Net Neutrality

Mark Cuban is Wrong: The "People" Don't Want Net Neutrality, Elites Do


When we last checked in with Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet entrepreneur Mark Cuban, he was tweeting about Net Neutrality and worried that "the government will fuck the Internet up."

Yesterdy, Cuban sent out these five tweets on the subject:

1. the speed/quality of our home/phone broadband has improved dramatically. We have new tech/apps/clouds/IOT every day. Its working.

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

2. In my adult life i have never seen a situation that paralleled what I read in Ayn Rands books until now with Net Neutrality

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

3. The "People" want more gov to protect them so they cant be stopped from getting movies/tv shows OTT.That is straight out of Ayn Rand

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

4. If Ayn Rand were an up and coming author today, she wouldnt write about steel or railroads, it would be net neutrality

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

5. Who is John Galt

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

While I agree with Cuban's general take on Net Neutrality—increasing government oversight and regulation of the Internet will make it less innovative and responsive to user desires—he's flat-out wrong about the "People" in this case. They are on his side in the Net Neutrality debate.

Rasmussen Reports recently polled Americans about regulating the Internet in the context of Net Neutrality. 

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 26% of American Adults agree the Federal Communications Commission should regulate the Internet like it does radio and television. Sixty-one percent (61%) disagree and think the Internet should remain open without regulation and censorship. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure….

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Americans who regularly go online rate the quality of their Internet service as good or excellent. Only five percent (5%) consider their service poor.

The "People," it turns out, maintain a healthy skepticism toward increasing the role of the government here, and they also show a sort of native understanding of public-choice economics as well:

Americans remain suspicious of the motives of those who want government regulation of the Internet. Sixty-eight percent (68%) are concerned that if the FCC does gain regulatory control over the Internet, it will lead to government efforts to control online content or promote a political agenda, with 44% who are Very Concerned. Twenty-seven percent (27%) don't share this concern about possible government abuse, but that includes only eight percent (8%) who are Not At All Concerned.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters said in December 2010 that if the FCC was given the authority to regulate the Internet, it would use that power to promote a political agenda.

Read more here.

(Just to make it clear that there are real limits to the wisdom of crowds, in 2012, 64 percent told Rasmussen that they favor continued FCC regulation of TV and radio.)

Net Neutrality has definitely captured the imagination of the elites, who take for granted that the Internet can only survive and flourish with increased governmental oversight and enforcement of acceptable business practices. Yet even as customers dislike ISPs in general (and industry giants Comcast and Time Warner in particular), they fear the government's involvement even more. There's a lesson there that should be obvious in an age when just 2 percent of us trust the government "just about always do the right thing."

However rotten Comcast and Time Warner can be as service providers, they remain more responsive than the government, if only because they don't wield the same sort of monopoly power.

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  1. Net neutrality is code for the connected and those in power get to control your access and the content you get to see. Don’t you believe it is anything else. These people are not looking after ur interests: they are llooking after their own.

    1. It’s all about who’s cost goes up to foot the bill- and one side wanting government to force the other side to be the one to increase the prices.

  2. it’s all right there in the Comcast Clause.

  3. Nice job on the second graphic Nick, I LOLd.

    1. I know that old bag and yes, she will like Bukkake!

      1. I’d hate to meet the person who doesn’t like bukkake.

        1. I once met a Buck Ockie and he was an asshole. Does that count?

  4. ‘Should the Internet remain “open” without regulation and censorship or should the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like it does radio and television?’

    I’m not 100% certain of their sample size or wording. I bet I get 50%+ to agree that net neutrality is good if I ask “Should the Internet be regulated to maintain equal access for all at a decent price, or should Comcast be allowed to slow and stop your Netflix whenever they want?”

    1. Netflix good company, give movies! Comcast bad company, make movies hard to see! ME WANT MOVIES!

    2. The base question of net neutrality is should all data be treated equally. Questions of price are completely independent and not relevant.

  5. Call me crazy, but I took Cuban’s scarequotes around “people” as sarcasm, meaning that he knows it is not an organically-started popular sentiment. But fuck me.

    1. Well I think spending large amounts of time on the internet also tends to make people think that net neutrality is largely supported by a majority of people. But of course that’s largely due to pro-net neutrality techies actively spraying as much propaganda as they can on various websites, forums, etc.

    2. you are exactly correct.

  6. Okay, whoever thought up that Alt-Text needs to be assigned to do ALL Alt-Text captioning. Like, yesterday.

    1. Well, whoever created that meme poster, anyway. Reason needs to find out who he/she is and hire them as an intern.

  7. Even with some flaws in wording of questions, I am very surprised by the poll numbers. I thought NN was an unstoppable popular political force that the ignorati masses would support along with minimum wage increases. Maybe this can be stopped.

