FCC Ignores The Courts, Finalizes Facts-Optional Repeal Of Net Neutrality

from the unserious-people dept

Just about a year ago the courts partially upheld the FCC's hugely unpopular net neutrality repeal. But it also kicked some aspects of the repeal back to the FCC. Most notably, the courts stated the Ajit Pai FCC couldn't ban states from protecting consumers if the FCC is no longer interested in doing so. The courts also noted that the FCC (surprise!) did little to no research into how the repeal would impact public safety or efforts to bridge the digital divide (the latter being kind of important in a massive pandemic in which affordable access is essential to survival) and urged the agency to try again.

Knowing full well the polls suggest their good times may soon be coming to an end, the FCC this week voted along party lines (pdf) to ignore the court's complaint, pat itself on the back for a job well done, and double down on its Orwellian-titled "Restoring Internet Freedom" repeal. With no changes to it whatsoever:

"After thoroughly reviewing the record compiled in response to its request for additional comment on these issues, the FCC found no basis to alter the FCC’s conclusions in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. The Order on Remand finds that the Restoring Internet Freedom Order promotes public safety, facilitates broadband infrastructure deployment by Internet service providers, and allows the FCC to continue to provide Lifeline support for broadband Internet access service."

Again, despite chirping from some "experts," the repeal of net neutrality mattered. It not only killed off consumer protections, it hamstrung the FCC's ability to protect consumers and competitors from entrenched telecom monopolies. It shoveled much of this authority to an FTC telecom giants like Comcast and AT&T know full well lacked the authority, funds, or willpower to properly police one of the more problematic sectors in all of tech. That was the entire goal: zero accountability for widely disliked telecom monopolies. Anybody who claims the repeal "must not of mattered because the internet still works" is advertising their immense ignorance as to the chain of problems this obvious regulatory capture created for consumers and competitors alike.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, in her own statement, lambasted the agency's unsurprising hubris:

"The decision before us today was an opportunity to step back in. It was an opportunity to rethink this agency’s rollback of net neutrality from top to bottom and front to back. I regret that it is not. Instead, it is a set of three cobbled-together arguments designed to tell the court to go away, the public that we are not interested in their opinion, and history that we lack the humility to admit our mistake."

Again, keep in mind that the entirety of the FCC's justification for repealing net neutrality is based completely on fabricated data from the telecom sector. The supposed benefits of the repeal? Also completely fabricated. And the repeal itself involved the broadband industry using fake and/or dead people to stuff the FCC comment section with bogus support with the FCC's help. Nobody, on absolutely any level, has been held accountable for any of this. In fact, when many journalists and pundits talk about the repeal, most of these facts are routinely ignored.

This is all before you even get to Ajit Pai's blistering hypocrisy in the subsequent Section 230 attacks. The same folks who repeatedly claimed that natural telecom monopolies shouldn't be treated as a common carrier, have pivoted 180 to claim that non-dominant social media platforms like Twitter should be. The same folks who spent years insisting the FCC had no authority over the parts of the internet it actually had authority over, now insist the FCC must regulate the parts it has no authority over. The same folks who whined incessantly about the perils of the Fairness Doctrine, now mindlessly support something arguably worse in Trump's sloppy social media executive order.

All to keep social media giants from policing toxic political disinformation to protect GOP power, now highly reliant on online disinformation to gloss over what are usually, much like the net neutrality repeal, often extremely unpopular policies.

Despite obvious net neutrality fatigue in policy circles, this is still a battle that matters if you give a shit about things like monopolization, competition, healthy networks, consumer rights, and even playing fields. "Big telecom" has done a great job the last few years convincing DC that "big tech" needs massive, expansive new oversight while "big telecom" should be allowed to engage in whatever anti-competitive behavior it likes. But if we genuinely want to police unchecked corporate power and its impact on competition and innovation, undermining our regulators using, fraud, deceit, and bogus data isn't the solution.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: ajit pai, fcc, jessica rosenworcel, net neutrality, repeal, rifo


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread


  1. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:00pm

    Enjoy fifty different Net Neutrality standards then.

    There is schadenfreude in knowing the telecoms have to deal with fifty state standards of net neutrality, all different, and conform to each.

    This is a pit they dug themselves in and seem determined to dig deeper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    virusdetected (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:04pm

    Of course no one is held accountable. The pig-in-chief isn't accountable. Mitch the Bitch covers the pig's ass and all the Republicans (with one or two notable exceptions) kowtow. Anyone who speaks up is swiftly unemployed, replaced by yet another political hack.

    The Founders of this country never contemplated that the voters would be stupid enough to elect an narcissist who is too busy worrying about how he looks and how much applause he can attract to bother actually doing his job. He'd rather just wave his middle finger at the taxpayers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:04pm

    Get ready for an internet with nothing but cat pics

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:16pm

    Re:

    It will be worse than that, it will be online shopping only, and cable TV makes a comeback, as the only home entertainment option left.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Rocky, 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:21pm

    Re:

    The Founders of this country never contemplated that the voters would be stupid enough to elect an narcissist who is too busy worrying about how he looks and how much applause he can attract to bother actually doing his job.

    They did, which is one of the reasons they created the Electoral College as a check against that. A majority of states quickly corrupted it though, by legislating the "winner takes all".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:37pm

    The “winner takes all” aspect of the Electoral College isn’t the biggest issue here. The Electoral College giving disproportionate power to states with smaller populations and smaller economic footprints — power to let them dictate public policy from a position of minority rule — is the biggest issue facing that institution. This setup benefits Republicans far more than it benefits Democrats (especially in the South, hence the Southern Strategy). Getting rid of it by either abolishing the Electoral College or nullifying it with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would be a hell of a start in reclaiming this country from the minority rule of a political party that sees fascism taking root and thinks “maybe it won’t be so bad if we make it Christian fascism”.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:38pm

    Cat pics don't make big money.

