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Drudge, Fox News could be censored under new federal rules, experts warn

By RUDY TAKALA • 8/13/15 3:09 PM

A Washington, D.C., appeals court is set to hear arguments later this year on new net neutrality rules, which critics say could lead to government regulators censoring websites such as the Drudge Report and Fox News.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments against the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on Dec. 4. A panoply of amicus briefs filed with the court last week offer a preview of the arguments.

In its February vote on net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission stated that broadband providers do not have a right to free speech. “Broadband providers are conduits, not speakers … the rules we adopt today are tailored to the important government interest in maintaining an open Internet as a platform for expression,” the majority held in its 3-2 vote.

The rules, which went into effect in June, require that broadband providers — such as Verizon or Comcast — offer access to all legal online content. It did not place such a requirement on “edge providers,” such as Netflix and Google. The FCC defines edge providers as “any individual or entity that provides any content, application, or service over the Internet, and any individual or entity that provides a device used for accessing any content, application, or service over the Internet.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/drudge-fox-news-could-be-censored-under-new-rules/article/2570147

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FCC’s Open Internet Order Won’t Stand Up To The First Amendment

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GUEST POST WRITTEN BYFred Campbell

Mr. Campbell is executive director of the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology and a former chief of the FCC’s wireless bureau.

Is watching Netflix on the broadband Internet more like (A) watching cable television or (B) talking on the telephone? Common sense suggests the answer is “A,” and the court that overturned the previous open Internet rules chose “A”; the First Amendment demands it. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nevertheless chose “B.”

In the 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC concluded the Internet is the functional equivalent of the public switched telephone network and is subject to the common carrier regulations in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. If it had admitted the Internet offers communications capabilities that are functionally equivalent to the printing press, mail carriage, newspaper publishing, over-the-air broadcasting, and cable television combined, it would have been too obvious that its decision to classify broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers is unconstitutional. Like all other means of disseminating mass communications, broadband Internet access is a part of the press that the First Amendment protects from common carriage regulation.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2015/05/21/fccs-open-internet-order-wont-stand-up-to-the-first-amendment/

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The biggest threat to the Net isn’t cable companies. It’s government.

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Geoffrey A. Manne & R. Ben Sperry from the May 2015 issue – view article in the Digital Edition

Net neutrality” sounds like a good idea. It isn’t.

As political slogans go, the phrase net neutrality has been enormously effective, riling up the chattering classes and forcing a sea change in the government’s decades-old hands-off approach to regulating the Internet. But as an organizing principle for the Internet, the concept is dangerously misguided. That is especially true of the particular form of net neutrality regulation proposed in February by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Net neutrality backers traffic in fear. Pushing a suite of suggested interventions, they warn of rapacious cable operators who seek to control online media and other content by “picking winners and losers” on the Internet. They proclaim that regulation is the only way to stave off “fast lanes” that would render your favorite website “invisible” unless it’s one of the corporate-favored. They declare that it will shelter startups, guarantee free expression, and preserve the great, egalitarian “openness” of the Internet.

No decent person, in other words, could be against net neutrality.

http://reason.com/archives/2015/04/09/how-to-break-the-internet

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The legal case against Internet rules

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The legal case against Internet rules
By Mario Trujillo – 03/15/15 06:00 AM EDT

Asked what the Internet ‘general conduct rule’ means, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, ‘We don’t really know.’

As legal challenges loom for new net neutrality regulations, GOP members of the Federal Communications Commission are offering some of the first lines of attack.

The dissenting opinions of the two Republicans ran 80 pages, and they telegraph some of the arguments on which critics could rely as they prepare legal filings to scrap the new rules.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly said the commission wrote the rules to withstand challenges from the “big dogs.” And while it is still unclear which organization or company will lead the charge, there is little doubt that a legal battle is brewing.

On Thursday, the public got its first look at the actual text of the net neutrality order, two weeks after it was approved. The rules would reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communication Act. The new designation will give the commission increased authority to enforce rules barring Internet service providers like Verizon or Comcast from prioritizing any piece of Internet traffic above another.

