Net Neutrality updates

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by The Wrong Guy, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    GOP targets net neutrality despite court ruling

    By Mario Trujillo, The Hill, June 22, 2016


    House Republicans are not backing down from their attempts to blunt the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules, even after the rules were fully upheld by an appeals court this month.

    The lower chamber on Wednesday is slated to debate and vote on the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which contains provisions targeting a number of FCC rules.

    The bill would prevent the FCC from enforcing its regulations for internet service providers until after the lawsuit challenging the rules is over.

    While the FCC prevailed in court earlier this month, critics can still appeal.

    The bill would also prevent the FCC from regulating the price that internet service providers charge and require the FCC to publish the text of its rules three weeks before a vote.

    “The appropriations process should not be used to overturn the will of both an independent regulator and millions of Americans on this vital issue,” the White House said in a veto threat.

    Aside from the net neutrality rules, the bill would also stall the FCC from completing its planned move to open up the TV set-top box market. It would delay the rules until long after a study is completed, pushing it to the next president.

    The set-top box proposal has gained a lot of pushback in Congress and even some FCC members say it needs changes.

    While the bill itself has no real chance of being implemented, it could act as a jumping off point for negotiations for a year-end spending bill.

    Seventy amendments covering a wide range of issues have been filed in what looks to be an all-day round of debate on the appropriations bill.

    One amendment offered by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) would prevent the FCC from enforcing its rules that regulate the privacy practices of internet service providers. Those rules are an extension of the net neutrality authority the FCC gave itself last year.

    Another amendment by Democrats would prohibit government funds from being used for action that violates a section of the Communications Act that deals with broadcast sponsorship identification.

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  2. The Wrong Guy Member

    Trump Names Two Opponents of Net Neutrality to Oversee FCC Transition Team

    By Michael Nunez, Gizmodo


    President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Both of the new advisers are staunch opponents of net neutrality regulations.

    Jeff Eisenach, one of the two newly appointed advisers, is an economist who has previously worked as a consultant for Verizon and its trade association. In September 2014, Eisenach testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee and said, “Net neutrality would not improve consumer welfare or protect the public interest.” He has also worked for the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and in a blog post wrote, “Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple.”

    Mark Jamison, the other newly appointed adviser, also has a long history of battling against net neutrality oversight. Jamison formerly worked on Sprint’s lobbying team and now leads the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center.

    Both Eisenach and Jamison are considered leading adversaries of net neutrality who worked hard to prevent the rules from being passed last year. For the uninitiated, the rules passed last year prevent companies internet providers from discriminating against any online content or services. For example, without net neutrality rules, internet providers like Comcast and Verizon could charge internet subscribers more for using sites like Netflix. The FCC’s net neutrality rules would protect consumers from paying exorbitant fees for internet use.

    President-elect Trump has also been a vocal opponent of net neutrality.

    Continued here:
  3. The Internet Member

    Wait, what? Net neutrality is the opposite of crony capitalism.

    Crony capitalism is when something of public value protected by government regulation is handed over to private concerns for profit at the expense of the people. Usually this doesn't happen unless corporate cronies are in government positions.

    I cannot stand when people do the oppositie thing.
  4. The Wrong Guy Member

    Say Good-bye to the Last Pillar of the Free, Open Internet

    By Brian Feldman, New York Magazine


    The Trump administration yesterday named Republican Ajit Pai to head the Federal Communications Commission. Pai’s appointment was a foregone conclusion, given that he is the ranking Republican on the five-member body, but it’s important for one reason: Pai is an outspoken critic of net neutrality — one of the fundamental principles of the free, open internet we’ve all been using for the past several decades.

    During the Obama administration, the commission was headed by Tom Wheeler, a Democrat who most famously used his majority to pass what is informally known as the Open Internet Order. That order classified broadband internet as a telecommunications utility, though did not subject internet-service providers to the intense regulations that other common carriers often are.

