On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission presented its plan to repeal the country’s regulations on net neutrality. The move, hailed by internet service providers including AT&T and Verizon, would scrap the rules that prohibit them from blocking or slowing web traffic to particular websites and services.
The term net neutrality was first coined in 2002 and the concept behind it has been debated ever since. The current rules, which regulate the internet as a public utility, were put in place under former President Obama and are supported by companies including Google-parent Alphabet, Facebook, and Netflix. But Republican opponents say the restrictions discourage investment.
The commission’s chairman, Ajit Pai, said in a statement that under his proposal, “the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet.” Instead, he continued, “the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them…” But journalists were quick to point out that only a quarter of the country has access to multiple broadband providers, meaning they may not have the option to switch.
The FCC will hold a final vote on the issue next month. With a Republican majority, the repeal is expected to pass.
Also in the news:
• Poland has been given two weeks to prove it has halted logging in the primeval Białowieża forest, before facing fines of nearly $120,000 a day. The European Court of Justice first ordered the ban in July, arguing that the operations were destroying habitat for rare species, including the European bison — but Poland vowed to continue. (BBC)
• The state of Nebraska issued final approval for the Keystone XL pipeline Monday, just days after the existing Keystone pipeline spilled over 200,000 gallons of crude oil in South Dakota. (Quartz)
• Media coverage regarding coral reefs most often focuses on the impact of their decline on the environment. But for scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying and protecting these sea creatures, the news takes a toll on mental health as well. (The Atlantic)
• Experts in South Africa believe the country has the highest rate of penis amputations in the world, largely due to the persistence of traditional male circumcision in many communities. Surgeons there completed their second successful transplant this April, an intensive procedure involving reconnecting skin, blood vessels, muscle, and nerves. (Undark)
• Tobacco companies will begin airing anti-smoking advertisements on Sunday, 11 years after they were first ordered to do so by a federal court. The ads, which will run on major networks and appear in newspapers for one year, are being billed as “corrective statements” after the companies were deemed to have misled the public about the negative effects caused by using their products. (The Hill)
• And finally: Pioneered in Pennsylvania and now expanding across the U.S., “street medicine” teams are finding and treating the nation’s homeless on their terms. (Washington Post)