Republicans Move to Block Net Neutrality Funding

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Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives banded together to block the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing Net Neutrality rules. The lawmakers added a new amendment to a spending bill that prohibits the FCC from using Federal funds to enforce the rules it enacted in hopes of preventing broadband service providers from throttling back network access for some types of content.

GOP members argued that the FCC’s rules overstep the agency’s bounds, and stifle innovation and industry growth. “Why would you put the government in charge of the Internet?” said House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman and Representative Fred Upton (R, MI), according to the Wall Street Journal.

The idea behind the new FCC rules is to prevent carriers from blocking or slowing down data from companies that offer competing services, and from charging companies fees for providing faster access to their content. The rules are more restrictive for wired, or land line-based, Internet access, and give wireless Internet access providers some room to control data on their networks.

By blocking funding, the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules become useless because there won’t be any means of enforcement should service providers fail to comply.

“Without some clear rules of the road, large companies can carve up the Internet into fast and slow lanes, charging a toll for content and blocking innovators from entering the information superhighway,” commented Representative Anna Eshoo (D, CA).

Simply adding the amendment to the spending bill doesn’t mean the FCC’s funding for Net Neutrality enforcement will be blocked, just that it could be. The bill will likely see more changes before becoming law, and both Democrats and Republicans will be looking for ways to massage its language.

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Comments

Paul

typical.

prl53

The internet started out as a free, open to everyone communications system. Of course, one businesses get their grimy hands on something, they screw things up. I applaud the FCC for trying to do something to benefit us little people instead of bending over for big business—which now controls the House. They’ll shut down every tax payer-based institution and privatize everything so their stockholders can get rich while everyone else is working (if they can find a job) for less than Foxconn workers get.

jimothy

Folks, if you think the FCC is going to protect your “free, open” internet, may I interest you in a bridge?

The FCC censors radio. The FCC censors broadcast television. If they could censor cable and satellite television, they’d do that, too. But they haven’t been allowed to, because why the FCC has been allowed to regulate public airwaves, they haven’t been allowed to regulate (as broadly) privately owned cable, fiber, and satellite bandwidth.

With this so-called Net Neutrality, the FCC is sticking its nose where courts have previously ruled it doesn’t belong. I don’t agree with everything Republicans do?I find myself disagreeing with them almost as often as I disagree with Democrats?in this case, I believe they are right to block yet another encroachment into private affairs.

Remember, the President wants the ability to shut down or block parts of the Internet in cases of “national emergency.” The government wants to tax Internet purchases. Members of both parties have voted to spy on Internet traffic, in the name of “national security.”

Why on earth do you think the FCC has your interests in mind? What in the history of the agency has lead you to believe they stand up for openness and freedom?

Maggie Colburn

Ladies and Gentlemen of America…...What does the government ever run for the American citizens for our advantage.  Can you tell me what government agency has protected our rights?  Get educated, you want the FCC to run the internet and you think it will remain free????
We nee LESS government and LESS taxes in our live, not more.

Viswakarma

When do the Republicans enact anything for taking care of the common man or woman and small business!!!

They are the whores of the Rich and the Big Business!!!

jimothy

They are the whores of the Rich and the Big Business!!!

You’re right. And so are the Democrats. Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama ran the two most expensive campaigns ever. They owe a lot of favors for all those contributions. Running for Senate or the House has also become enormously expensive.

You should be skeptical of both parties. Neither represents you. So you should be wary whenever some politician, red or blue, wants to expand regulatory power.

The best safe guard to a free and open internet is a competitive market space. But government, instead of fostering competition, has done the opposite and granted local and regional monopolies. The FCC is behind a lot of that. They do not deserve more power. A more powerful FCC is not in the interest of consumers.

farmboy

And what makes you think that the Republicans are not interested in having a favored few corporations own the process (think large, grateful, perpetual donors)?  It’s the return of the Robber Barons. The internet is essential to both public and private communication and should not be owned by selected corporations. This is exactly the type of thing a government SHOULD control (think “promote the general welfare).

And if you’re worried about censorship, what is it when the big corps squeeze out the little corps? And what if the big corp, under pressure from evangelicals, decides that no contraception issues, or breast-feeding web sites can be hosted or disseminated? It’s a nightmare in the making.

jimothy

And what makes you think that the Republicans are not interested in having a favored few corporations own the process (think large, grateful, perpetual donors)?

I’m not sure who you are asking this of, but no one here has defended the Republicans (the closest I’ve come is to say that this is a rare occasion where I think they are doing the right thing).