    The Open Internet Order bolsters a principle known as net neutrality (the specific term was coined by law professor Tim Wu in 2003). To understand it, we need to first understand how the internet works. The internet is literally a network of data cables that crisscross the globe. When you open your computer, say, you connect to a network most likely owned by one of a handful of private internet-service providers — the dreaded Comcast, Time Warner, and so on. (Same thing on your iPhone: Thanks to smartphones, cellular providers like Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile are also ISPs.) That network communicates with the networks owned and operated by other ISPs, and those owned by a handful of other organizations — government bodies, academic institutions, and independent nonprofits, generally — and those many, global, interconnected networks, some public, some private, make up the internet.

    The internet took off, as did the World Wide Web which rests on top of it, because it’s “open.” In other words, if you’re connected to Comcast, you can send data to someone connected via Time Warner, without issue or negotiation. Neither Comcast nor Time Warner is allowed to (or able) to slow down or speed up your connection — or, for that matter, cut it off. Unlike phone service, you don’t have things like long-distance fees either.

    Perhaps the single most important aspect of the internet as it was first conceived is that it was designed as a “dumb pipe,” or one that does not give priority to certain types of data or certain sources of said data. Video of a presidential speech gets the same bandwidth as video of a dude getting hit in the nuts.

    Market conditions change, however, and the unchallenged freedom under which the internet blossomed is now regarded as a liability for the ISPs — which are, as you probably have experienced, de facto monopolies. If we own the highway, their thinking goes, why can’t we charge tolls? To that end, some have proposed so-called “fast lanes” for companies willing to pony up for faster bandwidth.

    In practice, this could radically change our experience of the internet. For example, if Netflix cuts a deal with Verizon for a fast lane and Hulu doesn’t, Hulu loads more slowly, and users would presumably favor Netflix. More likely than that is that video-streaming services owned and operated by the ISPs themselves get preference over independent streaming services. This is a clear pay-to-play system in which an upstart little guy could easily get crowded out by industry incumbents. The most extreme scenario would be one in which businesses have to pay in order to get onto an ISP’s network at all — imagine, let’s say, SBC customers can’t access Google because the company refuses to pay SBC for access.

    Mobile carriers have inverted this concept through what is known as “zero-rating,” in which certain services don’t count toward a customer’s data cap. A choice between a service that would use up your limited data or one that doesn’t is hardly a choice at all.

    The Open Internet Order, adopted in February 2015, banned paid prioritization of traffic, as well as blocking or throttling traffic to legal internet content.

    The net-neutrality debate is about whether one class of private entities, ISPs, should be regulated in order to allow millions of other private entities, users and businesses operating online, to operate freely. Pretty much everyone agrees that they should — except for the ISPs … and Ajit Pai. Pai even wrote a 67-page(!) dissent when the order was adopted. Even Google and Facebook support the principle, in part because they often buy up the smaller startups that flourish on an unfettered internet. Imagine an internet where, rather than buying Instagram for $1 billion, Facebook instead paid for a fast lane and forced Instagram out by other means.

    The past decade has been defined by a trend of centralization — the collection of everything under the umbrellas of a few giant companies. The end of net neutrality will only increase this, as companies will be given more latitude to block services that don’t fit their revenue model.

    Soon, Pai will be in charge of the FCC, and he has said that net neutrality’s “days are numbered.” If you think your internet-service provider is horrible now, just wait until there’s no regulatory body watching them.

  5. The Wrong Guy Member

    What the end of net neutrality means for you | InfoWorld

    Trump's cable-loving crony at the helm of the FCC spells doom for the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally.


    Obama’s FCC chairman Tom Wheeler put rules in place to ensure that net neutrality would rule. Your friendly neighborhood cellular companies were already flouting the rules by offering “zero rated” streaming services, meaning that streaming on their network didn’t count against your monthly limit but using a competitor’s would. (Unfortunately, their streaming services also suck, offering mostly crap you already don’t watch on YouTube.)

