FCC Scraps Net Neutrality; Silicon Valley Vows to Fight Back

UPDATE: The FCC scrapped net neutrality in a 3-2 party line vote, lifting consumer protections that prevented internet service providers from throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes on the web. In effect, the internet—despite being created by tax dollars—is no longer a public utility. 

Santa Clara County supervisors held a press conference today to announce plans to team up with Stanford Law School’s Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic to sue the FCC, calling its decision today illegal and harmful to the economy. 

“The FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules is arbitrary and unjustified, and it is therefore unlawful,” County Counsel James Williams said. “We will fight to protect the open internet, preserve the county’s ability to provide crucial health and safety services to our residents, and ensure that innovation continues to thrive in Silicon Valley.”

County Supervisor Joe Simitian added: “The FCC’s action harms start-ups, small companies, and businesses generally, who rely on a level playing field to compete. It hampers development and investment in cutting-edge Internet technologies that the county relies upon.”

In a statement issued this morning, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) also vowed to fight the ruling.

“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai fulfilled his promise today to destroy the free and open internet, but tomorrow the battle commences. It’s clear that the chairman’s idea has been rejected in the court of public opinion with tens of millions of Americans weighing in. Now the issue will be judged in the courts. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and I will be leading an amicus brief for the anticipated litigation very soon.”

“The net neutrality rules currently in place have advanced competition and innovation and have created more startups and entrepreneurs,” she added. Investment in the online ecosystem has thrived, with innovative new apps and more buildout of broadband. The rules have worked well and eliminating them hurts businesses, creators and consumers alike.

The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission is poised to vote this morning on a controversial plan to revoke net neutrality protections, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

In a last-ditch appeal Wednesday, 18 state attorneys general sent a letter imploring the FCC—helmed by GOP Chairman Ajit Pai—to delay the decision until the agency investigates claims that fake submissions undermined the public comment period.

Their plea apparently fell on deaf ears, and now the fate of a free and open internet hangs in the balance.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo this past week joined nearly 60 mayors throughout the U.S. by signing a letter demanding that the Trump administration protect net neutrality, warning that losing the protection would threaten education, innovation and economic growth.

Back in August, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for a resolution supporting net neutrality.

“Especially here in Silicon Valley, the internet is a driving force behind our economy,” Supervisor Joe Simitian said at the time. “It creates jobs, fosters innovation, and connects us to each other, even across the globe. An open internet is key to the high-tech world we’ve built, and it’s up to us to help protect it.”

The county will hold a presser this morning to make additional statements about why it opposes the FCC proposal coming up for consideration today.

A number of other Silicon Valley lawmakers have called on the FCC to treat internet access as a public utility rather than an amenity.

“The internet was founded as a neutral platform that leveled the playing field for sending and receiving information,” Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) wrote on her website. She added that she would “continue fighting policies that go against this innovative spirit.”

If Pai’s push to rescind the Obama-era consumer protections translates to reality, internet service providers would be able to charge a fee to deliver content more quickly. Pai and other opponents of net neutrality argue that making ISPs richer works in the public’s interest by giving companies more money to spend on infrastructure upgrades.

But without a mechanism to enforce that kind of trickle-down benefit, there’s nothing to prevent those companies from skimming the extra profit for shareholders.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 7:30am Pacific Time. Live video of the debate is available here.

13 Comments

  1. Ha Ha you loose! There was nothing wrong with the internet till Obama stuck his penus full of government regulations to control what can be done or said.
    Innovation will return, free market capitalism will lower the cost through competitiveness, and we will all be heard.

    Now go stamp your feet, have a hissy fit, and tell the world it’s just not fair you should have to pay more for better service.

    See if you can find some commi ACLU lawyer to sue the government for free.

  2. In celebration of the liberation of the internet from the dark and sinister forces of “net neutrality” bondage, I propose renaming the internet to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Internet:

    “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”

  3. Wow SJI did you even bother to research what got changed? It amuses me to no end to hear people screaming “MUH NET NEWTRAWLITY!”

    Internet got re-classified as “Title 2 Communications” meaning they’re treated exactly like a Telco now under FCC regulations. This will help pave the way for monopolies like Comcast to be broken up (like the baby bells in the 90’s) It also means that they have to share right of way with other providers, and will no longer have a monopoly on the telco poles and land.

    Basically this vote took down a lot of barriers to entry and will help spur more competition. Sure, it also means they can block traffic they deem is “disruptive” but how long is that going to last with all the new ISP’s and choices that will be popping up?

    • Did you actually research what happened? The FCC repealed the Title II classification, which was enacted in 2015. The Internet will no longer be treated as a utility or common carrier service:

      “Restore the classification of broadband Internet access service as an “information service”—the
      classification affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Brand X case.
      • Reinstate the private mobile service classification of mobile broadband Internet access service.
      • Clarify the effects of the return to an information service classification on other regulatory
      frameworks, including the need for a uniform federal regulatory approach to apply to interstate
      information services like broadband Internet access service.”

      Source: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1122/DOC-347927A1.pdf

      So, it’s the opposite of what you’re saying.

  4. Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the Internet, got it right when he said:

    “ISPs have violated net neutrality principles. For example, AT&T blocked Skype and other similar services on the iPhone so it would make more money from regular phone calls. Verizon blocked Google Wallet from smartphones when it was developing a competing mobile payment service.”

    “When I invented the web, I didn’t have to ask Vint Cerf [the ‘father of the internet’] for permission to use the internet,” said Berners-Lee, who previously stated that the internet should remain a “permissionless space for creativity, innovation and free expression”.

  5. The choice in this vote was between government control of the internet, and letting the internet continue to develop free of gov’t interference. Freedom won.

    The internet began without any government control, and look at what happened! It exploded beyond what anyone imagined. But now the gov’t wants a bunch of bureaucrats to play favorites by deciding which points of view to allow, and which ones to silence. Will someone explain how that would make everything better?

    How about this: let’s let the public—We The People—decide what sites to view, and what sites we won’t view?

    Most of us have more faith in our own judgement than we do in an anonymous government bureaucracy. The difference between the mis-named ‘Net Neutrality’ and a free internet is in who makes the call: will it be the bureaucracy, or the individual? Fortunately, this action upholds the right of the individual to decide.

    This country became great WITHOUT an overarching government. To the extent that the bureaucracy has assumed control over the economy, we have become progressively more mediocre.

    Finally, quoting Berners-Lee is fine—as someone who created the internet’s software, although it’s very doubtful that he expected the result. Then, instead of copyrighting it he gave it all away! Does that sound rational to anyone?

    If Berners-Lee had wanted the government to have control of the internet, he could have simply given it to them. Instead, he gave it to We The People. This vote will keep it that way.

  6. You use Orwellian doublespeak when characterizing the vote of the FCC as freeing the internet for We the People. It freed the Internet for We the Internet Service Providers to sell the Internet to the highest bidder. That is not freedom, it is capitalist chicanery at its very worst!

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