Politics Technology

Taking A Jeb! At Net Neutrality

Gage Skidmore, Wonderlane, flickr
Written by Ethan M. Long

Demand Progress is launching a campaign to tell presidential candidates that Net Neutrality is an important issue that Americans support. In September, the Washington Post reported that Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb! Bush would repeal, among other regulations, net neutrality.

In 2014, a poll of voters in the United States revealed that 81 percent oppose companies such as Comcast and Verizon charging businesses and individuals more for their websites to load faster.

In an e-mail sent out on Monday, Demand Progress called for donations to help their campaign.

“And if we can raise $30,000 this week, we’ll kick it off by flying an airplane over Jeb Bush’s campaign events with a banner saying: “GOP voters back Net Neutrality. Why don’t you?,” the e-mail said.

A free and open Internet for all an ideal advocated by many since before the dawn of the 21st Century. Earlier this year, the FCC, with input from the public, decided that Internet providers offer a telecommunications service. The service that ISPs provide is now classified as a utility, therefore putting them under the same regulations as telephone services. This means that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must provide the same speeds among all websites, instead of being able to slow the download speeds of websites if they don’t pay an additional fee.

“The idea of regulating access to the Internet with a 1934 law is one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard,” Bush said during during a Q&A from Iowa voters in March.

The law that Bush was talking about was the Communications Act of 1934, which regulates telephone communications under the FCC in order to, as it states, provide “to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.” The Telecommunications Act of 1996 amended this by adding in that the FCC should, “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans.”

However, “advanced” had yet to mean the Internet, which was still in its early stages among public use. In 2002, the FCC took a vote that classified cable modems provided by ISPs as “information service,” instead of a telecommunications service.

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The FCC determined that cable modem service is not a “cable service” as defined by the Communications Act. The FCC also said that cable modem service does not contain a separate “telecommunications service” offering and therefore is not subject to common carrier regulation,” read a press release from the FCC.

In 2011, the FCC adopted new rules that defended an open Internet, with rules in place as a trial to see how companies and users would play.

This year, the FCC made their decision based on this period. They also took into account public opinion, such as that 2014 poll, and comments.

“Consistent with that experience and the record built in this proceeding, today we adopt carefully-tailored rules that would prevent specific practices we know are harmful to Internet openness — blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization — as well as a strong standard of conduct designed to prevent the deployment of new practices that would harm Internet openness,” said the FCC in the Open Internet Order, adopted on February 26 of this year.

The order finally classified the Internet as a utility under the Telecommunications Act. Broadband, wireless, and mobile data on smartphones and tablets, are now all covered under the classification.

“The open Internet drives the American economy and serves, every day, as a critical tool for America’s citizens to conduct commerce, communicate, educate, entertain, and engage in the world around them. The benefits of an open Internet are undisputed. But it must remain open: open for commerce, innovation, and speech; open for consumers and for the innovation created by applications developers and content companies; and open for expansion and investment by America’s broadband providers,” the FCC’s order said.

So, why is Jeb! against net neutrality? It seems like an afterthought to his campaign — looking at the regulatory reform on his website, the only mention is at the very bottom. There’s no information to go along with it.

It is regulated because it is a utility that connects people across the country to their jobs, their family, their banks, and their shopping experiences. If the corporations had their way, it would be self-regulated and on their terms.

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Other Republican candidates also seem to be confused when it comes to Net Neutrality. Donald Trump tweeted that about how “Obama’s attack on the Internet is another top down power grab,” while Ben Carson said that “we need to be exploring ways to allow people to do what they want to do. They’ve been doing it for years, so why should we now impose a layer of government control?”

Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for President, has supported Net Neutrality, saying that it helps “ensure that the Internet remains a space for the open exchange of ideas and information, free of discrimination and corporate control.”

Jeb!, however, continues to think it’s just another regulation based on an outdated law. He’s currently running for President of the United States of America, in the year 2015. Get with the times, Mr. Bush.

Source: Washington Post

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Ethan M. Long

Ethan Long is a journalist based out of Boston, MA.

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Taking A Jeb! At Net Neutrality

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