FCC Enforcement Advisory

And so the gatekeeping thuggery begins. Before it officially begins, that is.

Just yesterday, the FCC released an enforcement advisory for its pending Net Neutrality rules (which, unless they’re stayed by a court, go into effect on June 12th), that provides “guidance” to broadband providers in dealing with newly applicable common carrier privacy requirements…

…before more “guidance” gets issued to those providers, somewhere in the future.

You can’t make this stuff up.

What do they need to do (before they need to do more)? Well, the Commission advises:

During this period, the Enforcement Bureau intends to focus on whether broadband providers are taking reasonable, good-faith steps to comply with Section 222, rather than focusing on technical details. By examining whether a broadband provider’s acts or practices are reasonable and whether such a provider is acting in good faith to comply with Section 222, the Enforcement Bureau intends that broadband providers should employ effective privacy protections in line with their privacy policies and core tenets of basic privacy protections.

In case one didn’t feel all that guided by this, the Commission elaborated, noting:

[T]he Enforcement Bureau will provide informal as well as formal guidance to broadband providers as they consider how best to comply with Section 222. The Enforcement Bureau will provide more guidance as needed through additional enforcement advisories. (Emphasis added)

Hooray! One can never have too much “guidance”! Or, enforcement advisories!

Perhaps most ominous and disturbing – other than the fact that more rules were on their way someday – was this paragraph:

In addition, as discussed in the Open Internet Order, broadband providers may request advisory opinions to gain further insight as to whether their anticipated future course of conduct comports with the Open Internet Order. Although no broadband provider is in any way required to consult with the Enforcement Bureau, the existence of such a request for guidance will tend to show that the broadband provider is acting in good faith. (Emphasis added)

When the agency passed the President’s Net Neutrality rules in February, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made it sound like the new policy was clear, reasonable and filled with only good things, ensuring “that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet.”

The cop on the beat is here.  The Internet is now finally safe from “evil” ISPs. Thank goodness for that, right?

Sure.

But, you know, Tom’s just suggesting (strongly) that if you want to get approval of your new offering, you’d do well to trot down to his office and get his OK. Just suggestin’, of course.

I’ll tell you what’s abundantly clear here. The agency’s “guidance” goes well beyond mere privacy matters. It represents the FCC’s whole new, “I-know-it-when-I-see-it” regulatory extortion racket, making it plain as day that the President and his henchmen at the FCC are now the primary gatekeepers to Internet innovation.

It’s the most lucid statement to date – other than the “clear” 400-page Net Neutrality Order – that permissionless innovation is over on the Internet.

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It is abundantly clear that Net Neutrality is a religion that cannot be questioned or analyzed in any meaningful way by its supporters. For the rest of us, as we wade through the President’s 400-page Open Internet / Net Neutrality Order, more and more infirmities with the regulation become apparent daily, as these two recent pieces by the Phoenix Center (Bait-and-Switch—Or Why the FCC’s ‘Virtuous Circle’ Theory is Nonsense”), and AAF (The Real History of Title II and Investment”) sharply reveal.

The attached video, by Net Neutrality researcher Roslyn Layton, tells us that this willful blindness toward better understanding of Net Neutrality and its real-world effects seems to be the rule, however. In her studies, not a single OECD country – including the U.S. – has conducted even a rudimentary Regulatory Impact Assessment of the law before it was enacted.

Why the blind faith for Net Neutrality?

Ask the Google.

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CBIT’s Fred Campbell believes the new Open Internet / Net Neutrality rules do not square with the First Amendment. In this video, Fred explains why the rules are infirm and not likely to survive court scrutiny.

Excerpt: The First Amendment problem with reclassifying and treating broadband Internet service providers as common carriers is that the Open Internet rules are an absolute ban on the editorial discretion of ISPs…You can’t exercise editorial discretion as an ISP based on your viewpoint. That’s what the First Amendment is all about. The government can’t get into the head of any mass communications media and try to dictate what they can and cannot allow. Because as soon as that wall starts to break down, the government is really in control of our communications networks.

I agree wholeheartedly. Let’s hope the courts do, too.

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The popular website reddit has recently changed its comments policy, seeking to promote free expression on its website by limiting “harassing” and “abusive” speech.

