Internet

FCC Votes Itself Judge Dredd of the Internet

|

Not Julius Genachowski.

In a speech delivered on January 19, 2010, Julius Genachowski, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, declared that transparency "is particularly important for consumer protection and empowerment." He praised "access to information" as "essential to properly functioning markets" and stated that "policies around information disclosure…can be enormously helpful in ensuring that markets are working."

Does Genachowski believe it's less important for the federal government? In theory, no: Last summer, Genachowski promised that under his watch, the Commission would be "fair," "open," and "transparent."

But earlier today, the FCC, led by Genachowski, voted 3-2 to adopt a new set of rules governing private management of the Internet's core infrastructure. Thanks to a decision by Genachowski not to make the order detailing the rules public, no one outside the FCC has seen the actual order that was passed. Even those on the inside were given little time to wade through its reported complexities: Meredith Baker, who along with Genachowski is one of the FCC's five commissioners, said in her remarks that she and her staff only received the most recent draft—the one voted on today—around 11:30 p.m. last night.

Genachowski's remarks portrayed the rules as a moderate middle ground between the extremes. It was a decision driven not by ideology but the desire to "protect basic Internet values." If it's a middle ground, it's a legally dubious one. Earlier this year, a federal court ruled that the FCC had no Congressionally granted authority to regulate network management. Congress hasn't updated the agency's authority over the Net since then, but the FCC is now saying that, well, it has the authority anyway. Genachowski's team has come up with a different legal justification, and they're betting that this time around they can convince a judge to buy it.

Also not Julius Genachowski.

Still, Genachowski's portrayal of the order may be half right: The FCC's move on net neutrality is not really about ideology. It's about authority: He's not so much protecting values as expanding the FCC's regulatory reach. According to Genachowski's summary remarks, the new rules call for a prohibition on "unreasonable discrimination" by Internet Service Providers—with the FCC's regulators, natch, in charge of determining what counts as unreasonable. In theory, this avoids the pitfalls that come with strict rules. But in practice, it gives the FCC the power to unilaterally and arbitrarily decide which network management innovations and practices are acceptable—and which ones aren't.

It's the tech-sector bureaucrat's equivalent of declaring, Judge Dredd style, "I am the law!" Indeed, Genachowski has said before—and reiterated today—that the rules will finally give the FCC the authority to play "cop on the beat" for the Internet.

The comparison may not be quite as comforting as he seems to think. But it is telling: Genachowski may not be eager to tell the public exactly what the Internet's new rules of the road are, but he's mighty eager to have his agency enforce them.

Here's Reason.tv with three reasons the FCC shouldn't regulate the Net:

NEXT: Porkers of the Month for December 2010

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. And thanks to a decision by Genachowski not to make the order detailing the rules public, no one outside the FCC has seen the actual order that was passed.

    We get to see it at some point, right?

    Or will I just be surprised next time I try to pull up youjizz.com and get a message from Comcast telling me I need permission to view that page?

  2. Judge Dredd. That movie totally sucked ass. Glad I waited for it to come on cable.

    1. Are you, perchance, familiar with the source material?

      I’m not and found it to purely entertaining fluff: campy, shallow and fun.

      My unscientific survey gets very mixed results but with a strong negative trend among those who knew the source material.

      1. I was unfamiliar with the source material and thought the movie still sucked. Then I went back and acquainted myself with the source material and thought, “How the hell did they screw this up?”

        And then it hit me: Rob Schneider.`

      2. I’m with you on the entertaining fluff Muddy.

        And every action movie that deals with a dystopian(sp?) future must have comic relief in the form of crappy little guys like Rob

  3. Net Neutrality in a nutshell: letting the government get its filthy hands on the internet forever because you’re worried that Comcast might make you pay more because you download Gigs of torrents and like having that subsidized by people who don’t, and also somehow assume you will be immune from FCC controls on the internet, like…copyright violation?

    Fucking. Brilliant.

    1. Dude, the worst, and I mean worst, thing you could do to garner opposition to this is to mock distrust in Comcast. That company is the purest evil in this dimension.

      1. Contrary to what many here might think I find my local, state and federal government’s job to be done in a 85% inept and often heavy-handed fashion.

        But I would prefer having the f*cking DMV run the internet than Comcast. Those are the most inept, customer-unfriendly, heavy-handed organization I’ve ever run into.

        1. prefer having the f*cking DMV run the internet than Comcast

          You know not what you type.

        2. You have no choice but to deal with the DMV if you want to drive. You don’t have to deal with Comcast. Unless, of course, your local government in its infinite wisdom gave Comcast a monopoly that you cannot find a convenient way to work around. If that’s the case your problem is with your local government and it does not justify putting the entire internet under the FCC’s thumb.

      2. Dude, I fucking hate Comcast. HATE THEM.

        I know that someday, probably soon, I will have an alternative to Comcast (I already do in DirecTV, but don’t want a dish on my balcony). But if the FCC gets its hands on the internet, it will never let go.

        See the difference?

        1. I dream of a dish. I really do, I actually visualize the day when I can start sending checks to DirectTV and call Comcast and tell them to terminate my service. It’s something I must do before I die, it’s on my bucket list.

          I guess this is the difference between liberals and libertarians at some basic level: there are situations and actors that make me prefer government to them…

          1. dude i’ve done that exact thing. Telling Comcast to fuck off is every bit as amazing as you could ever hope for. And DirecTV is awesome.

