area... rather than give cosumers the best service they have.

      Thats the thing... they don't want whats best for you, they want whats best for their shareholders and thats profit. Pure Profit!

    I doubt this will stand for that long, sooner or later they will dump trump, I'm hoping he gets handed his walking papers at the next election. By then with a bit of luck, Congress will be mostly Democrats and all the bullshit that the party of greed brought in will be wound back.

    Americans got what they voted for. If they didn't want this, they shouldn't have voted their ridiculous government and president in, 12 months ago.

      Actually, Clinton won the popular vote, it was the electoral college that put this clown in.

        Like I said, they voted him in, now they need to deal with the mess they made. Popular vote is meaningless as that's not the democratic system they have in place.

          A system where a vote in Wyoming is worth more that 50 times a vote in California!

          I find it laughable that you call it democratic.

            The system is flawed and needs to be overhauled, and is a relic of the days before high speed communication.

            But simple first past the post systems aren't much better, and having populous states effectively dictating policy for regional states (with different needs) is equally as bad.

              Saying "having populous states effectively dictating policy" is laughable.

              Having the vast majority of people discuss, deliberate and reaching a consensus is how democracy should operate.

            So one state, due to their population, should be able to decide the president of the entire country despite only having 12% of the population?

          I hadn't really looked at it from that perspective, but as I've said many times before that country is screwed, sooner or later the cumulated crap piling up will have to come crashing down.

        Popular vote, that includes 7m+ dead people and illegals

        Last edited 15/12/17 11:41 am

          I get the feeling you're a Trump supporter, or at the very least, a Fake news advocate. Those figures are both inconsequential and unsubstantiated.

            I had more hope for you, but you must be living in the CNN bubble. Good luck to you.

              Thus immediately highlight your conformation bias is based on the media you consume... rather than an making an informed decision from an impartial media.

              Be a good little doggy and bark at the television on cue.

          You do of course have documented evidence to back up those claims? You wouldnt just be parroting something drumpf said on twitter would you?

      They voted for him to drain the swamp an kick out all the lobbyists. What did he do? He filled the swamp with even more!
      The president they voted for was a lie and now they can see it his popularity is tanking...

    If this was anywhere else in the world, you would be having a public outcry for a corruption hearing since the leader of the organisation is showing complete hatred for the processes of public opinion, impeding investigations, and refusing to stop a clearly unpopular public decision to favour a select few rich people while sabotaging the rest of the economy.

    In America, its a normal day of politics.
    Who do they think they are FIFA Board deciding the World Cup venue?

    Woot.

      Can you explain why you think this is a good thing? Try to use facts if you can....

        Somehow the internet made it 33 years without government interference before the Obama administration's power grab, and now, suddenly the sky is falling. Um, no.

          Let's for a minute look beyond "Obama bad grrr" and address the actual question that was asked... How is this change a good thing?

            I can't see this a good thing, this will increase taxes and increase the cost of living. Cause net neutrality stopped ISPs from monopolising the internet, and now every government agency, corporation and citizen is just waiting to see how much more they will get charged for internet... and the governments and corporations will just transfer the costs back to consumers.

            So prepare for double billing for the same level of internet access.

          Because before Obama there was no FCC and no regulation about how ISPs could run their business? Because that's clearly not true. Governments have been regulating internet services in various ways for decades.

          What changed is the world's reliance on the internet, in western nations in particular. The internet is now used for a vast number of things - really important things, including delivering the government's own services. Almost everyone uses it every day - for their jobs, for shopping, for research, for sharing of information, and for entertainment. If the internet goes down, pretty soon there's chaos.

          All Obama did was place responsibility on ISPs to deliver the internet as an "essential service" in the same way that electricity and water suppliers do.....which makes total sense when so many other things rely on it. So they have to allow people access under fair terms, treat all internet traffic equally and create a level playing field for internet services to compete in an open market. The terms of Title II were hardly onerous, and they had no real effect on infrastructure investment (despite claims to the contrary).

          What the removal of Title II will do is allow ISP's to effectively incentivise their own services, extort users in captive markets for commercial gain, and prevent new internet services from being competitive with the established players. Effectively, it will allow the big players to choke innovation and disruption in their markets.

          Can you possibly explain why any of that would be a good thing?

          Yeah. Let's pretend that in the early 2010s Comcast and Verizon was not blackmailing Netflix by throttling their traffic.

          Here's the facts, ISPs were caught red handed and Obama made it impossible to do so again.

          The FCC today have now made that form of blackmail possible again.

          You are woefully misinformed. The FCC has had policies requiring net neutrality going back to the early 2000's, enforced with varying degrees of success. In 2013, Verizon sued the FCC to have the rules removed.

          During oral arguments in Verizon v. FCC in 2013, judges asked whether the phone giant would favor some preferred services, content or sites over others if the court overruled the agency’s existing open internet rules. Verizon counsel Helgi Walker had this to say: “I’m authorized to state from my client today that but for these rules we would be exploring those types of arrangements.” Walker’s admission might have gone unnoticed had she not repeated it on at least five separate occasions during arguments.

          The court struck down the FCC’s rules in January 2014 — and in May FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler opened a public proceeding to consider a new order.

          In response millions of people urged the FCC to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers and in February 2015 the agency did just that.

          Please read this page for countless examples of breaches over the years:
          https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history

            pformagg has always been misinformed.

              ...aint that the fuckin truth.

                You two, my biggest fans.

                  Havent you got some children you have to adopt? Chop chop get to it bud. Prove to us you care about all those children.

    A United States openly ruled by corporations.

    Well 80's teenage me loved Cyberpunk but actually living in a cyberpunk dystopia leaves a lot to be desired.

    At least can we get some awesome cybernetics and bring back mohawks and mirror shades?

      I’m sorry, but you haven’t the slightest idea of what your talking about. I’Lol write a new post explaining everything.

    Well, forget explaining net neutrality because my comment will be erased before it’s posted. In the same sense, that is net neutrality. Corporations don’t regulate anything. They compete. Governments regulate.

      Corporations don’t regulate anything

      ESRB says hello.

    Yawn. Ok, Gizmodo author. https://goo.gl/eFsXST It's a shame you have no idea what you're talking about but hey, scary articles get the most clicks don't they

      How about you provide an actual link and not a shortened one? What are you trying to hide bud?

      Run along back to breibart.

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