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The FCC Repeals Internet Regulations After Months Of Wild Protests

Reported by Eric Lieberman | Tech and Law Reporter | 8:43 PM 12/13/2017

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 19: (L-R) Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and nominees Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr prepare to testify before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee during their confirmation hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pai has served as the FCC chairman since January of 2017 and is due for re-appointment. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed Obama-era internet regulations Thursday in a 3-2 vote, signaling a culmination to a long-winded and highly heated debate. Net neutrality — an amorphous concept generally meaning all internet traffic should be treated equally — has been fiercely contested in recent years, increasing in intensity over recent months. Specifically, the best way to enforce net neutrality, or ensure that internet service providers (ISPs) don’t partake in unfair practices, is the crux of the policy dispute.

Proponents of the net neutrality rules imposed by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler argue that placing the government at the center of the internet is needed to ensure wireless carriers like Comcast and Verizon don’t triage consumers by offering different services with varying speeds, also known as fast lanes. They further contend that the regulations are integral to preventing content owners (think Netflix and Hulu) from paying broadband providers to “cut to the front of the line” at congested nodes of internet traffic, also known as “paid prioritization.” Such corporations could also conceivably favor their own content over that of others in what sometimes is called “vertical prioritization.”

Say, for example, Comcast wanted to encourage its customers to use its On Demand platform for entertainment viewing purposes, it may slow Netflix’s streaming capabilities. Thus far, there has been minimal evidence of ISPs engaging in throttling or paid prioritization. Yet, advocates of the rules argue that it will likely occur prevalently, especially as the internet ecosystem becomes even more complex.

To enforce the rules, Wheeler made the internet a public utility, like water or electricity, under the Title II classification — a fact some supporters of the now-nixed net neutrality regulations are unaware of.

Critics of the net neutrality rules, and thus proponents of the FCC’s decision to repeal the mandate, are generally supportive of a neutral internet, just not in its present state under the Title II category. The onus to police the industry from engaging in anti-competitive behavior has fallen on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for years (along with the Department of Justice’s own oversight). The FCC’s repeal plans to restore jurisdictional authority to the FTC.

Even ISPs have said they agree there should be a neutral internet as long as it doesn’t overly burden their ability to operate freely and offer special deals that can benefit consumers.

“Your internet Thursday afternoon will not change in any significant or substantial way from the internet you are experiencing today on Wednesday. Nor will it be different next week, nor will it be different on a Thursday a year from now,” Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA, a trade association representing the internet and television association, said in a media briefing. “This isn’t just a hollow promise or pledge — it’s rooted in sound self-interest. I think one of the things that the debate often obscures is the fact that ISPs like net neutrality too … they make a lot of money on an open internet.”

He says that the industry has “discovered over decades of providing these services that an open internet model is much more profitable than a closed internet model, or one that tends to create artificial scarcity,” and believes clamping down on users’ capabilities is bad business.

Powell provides an example of one of the most well known online service providers in history realizing this.

“Ever since AOL abandoned the use of closed models, industrial actors have recognized the folly frequently of that model, and continued to pursue that otherwise,” he said.

He says the industry is quarreling over how the FCC of the past, specifically under the later years of the Obama administration, decided to mandate net neutrality rules specifically through Title II classification and delegate itself enormous power.

Nevertheless, the clamor over the debate has caused some to become so incensed they have resorted to vile, racist actions.  Non-bigoted arguments made in op-eds and from grassroots organizations lack the hateful content but still use extreme — and arguably hyperbolic — language.

“Trump’s FCC Wants To Kill A Free And Open Internet,” reads one.

“Everything Ajit Pai Has Fucked Up in the Last Three Months,reads an irreverently critical headline from Gizmodo.

“White House Endorses FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s Quest To Murder Net Neutrality,” reads another.