            1. I did that to TimeWarner, which I would imagine to be equally as thrilling.

              1. Yeah, Time-Warner was the worst company I ever had to deal with in my life. I’ve heard the horror stories about Comcast from my boss in Chicago. Sounds like pretty much the same thing.

          2. The point Episiarch was making was that you tell Comcast to fuck off, and you move on to a different competitor. Tell the government to fuck off, and you go to jail.

            1. Good point, Goobs.

          3. The FCC isn’t proposing to regulate just Comcast.

            They want the WHOLE THING.

            And once they get their hands on it, we’ll never get them off.

        2. If you live in an area that gets good 3G or 4G cell phone coverage, just go mobile broadband. That’s how we do it; Comcast won’t run a cable line to our house, Verizon won’t run a DSL to our house, satellite’s too slow, but we have great cell reception, and therefore the mobile broadband is a good choice. Plus, you can just take the mobile BB card out of your router and on the road whenever you fee like it.

      3. Let’s also not forget why Comcast can be such a shitty company: its government granted monopoly makes it totally unresponsive to customers.

        1. Bingo. My local regulators opened up services to other providers, and I nearly reached orgasm when I called Charter to come get their shitty gear.

        2. Yup. Stupid government enablers and their stupid laws. Now I have to deal with greedy Comcast because they are my only option. Dirty, filthy monopoly always pushing the little guy around. It’s time the government started regulating these evil bastards.

          Don’t you love circular arguments

      4. Comcast may be shit, but government control of the internet is shittier.

        By the way, I love how you leftists never argue ideas, you merely make a judgement call on one of the actors in the story and then act like you’ve won the debate. In this case you are defending another intrusion into privacy and freedom because you don’t like Comcast (a government-granted monopoly). Your ideology is philosophically bankrupt, and you should be embarrassed.

        1. Sigh. If you want me to spell out the philosophy it is simply that in some situations I actually trust government to safeguard things I like more than corporate america.

          1. Oh cool, what you like must be the same as what I like. A one-size-fits-all approach should work splendidly.

          2. Do you mean the govt that created the telecom monopolies in the first place that virtually guaranteed the shitty service you get from Comcast? Got it.

          3. Great. With the feds in charge we’ll all be stuck with the same shitty service. Some improvement.

        2. What’s the under/over on when the FCC ass rapes… err, ‘regulates’ search providers to allow the government full and open access to their hordes of stored search data?

      5. Dude, the best, and I mean best, thing you could do for corporate conglomeration and monopolization is to place all your trust in government. All the crappiest industries – energy, telecoms, etc. – are so heavily regulated that it wouldn’t make much difference from the customer’s perspective if they were state-controlled (unlike if the industries were actually competitive). Look at the awesome customer service we get from the DMV, INS, Post Office, etc.

        1. While the money lost in the last year is bad, I can’t see how you would complain about the post office.

          They lose your stuff less often and cause way less damage than UPS, etc. And cost less (disregarding possible future bailouts).

      6. Comcast’s crappy service Interrupting MNG’s Will and Grace reruns is a greater evil then North Korean gulags, jihadis strapping bombs to mentally impaired women and sending them into a crowded marketplace, or Saddam’s old rape squads.

        Good to know where you’re coming from.

    2. The fat neckbearded fucks that post on Reddit, Slashdot etc are the most annoying twits in the world. Yeah, government control of the internet will let you download more anime without the evil corporations capping your bandwidth. Fucking dumbasses.

      1. Oh, believe me, their stupidity about this both fascinates and enrages me. I would love to hear their screams of woe after the FCC fucked their internet up, but I’d be screaming too, and that would take a lot of the fun out of it.

      2. I have to second this. They like their high-bandwidth ride getting subsidized by everyone else, and somehow this is “neutral.” What makes it double-sad/funny is this same bunch of porcine virgins whacking off to streaming pirated Miley Cyrus torrents are the ones whose actions will invite the FCC into our hard-drives, all to stop the kiddie-toucher-pirate-narco-terrorist whatevers.*

        Anyone here ever heard of deep packet inspection? Brilliant little stack protocols that let networks prioritize streaming traffic and such. Of course Verizon won’t be able to use it for something useful like that, but wait until the Dark Side of Alphabet Soup (FCC, NSA, CIA, DHS, DEA, FBI, ATF, DIA, SS, IRS, etc.) uses DPI for.

        Fat nerds better get their Jon Benet on while they can, because they will be first ones thrown to political markets as example of benefits from Signals Control.

        *Someone needs to cook up auto Mission Statement Generator, but for state-sanctioned Bogeymen.

      3. and all the morons who argue for regulation,they think that they are paying simply for access to the internet and not the infrastructure that delivers the internet. They all think that the fiber that carries their data is limitless and can handle an infinite volume at any given moment. They can’t wrap their head around the fact that when that happens, connectivity speed may slow down, kind of like if everyone turned on all of their lights, ran the dishwasher, washer, dryer, hair dryer, and maxed the A/C all at the same time. That would never interrupt the delivery of electricity.

        Try explaining to them that in order for everyone to use massive amounts of data at one time, it costs money. But they promised me my internet speed would always be XX

        1. I think its more the overwhelming feat that Comcast will start charging as much for data as the cell phone companies do. Which could well be more profitable, and with the current monopoly type situations actually work out for the cable companies.

          1. And then there’s option ‘B’. If the ISP’s have to treat all data equally, if they don’t have the discretion to slow some content down, they can just slow it all down. Problem solved.

            1. Everyone being equally miserable usually is an acceptable compromise for the progressives.

    3. This isn’t about me having to pay more. I don’t download things. I buy physical media.

      This is about me not having quality access to the content of others who cannot pay more.