This “my party is right, your party is wrong” mentality is exactly what enables both parties to increase their power and restrictions on your freedom.

I also suggest you educate yourself on the robber barons, who used the force of government to fund their railroads, restrict them from competition, and seize the land through which they ran. That’s not free market economics at work, but government supporting corrupt business practices. And this sort of behavior has a long, bipartisan history.

I repeat: Be skeptical of both parties when they seek to increase power “in your interest.” You’re fooling yourself if you think the Republicans are out to get you, and those nice Democrats are your kind, selfless savior. Neither has your interest in mind; you’re small potatoes to a behemoth that deals in budgets of billions of dollars.

I am worried about censorship, and you should be to. If you’re not, what’s this concern over a free and open internet about? Government has a history of censorship. Government can enact blanket censorship. Your hypothetical examples of banning contraceptive or breast feeding websites has no basis in corporate history, as far as I know. Yet this is exactly the sort censorship that government has enacted, or at least attempted to enact. Business, on the other hand, largely tries to stay away from controversial issues, because they have commercial, not political, interests to protect.

“Oh, well, that’s just those damn Republicans!” Sure, those are the issues the Republicans might want censored, but the Democrats have their own issues they’d also like silenced. One more time, neither party is on the side of individual freedom. Both are interested in increasing their own power. One party might want this sort of power, while the other wants that sort, but they are both intent on increasing power at the expense of freedom.

So if the question is, should we institute Republican programs, or Democratic programs, my answer is almost always, neither. I agree with the Republicans on this issue only because they are, in a rare move, trying to block the expansion of federal regulatory power. When the Democrats do the same, I’ll support them. When the Republicans try to expand government power, as they frequently do, I oppose them.

The team names and logos have nothing to do with it; I ask you to stop being so partisan and thinking that they do. Its the issues that matter, and the issue is increased centralized power.

Lee Dronick

I am going to hangout for a while at the Huffington Post smile

Actually I need to take some time and reflect on this move by the House Republicans. No opinion from me either way at this time.

NEALC5

How soon people forget. ?Why would you put the government in charge of the Internet?? Hmmm. The internet was started by the US Government.  ARPANET was the initiation of the internet, and without it, we might all still be dialing CompuServe or AOL.

I want the government to mandate that access to the internet be fair and equal.  I don’t want, for example, Comcast to say “you can’t hook that Roku device to the internet portal we control, because we don’t like Roku”.  This is what AT&T did before they broke up in 1984.  Did you realize that you could NOT have a second phone, or an answering machine without asking AT&T for permission, and paying for the privilege? And you had no choice to go elsewhere, because there were no competing providers.

There was a GOVERNMENT program in the 30’s called the “rural electrification project”.  Without the US gov’t incentives to run electricity to all areas of the country, it would have taken many more years for the for-profit utility companies to service areas that make them little profit.  This was a public service, like roads and sewer systems.  The Internet has now become a similar public utility that our economic welfare depends upon.  Similar rules and incentives are needed to get PRIVATE companies to do the PUBLIC good.

In may other countries, these utilities ARE OWNED by the government.  This would be terrible.  So our private companies need a little incentive to do the public good.

jimothy

I hardly think we’d still be stuck on dial up if it weren’t for the government. Equating ARPANET with the internet exaggerates reality; ARPANET is not the internet. Besides, ARPANET has nothing to do with internet access to the home, broadband or otherwise.

Counterfactuals are impossible to prove, so we both can only hypothesize. But since the market has a history of supply demand, even demand that was unimaginable decades or even years prior, I find it unlikely that, in 2011, consumers would be satisfied with dial up speed, and that competition, if allowed to foster, wouldn’t meet that need. In fact, that’s exactly what has happened, and I see little evidence of a 1960s program having a hand in it.

Why was AT&T able to dictate draconian rules about the equipment you could use? Because governments granted them a monopoly. Government created the monster that became AT&T. The solution to government failures is more government? Shudder.

