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U.S. agency to vote on net neutrality rules despite outcry

U.S. agency to vote on net neutrality rules despite outcry

Postby smix » Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:40 am

U.S. agency to vote on net neutrality rules despite outcry
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1E734W
Category: Politics
Published: December 13, 2017

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Internet service providers clashed with Democrats and celebrities like “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill ahead of a vote on the Trump administration’s plan to revoke net neutrality rules barring the blocking or slowing of internet traffic. The Federal Communications Commission is due to vote on Thursday on chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to rescind so-called net neutrality rules championed by Democratic former President Barack Obama that treated internet service providers like public utilities. Protesters including some members of Congress are expected to rally outside the FCC before the vote. The American Civil Liberties Union and consumer advocacy groups are also opposed to reversing net neutrality rules. Apple Inc’s co-founder Steve Wozniak and internet pioneers Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf joined several other technology titans in a letter on Monday asking the FCC to cancel the vote. The 2015 rules barred broadband providers from blocking or slowing down access to content or charging consumers more for certain content. They were intended to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to web content and prevent broadband service providers from favoring their own content. Pai proposes allowing those practices as long as they are disclosed. Pai’s proposal marks a victory for big internet service providers such as AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc that opposed the rules and gives them sweeping powers to decide what web content consumers can get. It is a setback for Google parent Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc, which had urged Pai not to rescind the rules. Michael Powell, a former FCC chairman who heads a trade group representing major cable companies and content creators, told reporters that internet providers would not block content because it would not make economic sense and consumers would not stand for it. “They make a lot of money on an open internet,” Powell said, adding it is “much more profitable” than a closed system. “This is not a pledge of good-heartedness, it’s a pledge in the shareholders’ interest.” A University of Maryland poll released this week found that more than 80 percent of respondents opposed the proposal. The survey of 1,077 registered voters was conducted online by the university’s Program for Public Consultation from December 6-8. Democrats have said the absence of rules would be unacceptable overturn the proposal if it is approved. Advocates of the net neutrality rules also plan a legal challenge. Pai’s proposal is “like letting the bullies develop their own playground rules,” said Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. Many Republicans back Pai’s proposal but want Congress to write net neutrality rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the FCC would “return the internet to a consumer-driven marketplace free of innovation-stifling regulations.” Comcast said on Wednesday that “despite repeated distortions and biased information, as well as misguided, inaccurate attacks from detractors, our Internet service is not going to change.” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Wednesday that his office had found more than 2 million fake comments were submitted to the FCC on the proposal. The FCC is expected to address the fake comments in the revised order that will be adopted on Thursday. Nearly 20 state attorneys general have asked the FCC to delay the vote until the issue of fake comments was addressed. Washington Governor Jay Inslee said on Wednesday that the state plans to take steps to protect net neutrality rules. Pai has proposed blocking states from setting their own net neutrality rules.



U.S. regulators ditch net neutrality rules as legal battles loom
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1E81CX
Category: Politics
Published: December 14, 2017

