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‘Net Neutrality Reader

There is a lot of talk about the “end of ‘net neutrality” because of the recent announcements made by the United State Federal Communications Commission (FCC). With so much out there, it is often important to sit down and read a few pieces together to gain a better sense of different sides of the issue, rather than reading one or two articles and considering yourself “well informed.” This post provides a starting point for those interested in pursuing the issue a little more deeply.

The latest episodes in this unfortunate techno-religious proclivity are now emerging. One involves an especially egregious hyperbolic excess of the Internet Wars known as Net Neutrality. The winning internet protocol religious faction, having infused the Washington political system with their Templar Knights in 2009, baked their commandments into the embarrassing December 2010 Report & Order of the FCC as “preserving the free and open internet.” “Today the Commission takes an important step to preserve the Internet as an open platform for innovation, investment, job creation, economic growth, competition, and free expression.” Nevermind that they never actually defined “the Internet.” They simply believed that whatever it was, the FCC as a federal government agency needed to “preserve” it as a religious belief to be imposed upon everyone. — Anthony Rutkowski @ CircleIDThe latest episodes in this unfortunate techno-religious proclivity are now emerging. One involves an especially egregious hyperbolic excess of the Internet Wars known as Net Neutrality. The winning internet protocol religious faction, having infused the Washington political system with their Templar Knights in 2009, baked their commandments into the embarrassing December 2010 Report & Order of the FCC as “preserving the free and open internet.” “Today the Commission takes an important step to preserve the Internet as an open platform for innovation, investment, job creation, economic growth, competition, and free expression.” Nevermind that they never actually defined “the Internet.” They simply believed that whatever it was, the FCC as a federal government agency needed to “preserve” it as a religious belief to be imposed upon everyone. —Anthony Rutkowski @ CircleID

No baby boomers had been born when Congress enacted Title II of the Communications Act in 1934 as a means of regulating the Bell telephone monopoly, and the first Millennials were in elementary school when that monopoly was broken up in 1983. Title II was set to die along with plain old telephone service until the Obama administration decided Title II should be used to implement net neutrality — the principle that consumers should have reasonable access to internet functionality. Title II is wholly unsuited to this task, because it doesn’t apply to Silicon Valley companies that control access to many of the internet’s core functionalities. — Fred Campbell @ CircleIDNo baby boomers had been born when Congress enacted Title II of the Communications Act in 1934 as a means of regulating the Bell telephone monopoly, and the first Millennials were in elementary school when that monopoly was broken up in 1983. Title II was set to die along with plain old telephone service until the Obama administration decided Title II should be used to implement net neutrality — the principle that consumers should have reasonable access to internet functionality. Title II is wholly unsuited to this task, because it doesn’t apply to Silicon Valley companies that control access to many of the internet’s core functionalities. —Fred Campbell @ CircleID

Over the next decade which companies do you think will be better able to exercise monopoly power? Amazon, T&T, Comcast, Facebook, Google, Regional phone companies, or Verizon? If you’d asked me this question in 2000, I would’ve picked AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and regional phone companies. They are part of local duopolies for wired infrastructure. They had a comfortable relationship with the FCC which regulated them nationally and with most of the state regulators. They saw the Internet as potentially disruptive and would’ve preferred to have its potential for innovation slowed by regulation. Amazon and Google (and most of the Internet community of the day) were against FCC regulation of the Internet exactly because that would chill innovation. —Tom Evslin @ CircleID

That is what happens when you base your telecommunications policies on the wrong foundations. The problems with the telecommunications industry in America go back to 1996 when the FCC decided that broadband in America should be classified as internet (being content) and that therefore it would not fall under the normal telecommunication regulations. Suddenly what are known as telecommunications common carriers in other parts of the world became ISPs in the USA. How odd is that? —Paul Budde @ CircleID

“Net neutrality” sets out principles for regulators to treat all companies using the internet equally. Consumer advocates call that an “open internet.” The Trump administration calls it “micromanaging.” On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a plan to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules in an attempt to “restore freedom.” —Quentin Fottrell @ MarketWatch

The U.S. Federal Communication Commission, under the leadership of chairman Ajit Pai, will next week set in motion the end of Net Neutrality in the USA. This is an unfortunate situation that will cause lots of news stories to be written in the days ahead, but I’m pretty sure the fix is in and this change is going to happen. No matter how many protesters merge on their local Verizon store, no matter how many impassioned editorials are written, it’s going to happen. The real question is what can be done in response to take the profit out of killing it? I have a plan. —I, Cringely

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