Repeal of Fake Net Neutrality aka Obamanet

“Two and a half years ago, I said that net neutrality was ‘Obamacare for the Internet.’  At the time, the Obama administration, in its typically deceptive manner, had conflated net neutrality — a worthy idea, as originally defined, to protect an open internet — with reclassifying the internet as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, a burdensome, behemoth of a law that gives all sorts of authority to the government …” – Senator Ted Cruz, May 1, 2017

On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission chaired by courageous Ajit Pai voted to repeal another Obama legacy: the Orwellian-named “Open Internet Order” FCC-15-24, or Obamanet.  Contrary and opposite to the fake news media’s claims, the Obamanet order weakened or eliminated net neutrality, which had been established as FCC regulatory policy in 2005 by the Bush administration.

The Obama administration began messing with the internet since coming to power in 2009.  The 2015 Obamanet order did not only weaken or eliminate net neutrality, but de-facto nationalized most of the internet infrastructure and access. It also granted control of these assets to Obama friends among the left coast billionaires and global (i.e., foreign influenced) corporations, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft. It also made it difficult for ordinary citizens to find “unapproved” content, and all but impossible for independent authors and publishers to sell their work to readers and viewers.

Obamanet (1)applied to “any person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service” (para 21), defined as “A mass-market retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up Internet access service. This term also encompasses any service that the Commission finds to be providing a functional equivalent of the service described in the previous sentence, or that is used to evade the protections set forth in this Part” (para 25). This is one of the least understood things — the order FCC-15-24 covered not only ISPs as understood by the public, but anyone who dares to provide internet access — even those who provide it as a byproduct of speech or other service. Further, the order said: “The no-blocking rule we adopt today prohibits broadband providers from blocking access to lawful Internet content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices” (para 115), banning blocking of undesirable content on request of the user!

Obamanet can be summarized as follows:

  • Citizens are not allowed to prevent content that violates their religious, moral, or political views from entering their home via broadband internet. Citizens are also not allowed to protect their children from pornography, child predators, and drug dealers.
  • Citizens using broadband internet are obligated to pay for the dissemination of content which is against their religious, moral, and political views. This part of the order was intended to benefit mostly Netflix and Google but applies (to the same degree) to the content from al-Qaeda and ISIS.
  • Freedom of speech and freedom of association are effectively banned because anybody who wants to communicate to willing listeners/readers/viewers using internet infrastructure must also pay for traffic from Netflix, Google, PornHub, etc., even if their viewers are not interested in these services. In any case, Netflix and Google alone are responsible for more than 70% of internet traffic, and paying for it leaves third parties without the ability to charge for their own content.
  • Local businesses are prevented from using the local network infrastructure to appeal to their local neighbors. It is owned by the FCC!  Under Obamanet, citizens are punished for shopping locally.  A Texas resident with internet access must pay an out-of-state provider, subsidizing Netflix and Google, and is incentivized to recoup these costs by buying foreign-made goods from Amazon.
  • Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Netflix together with few others are turned into a new branch of government empowered to censor speech and press, and answerable only to the left wing of the Democratic Party and foreign powers.
  • Net neutrality was thrown away in favor case-by-case consideration, giving the FCC more power over political speech, because many huge ISPs also select cable programming.

Annotated Quotes from the Obamanet Order of 2015

“A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or nonharmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.” (para 112) – The language of the order was directed at the ISP, but its intent and effect were to ban the end users from blocking content that is against their conscience.

 As discussed further below, we make clear that broadband Internet access service encompasses this service to edge providers.” (para 27) This is a bizarre encroachment on contract and property rights. Obama’s FCC states that when an individual purchases internet access from a provider, it gives rights to third parties – “edge providers” – including Google, Netflix, Microsoft and other behemoths with market capitalization in tens or hundreds of billions of dollars!

