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Verizon v. FCC 2014 Helgi Walker Statement

Nov 22, 2017   Web and Internet   Nick Vogt   Comments
On the topic of net neutrality you may have seen this quote floating around:

"I'm authorized to state by my client today, that but for these rules we would be exploring those commercial arrangements."

This is from the Verizon lawyer Helgi C. Walker, and is touted as evidence that Verizon plans to prioritize or block Internet traffic discriminately, or create paid fast-lanes. Here's a little more detail on this and where you can listen to the full exchange.


Verizon v. FCC 2014


The exchange happened during the Verizon v. FCC appeals case that took place on September 9, 2013. Verizon was arguing against portions of the 2010 FCC Open Internet Order. The full interaction can be listened to on the US Courts recordings archive. Scroll down to 11-1355 Verizon v. FCC. It is a 57.9 MB MP3 file.

The quote in question occurs around the 30:00 mark. Here it is:

"ESPN has a website that is so popular that ESPN demands and receives payments from broadband providers in order to allow those subscribers to access the ESPN content. So the market's there, certainly in that regard, and I'm authorized to state by my client today that, but for these rules, we would be exploring those commercial arrangements."

Walker is arguing in favor of this behavior as it allows companies to offer more content to their subscribers in unique ways, and that the Open Internet Order rules stifle this sort of innovation.


Effects on 2010 Open Internet Order


For the full effects please read the Wiki page. In summary, the Verizon v. FCC case resulted in the "No Blocking" and "No Unreasonable Discrimination" portions of the Open Internet Order to be voided. Here's a brief summary of what these two parts of the order did prior to the 2014 appeal:

No Blocking - Prevented blocking, or otherwise degrading to make unusable, access to lawful content and services.

No Unreasonable Discrimination - Forbid fixed network operators from unreasonable discrimination of lawful traffic.

In my opinion it's hard to see how removing these consumer protections would result in anything positive outside of corporate profits. Though I encourage you to listen to more of the exchange and form your own opinion on this.
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