About Us:

Reddit, you never cease to amaze. Thank you for participating in this and contributing some great questions. At 4:50 we officially have to say goodbye. If you any question or want to learn more, go to any of the links below and check out their websites. Also, if you are wondering what comes next to a look at this recent post.

After countless petitions, meetings and even redecorating the FCC grounds with cats, the FCC finally voted for strong Net Neutrality rules! We could not be more thrilled but we also know its exciting but confusing, so we want to clear up anything we can.

The organizations in this AMA are:

Public Knowledge https://www.publicknowledge.org/

Free Press - http://www.freepress.net/

Spitfire Strategies - http://www.spitfirestrategies.com/

Fight for the Future - www.fightforthefuture.org

Common Cause - http://www.commoncause.org

Demand Progress -https://demandprogress.org/

We each have our own strengths from grassroots to policy, so go ahead ask us anything!

We Do Exist!: (http://imgur.com/a/Amvai?)

Comments: 1120 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

SilverManGold334 karma

Now that the internet is classified as a public utility, what's to stop the FCC from censoring content they deem inappropriate?

candacejeannec284 karma

Well, the Internet isn't exactly classified as a public utility now. Broadband access services are now classified under Title II of the Communications Act, which some people assume means utility because that's how landline telephone service regulated. But it's the same for cell phone voice service, and we don't really think of those as utilities at all, right?

Anyway, to answer the second part of your question, the move from the FCC yesterday put rules in place that prevent ISPs (Comcast, etc.) from blocking, throttling or engaging in "paid prioritization" (which is where you can pay to have your content delivered more quickly). It doesn't give the FCC any authority to censor content at all.

coral1535 karma

So is that all it does? I think I need an ELI5 on this.

PublicKnowledgeDC99 karma

The parts of Title II that the FCC left with authority over broadband doesn't deal with content. Open Internet/Net Neutrality rules are about keeping an eye on Internet Service Providers, or the folks who give you access to the net, not content. It deals with traffic flow, not traffic decency.

Also, the public utility label is a misconception. Title II deals with services that are not public utilities before this ruling, like mobile voice. That's just a label opponents are using to scare folks.


BostonBruinsSD100 karma

Does this stop the ability of ISPs to enact data caps on people? I would cry if Verizon data caped my internet. I game like all the time.

Also, if this vote failed, could ISPs charge individual users to have their most visited site load faster?

PublicKnowledgeDC134 karma

It does not, but it does create a process at the FCC where this practice can be challenged as unreasonable. Public Knowledge has long encouraged the FCC to actually collect information on these data cap policies because they can be used in a harmful way. A challenge under the new Net Neutrality rules is a possibility, but this is why we needed rules and a cop on the beat. -Chris/PK

PublicKnowledgeDC38 karma

We've been raising concerns about data caps for years, and I can assure you that we are working very hard to make sure they don't become a backdoor way to get around strong net neutrality protections. -weinberg

diorinix93 karma

How is your organization planning for the inevitable law suit the major ISPs are anticipated to file to overturn the FCC reclassification? What can consumers do in the mean time to solidify support to keep the net neutral?

PublicKnowledgeDC90 karma

The first step in planning for the lawsuit was to make sure the rules and order were as bulletproof as possible. A lot of our work over the last year as been to make sure that the way the rules were crafted were as strong as the rules themselves. Assuming the FCC's rules are what they signaled they are (no one has seen them yet), we will start morphing our arguments to FCC into arguments to the DC Circuit. But we won't quite know how to formulate arguments until an ISP actually decides to sue.


PublicKnowledgeDC69 karma

As to what consumers can do, it may sound cliche, but every voice counts. When the inevitable pushback comes from the big ISPs, just stay loud and remind Washington that users are keeping watch and WANT this, and will back them on this.

MystyrNile88 karma

How do you feel that an overexposed cellphone image of some lady's dress is getting as much reddit attention as Net Neutrality?

