Moral Low Ground


Net Neutrality Is Dead—Here’s How to Get It Back



Craig Aaron, Free Press 

Three judges in D.C. just killed Net Neutrality.

This could be the end of the Internet as we know it. But it doesn’t have to be.

The big news: A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. This decision means that companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon—which brought the lawsuit—are now free to block or slow down any website, application or service they like.

These companies will rush to change the Web and line their own pockets at our expense — creating new tolls for app makers, expensive price tiers for popular sites, and fast lanes open only to the few content providers that can afford them.

It didn’t have to be this way.

The FCC’s rules were designed to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with Web traffic. Instead of reversing a Bush-era decision that weakened the FCC’s authority over broadband, and establishing solid legal footing, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued the rules in 2010 under the complicated and shaky legal framework the court rejected today.

The rules the court struck down left much to be desired, but they were a step toward preserving Internet users’ freedom to go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV—where they pick and choose the channels for you. They’ll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else.

We could pay dearly for the previous FCC’s weak political will and wishy-washy approach. But today’s ruling leaves the door wide open to a better approach. It’s not too late for the FCC to reverse its terrible decisions and repair its doomed strategy.

That’s right. The FCC could make all this go away by simply reading the law correctly and reclaiming the authority it already has to protect Internet users for good. The agency had clear authority before the Bush administration abdicated it and the Obama administration failed to fix the mistake.

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently stated that the FCC must be able to protect broadband users and preserve the Internet’s fundamental open architecture. Now he has no other choice but to restore and reassert the FCC’s clear authority over our nation’s communications infrastructure.

There will be serious pushback from the most powerful phone and cable companies (and an array of hired guns and front groups). They will make threats, recycle all of their debunked myths about the Internet—and promise we can trust them not to do any of the bad things they’ve fought so hard to do.

For too long, the FCC has worked to fulfill the wish lists of the big phone and cable monopolies—instead of looking out for Internet users like us.

Now the free and open Internet is flat-lining. But Wheeler has the paddles in his hands and the power to resuscitate Net Neutrality. We’ll know soon if he has the political guts to use them.

We need strong protections and sensible policies to ensure the Internet continues to thrive and prosper. But to make that happen the millions of people who have fought for Net Neutrality—and the millions more who have rallied against Web-censorship bills like SOPA/PIPA and outrages like the NSA’s unchecked spying and surveillance—rise up like never before.

Together we can fight back against these greedy Internet service providers. We can save the Internet we love. But we have to act now.

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One Comment

  1. wildJanuary 16, 2014 at 8:17 pmReply

    Well this is another one of those ‘too complicated to figure out’ problems, because even the solution is ‘too complicated’.

    In my uncomplicated mind, I think every user should be their own ISP of themselves, this is probably not a realistic solution, because as the governments see it…we gotta have some kind of middleman, rather layers & layers of middlemen to observe anything & everything that could connect. And if the middlemen aren’t ripping off every customer in the name of legalized ISPism, then they whacked each and every customer with a virus…yanno just for shiz & giggles.

    And if connection wasn’t complicated enough, then the government legalized the commercialized onslaught of layers, & layers of advertisement…yanno to clog the cable and push your ISPism into the worlds crappiest overpriced service available.

    And while I’m on the subject of crappiest service available, made legal from the democracy that no longer works…Here is wild;) idea for ya:

    All public voting should become less complicated, does anyone actually have any confidence in ‘The Electorial College’ form of voting? I certainly don’t, it may have been a good idea 200 years ago, but with today’s technology…I say dump The Electorial College.

    Now after reading that statement, your probably in need of a less complicated form of voting…that somewhat resembles a democratic process.

    Every voter goes online, to a government setup webpage, they register & log in…make an account for themselves to vote, one account per voter for any local, state, federal, or international election.

    Requirements & information is obtained from the voter to identify them specifically,…real names only, real addresses only, real citizens only, real voting boundries…bla, bla, bla. Then when the citizen votes from wherever in the world they are, there is a ‘tally sheet’ that posts each voter’s name and how they voted, even the tally itself can be tabulated & verified by each individual voter. It is the responsibility of the voter to verify from the tally sheet if their vote posted correctly & tallied correctly. If the voter finds a problem with their posted vote (being different than what vote was actually cast) push a button & the ‘internet vote police’ can track it out and discover the hack quickly, one true voter complaint should be trackable.

    I think the whole idea of voter secrecy should be obsoleted because it has remained the long-lived gold standard vail for most voter fraud, along with layers & layers of various election law & clerks that insist on all sorts of amazing shenanigans. And as mentioned before, The Electorial College should be obsoleted in these United States of Pet Owners. ‘Internet/cellphone Direct Voter Access & Participation’ will stop the other age old problem within a busy democracy…”I didn’t have time”, or “My vote won’t count because the system is seriously flawed”….Make time to vote, & verify your vote on the tally sheet, to actually get a realistic vote on issues or candidates.

    I could even imagine ‘local, state, & federal representatives’ actually being forced to vote a particular way…based on ‘direct voter access & participation’. The representative’s old tired excuse ‘I’m going to represent the people by voting the way I think best” could be quickly flushed, along with the sour ego. Make them vote the way the majority demanded.

    Use the good technologies of today to actually promote democracy. Set up a program on the internet is very easy, and vote early if ya want, or in the middle of the night, vote naked!

    This form of fascism that has prevailed over this nation for years and years in layers so deep and secret should be scraped, then scrapping the advertisers from spamming and clogging the internet with 95% crap should be almost easy!


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