Net Neutrality

The FCC's New Net Neutrality Rules Aren't Public Yet, but Everyone Hates Them Already


It's hard to know exactly what to make of the furor over the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) revised net neutrality policy, because almost no one has officially seen it yet. That includes the outraged liberal activists who are worried that, if the agency allows Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and AT&T, to charge big companies for fast lanes, everyone else will be stuck in crowded, sluggish slow lanes. That includes that 100 Internet-content megacompanies—Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and more—who signed a joint letter last week slamming the new proposal. It includes the group of big-time tech investors who wrote last week that they opposed the rules. It includes 11 U.S. Senators, who warned last week that they opposed rules allowing Internet companies to pay for prioritized service.

Officially, no one outside the FCC is supposed to have seen the proposed rules, which are on circulation amongst commission members and are not yet public. Nonetheless, virtually everyone seems opposed to them, whatever they are. 

The outcry has already prompted Wheeler to rewrite the proposal, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported last night that the FCC is "revising proposed rules for regulating broadband Internet, including offering assurances that the agency won't allow companies to segregate Web traffic into fast and slow lanes."

The Journal's report suggests that the agency is not changing the proposed rules in a meaningful way. Instead, the focus of the revision is to assure critics that FCC won't wimp out on oversight if and when the new rules go into effect. "In the new draft," the Journal report says, "Mr. Wheeler is sticking to the same basic approach but will include language that would make clear that the FCC will scrutinize the deals to make sure that the broadband providers don't unfairly put nonpaying companies' content at a disadvantage, according to an agency official."

In other words, Wheeler's new proposal will underline what appeared to be the subtext of the original proposal, which is that the FCC would be putting itself in charge of deciding what practices are and are not acceptable from the companies that own and manage the Internet's infrastructure.

When news of the FCC's updated net neutrality first leaked last month, an unnamed FCC official told The Washington Post that ISPs would be allowed to negotiate service deals with individual web content providers, but with the important qualification that "in all instances, broadband providers would need to act in a commercially reasonable manner subject to review on a case-by-case basis."

If these reports are right, then what Wheeler's proposal does is lay out some vague guidelines and then give the FCC the power and the prerogative to decide what's acceptable and what isn't. The FCC would end up determining what counts as "commercially reasonable" and what counts as an "unfair disadvantage." How would the agency make that determination? We don't have the proposal, so it's impossible to say, but given the agency's history of expansive regulations, and its emphasis on individual, case-by-case review, my guess is that there'd be a lot of chin stroking involved.

It's no wonder, then, that everyone is so upset. This is the sort of bureaucracy-centric proposal that probably ought to irritate everyone. Liberals who want clear restrictions on ISP behavior won't get them. And free-market advocates who would prefer permissionless innovation free from arbitrary FCC intrusions won't get that either. 

Indeed, it's not even clear that if we knew what the proposal said we would know precisely how it would work. Judging by the reporting we have so far, the FCC would basically be appointing itself the Internet's Philosopher King, promising to do what's Good and Right for the Internet, whatever that may be at the time. No one on either side ought to trust the FCC with that sort of discretion. 

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle on the GOP's Immigration Problem

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 or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. New proposal – Dissolve the FCC. They stopped serving any meaningul function ages ago (and arguably never served any meaninful function). They can’t keep pace with either society or technology and should be jettissoned.

    1. They stopped serving any meaningul function ages ago

      Why do you think they’re flailing about with the intertubez?

      They’re becoming irrelevant, and they know it.

      1. They need to break something, the urge for that is now overwhelming, so they must act.

      2. Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $500 a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out.

    2. Of course they serve a function.

      Where else would all those poor bureaucrats go without all the jobs created for them by the FCC?

      1. Well, they could fill in picking tomatos for those immigrants we’re keeping out.

  2. I think some people just missed out on the pleasure that was 14k4 dial-up.

    1. And having a single song take hours to download through Napster, only to have it stopped at 98% because your dad picked up the phone to make a phone call? Eff that.

  3. Please, FCC, please stay away from my Internet.

    1. Please, FCC, please stay away from my Internet.

      1. I second that motion.

        1. But how will you use the internet if they’re not protecting you!?

  4. This is the sort of bureaucracy-centric proposal that probably ought to irritate everyone.

    No one on either side ought to trust the FCC with that sort of discretion.

    And yet….

  5. High speed downloads of greater than 12mips is a fundamental human right.

    1. That’s right. And if your neighbor won’t submit to the amount of slavery necessary to make that a reality, then they are violating your fundamental human rights. Real liberty, is positive liberty /derp.

