GOP Whacking Internet Freedom

Image: Without Net Neutrality - Blocked! (The Paragraph)

Simply stated at whatisnetneutrality.org: "Net Neutrality is the principle that the company that connects you to the internet does not get to control what you do on the internet."

That principle protects one's freedom to communicate and to choose information sources, without being throttled or blocked by one's internet service provider (ISP). In this information age, that freedom becomes more-and-more widely recognized as a right. And it becomes more-and-more crucial for citizens of a constitutional democracy in keeping informed and active.

A like principle was in effect for the nation's telephone system. Our government deemed the telephone system a "common carrier" -- a public utility that must treat all messages (phone calls) equally, and not interfere with them. In the dial-up ISP days, that principle carried over to the internet, which then grew rapidly.

Later, big telephone and cable TV companies gathered most of the ISP market. And during the Bush II administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) classified those ISPs as "information services," which are not common carriers.

Eager for the easy money to be had by just turning the valve to slow or speed data transmission, big telecoms lobbied against net neutrality. Courts struck down FCC tries at applying the net neutrality principle to ISPs classified as information services. An outcry -- including 4 million comments to the FCC -- came from the internet-using populace. And at last, in 2015, the FCC reclassified ISPs as "telecommunciation services", which are common carriers.

Now, having near-total control of our federal government, Republicans are acting to quash net neutrality and internet freedom. Already, Republican Congressmen and President Trump have repealed the privacy rule. No longer does an ISP have to get your explicit consent before it can use or disclose your browsing history, app usage or content of your messages. That repeal was done using the Congressional Review Act, and so was not subject to a Senate filibuster. Also, nine Republican Senators have introduced a bill to kill net neutrality and ban the FCC from ever adopting it again.

After the election, commissioner Ajit Pai seemed to relish his coming appointment as chairman of a Republican-majority FCC. "We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation," he said. But Pai and the other Republican commissioner have taken the weed whacker to the flower garden. In spite of hundreds of thousands of new comments to the FCC in favor of keeping net neutrality, they have voted to hold a rulemaking session aimed at undoing its protections.

Until August 16, before its upcoming session, the FCC is taking comments on its rulemaking proposal. The proposal would drop the ISP common carrier classification, and look at abandoning the transparency rule and the bright-line rules of no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization. You can easily submit your comment to the FCC via this tool from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The tool provides text for the comment, but you can add, or change the whole thing to your own words before submitting. Be mindful that comments to the FCC are public record. Here is an example comment:

Dear FCC,

As the writer of a small blog, I want my government to protect my right to reach my audience via the internet. As a citizen, I want my government to protect my right to get information from the sources I choose, and communicate by way of the apps I choose via the internet. These rights are important to our freedom and duty in a constitutional democracy. These rights are too important to leave in the hands of an unwatched ISP company that will make decisions based on profit.

I urge you, as part of our government, to protect the rights of all the people by keeping the transparency rule, and the bright-line rules for internet freedom:
No Blocking, No Throttling, No Paid Prioritization.

The courts have said that the FCC can only enforce these rules for a common carrier. So please, keep the common carrier classification for ISPs.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Pai seems hellbent to whack net neutrality and the right to internet freedom. But Congress has the power to write net neutrality out of, or into, law. You can write your senators and representative via their website contact forms, available from these links:

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Comments

dkmich's picture

One thing about the GOP and the people they appoint, they don't care how much their constituents don't like anything. They know their partisan voters will show up and pull that R lever no matter what. Gerrymandering has made many of them safe. And even if they lose, their net worth will be so much greater than when they came it will be worth it.

We run from one fire to another to spit on them. There has got to be a way to sever the head.

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12 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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Lookout's picture

@dkmich

to maintain net neutrality, and as you say are hellbent on eliminating it. All we can do is keep piling on letters.

This essay is a nice summary of the situation.

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10 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

BrutallyHonest's picture

@dkmich What we need to do is create an independent, free to use mesh network. Then we let their crappy paid for network wither and die.

