back to article Dems fightin' words! FCC's net neutrality murder plot torn apart

A group of 11 Congressmen and women have torn into plans to get rid of America's net neutrality rules in a scathing letter [PDF] sent to US broadband watchdog the FCC. The lawmakers – all Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – make a range of aggressive claims, including that the entire proposal under …

  1. DougS Silver badge

    "Taking direction from president Trump"

    Back when Wheeler took direction from Obama to go the whole Title II route (after rulemaking to put net neutrality in place was rejected by the courts) the democrats were silent, while republicans were up in arms. Now the situation is reversed and republicans are silent while democrats are up in arms. You'd almost think whether they feel that a president interfering with the supposedly independent FCC is wrong depends on the party affiliation of the president!

    It is too bad the FCC has become so partisan and such a victim of regulatory capture. What is best for the people should be the FCC's remit, not what is best for the corporations being regulated or what fits republican or democratic platform ideals. There are reasonable arguments to be made on either side of the issue as far as what is best for the people, which is all that should matter for the decision ultimately made. The government shouldn't exist to make things better for corporations, but for the citizens.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "Taking direction from president Trump"

      But corporations ARE citizens, remember? By Act and by Supreme Court rulings. The trouble is what happens when the rights of two citizens clash? Since rights are involved, majority rule can't apply (because otherwise you have Tyranny of the Majority), but sometimes the argument can't have a winner because SOMEONE's going to get shafted (like trying to dodge Tyranny of the Majority only to get Tyranny of the Minority instead with no middle ground).

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: "Taking direction from president Trump"

        There are legal rulings that make corporations equivalent to people (google 'corporate personhood') but that's not the same thing as being citizens.

      2. jimdandy
        Windows

        Re: "Taking direction from president Trump"

        C9 - have you read the history of just how the term "person" veered from the idea of the "natural person" into a tool for state granted "corporations" to gain all the rights of actual live, human citizens - except for two: the right to cast a vote for election to government offices, and the right to be thrown into jail for breaking the law?

        I'm ignoring the part about corporations being allowed to spend money to protect the corporations' profits by pouring money into advancing their interests during elections.

        It seems to me that the big deal is the power of the Almighty Dollar; Corporations can bring so much more shekels to bear in any argument than any group of "natural persons" can possibly provide. Some of that is the natural cussedness of individuals, but more than that it's that most natural persons have a lot of different issues and concerns to juggle when trying to decide what's most important.

        In case you haven't noticed, corporations don't really have that problem. They just need to keep making profits and/or increasing shareholder value, while making sure they pay their "leadership" more money than their competitors do.

        And I can't see how that makes anything better for the average "natural person" who'd just like to have a decent 10Mbps (download) service to their home.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "Taking direction from president Trump"

          But you also have to consider geography. The US is a big Country with lots of sparse population. If a small country like England has trouble rolling out to the sticks, consider I think the third largest country in terms of land area with people scattered all over the place.

          1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

            Re: "Taking direction from president Trump"

            Then, if commercial entities can't/won't extend high-speed access into those underserved areas profitably, they should stop pressuring state legislators to block local governments from forming municipal broadband ISPs to serve their residents.

            One or the other, people. One or the other. You're not allowed to have it both ways.

    2. strum Silver badge

      Re: "Taking direction from president Trump"

      >Back when Wheeler took direction from Obama

      When you start with a falsehood, the rest of your message can safely be ignored.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        @strum - Oh really?

        https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/10/statement-president-net-neutrality

        I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

        ...

        To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act

        Less than three months later on Feb. 4th 2015, Wired published an article written by Wheeler proposing the reclassification of ISPs under Title II. I guess you're going to tell me this was a coincidence?

  2. cbars

    Huzzah

    One of the things the American's got right was the whole 'free speech' protection. Net neutrality just says one person(/application)'s information is no more important than another's. I don't really understand why the parallel is not observed over the pond.

    Also see article 19 of the UDHR

    Granted, not directly comparable, but I'd say the underlying moral principles are the same. What do I know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huzzah

      > "Net neutrality just says one person(/application)'s information is no more important than another's."

      This is not a free speech issue, it's a transport issue. The web runs on physical infrastructure. If some citizens have more information to ship and they can pay extra, why not let the providers build those extra 'lanes" with some of that profit? In other words, leave the market alone and it will accommodate all levels of custom.

      The only real problems come when local governments rig the system in favor of just one or two providers and shut out the rest. Let THAT be what we focus on, not some "make everything equal by force and all will be well" nonsense.