PublicKnowledgeDC146 karma

Net neutrality got enough attention to get a strong rule passed. As far as I'm concerned, after that the internet can debate whatever it wants.


PublicKnowledgeDC77 karma


PublicKnowledgeDC23 karma

Isn't that part of what makes the internet great? Policy all the time is boring!

You know what else is fun online today? #VictoryDance https://vine.co/v/O255VDQhBed

PublicKnowledgeDC23 karma

??? I saw it as a long shirt. MINDBLOWN


bristleboar58 karma

What is a good response to idiots referring to Net Neutrality as "ObamaNet"? (aside from flipping them the bird)

PublicKnowledgeDC72 karma

PK's Harold Feld had a good response to this: https://www.publicknowledge.org/press-release/public-knowledge-condemns-fcc-commissioner-pais-elitist-insult-to-american-

The plain facts speak for themselves. More than 4 million Americans pushed Chairman Wheeler to reconsider his first proposal in May. Tech startups and small businesses have filed in droves insisting that reclassifying broadband as Title II and adopting strong net neutrality rules is key to their ability to continue to create new jobs and new technologies. Civil rights organizations and consumer organizations have emphasized the critical importance of reclassifying broadband and adopting strong net neutrality rules to civic engagement and economic opportunity. Polls show that Democrats and Republicans alike support strong net neutrality rules.

Additionally, every President in the last 30 years has weighed in publicly with the FCC on issues of national importance. President Obama has not violated the independence of the FCC by making his support for strong net neutrality rules under Title II public.

It is insulting to the American people, who have participated in the net neutrality debate in unprecedented numbers and spoken with unmistakable clarity across the political spectrum, to call Chairman Wheeler’s proposal “Obama’s Plan.” It's not "Obama's plan," it’s the plan of 4 million Americans.


IAm_Alive45 karma

In layman's terms, what did this ruling accomplish?

PublicKnowledgeDC91 karma

It merely restored the ability of the FCC to ensure that the internet continues to operate the way users have come to expect - you have a connection, you are able to access what you want at the same speed without interference from the broadband carriers that you pay to connect you.

This was the de facto status of the internet until a court ruling in 2010. Comcast was blocking access to certain sites, and when the FCC told them not to, they said "you can't tell us what to do" - and a court decided that was true. That opened the door, legally, for Comcast to do whatever they wanted to whichever sites they wanted, whether for $$$ reasons or just on a whim.

So the last 5 years have been a hard scramble to reestablish that authority to the FCC - not the govt taking control, but merely a cop on the beat so that if they see providers bullying or playing favorites, they can step in and remind them they have to play fair.

xmclark18 karma

In general, are you and fellow net neutrality advocates, satisfied with the rules put in place by FCC? And to add to that question, are there any parts of the new rules which you are dissatisfied with?

PublicKnowledgeDC20 karma

we are satisfied with the rules as they have been described publicly by the FCC. They have given us every indication that these are robust rules based on strong authority. That being said, the details really matter and we won't be able to see the details until the FCC releases the full text of the order.

That probably won't happen for a few weeks. The dissenting votes need to get in their written dissents, and then the FCC needs to formally respond to them.

zooropeanx14 karma

Since the FCC's ruling maintains the open Internet what do you feel will be done to help expand competition/access to affordable High Speed Internet? Would unbundling be an option?

PublicKnowledgeDC26 karma

Overlooked yesterday was a second FCC ruling that expands access, the Community Broadband ruling. This was where the FCC approved petitions from local officials in Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC to overturn state restrictions the local government building high speed networks. This is huge for access! The incumbent private companies were not building out. When this happens, its great to see local governments create economic development projects (sometimes public-private partnerships with ISPs) to make sure their citizens have access to high speed broadband.

Hope we see more local governments take charge and help their citizens!


suaveitguy13 karma

What's the worst case scenario for this now? Can defeat be snatched from the jaws of victory? Next week, next year, in ten years?