    4. Worried? Because they’ve been caught throttling bandwidth and attempting to extort money from data providers?

      Naw, I’m all for granting them unlimited monopolies without any oversight! It’s what’s made us number one in the world for reasonably priced internet! Right?

      1. Yeah, they’ve been caught doing that and how has it worked out for them? Oh, it hasn’t.

    5. Exactly, and not being able to throttle down on the bandwidth hogs means no unlimited data plans for anyone else.

      1. The problem is they shouldn’t be offering unlimited data plans in the first place, because they don’t really mean unlimited data. They mean ‘the amount most people use’.

  4. basic Internet values

    Porn of everything?

  5. President Dean would be accepting the resignations of 3 FCC Commissioners right about now.

    1. President JW would have had them taken out back and shot when he assumed office.

    2. I’m gonna write you in in 2012

  6. Just in time for Christmas!

  7. I for one welcome our new government overlords!
    ALL HAIL FCC!

  8. The immortal Wiki says of net neutrality:

    “Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication.[1][2][3]

    The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access.”

    I guess this falls outside of the five or six things you guys think it is ok for government to do, but I can’t for the life of me see why this is a bad thing…

    1. Allow me to try. What this does is give a non-elected government body the authority to establish and enforce rules for the Internet. Today, the idea is to keep access neutral, as you mentioned. But as we’ve seen time and time again, it is the nature of government to expand. So we’re not so much upset about what the FCC is trying to do today, as we are about what the FCC will try to do with this authority in the coming months and years.

      1. I see your point, but my thing is to oppose it when they move away from neutrality. Markets will imo move immediately away from neutrality, they tend to do such things.

        1. If neutrality really is an issue, then the solution would be for Congress to write a very specific and carefully worded law banning the practice. If Congress can’t pass it, they should try again in the future.

          I think there is a larger trend of shortsightedness at work here. As in, let’s create a beast to help us accomplish something we want, but not worry about who controls the beast in the future. 2 years from now, if we somehow get a President Palin, would you be ok with her appointing an “Internet Czar” at the FCC to keep a close eye on what Internet traffic is a “threat to neutrality?”

          1. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama appoints an internet czar within six months. (Not saying that’ll definitely happen; it just wouldn’t surprise me one bit.)

            1. It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever been tempted to any form of bolshevism.

        2. Won’t it be a bit late for that?

          1. Exactly. The idea is to stop things before they start, because once they get going, we’re done for.

        3. The way they have for the last fifteen years, when the modern Internet has been essentially unregulated?

          Oh, wait, that didn’t happen. Instead a few bad actors attempted content-based traffic-shaping and throttling, caught holy hell for it from the market when they were discovered, and quickly backed off the plan with no government intervention necessary.

          The other delusion that net neutrality proponents steadfastly cling to is this idea that there’s some magical regulatory formula which, when administered by the right set of benevolent technocrats, will cause the ISPs to play nice. Never mind the reality that complex regulations invariably favor incumbents who possess armies of lawyers and lobbyists. Regulatory capture? Never heard of it.

          If you guys are really so all-fired concerned about what the ISPs will do with their monopoly, you should be working toward leveraging the market to create new networks that are beyond the reach of the ISPs and their political pawns. Instead you want to hand those pawns more power. So you’re retarded twice over.

          1. Oh, wait, that didn’t happen. Instead a few bad actors attempted content-based traffic-shaping and throttling, caught holy hell for it from the market when they were discovered, and quickly backed off the plan with no government intervention necessary.

            Can you embellish on that part? I did a basic search but could not find any details:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…..g#See_also

        4. “”I see your point, but my thing is to oppose it when they move away from neutrality. “”

          I like the idea of neutrality too. But I’m wise enough to know that the government tells you one thing but does another. It will have greater implications than just neutrality, therefore I don’t support the power grab. Just like the P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act was intended to apply to terrorism only.

      2. Indeed. We need a betting pool: At what date in the future will the first prominent supporter of net neutrality be screaming “That’s not what this was supposed to be about!” I say 2013, at the very outside.

        1. My money’s on holiday season 2012, sometime after November 2nd.

    2. “advocates”

      Look this word up, bitch. I can advocate for free unicorns, but I doubt I’ll see my desired outcome realized.

    3. “advocates”

      Look this word up, bitch. I can advocate for free unicorn, but I doubt I’ll see my desired outcome realized.

    4. Re: MNG,

      “The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access.

      Regardless of the agreement between supplier and consumer, or despite of it, or ignoring it, or what? Because if the consumer agrees beforehand that the service provided will have such and such restrictions, then why would it be fair to have a third party overriding the agreement?

      Can you explain that, MNG?

      1. Regardless of the agreement between supplier and consumer, or despite of it, or ignoring it, or what?

        The agreement with Comcast looks like this. They agree to provide me access to the internet and give me a promise of a specified bandwidth. They, however, have recently found that they can not even pretend to meet THEIR obligation because there are businesses/sites out there on the internet that provide me and everyone else they provide bandwidth to access to huge amounts of data that eat up that promised bandwidth quickly.

        Net neutrality says that this is a problem of their own creation (promising more than they can deliver) and that the solution that they can’t use to solve this is restricting access to those sites that are eating up the bandwidth.

        They have to figure out a different way to solve the problem. Like, perhaps, living up to their end of the bargain and upgrading their systems to meet the demand that they said they could meet at the price they agreed upon.

