Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120
02/08/2018 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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HJR 31-CONGRESS REVERSE FCC ON NET NEUTRALITY 4:16:45 PM CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 31, Urging the United States Congress to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's order ending net neutrality. 4:16:47 PM CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS opened public testimony on HJR 31. 4:17:15 PM LEON JAIMES testified that he has enjoyed a career of nearly 20 years in the field of information technology (IT); he currently works as an information security consultant; he related various work experiences in the IT field. He said that as both a business and individual customer of internet service providers (ISPs), he has watched ISPs capitalize on consumer demand in the form of data caps, long-term contracts, termination fees, and at times manipulation of internet traffic, as was seen with Comcast Corporation ("Comcast") throttling (indisc.) traffic in 2008. He said that he has an expert understanding of the network architectures and technologies that allow ISPs to accomplish these feats, as well as direct knowledge of technical configurations used by ISPs to configure their provider networks. MR. JAIMES maintained that neutrality and open and free access to the internet is fundamental to democracy; net neutrality ensures a level playing field for small business, individual entrepreneurs, and private citizens. He expressed his belief that net neutrality is vital to ensuring that the ability to limit free speech is not something available to ISPs. He further asserted that Alaska is unique in that innovation utilizing network connectivity to the global economy is a vital and untapped resource that can fuel economic growth in Alaska; net neutrality facilitates and protects that opportunity for Alaskans. MR. JAIMES relayed that across the board, one thing that most networks with which he has worked have in common is the inability to keep pace with information security threats. He added, "It's not even close." He opined that the lack of information security controls often borders on negligence and is truly alarming. He mentioned that his biggest concern with net neutrality is that it opens the door to ISPs capturing more sensitive and personal data about consumers; currently an ISP can capture data under the auspices of troubleshooting. He related that his phone call to testify is one of those pieces of data. It is (indisc.) and transmitted via the standard ISP networks, and the data package that comprises phone calls, text messages, and multimedia Short Message Service (SMS) messages are very likely being captured for troubleshooting purposes. MR. JAIMES concluded by saying that his concern is that the ISPs do not have the capability to secure the data that they would capture if net neutrality is left [repealed]. More data can be collected on consumers; data that is collected can be stolen; and once it is stolen, there is no way to recover it. 4:20:54 PM TARA RICH, Legal and Policy Director, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska, testified that the primary concern of ACLU is the censorship that ISPs can have on internet users, which is already occurring throughout the country. She relayed examples of this, as follows: American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) Inc. censored a live Pearl Jam concert stream in response to criticisms of [then] President George W. Bush by the band's lead singer, Eddie Vedder; in 2007, Verizon Wireless ("Verizon") blocked text messages from the pro-choice advocacy group, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice America because Verizon deemed them to be "controversial"; Telus Corporation, a Canadian Telecom company, blocked the website of a union with which it was engaged in a labor dispute. She said that there are numerous other examples of telecom companies using mechanisms that would have been regulated under net neutrality. These mechanisms include: using tools to block certain websites; engaging in what is called "throttling" or intentionally slowing down access to data; and paid prioritization for certain websites. MS. RICH maintained that ACLU has very serious concerns about inhibiting free speech through the internet. The internet plays a special role for free speech: it is decentralized; it is neutral; it is non-discriminatory; it relays information from source to destination; and it promotes open discourse. She added that it allows people from their homes to have an equal chance to be seen and heard. She said that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that anyone with a phone line can become a "town crier" with a voice that resonates farther than from any (indesc.). She emphasized that the internet has changed the way people communicate and receive information. 4:23:28 PM MS. RICH stated that the two ISPs in Alaska have indicated that they don't intend to violate net neutrality rules; however, Alaskans may be at the mercy of what other ISPs - Comcast, Verizon, or Time Warner, Inc. - would do, because Alaska uses the networks its two ISPs use throughout the Lower 48 and, therefore, has no control. 4:24:21 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH stated that Ms. Rich mentioned two ISPs and asked for confirmation that nationally there are multiple ISPs and service options for consumers. MS. RICH answered that's correct and added that the two ISPs she referenced to are the main two providers for internet service in Alaska. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH stated that he does not support HJR 31; he has faith in the commercial markets and competition. He offered, "If you're unhappy with a level of service from a provider ... you move on to a competitor"; therefore, the public is protected. He relayed that he served on an electric utility board for nine years; everyone has electricity coming into their home but is charged differently according to use. He said he struggles with Alaska immersing itself in the commercial market. 4:26:07 PM REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP stated that he supports HJR 31; he has received communication opposing the proposed legislation based on the belief that every state should not adopt its own net neutrality laws - the same issue as came up with Uber Technologies Inc. He mentioned that it was brought to his attention that without net neutrality, an ISP provider with a good relationship with Netflix, Inc. but not with another entertainment company, might slow down the one company in favor of the other. 4:27:20 PM CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS closed public testimony on HJR 31. 4:27:27 PM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK stated that he supports HJR 31 as a good consumer bill; infrastructure, such as power and telecommunications, must be for the common good and regulated, because the public relies on that infrastructure for advancing society, making progress, and making sure its business and economy are thriving. He maintained that the internet is a vital resource for economic opportunities. He said that when he uses a great deal of data on his cell phone, he gets charged for it; when he uses a great deal of electricity, he gets charged for it; with net neutrality, he can access anything he wants on the "information highway." 4:28:44 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL moved to report HJR 31 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH objected. 4:29:03 PM A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Wool, LeDoux, Tuck, Knopp, and Kreiss-Tomkins voted in favor of reporting HJR 31 out of committee. Representative Birch voted against it. Therefore, HJR 31 was reported from the House State Affairs Standing Committee by a vote of 5-1.