Donald Trump threatens net neutrality, says academic.

Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 19 July 2017 23:22.

Technology Decisions, 12 July 2017:

“Donald Trump threatens net neutrality, says academic”

Internet neutrality and freedom of speech are under threat by Donald Trump’s administration, according to a QUT academic.

Matthew Rimmer from the Faculty of Law said that the Trump administration has been seeking to dismantle network neutrality rules as part of its deregulation agenda.

“There will be a massive online protest by a wide array of companies, including Amazon, Netflix, Shapeways, Kickstarter, Twitter and Reddit, along with organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Greenpeace and the American Library Association,” said Rimmer.

“July 12 2017 is a Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality in the US, an event responding to plans by the Federal Communications Commission under the leadership of President Donald Trump’s chair, Ajit Pai, to repeal government rules which established net neutrality.”

Network neutrality started out as a philosophical concept, developed by Professor Timothy Wu from Columbia University, to address discrimination by broadband service providers. It was designed to preserve a free and open internet by preventing broadband providers from blocking, throttling or slowing internet services.

It ensures consumer rights are not undermined by internet service providers and that they do not suffer a dystopia of slow lanes and fast-paid lanes on the internet.

It also helps ensure the internet is a free and open platform which supports innovation. In particular, it ensures that start-up companies and new market entrants have an equal playing field. Without such protections, internet service providers could use their role as gatekeepers to reinforce their monopolies.

“We have not seen such a massive online action since the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act, in which Wikipedia and other online sites staged a blackout against draconian copyright laws,” Rimmer said.

However, while the United States debates network neutrality, Australia still has not had a proper conversation about network neutrality.

“The issue has been periodically raised in the context of debates over the nbn, media convergence and competition reform. There are, though, concerns about the speed of broadband services in Australia and the problem of the data drought,” said Rimmer.

“At a time at which it is modernising its media laws, Australia would benefit from the introduction of the principle of network neutrality. The public interest doctrine would boost consumer choice, competition and innovation in Australia.”

Related story:

Forbes, “Trump Appoints Two Anti-Net Neutrality Advocates To Oversee FCC Transition”, 21 Nov 2016:

In case you’ve been wondering what will happen to net neutrality under the Trump presidency, wonder no more.

On Monday, President-elect Donald Trump appointed Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison, two vocal opponents of net neutrality, to run his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) transition team. Both Eisenach and Jamison will come on as industry insiders: Eisenach is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and has been a paid consultant for Verizon Wireless. He also worked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) transition team under President Reagan and the FCC transition team under George W. Bush. Jamison, meanwhile, runs the Public Utility Resource Center at the University of Florida and is a former lobbyist for Sprint.

Trump had already hired Eisenach in October as an aide to help craft his telecoms policies and plans for the FCC. Monday’s announcement formalizes Eisenach’s role, and names him and Jamison to the “landing team” that will work directly with the current FCC administration on the transition.

Under the Obama administration, the FCC has advanced protections for net neutrality. The FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order ensured that Internet providers can’t discriminate between different types of content. That means that your Internet service can’t make you pay extra to get a “fast lane” to watch Netflix and relegate others to possibly unusable “slow lanes.”

Internet providers have historically opposed net neutrality, while streaming services and tech companies have supported it. In 2014, prior to the passage of the Open Internet Order, Google, Facebook, Twitter and more than 100 companies wrote to the FCC to say that limiting net neutrality protections would pose a “grave threat to the Internet.” Google still maintains a pro-net neutrality site today that explains the company’s stance: “If Internet access providers can block some services and cut special deals that prioritize some companies’ content over others, that would threaten the innovation that makes the Internet awesome.”

Both Jamison and Eisenach’s positions are clear. In 2014, Eisenach called net neutrality “crony capitalism pure and simple.” And in a June 2016 paper, Jamison wrote, “Net neutrality is hindering the very innovations it is supposed to protect, creating undue scrutiny and threatening bans of pro-consumer services.” But what remains to be seen is what, if any, regulations they will erect in its place. Jamison, for example, argued in that same article in June that the U.S. needed a do away with net neutrality but then institute a “multistakeholder process” to resolve conflict without “creating a muddled market.”

The FCC and the Trump media team did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but this article will be updated if they do.



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