        1. The analogy.
          A guy with 12 apples promises to deliver a half-dozen apples to 100 people. Then complains that they are eating the apples too fast.

          1. Too fast being defined as faster than his one tree can grow them.

            1. Re: Neu Mejican,

              A guy with 12 apples promises to deliver a half-dozen apples to 100 people. Then complains that they are eating the apples too fast. Too fast being defined as faster than his one tree can grow them.

              Why would he complain? Are his customers complaining? You are not saying this, only that he complains – wy? What was the agreement – 1/2 dozen apples in what span of time, or rate?

              Maybe you need to clarify the scenario, make it less vague.

          2. Better analogy: I’ll kick you down a flue that can send an orange a second to your house from the Orange Staging Station.

            No where does it tell me how many total oranges I’m entitled to, nor does it promise, that the Orange Staging Station will always be brimming with oranges to guarantee I get an orange a second not just from the Orange Staging Station, but from anywhere I might want my oranges from.

            1. Hmmm…Better indeed, but it needs to point out that the promise is for one orange a second to 1,000 people, when they can really only handle 100 oranges a second.

              1. is for one orange a second to 1,000 people, when they can really only handle 100 oranges a second.

                Good point, especially with wireless providers (I see in crystal ball future contracts for landline operators full of “depending on…” clauses you see in wireless contracts now). But that isn’t quite what net neutrality is about. We’re talking totals here, and pr0n streamer pulling down several orders of magnitude more oranges than the next guy, he needs to have his Kirkland Busket of Oranges priced appropriately. Net Neutrality turns off that avenue but leaves all the liability you elucidate in the 10/100 analogy. The worst of both worlds!

        2. Re: Neu Mejican,

          The agreement with Comcast looks like this. They agree to provide me access to the internet and give me a promise of a specified bandwidth. They, however, have recently found that they can not even pretend to meet THEIR obligation because there are businesses/sites out there on the internet that provide me and everyone else they provide bandwidth to access to huge amounts of data that eat up that promised bandwidth quickly.

          Why don’t you sue Comcast, or drop them? Again, what gives a third party the right or authority to impose itself on an agreement? When one of the two parties to an agreement breaks the agreement, the other can simply sue or take his business somewhere else – that’s what people do all the time.

          Net neutrality says that this is a problem of their own creation (promising more than they can deliver) and that the solution that they can’t use to solve this is restricting access to those sites that are eating up the bandwidth.

          But how do YOU or the Net Neutrality proponent know the supplier promised what he could not deliver? Either the supplier was engaging in outright fraud or he is simply facing higher than expected demand but, if the first is the case, then why would the FCC intervene if there are already courts to handle fraud cases, and if it’s the second, why would the FCC intervene to override the Laws of Economics?

          If a supplier faces higher demand, he simply raises his prices, increases production (or allocates more resources) or does something that will please his clients. Why would net providers be any different or special so as not to follow economic laws?

          1. Why don’t you sue Comcast, or drop them? Again, what gives a third party the right or authority to impose itself on an agreement? When one of the two parties to an agreement breaks the agreement, the other can simply sue or take his business somewhere else – that’s what people do all the time.

            In markets where Comcast has competition this would/will happen. But not all markets include other choices. As for the “right” of the third party…well, I am not sure I support laws demanding net neutrality, but the concept has nothing to do with how it is enforced. In a market with competition, there will be no need for any enforcement as costumers will choose the company that delivers open access over one with restricted access every time.

            As a general concept, however, the idea that the government never has any right/power to regulate any type of commercial activity seems a bit more anarchistic than libertarian. Anarchy in action will always end up creating rules and governance…as systems work better when well regulated. The trick is to get the balance right. Over regulating markets is very, very bad. But that doesn’t mean that all regulations are bad, or that anarchy is the best solution.

            1. Re: Neu Mejican,

              In markets where Comcast has competition this would/will happen. But not all markets include other choices.

              Are you sure about that? And even if that were the case in “some markets,” does that justify giving plenipotentiary powers to a regulatory body?

              As a general concept, however, the idea that the government never has any right/power to regulate any type of commercial activity seems a bit more anarchistic than libertarian.

              That’s your opinion, of course. Nothing more.

              Anarchy in action will always end up creating rules and governance…as systems work better when well regulated.

              Really? Like banking, perhaps? Healthcare, maybe?

              The trick is to get the balance right. Over regulating markets is very, very bad. But that doesn’t mean that all regulations are bad, or that anarchy is the best solution.

              There’s already plenty of anarchy around, Neu Mejican, without the dire consequences you insinuate – you don’t ask the government for permission to choose your friends, do you? You don’t ask government to regulate the sizes of shoes, or do you, and still find the approrpiate size for your feet, don’t you?

              Besides this, the idea of regulating presumes the regulators are cleverer than anybody else, that they see the obvious before anybody else. This is not supported either by common sense or by history or facts, as regulations are brought either by those that want to stymie the competition or as reaction to some extraordinary (and random) event, the type of case that makes very bad laws.

              1. There’s already plenty of anarchy around, Neu Mejican, without the dire consequences you insinuate – you don’t ask the government for permission to choose your friends, do you? You don’t ask government to regulate the sizes of shoes, or do you, and still find the approrpiate size for your feet, don’t you?

                The balance I referred to is very apparent in your statements.

                Besides this, the idea of regulating presumes the regulators are cleverer than anybody else, that they see the obvious before anybody else.

                This is simply false.

                This is not supported either by common sense or by history or facts, as regulations are brought either by those that want to stymie the competition or as reaction to some extraordinary (and random) event, the type of case that makes very bad laws.