Government subsidies to build rural electrical or communication infrastructures went right to the utility companies. That’s right: our tax dollars were funneled to the for-profit companies you malign. Unlike a purchase of goods or services, this was not done voluntarily. We didn’t get to pick how much of our money went to whom; the government made that decision and took our money in the form of taxes to give to large companies, albeit with strings attached.

vasic

This is NOT a situation that may someday happen in the future. It is happening NOW. I have Verizon FiOS (25Mbps down, 15Mbps up. Sweet!!). This is plenty of bandwidth for real-time streaming of any online HD video. However, if I wanted to get Netflix, none of that bandwidth would do me any good because Verizon is throttling Netflix streaming traffic down to 1.5Mbps, which is insufficient for real-time streaming. I’m paying Verizon for my bandwidth; Netflix is paying Akamai to deliver their stream directly to Verizon’s back door (avoiding public pipes), but since Verizon offers competing OnDemand TV service, Netflix’s stream is severely throttled so it no longer represents reasonable competitive threat. I was told exactly this by a Verizon ISP tech support engineer. I didn’t ask about Amazon’s video streams, and I don’t know about other ISPs (although I heard Comcast is doing exactly the same thing). For me, Netflix streaming service is simply unusable, regardless of the fat 25Mbps pipe I’m (happily) paying for. And because no law regulates this, Verizon’s throttling is NOT illegal. Meanwhile, it is detrimental to me (the consumer), Netflix (the healthy competition) and only serves to increase profit to one single entity (Verizon themselves). This is what proper regulation is supposed to do: prevent abuse of a monopoly (or near-monopoly) position that limits consumer choice and prevents healthy competition.

jimothy

To follow up: If my internet provider decided they weren’t going to let me use certain equipment (say, they only allowed Windows) on their network, or if they blocked access to Youtube, would I go write to my congressman, wait for him to maybe sponsor a bill, have it languish?if I’m lucky enough for it to make it that far?in committee while it’s debated and subject to lobbying, and, maybe, years later, signed into a law that favors me?

No, of course not. I’d switch internet providers. Unlike the 1980s and earlier, there is competition for internet service. And the providers know that; competition is a bigger deterrent to these scary hypothetical situations than government regulation.

If government wants to keep the Internet “free and open,” the first thing it should do is abandon any plans for a “kill switch” and other plans to regulate content on the internet. Then, it should takes its hands off, to allow for even greater competition (this is especially true for local government, which still grants local monopolies to cable companies, and slows the deployment of new fiber by the telcos).

vasic

That would be wonderful, if it only worked that way. In most markets in the US, consumers don’t really have a choice of an ISP; it is usually just one local/regional ISP, plus satellite. Even in the metro markets, there are never more than half a dozen. I’m in NYC, and choices for me are Cable (Time-Warner’s RoadRunner, or RCN), ADSL (Verizon), FiOS (again, Verizon) and satellite (only if I’m in the suburbia and can install the dish; otherwise, no satellite option). So far, both Verizon and Time Warner are throttling, and rumours are that RCN will be soon. Since every each one of these ISPs offer “triple play” packages (TV/Phone/Net), services like AppleTV, Netflix and Amazon are competitors, and since no law exists that can prevent them from throttling, they all already are, or soon will be, eliminating ANY meaningful independent healthy competition.

It all comes down to the strategic utility of the internet. If we take it to represent the network of highways, then by not regulating it, we’ll soon have tollbooths pop up everywhere. If you are trying to sell furniture to your customers of some town, but the guy who owns roads in and around that town also owns and sells furniture, your trucks will NOT be allowed on his roads. Soon, you won’t be allowed on his roads unless you own a specific make of cars. Speed limit for cars of different manufacturers will be different, because the owner of the roads also makes and sells cars. Plenty of scenarios there for the imaginative. On the internet the first metaphone (selling furniture) already exists—the Netflix on Verizon situation. And there is no remedy today.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Republicrat cat fight! If it didn’t cost us 35% of percent of our economy, it would be great entertainment.

jimothy

Even in the metro markets, there are never more than half a dozen.

Half a dozen is better than one. How many competitors to the FCC do you have?

jimothy

If you are trying to sell furniture to your customers of some town, but the guy who owns roads in and around that town also owns and sells furniture, your trucks will NOT be allowed on his roads. Soon, you won?t be allowed on his roads unless you own a specific make of cars. Speed limit for cars of different manufacturers will be different, because the owner of the roads also makes and sells cars. Plenty of scenarios there for the imaginative.

Those are absurd scenarios. An owner of private roads would want to open his roads to as much paying traffic as possible, in order to maximize profit.

As Adam Smith demonstrated, the way to increased productivity is increased specialization. Furniture makers and auto makers do not have an interest in getting into the private road business, as your scenarios presuppose.