PublicKnowledgeDC20 karma

Public Knowledge has a blog post up (https://www.publicknowledge.org/news-blog/blogs/what-happens-now-with-net-neutrality) that talks about the different ways net neutrality opponents will challenge these rules.

The silver lining is that nothing happens without a public process in Congress (in the near future) or at the FCC (if there was ever an FCC opposed to net neutrality). This means the public can rise up to oppose repealing the rules at every turn.

If we learn anything from this last year is, the people's voices matter in policy debates when we speak up in VOLUME!


Gilgamesh7912 karma

What legal safeguards are in place to prevent the FCC from interfering in peering arrangements?

If there are no such prohibitions, why will the transfer of bandwidth costs from BigContent to BigTelco not result in either higher fees for consumers or lower capital expenditure on network capacity by telcos?

PublicKnowledgeDC12 karma

The FCC has announced that, if someone brings a complaint, they will examine an interconnection agreement under a "just and reasonable" standard. This is a standard that has decades of case law behind it, much of which designed to prevent FCC overreach.

It is important for the FCC to be able to step in precisely to avoid situations where the ISPs can use their gatekeeper roles shake down all content creators.


Gilgamesh799 karma

With respect to interconnect/peering: If the content creators aren't willing to shoulder the cost of their content's burden on the network beyond the last mile, what then, other than direct price controls, does the FCC have in its arsenal to prevent telcos from simply passing the cost of carrying that content from the creator to the telco customer? And wouldn't the result be a forced subsidization of that content creator by telco consumers who may not even consume that particular content?

Thank you for answering.

PublicKnowledgeDC8 karma

ISP subscribers shoulder the cost of everything they access via the internet through monthly fees. If a subscriber wants to access lots of data intensive content (like HD video) they pay more than a subscriber who only wants to access email by purchasing a faster (and more expensive) connection. -weinberg

Intillex8 karma

Over the past year or so my ISP has started enacting data caps, and subsequently making them lower and lower (we're now at 250gigs for a 50Mb connection). Do these rules and reclassification stand any chance of undoing this, and if any further action is required on my part, how should I go about it?

I'm signed up with FFTF and Demand Progress, and call/email every time I got an email from you, I'm glad to see it paid off.

PublicKnowledgeDC12 karma

These rules may give you the opportunity to challenge the caps as unreasonable. If you don't mind me asking, what is your ISP? You can hit 250gb pretty fast on a 50mbps connection. -weinberg

PublicKnowledgeDC6 karma

The FCC ruling does not stop data caps, but it does create a process at the FCC where this practice can be challenged as unreasonable. Public Knowledge has long encouraged the FCC to actually collect information on these data cap policies because they can be used in a harmful way. A challenge under the new Net Neutrality rules is a possibility, but this is why we needed rules and a cop on the beat.

Thank you for all your calls!!! We would not have won yesterday without people like you. Congress and the FCC were overwhelmed, and it turned many skeptical politicians into believers. -Chris/PK

PublicKnowledgeDC6 karma

Truly the calls mean so much! While not everyone on congress was onboard with Net Neutrality, many Senators and Representatives got right into the middle of the fight making a huge difference.

The next step in this fight that will be crucial is taking a moment to thank those that you called. Not only is this appreciated, but it also builds goodwill for future asks.

marvin_sirius8 karma

What do you say to people who are in favor of Net Neutrality but worry that expanding the FCC's authority could have unintended consequences in the long run?

PublicKnowledgeDC16 karma

You're citing an EFF article from 2011. You missed that EFF now supports this ruling. Check out: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/11/white-house-gets-it-net-neutrality-will-fcc-0


trwest776 karma

What do you think about the five potential loopholes that Barbara van Schewick has outlined as potential problems with the FCC's net neutrality proposal?

I'm particularly concerned about how to monitor Internet carriers for violations and whether network management will be used as a way to get around the rules.

