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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Federal Communications Commission just dropped a report on a practice — known among wonks as "zero-rating" — where internet providers give customers free data for using certain websites or services.

This makes for great marketing copy. But consumer groups say the practice lets providers steer customers towards services the provider owns, violating rules the FCC approved to protect net neutrality.

What the FCC found:

  • AT&T and Verizon both offer products that "may harm consumers and competition by unreasonably discriminating in favor of downstream providers owned or affiliated with the network providers," per letters to lawmakers on the report.
  • T-Mobile's Binge On product and a second AT&T offering don't risk violating net neutrality rules, however.

Why this matters: This is the next big battlefield over net neutrality and the FCC just wrote the rules of engagement. Zero-rating products will only get bigger as internet providers use them to wring more revenue from their content businesses. AT&T has been particularly bullish with its much-hyped DirecTV Now offering.

Why this doesn't matter: The report isn't a binding rule. When Republicans take over the FCC from departing Chairman Tom Wheeler in nine days, they're not going to be inclined to go after companies for any type of zero-rating.

Counterpoint:

Hopefully the next FCC will take into account the views of our customers who greatly benefit from watching professional football, soccer, basketball and other great content on go90 free of data charges. — Will Johnson, SVP at Verizon

What that means: Thanks for playing, Mr. Chairman. See you around!

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

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