It looks like internet service providers in the US have managed to earn themselves a couple of important wins.
In other words, they don’t have to deal with net neutrality anymore.
Moreover, the FCC will help internet service providers in the country to preempt any net neutrality state laws.
We already know that the Federal Communications Commission has ditched all of its net neutrality rules.
Apparently, the Federal Communications Commission wants to do a bit of more “work”.
In other words, the Federal Communications Commission now has plans to order local governments along with states that:
They can’t really impose their own local laws which regular broadband internet services.
A senior Federal Communications Commission official spoke with reporters in a phone briefing a couple of days ago.
And revealed all of this information regarding net neutrality rules and the Federal Communications Commission imposing them on local governments.
There is no doubt about the fact that this is a definite victory for all broadband internet service providers.
At least for those internet service providers who previously had asked the FCC for special and widespread preemption of any net neutrality state laws.
Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, proposed order basically finds that local and state laws should never come into conflict with the United States government’s policy.
If they do, then they must have procedures to preempt such moves.
No one is under any illusion on what the United States government’s policy regarding deregulation of all broadband internet service providers is.
The FCC officials also revealed that the Federal Communications Commission will vote on this order on December 14 in an official meeting.
How Extensive will this preemption be?
At the moment, no one knows that.
Or perhaps we should say, no one has a clear idea of the extent of a preemption that might come into place in the future.
What is clear is that any preemption would prevent local governments and states from imposing any net neutrality laws.
And of course, that is what the Federal Communications Commission wants.
It wants to stop local governments and states do not have the power to replace the laws that the Federal Communications Commission has thus far repealed.
Moreover, some believe that preemption would also prevent any state laws that are related to the privacy of online internet users and/or other consumer protections.
One of the Ajit Pai’s staff told reporters that localities along with states did not have jurisdiction over internet or broadband internet providers because these represent interstate services.
Hence, they could not allow local governments and states to subvert US federal policy.
In other words, the FCC will take away the power that local governments and states have to impose their own rules.
ArsTechnica reported that the Federal Communications Commission refused to take questions.
Or rather did not take any questions from their reporters during yesterday’s phone briefing.
Of course, reporters know how to get answers to their questions.
Hence some reporters approached Chairman Ajit Pai’s office in order to get more details on the extent and scope of his proposed preemption.
Right now, they have not received a response from Ajit Pai’s office.
If and when they do, we will let you know via an update on this post.
We also know that in about a couple of hours the US government will release Ajit Pai’s draft order publicly as well.
That will provide us with more details for sure.
Ajit Pai’s Staff Are In Agreement With Industry Arguments.
Or more like they echoed the same sentiment.
Ajit Pai’ staff has made a lot of the same arguments that internet service providers in the telecommunications industry have made before.
Verizon along with Comcast and mobile industry lobby groups such as CTIA previous urged the Federal Communications Commission to go ahead and preempt state laws.
They had done so collectively in the weeks that lead to yesterday’s official Ajit Pai announcement.
Moreover, the CTIA also argued this past week that state laws should not regulate broadband internet service providers.
As we mentioned before, because they believe broadband internet services represented an interstate service.
And hence it came under the sole jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.
Moreover, the CTIA said, that the Congress had advanced a national policy regarding non-regulation for services that fall into the information sector.
We now know that this CTIA position is exactly the same that the FCC chairman Ajit Pai has taken now.
Readers who have followed the FCC and its net neutrality trouble news would now that legislators belonging to various US states have actually tried their best to impose a different but state-level version of the FCC (an independent agency) privacy rules which the Congress eliminated earlier this year.
We also know that the FCC (an independent agency) is very close to taking its net neutrality rules and throwing them off their books.
When internet service providers heard about this, they said that they had legitimate concerns that US states would try to impose and enforce their own net neutrality rules.
And they would do so on their own.
So what was the FCC going to do?
Of course, it was going to side with the internet service providers and do something about it.
This is where the FCC (an independent agency) preemption comes in.
Perhaps this is a good time to mention that the FCC’s (an independent agency) preemption authorities also has its limits.
Previously, a federal appeals court managed to strike down the FCC (an independent agency) decision that preempted state laws which restricted the expansion of municipal broadband services.
There is no doubt about the fact that the FCC (an independent agency) would almost certainly have to face more lawsuits.
These lawsuits will, of course, try to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal order.
We also have to mention the fact that any preemption of state laws would probably play a huge role in litigation.
The other thing that isn’t so clear at the moment is whether the FCC (an independent agency) provided sufficient notice to the general public about its preemption plans.
If that is the case then what does the yesterday’s proposed order stems from?
Well, it stems from a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking or NPRM.
The FCC (an independent agency) issued the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking back in May of this year.
But here is the problem with that proposal.
The proposal that FCC (an independent agency) presented this May didn’t specifically ask the general public for this input on FCC’s plan of preempting state laws regarding net neutrality.
Ajit Pai argued back in 2015 that the FCC (an independent agency) actually violated the federal administrative procedure rules.
By trying to reclassify internet service providers as common carriers.
Moreover, they tried to do so without offering sufficient notice to the general public beforehand.
