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News > Science and Tech

Trump Appointments Point to Net Neutrality's Demise

  • U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 November 2016

A rollback of the landmark 2015 FCC ruling that ensures an open and democratic internet could be on the horizon.

Tech policy experts are shuddering at the latest implications of a Trump presidency in the United States: net neutrality, or the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible to consumers, is likely to be completely scrapped.

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The two men appointed by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump Tuesday to advise him on matters related to the Federal Communications Commission, the nation’s top communications regulator, are right-wing telecom honchos that are vehemently against net neutrality.

Mark Jamison, a University of Florida professor and Visiting Fellow at the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has in the past shot down proposals to increase broadband access to working class communities, saying such plans would be a “waste” of resources.

Jamison’s partner advising Trump on the FCC is right-wing economist Jeffrey Eisenach, who is also affiliated with AEI, where he directs the group’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy. Eisenach has worked with broadband titan Verizon who, along with telecom giants like AT&T, have taken their fight against FCC rules to the courts —a nd have won.

What stands to be demolished under the presidency that has appointed those that champion the small-government, anti-regulatory philosophies of so-called “free market” groups?

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As Motherboard reports, “under such a scenario, the FCC would no longer protect internet openness, promote cable and wireless competition, ensure broadband privacy protections, rein in exploitative prison phone costs, or encourage deployment of internet access around the country, especially in low-income, rural and underserved communities.”

"We think we have very good rules, and we want to defend them," Chris Lewis, vice president at digital-rights group Public Knowledge said, "and if folks want to eliminate these very important consumer protections that are wildly popular across ideological lines, the question is how are they going to protect an open Internet if they eliminate these rules?"

Still, others say the plan to outright scrap not only the FCC’s rules, but the FCC itself, may not be met wholeheartedly by Trump.

“This is a radical conservative agenda that is utterly out of the mainstream,” Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, told Motherboard. “Besides, I’m not sure that Trump will want to dismantle the very regulatory agency that will allow him to browbeat the media.”

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