IT'S OFFICIAL. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the guidance of chairman and former Comcast exec Ajit Pai will make a decision about whether or not to scrap the Obama-era ruling to protect net neutrality.
It's a story we've told many times, but if you're playing catch-up, if net neutrality was to be scrapped, it would mean that internet providers would be able to charge customers for priority of internet traffic.
In other words, companies that could afford it would be able to overtake the traffic of smaller rivals, startups and members of the public who don't pay those fees.
The new rules are expected to be announced on Wednesday, whilst most Americans are distracted by getting home to loved ones for Thanksgiving.
This will then be followed by a vote on 10 December, which would see the 2015 rules designed to protect the internet being torn down.
People have been voicing their opinions on the matter to the FCC since May. 22 million comments were received, but as we all know by now, one bot-farm can do a lot of skewing of the results.
Slate reports that at least one Democrat senator wants to put the brakes on the whole thing and put it to a public hearing. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said there were "deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic," (in other words a DDoS campaign), many of the commenters were proved to be bots, and many named commenters (on both sides) were shown to be dead.
This, in itself, raises suspicions, but the coup de grace has been the FCC's stubborn refusal to release the comments or the evidence to show the whether or not the FCC knows what's going on.
"If you want to make changes this big that affect every person in this country who accesses the internet, we shouldn't be shy about reaching out to Americans and asking them what they think about these policies. Rushing them through with a bureaucratic process and at a speed so that they occur before anyone knows what happens is just at odds with basic transparency," adds Rosenworcel.
The important point, as we've said before, is that once the genie is out of the bottle, getting it back in is almost impossible and for our readers outside the US, don't think this doesn't affect you - everything that passes through US servers will be affected in some way and will knock on to you.
The FCC is also said to be making sure that individual states won't be allowed to overrule the decision and make their own rules.
Not only that, if the biggest country in the world abolishes net neutrality, then it will make other countries like China and the entire EU rethink. Plus the UK, post-Brexit, will have the option to do the same, and it's known that the Tories rather like the idea of opening the internet up to the competition in this way.
Meanwhile, the FCC is currently under Republican control, so if Pai goes ahead with the vote, the chances are, the Republican vote will carry and net neutrality will be gone forever.
In short, it's crash helmets on time again. If you're interested in getting involved, you can contact Fight For The Future. And for our US readers, if anything is announced over the holidays, we'll pick it up from London and report back. µ
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