Also, there's not a lot of discussion about the municipal fiber law preemption issue. How big do you think that vote was and do you think it will help develop competition in the Internet provider market?

PublicKnowledgeDC6 karma

Barbara's concerns are real, and we (and she) will be working hard to make sure they don't become real problem. The enhancements to the transparency rules should make it easier to monitor for violations, and to see if what is claimed to be "reasonable network management" is actually related to network engineering concerns or financial concerns.

The muni fiber vote was huge. At any other FCC meeting that would have been massive news. Regardless of its impact on competition, it allows communities ignored by big ISPs to just build their own connections to the internet.


Frajer6 karma

is there any precedent for net neutrality ?

PublicKnowledgeDC19 karma

The concepts behind net neutrality can actually be traced back to roman law. The core idea that some types of private infrastructure (think bridges, ferries, rail roads, telephone networks) are so important that they have to treat everyone equally has gotten us far.


Muchacho805 karma

Does Net Neutrality mean I get MORE cat videos? I like cat videos...

PublicKnowledgeDC9 karma

YAAAS! Because this will promote more competition and allow an equal playing field making it so Grumpy Cat can't cut a deal with ISP to be a priority and be your only options for cats!

ifthisthanwhat4 karma

Are there examples of ISPs discriminating against websites since we lost net neutrality in January 2014?

PublicKnowledgeDC8 karma

ISPs have been on pretty good behavior during this process in order to undercut claims that the rules are necessary. But many of the data caps moves that wireless carriers have made raise concerns. -weinberg

ArduinoPatridge3 karma

Why did this happen now? The NN true believers have always been skulking around, but how did this all of a sudden come to pass?

It's entirely too convenient that these sweeping changes are occurring right at the same time the giant content delivery corporations are rising to prominence.

PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

This was also summed up well in these words from our SVP Harold Feld "It did not happen because some powerful person or special interest wanted it. It did not happen because John Oliver made a funny video. It happened because hundreds of lawyers, grassroots organizers, and policy advocates persuaded over 4 million people to stand up for their rights and demand that the government act to protect them from the unrestrained corporate power of broadband access providers. It shows — to everyone’s surprise — that government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth." https://www.publicknowledge.org/news-blog/blogs/the-fcc-is-gonna-give-me-an-open-internet-for-my-birthday-tell-congress-not

PublicKnowledgeDC3 karma

I wouldn't be so cynical. This was a big, big win for everyday users. It was a serendipitous and hard-won confluence of the right grassroots/consumer voices and public interest groups (like those you see here!) pushing, the (ACCURATE!) arguments by legal eagles, broad and diverse business support from companies large and small, and the right people in the right decision-making positions listening to those accurate arguments, deliberating on and ultimately arriving at the best course of action - and the one most likely to withstand any challenges.

As to the "giant content delivery corporations", the whole point of net neutrality is that any content delivery, large or small, will establish itself and survive in the internet ecosystem based on its merits rather than the depth of its pockets - user preference and ongoing satisfaction acts as the "upvote" for success and promotes a healthy competitive environment.


ArduinoPatridge2 karma

Yes, federal regulation usually works out great for small companies.

PublicKnowledgeDC3 karma

The rules don't apply to content companies - they just apply to the transmission of the content. It gives the FCC to protect small content companies, not regulate them.

Muchacho803 karma

But Seriously... Couldn't a "Pay-to-Play Internet" spin off from the "Neutral Internet"... just like free roads vs. toll roads... where premium content (Netflix as an example and "premium" subject to interpretation) can only be found on the "Pay-to-Play Internet"?

PublicKnowledgeDC6 karma

any ISP that is selling access to "the internet" will operate under these net neutrality rules. But yes, if someone came along and built a nationwide network dedicated only to netflix they would not necessarily be subject to this rule. The main thing preventing that is probably that the best way to recover costs for a network is to offer access to as many things as possible. -weinberg

Universu3 karma

It is good news to have the "Bright Line Rules" but how do we get protected further from the "dark lines"?