  6. What is’s budget for paying off the local ISP mafia for protection (access)?

    1. That would depend on whether or not Reason has a budget for fictional problems.

    2. How, exactly, is internet service like a protection racket? I’ll need a more detailed answer than “They both involve interactions between human beings.”

      1. The first thing I would do if I owned a monopoly ISP is hire a “sales” team to go sell Deluxe Access to the highest bidder in a given market. If you don’t buy your packets get sent to Siberia.

        1. Where, exactly, is there a monopoly ISP? Just off the top of my head, I could get 4G hotspots from 4 or 5 different major cell phone companies, Satellite internet from one or two companies, FIOS from Verizon, Cable from Time Warner, DSL from some company, and I’m sure I could do dial up if necessary.

          Granted, out in the boonies, there may only be 2 or 3 options. Also granted, not all the services are the same quality. However, monopoly? Not since AOL was king!

          1. I do live in a monopoly high-speed area – Charter (and they are fantastic). Of course there is dial-up and 4G but they are not comparable at all.

            But the racket is the point. I want to have the option of avoiding service subsidies to mafia types.

            1. But the racket is the point. I want to have the option of avoiding service subsidies to mafia types.

              Fair enough.

            2. I do live in a monopoly high-speed area

              Me, too. ComCast. Customer services sucks gangrenous donkey balls, but the actual toing and froing of bits and electrons is fine.

              1. Yeah, I had Comcast before I moved two years ago. Their technology was good – but Charter is better all around. I get 30-60 Mbits/sec.

                A Netflix streamer is like it is resident on a local SSD in the first two seconds.

              2. In my area it’s Comcast or Verizon Fios. Although it was crap for years, over the past two or three years every experience I’ve had with Comcast has been positive. Verizon, on the other hand, is nightmarish, and Fios generally has been crapass in my limited experience with it.

                The monopoly on cable is shitty, yes, but that’s a city council issue for me. They’re unwilling to allow multiple cable providers because the wire would be ugly or something, and because that would eliminate a valuable source of graft.

                As I understand it, the “congestion” issue is something of a canard, and in most cases basic upgrades that could easily be rolled into service charges can handle any increased usage. With that said, I pay for something like 30/25 and generally get it. The closest I ever come to hitting that cap is if my wife is streaming video while I’m downloading a large file and playing Battlefield 4, and even then it’s pretty unusual. At that point it’s most likely the hard drives that are the bottleneck. Facebook, on the other hand, fields metric shit-tons of requests nearly constantly. I literally cannot imagine what their bandwidth needs look like. If Comcast wants to sell them a bigger pipe, what do I care? Especially if I don’t lose bandwidth I pay for and wind up gaining performance on busy sites.

                And besides which, bandwidth isn’t as important as fast servers, efficient code, and compression. All of these things are making the web faster. It’s better tech, not bigger tubes.

            3. Go read about FCC local franchising rules if you want to know why there are local monopolies in many markets. FCC creates problem, FCC tries to correct problem they created. It’s the age old story of government action.

            4. I do live in a monopoly high-speed area – Charter (and they are fantastic).

              We all know monopolized services give you a little boner. They don’t even need to be actual monopolies, just monopoly enough to satisfy your sense of conventional wisdom.

            5. Today’s Shrike translation:

              Original text:
              “but they are not comparable at all.”

              “The cheapest product is a Monopoly!!”

        2. Again: How, exactly, is internet service like a protection racket?

          I’m not interested in how you would go about sending an ISP into bankruptcy.

          1. From a site’s perspective – not mine as a user.

            “Hey, Yahoo. You want to grease our palm for top priority? Or do you want to go the way of Alta Vista?”

            1. I don’t think you understand how telecom works. Large users can lease lines from several providers and piece together their own network–just as they have been doing forever.

              I’m sure Yahoo has several dedicated networks pretty close to the backbone. They don’t do DSL like the rest of us.

              1. All data must eventually be delivered through the ISP network head-end or router. Data has a source address that can be manipulated by that ISP regardless of the source delivery model.

                1. “head-end”

                  Are you talking about cable networks?

                  As long as there are options, large companies (and many consumers) can merely change providers if their QOS falls below a reasonable level of what they provisioned. While there is competition, suppliers will stumble over each other trying to provide the best service–which includes network throughput.

                  The key here is competition and choice. Only government can take these away.

  7. The FCC needs to go fuck itself. Where the fuck does it get the idea it has any fucking say over the Internet? It’s a meaningless and obsolete agency that is trying to carve out a new space for itself by corralling one of the freest things we still have.

