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[News] Net Neutrality revived in Biden order

Last Friday President Biden signed, sealed, and delivered a new executive order entitled Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The order recognizes the role big telecom providers play when they transport information around the Internet. In a complete 180 on recent US tech policies, Biden proposes the restoration of network neutrality laws.

Mashable reports how, as the U.S. plans recovery from the effects of the pandemic, many in government recognize how hard it currently is for all sizes of enterprises to compete in a rapidly changing technological economy. 

Many government officials witnessed how devastating the lack of a free and open Internet can be to local communities, especially those in poorer areas with limited or no Internet access. As COVID led to a shutdown, these disparities in Internet access had direct impact on people’s access to education, healthcare, and getting goods and services at their homes.

Although net neutrality was originally enacted under the Obama administration in 2015, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality back in December 2017. With Biden’s new executive order he spells out his desire for the Federal Communications Committee to restore net neutrality.

This is good news for smaller online businesses and startups — and anyone in the U.S. who uses the Internet.

Past net neutrality laws required that Internet Service Providers treat all websites equally. This didn’t just benefit business, it also ensured that no one could block access to websites, throttle Internet speeds, or impose unfair fees. 

Net neutrality relates to competition because if it is a lot easier for a bigger firm to leverage online technology and gain more efficient networking, they can dominate the market. 

The new executive order goes further than past regulations.

It calls for Internet service providers to allow for more consumer choice and pricing transparency. 

The government will examine unfair business practices and bring antitrust cases to enforce privacy laws and promote competition, rather than allowing bigger players to privilege their own products or make mergers that kill the competition. 

It throws the president’s weight behind new rules governing surveillance and data collection by internet companies — perhaps recognizing the threat to Internet Freedom. 

The order also addresses the right to repair movement, with the goal of ensuring sellers of computers and other high-end goods keep parts for ten years.

It would be desirable for the FCC to nominate a new, fifth commissioner to achieve many of the goals laid out in this order,” says Evan Greer, Director of digital rights organization Fight for the Future. Ideally, she adds, this should be someone who “doesn’t have ties to the telecom industry and will stand up to the ISPs, who supports reinstating net neutrality, and who will expand broadband access for everyone.”

In other news

  • Billionaire space race leads to calls to tax the wealthy. In the U.S. taxing millionaires is firmly on top of the agenda. Senator Bernie Sanders joined growing calls for higher taxes on the wealthy, as Jeff Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO. Sanders declared that Bezos, personally worth $211 billion made “made some $2537 every second of the day” and that earning “three times more in a second than the median worker in this country … is morally obscene”. Bezos plans to do philanthropic work scheduling trips to space with Blue Origin, which he founded in 2000.

    U.S.-based billionaire, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, finally made it to the skies on Sunday, beating Bezos to spaceflight by nine days. The race to the skies prompted Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) — who leads the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act of 2021 — to help the country recover from COVID and address inequalities from the pandemic, and  Senator Elizabeth Warren also took to Twitter to appeal for the rich to pay their fair share. 
  • The biggest, baddest DDoS hackers of 2021 have disappeared. Last week we reported how over the July 4 holiday weekend, Russian linked ransomware gang REvil was responsible for an attack on Kaseya, an IT software company. After demanding an eye-watering $70 million ransom, it seems their webpage is strangely offline and the admin is AWOL. CNN explores the mystery, together with lots of speculation as to why this has happened now. Is it possible this could indicate a turning point in the attitude of President Putin to cyberattacks emanating from within Russia’s borders?
  • The race to attract creators is hot. Who will win? This week The New York Times discussed Facebook’ efforts to woo content creators to their platform — despite having become more of an advertising space than one that favors new content. Citing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Chewbacca Mom as previous successes, the NYT suggests that Facebook wants to once again be in front of the new content, rather than being the place where people share memes, videos and stories originally created elsewhere. Meanwhile, the content creation matrix continues to get more crowded with Kindle Vella, the new serial story platform that launched this week on Amazon (currently just for US authors and readers). 

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Lisa McKnight avatar

Lisa McKnight

As a Senior digital copywriter at Namecheap, I'm passionate about communicating how vital the technology industry is and how stuff works. I enjoy writing persuasive and compelling copy for B2B and B2C clients, alongside interviews and thought pieces for authors and entrepreneurs. More articles written by Lisa.

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