The brouhaha has been so steadily raucous — and in most instances elusive of actual nuanced policy debates — that Jon Leibowitz, a Democratic commissioner at the FTC from 2004-2013, felt the need to write an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal (which officially endorsed Pai’s rollback) titled “Everybody Calm Down About Net Neutrality.”

“The rhetoric over net neutrality has reached a fever pitch, with each side predicting dire consequences if opponents get their way,” opened Leibowitz, who was was FTC chairman starting in 2009. “There is a critical need for protections from anticompetitive practices online, but both sides are exaggerating. Just as the sky did not fall when the FCC imposed its current Title II version of net neutrality in 2015, it also won’t fall if the FCC reclassifies broadband as an information service later this week.”

He describes the situation as that of “Chicken Little” because “the FTC, my former agency, is an experienced cop on the beat in this area. It protected internet users from unfair, deceptive and anticompetitive practices for the two decades before the FCC’s 2015 rule, which removed its jurisdiction.”

He also references aforementioned historical events.

“Consider the core principles of net neutrality, which I have long supported: unfettered access of the entire (lawful) internet and transparency about broadband providers’ practices,” wrote Leibowitz in TheWSJ. “The FTC worked on those issues for years. In 2000, it conditioned AOL’s acquisition of Time Warner on the combined company’s commitment to treat competing internet providers operating on its network fairly.”

Pai says his plan, which is supported by the two other Republican Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr, will satisfy both those core principles due to a mandate that ISPs be transparent with their practices and offerings. That way, the FTC steps in only when it deems necessary.

“Tomorrow is an important day as the FCC will vote on rolling back heavy handed Obama-era Internet regulations,” Pai told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Wednesday.

Critics of the repeal, on the other hand, believe enforcing transparency isn’t completely doable or viable.

Setting aside the extremely violent threats made against Pai, as well as a Republican U.S. congressman, some proponents of the repeal consider the public attention to the issue a good thing.

“Americans cherish the free and open Internet, so the public has rightly expressed a range of views on this topic,” Carr told TheDCNF. “Now, some of the stories trending out there are simply fanning the false flames of fear. Indeed, the apocalyptic rhetoric is surprising, even for Washington standards.”

He says that the move to repeal isn’t “a radical new experiment,” but rather an apt reversion to “the same regulatory framework — Title I — that governed the internet in 2015 and for the prior 20 years.”

Overall, Carr expects the rollback to be a big win for consumers and for innovation, the latter of which will help the former.

Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who also served on the 2016-2017 FCC Presidential Transition Team, said in a prior interview that the net neutrality rules imposed in 2015 don’t comport with innovation. For example, 5G, the next generation of wireless technology, will allow significantly faster internet and spur further development of technological capabilities that turn former pipe dreams into tangible realities. But this will only occur if net neutrality rules are fully repealed as planned and broadband providers are permitted to expand and invest, including in remote, rural, low-income areas of the country, according to Layton.

Commissioner O’Rielly agrees.

“Chairman Pai’s proposal will pass 3-2 tomorrow. As a result, in the short term, it is unlikely that consumers will notice any changes to their broadband experience,” O’Rielly told TheDCNF on Wednesday. “In the long term, by lifting Title II and removing heavy-handed regulations that inject uncertainty into the market – such as a requirement to come to the FCC to ask permission to innovate – I expect to see more investment and innovation in the broadband industry.”

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel did not respond to TheDCNF’s most recent request for comment by time of publication, and Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn declined to comment for the time being.

The article has been updated to reflect the finalized voting, the results of which were highly expected.

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FCC head unveils plan to roll back net neutrality


FCC head unveils plan to roll back net neutrality / © Getty

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday revealed his plans for rolling back net neutrality, one of the most controversial items up for consideration at the agency.

During a speech at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Pai said he plans to hand regulatory jurisdiction of broadband providers back to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an agency that critics say is less prepared to handle it.