    Also, any fucking mongoloids who support Net Neutrality need to be mocked for the abject morons they are. They have to be the stupidest motherfuckers around right now. Basically, if I meet someone who supports it, I instantly write them off as functionally retarded. They want to give the government control of the internet. Water them with Brawndo, because they’re as dumb as a plant.

    1. Torrentz, goddamnit! TORRENTZ!

      1. Hating Comcast is more important than keeping the internet free, Paul. Don’t you know that?

        1. If it wasn’t a monopoly, I’d have better options than mere unbridled hate. (Disclaimer – I’m still in a Time Warner Monopoly Zone, which may change if the blighted merger goes through)

          1. And who gave it that monopoly?

            1. Wait, is this a trick question?

            2. Al Gore, right? It was Al, I’m sure of it.

            3. The question to ask the mongoloids is whether they think that FedEx and UPS should be banned.

              Because no one should have to pay a premium for premium service.

              1. “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

              2. JW

                the problems corporate america gives us are crony capitalism and inferior service.

                if cable companies are willing to reject statist subsidy to their industry, and crony tax loopholes, then OK. under those circumstances you could trust them to get rid of net neutrality.

                the problem is that they will gouge customers by holding net neutrality hostage.

                we wont get a free market. your premise is flawed from the start.

            4. The Kochs, of course.

            5. And who gave it that monopoly?

              I’m going to blame you.

              But, you already know the real answer. Your rhetorical questioning isn’t a form of enlightenment.

              1. I’m not here to enlighten you. You work for the government; there’s really no hope for you in any case.

                1. You work for the government; there’s really no hope for you in any case.

                  Your reliance on collectivist thought and classification does appear to run counter to the principles you advocate. Why do I work for the government? It’s a job. How often have I advocated an expansion of government? I can’t recall the last time I did so in any seriousness. Would following my advocacy eventually cost me my job? yes, but I’ve been laid off before, it’s no big deal.

                  Your lumping of all people who hate comcast in with people who want the FCC to meddle is disingenuous. I hate comcast, and I started this comments section with a serious call for the dissolution of the FCC.

                  1. Nice try, but calling me a collectivist for pointing out you work for the government while supposedly holding limited government views is some seriously weak sauce. What’s really funny is that while I would never, ever work for the government, I don’t really fault you for having a job, and I was mostly joking. It’s interesting, though, how fast you ramped up to butthurt. Perhaps you also, deep down, feel it’s a bit hypocritical to be a small government advocate working for the government.

                    1. I was mostly joking

                      Citation needed. Joking requires humor.

            6. Definitely Hitler.

            7. Comcast gave itself the monopoly, through its lawmaking authority and monopoly on use of force. It has those, right?

              1. lol. I get your point but be careful with that line of reason. Some of these large companies rent the use of political power, which only proves your point in reality, but makes the point less clear to progressives who have no ability to rationally examine causality.

        2. The cognitive dissonance exhibited by the Comcast haterz, is mind boggling since they are awful because of their state sponsored geographical monopolies. Comcast isn’t evil, they just have the apathy of any employee that can’t really be fired.

          1. Well, the other amazing stupidity is thinking that somehow Comcast will behave better with Net Neutrality. Only a true retard could think that, but we see ample examples of those who do. The myopic idiocy of these people never ceases to blow my mind. They hate Comcast and want unlimited torrenting. They literally have no thought outside of that. It’s incredible.

            1. Wonder what kind of influence Comcast would wield with the regulators?

              1. Too much?

                1. Why, yes, yes, that’s the correct answer. Too fucking much.

            2. Yup, the idea that you can fix a problem caused by government power, by giving the government more power is well, I don’t have the words to describe how stupid it is.

            3. These are the same people that think if it comes from government is is free shit, right?

            4. The next revolution in telecommunications will be the invention of alternate technologies that are immune to idiocracies.

              1. The next revolution in telecommunications will be the invention of alternate technologies that are immune to idiocracies.

                This is actually a problem. What exactly is the FCC regulating when they regulate for Net Neutrality?

                What makes the net the net?

                Are they claiming regulatory powers over TCP/IP? When the fuck did congress give them that power? And why would the FCC stop at something so specific as TCP/IP communications networks?

                What is to stop the FCC from expanding their imaginary “net” regulatory powers over any sort of network?

                Because of the nature of this take over by the FCC, not only will any new technology be regulated by the FCC, but any new technology will need to obtain permission from the FCC to even exist in the first place.

                1. if they ever get quantum entanglement working as a communication tech you will remove latency and wires. would be one hell of an anonymous mask.