The network would allow for the working class and the poor to have free internet access which would in turn allow for free internet phone calls.

Another boon would be the death of Facebook and the like for the new free to use/ without your privacy rights being abused alternatives.

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10 users have voted.

@BrutallyHonest
Could you or anyone else write an essay about what an independent internet system would involve and its feasibility? Your idea sounds like an answer. Thanks.

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6 users have voted.
BrutallyHonest's picture

@BrutallyHonest @BrutallyHonest I will gladly write one. Expect one before the end of the week.

If we create a mesh network that is run as a coop and then push hard on moving our economy into a cooperative economy ( democratize the enterprise) we can and will enable people to be more in control of their lives and as such make the political more personal/ get more people involved and be more critical thinkers

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3 users have voted.
Hawkfish's picture

@BrutallyHonest like the one in Tennessee (of all places). That doesn't help with the trunk line throttling, but it is much easier to maintain than a mesh network run by people some of whom may have little expertise.

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0 users have voted.

We may find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud.
- Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away

BrutallyHonest's picture

@dkmich What we need to do is create an independent, free to use mesh network. Then we let their crappy paid for network wither and die.

The network would allow for the working class and the poor to have free internet access which would in turn allow for free internet phone calls.

Another boon would be the death of Facebook and the like for the new free to use/ without your privacy rights being abused alternatives.

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1 user has voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

Seeing as this is fully supported by the big six, the Dems want to hang on to their corporate funding.

One or two will probably make some noises about how awful this is on a strictly "Trump is a bad guy" bender... but since it directly benefits their contributors, they're gonna go along with this completely, AND tell their constituents that we're bad people for not believing in it.

Look for lots of talk about "Stopping Hate Speech" online, and "Ending the Misogynist and Racist stranglehold on online discourse" which they're doing their damnedest to promote.

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13 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

Citizen Of Earth's picture

Is it any wonder he is pushing to screw consumers by killing net neutrality. Looks like all the regular Joes who voted for Trump to be on their side got played like a grand piano. Suckers! And in Trump terminology, Losers!

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9 users have voted.

Donnie The #ShitHole Douchebag. Fake Friend to the Working Class. Real Asshole.

CS in AZ's picture

@Citizen Of Earth

Trump elevated him to chairman, but Obama put him on the commission. Just sayin. It's a mistake to think this is a "Dems good, republicans bad" issue. Obama's chairman Tom Wheeler was also a telecom lobbyist. Hum.

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12 users have voted.
Citizen Of Earth's picture

@CS in AZ And I'll never be suckered into voting for either, ever again.

Pai is a real POS. Saw him on the PBSNews hour with his shit eatin grin explaining how killing net neutrality is the best thing for everyone. Plus with a straight face he said the ISPs will not take advantage by slowing down delivery of some content, because we can trust them.

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6 users have voted.

Donnie The #ShitHole Douchebag. Fake Friend to the Working Class. Real Asshole.

boriscleto's picture

My former Congress Critter, Dan Mafei, took $400,000 from the communications sector. He was against Net Neutrality. Imagine that...My current Congress Critter, John Katko, takes most his money from Ideological/Single Issue groups & Wall Street, so I don't even know his stance on net neutrality is. But he does think Drumpf's plan to privatize air traffic control is just great...

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3 users have voted.

" In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move. -- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy "

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Hawkfish's picture

@boriscleto I just checked my Seattle critters (Murray, Cantwell and Jayapal) and all three actively support net neutrality. You would think that the senator from Microsoft would have more influence with a proportedly pro-biddness administration but such are the times we live in...

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1 user has voted.

We may find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud.
- Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away

PriceRip's picture

          I actually started to write a parody ad to satirize this situation and slammed into the reality that reality is already the parody. None of this makes any sense.

          The disconnect with reality is so profound that any rational person should succumb to paroxysms of laughter rather than attempt to construct reasoned arguments.

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Constructing an argument to prove, "Humans, deprived of oxygen, die.", is inane and vapid.

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          I am thinking that last bit should be my sig.

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4 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.