                Both of these sometimes happen. But I don’t think you are correct in your assumption (implication?) that these two forces dominate the process by which societies regulate themselves.

                1. Re: Neu Mejican,

                  The balance I referred to is very apparent in your statements.

                  Is it? Only because you happen to agree with the anarchism behind friend selection and shoe sizes, nothing more – the balance becomes, then, a matter of taste, which is the risk.

                  This is simply false.

                  Is it? What’s behind the argument in favor of regulation, if not to keep supposedly bad things from happening, so the market can function “smoothly”? But how can you know these things if they don’t happen yet? This is why the argument in favor of regulation expects sages and wisemen to figure this one out, people of extraordinary soothsaying powers. Otherwise, regulations are nothing more than reaction to bad things that already happen. However, if they already happen and people are now aware of them, what would the POINT of the regulation?

                  Both of these sometimes happen. But I don’t think you are correct in your assumption (implication?) that these two forces dominate the process by which societies regulate themselves.

                  You’re EQUIVOCATING, Neu Mejican – societies regulate themselves through voluntary transactions, contracts, agreements, cultural exchanges. But regulations are a government thing, and society does NOT equal government – just because you have some thugs in power imposing their say-so does not mean society wants it or desires it or asked for it.

                  1. OM,

                    You are off base in most of these points. Government is a mechanism that societies use to regulate themselves. Governments are a functional part of societies, that are created by and used by societies for particular purposes. They do not “equal” society. They are a part of society. Effective ones are responsive to the needs of the people and support and maintain their individual liberties. This will always involve some degree of regulation. Societies that do not implement them well will put themselves in danger of the thugs you allude to leveraging power to other ends. But just as governments do not equal society, all systems of government are not equal. There are better a worse ways to go about it. There are more and less effective policies.

                    This is why the argument in favor of regulation expects sages and wisemen to figure this one out, people of extraordinary soothsaying powers.

                    Nope. This is simply false. You are confused on this point.

                    Rather than sage prophets, regulators are part of the specialization that allows complex societies to function. Having someone who pays attention to things that can create problems for everyone, frees up the majority to worry about other things.

                    No presumption that they are perfect needed. No presumption that they can predict the future needed. They just need to learn from the past.

                  2. Only because you happen to agree with the anarchism behind friend selection and shoe sizes, nothing more – the balance becomes, then, a matter of taste, which is the risk.

                    Sorry, but your search for an objectively determined solution to this one will always fail. The balance will always by dynamically determined. A good process put in place will help to tweak the current level of anarchy to meet the current needs. Societies always have the option of tearing down the regulatory system and starting over again if things get too out of whack.

            2. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 – the one that let Comcast sell phone service and AT&T sell cable TV – supposedly fixed this.

              There are very few places in the United States where Comcast – or any communications provider – has no competition at all. In fact, I would offer, there are none.

              Now, perhaps, Comcast might be falsely offering a higher level of service than it is delivering, and perhaps the “competition” offers a lower quality (lower speed) product, but I am curious how any of that is the responsibility of the FCC to regulate on the grounds of “Net Neutrality”. That’s a competitive question to which there are already remedies.

              1. Wow, 2 choices, sounds great.

                My main concern with net access is that comcast basically wants to tax entities interacting with their customers, which gives them more money from the customer while obfuscating the bill. There are a lot of issues created by net neutrality, but comcast somehow manages to be more sinister than the FCC.

        3. The file a class action suit against Comcast. Your remedy already exists within the system.

          1. Re kinnath,

            Indeed, and that is the issue here: Net Neutrality clearly sounds like the proverbial solution looking for a problem. There are already plenty of mechanisms to deal with increased demand, or fraud.

        4. But Comcast doesn’t promise you access at a specific speed, they promise you data UP TO a certain speed. From the terms and conditions of the agreement I entered into a year and a half ago:

          “Many factors affect speed. Actual speeds vary and are not guaranteed”

          The problem is most people don’t read their terms and conditions of service and think that they are getting something they’re not. Why is it on the provider if you don’t take the time to read the terms?

          1. If an ISP offers three tiers of service with speeds X, Y, and Z, doesn’t charging you for Tier Y imply that your available bandwidth is always greater than Tier X?

            I don’t think it matters what legal mumbo jumbo they use in their TOU. If they are charging you for Z and then intentionally down-throttling to Y or lower it sounds like fraud to me.

        5. In other words, net neutrality advocates think that some regulatory formula can eliminate scarcity. It’s magical thinkng.

        6. No ISP that I have asked about it will guarantee a connection speed.

        7. No ISP that I have asked about it will guarantee a connection speed.

  9. We’re from the government and we’re here to help!

  10. What does it matter what the courts rule? They only keep the illusion of being a decision making body to the extent that they rubber stamp the desires of the other two branches of government, especially the executive branch as we saw last Summer when the administration laughed off a ruling against their drilling moratorium. It’s like what Mussolini asked when he went against the Vatican’s wishes, ‘the Pope, how many divisions does he have?’

    A Judge, how many divisions does he have?

    What was that court thinking when they issued a ruling against the FCC? That they would be taken seriously? In the post 9-11 world? Just collect your checks and do what is expected of you, jurist, a conscience is not going to do you any good in these times. You’ll just create even greater cynicism about the true nature of government if you don’t play your part as expected.

    1. It’s like what Mussolini asked when he went against the Vatican’s wishes, ‘the Pope, how many divisions does he have?’

