FCC Blasted For “Shameful” Ruling Against Cities And Fire Department

from ars technica

The Federal Communications Commission is in another dispute with the fire department that fought for net neutrality rules after being throttled by Verizon during a wildfire response.

The Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, along with the cities of Los Angeles and New York, last week asked the FCC to extend a deadline for filing comments on the last remaining piece of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal. Pai had to seek another round of public comments on the net neutrality repeal and related deregulation of the broadband industry because federal judges who upheld the overall repeal ruled that Pai “failed to examine the implications of its decisions for public safety.”

More here.

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  1. Net neutrality affects more than just your home internet speeds, and although I would consider that a crime against humanity when I can’t play Call of Duty, it becomes an actually serious issue when people lives are at risk. During the 2018 California forest fires, the Santa Clara fire department who pay for unlimited data from Verizon, claimed their internet was throttled during the fires and inhibiting coordination efforts. This sparked a big controversy about the recent repeal of net neutrality laws, which the fire department claimed were the main reason why companies are still allowed to behave this way, being pseudo-monopolies, they can control many aspects of the market and can get away with throttling network speeds. In most countries, companies are prohibited from this type of behaviour. But because regulation in the telecommunications market in America is so weak, there is nothing to prevent the formation and operation of these all-encompassing companies. FCC chairman Ajit Pai claims that by deregulating the market it will incentivize investors and stimulate growth in the market, but many criticize his decisions. I do believe that specific government regulation can fix the issue with ISPs, as in South Korea, where the legislation surrounding ISPs is centered around increasing competition and fighting monopolization. Broadband companies also should not have the same control over their network speeds as with emergency services as compared to customers. In no way is it ethical to throttle network speeds during an emergency, especially when peoples lives are at risk. Many accused Verizon for risking harm to public safety, claiming what they did was criminal considering the circumstances. Verizon claims after this many allegations that this was simply a customer service mistake, and that they normally lift restrictions on emergency services when needed and when requested. It still raises concerns over the power that these companies have gained, even with efforts to dismantle them in the past they have managed to reform and take a hold of the market again. It begs the question as to when the government plans to finally start regulating this market. Stagnation has been occurring in that industry for decades, and it seems only regulation can fix the issues.

  2. The issue of Net Neutrality was one of the first times that I had witnessed so many people come together, regardless of their political party, and advocate against the actions of the government. The younger generations even got involved because we are the most active in using the internet and I found it really interesting to see how so many people became involved in a common cause. While some of the outrage was silly, like attacking Ajit Pai based on his looks or the way he talks, a lot of people were making really good arguments are were able to make valid points that got a lot of people involved. Despite all of this, these efforts ultimately did not succeed, and Net Neutrality was repealed. This article felt a little bit like an “I told you so” situation in which people could have predicted that this would have some serious implications. The issues pointed out in this article is that it put the safety of the public at risk when the fire department says that their internet was throttled while fighting a fire and it created an issue while they were trying to coordinate their response. This makes this repeal look very bad as I think most people will collectively agree that they were trying to help people and this throttling put people’s lives at risk. To make themselves look even worse, the FCC refused to grant more time to file comments, despite people urging them to do so because of the pandemic that the entire world is facing. They are painting a picture of themselves as being ignorant to people’s wishes, insensitive to the crisis that the country is facing, and in the words of Anna Eshoo, overall “shameful, offensive, and dangerous”. Those asking for extensions are those on the front lines who are devoting all of their time to helping other people in need and the FCC’s lack of empathy is only going to fuel the anger and resentment that people are feeling towards this agency.

  3. The FCC or Federal Communication Commission has become involved in a dispute with the fire department. The fire department was claiming that they were fighting for net neutrality after being throttled by Verizon during a wildlife response. The fire department was claiming that they could meet the FFC standards because of the COVID-19 pandemic. US Representative Anna Eshoo said,” Santa Clara County firefighters paid a steep price when Verizon throttled their data speeds as they fought the worst fire in California’s history, and the County was helpless to resolve the issue”. It seems that the fire department is requesting a normal extension during these trying times. March 30th was the normal comment deadline for the FCC, Although on March 25th, the Federal Communications Commission announced it would be extending the deadline to April 20th. Even though the petitioners asked for a 30-day extension, the Federal Communication Commission gave them twenty-one days. It seems that the FCC should recognize the pandemic and give them the allotted time that they need.

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