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Tech Companies Not Completely Trusting US Govt

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Net Neutrality

Tech companies and about two dozen US states have clashed with the government in federal court on Friday over the repeal of net neutrality, which is a set of Obama-era rules that were aimed at preventing big internet providers from discriminating certain technology and services.

Judges have challenged the arguments which were made by both sides during the faceoff in an appeals court in Washington.

Lawyers for the states and the companies persuaded the three-judge panel to restore the net neutrality regime, which was set back in in 2015 during the Obama administration and also repealed in December 2017 due to the direction of a regulator who was appointed by President Donald Trump. The companies that challenged the FCC action included Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox web browser, and Vimeo, which is a video-sharing site.

The net neutrality rules banned cable, wireless and other broadband providers from blocking or slowing other websites and apps which they wanted or even charging Netflix and other video services as extra to reach many views quickly.

The practice of slowing down transmission of the internet is known as “throttling.”

The attorney Pantelis Michalopoulos, who represents Mozilla and other companies, referring to the Depression-era law which was established by the FCC said- “The action by the Federal Communications Commission to roll back the neutrality rules will come as a stab in the heart of the Communications Act. The FCC has wrongly classified the internet as an information service instead of a telecoms service, using which, a rationale to not crack down the misconduct by big internet providers.

Once Trump has taken over the office, net neutrality became one of his first targets as part of the broader government deregulation. The FCC chairman that was appointed by him, Ajit Pai, made it a top priority to roll back net neutrality.

On the other hand, support for net neutrality has come from many who had given critical statements regarding the data-vacuuming tech giants which they took benefit from. Politicians glommed this cause and have made it appear as consumer-friendly.

The judges have been weighing whether or not the FCC should be given the authority to nix the 2015 rules and get the business of enforcing net neutrality out of the window. It looks like Williams was sympathetic with the FCC’s arguments, whereas Judge Patricia Millett raised possible legal avenues for the companies and states which would sue the agency, and Judge Robert Wilkins was on the swing vote and said that Doug Brake, the director of broadband and spectrum policy for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, was a Washington think tank.

After the hearing, Mozilla Chief Operating Officer Denelle Dixon said- “Today we have fought for an open and free internet battle which will put the consumers first. We believe that the FCC needs to follow certain rules like everyone else.”

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