    This is the problem the providers face. Most internet traffic is not commercial (or not very commercial) like cat pic sites with (blockable) ads. If they try to exclude non-commercial content all the cat pic shrarers will join the child porn sharers and bomb designers in the dark net. And the World Wide Web will look like an Anthem server.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re:

    So, basically it will sit in the attic beside the thigh master and quadraphonic

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 2:08pm

    'Only when the laws and orders benefit us you see.'

    Imagine that, people from the party of Law And Order ignore both laws and order in order to get what they wanted.

    Again.

    Who ever could have seen that coming?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 2:09pm

    Tyranny of the Majority

    While Jefferson seemed to believe the voting populace are just idiots, there does seem to be a common underlying concern that the non-landowners might decide to address wealth disparity, or that the slaves, if allowed to vote might have a different agenda than their prior masters. And these are the concerns that fueled the making of an electoral college.

    So yeah, our system of equality and fraternity was sabotaged from within by landlords who wanted to stay landlords and not give up their power. It's been a slow unraveling from there.

    But we demonstrated in 2016 that the Electoral College is not a real defense against putting monsters in office. And the people who are pro-EC seem only concerned about the small-state bias which benefits them, in which case it's time to audit the weight of votes, now that the Senators representing fewer than 30 million people (out of 320 million) just put a far-right anti-gay anti-women cultist on the Supreme Court. For life.

    I have to say I'm struggling trying not to hope it's not a very long life at all.

    Either we shouldn't give any voters additional weight to their votes, or maybe we should let voters with dependents have maybe and additional fraction. But the EC doesn't calculate its weight according to any considered plan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 2:13pm

    Re:

    Historically, the electoral college has been somewhat neutral, with periods when it favoured Democrats and periods (like now) when it favoured Republicans. These swings tend to have a very long period, though, so it isn't the least bit obvious that they occur and they allow one party inordinate influence for a LONG time, which allows the dominant party to become and stay more abusive for a lot longer than would otherwise be the case.

    The biggest problem with the electoral college is that it concentrates the effective decision making power in 10 or maybe even less than 6 states and makes all the others effectively irrelevant.

    A bigger problem than the electoral college, during hyperpartisan times like the present, is the two senators per state. This gives a potentially minority party an effective veto over much governmental policy when the opposing party controls the presidency and lets an abusive President largely ignore a highly opposed house.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Enjoy fifty different Net Neutrality standards then.

    I think since we have two different things here: one is a court ruling that goes against the fcc and another is the fcc saying who cares:

    So I think it’s fine to say who cares to the fcc becuase even if Somone got in trouble you could just argue court precedence and they could be helpless.

    There.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 2:52pm

    Let’s do ti

    So they ignored a court order eh?

    Well I guess I can just ignore them and if they have a problem I can just bring that little fact up and see if they start to sweat like a fountain and take it from there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re:

    I find it difficult to reconcile these two statements:

    • The [] electoral college [] concentrates the effective decision making power in 10 or maybe even less than 6 states, and makes all the others effectively irrelevant.
    • [Two senators per state] potentially gives a minority party an effective veto over much governmental policy....

    So, the power is concentrated in only a few states, but a lot of other states could potentially block that power?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's kind of like saying "I find it hard to reconcile you saying that the car is blue while the truck is red - which is it, blue or red?". The power to determine the president is limited to a small number of states. The power to obstruct the government supported by the majority if the people is a consequence of the two senators per state. That looks like two totally different things to me. How about you?

    BTW, did you know that the president could theoretically be elected by as little as 23% of the popular vote?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    R.H. (profile), 28 Oct 2020 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Winner take all for a single state isn't the problem (the Constitution explicitly allows States to decide how they apportion their Electoral Votes) but, the fact that we stopped enlarging the House (and therefore the Electoral College) to match increases in population almost a century ago is causing these problems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 29 Oct 2020 @ 7:21am

    Re: Enjoy fifty different Net Neutrality standards then.

    "This is a pit they dug themselves in and seem determined to dig deeper."

    ...probably by failing to conform to any of the states in question. Looking at the way AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have behaved in the past it's fair to say they view the law as an "optional extra".

    Doesn't help that the FCC have been very eager to help them come to that understanding, of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 29 Oct 2020 @ 7:28am

    Re:

    "The Founders of this country never contemplated that the voters would be stupid enough to elect an narcissist who is too busy worrying about how he looks and how much applause he can attract to bother actually doing his job."

    They did, actually. But they were convinced that narcissist would come to power through the mob rule of unfettered democracy rather than through the exact sort of regulatory capture which was the basis of the british government they wanted to escape.

    The fundamental failure of the founding fathers was when they emulated the ancient roman model of republic, failing to realize just how badly a 2 millennia old model of government would fail to adjust to even the demands of their own time.
    Ironically had they included ranked-choice voting as a method rather than leaving it a complete blank on how to tally voting results so very many other issues would have been avoided. A simple fix, and one neither side of the aisle is willing to touch with a ten foot pole since it would spell the death of the two party system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Oct 2020 @ 11:17am

    Ranked choice voting, implemented by swordpoint

    Historically major shifts towards the diffusion of power have been implemented with cavalry and cannon waiting in the courtyards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat

Warning: include(/home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/includes/right_column/rc_promo_discord_chat.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/includes/right_column/rc_module_promo.inc on line 8

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/includes/right_column/rc_promo_discord_chat.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/pear:/home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395:/home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/..') in /home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/includes/right_column/rc_module_promo.inc on line 8
Recent Stories
.

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.