Originally passed under Democrat Tom Wheeler’s chairmanship, the net neutrality rules — more formally referred to as the Open Internet Order of 2015 — set restrictions on internet service providers (ISPs) prioritizing certain kinds of web traffic and throttling others. The rules were broadly aimed at establishing a level playing field for companies on the internet.

Broadband companies quickly praised Pai’s proposal.

“We applaud FCC Chairman Pai’s initiative to remove this stifling regulatory cloud over the internet,” AT&T said in a blog post. “Businesses large and small will have a clearer path to invest more in our nation’s broadband infrastructure under Chairman Pai’s leadership.”

The company said that despite the proposed changes, AT&T “continues to support the fundamental tenets of net neutrality.”

Broadband provider Charter Communications also expressed support for net neutrality principles.

“Charter’s support for an open internet is an integral part of our commitment to deliver a superior broadband experience to our customers,” Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge said. “That will never change.”

Notably, Pai did not once utter the phrase “net neutrality” during his remarks, opting to refer to the principles as the “open Internet” instead.

Telecommunications companies and Republicans at the FCC have argued that net neutrality is an example of the government overstepping its boundaries with onerous regulations that would stifle broadband innovation and investment.

Republicans in Congress also expressed their support for Pai’s plan.

“We have long said that imposing a Depression-era, utility-style regulatory structure onto the internet was the wrong approach, and we applaud Chairman Pai’s efforts to roll back these misguided regulations,” Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.); House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.); Senate Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.); and House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in a joint statement.

“Consumers want an open internet that doesn’t discriminate on content and protects free speech and consumer privacy,” they added.

“It’s now time for Republicans and Democrats, internet service providers, edge providers, and the internet community as a whole to come together and work toward a legislative solution that benefits consumers and the future of the internet.”

Pai’s proposed reforms tackle one of the most controversial portions of net neutrality: the reclassification of broadband providers as “common carriers,” which gives the FCC the authority to regulate them. Broadband service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have hammered these rules, arguing they are unnecessary and that the FCC should not regulate them.

The Republican chairman appears to be taking that argument to heart. Pai said his proposed changes would reinvigorate broadband investment, which he said had declined since the Open Internet Order had passed in 2015.

“So what happened after the Commission adopted Title II?” he asked.

“Sure enough, infrastructure investment declined,” Pai said. “Reduced investment means fewer Americans will have high-speed Internet access.  It means fewer American will have jobs. And it means less competition for consumers.”

“It’s basic economics: The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.”

The FCC will release a text full “Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking” on net neutrality Thursday, which be voted on at the May 18 FCC open meeting. Should it pass, the public will then be able to file comments on the proposal.

A 2014 poll by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication found that 81 percent of consumers supported net neutrality provisions. Pai said Wednesday he is in favor of net neutrality principles, but is expected to call on broadband companies to draw up their own protections in their terms of service, which would then be enforced by the FTC. That drew criticism from some Democrats.

“That’s like saying you value math, but you don’t value numbers. We can’t keep the promise of net neutrality without the rules,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said a Wednesday conference call ahead of Pai’s remarks.

The Senate Commerce Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, also blasted Pai’s plan.

“Gutting these rules robs Americans of protections that preserve their access to the open and free internet,” Nelson said in a statement.

“Depriving the FCC of its ongoing, forward-looking oversight of the broadband industry amounts to a dereliction of duty at a time when guaranteeing an open internet is more critical than ever.”

Consumer groups that backed the net neutrality rules are outraged, and many have been mobilizing since Pai’s expected changes were reported earlier in April. On the same conference call with Markey, leaders from the advocacy groups Free Press and Fight for the Future hammered Pai’s anticipated policy shift on the matter.

“By attacking net neutrality Ajit Pai is potentially opening the floodgates for widespread internet censorship by ISPs,” Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, said.

Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, mocked the idea that broadband companies would “pinky swear” to voluntarily follow net neutrality principles under Pai’s guidelines.