Ross Edwards

@vasic: jimothy has it right.  Just because no current market entity HAS solved your specific problem yet, doesn’t mean no market entity ever WILL.  Be very, very wary of asking the government to FORCE another entity to do business your way, because government has a history of turning around later and FORCING you to go business someone else’s way.  After all, turnabout is fair play.  Your example of the exclusive franchise ignores both competition and utility.

The proper role of a constitutional government is to protect individual rights.  That does not extend to having the ability to shut down private commerce (the internet) based on a contingent political prerogative.

Lee Dronick

Even in the metro markets, there are never more than half a dozen.

I am in San Diego. To my knowledge there are only two broadband options in my neighborhood, DSL from AT&T or Time-Warner’s Roadrunner, I have the former. I see other services offered, but I think that they are resale of AT&T’s service.

vasic

No, but by the same logic, dumb pipe operators should not have an interest in getting into TV services business, but they do.

An owner of private road would of course want to open his roads to as much traffic, but if part of that traffic severely undercuts the owner’s other revenue stream, he will restrict that traffic, even if the roads aren’t that congested.

Verizon is currently doing exactly that. Everyone who generates traffic across Verizon’s “roads” is paying “toll” today. That includes Netflix. However, Verizon is putting up artifical 1.5 Mbps speed limits, while the other traffic can flow at 25Mbps speed, and that is only because Verizon, in addition to charging “toll” for their “roads” is also selling OnDemand TV, and Netflix traffic is threatening to severely undermine that OnDemand TV business. Verizon’s “roads” are nowhere near congested, and it could easily carry that Netflix traffic across them; they just don’t want to do that, because it is a (healthy and fair) competition. Apparently, Verizon doesn’t like fair competition…

vasic

How many competitors to the FCC do you have?

FCC is not a commercial entity, right? It is an entity that is governed by people elected to public office by their constituents in a fair and democratic manner (of which most Americans tend to be very proud). Well, since you have the most democratic system in the world, and that system creates the government (“of the people, for the people, by the people, as one of your early presidents said), such government obviously does things that are in best interests of those who elected them, right?

The point is, what Verizon (and other carriers) are practicing today is abusing their (near) monopoly position in one area (providing utility service) in order to prevent healthy and fair competition in another (Video on demand services, among others), in a manner that is detrimental to consumers. Since no law currently prohibits them to do specifically that (other than perhaps anti-trust, where the burden of proof regarding monopoly position, as well as abuse, is fairly high), what they’re doing is perfectly legal.

When I came to America 20 years ago, I had to pay AT&T $1.80 per minute for overseas phone calls to my home country. Today, I’m paying $0.07 (seven cents). Back then, AT&T was still the only choice (DOJ just broke it up). Today, there are dozens.

In a democratic society, government has a very useful purpose. This is precisely one of them.

jimothy

Such government obviously does things that are in best interests of those who elected them, right?

Oh, if only that were so! If it were so, you wouldn’t hear people constantly complaining about their government. Further, FCC officials are appointed, not elected. The regulations themselves are written by appointed, not elected, officials. The elected officials created the agency, and give it very broad powers, and that’s about where it ends.

Ross Edwards

@vasic:

OF COURSE Verizon doesn’t like fair competition!  They like the competition in which they win and their competitors lose!  It would be Pollyanna-ish to assume otherwise.  Fortunately, the market has already provided an answer: Other companies who want to win and see Verizon (and one another) lose.  And as long as none of those companies is able to use the government to tilt the playing field, the competition accrues to the benefit of the consumer and ultimately the best product wins.  As a fan of APPLE products, certainly you can see how that is possible, even if it is not accomplished overnight.

Even if all the current market entities collude to keep prices high (and assuming the government does its usual Nothing about it) that just invites in new innovators who can provide the service more cheaply (or provide a new service that obsoletes the old one) who will then undercut the market and take all the profit for themselves.  The other companies will be forced to adjust, and then new innovation arrives again.  And the cycle goes on… like Elton John sang, it’s the Ciiiiiircle of Liiiiiife!

Based on what you’ve stated in this thread, you’re a sucker for giving Verizon any money instead of just ditching them for a competitor.  Every dollar you give Verizon just tells them “I accept what you’re doing and the way you’re doing it, or I wouldn’t have given you this.”  So why don’t you jump ship?  My guess is that Verizon offers OTHER benefits, a better combination of services, compared to their competitors, such that the inconvenience of Netflix throttling is not enough to prompt defection.  I’m sure Verizon already knows this and is counting on it.  Once a competitor offers a superior overall bundle of goods, you’ll bail… economic science has proven it time and again.

jimothy

Even if all the current market entities collude to keep prices high (and assuming the government does its usual Nothing about it) that just invites in new innovators who can provide the service more cheaply (or provide a new service that obsoletes the old one) who will then undercut the market and take all the profit for themselves.?

