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Summary:

The FCC’s net neutrality rules are their final steps to becoming a real law. Soon they will be on their way to the Federal Register. Once that happens, anyone can file a lawsuit and get the ball rolling on testing the rules in court.

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The Federal Communications Commission sent its net neutrality rules on their final steps to becoming a real law on Thursday. The agency sent the rules to the Office of Management and Budget to ensure it complies with arcane paper reduction rules and then the rules are on their way to printing in the Federal Register. Once that happens, anyone can file a lawsuit and get the ball rolling on testing these things in court.

The rules, based on a set of principles adopted in 2005, are an attempt to provide regulations that will keep ISPs from discriminating against traffic on their networks, so a broadband provider couldn’t block content from Yahoo, for instance, or play favorites with certain web sites or services. The FCC had started this process in September 2009.

Now, it could be as soon as 35 days before these rules hit the Federal Register or a bit longer, but for bureaucracy watchers (and those who care how the net neutrality fight plays out) this is a significant move. The FCC also offered up some details on Thursday on how ISPs will need to comply with the transparency requirements in the original order. In general, ISPs will have to offer consumers a web site that will disclose how the ISP manages traffic in cases of network congestion and will also give customers details about the speeds they should expect.

For a refresher on the net neutrality rules, check out our overview post or the original order in its entirety, and for details on how ISPs will have to tell consumers about their broadband speeds and methods of handling congestion, click on through to read the order. And prepare for a flurry of lawsuits in August as companies and public interest groups try to find a court sympathetic to their position.

  1. The paperwork burden imposed by the regulations is onerous and unreasonable. But the more important thing to recognize is that the regulations as a whole are, quite simply, illegal. They’re going to go to court — as they should — and they are going to be overturned. Period. End of story.

    The Obama administration, and Julius Genachowski (who is a friend of Obama; he visits the White House several times as often as any Cabinet member), simply want the regulations not to be overturned until the campaign contributions for the next election are in. Why? To ensure that Obama gets payback for them in the form of lavish campaign contributions from Google (the corporation for whose benefit they were imposed). Lawsuits tend to drag on for at least 9 months to a year, and the FCC’s lawyers can easily stretch them out for longer. If the regs are not published until late this year, and the lawyers at the FCC delay the resolution of the lawsuit, the regs won’t be overturned before the election and Obama can be ensured of getting lots of money and free advertising from Google. Which is the quid pro quo for the FCC’s illegal action.

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    1. So what’s the quid pro quo for the Obama Administration’s FTC doing an anti-trust investigation about Google?

      Things in Washington, DC are not as simple as Brett Glass imagines.

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      1. No they are not but if you follow Brett’s writing you might conclude he is pretty simple and single-minded.

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      2. Brett Glass Sunday, July 3, 2011

        Actually, the FTC is aggressively investigating Twitter – a competitor of Google’s new “Google+” – rather than Google. Google has nothing to fear from the FTC now that it has hired Tim Wu, a former Google Fellow and chair of Google lobbying group Free Press, as its “tech expert.” (Wu gave Google a pass in his recent book, condemning ISPs but conveniently failing even to acknowledge Google’s multiple Internet monopolies.)

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      3. Bzzzttt, wrong answer. The FTC is investigating both Google and Twitter, and the Google investigation has been going on longer. Wu was hired – on a temporary basis – to help with both of these investigations, according to rumor.

        Never let the facts get in the way of your conspiracy treaty, eh Robin Hood?

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      4. That shd be “conspiracy theory,” of course.

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  2. Net neutrality is pure evil elaborately rationalized as public good. Purpose is to prevent everyone else from competing with google and Facebook for analytics. That is what will actually happen as opposed to the nonsense the FCC is preaching. Institutionalizing the Internet is the worst thing that could happen to the economy, plus basic innovation. Sad days

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  3. I understand net Neutrality to mean that there is a basic level of fairness, that provides the same level of access to all content. IOW, small content providers have the same chance of being found and accessed as do the largest content providers. How is that pure evil?

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    1. “Basic fairness” is the sales pitch for NN, but in practice it’s a prohibition on making the Internet work better as well as a ban on making it unfair.

      It’s not so much evil as naive.

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  4. Brett Glass Sunday, July 3, 2011

    It might as well be a treaty, Richard, between the White House and Google. Watch: any action by this administration against Google will amount to, at most, a slap on the wrist, while any against its competitors will involve serious penalties, fines, or concessions. As for Wu: he was appointed as a sop to Google and is expected to do things that favor it and harm its competitors.

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    1. Lame reply, Brett Glass. Go read this column for some insight regarding the FTC’s Google investigation:

      http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-20076272-92/first-microsoft-now-google-does-the-government-have-it-in-for-consumers/?fb_ref=fblike&fb_source=home_oneline

      It’s written by people who know what’s going on and aren’t simply indulging their paranoid fantasies.

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  5. We are a small ISP, I can tell you that Netflix does cause a lot of problems. People download their movies as advertised on tv and use so much bandwidth that it interferes with the network as a whole. Who pays for all that bandwidth? Not the customer, he’s already paying for his bandwidth. Not Netflix, they reap the money made from the rental but don’t pay for the extra bandwidth needed for all these people renting these movies. Like all ISP’s across the country, this has caused quite a deilmma. While our infrastructures were built to deliver internet service we are now forced to beef up our infrastructure because of all the video streaming and Netflix doesn’t have to pay a cent to use our infrastructure as a tool to make money. That’s not fair.

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