Under Threat: A Free and Open Internet - by Stephen Lendman
This article updates an earlier one titled "The Struggle for Net Neutrality," accessed through the following link:
First some background. As a candidate, Obama pledged support for "network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet." As president, he reneged across the board, including for Internet freedom and openness, Boston.com writer Joelle Tessler headlining, "FCC votes to reconsider broadband regulations," saying:
Federal regulators are "wading into a bitter policy dispute that could be tied up in Congress and the courts for years." At stake: a free, open, and affordable Internet, threatened by powerful phone and cable giants wanting to privatize and control it, have unregulated pricing power, and decide what's published at what speed or blocked.
On June 16, alternate regulatory paths were considered, including the one likely to prevail, favored by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski "to define broadband access as a telecommunications service subject to 'common carrier' obligations to treat all traffic equally."
At issue is a US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia April 2010 ruling that the agency exceeded its authority over phone and cable giants, casting doubt on the future of Net Neutrality.
On June 17, Washington Post writer Jia Lynn Yang headlined, "FCC votes to seek comment on its new legal strategy" to impose rules on Internet providers, saying:
"Currently, broadband is defined as an information service," outside FCC oversight. "Genachowski's plan is to shift (it) into the same classification as telephone service," authorizing more agency control than now, partially regulating providers, a "third way" applying some rules, not all, excluding the likelihood of universal, affordable access, the Net Neutrality gold standard, anything less called unacceptable.
Opponents disagree, wanting Congress and the courts to decide, both stacked with pro-business types, sure to reward phone and cable giants the way they satisfied bankers with financial reform, Genachowski saying:
"I fully support this Congressional effort. A limited update of the (1996 Telecommunications Act) could lock in an effective broadband framework to promote investment and innovation, foster competition, and empower consumers," leaning heavily for the former over the latter, abandoning the struggle for universal, affordable access, if Congress goes along, which is likely, given the power of big money to prevail.
Yet, according to Josh Silver, Free Press.net President and CEO, the FCC has the power by majority vote "to easily fix the problem by 'reclassifying' broadband under the law," as it now stands. "But unless the FCC puts broadband under what's called 'Title II' of the Telecommunications Act," phone and cable giants will challenge all unfriendly decisions in court, assuring consumers will lose and they'll win. The companies know this, so they're "going all out to keep the FCC from fixing the problem," so far successfully.
If Genachowski betrays the public, "it could mean the end of the Internet as we know it," threatening the future of web sites like this one, something readers can't afford to let happen.
This writer's above-linked article had a section on HR 3458: The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009. Introduced on July 31, 2009, it would protect Net Neutrality, keeping it free and open, unless destructively amended or aborted, its fate apparently the latter. It was referred to Committee, not approved, or enacted.
On October 22, 2009, S. 1836: Internet Freedom Act of 2009 was introduced, an anti-Net Neutrality bill. It was referred to committee, not approved, or passed.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Threatening Net Neutrality, Consumer Privacy, and Civil Liberties: An Update