Due to the proliferation of glowing news reports and commentaries concerning the innocuous-sounding “net neutrality” rules, we thought it necessary to shine some light on more critical opinions of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action.

Background

With a 3-2 vote on Thursday, February 26, the FCC commission voted to classify broadband internet as a public utility and assert regulatory control over it as such, under the banner of “net neutrality” the principle that all information and services should have equal access to the internet and protecting internet freedom.

The two dissenting FCC commissioners were Republicans Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly—vocal critics of the FCC’s new rules, who said, according to The Guardian, that “once they are published people will realize that they will stifle innovation and lead to taxes and increased rates for the public.”

Making Up the Rules as They Go

One of the most glaring flaws of the FCC’s decision, is that these regulatory rules for the internet that were approved have not even been released to the public. According to The Guardian, on Friday the FCC was still finalizing its documentation for publication—which is an unknown date with no publication timeline given as of yet.

The Register reports that Pai and O’Rielly also revealed that there had been a number of revised versions in the 12 to 24 hours leading up to the vote, with changes being made all the way up to the vote.

“But that’s not all,” writes The Register. “Both commissioners expect changes to be made to the document after it has been formally approved by them, with the “OGC” – office of general counsel – given extraordinary leeway to edit and revise the rules even following formal approval.”

The Reality of Net Neutrality

Though the FCC’s vote was backed by a mob of internet activists, techies, and the Obama administration, and is being herald nationwide as a historic move, it wasn’t an entirely popular vote. Following are a few of the criticisms of FCC regulation and “net neutrality” voiced by dissenters:

1) It’s anti-economic  

“But there is no question of the potential for slowing decision-making and inhibiting innovation in a fast-moving segment of the economy if you give the FCC power to approve or disapprove specific pricing, service contract terms and conditions and even the actual structure of product and service offerings (all powers conferred upon the FCC under Title II whether it ultimately uses them or not).”

–        Howard Homonoff, Forbes

2) It will limit competition

“Sooner or later, under FCC regulation of the Internet, there will be “regulatory capture”—large established firms exploiting regulations to suppress the emergence of small, creative startups. Because it will be impossible for the FCC to keep close tabs on thousands of Internet companies, they will find it expedient to limit the number of participants, finding it easier to oversee a few large corporations than countless smaller ones.”

-          Mark Hendrickson, Forbes

3) It’s going to slow down innovation

“In seeking to make the Internet more “fair and open,” the FCC’s circa-1934 utility laws ban practices, agreements and exchanges of information which every other segment of our economy uses to make better, cheaper, more innovative and commercially sustainable offerings for consumers and society. Instead of free actors in the marketplace making decisions on their own, the FCC now is in charge, even though it can’t keep its own website from crashing. Say goodbye to private investment and permission-less innovation, especially the stuff on the margins.”

-          Mike Wendy, Media Freedom

By the people, for the people?

But perhaps the most detrimental effect of “net neutrality” and FCC internet regulation is the most glaringly obvious—that once control of broadband internet falls into the government’s hands, there will be no barrier to stop them from extending their control to its content as well.

Pai said it best in his oral dissent: “The Commission’s decision to adopt President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works. It’s an overreach that will let a Washington bureaucracy, and not the American people, decide the future of the online world.”

To learn more about this ongoing issue, we recommend the following resources:

FCC commissioners’ oral dissents:  

Story Sources (in order of appearance):

Additional Recommended Links for Further Reading:

Chaninat and Leeds’ team of business and family attorneys specialize in legal consulting and offering Thailand legal opinions for a full range of practice areas.

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Thailand’s Supreme Court ruled on the case involving three men convicted of murdering Australian auditor Michael Wansley in 1999, reports The Nation.

The three defendants filed the appeal with the Supreme Court in 2011 after the Court of Appeals upheld their sentences handed to them by the Criminal Court in 2006.

Wansley had allegedly discovered fraud at the mill during an audit and “refused to keep quiet about it,” which incited the assassination.

Prosecutors on the original case claimed that Bunpan Suthiwiriyawan, the former chief of personnel and public relations for the sugar mill, his brother Somchok and a third man, Sompong Buasakul, were allegedly hired by Pradit Siriviriyakul, the owner of Kaset Thai Sugar Co, to murder Wansley.

The Thailand criminal defense attorneys at Chaninat and Leeds’ have been prosecuting and defending national and international clients in Thailand since 1997.

The three men were charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Bunpan was sentenced to life in prison for being an accomplice to murder, while Somchok and Sompong were given the death penalty for committing murder.

According to The Nation, Pradit was acquitted “for lack of solid evidence that he had hired the three to commit the crime.”

In February 2015, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s sentence of life imprisonment for Bunpan and acquittal of Pradit, but struck down the death sentences for Somchok and Sompong, handing them life imprisonment sentences instead.

Read the full story here.

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Chinese Tourists in Thailand Aren’t the Only People to Poop in Public

March 2, 2015

Chinese tourists in Thailand are garnering negative attention and criticism after news reports of yet another indecent incident, this time at the famous “WhiteTemple” in Chiang Rai. Chinese tourists were banned from the temple by its creator, Chalermchai Kositpipat, after a Chinese female tourist reportedly put used toilet paper in a water tank and refused […]

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Draft Amendments to Thailand’s Computer Crime Act Controversial

February 24, 2015

Thailand’s parliament is reviewing a new draft cyber security bill and new amendments to the 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA), reports Asian Correspondent. Amendments to the 2007 CCA are necessitated because, according to Asian Correspondent, it is an ambiguous bill with several vaguely worded sections that appear to be open for interpretation. Yet, Asian Correspondent […]

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