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  1. This affects home and Cell Internet services. If you don't use the Internet at all, you can stop here. If you do, you might want to understand the issue exactly. Yesterday I was about to post about the changes to Net Neutrality rules that the FCC new chairman was about to make when I got sidetracked. Turned out for the best because David Gerwitz, one of my favorite tech writers because he goes in depth and then translates it into terms we can understand, went from pro the FCC changes to horrified, once he got into the real details. I had to deal with several different CFRs or Codes of Federal Regulations. These are an inch to several inches thick, and are an exercise in reading comprehension of difficult passages written by folks who weren't concerned with clarity. Gerwitz changed 180 degrees from yesterday when he said they were benign. It turns out they are misleading, and definitely not benign. This is not politics although everyone will try who are polarized and that is a shame because anyone who uses the Internet, or has a website for profit like this Escapees website, has a stake in these proceedings. So let's keep the politics out of this and actually read what is proposed with this non partisan guide, Mr. Gerwitz. Excerpt: " Upon finding updated but disturbingly unofficial source documents, David Gewirtz recants his earlier statement that the FCC changes are benign. The FCC's intentions may be out there, but they were not published according to its own guidelines for rulemaking review. But nothing is as simple as the hype would make you believe. For the past week, I've been trying to get a handle on exactly what Chairman Pai is proposing, what that proposal would mean, and what would change. To that end, I've skipped past all the blog posts, all the well-meaning tech explainers, and all the forceful, yet sincere videos. I've gone straight to the source. I've been reading the law. The actual Code of Federal Regulations, and the actual documents that describe the changes proposed by the FCC. As it turns out, I was reading the official documents (more on that below). There is another document that's self-describes in the footnotes as "does not constitute any official action by the Commission" that indicates that Ajit Pai now intends to brutally transform and remove internet freedoms. I'll show you that the document was not where it was supposed to be for public discussion, and I'll show you my conclusions. To say I'm not thrilled is an understatement. Oh, and before I get into this, I have a request: Please no hate mail or death threats this time. I love the internet and our freedoms as much as any of you. I'm describing the result of a long, careful analysis. I'd really rather not see nastiness in my inbox and feeds before coffee tomorrow morning. Think of me as a guide and explorer, not a partisan. As you can see by the existence of both the update to my original article and this one, I go where the facts take me, even if that's someplace completely different than my original analysis drew me to. You all know I have very little regard for either political party or their games. Thanks. Now, let's get started. Snip None of this is particularly helpful for an intelligent discussion of a nuanced issue, but it is business-as-usual for politicians. In this article, I'm going to drill past the hype and political grandstanding to the actual nuts and bolts of the proposal. Unfortunately, the way they were communicated -- and the way the opposition is also communicating -- seems designed to foster disagreement, rather than constructive problem solving. What is net neutrality? Net neutrality is more concept than rubric. The general idea, well-described by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is: "Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services." This is messy. There have been some attempts to clarify the key components, and, in fact, if you dig through the FCC documents I'll present to you in this analysis, you'll find there are three main concepts: No blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. No blocking The idea of no blocking means that, for example, an ISP can't decide that you're not allowed to see certain websites just because they compete. Verizon, for example, owns Oath, the bizarre new name for their acquisition of AOL and Yahoo. AOL owns, among other internet properties, MapQuest. The no-blocking idea means that Verizon shouldn't be allowed to block, for example, Google Maps, just because it owns MapQuest and wants to boost MapQuest's business. This also extends to the idea that ISPs can't block content (except for certain illegal content) just because of a political perspective. For example, no-blocking says ISPs can't block this article, even if they don't want their customers to see it. And no-blocking also means they're generally not allowed to replace content (for example, replacing the ads this site sells to support its services with ads that provide revenue to the ISP). Blocking is bad. No blocking is good. That makes sense. No throttling No throttling is the idea that ISPs can't slow down certain classes of traffic. For example, we all know that most of the bits that travel over the internet originate on Netflix and YouTube. Video is not only hugely popular, but also requires (especially 4K video) a lot of data. Early on, some ISPs were shocked by how much data some customers were consuming when they started streaming video. They hustled to try to limit that, as much out of fear that their networks would implode as over a competitive desire to promote another streaming service. The no-throttling idea is that ISPs can't intentionally slow down certain classes of internet traffic, particularly video and torrents. AT&T, for example, owns the streaming service DirecTV Now. The no-throttling concept says that AT&T can't slow down (and thereby diminish the watchability) of services like Netflix in order to to push customers to use its own streaming service instead. Paid prioritization Paid prioritization is, essentially, a mix of the previous ideas. The idea of paid prioritization is that if you want your service to travel over someone else's lines, you pay for that privilege. In theory, Netflix doesn't have to pay AT&T to cover its extreme bandwidth usage. But, in practice, the huge internet streaming providers need to provide servers near the edge just to make it all work. So, really, what paid prioritization is meant to do is allow a new startup to compete against a firm like Netflix and not have added carrier fees assessed to reach viewers or readers. The fact that starting a new service, whether video or text, has a vast array of other costs really makes paid prioritization less of a hot button. A variation of paid prioritization is what's called "zero-rating." The idea here is that some vendors can pay carriers to not charge for their data. If you've ever seen the T-Mobile ads where certain video services don't count against your data cap, you've seen zero-rating in action. We'll come back to this when we talk about the FCC's changes and what they may (or may not) mean. How and why my analysis conclusions changed After careful analysis of officially published source documents, I made the statement that the FCC is not trying to eliminate net neutrality's no-blocking, no-throttling, and no-paid-prioritization rules. That statement may be incorrect, because there is another, unofficial source document that is far more draconian in its changes to internet governance. I based my analysis in this article on a May 23, 2017 notice of proposed rulemaking [PDF], which is the latest such official document listed in the government's EDOCS system for Docket 17-108, the rule change code for the proposed changes. Here's what the EDOCS search for Docket 17-108 returned: EDOCS search for Docket 17-108 on December 4, 2017 As you can see, there is no proposed rules change document for any time in November, which is when Chairman Pai issued his press release. However, a number of readers sent me a link to a PDF on the site transition.fcc.gov which vastly changes the intent of the proposed rule changes I discuss below. Prior to publishing this article, I reached out to Tina Pelkey, the listed media contact on the November 21 FCC Statement, to confirm I was looking at the correct rule changes. She did not respond. The document shown on transition.fcc.gov [PDF] is not only not indexed on EDOCS, but it also does not list a release date nor an adoption date. However, the small print at the bottom of Page 2 does lead me to believe it might supercede the document I analyzed below: This document has been circulated for tentative consideration by the Commission at its December open meeting.The issues referenced in this document and the Commission's ultimate resolution of those issues remain under consideration and subject to change. This document does not constitute any official action by the Commission. If this document, even though apparently not an official action, is representative of the changes the FCC is now proposing, it is a vast and deeply worrying change from everything I've reassured you about from the proposed rule changes officially published previously. Specifically, this new document proposes the following: Snip - I deleted the bulk of the middle of the article which is thorough. Read the article for those who want a full understanding from a non partisan source. Go here: http://www.zdnet.com/article/fcc-revisited-net-neutrality-changes-are-misleading-and-not-benign-says-gewirtz/?loc=newsletter_small_thumb&ftag=TREc64629f&bhid=19724681974700635514865380622813