Notes the company’s blog announcing the new policy on Thursday:

Instead of promoting free expression of ideas, we are seeing our open policies stifling free expression; people avoid participating for fear of their personal and family safety. Last month, we conducted a survey of over 15,000 redditors—these are people who are part of the reddit community—that showed negative responses to comments have made people uncomfortable contributing or even recommending reddit to others. The number one reason redditors do not recommend the site—even though they use it themselves—is because they want to avoid exposing friends to hate and offensive content…

…Because of this, we are changing our practices to prohibit attacks and harassment of individuals through reddit with the goal of preventing them.

Why is this newsworthy?

The two faces of Alexis Ohanian and his "my type of speech control is OK, but yours isn't" Reddit.

The two faces of reddit co-founder / executive chairman, Alexis Ohanian, who believes that only companies like his can speak as they want, and that it’s OK to ban others – like ISPs – from speaking at all.

Sure, reddit should do as it wants with its community, carefully curating its property and brand as it – not government – sees fit. I agree with that. Now, there’s the do-goody, progressive, “I’m limiting speech to make speech more free” old saw with which I don’t agree. But, heck, that’s their problem. I don’t think we get more liberty and freedom by limiting speech. Still, they can do what they want with their private property (even if it’s a dumb decision). I’m all for that.

Of course, the (progressive) FCC is following the “I can boost free speech by limiting it” line of thinking, too. This I especially don’t agree with. Its new Net Neutrality rules, which ban paid priority agreements and other forms of speech “discrimination,” take away the right of private ISPs to curate / speak with their property as they want. The First Amendment was designed to stop this very type of government censorship and aggression on private actors.

But I digress. Back to reddit. You may remember, the corporation vocally supported the FCC and its takeover of the Internet by reclassifying ISP services as 1934, Title II telephone services. Last July, reddit urged the FCC to muzzle ISPs and their speech activities, demanding that the agency:

…enact bright-line rules which prohibit blocking, technical discrimination, and paid prioritization, for both fixed and mobile. Doing that requires classifying broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act…

Weird, this free speech stuff. It’s OK for reddit to use, curate and discriminate all the free expression it wants. The President is even helping companies like reddit do so by enacting Net Neutrality.

But for ISPs?

No way, man! You’re not communications companies. Er, I mean…umm…gulp…well, you’re definitely not speakers like us.” (I paraphrase)

That’s for sure, you two-faced hypocrites.

Do as I say, not as I do is a crummy policy. It didn’t work for our parents. It shouldn’t be allowed to work for Uncle Sam and the reddits of the world either.

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Sony Would Have Bought Internet Fast Lanes

May 13, 2015

The lede of this Verge story says it all: Sony would probably buy fast lanes in a world without net neutrality Though Sony did not file comments with the FCC in the agency’s Net Neutrality / Open Internet proceeding last year, the following excerpt (relating to the intra-company debate whether to file or not) certainly […]

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Reasonable Entreaty Denied

May 12, 2015

Last Friday, the FCC denied the petition of a group wanting to stay the President’s so-called Net Neutrality / Open Internet rules, pending resolution of the matter in court. This action was expected, and we now move another tortured step down the road in the challenge to (ultimately) overturn the dubious rules. Without a stay […]

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Statement: Comcast / TWC Merger Fail First “Win” of President’s New “Inter-nyet” Policy

April 24, 2015

The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, President of MediaFreedom.org: Mt. Vernon, VA, April 24, 2015 – If you didn’t already know it, reports have it that the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable will be withdrawn due to government opposition to the union by the DoJ and FCC.  Seems the […]

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AT&T and Verizon to Subsidize Google’s New Wireless Offering, and Other Net Neutrality Weirdness

April 22, 2015

This story on Google’s new wireless offering is interesting /weird on many levels: Briefly, Google is set to unveil a new wireless service by reselling Sprint and T-Mo wireless data. As reported, at least initially, the service will only work with Google’s Nexus 6 phones. So, these quick questions come to mind: Via the FCC’s […]

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Video: The Myth of 4 Million American Net Neutrality Comments, with Roslyn Layton

April 22, 2015

Roslyn Layton has been watching Net Neutrality for some time, studying how the U.S. and other nations deal with the loose concept to protect the “open” Internet. In the following video, Roslyn tackles the myth that 4 million Americans actually commented at the FCC in its Net Neutrality proceeding. In her view, the FCC should […]

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Easter Sunday and Title II

April 16, 2015

When I was growing up, we had only one choice of a phone provider. The Communications Act of 1934 and its Title II, along with state law, mandated that. No others were allowed. Even inside wiring and customer premises equipment were locked up by the utility laws, preventing competition. Fast forward to last week. The […]

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