Will a US vote change the internet as we know it? - The Stream
Hi. I'm Sami okay, and I'm Malika Bilal and you're in the stream this, week a five person panel, is set to decide the future of internet, usage in the US but could it change the world wide web as we, know it find out what some people say yes. Here. In the United States the Federal, Communications, Commission will vote Thursday. On whether or not to roll back Obama, era regulations, protecting. Net neutrality net. Neutrality. It's a hot-button term but what does it mean well. It's the principle that internet service providers, or ISPs. Grant, access to web content regardless. Of the source and without favor most, everyone agrees and that neutrality is a good, thing but not everyone agrees with the best way to maintain, it the, vote in all likelihood will be a three to two split, in favor of rolling back regulations, while. Critics of those regulations will no doubt applaud, the vote advocates. Fear that it will end the Internet, as we know it to only us to talk about all of this Gigi. Sohn she's an ex counselor to FCC, Chairman, Tom wheeler. The former ex the. Head of the FCC he, oversaw the organization, during the Obama administration. Also. In a studio Thom Struble, he's, the Technology, Policy Manager, at our Street Institute, that's a Washington, think tank and joining. Via Skype in Oakland California malkia. Cyril who's the founder and executive director. For center for media justice, it's good to have you here everybody welcome everybody and we start off with with the video we could say this video is the worst case scenario from. Battle, for the net this, is their version of what might happen if net neutrality goes, away how look. Well. Mission of neutrality, what, might happen if the end is nigh. Here's. Another person's worst case scenario, this is Ryan on Twitter he says AJ screamed great to hear you're covering this get the word out so you won't have to change your name to the, dribble net, neutrality is the hashtag he used so Gigi we're laughing there before our audience and may not understand, what he means by that and why that's a bad thing can, you explain for us let. Me explain what the FCC, is planning to do on Thursday, it's gonna do three things first. Of all it's going to deregulate. Broadband. Internet, access the, on-ramps. To the Internet, so, the FCC is basically, abdicating. Its role in protecting consumers, in competition, when, it comes to broadband that's number one number, two it is eliminating, the rules that prohibit ISPs. From, blocking content. From. Throttling. Content, and from. Putting, in place fast lane so in other words having. Online. Service providers pay. For. Faster, and better service, which not necessarily, means that there will be others in the slow lane okay, the third thing it's doing is it's, pre-empting. It's prohibiting. The states in the United States from, adopting their own laws to. Protect consumers so, not only is the FCC saying sorry, we're not going to protect you but the states can't protect you either. Okay. Have you seen this yet though, blocking, throttling, fast. And slow lanes if we go back to before the Obama era FCC. Changes, were, there any of those things actually happening, that you saw. Well. We know you, know for a fact that Comcast. Was. Found to be you. Know, found. That it was, blocking. Peer-to-peer. Technologies. And as customers, were using over the network, we know that Verizon. Blocked. A tweet. Or excuse, me some content, from, Planned. Parenthood, we know that these incidents, have, taken place we know this isn't new so, when people say you know hey, this isn't going to happen it's never happened before the fact is it's just a straight-up lie. Tom. So. The, Internet's a big place with billions of users of course there are going to be problems and growing pains along the way but I think there's a lot more good than bad the, internet has been overwhelmingly, positive thing, for all of society and you.
Know We should regulate it in some way to protect consumers and entrepreneurs online, companies from you know the biggest and the worst of the harms but, there are different ways to go about doing that and I, mean, I think Gigi is pretty, you know spot on your characterization of, what the FCC is doing you. Know I wouldn't say they're abdicating, their entire role because they're still requiring transparency. And they're proposing, to work together with the FTC but they're advocating their primary role as the protector of the Internet and. Then also they're not pre-empting all state regulations, either but only state regulations, that conflict, with the FCC's, policy, so it's conflict, preemption rather than field preemption that's. Deep into legal weeds so you're not selling it to me that Tom well. What. Do you what do you wanna buy. Thank. You for giving me the option my. Tea will be the problem in the future, Milica, so here, is one scenario this is from rob hashtag. Saved net neutrality Sheridan, on, Twitter and Tamil, directors to you he says the problem is we have no idea what will happen net, neutrality is a protection, against a myriad of bad scenario. C goes on to say the, open Internet has changed the world in so many ways there's never been anything like it in terms of globally, democratizing. Information. Communication. There's so many reasons to preserve net neutrality but, the, only reason to kill it is to increase Internet, service provider profit. What, you're doing fine what would you say to that well. I say that's not the only reason to do away with it and first I challenge, the premise something we're getting rid of it you know we're switching from an approach in a neutrality based on ex ante you know prescriptive, rules to. An approach to net neutrality based, on ex post flexible, standards, case-by-case, adjudication, you're. Talking okay so. Then. The only kill it is to increase ISP profits, what's. Wrong with that statement so. I don't mean necessarily think that I speak proper SAR going to go up I think we're going to see more broadband competition going forward and while you might see profits go up in the short term over the long term this should be good for broadband competition will eventually drive down prices for consumers and, also the benefit. See my my. Bill. For my internet, service provider it has never gone, down in fact every year I ring up and. Negotiate. Can. I cut in here because that's because there is no competition for broadband it my taxes in the United States so. I love going. Down but i-i've never said have you as your bill ever gone down so in absolute. Maybe. That doesn't happening but in relative terms in terms of what you're getting for the money you're getting faster speeds all the time you're getting more access to services through your pipe so, the value in, terms of what you're getting from what your pain could actually going up and also even if you're getting the same amount of value in this even prices are going up they may not go up as fast as it otherwise would be would, you mind if I just just lay down some numbers here so this is Ajit PI FC, C's own numbers. 58%. Of census, blocks in this country, have, a choice, of, either 0, or 1.