    1. Obamacare has changed the mood of the people regarding the Federal government’s involement in their lives.

      1. Obamacare and the last several years and beyond of bullshit I guess. Times, they are a changing.


      1. Sorry about the caps, do a lot of work in caps and forgot to toggle it off.

        1. Now my ears are ringing. Thanks a lot, YW.

      2. Yes, but could you find that many of them in a random sample rather than by cherry-picking?

        1,000 people is plenty big enough in this context; it’s more than adequate for 95% confidence and a small margin of error.

      3. That’s called a ‘cross-sectional survey’. Do you have a problem with that?

  8. For the most part, the people I’ve seen supporting Net Neutrality do so because Google’s Side (the “yes” side) made cute memes telling them that wicked Comcast would soon be charging them $10/mo to use Facebook.

    You know, stupid, baseless lies.

    1. You mean to tell me that a large entrenched firm wants to use government power to indefinitely lengthen it’s stay in the market’s top spot? That can’t be true!

    2. Did Google really do that? From the interviews I’ve seen with Eric Schmidt, I would have guessed otherwise.

    3. Facebook doesn’t take that much bandwidth, but Netflix does.

      If Comcast charges Netflix for bandwidth or prioritization, then presumably Netflix subscription fees will rise.

      However, the converse of that is that Comcast customers who don’t use Netflix should see their rates fall.

      Hence this debate is actually largely about whether low-bandwidth users should have to subsidize high bandwidth users through their monthly rates, or if the high bandwidth users should have to pay more.

      1. You’d be surprised how much bandwidth FB uses. It’s typically the #2 hog on my network, after Netflix or other video.

        1. Ok, but I doubt that 100 ms level latency matters that much to facebook users. Nobody really notices lag in Facebook land. They notice it a lot with video.
          Thus Comcast can deprioritize Facebook traffic and hardly anyone will notice.

  9. Sixty-eight percent (68%) are concerned that if the FCC does gain regulatory control over the Internet

    I’m in disbelief that 68% of respondents even knew of the FCCs existence. The pollsters must have been leading respondents.

    1. I’m in disbelief that the original writer of those words is apparently so ignorant he doesn’t know the FCC already has regulatory control over the internet.

  10. The Net Neutrality movement seems to be made up of:

    1. A hard core of old school paranoid anti-corporate-media activists. People who have read a lot of Chomsky and deeply fear media concentration and beleive that it will lead to a vast conspiracy in which the ruling class slowly strangles all alternative media sources. In this group’s imagination, the internet is going to be turned into cable TV.

    2. A collection of old school 90s type internet techies who just don’t understand anything about how the net has evolved to deliver content more efficiently in the last 15 years. (EFF falls in this category)

    3. A nebulous sphere of internet nerds who just want to be able to download porn and pirated movies at maximum speed and think net neutrality will prevent that.

    4. A large cloud of assorted rabble who don’t really understand any of those but want to sound smart and socially conscious about internet things.

    1. #3 is the by far the largest cohort. And a particularly nasty and stupid one at that.

    2. Re: HazelMeade,

      1. A hard core of old school paranoid anti-corporate-media activists.

      Judging from the very illuminating comments from Net Neutrality proponents in the Ron Paul Facebook page (where an article from Dr. Paul that talks against Net Neutrality), I would place most Net Neutrality folks in that category, HM.

      1. They are definitely the intellectual brain-trust. These guys keep predicting that absent net neutrality regulations, that all the non-corporate websites are just going to be throttled into non-existence. Similar to the internet nerds, they want to be able to read Alternet and Infoshop at maximum speed. Everyone’s got their vices.

        Nothing of the sort has actually happened, of course, but I’m sure they interpret Infoshop’s shitty download speeds as some sort of corporate conspiracy. It’s evil that the capitalist system won’t let them have infinite bandwidth for free, isn’t it?

        These are basically the same people that were agitating for public access TV 40 years ago.

    3. This is a pretty excellent breakdown of the proponents of NN. Well played.

  11. Sixty-one percent (61%) disagree and think the Internet should remain open without regulation and censorship.

    Those are encouraging numbers. You’d never know it reading the tech press and their mewling quim commentor minions.

  12. Americans remain suspicious of the motives of those who want government regulation of the Internet. Sixty-eight percent (68%) are concerned that if the FCC does gain regulatory control over the Internet, it will lead to government efforts to control online content or promote a political agenda[…]

    What? How dare those gun-and-Bible clingers think that? They must be racists all of them!

  13. Am I to believe that Reason’s entire stable of authors has never seen scare quotes used on the internet? When he tweets “the people,” he means the opposite of the people. He means the elitist punditry who pretend to speak for everyone. You know… “the people?” Right? RIGHT!?!