PublicKnowledgeDC3 karma

Neutrogena? -Chris/PK

PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

You must resist the "dark lines" - PK/Brynne

waitwaitiknow3 karma

While we wait to see the rules and then lawsuits stuck on the bench - so to speak - are we protected under any rules or is it the wild west? Are the current rules rendered null and void by this vote? I heard people say in testimonies that we were living with out rules and we have been fine. Is that true?

PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

"Net neutrality" was the de facto "wild west" atmosphere as the internet grew up. In fact, it wasn't until 2005 that internet service was taken fully out of the "Title II" zone. To compensate, the FCC wrote what was called the "Internet Policy Statement" which attempted to preserve the critical net neutrality protections of nondiscrimination, non blocking, transparency, etc.

Those were kind of assumed by everyone involved - ISPs included - to be the authority for maintaining NN for a while, through a number of conflicts. Then one day, when Comcast was accused of blocking Bittorrent, they decided to sue the FCC saying that the FCC couldn't tell them what to do because the "statement" wasn't a strong enough authority. The court agreed with Comcast and so in 2010, the FCC began to scramble to write real rules to restore the authority to enforce principles everyone had already assumed were in place.

The initial rule-making they came up with attempted to compromise what the ISPs wanted with what consumer groups wanted by invoking the weaker Title I/706 authority. And so the rules of nondiscrimination and nonblocking and transparency were again in place for another four years - until the court essentially said "nice try, but legally, what you really need to do is use Title II for the best rules." And so... At long last that is what the FCC has decided to do.

But, all that is to say, there has been a grand total of maybe several months where there were "no rules" in place over the past 20-some years. It is just the other side deliberately misrepresenting the (obviously) complicated legal history.

FOR MORE FUN!!! http://whatisnetneutrality.org/timeline


PublicKnowledgeDC3 karma

technically the wild west. These rules were necessary because the previous rules passed in 2010 were struck down by the DC Circuit Court (with the exception of some transparency rules which remain in force). Since that decision in early 2014 there have been no net neutrality rules in force. However, it is probably reasonable to think that the ISPs are aware of this proceeding, and it is unlikely that they would go out of their way to do something that will be easily challenged once they become final. The reason we have been (mostly) fine for the past 10 years is that we have been living under a combination of rules and periods of time where the FCC was seriously considering imposing rules. For the times were rules were not technically in place, the fact that they were being seriously considered acted to keep ISPs somewhat in line. -weinberg -weinberg

waitwaitiknow3 karma

How have ISPs responded to this? I know they don't want it because they can make money of a unbalanced internet, but has every ISP been as snarky as Verizon? How would you respond to verizon's letter

PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

Every company will have a different corporate culture and different responses. Some will be more careful than others, and many have said they are evaluating their options. Verizon has tended over the years to be one of the more outspoken immediately - they were the ISP that jumped to sue the Commission over the 2010 rules - which they likely now regret winning. -Kate/PK

ByteCipher3 karma

Does it bother you that the awesome news you bring were overshadowed by the media frenzy around the dress? The timing was bad luck.

PublicKnowledgeDC5 karma

No! While it's not the greatest use of the internet that dress and it's spread to millions of people shows the power of the internet. If we did have a two tiered internet, either the dress would never have been seen or a richer designer dress would have arrived on your news feed first.

But seriously, what was more bothering is the fact that some people saw it as gold and white! PK/Brynne

PublicKnowledgeDC2 karma

It was actually the llama drama that really got our... wait for it... GOAT.

Seriously though, we just save the internets. It's up to you guys to decide what gets the attention. GO FORTH AND UPVOTE.


eis_baer3 karma

Does Title II impose the ISPs to respect customer privacy? For instance AT&T has a broadband service in certain cities which has an additional monthly fee to not monitor your internet activity.