    Fast-forward to 2017 and the small-handed guy with the undersized inaugural crowd has appointed Ajit Pai, who wouldn’t even have coffee with Wheeler when he was in charge, as the new chair of the FCC. Pai is a true lackey of the cable companies and opposes net neutrality. The great pumpkin himself also stated his opposition to net neutrality (along with Gwyneth Paltrow). He sees it as somehow stifling conservative media and as an unnecessary government regulation requiring relief.

    The end of net neutrality should be a boon to your friendly neighborhood cable or telecom monopolist, but what will it mean for you?

    Target 1: Netflix

    The people have spoken. At this point Netflix and other services (but mainly Netflix) are the bulk of bandwidth. Cable companies have already worked to get a bigger cut from Netflix; basically, Netflix paid to get a better connection. That was with the FCC and Netflix suing in opposition. However, with a cable friend in the FCC, I bet the price goes up. There may even be a tier that isn’t available to the market and is reserved for the services owned by the cable companies. You’re going to pay that $100 per month, and by golly you’ll get less and like it!

    Target 2: Rates and bandwidth

    My rate for bandwidth has been falling. I have 100Mbps down and 10Mbps up. It wasn’t long ago that I paid about $80 for that, but now I’m paying about $50 per month. With imminent competition from Google and the threat of redundancy, my provider was dropping rates to keep you hooked. However, there will be less pressure now. The rate probably won’t go up much, but it will probably stop dropping.

    Part of the reason my rates have dropped is that I’ve kept the same speed for a while. I’d love the 300Mbps, but I didn’t feel like buying a new cable modem, and every cable modem that Time Warner (now Spectrum) gave me was defective. I’m a second-tier home subscriber now.

    Less competition and higher profit from a vertical monopoly that owns the infrastructure, the content, and the content provider will mean fewer reasons to upgrade the bandwidth. Our only hope is the combed-over wonder will find that a YouTube video he tweets doesn’t load fast enough.

    Target 3: The great internet tax

    Inevitably if you control all of the on-ramps you can toll everyone, not only Netflix. Eventually the cut won’t be big enough and a profit-maximizing monopoly will do what a profit-maximizing monopoly does. It’ll expand its cut of the market and restrict the supply and raise the price to control costs and maximize profit. The supply is infrastructure costs and bandwidth and unique or decent content/services. Once you achieve that, horizontal expenditure (that is, making your favorite content or service providers, such as Google or Salesforce, all pay a bigger fee) is the only source of new profits (and a strategy to restrict supply).

    We’re a little ways off from the full implementation of this plan. The unraveling of the open internet is only about to begin. So sit back and enjoy the internet Trumpocalypse.

    Full article:
  6. DeathHamster Member

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  7. The Wrong Guy Member

    FCC: House Allows Internet Companies to Sell Browsing Info | Time

    The House voted Tuesday to block online privacy regulations issued during the final months of the Obama administration, a first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers.

    The Federal Communications Commission rule was designed to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers share information. But critics said the rule would have added costs, stifled innovation and picked winners and losers among Internet companies.

    The House voted 215-205 to reject the rule, and sent the legislation to President Donald Trump for his signature. The vote is part of an extensive effort that Republicans have undertaken to void an array of regulations issued during the final months of Democratic President Barack Obama's tenure.

    Congress votes to allow broadband providers to sell your data | Slate

    The federal government’s warming to the telecommunication companies doesn’t come as a surprise to those following Trump’s distaste for free speech on the internet and the buddy-buddy relationship between large telecom companies and the GOP. There’s always the hope the states will take up the cause of protecting internet users, but this bill is a clear indication this Congress does not value consumer protection for the digital era.

