A plan to change the way the internet is regulated could be enacted within the next month. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission revealed a plan that would repeal net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration in 2015.

Currently, internet service providers are prohibited from treating access to individual websites differently. The companies cannot, for example, allow Facebook to move at a faster speed than Twitter. Providers also can’t charge companies such as Netflix fees to provide services such as high-definition video to consumers.

When the Obama Administration instituted the rules, it was seen as a victory for the idea of the “open internet,” the idea that all people can access all the content on the internet, regardless of who they pay for that access.

The policies have been decried by conservatives as overregulation of private businesses, and last week FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in January, revealed a plan that would result in removing those regulations.

The plan could be voted on by the Republican-majority FCC board as soon as Dec. 14. The plan has drawn criticism from liberal and consumer groups, and internet companies such as Google and Amazon, which don’t control access to the sites that make them money.

Supporters of net neutrality have flooded Congress with calls, asking legislators to stop the FCC’s planned action — although there’s no sign yet that action is imminent.

U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, of Friendswood, said he supported the current FCC proposal. The Obama rules limit innovation, Weber said.

“The change in FCC rules is a return to the regulatory framework of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush,” Weber said. “Their framework was one that promoted growth and development.”

Weber is running for re-election next year in Texas Congressional District 14. Two of his declared opponents in the race, Republican Bill Sargent and Democrat Adrienne Bell, have shared their thoughts on net neutrality.

“I am a free market guy,” Sargent said. “If an ISP wants to sell hosting services with higher speeds for those who hire them, then that should be their prerogative.”

Sargent said he would oppose changes that might limit people from accessing certain websites.

In a Facebook post, Bell said that repealing net neutrality “only benefits the ISP’s profit margins.”

“The repeal of net neutrality removes the consumer protections of blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization,” she wrote.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has called net neutrality “Obamacare for the internet,” which he meant as an insult. He and Sen. John Cornyn have previously sponsored legislation that would eliminate the Obama-era rules.

WILL YARBROUGH

RUN AGAIN?

Daily News’ reporter Samantha Ketterer wrote Monday about two seats on the Galveston City Council that will be open come the May 2018 election.

But where do the other council members stand on their plans?

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough said he plans to make a re-election announcement in early December.

Yarbrough, who is eligible to run for a third and final term in 2018, swore he was undecided about a run.

“I like what I do,” Yarbrough said. “But you have to get fresh blood in the system.”

District 2 Councilman Craig Brown and District 6 councilwoman Carolyn Sunseri both said Wednesday they would seek third, and final, terms. District 3 Councilman Frank Maceo said he plans to run for a second term.

District 1 Councilwoman Amy Bly has told people she is going to run for a second term, but said she will make a final decision closer to the election based on her personal schedule demands. Bly is pursuing a teaching degree.

TEXAS LAGS IN ED SPENDING

Texas schools saw one of the sharpest declines in state funding between 2008 and 2015, according to a report released by a Washington think-tank on Tuesday.

In the seven-year period, the state cut spending by 16 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

It was the sixth-deepest cut in state education funding in the time period, behind Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho and Georgia.

That Texas has made major cuts to education funding isn’t new news. The Texas Legislature cut $5.3 billion from education funding in 2011, and has not restored the money in subsequent legislative sessions.

The legislature did create an interim committee, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, to study issues related to state education funding before the next legislative session in 2019.

State Sen. Larry Taylor, of League City, filed the bill that created the commission and was appointed to the commission in October. The commission has not met and has no meetings scheduled, because it is a joint committee and members of the House of Representatives have not yet been appointed.

NOTEBOOK

Former President George H.W. Bush became the oldest living president Saturday, at an age of 93 years and 166 days. He has passed Gerald Ford, who lived to 93 years and 165 days. ... Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was spotted at the Trump International Hotel during a recent trip to Washington D.C. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold tweeted he is looking into how much state money was spent on the trip. ... The Daily News is keeping a running list of candidates who have declared and filed for the 2018 primary elections. It can be found at galvnews.com/politics.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

(4) comments

Lisa Blair

Is it early December yet?

Diane Turski

I believe that it is absolutely tragic that our current "representatives" are in lockstep to support the greed of the current administration in ending net neutrality! They even perverted the public comment period by unleashing millions of bots that pretended to represent Americans in support of ending net neutrality, but have been proven to be fake! If this greedy FCC Republican majority end net neutrality, everyone will be paying more - this will be the result of your "free market" internet. I will be voting for new representatives who will represent my best interests instead of the greedy internet service providers!

Christopher Smith

I don't understand the arguments for getting rid of net neutrality. How does giving large corporations the power to slow down or block certain websites depending on who is able to pay better for "growth and development"? The only ones that are going to benefit are the ISPs. I feel it is kind of like if we let each county in Texas put tolls on the highways and then you would have to pay a different toll depending on if you are in Galveston County or in Harris, etc. Or if you had to pay more to get in the fast lane instead of the slow lane. It makes no sense.

Jim Forsythe

If the cost to companies like Netflix could go up, if ISP's increase the amount they charge them for service.
"There have been cases where the ISPs were deliberately slowing up data from popular websites to extract money from those sites. Netflix, for example, is a video streaming site. And it pays a good amount of money to different ISPs so that users can watch the videos without interruptions due to buffering, etc."

The place that potently bad, is that an ISP could force out, a company they do not have business with.
"It means that broadband providers, which often also offers cable TV, will be able to charge premiums for an indispensable service for businesses — fast internet. The providers could selectively pick which companies should get access to high-speed internet, and how much they should pay, which could be devastating for the streaming industry."


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