      Not to be a stickler, but that was Stalin’s quote. Either at Tehran, Yalta, one of those late-night trysts with Churchill, I don’t recall exactly which, just the who.

      1. Of course, you are correct. I read the Mussolini biography co-written by his wife when I was in high school, and in the back of my head because of his unending gripes about the Papacy she reported in it, the infamous quote got nudged up in there in my recollection of that book.

        1. You should see some of my foot-in-mouth zingers on these threads.

  11. There is nothing to stop the FCC now from simply banning certain content. Seriously, just like with television they can say exactly what words you are and are not allowed to say on the internet.

    1. I’ll make sure to write fuck the FCC in at least one post somewhere every day.

      1. I’m waiting the RIAA to go to the FCC complaining that Blogspot.com (owned by Google) is a hotbed of music piracy. Clash of the Titans!

        1. RIAA…so…tasty.

  12. Can we get a Wikileaks-style report on how much porn is downloaded at Capital Hill? It can’t be that hard to hack.

    1. This sounds like something I would fund.

    2. Sorry, there’s National Security implications there, so that’s Top Secret.

      On a side note:
      Speaking of hypocrisy, I a have observation, wondered if anyone here ever noticed same thing.

      In the sad-sack moments when you catch yourself watching, say, a committee hearing on C-SPAN, do you ever notice a fat chick? Not the one testifying how fat she is, no not that one. I mean amongst the staffers that flit about the fossils as they pontificate and sleep. Ever see a fat one? Me neither. For that matter, ever see one that’s worse than a Three Beer? Or remotely close to fifty years old? Political Correctness is awesome when the Other Guy has to suck it up.

  13. What could possibly go wrong?

  14. …protect basic Internet values.

    Ha, ha! I damn near fell out of my chair when read that steaming pile. Any “values” that can be ascribed to the internet can be summed up with “pwn or be pwned.”

  15. They are going to enforce rules that they refuse to disclose. The last remaining pretense of the Rule of Law has just been shat upon.

    1. The Rule of Law has been consistently shat upon for at least 10 years now. The government doesn’t operate by any rules, and if a law gets in the way then the courts are there to legitimize the governments actions anyway.

      1. Government: “I did it because I could do it. If I weren’t allowed to do it, don’t you think I wouldn’t be able to do it?”

        Courts: “Makes sense to us! Why would you be able to do something that you weren’t allowed to do? Omnipotence is just another word for benevolence. Or something.”

  16. In a speech delivered on January 19, 2010, Julius Genachowski, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, declared that transparency “is particularly important for consumer protection and empowerment.” He praised “access to information” as “essential to properly functioning markets” and stated that “policies around information disclosure… can be enormously helpful in ensuring that markets are working.”

    Akin to raping the girl in order to save her virtue from potential rapists.

    I mean, really: A thoroughly anti-market body, the likes few can compare, talking about protecting the market?

  17. Can’t wait until they start blocking underage access to certain websites unless you provide valid SS# or some other BS.

    1. “Today, the FCC ordered Facebook to discontinue the practice of allowing users to post pictures of individuals smoking, eating fatty foods or other dangerous activities.

      “Facebook is the last remaining social networking site left operational, after former FCC Commissioner Zuckerberg ordered the closeure of all competing social networking sites in 2015. Zuckerberg is best known for the tactical nuclear strike he ordered on the Google Hegemony the following year.”

  18. TL;DR

    Thrilling narrative chief.

  19. Comcast, Verizon and the rest of the giant telecom nitwits have every right to do what they want with their network as long as they don’t violate their contract with the subscriber. If they turn around and NOTIFY their subscribers that they are going a-la-carte and people stay with them, that is a free will exchange.

    The reality is that the first ISP to start doing this will see a drop in business as subscribers will jump ship.

    Really that last statement doesn’t matter. The networking equipment and bandwidth is THEIRS. They can do what they want. If you don’t like it, change ISPs. Yep, there’s some areas that don’t have a big choice (or any at all) but who says Internet access is a *right*? Is TV a right? Is having a radio a right? (cue the oppressed prole bullshit)

    It’s just more preemptive pud-pulling.

    Aw, fuck it.

    1. The ISPs’ monopolies are entirely a creature of government regulation. Mistake #1 for libertarians is to fall for their pro-free-market bullshit, the way you’ve done. The ISPs don’t want a free market; they want a politically-sheltered market where regulations fetter everybody but them.

      Mistake #2 is for libertarians to think that because the ISPs are scum, net neutrality proponents are the good guys. They’re not; they’re good-government fucktards who are ideologically incapable of questioning the scarcity assumptions on which the ISPs’ monopolies are based.

      1. I don’t disagree with the statement that ISPs want politically sheltered markets and that governments are to blame. If you could rig the system in your favor, wouldn’t you? (OK, maybe you’re a saint but let’s be cynical here). The fault lies in the bureaucrats that pander to these corporations (READ: take bribes). Neither are playing by the rules. Nothing new there.

        But I digress…

        Leaving aside the twisted circle jerk of governments and telecom giants, the premise in my statements are that the network equipment and therefore the bandwidth provided is the respective company’s property. If they want to start setting custom rates, it’s their right to do so. The rest is merely justifying why some want to be preemptively punitive.

        This is a solution searching for a problem.

        1. The competing premise in my statements is that ownership of the network equipment is beside the point when the ISP has no legitimate property right to the underlying monopoly. The government that granted that statutory monopoly, ostensibly on behalf of the public, has every right to attach conditions to the grant, including, for example, “Thou shalt not set custom rates.” It’s in that sense that the net neutrality people have the kernel of a legitimate point.