    Consumer Broadband Privacy Protections Are Dead | Techdirt

    It's consistently disappointing that ideas like net neutrality and privacy get mired in partisan politics, despite the broad, bipartisan consumer support both concepts enjoy. What happens next won't be pretty, regardless of your political ideology.

    Congress has intentionally and repeatedly ignored the lack of broadband competition that makes net neutrality, privacy, and other bad behavior possible. Now, as cable's monopoly over broadband grows faster than ever, ISP-loyal lawmakers are rushing to strip away any and all government oversight of one of the least-liked, and most anti-competitive business sectors in American history. ISPs recently busted for covertly modifying packets to track users, charging an additional fee for privacy, or giving worse customer support based on credit score now have carte blanche to misbehave.

    Thanks to a cash-soaked Congress there will be neither broadband competition, nor functional regulatory oversight of an industry with a documented history of aggressive, anti-consumer and anti-competitive behavior. What could possibly go wrong?
  8. The Wrong Guy Member

    Privacy activists want to sell Trump's browsing data | Fox News


    Two privacy campaigns want to buy, then sell, the Web browsing histories of politicians such as President Donald Trump.

    Data privacy is firmly in the spotlight following the House of Representative’s vote Tuesday to block online privacy regulations issued during the final months of the Obama administration. The vote is a first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers.

    The order was sent to Trump, who is expected to sign it soon.

    Tuesday’s passage of resolution SJR34, which blocked the online regulations, has been slammed by privacy activists, citing concerns about consumer data. Activist Adam McElhaney has even created a GoFundMe page with the goal of purchasing the private browsing histories of politicians that voted to pass the resolution.

    “I plan on purchasing the Internet histories of all legislators, congressmen, executives and their families and make them easily searchable at,” McElhaney writes on the GoFundMe page. “Everything from their medical, pornographic, to their financial and fidelity.”

    The activist’s page, which had a $10,000 fund-raising goal, has raised over $191,000 in five days.

    Actor Misha Collins has also launched a GoFundMe campaign. “This GoFundMe will pay to purchase the data of Donald Trump and every Congressperson who voted for SJR34, and to make it publicly available,” he writes on the page.

    The campaign, however, will not “share information that will impact the safety and security of their families (such as personal addresses),” according to Collins.

    Experts say that these plans are doomed to failure. “In reality, this is not going to happen,” Scott Schaffer, chief technologist at tech consulting firm Blade Technologies told Fox News. “The ISP’s aren’t going to want to sell to an individual or someone they don’t have an existing relationship with – getting the personally identifiable information will also be an issue.”

    The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits telecommunications carriers from sharing “individually identifiable” customer information, except in specific situations where it is required by law or with the customer’s approval.

    Cards against humanity co-creator Max Temkin also railed against politicians voting to pass SJR34 for this week. “If this shit happens, I will buy the browser history of every congressman and congressional aide and publish it,” he tweeted Monday.

    Critics of the Obama-era privacy regulations said that the rule would have added costs, stifled innovation, and picked winners and losers among Internet companies.


    Purchase Private Internet Histories by Adam McElhaney | GoFundMe


    I am Adam McElhaney, a privacy activist & net neutrality advocate from Chattanooga, Tn.

    I think that your private Internet history should be yours. I also believe your Internet should be neutral.

    I am raising money to help secure those freedoms.

    It is my ultimate hope that we will be able to use the donations to restore our right to privacy.

    I have laid out a plan on our course of action. This isn't going to be easy and this will not be quick. I'm going to continue fighting for you.

    Should something happen and I fail you, I want you to know that this money belongs to you and our cause. I have no intentions of keeping a nickel. I have no intentions of withdrawing any money until I am certain I can deliver.

    GoFundMe let me know that offering to route certain people's donations to different organizations is complex. That said, if we can't buy the data in the end for whatever reason, we'll send funds to EFF so they can continue fighting for this mission. Refunds will still be possible too.

    It will be your choice.

    But I am not giving up and neither should you.