“Hell hath no fury like the internet scorned,” Greer continued, noting that past attempts to regulate the internet in favor of industry interests had led to widespread public backlash. He warned that Pai’s changes would likely be subject to the same treatment.

Democrats such as Sens. Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Markey, who are opposed to Pai’s proposed net neutrality reforms, have said they intend to leverage this backlash in their efforts to keep the FCC and Republicans in Congress from gutting net neutrality rules.

“Chairman Pai should expect a tsunami of resistance from Americans defending net neutrality,” Markey said.

Updated 3:41 p.m.

FCC shoots down petitions to delay open internet rules

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Remember when a wolfpack of cable companies and telecoms — including AT&T, CenturyLink, the American Cable Association, USTelecom and more — filed motions to delay the FCC from enacting parts of its open internet order? Well, the Commission was having none of that. Late in the day this past Friday, Wireless Competition Bureau chief Julie Veach and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau chief Roger Sherman handed down an order dismissing those petitions, pointing out that additional protection for the internet as we know it is crucial and that the petitioners’ cases aren’t as strong as they think.Tyranney Alert

Most of those groups had their sights set on one crucial proviso: the FCC’s new rules would classify internet service providers as “common carriers,” which they believed would bring not only the industry but the infrastructure that powers the internet under tighter, heavier government control. Despite the fact that companies that would now fall under that umbrella wouldn’t be subject to the full scope of regulatory oversight per the Telecommunications Act, they’re still fighting back in the name of the internet’s future growth. To hear dissenting FCC commissioner Ajit Pai tell it, the FCC would have the “the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.” The petition filed by USTelecom, the CTIA, AT&T and CenturyLink spelled gloom and doom for the web as we know if the FCC gets its way:

“From day one, the Commission’s assertion of comprehensive control over the Internet will subject broadband Internet access providers – especially, small providers – to enormous unrecoverable costs and reduce their ability and incentive to invest in broadband infrastructure.”burke

To be clear, AT&T and company did not petition against the three “bright light” rules – no blocking legal content, no throttling and no paid prioritization – contained in the FCC’s Open Internet Order. While we guess it’s good everyone involved can agree on at least that much, it doesn’t change the fact that courts still have to rule on the lawsuits challenging the validity of the FCC’s plan. Tom Wheeler might be convinced of his eventual victory, but you can bet no one’s going to leave the ring until one set of ideals has been laid out on the ground.

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Obama Thanks Americans for Supporting Destruction of the Internet

Posted By Kurt Nimmo | On February 27, 2015

Article reblogged from Infowars:

URL to the Original Posting Site:

Obama Thanks Americans for Supporting Destruction of the Internet

Net neutrality is a classic Trojan horse

Imperial President ObamaAs Ron Paul notes today the FCC is a non-elected federal government agency that has arbitrarily decided — without a vote from Congress or permission from the American people — to regulate the internet. Paul characterizes this as “the largest regulatory power grab in recent history” that will undoubtedly have serious consequences for the average internet user, including the possibility of “de facto censorship of ideas perceived as threatening to the political class – ideas like the troops should be brought home, the PATRIOT Act should be repealed, military spending and corporate welfare should be cut, and the Federal Reserve should be audited and ended.” In addition, the move will likely force online broadcasters and websites like and Drudge to provide “equal opportunities for political opponents.” The FCC is not shy about announcing this is what it plans to do.Different Free Speech Ideologies

Like the Golden Age of Television, the Golden Age of the Internet will be destroyed by the heavy hand of the federal government. Kennedy’s Federal Communications Commission boss, Newton Minow, was responsible not only for destroying the Golden Age of Television, but also centralizing and placing more power in the hands of the big three television networks, which resulted in “reducing the range of choices in programs” and killing off creativity, as Paul Cantor notes.obama- Marxist tyrant Tyrant Obama Freedom is not dictator friendly

Obama and the federal government have bent over backwards to portray net neutrality as a win for the little guy. In fact, despite all the siren warnings about socialism and the FCC by Obama’s opponents, the agency is in the pocket of the telecommunications industry and always has been. Its current appointed boss, Tom Wheeler, is a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, with positions including President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association.