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines on Thursday to repeal landmark 2015 rules aimed at ensuring a free and open internet, setting up a court fight over a move that could recast the digital landscape. The approval of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal marked a victory for internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc and hands them power over what content consumers can access. Democrats, Hollywood and companies like Google parent Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc had urged Pai, a Republican appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, to keep the Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The meeting, held amid protests online and in front of the FCC headquarters in Washington, was evacuated before the vote for about 10 minutes due to an unspecified security threat, and resumed after law enforcement with sniffer dogs checked the room. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters the administration “supports the FCC’s efforts. At the same time, the White House certainly has and always will support a free and fair internet.” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, said in a statement he will lead a multi-state lawsuit to challenge the reversal. Shares of Alphabet, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp moved lower after the vote. Pai has argued that the 2015 rules were heavy handed and stifled competition and innovation among service providers. “The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a digital dystopia,” he said on Thursday. The FCC voted 3-2 to repeal the rules.
NEXT STEPS
Consumers are unlikely to see immediate changes, but smaller startups worry the lack of restrictions could drive up costs or lead to their content being blocked. Internet service providers say they will not block or throttle legal content but may engage in paid prioritization. They argue that the largely unregulated internet functioned well in the two decades before the 2015 order. Still, Democrats have pointed to polls showing a repeal is deeply unpopular and say they will prevail in protecting the rules, either in the courts or in U.S. Congress. Immediately after the vote, Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat, said he and 15 other senators planned to introduce a resolution to undo the FCC action and restore the net neutrality rules. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said in a written dissent released on Thursday that the decision grants internet providers “extraordinary new power” from the FCC. “They have the technical ability and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic. And now this agency gives them the legal green light to go ahead,” she said. Several state attorneys general said before the vote they would work to oppose the ruling, citing issues with the public comment period. Other critics have said they will consider challenging what they see as weaker enforcement. The 2015 rules were intended to give consumers equal access to web content and prevent broadband providers from favoring their own content. Those practices are now allowed as long as they are disclosed. The broadband industry cheered the move. USTelecom, a lobbying group representing internet providers and broadband companies said after the vote they had “renewed confidence” to make network investments, particularly in rural communities. On the other side, the trade group Internet Association, whose members include content providers Alphabet, Facebook and Pandora Media Inc, said “the fight isn’t over” and that it was weighing legal options in a lawsuit against the FCC order. A University of Maryland poll had found more than 80 percent of respondents opposed a repeal. The survey of 1,077 registered voters was conducted online by the Program for Public Consultation from Dec. 6-8. Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist, said polls have found young people are favoring Democrats in the latest elections and that the net neutrality issue could be used to gather support in the 2018 midterm elections. ”Net neutrality is the latest data point for voters that the administration is more interested in doing what big companies want them to do, then what people think is in their interest. That’s a narrative that is politically toxic for Republicans,” he said.
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F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

Postby smix » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:33 pm

F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules
The New York Times

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/tech ... -vote.html
Category: Politics
Published: December 14, 2017