    We are stronger united.

    What started it all:

    Thanks to the Senate for passing S.J.Res 34 , now your Internet history can be bought.

    I plan on purchasing the Internet histories of all legislators, congressmen, executives, and their families and make them easily searchable at

    Everything from their medical, pornographic, to their financial and infidelity.

    Anything they have looked at, searched for, or visited on the Internet will now be available for everyone to comb through.

    Help me raise money to buy the histories of those who took away your right to privacy for just thousands of dollars from telephone and ISPs. Your private data will be bought and sold to marketing companies, law enforcement.

    Let's turn the tables. Let's buy THEIR history and make it available.

    Check me out on Twitter @windmarble or Facebook to see who I am.

    I didn't censor any of my accounts or pictures. What you see is what you get.

    Yes, I use social media. I understand that what I put on the Internet is out there and not private. Those are the risks you assume. I'm not ashamed of what I put out on the Internet.

    However, I don't think that what I lookup on the Internet, what sites I visit, my browsing habits, should be bought and sold to whoever. Without my consent.

    Join me in the fight to turn the tables and do whatever it takes to take back your privacy.

    Update 12:

    Those who say that it isn't possible to purchase this data, do not have all the facts. Data is bought and sold (sometimes in aggregate) all the time.

    Here is a very short list of companies who already buy and sell your data.

    Continued at

    Buy Congress' Internet Data by Misha Collins | GoFundMe


    Congress recently voted to strip Americans of their privacy rights by voting for SJR34, a resolution that allows Internet Service Providers to collect, and sell your sensitive data without your consent or knowledge.

    Since Congress has made our privacy a commodity, let’s band together to buy THEIR privacy.

    This GoFundMe will pay to purchase the data of Donald Trump and every Congressperson who voted for SJR34, and to make it publicly available.

    PS: No, we won't "doxx" people. We will not share information that will impact the safety & security of their families (such as personal addresses). However, all other details are fair game. It says so right in the resolution that they voted to approve.

    Game on, Congress.

    PS: Proceeds from this campaign will be used to buy Congress’ data once it becomes available. If that is impossible for any reason or if there is a surplus from this campaign, 100% of the balance of proceeds will go to the ACLU to help them continue to fight for our privacy rights.
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  9. DeathHamster Member

  10. The Wrong Guy Member

    President Trump delivers final blow to Web-browsing privacy rules | Ars Technica

    ISP privacy rules are dead as Trump signs repeal instead of issuing veto

    Trump signs repeal of U.S. broadband privacy rules | Reuters

    It's official: your internet provider can share your web history | The Verge
  11. The Wrong Guy Member

    Net Neutrality II: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) | LastWeekTonight

    Equal access to online information is once again under serious threat. John Oliver encourages internet commenters to voice their displeasure to the FCC by visiting
  12. The Wrong Guy Member

    Trump to nominate Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel, a net neutrality supporter, to return to FCC | LA Times


    President Trump intends to nominate Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel to return to the Federal Communications Commission after her term lapsed at the end of last year because of political maneuvering.

    The White House announced the coming nomination of Rosenworcel, a supporter of tough net neutrality rules for online traffic, late Monday night.

    If confirmed by the Senate, she would become only the second FCC commissioner to serve nonconsecutive terms.

    Her first five-year term expired in May 2016, but she was allowed to stay on until the end of the year as Democrats pushed Senate Republican leaders to allow a confirmation vote after President Obama renominated her.

    Although Rosenworcel had bipartisan support, Senate Republican leaders did not bring her nomination up for a vote. President Obama had renominated her in January shortly before he left office, but Trump withdrew the nomination a few weeks later.

    Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a Georgetown University law professor and longtime telecommunications consumer advocate, cheered the decision to renominate Rosenworcel.

    “This appointment rights a wrong because she deserved confirmation last year and should have been sitting on the commission all along,” he said. “I look forward to her zealous advocacy for universal broadband deployment, especially for younger Americans.”