    1. Or “The People” as in that cohort of marching, slogan-shouting, non-conformists that show up at World Bank meetings with giant puppets.

      1. Utne Reader readers. Exactly.

  14. I am really saddened by Reason’s repeated refusal to understand what net neutrality really is, why it’s important, and why “innovation” with respect to basic Internet architecture is terrifically destructive. Similarly, it is telling that Nick Gillespie has conveniently omitted polling data that unequivocally shows Cuban is right in his assertion that there is broad support for net neutrality.

    We are saddled with the telecom utility business model, but without Title II regulation, the public gets nothing in exchange for that grant — save for contempt. Allowing the creation of “fast lanes” implies the existence of “slow lanes”, and if one can make slow lanes, one can also stifle traffic altogether — which is to say, one can implement Chinese style censorship.


    1. I really do understand the belief that “government efforts to control online content or promote a political agenda” animates the anti-net-neutrality forces. The irony is, anti-net-neutrailitarians are themselves providing the very tools to do this same thing themselves. So it is very important to understand the difference between “innovation” in various services (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Tinder, Amazon, etc.) appearing as a consequence of the public internet and its existing architecture, versus state-protected monopolies or duopolies (or n-opolies that in practice do not really compete) erecting barriers to real innovation (i.e., Netflix) and demanding rentier status from those innovators.

      1. Why would you pay for internet service that stifles traffic?

        I agree that in some places part of the problem is that the cable internet companies are granted de-facto monopoly status. The solution to that is to break up the local monopolies, not ban prioritization.

        Streaming video CANNOT be made reliable unless there is prioritization of video packets at bottlenecks. Similarly, there are all sorts of other reasons why carrier might want to manage traffic to provide low latency to certain kinds of traffic and not others (online gaming, for instance).

        Furthermore, given that Netflix using consumers tend to use a lot more bandwidth than others, it’s perfectly fair that some of the costs of building the infrastructure be transferred to Netflix customers by way of charging Netflix, and thus increasing the cost of a Netflix subscription. Otherwise, the cost is spread out to all Comcast subscribers, even though not all of them consume the bandwidth.

        Yesterday, someone suggested splitting the local cable monopolies up into “last mile” connectivity, and regional back-bone network. Then you’ll have lots of competition for consumer connectivity and we can leave the regional carriers alone to manage traffic in the most efficient way they can.

        1. The electric company manages to charge the people that use more electricity more than the people that don’t instead of charging GE or Carrier for creating products that use a lot of electricity.

          1. Inapt comparison. NF is directly using that bandwidth to get its product to customers. It’s not just an appliance.

            1. Netflix pays for the bandwidth they use to their bandwidth providers. The cable customer is the one using the bandwidth they purchased to stream Netflix. It’s a pull from the cable customer, not a push from Netflix. If you ftp to my site to download a file, the bandwidth on the cable company is being used and paid for by you, not me.

          2. Delivering electricity is not the same as delivering data packets using TCP/IP. There’s no difference between one kWh and another being delivered to your house.

        2. You do not know what you are talking about. The “bottlenecks” you are speaking about are the result of the primary ologopolies (Verizon, ATT, Comcast) no longer wishing to peer with other networks which route large segements of internet traffic but do not terminate at the consumer level. These are in effect “borders” where the bignames have erected barriers to traffic returning to their payingcustomers who requested the data. And like their customers, Netflix has also paid for its internet connectivity via those non-ologolopic networks.

          This is soley about the ability of those providing the last mile to double dip and charge for both egress and ingress.

          And really Nick, I expect better of you. Perhaps you should also ask Mr. Cuban how the helpless internet made it quite this far with defacto “net neutrality”?

        3. Why would you pay for internet service that stifles traffic?

          Because you have no or very limited choices. I count myself lucky to live in a large urban area served by two commercial, consumer-level ISPs, both cable TV providers (Verizon FiOS and Time Warner). Outside of that, my choices are all data metered terrestrial wireless companies (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and a handful of smaller providers of increasingly dubious availability and reliability), and even slower satellite connectivity with vastly higher latency. (Friends with Hughesnet connections, which only promises 1 Mbps downloads, report it is useless for video during the busy times of the day. Reports on Wildblue/Excede from rural users with no other choices are similarly discouraging.) The pretense, offered here and elsewhere, that there is anything like adequate competition to force change in this space is laughable. If anything, the wireline providers would very much like to add metering as their wireless brethren do, but dare not — for now.


          1. Streaming video CANNOT be made reliable unless there is prioritization of video packets at bottlenecks.

            Seriously? Because, no. Furthermore, it’s important to recall that Netflix’ peering partner Level 3 offered to pay for the increased costs associated with these interconnects due to Netflix traffic, including hardware and fiber. It’s pretty clear from the evidence available that Verizon is simply standing on its hands to extort fees from Netflix. Should that work, it is a terrifically dangerous precedent, because it will prove a force for consolidation of server services as well.