“The closer you look at Wheeler’s selection, the more questionable it appears. After being poorly led for more than a decade—particularly under the disastrous tenure of Michael Powell, son of Colin—a strong argument can be made that the last thing the F.C.C. needs is an industry insider with close ties to many of the companies it oversees,” John Cassidy wrote back in 2013 when the White House nominated Wheeler to head up the agency.squeeze into mold

Net neutrality is a classic Trojan horse. It will be used not only to censor speech and marginalize opposition to the political class, but will also deliver the internet to large and forever consolidating media corporations.


The Net Neutrality Scam

Posted By Ryan McMaken | On February 26, 2015

Article reblogged from Infowars:

URL of the Original Posting Site:

The Net Neutrality Scam

Yet again, the government wants to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

According to the Obama administration and the FCC, it is necessary to regulate internet service providers so that they don’t interfere with people’s access to the web. The claim immediately prompts one to ask: Who is being denied access to the web?

In the past twenty years, access to the internet has only become more widespread and service today is far faster for many people — including “ordinary” people — than it was twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. Today, broadband in Europe, where the internet is more tightly regulated, has less reach than it has in the United States.

The administration’s plan is rather innocuously called “net neutrality,” but in fact it has nothing at all to do with neutrality and is just a scheme to vastly increase the federal government’s control over the internet. cropped-ignorance.png

What is Net Neutrality?

We don’t know the details of the plan because the FCC refuses to let the taxpayers see the 300-page proposal before the FCC votes on it today. But, we do know a few things.

  • Currently, ISPs are regulated by the FCC, but as an “information service” under the less restrictive rules of so-called Title I. But now, the FCC wants to regulate ISPs as utilities under the far more restrictive Title II restrictions. For a clue as to how cutting edge this idea is, remember this switch to Title II regulation would put ISPs into the same regulatory regime as Ma Bell under the Communications Act of 1934.

So what does this mean for the FCC in practice? According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, “It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.” More specifically, Gordon Crovitz at the Wall Street Journal writes:

[With Net Netruality,] bureaucrats can review the fairness of Google’s search results, Facebook’s news feeds and news sites’ links to one another and to advertisers. BlackBerry is already lobbying the FCC to force Apple and Netflix to offer apps for BlackBerry’s unpopular phones. Bureaucrats will oversee peering, content-delivery networks and other parts of the interconnected network that enables everything from Netflix and YouTube to security drones and online surgery.

The administration insists these measures are necessary because — even though there is no evidence that this has actually happened — it is possible that at some point in the future, internet service providers could restrict some content and apps on the internet. Thus, we are told, control of content should be handed over to the federal government to ensure that internet service providers are “neutral” when it comes to deciding what is on the internet and what is not.Imperial President Obama kingobamafingerconstitution-300x204 Tyrant Obama Freedom is not dictator friendly

Can Goods Be Allocated in a “Neutral” Way?

The problem is that there is no such thing as “neutral” allocation of resources, whether done by government or the marketplace. In the marketplace, goods and services tend to be allocated according to those who demand the goods the most. Where demand is highest, prices are highest, so goods and services tend to go to where they are most demanded. This makes perfect sense, of course, and also reflects the inherent democracy of the markets. Where larger numbers of people put more resources is where more goods and services will head.

It is this mechanism that drives the marketplaces for food, clothing, and a host of other products. Consequently, both food and clothing have become so plentiful that obesity is a major health problem and second-hand clothing stores, selling barely-worn discarded clothing, are a boom industry, even in affluent neighborhoods. Similarly, cell phones have only become more affordable and more widespread in recent decades.

