November 26, 2017

FCC's anti-democratic Internet rules mimic those of China

Daily Beast -  Right now, there are red blocks holding white text all over the internet: “URGENT: If you’re not freaking out about Net Neutrality right now, you’re not paying attention.”

Do you like Pearl Jam? [Before] net neutrality rules, AT&T censored their livestream after Eddie Vedder criticized then-president George W. Bush. AT&T also blocked the usage of Apple’s video chat service, FaceTime, in their network, so that customers would have to pay for more expensive data plans. Verizon blocked messages sent by abortion rights group NARAL, saying that their content was too controversial.

But it’s not just about consuming content. Imagine not being able to converse with a friend or loved one, based solely on their political outspokenness, for “attacking the system.” Imagine a much-needed communications app disappearing from service without warning—just like how Skype was removed earlier this week from Apple and Android’s app stores in China. Like the dictators who expend vast resources to quash dissidence—think China’s Xi Jinping or Russia’s Vladimir Putin—the FCC is moving to tear up America’s guarantee of a free internet.

The man behind this move is Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, who took up his post on January 23, three days after Donald J. Trump moved into the White House. ... (It’s worth noting that Pai previously worked as associate general counsel for Verizon Communications, one of the companies that would benefit greatly if his plan is pushed forward.}

Pai’s move probably wasn’t inspired by China’s control of web access within its borders, but the parallels are striking—throttled bandwidth, a Great Firewall, “sensitive” keywords that might trigger a closer look at your web traffic should you think out loud and leave an angry post online.


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