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/235672-the-legal-case-against-net-neutrality

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Opinion: The FCC’s Net Neutrality Victory Is Anything But

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Opinion: The FCC’s Net Neutrality Victory Is Anything But

The day after the FCC’s net neutrality vote, Washington was downright frigid. I’d spoken at three events about the ruling, mentioning at each that the order could be overturned in court. I was tired and ready to go home.

I could see my Uber at the corner when I felt a hand on my arm. The woman’s face was anxious. “I heard your talk,” she said.“If net neutrality is overturned, will I still be able to Skype with my son in Turkey?”

The question reveals the problem with the supposed four million comments submitted in support of net neutrality. Almost no one really gets it. Fewer still understand Title II, the regulatory tool the FCC just invoked to impose its conception of net neutrality on the Internet.

Some internet engineers and innovators do get it. Mark Cuban rightly calls the uncertainty created by Title II a “Whac-a-Mole environment,” driven by political whims. And telecom lawyers? They love it: whatever happens, the inevitable litigation will mean a decade’s worth of job security.

http://www.wired.com/2015/03/fcc-better-call-saul/

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Netflix May Already Regret Its Support for the FCC’s New Net Neutrality Rules

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Netflix May Already Regret Its Support for the FCC’s New Net Neutrality Rules

The agency’s new Internet rules will only make the web worse.

Over at Wired, Geoffrey Manne, the Executive Director of the International Center for Law and Economics, has one of the very best critical takes on the Federal Communications Commission’s decision last week to overhaul the way broadband Internet is regulated in order to enforce net neutrality rules. Manne makes a couple points that are worth repeating.

The first is that the new regulations give the agency license to go far beyond what supporters of the Title II/net neutrality regime have said is necessary—and, in doing so, may actually inhibit more valuable and effective consumer protection regulations from the Federal Trade Commission:

You were sold a bill of goods when activists told you net neutrality was all about protecting “the next Facebook” from evil ISPs. Think about it: If you’re “the next Facebook,” who do you think is more worried about you? Your ISP, or Facebook itself? If the problem is between Facebook and its potential challengers, hamstringing ISPs is an awfully roundabout way of dealing with it. Especially because we already have a regulatory apparatus to deal with issues related to competition: antitrust laws.

But consider this irony: Now that ISPs are regulated under Title II as common carriers, the Federal Trade Commission can’t enforce its consumer protection laws against them anymore.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be antitrust enforcement, but we did just hobble our most significant and experienced consumer protection authority. That seems like a mistake if we’re enacting rules that purport to protect consumers.

This may not be exactly how it all plays out, but it’s not a bad bet. We don’t know for sure, of course, in part because we haven’t even seen the full FCC order yet; indeed, according to an agency statement earlier this week, it hasn’t even been finalized yet.

http://reason.com/blog/2015/03/05/netflix-may-already-regret-its-support-f

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Internet at a Crossroads

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Internet at a Crossroads

How Government Surveillance Threatens How We Communicate

by Cynthia M. Wong (@cynthiamw), Senior Researcher, Internet and Human Rights

We have reached an inflection point for the future of the Internet. To preserve the Internet as an open, global platform for rights, development, and commerce, we need principled rules to govern digital surveillance and protect privacy that apply to every government.

Until the summer of 2013, the global movement for Internet freedom had been gaining momentum. A diverse range of governments had formed the Freedom Online Coalition and publicly committed to promoting a free, open, and global Internet through coordinated diplomatic efforts, led by the United States, United Kingdom, and their allies. There was broad recognition at the United Nations Human Rights Council that the same rights we enjoy offline must also apply online.

However, global trust in US and UK leadership on Internet freedom has evaporated ever since former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden began releasing evidence of mass surveillance by the NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). In a blistering critique at the UN in September 2013, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned these practices: “In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy,” Rouseff declared. “The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating the rights of citizens of another country.”

Snowden’s revelations laid bare the rift between the stated values of the US and UK and their behavior. Even while championing an open and free Internet, these governments were collecting data on hundreds of million people worldwide every day, including, in the case of the US, Dilma Rousseff herself. To make it easier to spy on people online and identify security threats, they have also surreptitiously weakened Internet security, paradoxically making all Internet users less safe and more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves.

http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/essays/internet-crossroads

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FCC chief scheduled for marathon week of testimony on Internet rules

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FCC chief scheduled for marathon week of testimony on Internet rules

By Mario Trujillo – 02/27/15 03:53 PM EST

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s March schedule is filling up fast.

