Net Neutrality 2017-12-16

On December 14, 2017, the US Federal Communications Commission voted to restore Internet freedom, as they had officially proposed last May 18. The freedom they restored is the freedom of Internet access providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Spectrum to block, throttle, alter (including stripping encryption) and redirect your requests for information from the Internet. Actions of this type since 2005 generated increasing public concern. Efforts by the FCC to block such behaviors were overturned in court until Obama's FCC ruled that these Internet access providers were telecommunication services, not information providers, under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Net neutrality supporters are doing two things to fight this decision of Trump's FCC:

For one thing, this decision will be challenged in court. It's not clear how the courts would rule: Previous courts have held that a new administration can NOT change a rule without providing sufficient evidence to justify the change. The American Enterprise Institute and other supporters of this decision claim they have adequate evidence. However, the New York Times and net neutrality supporters insist that the administration had to cherry pick their data to justify this decision, and the weight of the evidence clearly supports net neutrality.

Also, net neutrality supporters are asking congress to pass a joint resolution to overrule this decision. This may not be as difficult as it sounds. Earlier this year, Congress overturned fourteen Obama-era regulations. Net neutrality supporters claim they have already generated over a million phone calls to congress on this issue. My call to Senator Moran's office on Friday rolled over to a voice mailbox that was full.

"BattleForTheNet.com" reports that 26 percent of legislators are still undecided on this, while 40 percent support overruling this decision. If the net neutrality supporters get half of the undecideds in each chamber, they can win.

The Center for Responsive Politics has reported that the telecommunications industry has contributed some $101 million to sitting members of congress and their political action committees. That does not count the dark money that recent Supreme Court decisions allow them to spend without reporting.

The major telecoms are making billions from their investments in political campaigns, as those contributions translated into governmental decisions approving local monopolies and mergers that harmed consumers. This allowed major telecommunications companies to raise their rates while their costs fell dramatically as part of the electronics revolution that produced personal computers and cell phones.

If you want to contact your legislators, BattleForTheNet.com makes it easy to do. You can also contact them via house.gov and senate.gov.

This is Spencer Graves, reporting for 90.1 FM, KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio.

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