Displaying items by tag: net neutrality

A group which represents a number of major US technology firms has appealed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to retract its proposed plans to reverse a landmark decision taken in 2015 which prohibited internet service providers from blocking or slowing consumer access to online content.

The Internet Association which represents companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix and Microsoft has filed a complaint to the FCC in relation to the reversal on the decision made in 2015. It cited that the dismantling of the established net neutrality rules would create significant uncertainty in the market and disrupt a careful balance that has led to the current circle of innovation in the broadband ecosystem.

In May, Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressed his opposition to the order implemented by the Obama administration in 2015. The FCC voted 2-1 to advance the chairman’s plans to reverse the order which would reclassify internet service providers as if they were utilities. Pai has previously enquired if the FCC has authority or should keep its rules barring internet companies from blocking, throttling or giving ‘fast lanes’ to some websites, known as ‘paid prioritization’.

The FCC chairman has claimed that the order by the Obama administration is unnecessary and harms jobs and investment, and whilst he hasn’t committee to retaining any rules, he has stated that he would prefer an ‘open internet’. However, representatives on the Internet Association said that there is no reliable evidence whatsoever to reinforce Pai’s claim that ‘provider investment’ had fallen.

It has been disclosed that over 8.3m public comments have been filed on the proposal, and Pai will face questions at a US Senate hearing later this week. US telecommunications entities such as AT&T, Verizon Communications and Comcast Corp all vehemently opposed the order in 2015, saying that the order discouraged investment and innovation.

Telecommunication providers have insisted that they strongly support open internet rules and will not block or throttle legal website without legal requirements. However, they have conceded that ‘paid prioritization’ makes sense at times, citing self-driving cars and healthcare information. Internet firms say opening the door to prioritization could enable providers to "destroy the open nature of the internet that allows new or smaller streaming video providers to compete with larger or better-funded edge providers."

Internet providers have expressed their desire to see Congress resolve the long-running dispute over net neutrality and open internet protections. The Internet Association said it was open to alternative legal bases for the rules, either via legislative action codifying the existing net neutrality rules or via sound legal theories offered by the commission.

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White House moves to repeal broadband privacy rules

Written on Sunday, 02 April 2017 10:31

US President Donald Trump is moving to repeal broadband privacy rules put in place during the Obama-era, according to reports. Republicans in Congress passed the repeal of the privacy rules on Tuesday, March 28, and didn’t receive any support from the Democrats.

The net privacy argument in the US sets the stage for a much larger issue later this year over Republican plans to overturn the net neutrality provisions which were adopted by the former administration of Barack Obama in 2015. White House spokesman Sean Spicer has not yet indicated when President Trump plans to sign the bill.

The privacy bill introduced during the Obama-era by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires internet service providers (ISPs) to do more to protect customers’ privacy than websites such as Alphabet’s Google or Facebook. The Trump administration plans to repeal these regulations.

The new rules, according to a Reuters report, would require internet providers to obtain consumer permission to use precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and marketing.

The move benefits the likes of AT&T, Comcast Corp and Verizon. Websites must meet less restrictive privacy rules overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.

Republican commissioners have argued that the rules would unfairly enable websites to harvest more data than ISPs.

The vote was “Terrible for American ppl, great for big biz,” tweeted Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

The next step for the Republicans is to overturn net neutrality provisions that in 2015 reclassified providers and treated them as a public utility.

The new Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, said in December that the era of net neutrality will soon come to an end. The rules prevent ISPs from slowing down consumer access to web content and prohibit giving or selling access to faster internet to certain internet services – essentially providing a “fast lane” to the web’s “information superhighway”.

The rules have been criticized for allowing the potential of government rate regulation, tighter oversight, and would provide fewer incentives to invest billions in broadband infrastructure.

Pai is in favor of a “free and open internet,” he told Reuters in February, “and a free and open internet and the only questions is what regulatory framework best secures that.”

Published in Government

US regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have pledged that they will not ‘deny Americans free data’ following the conclusion of an investigation into zero-rated data programs which have been offered by the country’s leading operators.

