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Trump is against net neutrality, and Republicans agree with him

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Net neutrality could be on the chopping block. The principle that any internet service provider must permit access to any content regardless of source, net neutrality may be threatened by president-elect Donald Trump’s new administration. Before the election, Trump called net neutrality a “top-down power grab,” using it as a prime example when he promised to “reform the entire regulatory code” in order to “eliminate our most intrusive regulations.” No one really knows if those words were just campaign talk or if as President Trump will push to dismantle the policy, according to The Washington Post, but the signs point to net neutrality coming to an end.

Odds are that Trump, along with an as-yet-unnamed new FCC head, to replace Tom Wheeler (pictured above) and an approving Republican-controlled Congress, will make net neutrality an early target. The current net neutrality regulations may be altered or reversed or the incoming administration may find ways to work around them. In the minds of some who object to unfettered internet service, net neutrality needs to go solely because any and all federal regulations, especially newer ones, are bad for a free market, constitute overreaching, and are unnecessarily complex. Most arguments against the open internet that net neutrality ensures are based on financial, political, or philosophical objections.

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Without net neutrality, internet service providers (ISPs) could freely control the amount of bandwidth allotted to content providers. Rather than allow consumers free and equal access to all websites, with controlled access Time Warner Cable, Comcast, AT&T, and other ISPs could vary the download speed of specific websites, demand payment from high traffic, high-bandwidth content sites — Hello, Netflix, and free porn, for example — and even block sites. Net neutrality prohibits those restrictive practices.

The FCC’s concern was that network operators would have unfair control of content sites and, by extension, control over what sites consumers could and could not access. Many areas of the country are able to access the internet through only one or two providers, giving those ISPs a monopoly or duopoly over what has become the lifeblood communications medium. The FCC and net neutrality proponents viewed the regulations as anti-competitive. When the FCC passed the net neutrality regulations along with the consumer privacy rules they encompass, there was strong opposition from Republicans.

After last week’s elections, Republicans will control both houses of Congress and will be able to send laws to and receive policy from a Republican White House. Donald Trump is likely to appoint an FCC head with similar negative net neutrality views. Conservatives in Congress are expected to leap at the first chance to get rid of net neutrality. The Washington Post quoted Senator Ted Cruz referring to net neutrality as “Obamacare for the Internet.”

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Congress has until Monday to save net neutrality and keep the internet open
senate overturns fcc net neutrality repeal chuck schumer nancy pelosi

Despite efforts last month by Democrats in the United States Senate to pass legislation to preserve the rules governing an open and free internet, net neutrality may still be coming to an end on Monday. The Senate passed its version of a bill to retain rules that were recently reversed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), thus saving net neutrality, in a 52 to 47 vote, with all Democrats in favor and several Republicans crossing the aisle. However, in order for the House of Representatives to take action, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan must call for a vote on the issue.

"The rules that this resolution would restore were enacted by the FCC in 2015 to prevent broadband providers from blocking, slowing down, prioritizing, or otherwise unfairly discriminating against internet traffic that flows across their networks," Senate Democrats led by Chuck Schumer of New York, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Brian Schatz of Hawaii wrote in a letter to Ryan urging him to call for a vote. "Without these protections, broadband providers can decide what content gets through to consumers at what speeds and could use this power to discriminate against their competitors or other content."

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Net neutrality bomb threat suspect has a history of hoax calls
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A federal grand jury has indicted Tyler Barriss on two counts of making hoax bomb threats, including one that famously delayed the Federal Communications Commission's vote to repeal net neutrality in December, Engadget reports. He called a similar bomb threat into the FBI headquarters later that same month. Barriss was already in police custody, however, charged with manslaughter for orchestrating a "swatting" that resulted in the death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in Wichita, Kansas, also last December.

The December 14 bomb threat to the FCC only temporarily delayed Chairman Ajit Pai's effort to repeal Barack Obama-era regulations for ensuring a fair and open internet. The U.S. Senate recently voted by a narrow margin to overturn the FCC's ruling, but the bill faces an uphill battle through the House of Representatives and a particularly business-friendly White House in order to keep net neutrality alive.

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U.S. Senate votes to overturn FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections
senate overturns fcc net neutrality repeal chuck schumer nancy pelosi

The United States Senate on Wednesday voted in favor of reversing the Federal Communications Commission's recent order to end net neutrality protection in a narrow 52-to-47 victory. In order for bill to pass the Senate, a simple majority was needed, but 50 senators had already declared support for the preservation of net neutrality prior to Wednesday's vote. Senate Democrats used the powers granted to the legislative branch under the Congressional Review Act to potentially overturn regulations created by federal agencies, like the FCC's decision to end requirements for net neutrality.

All 49 Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the bill, along with Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The bill is now headed to the House of Representatives, where Democrats must convince at least 25 Republicans to cross the aisle in a similar simple majority vote. Democrats argue that the net neutrality regulations would create an open internet, as it prevents internet service providers (ISP) from discriminating against certain types of web traffic. Many Republicans consider these requirements burdensome for internet providers, and that competition in an open market will allow industry players to self-govern.

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