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Net neutrality wins: FCC votes to classify Internet as a public utility

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U.S. regulators on Thursday imposed the toughest rules yet on Internet service providers, aiming to ensure fair treatment of all web traffic through their networks.

The Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines, with Democrats in favor, to approve new “net neutrality” rules that seek to restrict broadband providers’ power to control download speeds on the web, for instance by potentially giving preference to companies that can afford to pay more.

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The vote starts a countdown to expected lawsuits from cable and telecoms providers which argue that the tougher regulatory regime will stifle investments, hurting consumers. Republicans see Thursday’s move as a government power grab.

The new regulations come after a year of jostling between cable and telecom companies and net neutrality advocates, which included web startups. It culminated in the FCC receiving a record 4 million comments and a call from President Barack Obama to adopt the strongest rules possible.

The agency sought new net neutrality rules after a federal court rejected their previous version in January 2014.

The ruling confirmed the agency’s authority over broadband but said it had improperly regulated Internet providers as if they were similar to a public utility. That contradicted their official classification as “information services” providers, which are meant to be more lightly regulated.

The agency’s new policy reclassifies broadband, both fixed and mobile, as more heavily regulated “telecommunications services,” more like a traditional telephone service.

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The shift gives the FCC more authority to police various types of deals between providers such as Comcast Corp and content companies such as Netflix Inc to ensure they are just and reasonable for consumers and competitors.

Internet providers will be banned from blocking or slowing any traffic and from striking deals with content companies, known as paid prioritization, for smoother delivery of traffic to consumers.

The FCC also expands its authority over so-called interconnection deals, in which content companies pay broadband providers to connect with their networks. The FCC would review complaints on a case-by-case basis.

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s original proposal pursued a legal path suggested by the court. It stopped short of reclassifying broadband and so had to allow paid prioritization, prompting a public outcry and later Obama’s message.

With the latest draft, Wheeler sought to address some Internet providers’ concerns, proposing no price regulations, tariffs or requirements to give competitors access to networks.

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(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Additional reporting by Malathi Nayak and Andrew Chung; Editing by Christian Plumb and Ken Wills)


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2020 Election

‘Propaganda’: Bloomberg destroyed for posting ‘hoax’ clip of his debate performance to make him look better

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'In a Climate of Wildfire Misinformation, This Is Super Irresponsible'

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg's performance at Wednesday night's Democratic debate was by most accounts at best terrible, but that didn't stop the campaign from pushing out a fake, doctored, and highly-edited clip suggesting the other candidates on stage were silenced by a claim he made.

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CNN

CNN’s Elie Honig praises DOJ lawyers for revolt against Barr: ‘Like students rising up against the oppressive headmaster’

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CNN legal analyst Elie Honig on Thursday heaped praise upon Department of Justice prosecutors who disregarded many of the changes to sentencing guidelines for convicted Trump ally Roger Stone that were made by Attorney General Bill Barr.

When asked by CNN's Kate Bolduan for his reaction to the prosecutors' actions, Honig responded enthusiastically.

"I applaud what this prosecutor is doing," he said. "And as a DOJ alumni on the front lines trying cases, I'm so impressed by this. This is like the scene [in a movie] where the students rise up and push back against the oppressive headmaster."

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Four things to know about World War II-era Pope Pius XII’s archives

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The March 2 unsealing of the archives of Pope Pius XII, the controversial World War II-era pontiff, whose papacy lasted from 1939 to 1958, has been awaited for decades by Jewish groups and historians.

The controversy over Pius XII hinges on whether the head of the Catholic Church, a former diplomat of the Holy See in Germany, remained too silent during the Holocaust, never publicly condemning the Nazis.

Here are four key points to better understand the archives' importance.

- Holocaust: a mass of already published material -

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