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Leaked E-mail Shows Even The FCC's Own CTO Thinks Gutting Net Neutrality Harms The Public

Published: December 14, 2017
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Source: tech dirt

So by now we've pointed out how 200 engineers, internet legends, nearly 1000 startups, countless internet companies30 small ISPs, and millions of American consumers have told the FCC its plan to repeal net neutrality is extreme and will harm competition, innovation, and the health of the internet. But we've also pointed out repeatedly how this makes absolutely no difference at Trump's FCC, which appears mindlessly dedicated toward one singular purpose: pleasing entrenched telecom duopolies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

You can add the FCC's own CTO to the long list of folks who think the FCC's net neutrality repeal is neither in the public interest, nor good for the health of the internet. In a leaked e-mail this week, FCC CTO Eric Burger (hired by Ajit Pai last October) warned that once the rules are repealed, there's really nothing in place to stop these entrenched duopolies from throttling or hamstringing services or websites they compete with:

"In an internal email to all of the FCC commissioner offices, CTO Eric Burger, who was appointed by Pai in October, said the No. 1 issue with the repeal is concern that internet service providers will block or throttle specific websites, according to FCC sources who viewed the message.

"Unfortunately, I realize we do not address that at all," Burger said in the email. "If the ISP is transparent about blocking legal content, there is nothing the [Federal Trade Commission] can do about it unless the FTC determines it was done for anti-competitive reasons. Allowing such blocking is not in the public interest."

So if you buy the FCC/big ISP argument here, the net neutrality repeal and the gutting of FCC authority over giant ISPs isn't a big deal -- because the FTC will rush in and protect consumers. But we've already noted in great detail how that's simply not going to be happening. The FTC's currently losing a lawsuit against AT&T that could obliterate that ability almost entirely. Even if they win that case, we've explored in detail how the FTC's existing authority is so limited, clever ISPs like Comcast will be able to simply tap dance around enforcement.

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