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What will be the Fate of Net Neutrality after Being Repealed?

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, center, announces the vote was approved to repeal net neutrality, next to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, left, who voted no, and Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, who voted yes, at the FCC, Dec. 14, 20
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, center, announces the vote was approved to repeal net neutrality, next to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, left, who voted no, and Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, who voted yes, at the FCC, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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“Net neutrality” regulations, designed to prevent internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter from favoring some sites and apps over others, have been repealed. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle Obama-era rules that have been in place since 2015, but will forbid states to put anything similar in place.

Here’s a look at what the developments mean for consumers and companies.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers treat all web traffic equally, and it’s pretty much how the internet has worked since its creation. But regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies were concerned about what broadband companies could do with their power as the pathway to the internet — blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example.

What did the governments do about it?

The FCC in 2015 approved rules, on a party-line vote, that made sure cable and phone companies don’t manipulate traffic. With them in place, a provider such as Comcast can’t charge Netflix for a faster path to its customers, or block it or slow it down.

The net neutrality rules gave the FCC power to go after companies for business practices that weren’t explicitly banned as well. For example, the Obama FCC said that “zero rating” practices by AT&T violated net neutrality. The telecom giant exempted its own video app from cellphone data caps, which would save some consumers money, and said video rivals could pay for the same treatment. Pai’s FCC spiked the effort to go after AT&T, even before it began rolling out a plan to undo the net neutrality rules entirely.

A federal appeals court upheld the rules in 2016 after broadband providers sued.

The telcos

Big telecom companies hated net neutrality’s stricter regulation and have fought them fiercely in court. They said the regulations could undermine investment in broadband and introduced uncertainty about what were acceptable business practices. There were concerns about potential price regulation, even though the FCC had said it won’t set prices for consumer internet service.

Silicon Valley

Internet companies such as Google have strongly backed net neutrality, but many tech firms were more muted in their activism this year. Netflix, which had been vocal in support of the rules in 2015, said in January that weaker net neutrality wouldn’t hurt it because it’s now too popular with users for broadband providers to interfere.

What happens next

With the rules repealed, net-neutrality advocates say it will be harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests and will harm innovation in the long-run. Those who criticize the rules say the repeal is good for investment in broadband networks.

But advocates aren’t sitting still. Some groups plan lawsuits to challenge the FCC’s move, and Democrats — energized by public protests in support of net neutrality — think it might be a winning political issue for them in 2018 congressional elections. (VOA)

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Silicon Valley, Google Walk Off To Protest Against Mishandling Of Sexual Harassment Cases

The workers went back to their offices but vowed to continue pressuring Google to change.

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Google, Web summit, sexual misconduct, trafficking
Google employees fill Harry Bridges Plaza in front of the Ferry Building during a walkout, Nov. 1, 2018, in San Francisco. Hundreds of Google employees around the world briefly walked off the job in a protest against what they said is the tech company's mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives. VOA

It was a protest that went around the globe.

From Singapore to Dublin, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Pryor, Oklahoma, Google employees walked out of their offices to protest the internet search giant’s handling of sexual discrimination cases, and express their frustration with its workplace culture.

In San Francisco, where Google has several offices, hundreds of workers congregated at a plaza where they gave speeches and held signs. One read: “I reported and he got promoted.”

The unusual protest — tech companies are not unionized and typically keep strife about personnel matters behind closed doors — riveted Silicon Valley, which has struggled in recent years over the treatment of women in the industry.

Resignation, severance

The Google protest was spurred by a New York Times story that outlined allegations against high-profile leaders at the firm, including Andy Rubin, known as “the father of Android,” who was reportedly paid $90 million in severance. Rubin has denied the allegations in the article, as well as reports of his severance amount.

Richard DeVaul, a director at X, a unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, resigned from the company on Tuesday. He was accused of making unwanted advances to a woman who was a job applicant at the firm.

 

Google, protest
Google employees walk off the job in a protest against what they said is the tech company’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives. VOA

 

 List of demands

“We are a small part of a massive movement that has been growing for a long time,” protest organizers said in an article published in the online magazine The Cut. “We are inspired by everyone — from the women in fast food who led an action against sexual harassment to the thousands of women in the #metoo movement who have been the beginning of the end for this type of abuse.”

Leaders of the protest issued a list of demands, including that Alphabet add a worker-representative to its board of directors and that the firm internally disclose pay equity information.

They also asked the company to revise its human resources practices to make the harassment claims filing process more equitable, and to create a “publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.”

Google
Google employees gather in a courtyard as they take part in a walkout from their jobs at the Google campus in Kirkland, Washington. VOA

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees that “as CEO, it’s been personally important to me that we take a much harder line on inappropriate behavior. … We have taken many steps to do so, and know our work is still not done.”

Social media protest

The global protest unfolded on Twitter and Facebook as employees from offices around the world posted photos of themselves walking out at the appointed time of 11:10 a.m.

Google
Tanuja Gupta, programming director at Google, addresses hundreds of Google employees during a protest rally. VOA

 

The greatest concentration of Google workers is in the San Francisco area. In San Bruno, 12 miles south of San Francisco, employees at YouTube, which is part of Google, walked out, as did those in Mountain View, company headquarters.

“As a woman, I feel personally unsafe, because if something were to happen, what accountability measures will be in place to make sure that justice is sought?” said Google employee Rana Abdelhamid at the San Francisco protest.

Christian Boyd, another Google employee, was angry about what she said was protecting the powerful, even in the face of credible allegations.

“It’s sad to see that what we consider the best companies are not immune to this, as well,” Boyd said.

Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About The #MeToo Movement

After 30 minutes of speeches, the workers went back to their offices but vowed to continue pressuring Google to change. (VOA)