• Breaking Down Verizon v. FCC



    Ok, I'm calling it... It's officially a bad week for mobile users in Canada and the USA.

    Earlier this week WIND Mobile surprised everyone by pulling out of Canada's 700MHz spectrum auction a day before it started. As I was gathering my thoughts on that, another bombshell was dropped south of the border: a U.S. Appeals Court invalidated net neutrality rules set by the FCC.

    This decision has potentially dire implications for both broadband and wireless Internet users in America, and beyond. But first, we need to understand exactly what happened...

    Glossary

    Before even that we need to make sure that we're all on the same page with some basic concepts. The premise of net neutrality is fairly simple: all data on the Internet should be treated equally, without any discrimination for type, source or user.

    Where net neutrality applies specifically to the Internet, the very similar concept of common carriage, insofar as it pertains to telecom in the USA, dates back to the FCC's Communications Act of 1934.

    Critically, while common carriage and net neutrality are similar ideas, they are subject to notably different legislation in the United States.

    Just The Facts

    What we're discussing here is The U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on Case No. 11-1355, Verizon v. FCC.

    In 2011 Verizon filed their legal challenge to the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order. From this very helpful CNET FAQ, the FCC regulations stipulate that (1) broadband providers, whether fixed-line or wireless, must be open and transparent to their customers, and (2) they are prohibited from blocking lawful content on their networks.

    Verizon argued that these rules violated their First Amendment rights, and that the FCC had no authority to impose them in the first place.

    The Appeals Court decision actually upholds the FCC's authority to regulate broadband wireless providers, but at the same time points to a flaw in the agency's classification of such. From the ruling:

    Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.
    (This is the quote that most of the big tech blogs are using; I got mine from Gizmodo...)

    In other words, a legal loophole means that Internet providers are no longer accountable to the common carrier legislation that's been on the books since the 1930s.

    Trouble Ahead

    Net neutrality certainly isn't dead, but its future is uncertain. Harbingers of a two-tiered Internet are easy to find: AT&T is currently entertaining the idea of sponsored data on mobile phones, and on the flip-side of the coin Netflix and YouTube could now suffer at the hands of your ISP and/or carrier.

    Canada is not far behind... There's Ben Klass's complaint to the CRTC about Bell violating Net Neutrality with its mobile TV app. And rumours abound that Rogers is planning a Netflix clone, with a two-tiered Internet offering as its ultimate goal.

    Author and Professor Tim Wu warns of an end to the open Internet in his book The Master Switch, an amazing chronicle of how telephone networks, radio, film and television each came to be as a democratizing disruption, only to be bought up and locked down by corporate interests. A similar fate looms over our Internet, unless we speak up and do something about it.

    Further Reading

    Here are some additional sources I used in preparing this post:


    And in the interest of balance, not everybody thinks that the sky is falling:


    A Quick Note to Front Page Readers

    The comments you'll see below aren't necessarily replies to this post; rather than start a new thread I've added these words to an existing one — not to be misleading, but to avoid unnecessary duplication. Do yourself a favour and check out the entire thread.

    [hr][/hr]
    This article was originally published in forum thread: FCC Net Neutrality rules struck down! started by taoman54 View original post
    Comments 165 Comments
    1. coorey's Avatar
      coorey -
      Yeah and with Verizon being the one to pursue this you best believe they plan on implementing blocked and/or throttled data shortly for services that are not their own. This only seems to go hand in hand with sponsored data that AT&T just announced. Its a matter of when, not if.

      And I guarantee they [Verizon] move faster than lightning. While the FCC or Congress move at a snails pace if they move at all to appeal this ruling or give the FCC more power.


      2014 is gearing up to be the worst year of the [mobile] internet. Sponsored data, net neutrality denied, what next? Sad day indeed...
    1. taoman's Avatar
      taoman -
      Quote Originally Posted by coorey View Post
      2014 is gearing up to be the worst year of the [mobile] internet. Sponsored data, net neutrality denied, what next? Sad day indeed...
      Agreed. This is really bad news.
    1. acadiel's Avatar
      acadiel -
      Ah, crap. This sucks.
    1. coorey's Avatar
      coorey -
      And for those that think this may only apply to unlimited data plans... think again. This will eventually mean that not only are we paying for tiered or shared data plans but for Verizon (et all) to ultimately control how we use the limited experience that we're already paying for.

      Anyone who cares how they spend their hard earned money and wants access to the internet unfiltered, you should be spamming the hell out of your local politicians to get involved.
    1. Zappy's Avatar
      Zappy -
      Take action before it is too late!

      http://act.freepress.net/sign/intern...ourt_decision2



      Tell the FCC: Restore Net Neutrality

      An appeals court just dealt the latest blow to the open Internet. The court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order because of the questionable legal framework the agency used when it adopted its Net Neutrality rules in 2010.

