by Lily Dane, The Sleuth Jounal:
On Monday, President Trump selected Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission’s senior Republican member, to head the FCC, and the mainstream media lost its collective mind.
Various media outlets are reporting that Pai wants to “destroy” net neutrality, is an “obstructionist,” is “critical of basic privacy online,” and plans to “dismantle net neutrality.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
To fully understand what Pai’s stance on “net neutrality” actually is, we need to clear up the confusion that has been surrounding the term for years.
Net Neutrality vs. Net Neutrality
In November 2014, net neutrality became the subject of much heated debate among politicians and the public after then-president Barack Obama announced that he wanted to “keep the internet free and open” for everyone.
Obama wanted to push the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement rules for net neutrality, and in his plea he used terms like “fairness” and “freedom”. He expressed the need for more government control to ensure equal Internet access for everyone.
He claimed that abandoning the principles of net neutrality “would threaten to end the Internet as we know it.”
Whenever a politician talks about “more government control”, “fairness,” and “rules,” I become skeptical, which I think is a healthy and rational response, considering how much the US government has turned into a massive control freak.
It turns out, my skepticism was warranted.
Obama (perhaps intentionally, perhaps not) misrepresented what “net neutrality” actually is versus what reclassifying consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act (which is what he pushed) actually is.
If you’d like an in-depth explanation of the difference between true net neutrality and what Obama and former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler meant by “net neutrality”, please read Net Neutrality: What it Really Means, and How it Could Impact You.
For our purposes here, this image sums up the difference perfectly:
In February 2015, the FCC voted YES (3-2, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against) to Wheeler’s plan to “enforce net neutrality rules”, reported ArsTechnica:
The Federal Communications Commission today voted to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers—including cellular carriers—from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.
The most controversial part of the FCC’s decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This decision brings Internet service under the same type of regulatory regime faced by wireline telephone service and mobile voice, though the FCC is forbearing from stricter utility-style rules that it could also apply under Title II.
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