The one thing some have missed in that case is that back then the FCC (an independent agency) actually did ask the public for input.
Input on exactly what?
On whether the FCC (an independent agency) should impose or enforce common carrier regulations via a Notice of Proposal Rulemaking.
And it did so months before the actual vote.
As you might have already guessed, the current case is different.
A lot different.
Because this time the FCC (an independent agency) didn’t bother to ask the general public for any input regarding preempting local and state laws related to net neutrality.
As mentioned before, some media outlets have actually reached out to Ajit Pai’s office but none have them have managed to get a response.
As soon as they do, we will let you know via an update on this post.
The Details That You Need To Know About Net Neutrality Repeal
Not all FCC (an independent agency) officials are withdrawn and oblivious to reporter questions.
Some are generous.
Generous enough to provide more details on how the FCC (an independent agency) aims to rollback federal rules on net neutrality.
There are a lot of details but for the most part, it comes to the following:
The FCC (an independent agency) will eliminate all consumer protections that are present in the 2015 net neutrality order.
Let’s discuss the scope of what the current FCC (an independent agency) Chairman, Ajit Pai, is trying to do.
He isn’t just trying to kill core net neutrality rules that ban things like,
- Paid prioritization
He wants to go further.
Let’s discuss that.
Just to take an example, the FCC (an independent agency) will overturn all rules that require internet service providers to disclose data caps and hidden fees.
Moreover, the FCC (an independent agency) will do a couple of other things as well.
It will relinquish its own role in activities such as,
- Evaluating whether internet service providers can or can’t charge competitors for internet data caps exemptions.
- It will also not oversee interconnection disputes which damage any internet service provider’s quality.
The list is actually pretty long.
If you want to know each and everything that the FCC (an independent agency) will eliminate via the new proposal then click here.
Many media outlets reported back in July that several consumer protections actually relied on the FCC (an independent agency).
Well, because of Federal Communications Commission’s Title II common carrier authority.
The FCC (an independent agency) used this authority to actually regulate broadband internet service providers.
But we have already mentioned the Ajit Pai’s new plan will eliminate that Title II classification.
As a consequence, all those consumer protection rules will, sort of, go away forever.
Aji Pai’s proposal does manage to add one other new, but important, requirement.
What is it?
It goes exactly like this:
Internet service providers will no longer have to publicly disclose if they engage themselves in throttling and/or blocking internet content.
But internet service providers will have to disclose any deals that enable them to prioritize online content from affiliates.
Or even from other companies that may pay internet service providers for prioritized access.
How should you understand that?
Well, you should understand that now we won’t have any specific Federal Communications Commission rules which would:
Prevent or block internet service providers from,
content in return for money or any other payment.
The Federal Communications Commission officials also revealed that the Federal Trade Commission along with other consumer protection agencies would have the responsibility to determine if they should allow specific conduct.
There is no doubt that the new disclosure requirement may actually help the Federal Trade Commision.
And even other consumer protection agencies.
Well, it will help them decide if they want to take action against certain internet service providers.
This is what the Federal Communications Commission official told reporters.
The Federal Communications Commission official also told reporters that the organization also had plans to scale back its own regulatory authorities.
How would it do that?
It would do that via new interpretation of Section 706 of the United States Telecommunications Act.
What does this section say?
Basically, this section requires the Federal Communications Commission to promote competition.
In local telecommunications market.
This section also requires the Federal Communications Commission must play its part remove barriers that impede telecommunications infrastructure investment.
Tom Wheeler, the former Federal Communications Commission Chairman, actually treated Section 706 a bit differently.
He treated it more like a grant of authority.
Well, it doesn’t matter now because Ait Pai’s order would make sure that those policies come to an end.
And it would do so by reinterpreting that section as oratory.
What Should The People Do?
Looking at the current situation with how telecommunication companies don’t give much thought to user privacy, you might just want to get rid of it.
You might also want the entire country to cancel the internet service for a today as a form of protest.
And perhaps some also feel that after December, the internet would never be the same.
No one, in their right mind, should cancel their internet service.
Because internet service counts as one of the essential utilities.
That is the reason why in sane countries, governments regulate essential utilities more.
And they do so by treating them as utilities.
The US isn’t that bad at understanding that either.
They have made sure to not let utilities such as gas, water, and power at the whims of giant monopoly providers.
But they seem to not treat the internet as an essential utility.
Perhaps they think the internet is special.
And hence deserves special treatment.
For those who don’t understand, let’s take an example.
Imagine that the company that provides you electricity suddenly only allowed consumers to use electricity to only power particular brand appliances.
These would be what we call “priority” appliances.
Also, imagine if it said that if the user wanted to power appliances from other brands then they had to pay more.
Would that make sense?
Of course not.
Because that would be insane.
Governments should not let utilities operate that way.
Of course, some would also feel that if the FCC (an independent agency) is going to decide that local and state laws regarding broadband internet service providers don’t have any value and hence are void, then perhaps local municipalities should take action.
Well, they could start by building muni-broadband services as one user suggested on Ars Technica.
Of course, there are already state laws prohibiting such actions.
But one thing is for sure, the FCC will face many lawsuits that will try to reverse these recent changes and the preemptive order.