US FCC votes to advance repeal of Obama-era internet rules

Francis Ford Coppola

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants the commission repeal the rules that reclassified Internet service providers as if they were utilities. Clyburn said that no "credible analysis" supports that argument and said the FCC plan fails to consider "what entrepreneurs invest in their Internet business, what risk venture capitalists plow into the Internet and telecom market, and what consumers pay for, and how they use, all of these services to create economic value".

The net neutrality rules were approved in February 2015 when Republicans were in the commission's minority.

For more information about Thursday's internet freedom vote, as well as actions to move toward jettisoning the "main studio" rule for broadcasters and to invite public comment on the usefulness or harm of other media regulations, see here.

The term net neutrality has come to encapsulate the idea that Internet providers such as Comcast or Verizon should treat all web traffic equally and fairly.

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Francis Ford Coppola, director of classic films such as "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now", has sent a letter to the top USA telecommunications regulator to urge support for "net neutrality", which prevents internet companies from blocking, throttling or giving "fast lanes" to particular websites.

The process of eliminating net neutrality is officially underway. By Friday morning, the docket showed 2,174,196 comments, though some unknown number of those were duplicates (a thousand or so, for example, were the identical pro-Title II comment from a "Yoni Schwartz", who made it into the "top 10 filing names"). "If you unequivocally trust that your broadband provider will always put the public interest over self-interest or the interest of their stockholders, then the "Destroying Internet Freedom" [proposal] is for you", she said. "Today's Notice is the start of a new chapter in the public discussion about how we can best maintain a free and open internet while making sure that ISPs have strong incentives to bring next-generation networks and services to all Americans", the chairman said.

While the FCC's 2015 order may soon be consigned to the dustbin of history, the last few months have shown that political winds can and often do shift suddenly. It also raises worrying questions for anyone with a digital business serving U.S. customers, as the new rules could adversely affect the provision of their services. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has said to expect that total to be minuscule compared with this time around, and Schatz was clearly looking for the flood as well.

The Donald Trump-appointee was still a commissioner of the FCC when he first expressed his disfavor for the ruling. "We do not block, throttle or otherwise impair your online activity". During the 2015 effort to the write the net neutrality rules, more than 4 million comments poured into the agency, a lot of them in support of strict regulations. One of the primary goals is removing the classification of ISPs as "Title II" carriers, which means they can not be as heavily regulated.

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