Net Neutrality

Republicans Rail Against Utility Regulations for the Internet

There's not much the GOP can do to prevent the FCC's proposed Title II reclassification of the Net.

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Ajit Pai Twitter

Politico outlines the GOP's strategy against the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) big vote on regulating the Internet like a utility.

GOP leaders are mounting a multipronged attack on Chairman Tom Wheeler's rules, which would tighten regulation of Internet service providers to ensure all Web traffic is treated equally. They've launched investigations into alleged White House interference in the FCC process, drafted an alternative and weaker net neutrality bill, complained the agency is drawing up plans behind closed doors — and even used net neutrality as a political rallying cry to supporters.

The strategy is really more of a messaging plan than anything. Republicans plan to emphasize the extensiveness of the FCC's plan to reclassify Internet service as a Title II utility, and to complain about the secrecy of the details as well as the White House's unusual push to put these rules in place. They're not wrong, exactly. I've made similar arguments.

But I'm not sure how much good it will do. The FCC vote, scheduled for later this month, is up to the agency's five commissioners, three of whom are Democratic appointees expected to approve the measure.

Republicans in Congress are also responding with legislation that, according to Politico, "would prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling Web traffic — while also avoiding utility-style rules for broadband and tying the FCC's hands on regulating the Internet."

Basically, it's net neutrality that big Internet providers would be happy to live with, and, if I had to guess, probably helped craft. No doubt there are giveaways and protections built in for big ISPs. This is less than ideal, although probably not quite as worrisome as the FCC's truly radical Title II plan. (The real winners, no matter what happens, are telecom lobbyists and lawyers.) 

It's also largely meaningless, except as a protest measure. With little or no Democratic support and a guaranteed veto in the White House, no Republican net neutrality bill has a chance.

That doesn't mean that utility-style regulation for the Internet is a done deal. Presuming the measure passes, it will almost certainly be challenged in court, where it's at least plausible, and perhaps probable, that it will be thrown out, just like the FCC's last two attempts to regulate net neutrality. Indeed, the folks at TechFreedom argue that Wheeler's move guarantees the FCC will eventually lose in court. We'll see. 

In the meantime, Republicans will continue to declare their objections to the FCC's regulatory overhaul of the Internet. It would be nice if they succeeded in stopping or slowing the move, but the FCC's three Democratic commissioners haven't exactly been swayed by Republican concerns in the past, and I doubt they will this time either.

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  1. I presume the reason why republicans can’t do much about the FCC is because Congress created it and gave it various powers. So if they really wanted the government to cease meddling once and for all, not only would they have avoided proposing their own legislation designed to appease people while providing loopholes for ISPs, they would get rid of the FCC itself.

    1. And really, why haven’t we disposed of this puritanical era piece of shit agency yet?
      what functions do they serve?
      .
      .
      .
      *crickets*

  2. Hopefully they’re more effective railing against Obamanet than they were against Obamacare.

    1. They have the congress this time. Not that it’ll matter.

    2. This is all a lie. There is no difference between the parties. The Republicans can’t be against this and if they are it must not be very important or anything.

      1. The difference between the 2 parties is so insignificant that it’s without distinction.

        As witnessed by their brilliant solution to NN, by giving the Evil(er) party exactly what they want.

        1. If that is true, then this must not be a very big deal. It must be utterly insignificant. So if you honestly think what you say, you shouldn’t worry about this issue at all and certainly argue against anyone who objects to this policy, since clearly it can’t be bad or the Republicans wouldn’t be against it.

          1. John, you need to re-do your sarcasm apprenticeship. I can barely tell what you’re trying to say, other than I should be kissing the Stupid Party’s ass for some reason. Really, they only beat me because they love me so, so much.

            Opposition parties and blind squirrels are sometimes hard to tell apart.

          2. The republicans claim to be against a lot of things.

          3. Red Tony is back.

      2. As a practical matter, though, John, your sarcasm is too close to true. Have the Republicans made any push against Obamacare, or have they just made excuses while telling everyone how awful the Democrats are for passing it? And what reason is there to think their response on Obamanet will be much different?

        Honestly, I don’t blame many libertarians for saying to hell with them. The song and dance on the shit the party is supposed to be fighting for doesn’t give them much reason to get behind the GOP. I think the GOP is probably the only redeemable major party in the game. But, giving them the attendance trophy isn’t doing anyone any favors.

        1. The song and dance on the shit the party is supposed to be fighting for doesn’t give them much reason to get behind the GOP.

          To say nothing of their priorities once they actually do grab the brass ring.

          1. They had complete control for what, 4 years, during Chimpy McBushitler’s terms?

            Did they roll back anything or just fuck things up even worse with business as usual? I’m having trouble recalling in this liberty-rich utopia.

            1. On the other hand, the GOP has shown signs of redeemability. Their losses gave rise to guys like Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Mike Lee, or even Ted Cruz. When the Dems lost, they simply doubled down on statism.

              1. They’re just teasing us.

  3. Remind me again, because I can’t think of anything…what problem is this designed to address?

    1. The problem is that govt regulators can’t effectively meddle with the internet now. How can they get bribes if thy don’t have any influence to peddle?

    2. The problem is that the internet has allowed people to say things the Democrats don’t like causing them to lose elections. Focus on the important things JW, good people in Congress have lost their jobs because of this damned internet thing.

    3. Priveleged white liberal kids are worried they might have to pay a few extra dollars for Netflix.

      1. Priveleged white liberal kids are worried they might have to pay a few extra dollars for Netflix.

        No, privileged white liberals are worried that the brown people, whom they believe cannot take care of themselves, might have to pay anything at all for goods and services of any kind.

        1. Really, its their fault for being the ancestors of slave owners

    4. The real problem is a lack of competition for broadband internet service, largely created by crony capitalist deals at the local level.

      So I’m sure the Republican bill is going to just make things worse by further entrenching the incumbent monopoly providers.

      1. The real problem is a lack of competition for broadband internet service, largely created by crony capitalist deals at the local level.

        Which NN does absolutely nothing to address, nor is it designed to do so.

        1. Which is why I’m not in favor of NN. I want a federal ban on franchise agreements and some sort of “equal access” to public right of ways (this is relatively easy in places with utility tunnels or utility poles, but how to hand direct-buried cable needs to be worked out).

          1. Oh, and an elimination of taxpayer subsidies for privately held telecommunication networks. If you want to build out fiber using public dollars, it needs to be open to other telecoms.

            1. If you want to build out fiber using public dollars, it needs to be open to other telecoms.

              This is the status quo, and it is an endless headache for network providers, last-mile providers, and customers alike.

              1. No it’s not. It was the status quo from 1996 – 2003, but the mandatory unbundling rules were elimated in 2003.

                1. For consumer and OC-level service. Dark fiber, DS1, and DS3 are still bundled as far as I know; they were when I still worked on the LEC side and still appear to be now that I’m an enterprise buyer.

          2. public right of ways (this is relatively easy in places with utility tunnels or utility poles, but how to hand direct-buried cable needs to be worked out).

            Utility tunnels and poles are not automatically public right of ways.

            1. Yes, and the fact companies are allowed to build infrastructure in the public right of way that aren’t themselves part of the right of way is part of the problem. Local governments should not be able to extend use of public property to certain companies and deny it to others. