FCC releases final proposal to end net neutrality

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The FCC has released the final draft of its proposal to destroy net neutrality. The order removes nearly every net neutrality rule on the books — internet providers will be free to experiment with fast and slow lanes, prioritize their own traffic, and block apps and services. There’s really only one rule left here: that ISPs have to publicly disclose when they’re doing these things.

In the proposal, the commission calls its 2015 net neutrality ruling a “misguided and legally flawed approach.” It repeatedly states that the 2015 order “erred,” was “incorrect,” and came to “erroneous conclusions.” Removing these rules, the commission now argues, will “facilitate critical broadband investment and innovation by removing regulatory uncertainty and lowering compliance costs.”

The proposal also argues that consumer protections simply aren’t necessary because Federal Trade Commission will now have oversight of ISPs. “The transparency requirement we adopt, together with antitrust and consumer protection laws, ensures that consumers have means to take remedial action if an ISP engages in behavior inconsistent with an open internet,” the proposal states.

So while blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization may be okay with the FCC, the commission says that ISPs will still have to answer to the FTC, which may or may not be okay with those things. At a bare minimum though, the FTC has to be at least somewhat accepting of them — a court has already ruled that blocking those things outright would treat internet providers like common carriers; and since this proposal removes the common carrier designation from internet providers, that won’t be allowed.

Net neutrality supporters have long argued that these policies could unfairly advantage ISPs’ own content. But in the proposal, the FCC says it thinks that won’t happen — simply because some web companies are so much wealthier than ISPs. “It is unlikely that any ISP, except the very largest, could exercise market power in negotiations with Google or Netflix,” the proposal says. It also argues that small web companies need not worry, because any deal made between a large web company, like Google, and an ISP would need to be consistent with antitrust laws.

Existing antitrust law is the commission’s answer for pretty much every problem that could come up. Why should the FCC have its own rules on the books, it essentially asks, if federal law already covers many of these things? That ignores something important, though: federal antitrust law isn’t used very aggressively, whereas the FCC could have strictly enforced prohibitions on anti-competitive behavior. It’s not a huge leap to say this change is designed to significantly loosen the regulatory leash around ISPs so that they can go off and try new practices, even if they may put consumers at risk.

And in a fun twist, the commission also intends to prevent states from passing their own net neutrality laws. Allowing states to implement their own rules, the commission says, “could pose an obstacle to or place an undue burden” on the delivery of broadband service.

The order will be voted on next month, at the commission’s December 14th meeting, where it’s almost certain to pass.

Comments

Booooo.

I haven’t read an article outlining any positive impact of ending net neutrality. I’m 100% against what they’re propsing but what is their argument in favor of this proposal? Is there any good that comes out of it?

*I’m at work so haven’t had a chance to read their proposal

Is there any good that comes out of it?

Well for big internet provider they can increase their revenue by charging you access to different sites. You can see how AT&T operate in Mexico that doesn’t have NN
https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/6×6izw/guys_m%C3%A9xico_has_no_net_neutrality_laws_this_is/

Any good for the consumer?

In theory, the argument is increasing competition. I don’t know all of the points of their argument, but they are essentially saying that decreasing regulation will allow "mom and pop" internet companies to sprout up, to compete with Comcast and Spectrum. What they aren’t realizing is that is in no way a federal issue, and has everything to do with the local municipalities that sign the agreements with internet companies to roll out service in their neighborhoods.

But this transparency and competition BS will only work if there is existing competition. Say if my ISP demotes Netflix traffic unless I pay an additional streaming fee and they notify me saying that they are doing this as they are legally obligated to do (this is where the transparency rule comes in), I have the choice to switch to a different ISP – one who doesn’t do such things.
But the reality is 70% of Americans have only one choice for an ISP in their locality and this seems to be by design. It’s kind of "any color you want, as long as it is black" philosophy in action here. And they have outlawed municipality broadband too – Right off the Koch playbook – killing the unions/community competition.
But the lawmakers and the lobbyists are well funded, their relatives (wives and children) get ‘trophy jobs’ paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The companies get the opportunity to gouge the customer even more – the silver lining, sort of /s.

How would this increase competition when utility providers like AT&T and comcast have lobbied local and even states to ban local broadband, like a municipal fiber.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

Not just Mom and Pop, but any company wanting to roll out high speed internet (fiber/wireless/hybrid). Google. Netflix, Amazon.

That Reddit post lacks so much context it’s ridiculous. The Telecommunications situation in Mexico and the US are completely different. There is ONE company in Mexico that owns the entire telecom infrastructure and that is TelMex. This company has the power it has because it came as a direct transaction from when telecom in Mexico was nationalized.
Every time a competitor tries to enter Mexico they have to rent infrastructure from TelMex and they make it so expensive to operate that Movistar, and even AT & T have been driven out several times.
AT&T tiering their service is what they have to do to be able to operate in Mexico.
I don’t know enough about Net Neutrality to have a principled stance on either side, I do know that Mexico should not be looked at as an example because things are not the same over there.

In the US there are 2 or 3 companies. It makes no difference practically if there is 1 or 3 because most Americans only have one company providing service to their homes. In the few areas where there is actual competition, prices are a fraction of what they are in areas where there is no disruptive force. For example, Comcast customers in areas with Google Fiber service can get gigabit service for less than I pay for 120 Mbps in an area where only the Verizon/Comcast cartel operates.

The foundation of Reason’s argument is that Net Neutrality is unnecessary because we’ve never had issues without it. I think this timeline shows just how crucial it really is to a free and open internet.

2005 – Madison River Communications was blocking VOIP services. The FCC put a stop to it.

2005 – Comcast was denying access to p2p services without notifying customers.

2007-2009 – AT&T was having Skype and other VOIPs blocked because they didn’t like there was competition for their cellphones.
2011 – MetroPCS tried to block all streaming except youtube. (edit: they actually sued the FCC over this)

2011-2013, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon were blocking access to Google Wallet because it competed with their bullshit. edit: this one happened literally months after the trio were busted collaborating with Google to block apps from the android marketplace

2012, Verizon was demanding google block tethering apps on android because it let owners avoid their $20 tethering fee. This was despite guaranteeing they wouldn’t do that as part of a winning bid on an airwaves auction. (edit: they were fined $1.25million over this)

2012, AT&T – tried to block access to FaceTime unless customers paid more money.

2013, Verizon literally stated that the only thing stopping them from favoring some content providers over other providers were the net neutrality rules in place.

"But her emails!!"

/s

Most of these examples deal with cellphone internet. AFAIK the net neutrality rules that are currently in place exempt cell. Since over the air bandwidth is a lot more scarce, cell providers were give a lot more margin to manage quality of service.

This is a great list, but wasn’t all this solved without Net Neutrality in place? So why do we need net neutrality to prevent it in the future?

This actually puts more controls in place for the FTC to help stop it. Right?

Net Neutrality would have stopped these from happening in the first place.

No. What it does is makes it so that the FTC has to bring legal action to stop anti-competitive practices, rather than anti-competitive practices being outlawed by default.

Exactly this. Add to that the fact that now you have to put the trust in the FCC to actually start fights instead of defending laws — which I just don’t see happening.

Pai shows his belly to the ones he’s supposed to keep in check.

Way back in the early 2000’s people were already seeing a need to keep internet packets(how we send and receive info over the web) neutral in their handling. The FCC promoted guidelines in which they would enforce is not followed. After all these examples of companies testing and trying to get around these guild lines, those in power sought to make them laws to be followed vs guild lines, giving them actually footing to stand on.
The current move seeks to give FTC control over how to stop them from being anti competitive after the fact vs simply saying don’t in the first place. The entire argument predicates we will simply change providers if we dont like what they are offering. Them main problem is most of us only have one choice. How can the market be competitive and regulate itself with price with only one choice. Hell the fcc tried to argue the potential for competition is competition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality_in_the_United_States#FCC_promotes_freedom_without_regulation_.282004.29

(edit: they were fined $1.25million an inconsequential amount over this)

Just had to make that one edit in an otherwise excellent list of examples.

Yeah, the position that the internet was fine before is ridiculous. It may not have been a dystopian cyber-wasteland yet but there were disturbing trends like proliferation of scummy zero-rating schemes and the whole Netflix throttling debacle that were the impetus for the rules to begin with.

This whole thing reeks of corruption. I don’t understand how its allowed to go through. Millions of objections, a clear argument to say its wrong, etc. All totally ignored for what I assume is some selfish corrupt agenda…

Not corruption. Republican governance.

No, vanboosh had it right. This is unabashed corruption.

Please stop trying to pin it on a specific party. I absolutely do not agree with what many of the Republican leaders are doing, and don’t usually consider voting for them, but this is not the way most people who vote Republican think and isn’t what they want.

I guess what I’m saying is – let’s be clear that what the Republican representatives are doing and what the people who voted for them want them to do are not aligned.

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