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Senator Lets New FCC Head Know He’s Ready to Do Battle on Net Neutrality

Jan 31, 2017  •  Post A Comment

With newly appointed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai having made it clear that he’s not a fan of net neutrality, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., sent a letter to Pai vowing to “fight to protect it every step of the way,” Tech Crunch reports.

“Pai has publicly opposed net neutrality as championed by former Chairman Tom Wheeler since before the Open Internet order was put in place — and afterwards, published a 67-page critique of its implementation,” the story reports. “He seems unlikely to be swayed, so this is really more gauntlet than letter that Senator Franken has sent his way.”

Franken’s letter to Pai is quoted in the report saying: “As Chairman, you have an obligation to protect Americans’ access to diverse information sources and to ensure that the internet remains a tool for American innovation, economic growth, and public discourse. I have no doubt that you recognize the significance of your new role, but your stated opposition to strong net neutrality rules raises serious concerns about your commitment to honoring the First Amendment.”

Tech Crunch adds: “Whatever course Pai and his colleagues on the commission choose to pursue, it won’t be a quick reversal. Wheeler’s order can’t just be rescinded overnight; action to replace it must be proposed, debated and publicly commented on. The original order drew some 4 million comments, mostly positive (as Franken points out), and a replacement would likely draw a similar level of attention.”

3 Comments

  1. I’m from Minnesota. I’m VERY familiar with Franken. He can posture all he wants (it’s his American right to do so) but that’s not going to change the inevitable…Net Neutrality will go away. Yes, it could take a little time. But it will be gone.

    • Which would be exceeding unfortunate for the internet-using, American public.

      The telcos / ISPs / media conglomerates want to act as though they are a utility when being so is beneficial to their bottom line, but with none of the obligations/restrictions that being a utility imposes. They want special consideration for “technological concerns.

      Simply put… they want to have their cake and eat it, too.

      Sorry, but no.

      My electric company charges me a variable rate based on time of use, not whether it’s generated by wind, solar, coal, or nuclear. My water company charges me the same per gallon rate regardless of how much water I use. They don’t “cap” me at so many gallons and charge me more per gallon or slow my flow of water.

      Just because this is technology and the internet changes nothing, and grants them no special consideration because of those factors.

      My telco / ISP / media conglomerate would love nothing more than to charge me more for watching Netflix / Hulu / whatever… than it would charge for browsing the web. In fact, one corporate head publicly stated this in a trade journal nearly 20 years ago.

      My telco / ISP / media conglomerate would do it simply because they could, not because the data being streamed is different and requires some special technological consideration. Because it doesn’t. At the sending and receiving ends it does, and is encoded and transcoded at those respective points… by Netflix (or whatever) and you.

      In between, where the ISPs furnish their service, where the bits travel, it is all the same.

    • BTW, I’m not a Franken fan (except for his SNL days). Politically not at all.

      My opposition is simply due to what the telco / ISP / media conglomerates do and how they have behaved in the past (and currently). If we’re going to treat internet access like it’s a utility (FWIW, I’m not completely convinced we should), then those companies that provide it have to accept the restrictions / obligations (as well as the benefits) that go along with it.

      If internet access isn’t going to be a utility, then it needs to be a commodity. No single source ISPs in neighborhoods or communities; no restricted, sole-provider protectionist contracts with local governments; etc., etc.

      It will require multiple providers of the same type of service in any given geographical area. That does not mean one wired provider, one wireless (non-cellular) provider, and one satellite provider. Due to real world issues, those different types do not actually compete with each other. For the public good this scenario will require at least two of each type of provider; or three of any two types, if there are only two types available in a region. And telcos who took federal funds and got special considerations in exchange for promises to improve and build out their infrastructure, need to be held accountable and forced to do what they should have.

      And, for the same reasons movie studios were compelled to divest themselves of theaters decades ago, the telcos, ISPs, and companies that provide internet access can’t own or be owned by any company that provides content to be viewed through those services. Some media conglomerates would have to divest them selves of one or the other

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