See also “The Prisoners’ Dilemna” and game theory as it applies to economics. There needn’t even be a new entry; ever existing member of the collusion has an incentive to, despite the agreement, break the agreement and undercut its colluding competitors.

vasic

What you are saying (“competition will sort it out”) lives in its own world, unfortunately.

In real world, even the biggest metro markets only have a few ISPs, and each and every one of them is offering VOD services in addition to the dumb pipe that they are.

I live in one of the five largest metro markets in the US (and top 10 in the world), and yet I don’t have a competitive choice here. The only ISP that supposedly doesn’t throttle Netflix yet is RCN, and rumours are, they’ll begin soon.

While the “prisoners’ dilemma” theory sound good in theory, the today’s ISPs exhibit behaviours of cartels, which severely restricts the effects of that “prisoners’ dilemma”. Especially since they all offer competing products of their own, it is in their own interest (in addition to mutual interest) to throttle any outside competition, regardless of its merits.

The point is, Amazon, Apple and Netflix are offering services that are much more attractive and less expensive than VOD offered by ISPs. The modus operandi of ISPs in the US (actually, around the globe) until recently was to charge for bandwidth and deliver that bandwidth (or at least best effort) to the consumer, without any artificial restrictions. Businesses started appearing around the premise the internet was much like the highway system (i.e. unrestricted, with respect to origin or ownership of traffic).

If the internet is indeed a utility such as the highway system, some regulation will need to be instituted to treat it as such. Hands-off free market has proven time again incapable of preventing monopoly abuses.

ibuck

Part of the Republican strategy is to introduce FUD and cynicism to any debate, as jimothy and Maggie Colburn have done above. Such a strategy works by confusing people and choking off hope that the people will be able to get their needs met. This breeds cynicism that people may unwittingly spread, like Joan Rivers saying “Oh, Grow Up!”  Have we allowed our government to become so corrupt that there’s no fixing it? (e.g. Corporations are persons?, unlimited bribes, err, contributions to politicians?)

A friend concluded years ago that our “system” is broken irretrievably, and is working on the system to replace it when the current one inevitably fails. If/when this happens, what happens to your job, finances, savings, property, retirement? Net neutrality may not seem like a big deal to you, but if communications is stifled, will the US become another Egypt or Iran, with mobs demonstrating for the basic right to speak, assemble, communicate?

NEALC5

@Ross Edwards: Free markets should be encouraged, thats for sure.  But completely free markets might still have left some poor rural areas in the US without electricity for much longer than if the gov’t hadn’t provided incentive to do so.  Even today, if you choose to develop a plot of land to put a bunch of houses on it, the zoning laws (that’s the gov’t at work) say that you, Mr. Real Estate Developer, must build roads, and put in sewers, and use underground utilities rather than overhead, wire for electricity and phone and internet and cable, etc, etc.  The completely free market would have no such rules, and Mr. Real Estate Developer would make more money, or could charge less for the houses that they build.

I see the gov’t making rules about fair internet access as the same as fair use of the roads, or laws that state that localities can’t prohibit the use of satellite dishes on roofs.

paikinho

Maggie Colburn said on February 18th, 2011 at 11:36 AM:

Ladies and Gentlemen of America?...What does the government ever run for the American citizens for our advantage.
———————————
The military, the VA, the National park system, Rural electrification, highways, courts, national intelligence, interstate commerce, environmental regulations, employment/labor and safety regulations, Food and drug testing and safety, international treaties, national monetary standards, establishment and verification of standards and measures, and what President washington considered to be one of the 3 legs that the republic needed to continue to be successful… Public Education. No democracy can exist without it and it is one of the big things President Washington understood was vital to the republics continued existence.

paikinho

People seem to confuse what the FCC does. Regulation is kind of like ground rules for the game of our lives. They setup the rules so everyone knows what to expect.

Unfortunately, there are those who think the internet which none of the telecoms or cable companies created should be theirs to do what they will.

The internet is the citizens internet. It belongs to each and everyone of us. Allowing corporations to take over access and regulate it for their own desires is goofy.

The FCC isn’t trying to take over the internet. They are trying to set in place the rules under which companies have to play. It sets up what they can and can’t do in regards to its customers.

