In a 2016 Federal court ruling, the courts decided that high-speed internet service is a utility. This was a victory for start-up tech firms, microbusinesses and everyday consumers. They all use and depend on the internet on a daily basis. While some Americans cannot afford high-speed internet, many Americans find it difficult to function without it. Therefore, the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) decided high-speed internet is a necessity and the courts agreed. This ruling affirms that high-speed internet is as important as telephones and electrical power in the lives of Americans. It is not a luxury.
The decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was made in a case about net neutrality. Net neutrality is a rule that ensures internet service providers deliver the same internet service to all its consumers. This keeps companies who can afford to pay for faster speed and broader service from having an unfair advantage over their competitors who cannot afford it. Without net neutrality broadband providers could allow some content on the web to be delivered at slower speeds. Consumers could be charged extra for better service and have to pay more to be able to receive some content. Only two judges were in agreement. The dissenting Judge, Stephen Williams referred to the rules an “unreasoned patchwork”. He felt that competition in the broadband industry would be jeopardized by the ruling of the F.C.C. Google and Netflix are in favor of the neutrality rules.
When the rule was put in place Ajit Pai was a commissioner with the F.C.C. He was appointed by President Obama in May 2012. Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner, was outspokenly against the regulation of broadband as a utility from the very beginning. Ajit Pai encouraged cable and telecommunications firms to continue the legal challenges against the rule. Cable, telecommunications and wireless internet providers sued to overturn the regulations put in place by the F.C.C, claiming that the F.C.C. exceeded its authority. This resulted in the 2016 ruling, upholding the decision by the F.C.C. The legal battle is anticipated to continue.
In January 2017, President Trump named Ajit Pai the new Chairman of the F.C.C. Since Mr. Pai took office, the F.C.C. closed an investigation involving T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon. The investigation was concerning their zero-rating practices. Some view this as the dismantling of net neutrality by the F.C.C.
In 2016, the North Carolina Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, commonly referred to as House Bill 2, was challenged in court by the U.S. Justice Department.
Among other things, House Bill 2 eliminated anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and stated that in government buildings, individuals could only use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates.
After the Justice Department notified North Carolina’s governor and leaders of the University of North Carolina (UNC) system that the law violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act, suit was filed on May 9, 2016.
According to the Justice Department website, www.justice.gov, the complaint alleged that the defendants, as a result of the bathroom and changing facility provisions of House Bill 2, discriminated against transgender public employees and applicants in violation of Title VII. Title VII makes sex discrimination in employment unlawful. The Justice Department claimed that access to restrooms was a basic condition of employment and that denying transgender access to restrooms and changing facilities constituted unlawful sex discrimination.
The complaint also alleged that, under House Bill 2, the defendants were violating the non-discrimination provision of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity and Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The Justice Department asserted that these laws applied to recipients of federal funding.
The complaint sought a federal court order prohibiting the defendants from enforcing the ban under House Bill 2.
That same day, North Carolina’s governor and secretary of public safety sued the Justice Department in a different federal court.
According to the New York Times, that decision was narrow in scope, The judge’s decision applied only to the parties who brought the challenge and found that they had shown that they were likely to succeed in proving that the House Bill 2 access restriction violated Title IX.
“In sum, the court has no reason to believe that an injunction returning to the state of affairs as it existed before March 2016 would pose a privacy or safety risk for North Carolinians, transgender or otherwise,” the opinion stated. “It is in the public interest to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws in a fashion that also maintains longstanding state laws designed to promote privacy and safety.”
Earlier this May, the Herald Tribune wrote a piece regarding the false arrest of Cooper Moore, for an outstanding aggravated battery assault from June 2014. Cooper was arrested by local police as soon as he landed on the Grand Cayman islands on a vacation with his current girlfriend. While he was being held up, Cooper asked the police to explain why he was detained, but they did not give an explanation and instead locked him up.
At a loss for justice, Mr. Cooper’s parents contacted the Byrd Law Firm, which in collaboration with a private investigator put together a case that was aimed to clearing Cooper Moore’s name. According to the documents, Cooper was wrongfully accused for partaking in a fight at a Florida Smokin’ Joes. However, the investigators found that Moore was not involved, and a witness revealed the correct name of the person who was involved. Due to these findings the charges were quickly dropped.
According to an officer who first responded to the scene, Moore’s name was first brought to him by a bar employee who showed him the suspects Facebook page. Officer Dodge, who was on the scene said that “people lie to us everyday and they don’t want to tell the truth especially if they are associated with someone involved in a crime.”
According to The Innocence Project, misidentification of witnesses in regards to the crime scene is one of the leading reasons of wrongfully convicting and imprisoning people in the United States. The article also points out that the recollection of witness memory of the crime scene is even less credible after they have been shown countless of photographs of the alleged victim.
Further evidence of the case used by lawyers at The Byrd Law Firm was Moore’s alibi and the fact that he was never contacted by the Sarasota Police Department. Cooper was never informed of his alleged involvement in the bar fight, and a warrant for his arrest was issued shortly after. Moore was not aware of these developments until policemen picked him up months later while he was vacationing with his girlfriend.
Derek Byrd, attorney for Cooper Moore, states that the findings regarding his client and other suspects should have been turned over to a detective for the facts to be checked and eventually cleared. Cooper told his attorney that during the night in question, he was home and had records to prove that he never left his apartment.
With the help of his attorney, Derek Byrd, Moore was able to clear his name and no longer face 8 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He hopes that the police find the right person responsible for this fight and is willing to help in any way he can.