Description: WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to dismantle landmark rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, granting broadband companies the power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences. The agency scrapped the so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone service. The action reversed the agency’s 2015 decision, during the Obama administration, to better protect Americans as they have migrated to the internet for most communications. It will take a couple of weeks for the changes go into effect, but groups opposed to the action have already announced plans to sue the agency to restore the net neutrality regulations. Those suits could take many months to be resolved. Ajit Pai, the chairman of the commission, said the rollback of the rules would eventually help consumers because broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could offer people a wider variety of service options. Mr. Pai was joined in the 3-to-2 vote by his two fellow Republican commissioners. “We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Mr. Pai said in a speech before the vote. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.” The discarding of net neutrality regulations is the most significant and controversial action by the F.C.C. under Mr. Pai. In his first 11 months as chairman, he has lifted media ownership limits, eased caps on how much broadband providers can charge business customers and cut back on a low-income broadband program that was slated to be expanded to nationwide carriers. His plan for the net neutrality rules, first outlined early this year, set off a flurry of opposition. Critics of the changes say that consumers may have more difficulty finding content online and that start-ups will have to pay to reach consumers. In the past week, there have been hundreds of protests across the country, and many websites have encouraged users to speak up against the repeal. After the vote, numerous groups said they planned to file a lawsuit challenging the change. The five commissioners were fiercely divided along party lines. In front of a room packed with reporters and television cameras from the major networks, the two Democratic commissioners warned of consumer harms to come from the changes. Mignon Clyburn, one of the Democratic commissioners, presented two accordion folders full of letters in protest to the changes, and accused the three Republican commissioners of defying the wishes of millions of Americans. “I dissent, because I am among the millions outraged,” said Ms. Clyburn. “Outraged, because the F.C.C. pulls its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the nation’s broadband consumers.” Brendan Carr, a Republican commissioner, said it was a “great day” and dismissed “apocalyptic” warnings. “I’m proud to end this two-year experiment with heavy-handed regulation,” Mr. Carr said. During Mr. Pai’s speech before the vote, security guards entered the meeting room at the F.C.C. headquarters and told everyone to evacuate. Commissioners were ushered out a back door. The hearing restarted a short time later. Despite all the uproar, it is unclear how much will change for internet users. The rules were essentially a protective measure, largely meant to prevent telecom companies from favoring some sites over others. And major telecom companies have promised consumers that their experiences online would not change. Mr. Pai and his Republican colleagues have echoed the comments of telecom companies, who have told regulators that they weren’t expanding and upgrading their networks as quickly as they wanted to since the creation of the rules in 2015. “There is a lot of misinformation that this is the ‘end of the world as we know it’ for the internet,” Comcast’s senior executive vice president, David Cohen, wrote in a blog post this week. “Our internet service is not going to change.” But with the F.C.C. making clear that it will no longer oversee the behavior of broadband providers, telecom experts say, the companies could feel freer to come up with new offerings, such as faster tiers of service for business partners such as HBO’s streaming service or Fox News. Such prioritization could stifle certain political voices or give the telecom conglomerates with media assets an edge over rivals. Consumer groups, start-ups and many small businesses say there are examples of net neutrality violations by companies, such as when AT&T blocked FaceTime on iPhones using its network. These critics of Mr. Pai, who was nominated by President Trump, say there isn’t enough competition in the broadband market to trust that the companies will try to offer the best services for customers. The providers have the incentive to begin charging websites to reach consumers, a strong business model when there are few places for consumers to turn when they don’t like those practices. “Let’s remember why we have these rules in the first place,” said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, a trade group that represents big tech firms such as Google and Facebook. “There is little competition in the broadband service market.” Mr. Beckerman said his group was weighing legal action against the commission. Public interest groups including Public Knowledge and the National Hispanic Media Coalition said they planned to challenge Mr. Pai’s order in court. Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, also said he would file a lawsuit. Dozens of Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, have pushed for Congress to pass a law on the issue, if only to prevent it from flaring up every couple of years at the F.C.C. — and then leading to a court challenge. One Republican commissioner, Mike O’Reilly, said he supported a federal law created by Congress for net neutrality. But he said any law should protect the ability of companies to charge for faster lanes, a practice known as “paid prioritization.” Any legislation action appears to be far off, however, and numerous online companies warned that the changes approved on Thursday should be taken seriously. “If we don’t have net neutrality protections that enforce tenets of fairness online, you give internet service providers the ability to choose winners and losers,” Steve Huffman, chief executive of Reddit, said in an interview. “This is not hyperbole.” Netflix, which has been relatively quiet in recent weeks about its opposition to the change, said that the decision “is the beginning of a longer legal battle.”
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How the loss of net neutrality could change the internet

Postby smix » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:47 am

How the loss of net neutrality could change the internet
Politico

URL: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/ ... net-212671
Category: Politics
Published: December 14, 2017