Every time I hear the term “The government is trying to take over” I think someone doesn’t understand what government is for.

paikinho

Maggie Colburn said on February 18th, 2011 at 11:36 AM:

Ladies and Gentlemen of America?...What does the government ever run for the American citizens for our advantage.
———
oh and sanitation.

At the time of the American Revolution the average longevity of a citizen was 26 years, by the 1940’s it had risen to 47.
In the last 70 years longevity and health of citizens is vastly increase.

Health and sanitation are things the government is responsible for in large part.

Lee Dronick

Health and sanitation are things the government is responsible for in large part

5000 years ago there were sewer systems in Mohenjo-daro, later civilizations followed suit. After the Roman Empire and the government it brought went down the crapper, the knights of old dropped their load in the middle of the road and walked away contented. It took the West a good bit of time to get civilized again.

As with everything it is a matter of balance. Too much or too little government is bad. I am tending to think that net neutrality is a good thing, but I am still pondering it.

Terrin

So because the agency does one thing you don’t like, everything it wants to do is unagreeable to you? Most of the actions the FCC undertook that you disagreed with took place under Republican leadership. The whole so called conservative agenda being offended by Janet Jackson’s breast and all.

The government using public funds created the Internet. The Internet should be protected from companies like Comcast and AT&T amongst others who want to throttle innovation by picking an choosing whose data it wants to deliver.

It is ridiculous Internet providers take my money to provide me internet service but then want to extort money from innovative companies like Netflix to deliver the information that I request and in my case am paying Comcast to deliver. Companies like Comcast are trying to double dip and drive the cost up of everything.

Further, you are confusing issues. The federal government has stood strong for many years to stop mandatory taxation of purchases. State government hate this because online purchases generally deny the States sales tax revenues. That has nothing to do with the FCC. Business have talked the federal government to deny the States what they want here. Just so happens what businesses want and what benefits consumers are aligned here. So, the federal government is your friend where this is concerned.

Further, the ability for the federal government to kill websites also has nothing to do with the FCC. That has more to do with lobbying groups like the RIAA wanting the federal government to kill sites that industry groups think are pirating their wares or the government thinks is spreading government secrets.

Net neutrality rules benefit the public. If I pay Comcast to deliver content, I don’t want it extorting extra money from the content providers. That is what the issue is all about. If you want the Internet to stay free, you will be on the side of the FCC in this instance.

The FCC under the Obama administration has been surprising consumer friendly.

Folks, if you think the FCC is going to protect your ?free, open? internet, may I interest you in a bridge?

The FCC censors radio. The FCC censors broadcast television. If they could censor cable and satellite television, they?d do that, too. But they haven?t been allowed to, because why the FCC has been allowed to regulate public airwaves, they haven?t been allowed to regulate (as broadly) privately owned cable, fiber, and satellite bandwidth.

With this so-called Net Neutrality, the FCC is sticking its nose where courts have previously ruled it doesn?t belong. I don?t agree with everything Republicans do?I find myself disagreeing with them almost as often as I disagree with Democrats?in this case, I believe they are right to block yet another encroachment into private affairs.

Remember, the President wants the ability to shut down or block parts of the Internet in cases of ?national emergency.? The government wants to tax Internet purchases. Members of both parties have voted to spy on Internet traffic, in the name of ?national security.?

Why on earth do you think the FCC has your interests in mind? What in the history of the agency has lead you to believe they stand up for openness and freedom?

Terrin

PS:

I don’t like either party. However, at least Democrats play lip service to regular people. Their follow through stinks. I can’t think of one Republican initiative lately that would benefit anybody other then the already rich. I am open to be shown I am wrong. All the recent let’s cut the budget aims at cuts from programs that benefit the middle and lower classes. You know the same classes that everybody posting here belongs to one of.

Most of the actions the FCC undertook that you disagreed with took place under Republican leadership.

Terrin

I agree with you here. The problem is you have mixed up a whole bunch of issues.

It just so happens some big companies interests are aligned with the public’s interests, while other big companies interests are not. Companies like Google and Netflix support Net Neutrality rules. They do not want companies discriminating against providing their content. Nether does the public. So, I am not foolish enough to think the government has my interest at heart. However, I am smart enough to know my interests are more aligned with companies like Google and Netflix as opposed to Comcast and AT&T.

The robber barons are the ones who oppose net neutrality rules.

I repeat: Be skeptical of both parties when they seek to increase power ?in your interest.? You?re fooling yourself if you think the Republicans are out to get you, and those nice Democrats are your kind, selfless savior. Neither has your interest in mind; you?re small potatoes to a behemoth that deals in budgets of billions of dollars.