          What they are ideologically incapable of understanding is that government can’t be trusted to act in the public interest any more than the ISPs can. So that leaves us with two options:

          (1) Stop granting statutory monopolies to ISPs; or

          (2) End-run around the monopolies using technologies like wireless mesh networking.

          Of those two options, only one is practical given, as Jefferson points out below, the opportunities for graft and mutual hand-washing.

          1. I think the best alternative is to drastically restructure the Monopoly. Tell a company that you can have the monopoly ONLY if you offer bandwidth. No additional services.

            I don’t like the monopolies, but I do see the reason for their existence- having someone dig up my street every time a new competitor comes to town would be painful.

            But the answer is not to add regulations on top of the monopoly regulations. The answer is to pare back the monopoly as much as possible, and prevent the monopoly owner from using their monopoly (as owner of the only data pipe) to put other service providers (programming bundlers, Internet Application Services, etc) at a disadvantage.

            And that’s the other side of this that Libertarians don’t acknowledge- because Comcast has a government sponsored monopoly, they can drive competitors out of business. If we cut their powers substantially by decoupling the Data from the services, we would win overall.

      2. The proper course of action, obviously, is to deny ISPs the statutory monopolies they pant for. Since this removes opportunities for graft and mutual hand-washing, it will only be implemented as a last resort.

        1. That’s one proper course of action. The other proper course of action is to carve out sufficient bandwidth outside the ISP’s regulatorium to end-run around the thing until it collapses under its own decrepit bulk.

      3. I don’t think you ascribed mistake #2 to the right people…

    2. The reality is that the first ISP to start doing this will see a drop in business as subscribers will jump ship.

      Those guys will hit a jackpot of customers I think. People like my father who pay their bills on time and such, getting faster internet at half the cost because there’s no subsidizing Fatty Nerd in the basement next door?

      Now that I think about it, its kind of like insurance where the healthy people legally can go to where the best deal is with other healthy people. The Dems will have to invent Bandwidth-Aid to subsidize the hopeless downloaders.

      The famous Democrat tendency to anecdotes for support in their media (Granny May in Ohio can’t get that brain transplant…) will be hilarious if they were forced into making Comic Book Guy and his “digital divide” forcing lack of access to the Not-Even-Eighteen webring he loves so much somehow sympathetic.

  20. “”The ISPs’ monopolies are entirely a creature of government regulation.

    At the request of ISP to protect their fiefdoms.

    1. “request” meaning “donations”

      1. Requests are not free in DC.

  21. Actually, in “Judge Dredd,” each of the Judges were independent contractors. Seriously. You can look it up. They were hired by the government from an outside source. Moreover, the only people who lived in the city were those that could afford to do so. Make your point about Net Neutrality, but do not insult a rather solid example of good libertarian principles.

    1. Not so much… In the comics, the Judicial Branch staged a coup after the President started a nuclear war with the Sov-Cities that turned all of the US except for the East & West Coasts (Mega-City 1 & Mega-City 2) and Texas (Texas City) into a radioactive wasteland known as The Cursed Earth. The only folk not living in the cities are mutants (forbidden from entering the cities) and hardy pioneer types. The Judges are the only form of government, trained from a young age to be the ultimate arbiters, not independent contractors at all.

  22. I am fucking disappointed in you people.

    And you people who think the government won’t fuck up the internet worse than Comcast could ever dream of…you’re beyond help.

    1. As someone who’s been on-line in China, I for one can vouch that Comcast on its shittiest Comcastic day doesn’t touch the fucking People’s Proxy.

      1. This project I’m working on has its own wiki. One of the other people working on it went back home to China, and found that he was unable to post updates to the wiki because China blocks all wikis. Think about that for a minute – every last website running wiki software is blocked. But at least their net is neutral, right, you dipshit, useful idiot, liberal, state-worshiping, fucks?

  23. To MNG and other liberals supporting this: Imagine President Mike Huckabee and VP Sarah Palin having control of the internet in 2 years instead of The One and tell me if you still think this is a good idea. I’m sure Ralph Reed would have some suggestions for a Pres. Huckabee on how he could improve net neutrality if Huckabee made him head of the FCC.

  24. I fully applaud the actions of your FCC. If too much of the internet is used up by some partisan websites like Drudge, then we must assure that other points of view–such as those from Organizing for America and Huffington Post are also heard. This is the first step toward application of the fairness doctrine where people trying to access such sites as Reason can be automatically redirected to websites expressing other points of view–such as a website run by MNG. Viva the People and Viva the FCC!

    1. Y viva Chavez!!

      Now can we have our ration cards and an hour or two of electricity a day?

  25. Nothing on Spectar complaining about the Tea Party?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40…..itol_hill/

    1. Arlen Specter’s anger is like sweet drops of honey. Going down snarling and writhing is just so delicious.

      1. The nerve of the new crop of congresspeople; to consider what their constituents might think of their actions, instead of just fucking their constituents over in order to please other congresspeople!

      2. Funny to see him rail against Republican “cannibalistic” opportunism after he ditched them first trying to save his own hide.

        Hope the door hits him in his freshly-minted jackass on the way out.

  26. FCC’s Net neutrality vote hit from both sides

    Others suggested the FCC’s action was weak. The rules were heavily influenced by broadband providers, said Craig Aaron, managing director of Free Press, a media reform group that’s called for stronger rules.

    How they can report that without a hint of irony is beyond me.

  27. So tell me, MNG. What’s stopping you from dumping Comcast? You can get your intertubes the way I do (via a 3G/4g modem). You can get your teevee from a satellite.