Broadband. Internet access provider. 87%. Of. Aid, in, in the definition. Of what broadband is that the FCC takes, right now ok 87%, of the country, has, a choice, of 2 or fewer, and, by the way when you measure by census, blocks. When. The way the FCC measures is if one person, in the census block has internet access that means everybody, does so the fact of the matter is, is that even fewer. Americans. Have, access to -, ok. So the vast majority of Americans, have, fewer, than 2 choices and that's why your prices, stay high I don't see any reason, by eliminating. The FCC's, oversight, and giving. It to the FTC which has far fewer powers. Ok the FTC, has far, fewer legal. And and. Powers. And technical, expertise, to deal with this issue I don't know your Education Commission - a trade, commission, so the trade commission has less. Expertise. Just saying let, me share this with you malkia, this is from Delhi he, says net neutrality is, an issue that affects Americans. Regardless of party affiliations. And parties. Interest. But. It. Does feel like this is very much a political, conversation. Why. You. Know this is a political, conversation let me say this let me start by saying net, neutrality enjoys. Bipartisan. Support this is not a, Democrat. Issue an issue of Republicans. This is an issue of fundamental, communication. Right we. Got, 700. Protests right 7, million, comments evidence, of like record level, participation. Who's, making, this a political. Issue making, this a political, football is, a. Trump's, FCC. Right, FCC. Chairman magic, by has, turned, this into a sideshow, with we have bots that are participating. In, the comment. Period we have you, know 50, you, know 50, million comments. That. Have come from republican me from russian, you. Know email, addresses. This is not a, debate. That should be treated like a political. Football, we understand. That you, would not put the First Amendment, out on the stock market, but if you have to protect it and these rules do that and so, making, this a kind, of a political, football that's getting tossed back and forth between, you. Know Republicans. And Democrats, that's just not the reality the, reality is the vast majority of Americans, support net, neutrality the reality, is that we need it in order to prosper the reality, isn't we need it for democracy, that's the bottom line and, so what this actually means for, people in their everyday lives it's one of the main themes that people online at least are tweeting to us and they don't really understand about this conversation because, they don't know how it affects them so here, are two examples from people and these are their perspectives, this is Johnny on Twitter who says people of color the LGBT, community indigenous. Peoples religious, minorities, rely, on the open Internet to organize access, economic, educational, opportunities, and fight, back against systemic, discrimination so. Organizing, on the one hand on the other is medical. Purposes this is a video comment we got from a doctor in Washington. DC this is what she said. African-americans. Are two to four times more likely to suffer from complications from, diabetes and, two, to four times more likely to die from it but, telemedicine. And mobile health apps allow, providers, remotely, monitor blood glucose, levels manage. Diabetes and educate, diabetes, patients, all while reducing the need for outpatient.