      This ruling means there is no one who can protect us from ISPs that block or discriminate against websites, applications or services.

      But there’s hope: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler can correct the agency’s past mistakes and truly protect our nation’s communications infrastructure. The agency must take the necessary steps to make broadband networks open, accessible, reliable and affordable for everyone.

      Tell the FCC to start treating broadband like a communications service, and to restore its Net Neutrality rules.
    1. efparri's Avatar
      efparri -
      The court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacked statutory authority to issue the regulations overturned. Congress has to pass laws giving the Commission such authority.
    1. kneedragger32's Avatar
      kneedragger32 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zappy View Post
      Take action before it is too late!

      http://act.freepress.net/sign/intern...ourt_decision2



      Tell the FCC: Restore Net Neutrality

      An appeals court just dealt the latest blow to the open Internet. The court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order because of the questionable legal framework the agency used when it adopted its Net Neutrality rules in 2010.

      This ruling means there is no one who can protect us from ISPs that block or discriminate against websites, applications or services.

      But there’s hope: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler can correct the agency’s past mistakes and truly protect our nation’s communications infrastructure. The agency must take the necessary steps to make broadband networks open, accessible, reliable and affordable for everyone.

      Tell the FCC to start treating broadband like a communications service, and to restore its Net Neutrality rules.
      Signed and passed on.


      Sent with the HoFo App
    1. Zappy's Avatar
      Zappy -
      Quote Originally Posted by efparri View Post
      Congress has to pass laws giving the Commission such authority.
      The FCC already has the legal authority it needs.

      From the Freepress.net

      The FCC could make all this go away by simply reading the law right and reclaiming the authority it already has to protect Internet users for good.

      During the tenure of former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the agency made a grave mistake by failing to put its open Internet rules on the most solid legal footing. Internet users will pay the price of that decision unless and until the FCC fixes the problem it created for itself.

      New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler must correct the agency’s past mistakes and truly protect our nation’s communications infrastructure. The agency must ensure that broadband communications networks are open, accessible, reliable and affordable for everyone. It needs to stop fulfilling the wish lists of the big phone and cable monopolies — and start looking out for Internet users.
    1. efparri's Avatar
      efparri -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zappy View Post
      The FCC already has the legal authority it needs.

      From the Freepress.net
      Did you read the ruling by the court? Since the Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit is the authoritative court for appeals from agency actions, it is very unlikely that the Supreme Court will hear it. It is the same issue ruled on in the Comcast case a few years ago. Existing law does not give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to regulate non-common carriers.
      http://www.wirelessweek.com/news/201...4&location=top

      Sent with the HoFo App
    1. BuffaloTF's Avatar
      BuffaloTF -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zappy View Post
      The FCC already has the legal authority it needs.

      From the Freepress.net
      They really just need to classify Verizon, et al, as a "common carrier" to make the law stick. The legalese of it, and verbiage for parties involved, was their out.


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1. MkVsTheWorld's Avatar
      MkVsTheWorld -
      Here's a We The People petition:

      http://wh.gov/lIFxo
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      Attachment 103682

      Ok, I'm calling it... It's officially a bad week for mobile users in Canada and the USA.

      Earlier this week WIND Mobile surprised everyone by pulling out of Canada's 700MHz spectrum auction a day before it started. As I was gathering my thoughts on that, another bombshell was dropped south of the border: a U.S. Appeals Court invalidated net neutrality rules set by the FCC.

      This decision has potentially dire implications for both broadband and wireless Internet users in America, and beyond. But first, we need to understand exactly what happened...

      Glossary

      Before even that we need to make sure that we're all on the same page with some basic concepts. The premise of net neutrality is fairly simple: all data on the Internet should be treated equally, without any discrimination for type, source or user.

      Where net neutrality applies specifically to the Internet, the very similar concept of common carriage, insofar as it pertains to telecom in the USA, dates back to the FCC's Communications Act of 1934.

      Critically, while common carriage and net neutrality are similar ideas, they are subject to notably different legislation in the United States.

      Just The Facts

      What we're discussing here is The U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on Case No. 11-1355, Verizon v. FCC.

      In 2011 Verizon filed their legal challenge to the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order. From this very helpful CNET FAQ, the FCC regulations stipulate that (1) broadband providers, whether fixed-line or wireless, must be open and transparent to their customers, and (2) they are prohibited from blocking lawful content on their networks.

      Verizon argued that these rules violated their First Amendment rights, and that the FCC had no authority to impose them in the first place.

      The Appeals Court decision actually upholds the FCC's authority to regulate broadband wireless providers, but at the same time points to a flaw in the agency's classification of such. From the ruling:

      Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.
      (This is the quote that most of the big tech blogs are using; I got mine from Gizmodo...)

