Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Federal Favors Commission

During the Obama era, some parts of the Internet were more equal than others:
Details of the highly friendly support were first described by then-The Washington Post’s Nancy Scola, who referred to it as an “unusual collaboration” in an in-depth report on the FCC’s filing system. Those details became significantly more incriminating after Mike Wendy, director of the market-oriented nonprofit MediaFreedom, recently received once-classified pieces of electronic communications years after he filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Wendy alleges that, along with other conservative organizations, they were not given the same effortful and enthusiastic treatment their liberal counterparts received.

The FCC hosted a period in 2014 where anyone could submit feedback on so-called net neutrality, a nebulous term loosely defined as the principle that internet service providers have no right to discriminate against certain forms of traffic (like spam), nor to offer faster speeds to higher-paying customers. For supporters (usually liberal), it means all traffic receives equal treatment. For critics (usually conservative), net neutrality is a government takeover that prevents companies from investing in faster infrastructure. The FCC at the time invited people to publish their thoughts about net neutrality on the public filing system in an attempt to have the rule-making process for internet regulation as democratic as possible. But how democratic and equal that process was can now be called into question.
Shouldn't neutrality mean neutrality?

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