                  1. Quantum entanglement could allow us to play mortal combat with astronauts on Mars with no time delay. Or on the other side of the universe for that matter. Amazing stuff.

    2. They want to give the government control of the internet.

      What could possibly go wrong with such a cunning plan?

    3. Episiarch thinks his cool Visual Basic coding skills will save his douchey ass when his beloved Anarchy reigns supreme.

      1. Yeah Epi don’t you know. Without net neutrality the evil cable companies will turn the US into Somalia.

        Think of the children you cold hearted anarco-bastard!!

    4. typical net neutrality idiot – “My ISP will cap data”

      Me – “ISP can cap data now and net neutrality does not prohibit caps”

      Idiot – “You are lying and a payed shill for Time/Warner!!!”

  8. Indeed, it’s not even clear that if we knew what the proposal said we would know precisely how it would work.

    But, enough about Democratcare ….

  9. Judging by the reporting we have so far, the FCC would basically be appointing itself the Internet’s Philosopher King, promising to do what’s Good and Right for the Internet, whatever that may be at the time.


  10. I’m sure that price controls will totally work this time.

  11. The FCC would decide nothing. The industrial power-players and big-hitters would decide who can broker deals with their ISPs.


    1. The biggest names on the web ? from Google and Level 3 to Microsoft and Facebook ? have urged the US Federal Communications Commission to safeguard net neutrality.

      In a signed letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioners Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, more than 100 companies urged the watchdog to ban networks from building internet fast lanes for websites that stump up extra cash.

      Amazon, Microsoft, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook and Twitter are among the companies listed in the letter. Yahoo, Reddit, eBay and Foursquare also backed the plea.

      These guys or the local monopoly ISP mafia bosses? You’d have to be an idiot to volunteer for a shakedown.

      1. Content whores versus bandwidth providers. Who could have guessed that?

        1. Dammit, I side with whores again. It is the pimps I always hated most.

          1. I side with whores again. It is the pimps I always hated most.

            So basically when you say you are a libertarian you mean you want the government to pick winners and losers (your side wins, other side loses) rather then let the market decide.

            Good to know that your version of libertarianism is pure bullshit.

      2. You’d have to be an idiot to volunteer for a shakedown.

        the choice is between a government shake down or a shake down of private interests charging money for others to use their private property when those others can afford to build their own private infrastructure which would compete.

        And in your dim mind you decide volunteering for the government shake down is better.


  12. Don’t you libertarians understand how the world works?!?!? If we don’t give an unaccountable bureaucracy a monopoly right to screw consumers, then a whole bunch of competing companies will all screw consumers superduper hard..race to the bottom…social justice…the 99%…the children are our future. Fact. Debate over. Consensus.

    1. I just don’t get how a consumer can hold a corporation accountable in any meaningful way. Just like the government, a handful of people won’t make a difference when you’ve got plenty of people who don’t mind getting screwed.

      Also, what happens to Bitcoin if the ISPs decide to turn the screws on them?

      1. I just don’t get how a consumer can hold a corporation accountable in any meaningful way.

        That’s easy. Don’t buy their shit. Can’t do that with government though.

        1. You mean it’s possible to not use Facebook or Google services?

          CRAZY TALK.

          1. Sig, the internet is more that Facebook and Google. And when it comes to sheer numbers what difference does one person – or a relative handful – make?

            1. Ask Anonymous.

      2. How could ISPs possibly put the screws to bitcoin? Bitcoins aren’t web-servers, web sites nor do they bear their own IP addresses. If you’re going to offer opinions about political controls on technology, then a good starting point would be a basic 101 level of understanding about that technology. Something tells me your opinions on political controls are similarly well-researched.

        1. Don’t waste your time on susan

          1. I just can’t help myself. I’ll go to a dinner party and silently tell myself that this will be the night where I don’t interject when people offer their poorly reasoned arguments and opinions. Then I see the look of acceptance on the faces of other people who are hearing this same argument. I wait patiently and no one else offers objections and they instead mutter their agreement. At that moment, I realize that if I don’t say something, I’ll have an aneurysm and die from the sudden increase of stupidity in the world.

            1. + 1 spittle-flecked rant.

            2. Okay, so there’s no chance whatsoever that none of the libertarian toys could possibly affected. What was I thinking? P2P networks (like Bitcoin)won’t be the least bit affected.