Visits And reducing. Overall, medical, costs it's, important to note that nowadays even find it in a health care provider and booking, medical, appointments is something, that we've been pushed to do online. Everyone. Deserves the opportunity to have good health and that requires access to health care innovation, this. Means everyone, needs, to have consistent. And reliable internet. Access so. We're pulling the 2015. Net neutrality regulations. Would not only exacerbate. Already, existing, health disparities, but, also continue, to nurture a perverted, healthcare system that favors the haves at the expense, of the have-nots. Some, okiya what are your thoughts on that well. Let, me say this you know I spend, my time. Protesting. Against, police brutality I, spend. My time organizing. Around a number of issues in my community, and we. Use the internet on a daily, basis, to connect. With folks in different parts of the country on these issues let. Me say this that without, the open Internet black, lives matter the the the, the movement and, the message could not have reached millions. Of people, right we would not know about many, of these cases of police violence if not, for the fact that ISPs, cannot, block, any of that content, they can't slow it down we, don't have to depend on CNN, or or, anyone, really we can depend on AJ, stream you know to, be able to move move. A message, the fact is that you, know for me personally my. Wife has stage-four gastro. Esophageal, cancer, and you. Know on a pretty, much nightly, basis, you'll, find me sitting on the couch with, the light you, know a small, light on me with. Me searching the internet for alternative. Cures and alternative. Treatments, and all kinds, of things to manage and navigate. This illness um I don't want an ISP, to be able to slow down my traffic. I don't, want an ISP, to be able to direct me to a preferred, site that, they want me to visit, where. There might be some profit gained, or some back-end, deal. I need, to be able to choose as the user as the, person whose life depends, on access to that information I, need, to be able to choose so. This for me this is about two things and I think for most people as malkia. So eloquently, says this is about whether you. And I control, our internet experience that. Has been the experience of the internet since its inception okay. If, you repeal net neutrality and, again this is a radical decision because, never before has. An FCC, Chairman, either a Republican or Democrat said we, don't want to have any role overseeing. Consumers. In competition, when it comes to broadband internet access okay, this, is about whether Comcast. AT&T, Verizon. Your, ISP, will control, that experience, for you will, decide winners, and losers much like cable television, that's number one the. Number two effect and this is really important, I worked. At the FCC for three years people come to the FCC, for. Protection. Against, any consumer, and, anti-competitive. Practices. Of Internet. Service providers. Practices. From cable. Companies, this. Decision, will, give consumers, pretty, much nowhere, to go if for example Comcast. One day decides to double its prices, there's. Nothing, the Federal Trade Commission can, do about that so the. FCC is known by the public, as the, place to go to. Get relief. When. Their ISP when their cable company engages. In, practices. That they believe to be anti consumer, so. I was jump in and push back a little bit on that because I think if Comcast were to double its prices overnight that would be an exercise of market power which the FTC, under its antitrust Authority, the UM see unfair methods of competition could. Bring an enforcement action. Let. Me show you something here I know we'll get back to it look, at this headline here Comcast deleted, the net neutrality page, there same day. The. FCC, announced repeal, the same day, all right and then you're and then you're gonna say in in language that everybody who has. An internet access, in the US can, actually understand, go, ahead so yeah they deleted, one pledge and replace with another pledge, where, really only substantive change between the two pledges, is they, change their promise to not engage in a paid prioritization to not engage in a harmful prioritization.
Which, Is a big change basically switching from the FCC to the FTC is a more permissive regulatory, environment for prioritization. Some, of that could be things like telemedicine, that's a common example people put forward but, a more mundane example would just be you know prioritized, gaming, or video traffic like. We should be particularly, useful in the context of broadband competition because as Gigi points out a lot of people don't have access to high-speed broadband. But almost every American has access to two providers because we had incumbent, telco and come at cable operator in every city now, the telcos, haven't upgraded the networks with fibre might not be able to offer speeds that match the cable guys but. If the telco could offer a prioritized, gaming, service and say pair their limited bandwidth with and you, know a satellite based delivery mechanism, mechanism for video. Malky, and. You can tell me if if you feel that this is useful. For us here Tom, wrote a piece two. Years, back. In May don't freak out about the FCC's, new approach to net neutrality are you freaking, out. Yeah. Because this is not an approach to net neutrality this. Is approach to monopoly, and this is a pro in approach to, infringing. Upon the basic, communication rights, of Americans. Across, the. Country. To sides who, both think, net neutrality is great and but, disagree, on how to make it happen one, side the, side that is the ISPs. Decide that as, adjectives. Donald, Trump that, side, wants. To actually see a. Greater. Control, over the Internet, not, by you and me but, by ISPs. And authoritarian. Government, and this is not just in this country we know that this is a global, battle right now around who will control, the Internet will it be everyday. People, like myself like, you like, the people sitting at home watching this show or will it be big companies, that's, the issue at hand here it's not about. Two, sides that both want net, neutrality they don't want that neutrality they, want inequality. They want to profit from discrimination. They've been profiting, from discrimination, before we had these rules they'll continue to profit from discrimination, if these rules are repealed, period. So let me bring in this other perspective this is Josh and he is a former, a stream. Gasps he was actually on our last show about the FCC josh says I'm, not sure it matters which way we go with net neutrality because I'm optimistic that regardless, of legislation, technology, entrepreneurship, will, bring us faster, cheaper more open, Internet, another person and Tom I'll direct this to you Jared replied, to his tweet and said I appreciate, those thoughts the fear-mongering on, the left is hard to completely believe and if it does get really bad the law and the policy, can just change it seems like a worthwhile experiment. To try another way is that how you're viewing this that if it's really that bad, it, can change yeah. I'd, say I do agree with those sentiments, broadly, speaking because. Transferring. Oversight. Of broadband providers to the Federal Trade Commission they have both, their antitrust.