Terrin

Good for you. Except you are wrong. In most parts of the Country, people live in areas that only have one high speed Internet provider. The local government in many areas only allow one cable provider. In my area it is Comcast. I don’t live in New York City or anything, but Ann Arbor Michigan isn’t small.

In my area, if I ditch Comcast, my only other choice is DSL or dial up. Guess what, I only have one option with DSL as well. AT&T. Both Comcast and AT&T throttle both YouTube and Netflix traffic. Further, once Comcast started offering phone services, it started throttling Vonage’s bandwidth as well, so where once calls were clear, they would start dropping.

I can threaten Comcast that I am going to cancel their services, but I like most people have no place to go.

Net Neutrality rules are your friend. The only problem is they don’t go far enough. They only apply to Cable, DSL, and dial up services, not data supplied through cell phone services.

Further, most big companies don’t truly compete anymore. They just come to quiet understandings about mutually beneficial polices. When one airlines starts charging for carry on luggage, they all start doing it. When Verizon raised its early cancellation fee, AT&T followed suit. When AT&T talked about doing away with its all you can use data plans, Verizon has confirmed that it will soon follow suit. When one gas station raises its gas prices, the one across the street follows suit. You can’t leave when everybody is doing the same thing or you only have one option. 

To follow up: If my internet provider decided they weren?t going to let me use certain equipment (say, they only allowed Windows) on their network, or if they blocked access to Youtube, would I go write to my congressman, wait for him to maybe sponsor a bill, have it languish?if I?m lucky enough for it to make it that far?in committee while it?s debated and subject to lobbying, and, maybe, years later, signed into a law that favors me?

No, of course not. I?d switch internet providers. Unlike the 1980s and earlier, there is competition for internet service. And the providers know that; competition is a bigger deterrent to these scary hypothetical situations than government regulation.

Terrin

His example was representative of the big city, which isn’t the norm. Most places only have one provider. In other words, your idea of just changing providers is impossible.

Your dislike of some government regulation, many examples of which I agree with, is getting in the way of understanding this is one area the government should regulate.

Half a dozen is better than one. How many competitors to the FCC do you have?

paikinho

Terrin.
Used to live in Ann Arbor and can speak about the crappy service that comcrap provided. They suck big twanger. Worst company I have seen on the customer service side and one of my good friends works for them even.

They do throttle speeds and since moving up to traverse city. Our network speed on the lowest service Charter offers is still many time faster than comcrap.

Never looking back to have comcrap again. I hate that company. The fact that they want to tier their substandard service is outrageous. My friends in Brasil have faster service. What a joke!

Killing Net neutrality will mean the US gets relegated to 3rd world internet service in perpetuity…. Welcome to the United States of Comcrap!

Terrin

But that has nothing to do with Net Neutrality rules. Net neutrality simple requires pipe providers to treat traffic equally. You guys are mixing issues up. Net neutrality has nothing to do with the federal government being able to shut down sites. The federal government, through lobbying of private industry does want this, but that is a different matter.

Net neutrality is no different then giving everybody equal access to public roads. In effect the Internet is a public road. It’s very existence is a result of the federal government handing over its publicly funded patents to private corporations thereby lying the foundation for its growth. Further, the federal government subsidized the growth and initiated polices to help it grow, such as tax free Internet trade. People like to make fun of Al Gore’s gaffe about supposedly creating the Internet, but it was funding he advocated and got passed that provided the necessary funding.

The federal government created the Internet. Now it is supposed to just sit back and let big corporations strip the public utility from this publicly funded creation?

Moreover, free market rules don’t apply to Internet providers because most of these companies owe their very existence to government granted monopolies. Comcast is so big in my area because the government has granted it a monopoly whereby it doesn’t have to compete with any other cable provider. So, the government has already interfered in the system. Forcing it to play fair is in all our best interests. If I pay Comcast to bring me services from Netflix and Vonage, I don’t want the streaming of these services stalled because Comcast is competing with Netflix and Vonage in terms of providing movie streaming and phone calls.

The proper role of a constitutional government is to protect individual rights.  That does not extend to having the ability to shut down private commerce (the internet) based on a contingent political prerogative.

paikinho

Net neutrality simple requires pipe providers to treat traffic equally.
——
I concur.
Comcrap can’t own the road or throw up arbitrary toll booths on the public citizens highway.

marteau

Wow. Can only say this the most satisfying debate in a comment section i’ve stumbled upon in a while (I should say ever). Calm, respectfull, getting somewhere. Being from Canada, having a good part of what I read comming from the south, I was starting to think that americans were getting more and more angry and extreme.

