NY AG investigating 'massive scheme' to influence FCC comments on net neutrality

Violet Tucker
November 23, 2017

Enter the net neutrality debate.

There were concerns about potential price regulation, even though the FCC had said it won't set prices for consumer internet service.

But Pai argued that those rules stifled innovation and amounted to government overreach.

"In an era where foreign governments have indisputably tried to use the internet and social media to influence our elections, federal and state governments should be working together to ensure that malevolent actors can not subvert our administrative agencies' decision-making processes", he wrote. The FCC will take a final vote on Chairman Pai's proposal on December 14th.

Pai's remarks were cheered by conservatives as well as cable, broadband and wireless companies, which provide most of the internet service to American homes, smartphones and other devices.

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said Pai's proposal is "dangerous and wrong".

"For nearly twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress", the statement from Chairman Pai reads.

"It eliminates all prohibitions against blocking and throttling (slowing down) applications by broadband providers, and enables them to engage in paid prioritization and unreasonable discrimination at the point of interconnection", she said.

"And one of the dissenting commissioners was Ajit Pai, who is now the new FCC chairman under President Trump".

The groups, which have organized protests like the digital "day of action", say volunteer organizers are planning for the protests, which will be held in several cities.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai unveiled his controversial plan Tuesday to repeal Obama-era protections meant to keep the internet open and fair.

"In 2015, the Democrats of the FCC decided that it was time to go all in, and what they did was essentially reclassified Internet providers, and started treating them as utility-style companies".

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Technology giants are expecting to lobby furiously against the FCC's plan, setting up a heavyweight fight between Silicon Valley giants and telecommunications conglomerates - two of the most well-heeled industries in the country.

Pai said releasing the text prior to the vote was a "big break" from the previous administration, which did not disclose its rules until weeks after the vote had been taken.

Pai's plan would require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices.

For example, if an ISP chooses to block, slow certain websites, or give preferential treatment to content that it owns or has partnerships with, that provider would have to inform consumers of its policy on an "easily accessible website".

Violations of the transparency rule could lead to fines by the FCC, said senior agency officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter more freely.

At the most basic level, net neutrality is the principle that "all data and all legal traffic that travels over the internet should be treated equally", Clyburn writes.

Dillion said he's also heard healthcare could be something internet service providers decide to favor over other markets.

Other companies, such as Verizon, have exempted their own apps from mobile data limits in a bid to drive user engagement. It would also allow FCC to return to policing the ISPs, protecting consumers, and promoting competition.

In a statement, Google expressed disappointment with Pai's plan. The change also axes a host of consumer protections, including privacy requirements and rules barring price gouging and unfair practices.

"Enormous numbers of fake comments concerning the possible repeal of net neutrality rules" were first reported in May of this year, Schneiderman's letter said.

This investigation isn't about the substantive issues concerning net neutrality.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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