Authority You know unfair methods of competition and, also consumer protection authority no unfair deceptive acts or practices so. If a nice P is doing something that's unfair, either to other broad nib riders to consumers, to edge providers the FTC you can bring a case all they have to do is show that there's. Consumer, harm either actual or likely, consumer, harm like the FCC we have this you know notion, of the virtuous cycle and, that broadband providers will interfere with that and when so we need to regulate them to prevent that that, theory. Is you know a theory of likely harm to consumers, anyone, who's sports motorcycle, can take that to the OTC and say hey here's some evidence of likely harm bringing. It bringing case. Let. Me get the Federal Trade Commission is not adequate, and in, fact if you go back just one week Terral, McSweeney who's an FTC. Commissioner, said. In an op-ed that her, own agency does not have the proper tools to, protect the public when it comes to, anti-competitive anti consumer actions. By broadband, providers, I think that's really important this is a sitting, Commissioner, ok the FTC, doesn't not make, rules, okay, Tom can talk all, day long you can talk all day long, what you think antitrust, law can, and cannot do in addition, to any trust, cases, being, long and expensive. You cannot, say with certainty unless. You're a judge that. It, would prevent blocking. It would prevent throttling, it would prevent fast, lanes the, 2015, rules prevent, all those things we have rules, that work why. Do we want to give them to another agency, who lacks expertise, and strong, authority yes the campaign, for, either for or, against. Net neutrality or, little tweaks to it it's been really fierce over the last couple of months let me show you some, of the celebrity. Endorsements. And pushback they've been happening mark ruffalo taking. Away net neutrality is the authoritarian. Dream, and. We just have a look to see what share has been saying let me try a team means Trump can change the internet it will include less, Americans. Not more shouting, in all caps Alyssa, Milano has been very busy lately at time go to tweet funny, thing happened yesterday a gypsy si. Attacked. Me for using my voice to speak out against, his plan to kill net neutrality but, what has I dripped PI the, head of FCC got, to say this is what he told Fox, News on Monday, have listened, hysteria. Has reached a pitch which is completely, disproportionate to, the facts I mean as I said we weren't living in a broken Internet in 2015. All of these harms of these celebrities, and whatnot are right talking about are all hypothetical. We there's no market failure here internet service providers are not and have not blocked content willy-nilly and we're, confident going forward they're given the robust were rules, that we have and the Federal Trade Commission has they, won't going, forward as we know Facebook. We. Need also object pi to be part of this conversation he, declined, bit, busy right now Malika so this is a perspective of course this conversation, is happening in the US but because we're a global, TV. Show this is what we're getting from abroad this is Nigel who says sitting here in Zimbabwe, this show reiterates, just how important, access to information has, become in this digital age which flows into this question we just got on YouTube, teaming says how does this affect the rest of the world do US laws and regulations, stop at their borders Gigi does, the rest of the world should they be paying attention the, rest of the world is paying attention and we.
Have Sir, in the past as a model for the rest of the world and that's one of the reasons that this, decision. To eliminate net neutrality and, consumer. Protections, gives, me so much pause I will say however that India, has, rejected, what we're doing and I'm delighted in fact, they've adopted rules that are even stronger, than what we adopted, in 2015, so I say to the rest of the world follow, India, don't follow us mm-hmm. Did. You what are you expecting to happen, excuse. Me GG malkia. What are you expecting to happen. Well. I expect. When. You say what am I expecting to happen you mean during, the vote yeah, the what, do you think the vote might be gee, do, you feel like I mean it's like you're campaigning, that you then do you, know what the result will be. You. Know my, hope is that over the next day or so that there will be so, much. Resistance. To. This set of to, this, policy. Or the the set of rules that add your eyes putting forward that, he'll wake, up you know that he will wake up here in the wake-up call and rescind. The order, delay. The vote I mean hopefully, he will begin to cooperate with, the New, York you, know attorney's, office, to be, able to investigate, all of the fraud, that we've seen in the in the comment process some. Some, way, in. Some way my home is that I'm the FCC, will. Actually. Collaborate. And cooperate, with, the American, people instead, of undermining, the democracy, we depend on however what. Is most likely to happen is that they will pass they, will rescind the the. 2015. Order and we will take them to court Makia and Tom and gg thank you so much what makyo was referring to a little bit earlier was this public, consultation. Process where, some of the names that have been put, forward a fraud, inant name so that even the public consultation, process has, been not, necessarily that. Accurate. At. All Malika. This, is a last tweet I'll give two Sutter who says this will definitely have, an impact the. Global influence, of the US and of American, online companies, means that repealing net neutrality within, the country's borders. Would pose an existential threat, to net neutrality around, the world of course perhaps except for India, thank. You so much - I guess thank you for joining us online as well and on TV the conversation continues always online at hashtag eight a stream see there. You. You.