Setting the record straight.

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In January, a federal appeals court rejected regulations that tried to impose broadband rules under the wrong regulatory framework in the US. The FCC’s new chairman, Tom Wheeler, said he would comply, rather than appeal. FCC says that it is fixing the open-web problem while actually letting it get worse, by providing a so-called “fast lane” for carriers to hike fees on sites trying to reach customers like you and me.

Now a blog post by Tom Wheeler called “Setting the Record Straight on the FCC’s Open Internet Rules”, says his new proposal “would establish that behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet, will not be permitted.” However, the rules would allow: the oligopoly ISPs, by all reports, to have the right to cut special deals with web companies in order to give them that fast lane.

This is sick. We pay our ISPs for access to the internet and to get a certain speed (which is almost never delivered; my friends in Mx always complain about their internet service, but I believe ours is actually worst). Consider this: an ISP tells, let’s say, Bandcamp, that it’s songs won’t reach us nor download at the speed we’ve already paid for… unless they (a company that has little or no competition) pays a fee. Imagine the impact on the company, and remember Bancamp is relatively a big internet enterprise. Think too of what would happen with sites like WordPress or Tumblr.

Something that I’ve been thinking about as a Mexican-American, is if the proposals by Wheeler and the Mexican Government on regulating the internet are just a weird coincidence. If you live in North America (MX or US at least) and believe in an open internet, don’t waste your time sinking into despair over politicians’ betrayals. Aiming at the apparent leader, like Tom Wheeler or Enrique Peña Nieto is pointless. I suggest we should focus our attention on the people who they work for, and who allegedly work for us. Start with people like President Obama for Wheeler, whose unequivocal vow as a candidate to support an open internet was a scam, plus who does Obama works for?; and for President Peña Nieto (among others) Carlos Slim, Tomás Milmo Santos, and Emilio Azcarraga Jean.

I actually believe the menace of an internet censorship in Mexico, is a wicked strategy to keep mexicans away from seeing how much money and power will telecommunications companies in their country get out of this law. This empowering happened too with Salinas de Gortari. Once again, is it a coincidence it happens once again? Plus, it doesn’t matter if the reform agrees to respect internet freedom once the empowerment happens, the censorship will occur anyway. What these people are doing is selling Mexico and US to the telecoms empires, and strengthen their oligopoly.

We are on the verge of turning over the internet to the enterprises that have grown huge through governments of Mexico and US granting them monopoly status. Companies like Verizon, Comcast, Telmex, Axtel, and Cablevisión will have staggering power to decide what bits of information reach your devices and mine, in what order and at what speed.The telecom companies got this big in the first place because they were once granted exclusive rights to “serve” their geographic communities by our governments.

However once again we can say its all about information and controlling it, as well as getting profit out of it. We can’t say that this isn’t happening already in companies like Facebook. Plus, in Mexico City everyone can consult Google Maps for free. This means that Google can pinpoint your location, and technically they could handle it to anyone. And it’s not only Google. The telecom companies are the ones that will always know your location! Plus don’t tell me you have never experienced slow web surfing on certain sites while surfing with no problem in others.

Internet access is a public utility and should be kept as that. But the most important thing is for us to see and distinguish between distractors and the real enemies and menaces, which I believe once more are our countries’ telecommunications enterprises. If we do that, we have more chances of striking an accurate counter attack, and not a perhaps heroic but useless one.

Francisco González Zubizarreta <f_zubiza@gmail.com>

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