The commission concluded their investigation into the data programs and decided not to take any action – citing that the ‘free-data’ plans offered by telecom operators such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile US have enhanced competition in the country’s mobile market and have proved extremely popular amongst consumers.

In a statement issued by the new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, he said: “Going forward, the Federal Communications Commission will not focus on denying Americans free data.”

That stance is the latest indicator that the new FCC chairman is set to remove the country’s net neutrality rules which were imposed by the previous administration. In the aftermath of President Trump’s election in November, he declared that the regulation’s days were numbered.

Last year, the FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler launched an investigation into zero-rated services which enabled US consumers to stream video content from applications without it counting against data caps. Net neutrality laws prohibit providers from offering a better quality of service to certain online content at the expense of other services, and due to this the FCC decided to embark upon an investigation in which looked at zero-rated offerings on a case-by-case basis.

One of Wheeler’s final acts as commissioner of the FCC was to issue letters to AT&T and Verizon in which he warned operators that their zero-rated offers violated net neutrality rules and harmed competition.

It was disclosed further what the contents of the letter contained – it said that AT&T, through its ‘Sponsored Data’ program had offered third party providers less favorable terms and conditions than those it offers its affiliate DirecTV.

It echoed similar concerns of Verizon’s FreeBee Data 360, which offers mobile video through its Go90 video platform. However, with Pai’s latest move both companies are free to continue offering their respective services.

AT&T issued a statement following the close of the investigation by the FCC and declared the decision a ‘win for millions of customers’.

Published in Telecom Operators

US President Donald Trump has announced his new chief regulator for the nation’s airwaves and internet connections – a man known for his opposition to the Obama-led ‘net neutrality’ rules. Ajit Pai will take on the role of chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In a recent statement, Pai said he was grateful to be chosen for the role by the new president.

An active member of Twitter, Pai said in a post on Monday, 23 January, that “there is so much we can do together to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans and to promote innovation and investment.”

Pai, an Indian-American from Kansas, had been one of the two Republican commissioners on a five-member panel that regulates the country’s communications infrastructure, which includes television, phone and internet services. There are currently just three members on the panel. Therefore, the FCC currently has a 2-1 Republican majority and two empty seats, which will be filled by one Republican and one Democrat.

The Republicans are now in a position of strength since they hold a majority of the FCC panel, as well as their majority control of Congress and the White House, which is expected to help them roll back policies applauded by consumer advocates that were disliked by many phone and cable industry groups. This includes ‘net neutrality’ rules that stopped internet service providers from favoring some website and apps over others.

Pai has suggested that he wants to steer the FCC in a direction that favors big phone and cable companies. Under the leadership of former FCC chairman Thomas Wheeler, Pai felt that the organization had overstepped its bounds. Speaking in December last year, Pai expressed confidence that 2015 net neutrality rules would be reversed and noted that the FCC needed to “weed whacker” to what he believes to be unnecessary regulations that prevent investment and innovation.

There are concerns, however, by consumer advocates, that with decreased regulation, the FCC could potentially allow huge corporate mergers, reverse protection for internet users and eventually lead to higher costs for media and technology companies that rely on the internet to reach consumers. Pai has opposed online privacy regulations which demand broadband providers to ask consumers for permission before using their data.

Pai voted against approving Charter Communication’s $67 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and a smaller company, Bright House. The reason for his opposition wasn’t because of the mergers, but because he thought some of the conditions required by the FCC, such as barring data caps on home internet service, amounted to the government meddling in business, ABC News reported.

The new FCC chairman is supported by the cable industry’s trade group, the NCTA, which released a statement on Monday, 23 January, saying Pai has a “common-sense philosophy that consumers are best served by a robust marketplace that encourages investment, innovation and competition.” On the other hand, consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge said Pai has a “history of attacking consumer protections” and urged him to maintain the FCC’s recent initiatives.

The Internet Association, a trade group that represents technology and video companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix, also expressed its opinion on Pai, saying that while he doesn’t always side with the industry, “he is both thoughtful and willing to listen.”

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