    So dump ’em if you hate ’em so much. Supporting an FCC takeover of their industry just entrenches them.

    1. Because it’s too haaaaaaaard!

      1. That’s what she said.

  28. There are very few places in the United States where Comcast – or any communications provider – has no competition at all. In fact, I would offer, there are none.

    Unless you live in a deep hole, you can get satellite TV and internet anywhere on the continent. So there’s that.

    Anywhere that has 3G or better phone service will feed your internet addiction.

    1. Anywhere that has 3G or better phone service will feed your internet addiction.

      Large portions of Northern New Mexico and Western Washington (for two example I am familiar with) do not have these options. 3G coverage ain’t what you think it is, methinks.

      1. Uh then don’t live there if you want internet and cable TV.

      2. Sounds like you’re a nuke brat. I am guessing you did some time at Hanford?

      3. I live in New Hampshire and I can’t get cable, DSL or cell reception.

  29. ISPs are not monopolies. My ISP competes with 9 other infrastructure-based providers, even in a small city of 28,000 people. On the other hand, if you want to see monopoly or duopoly, support these regulations. They’ll wipe out everyone but the cable and telephone companies.

    1. ^This, some folk seem to be conflating the monopoly on CATV service with a (nonexistent) monopoly on internet service.

  30. So long as we libertarians remain in the minority, Net Neutrality protects us from a world in which (for want of a better example), Comcast could include HuffPo in their “free” content, but charge extra to access Reason.com.

    I understand the bandwidth constraints of wireless but – all else being equal – charging people more to receive information/news from sources disliked by the carrier doesn’t sound very free to me. Data is data and bytes from Facebook don’t (and shouldn’t!) cost more to transport than bytes from Reason.com nor bytes from youtube or bittorrent clients.

    1. It’s the precedent, man. You really think the FCC will stop at basic net neutrality?

      If Comcast starts to charge for Reason.com access (or anything else) that will open up an entirely new avenue to their competitors. Stop worrying so much about what *might* happen, and worry about what *will* happen if the FCC gets its grubby paws on the internet. The less regulated the internet is, the more likely everything will shake out just fine.

  31. “In a speech delivered on January 19, 2010” should be December 19th…unless he is a time traveler

  32. You’re all looking at this from the bandwidth point of view. I’m taking this another direction…

    Philosophical question for the capital-L Libertarians:

    A high-powered transmitter, by definition, invades everybody’s airspace and therefore cannot be beamed directly from radio station to listener. FCC regulates frequencies, ostensibly to prevent them from overlapping (BOCTAOE). Is this an “acceptable” form of government intervention into the marketplace?

    If the answer is NO, then read no further.

    Otherwise, a related question: Let’s think of frequencies as just a range of numbers. In fact, instead of broadcasting at 173,194,035,104 Hertz, swap those commas for dots and broadcast your web site at 173.194.35.104. Currently, IANA regulates IP addresses. I suppose it’s theoretically possible to call you RIR and get yourself an IP address, but that’s unrealistic. Everybody has to go through an ISP, who in turn goes through one or more layers of higher-level ISPs, eventually connecting you to the interwebz.

    What I’m getting at here is this:

    Wikileaks got booted off Amazon for violating their “content or rights must be owned” clause, but everybody knows that was a political decision.

    Would the net neutrality regulation prevent ISPs from doing that sort of thing?

    1. Would the net neutrality regulation prevent ISPs from doing that sort of thing?

      They wouldn’t be the deciders, they could only if the government says so. Perfect.

  33. Another take:

    If I don’t like Wal-Mart, I can shop someplace else. There’s no barrier to prevent me from going to KMart or Target or Ye Olde Randome Discounte Shoppe. However, not every private business transaction is so unfettered.

    Gas and electric utilities are granted local monopolies because it’s extremely impractical to have multiple independent sets of wires and pipes running all over town. Cable/telephone isn’t as hazardous and doesn’t require as much physical equipment on the poles (or in your yard, for underground lines). So they should be allowed to compete, but the phone company probably owns the poles and leases space to anybody else who uses them (I don’t know how that works for underground lines).

    The gas company can’t decide to shut off your gas and not sell to you just because you’re (insert undesirable personal characteristic here). I’m fairly sure the only reason they can refuse to sell you gas is if you owe them money and cannot pay.

    If Verizon owns all the utility poles in town, are they required by law to lease space on their poles to Cablevision or any other competitive phone or internet provider? At some point there may be no more room on the poles, without putting in taller poles or cross-members. Who pays that expense, Verizon who owns the poles, or the state for requiring that they lease the space to these other companies?

    Is there anything in net neutrality that would impact current practices in this realm?

    If the law can force Verizon to lease this space to Cablevision, does it also require them to allow me, a private citizen, to run my own line on their poles so that I can connect myself to the interwebz without going through an ISP intermediary?

  34. Full disclosure:

    My employer designs software and solutions for telecommunications companies, such as software that helps economize installation costs by finding the shortest path to place wires & poles that will serve the maximum number of customers. Also network management, billing, etc.

    If lots of ISPs decide to implement content-based throttling, we’ll probably get a piece of the action. And if they are truly forbidden from doing so, they’ll have to manage bandwidth some other way, and we’ll probably get a piece of that action, too.

    Philosophically, I have my own opinion on this issue, but economically, my bread is buttered on both sides.

    Until the unintended consequences bite us in the ass, that is.

  35. Moncler Outlet supply a number of excellent quality and low prices Moncler Coats.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.