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FCC Republican claims municipal broadband is a threat to first change




  FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly speaks at an FCC meeting.
Enlarge / FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly speaks at a FCC meeting in Washington, DC on November 16, 2017.

Getty Images | Bloomberg

A Federal Communications Commission reporter argued that municipal broadband networks constituted a unique threat to first freedom of rights but gave no convincing evidence to claim his claim.

FCC Commissioner Michael Rielly demanded a speech last week at the Media Institute's "Free Speech America" ​​event. (The motherboard wrote about Rielly's speech yesterday and the FCC posted a transcript.)

Rielly said that broadband providers run by local authorities "have engaged in significant First Amendment mischief." However, Rielly's only evidence to support his claims was the network's acceptable usage policies, which contain boilerplate languages ​​similar to the policies used by private ISPs, such as Comcast and AT & T.

"Back to FCC I would like to mention if my address excluded a discussion about a lesser-known, but especially malicious, threat to the first change in the age of the Internet: state-owned and broadband networks, "said Rielly.

Having criticized The Obama era FCC to try to promote municipal-powered networks continued Rielly:

In addition to creating competitive distortions and misdirectioning scarce resources that should go to bring broadband to the truly unattended areas, municipal broadband networks have engaged in significant First Amendment mischief. As Professor Enrique Armijo of Elon University's School of Law has shown in his research, municipalities like Chattano Anda, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina, have been known for their use of voice tags in relation to state-owned networks, prohibiting users from transmitting content that falls into amorphous categories as "hateful" or "threatening". These content-based constraints, which involve protected categories of speech, will never pass patterns under strict control. In addition to using the computation network in case of waiver of the user's First Amendment rights, these terms are practically impossible to interpret objectively, and are basically until the inclination of a bureaucrat's discretion. How scary.

Comcast and AT & T impose similar terms

The research & Rielly pointed out is in a few white papers released in 201[ads1]5 by the Free State Foundation, a conservative think tank whose political positions generally reflect the broadband industry lobby groups.

As a Riellys speech, the Free State Foundation did not point to any special events by local ISPs that censor the user's speech. Instead, the foundation focuses only on the acceptable use policies for municipal networks in Chattanooga and Wilson, the two cities that were at the center of Obama's era FCC's defaulted state laws that limit the growth of municipal broadband networks.

"The terms of these" acceptable user policies "are predetermined abbreviations in black letters," said the Free State Foundation. "If I send a message on a municipal broadband network, this will again, at its sole discretion by the government's network operator, break with one of these overbrown, content-based terms, my message will not be sent, and my service will be terminated. "

But this theoretical threat is also concerned with private ISPs, such as Comcast, whose acceptable use policy closes" posting, storing, transferring or disseminating information, data or material that is injurious, indecent, illegal, threatening or defamatory. "[19659005AT&TendererAbout"Outbreaks"and"ProbableEuropeanChristmas"municipalbroadbandnetworksthatenforceacceptableusagepoliciesthattarget"amorphouscategoriessuchas"hateful"or"threatening"HoweverRiellydidnotobjecttoComcastandAT&Tenforcesacceptableusepolicieswiththesameterms

"No story" of municipal ISP censorship

"There is no history of municipal networks censoring alliance speech," municipal broadband expert Christopher Mitchell, director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Broadband Networks Initiative , told motherboards. Mitchell said that the municipal broadband terms were generally equal to or better than professional ISPs in terms of professional subscribers and that "local ISPs have listened to public feelings far beyond any major cable or telephone companies." [19659005] Obligatory FCC of course prohibited ISPs, including local ISPs, from blocking legal content by enforcing network neutrality rules. Rielly and the rest of the FCC Republican majority eliminated these rules after Donald Trump became president. In fact, FCC leader Ajit Pai precisely justified the neutrality elimination in part by saying that the rules were too tough for municipal ISPs.

When FCC abolished network neutrality rules applicable to both private and public networks, Rielly stated no concern that removal of anti-blocking rule would lead to freedom violation.

Net neutral rules were based on "baseless fear reduction," Rielly said at that time. People "have been told that freedom of expression and civil rights are on the line," Rielly said. "It's simply not true – and we know it from experience."

"I honestly doubt that legitimate businesses are willing to submit a PR nightmare to attempt to engage in blockage, strike or wrong discrimination." O & # 39; Rielly also said that. "It's simply not worth reputation and potential loss of business."

Towns enter when private ISPs fail residents.

Cities and cities usually build only their own broadband network when private ISPs do not provide modern service reasonably priced to their residents. Therefore, Chattanooga began to build its fiber network in 2008. Comcast responded by sucking the local tool, but lost the case and eventually began upgrading its service so that it could compete against the municipal option.

The abolition of anti-blocking rules by FCC has helped increase the interest of the municipal broadband. Fort Collins, Colorado and San Francisco, California, have both made net neutrality a key part of broadband plans (although the San Francisco project appears to be staging).

As we previously reported, research on municipal broadband networks generally offers cheaper entry-level pricing than private ISPs, and the well-known networks also make it easier for customers to find out the real price of the service. It is no wonder that private ISPs continue to fight local networks, which has lured customers away by offering better service at lower prices.



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