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Google, Verizon Laud FCC Principles, But See No Role for Agency in Internet’s Future

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2010 – Verizon and Google submitted a rare joint filing to the FCC on Thursday. The two communications giants praised the agency for its principles while stinging it by saying that communications laws and regulations should not apply to Internet applications, content, or services.

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WASHINGTON, January 15, 2010 – Cozying up by declaring “our businesses rely on each other,” Internet service giant Verizon and content and search company Google submitted a joint filing on Thursday to the Federal Communications Commission responding to the agency’s proposed open internet rules.

Each company filed separate comments but the duo used the rare joint filing to highlight areas where their interests intersect: “We believe that we need a policy that will ensure openness and preserve the essential character of the Internet as a global, interconnected network of networks and users that is thriving based on a common set of core values.”

The Internet must be treated as a “unique, worldwide network of networks” based on “overarching values that are embraced by all players in the eco-system to support continuing innovation and investment,” they recommended. The companies acknowledged the network’s roots in open research and cooperation between stakeholders, but cautioned these successes took place “in an environment of minimal regulation.” The Internet has become successful because of cooperation and non-interference, the filing said.

Concerns over regulations aside, the filing boldly declared: “It is essential that the Internet remains an unrestricted and open platform, where people can access the lawful content, services and applications of their choice.”

The language of the joint filing appears to be an explicit endorsement of the FCC’s Internet policy statement, which some broadband watchers have criticized for lacking any force of law – an issue currently before the courts as cable firm Comcast fights the FCC censure it received for blocking company BitTorrent’s content from effectively streaming over the Internet.

An open Internet must ensure “innovation without permission,” the companies wrote. Such innovation has been a characteristic of the Internet from the beginning and strong infrastructure is a key part of preserving the Internet, they declared.

“We strongly believe that open, robust and advanced broadband networks are essential to the future to development of the Internet,” they reiterated, adding that public policies should be formulated to encourage investment in new infrastructure and new technologies to achieve the nation’s broadband potential.

Users must have control of their information, and as many choices as possible, the companies wrote. That control should cover “all aspects of [consumer] Internet experience, from the networks and software they use, to the hardware they plug in…and the services they choose.” No single entity should be able dictate consumer choice, the filing boldly declares, and calls for the commission to implement policies to protect consumers’ rights.

But the FCC has no place in the future of the Internet, the companies later note: “…[C]ommunications laws and regulations should not apply to Internet applications, content, or services.” The FCC has no jurisdiction over the Internet and there is “no sound reason” to impose communications laws on the medium, they argue – instead declaring consumer disputes are best resolved by the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission.

Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club event, “Net Neutrality, Copyright Protection and the National Broadband Plan,” on Tuesday, January 19, 2010, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Register here.

Andrew Feinberg is the White House Correspondent and Managing Editor for Breakfast Media. He rejoined BroadbandBreakfast.com in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at BroadbandBreakfast.com from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as a Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. He also covered the White House for Russia's Sputnik News from the beginning of the Trump Administration until he was let go for refusing to use White House press briefings to promote conspiracy theories, and later documented the experience in a story which set off a chain of events leading to Sputnik being forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Andrew's work has appeared in such publications as The Hill, Politico, Communications Daily, Washington Internet Daily, Washington Business Journal, The Sentinel Newspapers, FastCompany.TV, Mashable, and Silicon Angle.

Broadband News

The Chairman of the FCC Returns to His Former Haunt at Verizon Nine Days Before Vote on Net Neutrality Rules

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BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: A great little piece from the Inverse lays out how the “Chatham House” rules may protect Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai from being quoted for what he says at Verizon Communications, his former employer, nine days before net neutrality rules are set to be axed. (UPDATE 12/6: It turns out that Pai released his remarks from the event after all, and are available here.)

The Reason Ajit Pai’s Keynote at Verizon in D.C. Today Is Secret The Chatham House Rule will keep his comments secret, from Inverse:

CC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a 10 a.m. keynote address at Verizon Communications’ Washington, D.C. headquarters on Tuesday, but because of an old British rule applied to the event by its organizer, the comments won’t be made public, less than ten days before Pai will push for the removal of net neutrality consumer protections.

The Chatham House Rule is “world famous” and reads as follows: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”
This is convenient for Pai, as he gave the keynote at the annual Telecommunications and Media Forum put on by the London-based International Institute of Communications, and the venue is Pai’s former place of work, Verizon Communications. The International Institute of Communications operates on a not-for-profit basis “to enable the balanced, open dialogue that shapes the policy agenda. Membership fees and sponsorship enable us to do this,” the organization states on its website.

[more…]

Source: Why Ajit Pai’s Keynote at Verizon in D.C. Today Will Be Kept Secret | Inverse

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Broadband News

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Tackles Twitter, Not ISPs, on Issues of ‘Neutrality’

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BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Is everyone having enough fun on this issue of network neutrality/open internet/”search neutrality”/Twitter-fenestration? It’s been a wacky week, and the craziness is likely to accelerate over the next two weeks. Here, CNET’s Marguerite Reardon covers Pai’s Tuesday speech at the R Street Institute in Washington.

FCC chairman calls Twitter the real threat to an open internet: He also pokes fun at criticism from celebs like Alyssa Milano about his plan to repeal net neutrality rules, from CNET.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has gone on the attack to defend his proposal to roll back net neutrality regulations.

Pai said in a speech Tuesday he wanted to “cut through the hysteria and hot air” about the proposal he unveiled last week to unwind the Obama-era rules that prevent broadband companies from controlling consumers’ internet experience.