For industries where new firms may freely enter, and customers are not compelled to buy, companies or individuals that wish to make money must use their resources in ways that are freely demanded by others. Unless they have been granted monopoly power by government, no firm can simply ignore its customers. If they do, competing firms will enter the marketplace with other goods and services. Although goods allocated in this fashion are — according to the administration — not being allocated “neutrally,” the fact is that more people now have more service at higher speeds than was the case in the past. Furthermore, even if firms (or the government) attempted to allocate goods in a neutral manner, it would be impossible to do so, because neither society nor the physical world are neutral.

In his recent interview on new neutrality, Peter Klein used the analogy of a grocery store. In modern-day grocery stores, suppliers of food and drink will negotiate with stores (using so-called “slotting allowances”) to have their goods advertised near the front of the store or have goods placed on store shelves at eye level. If government were to tell grocery stores to start being more “neutral” about where it places goods, we can see immediately that such a thing is impossible. After all, somebody’s goods have to be at eye level or near the front of the store. Who is to decide? A handful of government bureaucrats, or thousands of consumers who with their purchases control the success and failure of firms?

In a similar way, bandwidth varies for various ISP clients depending the infrastructure available, and the resources available to each client. And yet, in spite of the administration’s fear-mongering that ISPs will lock out clients of humble means, and the need to hand all bandwidth over to plutocrats, internet access continues to expand. And who can be surprised? Have grocery stores stopped carrying low-priced nutritious food such as bananas and oatmeal just because Nabisco Corp. pays for better product placement for its costly processed foods? Obviously not.cropped-freedom-is-not-dictator-friendly.png

Who will Control the FCC?

All goods need not be allocated in response to the human-choice-driven price mechanism of the marketplace. Goods and services can also be allocated by political means. That is, states, employing coercive means can seize goods and services and allocate them according to certain political goals and the goals of people in positions of political power. There is nothing “neutral” about this method of allocating resources.

In the net neutrality debate, it’s almost risible that some are suggesting that the FCC will somehow necessarily work in the “public” interest;

  • First of all, we can already see how the FCC regards the public with its refusal to make its own proposals public.
  • Second, who will define who the “public” is?
  • And finally, after identifying who the “public” is, how will the governing bodies of the FCC determine what the “public” wants?Different Free Speech Ideologies

It’s a safe bet there will be no plebiscitary process, so what mechanism will be used? In practice, bureaucratic agencies respond to lobbying and political pressure like any other political institution. Those who can most afford to lobby and provide information to the FCC, however, will not be ordinary people who have the constraints of household budgets and lives to live in places other than Washington, DC office buildings. No, the general public will be essentially powerless because regulatory regimes diminish the market power of customers.

Most of the interaction that FCC policymakers will have with the “public” will be through lobbyists working for the internet service providers, so what net neutrality does is turn the attention of the ISPs away from the consumers themselves and toward the regulatory agency. In the marketplace, a firm’s customers are the most important decision makers. But the more regulated an industry becomes, the more important the regulating agency becomes to the firm’s owners and managers.2

The natural outcome will be more “regulatory capture,” in which the institutions with the most at stake in a regulatory agency’s decisions end up controlling the agencies themselves. We see this all the time in the revolving door between legislators, regulators, and lobbyists. And you can also be sure that once this happens, the industry will close itself off to new innovative firms seeking to enter the marketplace. The regulatory agencies will ensure the health of the status quo providers at the cost of new entrepreneurs and new competitors.

Nor are such regulatory regimes even “efficient” in the mainstream use of the term. As economist Douglass North noted, regulatory regimes do not improve efficiency, but serve the interests of those with political power:

“Institutions are not necessarily or even usually created to be socially efficient; rather they, or at least the formal rules, are created to serve the interests of those with the bargaining power to create new rules.”Any man who thinks Master

So, if populists think net neutrality will somehow give “the people” greater voice in how bandwidth is allocated and ISPs function, they should think again.

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