Wheeler has agreed to cap off a marathon week of hearings next month with testimony in front of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology on March 19.

The hearing, announced by panel Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), will be his third of the week. He will also testify at the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Oversight Committee.

There is still another request for testimony outstanding from the House Judiciary Committee.

Congressional Republicans have pounced on Wheeler after the FCC recently approved regulations that would reclassify broadband Internet under regulations governing traditional telephones, in order to enforce strong net neutrality rules.

The increased authority, approved by a 3-2 vote on Thursday, is meant to enforce rules to ensure Internet Service Providers do not prioritize any packet of Internet traffic above another.

Committees in the House and Senate have launched investigations probing whether the White House had an undue influence on the rule-making. Republicans have accused Wheeler of bending to White House pressure, because the regulations track closely with recommendations President Obama made to the commission in November.

Republicans are also considering a series of congressional actions to undo the regulations.

Leaders on the House and Senate Commerce committees are pushing a bill to enact many of the net neutrality principles advocates have supported, while also restricting some FCC authority. Another group of Republicans are advocating a more partisan effort to block the regulations through a “fast track” process under the Congressional Review Act.

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/234168-wheeler-scheduled-for-marathon-week-of-testimony-on-internet-rules

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Republicans strike back: FCC member invokes Star Wars in net neutrality fight

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Republicans strike back: FCC member invokes Star Wars in net neutrality fight
Dominic Rushe in Washington

Republican Ajit Pai quotes Emperor Palpatine, of Star Wars’s evil galactic empire, in attack on new broadband rules regulating the internet

Republicans invoked Star Wars’s evil galactic emperor in their attacks on new broadband regulations on Friday, warning that the public and Silicon Valley were in for an unpleasant surprise.

Quoting Emperor Palpatine, Republican Ajit Pai, a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said: “Young fool … Only now, at the end, do you understand.”

Meme wars between the two sides of the debate continued through the day, as internet advocates Fight for the Future, Demand Progress and Free Press flew an airplane towing a 2,000 square foot banner over the towering corporate headquarters of the cable giant Comcast, in Philadelphia.

The victory banner depicted the feline internet star Grumpy Cat and the legend: “Comcast: Don’t Mess With the Internet. #SorryNotSorry.”

Referring to Pai’s comments Evan Greer, campaigns director at Fight for the Future, said: “What they didn’t know is that when they struck down the last rules we would come back more powerful than they could possibly imagine.”

Pai and fellow Republican FCC commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who have been consistent critics of the FCC’s new rules, said once they are published people will realise that they will stifle innovation and lead to taxes and increased rates for the public.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/27/republicans-strike-back-fcc-member-star-wars-net-neutrality

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Net Neutrality: Triumph of the Ruling Class

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Net Neutrality: Triumph of the Ruling Class

By Jeffrey Tucker from Beautiful Anarchy link Feb 26, 2015

A triumph of “free expression and democratic principles”? How stupid do they think we are?

It’s been painful to watch the gradual tightening of government control in the name of net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission’s decision to rewrite the rules and declare the Internet as a public utility seals the deal. It cartelizes the industry and turns a “Wild West” into a planned system of public management — or at least intends to.

All the rest is a veneer to cover what is actually a power grab.

This whole plot has had all the usual elements. It has a good name and its supporters say it is about stopping private and public control. It’s had the backing of all the top names in content delivery, from Yahoo to Netflix to Amazon. It’s had the quiet support of the leading Internet service providers. The decision to impose the rule has been declared by a tiny group of unaccountable bureaucrats operating with the support of the executive lame duck.

The opposition, in contrast, has been represented by small players in the industry, hardware providers like Cisco, free-market think tanks and disinterested professors, and a small group of writers and pundits who know something about freedom and free-market economics. The public at large should have been rising up in opposition but people are largely ignorant of what’s going on.

http://tucker.liberty.me/2015/02/26/net-neutrality-triumph-of-the-ruling-class/