Trump Team Says They’ll Kill the Open Internet “As Soon As Possible”
Hey, no one likes the internet anyway, right?
You might remember back in 2012 there was a big fight over the SOPA and PIPA bills that would end net neutrality. Sites like Google, Twitter, Reddit and Twitter all joined in by going dark for a day or putting up a message about how important it was to fight. Those bills were defeated at the time but at least two big fights have happened since. Now, the only man at the top of FCC who was in favor of an open internet is leaving and his colleagues have promised lobbyists they will kill net neutrality right away.
If you’re unfamiliar, net neutrality is, basically, the concept of keeping all websites on equal ground. Mass Appeal has the potential to load as fast as Google. There are numerous reasons that it doesn’t but with the right coders and servers it could. Telecommunication companies don’t like that because they’d like to be able to create “fast and slow lanes” of traffic. For example if you’re a Time-Warner customer and Time-Warner has beef with YouTube they might just slow the website down to the point that videos are impossible to watch. Or maybe, they just want to make some extra cash, so they charge you $20 more a month if you want to watch Netflix. Or maybe, Donald Trump doesn’t like what a particular website said about him, so he calls up his friend at Time-Warner and asks him to slow the site down to the point no one read it. Yeah, net neutrality is important.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, has announced that he’ll leave office on January 20th, as the Trump regime takes over. That leaves, three people in charge until a replacement for Wheeler is confirmed. Two of those people, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, sent a letter this week to the five largest telecom lobbying groups promising end net neutrality with their newfound power. The letter reads in part:
As you know, we dissented from the Commission’s February 2015 Net Neutrality decision, including the Order’s imposition of unnecessary and unjustified burdens on providers … we will seek to revisit those particular requirements, and the Title II Net Neutrality proceeding more broadly, as soon as possible.
Title II is the provision that makes it illegal for a company to charge extra cash for websites of their choosing. Basically, your internet could look a lot more like your cable, with a limited number of sites and premium content costing more. You’d still have to pay HBO Go and the internet company for the same thing you have now.
Until a replacement is found, Pai and O’Reilly have a 2-1 majority vote. It can take months to confirm a new chairman. Congress would have to debate it and Trump is likely to choose someone who is against net neutrality considering his comments about “closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”
Expect to see your favorite websites screaming about this soon. But considering most people only have 1 or 2 internet providers as an option, the effective monopoly makes it incredibly difficult for the public to do anything.