Description: Supporters of the repeal say it will free up internet providers to innovate, while opponents fear the online world will become more like cable TV.
The Federal Communications Commission's party-line vote Thursday to dump the Obama-era rules, which required internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally, opens the door for companies like Verizon and AT&T to experiment with new business models free from government regulation. ISPs point to an array of possible pro-consumer outcomes like "family friendly" broadband packages that block content not suitable for children, or guaranteed fast speeds for health-related mobile applications. But net neutrality advocates paint an array of troubling scenarios — from smaller websites like the crafts marketplace Etsy and streaming service Vimeo forced to pay tolls to reach consumers, to cable giants like Comcast blocking or slowing disfavored sites while giving priority to their own content. "You will see fast lanes and slow lanes. You can’t have fast lanes without slow lanes," said Gigi Sohn, a net neutrality advocate who worked as an FCC aide when the rules were passed in 2015. "That will mean some of your websites are going to load slower, and some you like, mainly the smaller ones, may cease to exist because they can’t pay to get to customers faster." Thursday’s move comes amid a rapidly changing media environment in which the internet is hotly contested turf. Big media companies like Disney, which just announced plans to acquire 21st Century Fox film and TV assets in a $52 billion deal, will still have the resources to negotiate deals with internet providers for preferential access to consumers — but net neutrality advocates fear that smaller competitors and innovative startups will find themselves priced out. "As a result of today's misguided action, our broadband providers will get extraordinary new powers. They will have the power to block websites, the power to throttle services, and the power to censor online content," Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said at Thursday's meeting. "They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road." The FCC's Republican majority, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, and the major internet providers are adamant that the regulatory rollback won't change things for Americans. Claims that the net neutrality repeal will destroy the internet are "a scary bedtime story for the children of telecom geeks," GOP Commissioner Mike O'Rielly said Thursday. ISPs say they have no plans to engage in some of the nefarious practices the activists are warning about. "It is not going to end the internet as we know it. It is not going to kill democracy. It is not going to stifle free expression online," Pai said. "If stating these propositions alone doesn't demonstrate their absurdity, our internet experience before 2015, and our internet experience tomorrow, once this order passes, will prove them so." The hype around net neutrality "has given the public an over-exaggerated and catastrophic image of what is likely and is going to happen," said Michael Powell, head of the cable industry trade group NCTA and himself a former Republican FCC chairman. But critics foresee an eventual fracturing of the internet, as some websites and streaming services get a speed advantage over others. And they fear the internet will someday look more like cable TV, with providers acting as gatekeepers, channeling people into bundled packages of websites, apps and services rather than offering unfettered access to the web. Such changes could take years to become apparent, said Andrew Schwartzman, senior counselor at Georgetown University Law School's Institute for Public Representation who supports the now-repealed net neutrality rules. The big internet providers will be on their "good behavior" in the short term, as expected litigation over the FCC's order plays out, he said. But over the long term he expects them to start making changes, like charging websites to upgrade "interconnection" points between networks or extracting fees from sites for faster access to their online customers -- all shielded by non-disclosure agreements. "This is no longer a debate among tech nerds,” he said. “Over the last few years, as more and more consumers have come to realize the importance of an open Internet, a broad pro-net neutrality consensus has emerged." The wireless industry has already flirted with preferential treatment of some web traffic, in the form of so-called zero-rating or sponsored data programs. They offer customers a way to stream video content and access other services without it counting against their monthly data caps. For example, T-Mobile customers can use the company's "Binge On" program to stream Netflix videos. The previous, Democratic-led FCC warned that some of these practices violate net neutrality principles, a stance that Pai rejected when he took over as chairman earlier this year. While most of the major internet providers have said they have no intention of blocking or throttling web traffic, the companies are more vague on the issue of "paid prioritization," or creating fast lanes for businesses that pay more. Verizon supports a ban on the practice in situations where there is "harm to competition or consumers." AT&T says it will not "unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic." Charter says it's never included internet fast lanes in its business plans and has no plans change course. Comcast also has "no plans" to enter into paid prioritization agreements but did not address whether such plans could change in the future. All four companies declined to make a representative available for an interview last week, pointing instead to previous statements by executives. The FCC, in its repeal order, argues that eliminating the ban on fast lanes could spur innovation in the marketplace. O'Rielly on Thursday said he thinks such arrangements could be useful to some kinds of driverless cars, which need to transmit and receive data to communicate with transportation infrastructure like stoplights and potentially other vehicles. "Clearly, there are cases today and many more that will develop in time in which the option of a paid prioritization offering would be a necessity based on either technology or needs of consumer welfare," he said. But advocates of the 2015 rules believe the repeal is the beginning of a darker phase of the internet. "The loss of net neutrality means the loss of your fundamental rights," said Matt Wood, policy director of advocacy group Free Press. "ISPs shouldn’t discriminate against internet content and your choices online. Now they can."



FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules
Politico

URL: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/ ... les-295500
Category: Politics
Published: December 14, 2017

Description: The FCC repealed its Obama-era net neutrality rules on Thursday, a step critics warn will upend the internet by allowing cable companies to control where their customers can go online. The vote capped months of debate pitting internet service providers and Republicans against tech companies and Democrats — along with a controversy over millions of fake public comments that flooded the FCC's website. The FCC's order, from Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, eliminates rules that require companies like Comcast and AT&T to treat all web traffic equally as it passes through their networks. In its place, the agency says internet providers will be allowed to block or slow some web traffic or negotiate paid deals with websites for so-called fast lanes to consumers — in exchange for disclosing those practices to the public. Another agency, the FTC, will have the power to act if those practices are deemed anti-competitive or harmful to consumers, the FCC’s Republicans say. The rollback is a victory for the telecom industry and a milestone achievement for Pai, a longtime FCC commissioner and former Verizon lawyer who was elevated by President Donald Trump to the agency's top spot in January. Pai’s focus in his first year as chairman has been on revoking regulations adopted by his Democratic predecessors. His biggest target has been the 2015 net neutrality rules, a signature policy accomplishment of the Obama administration. Pai argues that the FCC, in applying utility-style regulation to internet providers, was too heavy-handed and led to the government “micromanaging the internet.” He says the rules have deterred investment in broadband networks, an argument that supporters of the current rules reject. Both sides have offered warring economic studies on the rules' impact since the 2015 rules took effect. "The government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers in the Internet economy," Pai said Thursday. "We should have a level playing field and let consumers decide who prevails." The leaders of the major cable and wireless industry groups say consumers won't see a difference in their online experience because internet service providers are committed to net neutrality principles even if they're not mandated. But critics of Pai's approach say the net neutrality protections are vital for consumers, particularly for those who don’t have options when it comes to their internet service provider. They say the rules allow online companies to thrive without fear of telecom giants interfering with their ability to reach customers. “When the current protections are abandoned, and the rules that have been officially in place since 2015 are repealed, we will have a Cheshire cat version of net neutrality," Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who voted against the repeal, said at the meeting. "We will be in a world where regulatory substance fades to black, and all that is left is a broadband provider’s toothy grin ... and those oh so comforting words: we have every incentive, don’t worry, we have every incentive to do the right thing. What they will soon have, is every incentive to do their own thing.” The debate over the internet regulations has been a long and bitter one. Protracted fights over what sort of net neutrality regulations — if any — the FCC can impose have gone to court, sparking lengthy legal battles. At the root of the debate is how to apply pre-digital-era laws to an age of internet communications. The FCC took a brief and abrupt break today as it talked about net neutrality for a bomb threat that was called in. Separately on Thursday, the FCC voted to consider whether to change or kill the national media ownership cap that limits broadcasters to reaching no more than 39 percent of the U.S. market. Pai’s proposal to repeal the net neutrality rules sparked more than 21 million comments during the window for public input, and the tally has now surpassed 23 million. The comments, fueled in part by digital activist campaigns and a segment by HBO comedian John Oliver, have become a source of controversy amid revelations that millions of the messages were either fake or bore real people's names without their consent. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is investigating the issue, created a website giving people a way to check whether their identities were used to generate fake comments. Democrats including FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel have said the commission should postpone its vote in light of the problems with the online comment system. The chairman's office has sought to highlight suspicious comments as well, saying, for example, that more than 400,000 filings in support of the rules seem to have originated in Russia. But the FCC rejected a request from Schneiderman to provide details on the comments, citing privacy concerns, and the agency has downplayed the significance of fake messages overall, saying it doesn't rely on "non-substantive" comments in its proceedings. Digital activists have turned up the pressure on Pai with a social media campaign in the days leading up to the vote, with Twitter promoting a net neutrality hashtag. The chairman, meanwhile, has aggressively defended his order, arguing that Twitter and other tech firms that control what kind of content people see online are the real danger to internet freedom and blasting celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Mark Ruffalo and Cher who oppose his plan. The fight is unlikely to end with the FCC’s vote, as both sides are gearing up for a court battle. Advocates of the rules, including advocacy groups Public Knowledge, Free Press and Schneiderman said Thursday they will challenge the repeal in court.
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What the FCC rollback of ‘net neutrality’ means to you