Cannot help but add my two bits about all this. I think things are to complex for one be only satisfied with just general theories, be it game theory, economic theory… to try to make sense with things. I know economic theory states that healty and unconstrained markets will bring about the best balance of distributing goods. It just seems to me that that this state of equilibrium in a market is nowhere to be seen. Somebody or something always has to much power, creating the need for a readjustment.

But then, there is one general “theory” that will always guide my reflections : I believe one fact of life is a tendency of power to seek to gain still more power. So for example, specialisation is good and more efficient on paper, but this is not what power naturally seeks to attain. What I see, in history as today, is that all entity, person, institution with any power seek to create a situation of monopoly for themself. Goverments will have the same tendency by the way. This to me was the basic idea of democracy : trying to redistribute that power onto everybody.

So I do see the big companies trying to gain more power, be it the provider of access to internet, or Apple and other vendors of the hardware necessary to access the internet (they are all trying to create that “ecosystem”, and all, in small or big ways, stiffle some content with their control of the hardware and their ecosystem).

And, since a very small amount of the goverment power is redistributed to the people, there are ample examples of that power being put to good use by other entity, namely those already with power, big companies. So I do understant the mistrust of the goverment.

John Dingler, artist

Rightwingers and Rightwing Democrats seem to never block anything that could benefit Congress’ profit base.

Tik Tok

Jimothy’s notion that a “free market”, uninhibited by regulation, is the answer to all our problems should have been exposed by the financial collapse we are enduring as a result of that market’s exposure to unregulated greed.  Jimothy’s answer to every excess of that free market is that the government nevertheless is responsible for the bad results.  Unregulated markets lead to monopolies, to dangerous and poisonous pollution, and to censorship.  The idea that some competitor in the internet provider business will come along and offer massive, unrestricted data flow in a free market world, when Comcast and ATT already deny it, is simply ignorant.  Jimothy ignores the capital cost of starting up such a business in the face of existing competition, and also ignores that no existing company needs to compete along those lines because the current restrictive practice provides a money stream.  Consider bank charges, or credit practices, or auto mileage, or food safety, or a host of other products.  Anyone think that a supplier of anything in a free market will voluntarily choose to incur the extra cost of making something safer when its competition needn’t do so?  We’ve seen the mining industry, which is largely unregulated (the rules may be there, but not enforced), and the results are plain.  Examples like this abound, but people like Jimothy are ignorant of both reality and history in promoting an unregulated society simply because government is not perfect in all it does. 
Human greed is a fact of our species, and capitalism promotes those whose greed is strongest—unless rules are in place to dampen the unrestricted urge of some to exploit in return for profit.  If you think otherwise, remember auto bumpers?  Remember when manufacturers discovered they could improve mileage by replacing steel with lighter material?  So we got cars without useful bumpers—until Congress required minimal crash standards, and then those standards were met, even with the lighter materials.  I’m not going to argue all the examples of all the ways a free market leads to societal failures, but anyone who studies capitalism in America might recognize how the race to the bottom occurs in the absence of rules of the marketplace.

To return to the topic at hand, no argument that obeisance to big contributors is a habit of both parties, but the value of rules requiring internet service providers to provide net neutrality is that it will allow us all to receive what information we desire without submitting to the pricing tiers of the companies now established to sell that product.

zewazir

If you are trying to sell furniture to your customers of some town, but the guy who owns roads in and around that town also owns and sells furniture, your trucks will NOT be allowed on his roads.

Anti-trust laws already address these kinds of situations. What you are describing is known as restriction of trade, and it is illegal to do so. If Verizon is engaged in restricting access to competitors’ services which are not directly related to the primary (ISP) product of Verizon, then that, too, is restriction of trade and is ALREADY illegal without the need for he additional expense of adding redundant laws.

vasic

Well, Verizon is NOT completely blocking (restricting) that traffic; they are just slowing it down enough to make it unappealing to the consumer. Anti-trust laws require much higher burden of proof in order to trigger prosecution (as we had seen in the MS case). To use the prior metaphor, the trucks aren’t completely banned; the owner only imposes specific weight limits, which prohibits competitor from trucking anything larger than a chair. The owner may even have a plausible excuse (excess weight puts strain on the road bed, or in Verizon’s case, excess traffic clogs Verizon’s internal pipes).

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