      2. Another note. It might occur to you that Comcast might want to throttle netflix in order to improve performance for all of it’s non-Netflix-streaming customers.

        Imagine you’re an ISP and 5% of your bandwidth is being hogged by a small group of people that are streaming video. Everyone else can’t even surf the web properly. Why is it wrong for them to slow down the 5% so the other 95% can access email and web browsing better?

        1. I know this is a crazy idea, but you could just charge the data hogs more money. Wireless and satellite providers manage to sell connectivity based on total data used.

          1. A metered internet might resolve some of the issues.

            But, that still wouldn’t solve the problem of delivering streaming video reliably. You have to be able to prioritize streaming video packets at bottlenecks. Similarly with online gaming. Some types of traffic are more sensitive to latency.

    2. You get a strong feeling for exactly why Reason refuses to properly understand net neutrality from Gillespie’s final sentence:

      However rotten Comcast and Time Warner can be as service providers, they remain more responsive than the government, if only because they don’t wield the same sort of monopoly power.

      Is Gillespie unaware that cable companies do wield monopoly power because of exclusivity contracts awarded to them by government? Or is he just another corporate apologist?

      1. He understands that just fine just like he understands NN just fine. That’s why he’s against NN and knows that breaking up the monopolies is the right thing to do.

      2. Yes, lets cover the history first. It is a cluster fuck.

      3. It’s highlights one of the main reasons I despise libertarian/conservative thought processes. If something is connected to government, it is intrinsically inferior and more harmful than a private entity.

        It does not matter WHAT that private company does, what kind of business practices it engages in, the libertarian mind cannot conceive of a possible scenario in the entire universe where a private companies actions can cause MORE harm to the larger system than having government intervene and add some strings and constraints to their activity.

        This is nothing more than religious dogma, arrogant conceited hubris of the kind that presumes that their omniscient minds have accounted for all possible variables in the known and unknown universe and cannot be mistaken on the point that government is the holy evil, the worst POSSIBLE entity to allow to act/intervene.

        I believe government CAN be a bad and harmful tool, but not ALWAYS. The texas state government restricts the freedoms of its citizens to qualify for home loans without first being able to put up 20% equity. This of course also restricts the freedoms of private enterprise to grant loans to people.

        1. (more)

          Consequence? During the worst of the housing bubble bursting, Texas was largely spared, that freedom crippling rule turned out to be a natural check on wreckless loans being granted to people that could not afford homes, it also forced the market to keep prices more down to earth and less inflated in the first place since people actually had to have cash/equity on hand to qualify for the first home loans in the first place.

          That was not a private rule set being enforced, it was government. Hear that libertarians? GOVERNMENT regulations making the entire system more resilient. It is possible, please get that through your THICK libertarians skulls.

          You want perfect freedom in all things aside from the most narrow definitions of harm to others? Go live on an island, go create your rapture/galts gulch.

  15. Telecom is already regulated. The sun shine moment was when ISDN was popular and DSL was new. There were many choices of companies to connect with. Then GWB was elected and legislation was passed to regulate away the competition. So the horse has left the barn. Net Neut or Not the people are already screwed until the collapse resets everything.

    1. What legislation was passed to regulate away competition?

      dial up gave way to both cable internet and dsl, dsl later gave way to cable internet since that allowed for more bandwidth and was not so dependent on being closer to a phone company installation. Those are market forces beyond the scope of government. Not to say that local governments have not often gotten in the way.

      1. DSL did not go anywhere. DSL has been continually improved and can now offer bandwidth in the area of 20 Mbps.

        Cable has often been a horror show as many instances used token passing networks which meant unlike DSL (or FTTC), bandwidth was shared by a group of customers and thus there were major slowdowns during peak times.

  16. The local exchange house holds the copper and fiber. The basic infrastructure was paid for long ago by taxpayers when ATT was the only phone company. Control of the Last Mile should be up to the consumer. We had that in late 90’s and early 2000’s.

  17. A great example of the devaluing $ is that no telecom company want to lay new pipe to homes. Too expensive. Well how the hell did the early cable companies afford to lay coax? LMAO!

  18. Mark Cuban put people in quotation marks, (“people” want net neutrality) which means he actually doesn’t think normal folks want this stuff.

  19. “We should make the Internet more free by getting the government more involved.” -Idiots

    1. Seriously, though, Internet and wifi should be basic human rights. Same goes for Cocoa Puffs, toilet paper, and golf clubs.

  20. Why would you ever bring such sensitive topics right after Snowden scandal? Do they expect people to support the idea of regulation, when everyone knows they do have control and supervision powers already? Anyway, no matter what will be written in the law, internet is not going to get any more liberate…

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