The Federal Communications Commission chairman defended his plan as a return to a light regulatory framework established by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s at the dawn of the commercial internet. Then he went on the attack against social media platform Twitter, accusing it and other, unnamed internet companies of censorship.

He argued that these companies, rather than internet services providers, are the real threat to an open internet.

[more…]

Source: FCC chairman calls Twitter the real threat to an open internet – CNET

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Broadband's Impact

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Launches His Biggest Battle: Eliminating Net Neutrality Regulations

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WASHINGTON, November 21, 2017 – In a move that could further infuriate an already-energized coalition of technology industry power players, consumer advocates, and progressive interest groups, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday unveiled plans to undo the net neutrality rules that put in place in some form or another since the early years of the Obama administration.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said in a statement.

“Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Pai’s general proposal has faced widespread opposition since it was announced this year. After the FCC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments on whether to undo rules reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, roughly 21 million comments were submitted via the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System.

That’s more than any other agency proceeding, and the vast majority were of those of retaining the strong net neutrality provisions put in place by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in February 2015.

Those Wheeler net neutrality rules – which are still technically in force – require broadband internet access providers to live by common carrier requirements to which telephone companies have long been subject.

One way of looking at this is that the phone company cannot charge users different rates for a fax call versus a voice call. Nor can it degrade call quality for fax owners.

In a likewise manner, an internet provider cannot, under the rules, slow down a customer’s bandwidth because they are watching Netflix instead of Hulu, or charge extra to for businesses to enable their website to show up more quickly when customers access them using an internet connection.

What Pai’s net neutrality deregulation might mean for the internet

Those groundrules could change if Pai – a former Verizon Communications lawyer named chairman by President Donald Trump in January after having served as a commissioner at the agency since 2012 — gets his way.

Pai proposes to return broadband internet access service to its’ original classification as a lightly-regulated information service under Title I of the Telecommunications Act. Further, his proposal would repeal the “policy statement” about net neutrality originally put in place under George W. Bush Administration FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Although the Martin rules didn’t have the force of law or regulation, they paved the way for future FCC regulations that prohibited internet providers from throttling content or offering paid prioritization for some data, save for an exception carved out for “reasonable network management.”

Under Pai’s new rules, internet providers would be free to prioritize traffic for a fee, or to prioritize traffic of affiliated companies. The limitation is that the internet providers disclose such a practice.

Internet providers were once penalized for violating such a practice during Bush administration. In 2008, the Martin FCC fined Comcast for throttling traffic outside of the “reasonable network management” exception to the agency’s “policy statement.”

Now, if approved by the FCC, Pai’s FCC would completely deregulate network neutrality rules. And the onus for enforcing its disclosure requirements would land at the Federal Trade Commission. It could punish internet providers for throttling traffic in violation of its stated practices.

Under the Pai proposal, state regulators would also be barred from stepping into the deregulatory breach

States looking to step into the regulatory void and protect consumers might also find themselves disappointed under Pai’s proposal. The FCC’s new rules would specifically pre-empt state law or regulation imposing a common carrier requirement on internet providers.

Even regulations governing internet providers that operate entirely within one state would be subject to this preemption, senior FCC officials said, because the internet the provider is connected to is a nationwide network.

Despite the public outcry and tsunami of public comments, FCC officials downplayed its significance during a press conference call reviewing the proposal.

Despite the record number of citizen comments through the FCC’s filing system, agency officials said that most people’s comments were irrelevant to the FCC’s decision-making process because they only contained opinions – not facts, legal arguments or economic analyses.

A regulatory policy that the FCC says is based upon economic analysis

Economic analyses were at the heart of Pai’s proposal, officials said. They cited cost-benefit analyses showing investment in broadband networks falling since the adoption of network neutrality rules.

But when asked for specific examples, officials told reporters that the analyses would be available as part of the draft rules, which were to be released on Wednesday.

The FCC’s desire to take into account the economic impact of network neutrality regulations doesn’t appear to include the views of Silicon Valley, the heartbeat of the information technology sector.

The tech industry is almost unitedly opposed to Pai’s plans: They strongly supported the adoption of the Obama-era regulations.

In July, the Internet Association, which represents Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other large technology companies, filed comments warning that allowing paid prioritization would harm tech giants and also stunt the rising generation of startups.

The new rules would put them “at the mercy of ISPs who would face minimal constraints on their ability to charge [the industry] for prioritized access,” the Internet Association said.

Initial legislative reactions to the Pai proposal are beginning to come forward

In a statement, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, decried the new rules, which appear to favor large broadband providers over technology companies or consumer voices – at least as expressed in the FCC’s comments.

“Today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai confirmed his long-term goal to unravel net neutrality protections, demonstrating that he is on the wrong side of history, startups, consumers and the public interest,” said Lofgren, who district includes most of Silicon Valley.

“As millions of Americans voice their support for a free and open internet, Chairman Pai’s proposal hands the internet over to the largest Internet Service Providers who can throttle, assess a toll or block content,” she said.

Lofgren noted that under the current rules, an entire ecosystem of apps and new technologies has developed because of those rules’ protections.

“The net neutrality protections have advanced competition and innovation, created more startups and entrepreneurs, and have been judicially approved. Repealing these protections is an assault on what has made the internet what it is… an open and dynamic platform,” she said.

“This is not the end of a battle but the beginning of a new one that I will engage in to protect the open internet for my constituents and all Americans.”

 

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