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Trump eyes the internet

Be concerned......very concerned!     This piece "Forget Trump’s tweets and media bans. The real issue is his threat to the internet" from The Guardian ought to alarm all users of the internet.   Yet another example of Trump and his Administration looking to changing the whole internet "thing".

"Donald Trump lost no time installing Ajit Pai as the new chairman of the FCC, which regulates broadcast and internet media. Pai has stated that he opposes net neutrality, the principle whereby service providers and regulators treat all data the same. Since his appointment Pai declined to say whether he will enforce existing neutrality rules, but if these rules are overturned then the small number of companies that dominate US internet access will be permitted to promote content of their choosing, placing other content and its providers at a disadvantage.

Pai has reversed a recent FCC decision that would have opened the provision of cable set-top boxes to competition. The move allows cable companies to retain control of not only set-top boxes, but also the software and programming content passing through them. This of course runs counter to Trump’s avowed principle of helping the little guy, etc – but that is no longer a surprise. Pai also blocked a programme designed to provide internet access to rural and low-income households.

There is potentially far more. The FCC holds sway over all telecommunications. As the newspaper and magazine industries convert to digital formats, they become dependent on services subject to FCC regulation. Given Trump’s personality, track record and various statements, it does not seem insane to worry that he might try to use the FCC to exert political pressure on the news media. It has been tried before, notably by Richard Nixon, when he was trying to persecute enemies and suppress the scandals of Watergate.

But the relaxation of oversight with regard to concentration of the media industry – mirroring other sectors, including banking, though receiving far less attention – is even more worrying. The FCC and the justice department both oversee competition, or antitrust, policy for telecommunications. And both have been asleep at the switch for years. The internet-access industry has become a tight oligopoly, which keeps the price and speed of US internet access far behind those of other industrial nations.


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