There’s been a lot happening in recent months and weeks as Congress scrambles to obtain a legislative win before the clock runs out on 2017. Also, as per usual, there has been a lot of movement in the international arena due to President Trump’s inflammatory statements; however, perhaps the most important news was the FCC’s December 14th vote that would decide the fate of net neutrality. To the dismay of many, the FCC decided to pull the plug, for many, on the Internet.
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
The whole argument stems from a 2015 decision that reclassified high-speed internet as a telecommunications service instead of the previous classification of information service. This allowed the FCC to set laws and regulations that help protect “net-neutrality.” Net-neutrality is essentially the idea that on all content is equal on the beloved interwebs, meaning that no content should be given priority over other content. This came under fire when Ajit Pai was appointed the new chairman of the FCC under President Trump. After his appointment, Pai immediately began dismantling several of the FCC’s regulations aimed at increasing competition. For example, he led the vote which repealed restrictions on the consolidation of media companies to prevent mass monopolies, passing this off under the guise of updating the rules to match the new media landscape.
So… No Netflix and Chill?
Chairmain Pai announced his intent to repeal the 2015 rules with the reasoning that they are outdated and stifle competition; however, perhaps the strongest argument to his case is that the rules themselves state that there should not be regulation on the digital landscape. While this may seem like sound reasoning, all it takes is a little research (via my equal Internet access) to realize that these claims hold no validity. While the rules were created in 1934, they have been updated several times including most recently in 1996, showing that the rules are constantly in a review process. In addition, Pai provided no proof that the rules stifled investment on any account, and he also seems to have taken the legislation out of context. Pai’s point about “unfettered” internet regulation is derived from a section in the 2015 rules which stated that the government was not allowed to limit pornography. As a result of taking these protections away, Internet providers can now limit or give priority to any particular service they want. To put it in perspective: that’s the equivalent of the electricity company charging you more for using a certain brand washing machine. While Pai has argued that this is just fear mongering and that it won’t actually happen, he fails to include on minor detail: it already happened, and to our most beloved source of procrastination — Netflix.
Pai also seems to have handled the situation in a very… shady manner, to say the least. The public had the ability to make their opinion on the matter heard via comments; however, the website was designed to be needlessly complicated, preventing the comments from swaying the vote. In addition, many of the comments seemed to made by bots which either supported or opposed Pai’s movements; in fact, many were traced back to several Russian accounts. This prompted several senators to delay the vote, but Pai insisted on holding the vote where he reversed the 2015 rules.
What’s Next for the Net?
Congress could act to override the FCC, which is exactly what 15 senators are currently planning. Unfortunately, all of this could take a long time and Pai doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop his war on the World Wide Web any time soon. We also cannot count on President Trump to step in as his press secretary said on Thursday that they supported the outcome of the decision.
News with a side of HOT…
Israeli troops shoot 4 Palestinians, wound 160
As protests ignite over Trump’s recognition of illegally occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s supposed capital, Israeli troops killed 4 Palestinians today, and wounded 160, which comes after hundreds more shot and injured in the past few days.
Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, recently stated that major opposition parties that called for a boycott of mayoral elections would not be allowed to participate in the 2018 elections. This is yet another action in a long series of moves meant to transition Venezuela into a total dictatorship. Maduro doesn’t even seem to be trying to hide, despite the protests (especially his decision to dissolve the Constituent Assembly). In its place, Maduro instituted a Constituent Assembly conveniently packed with other Maduro supporters. This was only made possible by a vote from the people, which supposedly never happened because the turnout figures were manipulated. Trump has already declared Venezuela would go on his travel ban, so only time will tell what will follow.
Peru and its President
It appears as if 2017 has been a bad year for presidents and democracies worldwide, and Peru is no exception. President Pablo Kuczynski of Peru is being pressured to resign from his position after being elected to a five year term. The issue revolves around corruption allegations that are coming from the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht. According to the company and its president, Mr. Kuczynski was hired as a consultant and paid many illegal “advisory fees.” The opposition party has stated that it will move forward with impeachment proceedings if he does not resign from office.
Japan pledges $2.9 billion for universal healthcare
Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe pledged $2.9 billion dollars to help countries who are seeking to move to a universal healthcare system. “We will give our all to building a global framework to promote UHC, together with Secretary-General Guterres and other world leaders,” Abe said. Universal healthcare is one of the UN’s sustainable development goals that it hopes to achieve by 2030.
EU Says it will Respect International Consensus on Jerusalem
Amid backlash across the world over Trump’s announcement that the US will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, European Union says it will respect the international consensus on the issue. The bloc’s foreign policy chief, Ms. Frederica Mogherini clarified the EU’s position: “We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on the two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”
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These are the arguments against net neutrality and why they’re wrong