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Video: Net neutrality goes to a vote at the FCC

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    >>> tonight, citing senior agency officials, reuters is reporting that the federal communications commission has the votes to approve their version of net neutrality . in our fourth story, the fcc plan has been pilloried on both sides of the aisle since it was announced. senator al franken saturday said the plan would do, quote, more harm than doing nothing at all. today, a republican commission member, calling the effort, quote, jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah. phrase of the year. the final vote should come tomorrow morning . before that, internet law expert, marvin amorey will help us sort all this. if the plan does get the necessary fcc votes tomorrow, they'll claim it as a realization of a campaign promise made years ago on the google campus by then senator barack obama .

    >> i will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality . because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose.

    >> in other words, big providers like verizon , at&t, or comcast can't use their size and influence to drown out dthe content of smaller competitors. comcast is currently in negotiations to buy this company's parent company , nbc universal . put it another way. as long as your many internets are neutral, you can watch the trailer for the new "tron legacy legacy's" movie as you can for the tron guy . he has the same shot to be seen as the big-time disney flick. users have the same access and choose which one they like better. back to the fcc . on december 1st , chairman jules chen cowski issued his draft rules for net neutrality . telling "the new york times" blog today, "these rules appear to be flush with giant loopholes and the fcc chairman seems for a more concerned with winning the endorsement of at&t and the cable lobbyists than listening to the millions of americans who have pleaded with him to fix his proposal. the commission's two democratic members, who seem to be concerned for paid organization, the idea that providers who can afford it can pay for faster transmission. the " national journal " reports that chairman chencowski may be addressing those concerns. joining me now as promised, is marvin amorey, internet law expert from lincoln college of law at the university of nebraska . marvin , welcome. thanks a lot.

    >> thank you. thank you, chris.

    >> this is confusing for a lot of people, so maybe we can walk through -- the one of the frustrations about what's getting voted on tomorrow, we don't know exactly what's in. from what you've heard, what are the things that sound promising and what are the things that sound not so promising.

    >> so much of the proposal sounds unpromising. as you know, obama promised net neutrality and this definitely is not fulfilling that campaign promise . so one huge loophole, and there are many, that all of wireless , access to the internet through wireless is exempted. so if you think you're getting a half a loaf, if you're the kind of person who gets the internet through wireless connections, you're getting no loaf at all. and increasing, more people use wireless access to the internet than even wireline connections.

    >> so there's going to be a distinction in the fcc bill, from my understanding, there was a deal cut that said, we're going to have some version of net neutrality on broadband, but nothing on the wireless side, which is your smartphone.

    >> exactly -- well, your smartphone, but you can use a card on your laptop. so if you're using a card on your laptop, you get a different internet connection and experience than you could get on your wireline connection and it's really the same internet . so it's an exemption for at&t and verizon , to benefit them. on the wire line side, you have more subtle exceptions. but on the wireless side, it's just a free for all.

    >> let me pursue on the wireless side. this is the argument that the providers make that, look, this is expensive, bandwidth is a finite resource, at least as our networks are currently constituted, and give us a break. we're already getting our network trashed by everybody's iphones. why is that not an argument that's compelling to you?

    >> well, i mean, in any network, you have capacity problems. so imagine the electricity network . if the electrical companies said, we want to be able to choose which tvs you can plug in, or choose which irons you use, or which computers you plug in, you'd say, there's got to be another way to manage capacity than choosing winners and losers. and when you're talking about the internet , you're talking about, you know, not only the electricity grid , but really, it's like our speech medium. it's what we use for democracy. it's what we use for economic intervention in the 21st century . and we're letting a few companies choose the winners and losers on those infrastructure -- on the 21st century infrastructure.

    >> it seems like, as drafted, at least as i understand it, and my understanding is for a worse than yours, so correct me if i'm wrong, that they've kind of clooefed off the commercial question from the speech one, right? so in the draft, am i right that the draft is that you can't squash speech, you can't stop lawful content, but there might be some tiered pricing?

    >> yeah. definitely, you can't block content, from what i hear. but the effect of this decision will be similar to the affect of, say, citizens united . right? when you have citizens united , as i said, corporations can spend as much money as they want, eliminating politicians they don't agree with. and once you have two tiers on the internet , where there's one, you know, slow dirt road internet for everyone else, and this fast super highway of privileged content for the very powerful and wealthy, then people will have to spend, you know, campaigns will have to spend a lot of money to reach audiences in an effective way. so people -- so even if you have, you know, tiered pricing, you end up privileging the powerful, those with more money, versus the upstarts and the tron guy on youtube.

    >> you're saying you can't distinguish the commercial issue and the speech issue, because they're so entwined.

    >> they are, indeed. if you think a lot of the economic innovations, like twitter, facebook, google, those are speech innovations the same way they are economic innovations. and the same way that maybe the franken campaign or savetheinternet.com can't pay for the special access, that other companies could pay for, they're at a disadvantage. and on the wireless side, savetheinternet.com could be blocked altogether.

    >> finally, there's been a lot of challenges to the legal authority of the fcc to regulate. what is your sense of what's going to happen after, if the commission passes this, as expected, what's going to happen after that?

    >> we'll probably see a lawsuit and this rule will probably be struck down. the fcc bases their jurisdiction on title 1, and the courts have already said that's not a good basis of jurisdiction for net neutrality . so i fully expect it to be struck down after litigation. and the question is, what happens then? if the republicans have more power at the time, more seats, then i can imagine not much and we'll let net neutrality die and the future of the internet will be closed, not open. or the public can stay as persistent as at&t and comcast and verizon will be and fight another day. i expect there to be litigation and this fight not to end tomorrow.

    >> marvin ammori of the university of nebraska , lincoln college of law, tharnk you for a supremely deliciously wonky segment of television.

    >> thank you, chris. anytime.


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