      BTW, free speech is a transport issue too, once it's seen as a basic right. Meaning that while anyone can talk, those who get listened to usually have access to much better information transfer technology than the average shmoe.

      Is that fair? Why, the idea that some prettyboy announcer reaches millions while I must be satisfied with this crowd makes my blood boil! Methinks we need Media Neutrality to address this scandalous disparity.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Huzzah

        But that brings up the subject of "bullhorning," where one uses his or her freedom of speech to drown out everyone else's. That's why we have the "Fire in a Crowded Theater" test for rights that otherwise have no restrictions (none are explicitly listed in the 1st Amendment): there is ALWAYS the implicit restriction that one's rights can't be used to suppress the rights of others.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Huzzah

          Could not the modern media be seen as "bullhorning" too? Some do see it that way. Basically the media outlets are "shouters" who have been given special dispensation by society. That was okay when they actually had to shout (town crier days), but ever since that devil-inspired movable type came along it's been harder and harder to get a word in edgewise against them. Thus my call for Media Neutrality, to claw back some of that capability for the masses. The Internet made a good start, now let's finish off those noisy dinosaurs!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huzzah

        Free markets have been discredited, and we're in the process of reining them in here. We call it De-Thatcherization.

        1. Nolveys Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Huzzah

          Free markets have been discredited

          There was a market system

          Based on competition[1]

          And when it worked well

          It worked very very well

          But when it worked poorly it was horrid

          [1] That kind of rhymes...sort of.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huzzah

        "why not let the providers build those extra 'lanes" with some of that profit?"

        Because I, "the person consuming the service from the service provider", already pay my ISP to allow that traffic.

        Similarly the company providing the service I am trying to access is paying their ISP for the their access.

        You want to add to that the fact that we are paying a premium compared to other Developed countries for substandard broadband access.

      4. Comments are attributed to your handle
        Megaphone

        Re: Huzzah

        "why not let the providers build those extra 'lanes" with some of that profit? In other words, leave the market alone and it will accommodate all levels of custom."

        In theory, this is correct reasoning. But in practice it's a complete fantasy. The obvious answer to "why not" is because there is no market. <= just one of a thousand other articles explaining the same thing. And by the way, this data comes from the FCC itself. For example: https://www.broadbandmap.gov/number-of-providers

        Every NN opponent, particularly Pai, conveniently forgets about this. Look at what happened to Google Fiber. ISPs fought new deployments tooth and nail, dragging their feet over every single utility pole and lobbying to block it a hundred different ways. And what happened? Fiber, as of 2016, is no longer planning any more expansions. ISPs don't compete, they litigate. I don't know what's so hard to get about this, unless you're Pai, of course, who has a vested interest in making sure he doesn't understand.

      5. strum Silver badge

        Re: Huzzah

        > If some citizens have more information to ship and they can pay extra, why not let the providers build those extra 'lanes" with some of that profit?

        What profit? Oh - you're assuming that anyone with anything to say is making money out of it? How quaint.

        >In other words, leave the market alone and it will accommodate all levels of custom.

        Ideology like that makes the commies look moderate.

      6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Huzzah

        If some citizens have more information to ship and they can pay extra

        Because (and we all know that bandwidth is finite), them paying for improved throughput/priority automatically means that sites that can't (or won't) pay automatically get worse service.

        The only real problems come when local governments rig the system in favor of just one or two providers

        s/local governments/big corporations/* g

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Huzzah one of the things America got right

      Well, that and inventing the internet thing in the first place.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Free markets have been discredited denounced..."

    FIFY

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Neoliberal ideology drives up prices by rent-seeking monopolies. It must be driven into the sea.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real issue

    here's the real problem....

    Both political parties are attempting to take complete control over the American People (and I do mean 100% complete control).....

    the dems are attempting to do so through the force of government....

    the repub through the force of corporations.....

    most folks are too busy posting on FB... playing games... posting selfies..... or whatever.... to even notice that the fight is taking place....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not for profit

    Fact is, nobody should be making a profit from telecommunications.

    Like all massively economical at scale projects, the ideal is a national WAN, fibre to every home, free at point of use. It would be the greatest commons ever built on earth.

    Peering between European countries. (Charge yankee traffic for transit. Also ban ALL exports of private data to burgerstan. And explicitly ban google because it's shit).

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Not for profit

      Two things, though.