    The five-member commission now has two Republicans — Chairman Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly — and one Democrat — Mignon Clyburn.

    Continued at
  13. The Wrong Guy Member

    FCC unveils plan to repeal net neutrality rules

    FCC plan would give Internet providers power to choose the sites customers see and use

    By Brian Fung, The Washington Post


    Federal regulators unveiled a plan Tuesday that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use, and at what cost.

    The move sets the stage for a crucial vote next month at the Federal Communications Commission that could reshape the entire digital ecosystem. The FCC’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, has made undoing the government's net neutrality rules one of his top priorities, and Tuesday's move hands a win to broadband companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

    Pai is taking aim at regulations that were approved two years ago under a Democratic presidency and that sought to make sure all Internet content, whether from big or small companies, would be treated equally by Internet providers.

    The decision will be put to a vote at the agency's Dec. 14 meeting in Washington. It is expected to pass, with Republicans controlling three of the commission's five seats.

    In a news release, Pai said his proposal would prevent the government from “micromanaging the Internet.” Under the new rules, he said, the FCC would “simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices.” For example, if a provider chose to block or slow certain websites, or gave preferable treatment to sites and content that it owned or had 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, according to senior agency officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak more freely.

    Continued at

  14. The Wrong Guy Member

    Goodbye, net neutrality — Ajit Pai’s FCC votes to allow blocking and throttling | Ars Technica

    But pro-net neutrality groups will sue FCC to reinstate consumer protections.

    State attorneys general line up to sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Ars Technica

    Net neutrality supporters will try to reinstate the rules in courts and Congress.

    How Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb feel about the net neutrality vote | CNET

    The tech industry vocally opposed the FCC's decision to reverse Obama-era net neutrality policies.

    Net Neutrality Is Dead. Here's What The Experts Are Saying. | Futurism

    No More Equal Rights For Data

    Net neutrality rules are dead. Will my Internet bills go up? | USA TODAY

    If a company tried it, consumers would vote with their wallets. Even in areas where one company dominates, there are usually alternatives out there

    The Biggest Whoppers From the FCC's Net Neutrality Meeting | WIRED
  15. The Wrong Guy Member

    California Lawmakers Just Passed The Strongest Net Neutrality Rules In The Country

    The legislation would prohibit internet providers from slowing down websites, charging premiums for higher-quality streaming, and zero-rating data for certain apps.

    By Stephanie K. Baer, BuzzFeed News


    Lawmakers in California have approved a bill that would restore net neutrality rules repealed by the federal government earlier this year, potentially creating the strongest internet protections in the country.

    The legislation, which is now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk after it was approved by the state Senate in a 27–12 vote Friday, would prohibit internet providers from slowing down websites, charging premiums for higher-quality streaming, and demanding payments from internet companies to reach subscribers.

    The bill, coauthored by San Francisco Sen. Scott Wiener, would also prohibit zero-rating data, a practice in which internet providers exempt certain websites or services from counting toward a customer's data usage. Zero-rating entire categories of apps and services, like all music streaming apps, would still be allowed.

    Brown's office said it doesn't comment on legislation awaiting action by the governor.

    “This is about a level playing field and an internet where we as individuals get to decide where we go on the internet, instead of being told by internet service providers or being manipulated by internet service providers into going where they want us to go,” Wiener said during a press conference after the bill's passage.

    In a statement emailed to BuzzFeed News, an AT&T spokesperson said the company was strongly opposed to the bill, calling some of its provisions “extreme.”

    “The ban on zero rating could lead to an increase of $30 a month on the bills of low income Californians and the ban on interconnection fees could lead to a reduction in investment in California by more than $1 billion a year,” the spokesperson said. “We support an open internet, but this bill move us no closer to that.”