              1. You, uhhhhh… think Bitcoin is a P2P network?

              2. Bitcoin isn’t a libertarian toy, it’s a medium of exchange for dumbfuck socialists too.

                Tell me how these little packets of data would be eradicated or screwed by the ISPs? Shit I’m running a VPN so my ISP doesn’t even know that I’m typing a message to a government worshiper on

                If there is some conceivable way that ISPs could attack Bitcoin specifically, I’m all ears. You’re some kind of tech guru right? So lay it on me.

      3. I just don’t get how a consumer can hold a corporation accountable in any meaningful way.

        You don’t have to. You simply walk out of their sphere of influence by not associating with them. Unlike gov’t, you have a choice whether or not to patronize the business.

        Also, unlike gov’t, if enough people (but not necessarily a majority) make a stink about something, a corporation may make concessions that assuage the concerns of both the vocal minority and the silent majority.

      4. “I just don’t get how a consumer can hold a corporation accountable in any meaningful way.”

        Don’t give them money?

        Even better, don’t give them power. And don’t leave your power just lying around in government agencies where the greedy bastards can get their fat, grubby fingers all over it.

      5. when you’ve got plenty of people who don’t mind getting screwed.

        If there’s plenty of people who don’t mind what’s going on, maybe they’re right. Perhaps we should wait for a problem to develop before siccing the government on it to resolve it.

    2. You left out “check your e-privilege”

  13. You whiners can let the FCC know your thoughts and feelings: FCC Establishes New Inbox for Open Internet Comments.

    Just drop ’em a line at

  14. You move into a nice little residential neighborhood. Nice houses, cozy streets, but with nearby access to the freeway so you can get to where you want to go anytime you want to go.

    Then a big distribution center gets built next to your little residential neighborhood on the the opposite side as the freeway exit. And a steady stream of semis plows through your neighborhood 24/7. Suck it up bitches — street neutrality.

    So your local government doubles the property taxes and widens your cozy streets into 4 lane thoroughfares. But the distribution triples its size and the stream of semis grows proportionally. Once again, suck it up bitches — street neutrality.

    But what’s that you say? It’s a gated community and the streets are funded by the community and not by the local government? Tough shit. Suck it up anyway bitches — street neutrality (public or private).

    1. But, kinnath, we’re talking *tubes* here. Their throughput increases at the *square* of the width, instead of linearly like in your ill-considered example.

    2. Are you suggesting we have a tiered street system? One for the Koch brothers, the other for everyone else?

      1. No, I believe he is suggesting that we prohibit productive uses of property if they cause any inconvenience to anyone, ever.

        Because “neutrality” means telling other people what they can do with their shit.

        Or something.

        1. I’m not really suggesting anything. Just noting that the hipster dumbfucks that want the government to impose “neutrality” on private business tend to be the same dumbshits that are appalled by businesses using actual public thoroughfares in meat space to conduct for-profit operations.

          1. [sends sarcomometer in for recalibration]

            1. Well, I’m not exactly broadcasting coherent signals today.

              1. Yeah I thought your analogy was in service to the other side of the argument.

                1. It wasn’t my best work 😉

    3. Roads funded by taxes and political controls might be the worst possible analogy to an infrastructure paid for entirely by user fees.

      1. Yup it’s a terrible example. Except every net-neutrality fucker out there thinks that the Internet is a public service and not a collection of private businesses.

        1. Yeah I get ya. The people who want to make internet access a politically delivered product, are the biggest threat to internet access. No ability to understand causality, that bunch.

  15. That includes that 100 Internet-content megacompanies?Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and more?who signed a joint letter last week slamming the new proposal

    Of course – it’s in their interest to make sure they can’t be made to actually pay transiting fees or for colocation.

    They want the State (combined with fomented outrage – “they’ll make you pay to use Facebook!!!!!!!!”) to make the ISPs and backbone carriers eat those costs.

    The net was never “neutral” in the way Google seems to want it to be, nor should it be under the FCC’s heavy hand.

    1. They want the State (combined with fomented outrage – “they’ll make you pay to use Facebook!!!!!!!!”) to make the ISPs and backbone carriers pass eat those costs along to consumers, so the Big Dogs don’t have to pay them.

  16. Don’t tell me:

    “If you like your ISP contract, you can keep your ISP contract.” Right?

    1. ha

  17. Verizon’s wireline services have an operating margin of .9% in 2013.

  18. Net neutrality legislation puts libertarians in bed with trust busters. Better to handle this by ending the monetary and fiscal policies which underwrite monopoly.

    1. I don’t think libertarians are in bed with anyone on this. Whomever is saying “there ought to be a law” is a fucking slaver with ill-intent.

      Indeed, destroy the monopoly. Free society and abolish government, allow humanity to realize it’s potential.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.