      One, no one expects ANYTHING run by the government to be efficient and well-maintained. Name one where private, profit-driven enterprise can't do any better.

      Two, that smacks of Socialism, and in America, Socialism might as well be a four-letter word.

      1. find users who cut cat tail

        Re: Not for profit

        > Name one where private, profit-driven enterprise can't do any better.

        Enjoy your expensive yet still shitty profit-driven enterprise-whatever health care.

      2. Don Dumb
        FAIL

        Re: Not for profit

        @Charles 9 - "no one expects ANYTHING run by the government to be efficient and well-maintained. Name one where private, profit-driven enterprise can't do any better."

        Healthcare, Education, Policing..... oh, sorry, you said just one.

        "Two, that smacks of Socialism, and in America, Socialism might as well be a four-letter word."

        You're right there, the *word* Socialism is dirt in the US but it would really shock Americans if they realised just how socialist their sports are compared to the way sport is run elsewhere. I guess I wish* people would care more about what works best rather than whether it fits their ideologies.

        * - that may be my ideology though trapping me some sort of irony spiral.

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Not for profit

        "Name one where private, profit-driven enterprise can't do any better."

        Umm, telecoms? You yanks do appear to have the worst ISPs in the developed world, to judge from the complaints and the region-wide monopolies that underlie those complaints. Everyone else seems to have regulated their way to some kind of competitive market.

        1. Maty

          Re: Not for profit

          'You yanks do appear to have the worst ISPs in the developed world'. 'Appear' is the operative word. Canadian telecoms are way worse - we actually envy the Americans.

          Still if the yanks scrap Net Neutrality that might change.

          1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

            Re: Not for profit

            "Canadian telecoms are way worse - we actually envy the Americans."

            Candy mint, breath mint. Stop, you're both wrong.

            We don't really know how bad it is in the USA. We project our best wishes on our southern cousins. Yes, it's bad here in Canada. But my main complaint with Shaw is that it is expensive. In the vast spectrum of things that can go wrong, paying 50% too much isn't that bad a fate.

            Historically in Canada, operating a cable TV company--which has morphed through ISP-dom into full-blown telecom--was described as "a license to print money". That virtual license translated into inflated valuations. They're all trying to make returns (profits) that justify the valuations (stock prices). I'm persuaded that those efforts represent the lion's share of our collective telecom SNAFU.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Not for profit

        One, no one expects ANYTHING run by the government to be efficient and well-maintained

        Well - it could well be argued that the NHS, despite all it's many and various failings, is still far, far more efficient[1] and well-maintained than the blood-sucking leeches that infest the US "health" system.

        [1] Heatlh outcomes per curreny-unit spent.

  6. TheElder

    Simple

    cor·rup·tion kəˈrəpSH(ə)n

    noun

    noun corruption plural noun corruptions

    dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.

  7. Potemkine! Silver badge

    'If you want to kill your dog, accuse him of having rabies"

    FCC's proposal has nothing to do with the public interest: it's all about money, especially money going to politicians to purposely pay for their (re)election. How much give cable companies to politicians?

    The US political system is deeply flawed because mostly based on the more money someone can get 'given' by private entities (hoping nothing in return, of course... ROTFL), the higher chance (s)he has to be elected. It explains largely why the US is a plutocracy rather than a democracy.

  8. Panicnow

    As the originator of net neutrality

    At the creation of the Internet there was a big debate about how to architect the interaction between ISPs. My proposal was the one that won out. No settlement between ISPs, and Neutral Interconnects to ensure friction free connectivity.

    "An assertion that the new rules have had a detrimental impact on investment in broadband rollout plans. " is such a joke. Dividing traffic will mean ISPs can game users to extort "rents". It will be in their interest to REDUCE investment to force users onto higher tariffs. The issue of interconnectivity also becomes problematic, with ISPs needing to introduce settlement for higher QOS services.

    Loss of net neutrality will "Balkanise" the Net so will no longer be The Internet,

    The irony is ISPs will find their profits lower and their costs higher without Net Neutrality. It is lazy capitalists who have no understanding of economics that are pushing this stupidity

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: As the originator of net neutrality

      Not if they're vertically integrated like say AT&T, a Tier 1 and endpoint provider.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: As the originator of net neutrality

      Loss of net neutrality will "Balkanise" the Net so will no longer be The Internet

      Indeed. Welcome to your all-new "Son of AOL" internet system.

      1. handleoclast Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to your all-new "Son of AOL" internet system.

        I, for one, welco...

        Me too!

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