      In other words, a legal loophole means that Internet providers are no longer accountable to the common carrier legislation that's been on the books since the 1930s.

      Trouble Ahead

      Net neutrality certainly isn't dead, but its future is uncertain. Harbingers of a two-tiered Internet are easy to find: AT&T is currently entertaining the idea of sponsored data on mobile phones, and on the flip-side of the coin Netflix and YouTube could now suffer at the hands of your ISP and/or carrier.

      Canada is not far behind... There's Ben Klass's complaint to the CRTC about Bell violating Net Neutrality with its mobile TV app. And rumours abound that Rogers is planning a Netflix clone, with a two-tiered Internet offering as its ultimate goal.

      Author and Professor Tim Wu warns of an end to the open Internet in his book The Master Switch, an amazing chronicle of how telephone networks, radio, film and television each came to be as a democratizing disruption, only to be bought up and locked down by corporate interests. A similar fate looms over our Internet, unless we speak up and do something about it.

      Further Reading

      Here are some additional sources I used in preparing this post:


      And in the interest of balance, not everybody thinks that the sky is falling:


      A Quick Note to Front Page Readers

      The comments you'll see below aren't necessarily replies to this post; rather than start a new thread I've added these words to an existing one — not to be misleading, but to avoid unnecessary duplication. Do yourself a favour and check out the entire thread.
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      Fwiw, here's a thoughtful response from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, via Muktware:

      EFF is not surprised at the court’s decision. There was much of value in the FCC’s Open Internet Principles, and we still think those principles are a good starting point for conversation. But we were deeply concerned that the FCC was attempting to claim broad authority to regulate the Internet. No government agency should have that authority, so we are glad this decision clarifies that. As we look towards the future, Internet users need to have a pragmatic and open discussion about ways to promote and defend a neutral Internet. In the meantime, ISPs must comply with their transparency obligations so that customers can see if their Internet providers are giving them the non-discriminatory service they expect and deserve.
      They make a good point about a U.S. Government Agency regulating the Internet...
    1. hwertz's Avatar
      hwertz -
      A) VZW etc. best realize if they don't give me open internet access, I'm not paying them a penny. And, no, "the web" is not the internet.

      B) Petition the FCC? The FCC supported net neutrality, the court struck it down. This really is a damn shame. Hopefully they can reclassify VZW etc. as common carrier status.

      Sent from my SCH-I405 using HowardForums
    1. coorey's Avatar
      coorey -
      Saw this petition figured I'd pass it on: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...riers/5CWS1M4P
    1. taoman's Avatar
      taoman -
      Quote Originally Posted by hwertz View Post
      B) Petition the FCC? The FCC supported net neutrality, the court struck it down. This really is a damn shame. Hopefully they can reclassify VZW etc. as common carrier status.
      It was former FCC chairman Julius Genachowski's refusal to classify ISPs as common carriers that got us in this mess in the first place.
      The current FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, is the former head lobbyist of both the cable and wireless phone industries. Doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling but hopefully there will be enough pressure on him to act.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/techno...ut_we_can.html
      Even though he and his general counsel promised to reclassify Internet service, Genachowski essentially caved as the cable and phone companies unsurprisingly continued to oppose network neutrality. The do-nothing, gridlocked Congress failed to bail him out, so he cut a deal with AT&T a few months after the Comcast order back in 2010. The result of that deal: a network neutrality order issued in December 2010, which was struck down today, that was full of loopholes, including exemptions for the now-dominant way of accessing the Internet (mobile). Most importantly, he didn’t reclassify, so his order was essentially designed to collapse. (That is why AT&T has supported the order and never sued to oppose it.)
      Another interesting read:
      http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/I...rust-Us-127334
    1. fraydog's Avatar
      fraydog -
      http://mobile.theverge.com/2014/1/15...f-the-internet

      The wrong words.

      Reclassify AT&T and Verizon as Tier II. That would take actual stones, however.
    1. Serial Port's Avatar
      Serial Port -
      Hwetz, it is a hollow threat to not pay Verizon. They shut down your service and sell your unpaid balance to a collection agency.
      Sent with the HoFo App
    1. Zappy's Avatar
      Zappy -
      Quote Originally Posted by efparri View Post
      Did you read the ruling by the court?
      Of course. And as I said, and as the Freepress.net has said, they already have the tools available, what has been missing is the political "BALLS" to do the right thing.
    1. TC_Mits's Avatar
      TC_Mits -
      Which is, of course, common carrier status.

      But, the FCC has known that for years.

      Sooo, if the reclassification doesn't happen this month (becsuse Wheeler anticipated this ruling and is already prepared to act) then the chances of ever reviving the internet look slim indeed.


      ♪Where have all the lens caps gone? ♪
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