Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

Federal Court Ruling: Is this Beginning of the End for Net Neutrality?

keyboard-578-adj-crop-sig-sm72If you don’t like the way Facebook shovels advertising and promoted posts into your “news feed”, instead of the latest photos of your friends’ vacations, you’re really not going to like the new and improved Internet.

Yesterday, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn’t have the power to regulate net neutrality. What does this mean for you? Internet providers like Verizon can now cut deals with corporate giants to accelerate their content, while leaving non-commercial Internet content–like those pesky independent blogs– in the dustbin of a Google search.

From Think Progress

Net neutrality rules were issued by the FCC to prevent broadband providers from favoring some content over other content, potentially even their own. As the two-judge majority explains, “a broadband provider like Comcast might limit its end-user subscribers’ ability to access the New York Times website if it wanted to spike traffic to its own news website, or it might degrade the quality of the connection to a search website like Bing if a competitor like Google paid for prioritized access.”

Even as they struck down these rules Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit judges concede that this concern is real, writing, “broadband providers represent a threat to Internet openness and could act in ways that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment.” The problem, however, derives from an earlier FCC decision that even advocates of net neutrality like Free Press president Craig Aaron say was a failure of FCC leadership to “ground its Open Internet rules on solid legal footing.” [Emphasis added.]

This is scary shit. A free and open Internet has been an incubator for person-to-person communication and community organizing through social media and blogging. Up until yesterday, anyone with access to the Internet and time on their hands could create a blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page and start publishing content out to the world. Anyone with basic writing skills and good search engine optimization (SEO) could be heard.

As corporate filters have been applied to news distribution and traditional television news has shifted to entertainment, citizens have turned to blogs for real news and non-commercial commentary.

The FCC can appeal this ruling, and the Court left the door open for future regulations, but in the meantime, you expect to be fed more advertising and more corporate content. From the New York Times

Federal regulators had tried to prevent those deals, saying they would give large, rich companies an unfair edge in reaching consumers. But since the Internet is not considered a utility under federal law, the court said, it is not subject to regulations banning the arrangements.

Some deals could come soon. In challenging the 2010 regulations at issue in the case, Verizon told the court that if not for the rules by the Federal Communications Commission, “we would be exploring those commercial arrangements.”

Internet users will probably not see an immediate difference with their service. Consumer advocates, though, warned that higher costs to content providers could be passed on to the public, and called the ruling a serious blow against the concept of a free and open Internet. “It leaves consumers at the mercy of a handful of cable and phone providers that can give preferential treatment to the content they profit from,” said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union.

Verizon and other corporate giants have spent millions lobbying against and fighting court battles to stop net neutrality. If we want to keep it, we have to continue to fight for it.

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About

The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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