Posted by Kevin on December 22, 2014.
On Friday, Gizmodo reported, FCC Mysteriously Lost Hundreds of Thousands Net Neutrality Comments:
As the Sony hack makes internet regulation a top priority, startling new revelations about how the FCC handled public comments on net neutrality just came in. New analysis of the data the FCC recently released about the process shows that the agency lost and/or ignored a whole bunch public comments. How many is a whole bunch? Oh, about 340,000.
There are many who will undoubtedly conclude that the ‘voting’ was rigged against net neutrality. Personally, I have no idea. It could have been manipulation or it could have been incompetence.
What I do know, however, is that it really doesn’t matter. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic have already decided against neutrality.
The Associated Whistleblower Press last week published the secret Trade in Services Agreement TISA Proposal — New Provisions Applicable to All Services. TISA is another of those secretly negotiated Transatlantic trade agreements that we know nothing about and will know nothing about until it is fait accompli in the statute books.
Most interest in the leaked document has focused on Article X.4: Movement of Information:
No Party may prevent a service supplier of another Party from transferring, accessing, processing or storing information, including personal information, within or outside the Party’s territory, where such activity is carried out in connection with the conduct of the service supplier’s business.
This clause quite simply negates the entire premise of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and all of the European national laws based on the Data Protection Directive. If any US company, such as Facebook or Google or whatever, decides to export every last bit of European personal data to the United States and from there hand it to the NSA there is not a jot anyone can do about it.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, the EU Rapporteur for the GDPR, commented,
TiSA is clearly a tool to undermine European data protection laws. The leaked text would allow any transfer of personal information to the rest of the world without safeguards. This is in breach of EU law and would make a whole chapter of the on-going EU data protection reform null and void. The prohibition of the exclusive operation of data centers in Europe or in an EU member state would turn all attempts to protect ourselves against access by US intelligence services into a trade barrier. TiSA is a threat not only to our data protection rights, but also to our data safety and IT security. The EU Commission must freeze any further negotiations on TiSA as long as those proposals are on the table!
So catastrophic would this clause be for European privacy that it has completely over-shdowed the very next paragraph, Article X.5: Open Networks, Network Access and Use. In full, this reads,
Each Party recognizes that consumers in its territory, subject to applicable laws, and regulations, should be able to:
(a) access and use services and applications of their choice available on the Internet, subject to reasonable network management;
(b) connect their choice of devices to the Internet, provided that such devices do not harm the network; and
(c) have access to information on network management practices of their Internet access service suppliers.
Notice first that there is nothing to protect net neutrality; and know second that ‘network management’ is the bureaucratic euphemism that will allow providers to charge more for improved service.
In short, if TISA is signed, then net neutrality can never be guaranteed by any future law since it would contravene existing international trade agreements. So, whether the FCC genuinely lost or dishonestly discarded more than 300,000 net neutrality comments is irrelevant — net neutrality is already dead. It has been so decided by the United States of Amerope.