“Edge provider. Any individual or entity that provides any content, application, or service over the Internet, and any individual or entity that provides a device used for accessing any content, application, or service over the Internet.” (Part. 8, Definitions) – Not just Google and Netflix, but al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other similar organizations with websites or other internet presence are among edge providers that we must support and subsidize when we purchase internet access, according to the Obamanet order.

“… we also set forth a no-unreasonable interference/disadvantage standard, under which the Commission can prohibit practices that unreasonably interfere with the ability of consumers or edge providers to select, access, and use broadband Internet access service to reach one another, thus causing harm to the open Internet. This no-unreasonable interference/disadvantage standard will operate on a case-by-case basis …” (para 108) – A restatement of the previous quotes.  The Obamanet order asserted that edge providers, including al-Qaeda and ISIS, are entitled to access and reach any home user with broadband access, irrespective of his or her wish or consent, and the ISP cannot “interfere,” even if asked by the user.

“For that reason, we adopt a rule setting forth a no-unreasonable interference/disadvantage standard, under which the Commission can prohibit, on a case-by-case basis, practices that unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage the ability of consumers to reach the Internet content, services, and applications of their choosing or of edge providers to access consumers using the Internet.” (para 135) – Another bizarre interpretation.  According to the FCC, there is an equivalence between the user, paying the ISP, and the “edge providers”: a user can access edge providers using the internet as he or she wishes, and every edge provider can access internet users as it wishes!  The order seemed to put internet users into some situation like The Matrix!

“… to ensure that broadband providers do not use the safety and security provision without the imprimatur of a law enforcement authority, as a loophole to the rules. Application of the safety and security rule should be tied to invocation by relevant authorities rather than to a broadband provider’s independent notion of the needs of law enforcement.” – To make clear to the Internet service providers on whose side the FCC was: on the side of al Qaeda and ISIS against the American citizens.

Any person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage … edge providers’ ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to end users.” – Netflix, PornHub, ISIS, al Qaeda etc. are among the protected edge providers.

Here, the excuse for this order – net neutrality – is thrown overboard:

“While our bright-line rule to treat paid prioritization arrangements as unlawful addresses technical prioritization, the record reflects mixed views about other practices, including usage allowances and sponsored data plans. Sponsored data plans (sometimes called zero-rating) enable broadband providers to exclude edge provider content from end users’ usage allowances. …. We are mindful of the concerns raised in the record that sponsored data plans have the potential to distort competition by allowing service providers to pick and choose among content and application providers to feature on different service plans. At the same time, new service offerings, depending on how they are structured, could benefit consumers and competition. Accordingly, we will look at and assess such practices under the no-unreasonable interference/disadvantage standard, based on the facts of each individual case, and take action as necessary.” (para 151-152) – Bye-bye, net neutrality.  Under Obamanet, ISPs are allowed to set a low usage cap, and then to arbitrarily decide what content to allow the user to access, “based on the facts of each individual case.”  Note, that internet usage grows very fast, and a usage cap, which is very high today, would become low tomorrow.  Also, the edge providers still have right to access and reach subscribers (and their children) as they wish.

“The Commission may waive the ban on paid prioritization only if the petitioner demonstrates that the practice would provide some significant public interest benefit and would not harm the open nature of the Internet.” (para 130) – In other words, the FCC would allow paid prioritization if it feels so, especially if the petitioner is a friend.

The Obamanet order, co-written by the Marxist left and Google, made a bizarre inversion.  The purpose of net neutrality regulations of 2005 was to protect consumers against possible abuse by ISPs.  The purpose of the Obamanet was to restrict basic civil rights of the consumers using language directed at the ISPs.  Obamanet repeal is a process.  The repeal decision comes to force sixty days after published, and might be held up in courts for months.  But many thanks to Ajit Pai and two other Republican FCC members for fighting this fight!

My related articles and posts:

Obamanet vs. Net Neutrality in the American Thinker

The “Battle for The Net” in WUWT

Other Obamanet posts on this site

Published on December 21, 2017, and has been updated.