    Continued at
  16. The Wrong Guy Member

    Inside House Democrats’ Plans to Investigate the FCC and Net Neutrality

    Ajit Pai has been able to escape scrutiny as head of Trump’s FCC. That’s about to change.

    By Tonya Riley, Mother Jones, December 4, 2018


    Comedians and the Federal Communications Commission have not always been the best of friends. But the conflict between HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and the agency in charge of regulating the nation’s communications sector had nothing to do with the seven dirty words. Instead, it all started when Oliver told viewers to submit comments to the agency in an effort to revive net neutrality. The next day, the FCC claimed that an onslaught of comments following the segment had overwhelmed the agency’s comment system and had caused it to crash. The agency’s then-Chief Information Officer David Bray determined the large volume of comments had been the work of bots, the result of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, despite having experienced similar outages in 2014 after a different segment where Oliver urged his viewers to write the agency.

    The problem? The alleged DDoS never happened. Over a year later, after an internal investigation into the matter was made public, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai admitted to Congress that the initial report that bots were responsible had been wrong; the system crashed because it couldn’t handle the number of authentic comments inspired by Oliver’s segment. After months of accusations from the press and lawmakers that the FCC had deceived the public about the attack, an answer was reached. But net neutrality was already dead. According to the agency’s own inspector general, the “FCC made several specific statements that we believe misrepresent facts about the event or provide misleading information [to Congress].”

    Even at the close of the DDoS investigation, questions lingered. Why had it taken the FCC nearly half a year to disclose to Congress that a DDoS attack had not been the cause of the site crash? Why, despite immense skepticism from both the press and tech advocates, did an agency regulating the internet so credulously believe the claims in the first place? Many of these questions were raised in an August oversight hearing of the agency—just the second in a year in which the agency had undergone rapid deregulation. Pai didn’t have much to say on the matter, except that the agency’s inspector general had advised him to not discuss the open investigation because the issue had been sent to the Department of Justice for “potential criminal prosecution.”

    “I guess what I’m looking for is some measure of accountability,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told Pai at the hearing. In late October, Schatz was one of several senators to sign a letter pressing the FCC inspector general to further investigate other issues related to the net neutrality comment process; namely, if the number of comments from stolen identities—nearly 10 million—were the product of Russian interference.

    “That’s a crime under federal and state law. And it happened here and the agency has not done anything to investigate this crime or fix this problem,” says FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the sole Democrat on the commission. “And it’s certainly something that I think Congress should shine a light on.”

    House Democrats have expressed similar concerns as their colleagues in the Senate. “He never said, ‘I was wrong’ or ‘It turns out we were given misinformation.’ He just kept holding to that line. When someone lies like that, you have to hold them accountable,” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, tells Mother Jones. “I think we have got to understand why they gave us such wrong information.”

    But now that Democrats are about to take charge of the House in January, lawmakers plan to force some accountability on Pai. FCC oversight is a top priority for the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the upcoming session, according to committee members.

    “We plan to put the consumer first by pushing policies that protect net neutrality, promote public safety, and provide meaningful privacy and data security protections that are seriously lacking today,” ranking member Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who is running to chair the committee, wrote in a statement to Mother Jones. “It’s also important that the committee get back to conducting real oversight of the FCC, and that means regular oversight hearings with all commissioners.”

    Congress won’t be lacking for things to look into. While many Trump favorites have been undone by their own extravagance, the FCC has managed to quietly undo decades of regulations, leaving a trail of backdoor meetings and potential ethics violations along the way.

    Here are just a few of the topics that will come under the spotlight as Congress looks into Pai’s tenure at the FCC:

    Net neutrality

    It’s still unclear what legal path forward remains for net neutrality. In May, the Senate voted to pass a Congressional Review Act that would overturn the FCC’s gutting of net neutrality rules. But the measure has gone nowhere in a Republican-led House, and it looks unlikely the CRA will come up for a vote before this Congress ends. The time limit for passing a CRA expires in December, so Democrats won’t have that option when they control the chamber, although they could push new legislation to try to restore net neutrality.