PublicKnowledgeDC9 karma

potentially yes. Title II has broad privacy protections built in. We won't quite know how those protections apply (and how they might apply to the AT&T privacy fee) until we see the text of the order. -weinberg

drewstapes2 karma

Obama won't be in office forever. What happens if the Republicans win in 2016 and they hold the 3-2 edge in the FCC? Can they undo everything?

PublicKnowledgeDC6 karma

Theoretically, yes, but the outpouring of support for Net Neutrality has even GOP members of Congress trying to figure out how to create rules on their own terms.

Politicians know people want net neutrality rules. The people have to continue to speak loudly so that any legislation matches what the FCC just did. Or they must speak loudly in any FCC effort to turn back from these rules.

Check out the comments from AT&T... They are counting on people walking away from this issue...


PublicKnowledgeDC2 karma

In theory, they COULD. But there are is a lot of process involved that the FCC has to undertake before they can reverse a decision. There needs to be a robust record of the reason that the Commission is changing it's mind. This was in fact a reversal of a decision made in 05 - The nice thing about agency rule-makings is that there is a transparent process, with notice, that anyone can weigh in on. In short, it takes about as much work to reverse this as the actual Commission as it has taken to get here.

Universu2 karma

How will NetNeutrality affect the future of OneWeb and the SpaceXGoogle space internet?

PublicKnowledgeDC4 karma

to the extent that either will qualify as US broadband access service providers (and I'm not sure either one would), they would be prevented from discriminating just like any other ISP. However, this is where that "reasonable network management" stuff becomes important. It could be that these services could impose restrictions on users that other ISPs could not, if those restrictions were really tied to technological limitations of their network.


5ol2 karma

Why do net neutrality activists want all "zero-rating" to be prohibited? After all, consumers can benefit from that. I can understand wanting it banned if one company gains unfair advantage through anti-competitive means. However, we don't ban all instances of a company giving away a service for free (we don't ban Facebook, for instance).

Wikipedia Zero, to take a popular example, does not pay any money to cellular service providers to allow their customers to access Wikipedia for free. How is this a bad thing? And if the answer is going to be "This prevents future competitors unfairly", then Encyclopaedia Britannica could have used that exact excuse to prevent Wikipedia from following a zero-payment/free model: it unfairly prejudices users against a paid product like EB.

Further, what is wrong if a telco like iiNet in Australia provides zero-rated access to content that is colocated in place as them (thus decreasing their cost of delivery, as they don't have to pay transit costs)? As long as such colocation is not exclusive, any company that wishes to provide cheaper access to its content can do so. Why is this a bad idea? And how would you distinguish this situation from, say, a company spending money on a CDN?

PublicKnowledgeDC3 karma

Zero Rating creates the problem of scarcity. The problem with zero-rating is that in inherently allows and even requires providers to discriminate. Here is a great article on the potential harms a policy like this could create.

brandorambo2 karma

How long do you expect the internet to remain safe? Will the work be ongoing to ensure the judgement stands?

PublicKnowledgeDC2 karma

In short, yes. This progress has been a long time in the making, and we aren't going anywhere. -Kate/PK https://imgflip.com/i/i81mh

threerocks2 karma

How do you know that happened yesterday when the FCC is refusing to let people see what they passed?

PublicKnowledgeDC1 karma

Because we watched them vote live and in person. Check it out on www.fcc.gov/live

narwhals_ftw1 karma

When do the new rules take effect and what action should I take if I believe my ISP is not abiding by them?

PublicKnowledgeDC2 karma

While this is a HUGE win there are still more battles to fight. The best articulation of this in an article by Brian Fung that the Washington Post released today

As far as filing a complaint, once the rules are enacted you can make a direct claim through the FCC and their new Consumer Complaint site. Also, if you do file a complaint, let us at Public Knowledge know, we would love to hear how it turns out!