Postby smix » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:52 pm

What the FCC rollback of ‘net neutrality’ means to you
AP

URL: https://www.apnews.com/4c9105c85eb048d8 ... ans-to-you
Category: Politics
Published: December 15, 2017

Description: Now that the federal government has rolled back the internet protections it put in place two years ago, the big question is: What does the repeal of “net neutrality’ rules mean to you?In the short term, the answer is simple: Not much. But over time, your ability to watch what you want to watch online and to use the apps that you prefer could start to change. Your mobile carrier, for instance, might start offering you terrific deals for signing up to its own video service, just as your YouTube app starts suffering unexpected connection errors. Or you could wake one day to learn that your broadband provider is having a tiff with Amazon, and has slowed down its shopping site in order to extract business concessions. All of which would be perfectly legal under the new deregulatory regime approved Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission, so long as the companies post their policies online. Broadband providers insist they won’t do anything that harms the “internet experience” for consumers.
WHAT HAPPENED
On Thursday, the FCC repealed Obama-era “net neutrality” rules, junking the longtime principle that all web traffic must be treated equally. The move represents a radical departure from more than a decade of federal oversight. The big telecommunications companies had lobbied hard to overturn the rules, contending they are heavy-handed and discourage investment in broadband networks. “What is the FCC doing today?” asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican. “Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence.” Under the new rules approved Thursday, companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T would be free to slow down or block access to services they don’t like. They could also charge higher fees to rivals and make them pay up for higher transmission speeds, or set up “fast lanes” for their preferred services — in turn, relegating everyone else to “slow lanes.” Those possibilities have stirred fears among consumer advocates, Democrats, many web companies and ordinary Americans afraid that the cable and phone giants will be able to control what people see and do online.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
In the near term, experts believe that providers will stay on their best behavior. In part, that’s because inevitable legal challenges to the FCC’s action will keep the spotlight on them. Public-interest groups such as Free Press and Public Knowledge have said they’ll be involved in litigation against Pai’s rules. New York’s attorney general vowed to lead a multistate lawsuit; the attorneys general of Massachusetts and Washington state also announced plans to sue. “The fact that Chairman Pai went through with this, a policy that is so unpopular, is somewhat shocking,” said Mark Stanley, a spokesman for the civil liberties organization Demand Progress. “Unfortunately, not surprising.” Rep. Mike Doyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said he would introduce legislation to overturn the FCC’s action , restoring the previous net-neutrality rules. That move, however, could face tough opposition, given that Republicans control both houses of Congress.
ONCE THE KLIEG LIGHTS FADE
Things could be different assuming the rules survive legal and congressional challenges. AT&T senior executive vice president Bob Quinn said in a blog post that the internet “will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has.” Like other broadband providers, AT&T said it won’t block websites and won’t throttle or degrade online traffic based on content. But such things have happened before. The Associated Press in 2007 found Comcast was blocking some file-sharing services. AT&T blocked Skype and other internet calling services — which competed with its voice-call business — from the iPhone until 2009. Thursday’s rule change also eliminates certain federal consumer protections, bars state laws that contradict the FCC’s approach, and largely transfers oversight of internet service to another agency with relatively little experience in telecommunications policy, the Federal Trade Commission. Angelo Zino, an analyst at CFRA Research, said he expects AT&T and Verizon to be the biggest beneficiaries because the two internet giants can now give priority to the movies, TV shows and other videos or music they provide to viewers. That could hurt rivals such as Sling TV, Amazon, YouTube or startups yet to be born.
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