    Once the House Energy and Commerce Committee selects its new chair, representatives will likely join their colleagues in the Senate in calling for an investigation into comment fraud. While the agency has repeatedly rebuffed efforts from journalists to investigate comment fraud, the new Congress could subpoena evidence, such as the IP addresses of fraudulent comments.

    Continued at
  17. The Wrong Guy Member

    Ajit Pai admits Russia interfered in net neutrality process amid lawsuit | The Daily Dot


    Federal Communications Chairman (FCC) Ajit Pai said it was a “fact” that there was Russian interference in the public comments ahead of its controversial net neutrality vote last year, amid sparring between another commissioner about a lawsuit the agency is in the midst of.

    The admittance was made in response to a lawsuit filed by the New York Times, who requested access to records surrounding the public comments that they argued would “shed light to the extent to which Russian nationals and agents of the Russian government have interfered with the agency notice-and-comment process about a topic of extensive public interest.”

    The public comments left ahead of the FCC’s net neutrality vote have been at the center of much scrutiny—with millions of fraudulent comments (including the names of dead people and current members of Congress) being used.

    One recent study recently found that of the real comments, nearly 100 percent were made in favor of the FCC keeping the existing net neutrality rules.

    The Times used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request access to server logs and IP addresses.

    Continued at
  18. The Wrong Guy Member

    Millions Of Comments About The FCC's Net Neutrality Rules Were Fake. Now The Feds Are Investigating.

    People's names and addresses were listed on the FCC's website beside net neutrality comments they didn't make. Now the FBI is interested.

    By Kevin Collier and Jeremy Singer-Vine, December 8, 2018


    The Justice Department is investigating whether crimes were committed when potentially millions of people’s identities were posted to the FCC’s website without their permission, falsely attributing to them opinions about net neutrality rules, BuzzFeed News has learned.

    Two organizations told BuzzFeed News, each on condition that they not be named, that the FBI delivered subpoenas to them related to the comments.

    The reports are the first that federal investigators are taking in interest in the case, which was already subject to an investigation previously announced by the New York Attorney General’s office.

    Both organizations had previously been subpoenaed by New York and said the scope of those subpoenas were similar.

    The comment scheme took place over the course of months beginning in April 2017 after the Trump administration's FCC chair, Ajit Pai, moved to overturn Obama-era rules enforcing net neutrality, a regulation that prevented internet providers from choosing which web traffic gets to flow at full speed.

    The rule enjoyed broad public support, according to multiple polls, and required a period of public comment before Pai's change could go into effect. More than 20 million comments have since appeared on the site, with the New York Attorney General’s office estimating that up to 9.5 million of those were filed in people’s names without their consent.

    As part of the New York Attorney General’s previously announced investigation, the agency in October issued subpoenas to 14 organizations — 11 of which are either politically conservative or related to the telecommunications industry and opposed net neutrality, and three of which supported it. The offices of the attorneys general of both Massachusetts and Washington, DC, are supporting the New York investigation, and also issued subpoenas. Their participation has not been previously reported.

    The federal subpoenas arrived a few days after the state ones, the two organizations told BuzzFeed News.

    The size of the federal investigation is unclear: Other organizations that had received subpoenas from the state attorneys general offices didn’t respond to requests for comment. The DC attorney general and the FBI did not reply to requests for comment.

    Earlier this week, the FCC issued a decision on two Freedom of Information requests, filed by BuzzFeed News and the New York Times. In it, the commission voted not to release the records that the news organizations had requested: data from web-server logs that could shed additional light on the suspicious comments.

    “What is the Federal Communications Commission hiding?” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked in a dissenting opinion. “Instead of providing news organizations with the information requested, in this decision the FCC decides to hide behind Freedom of Information Act exemptions and thwart investigative journalism.”

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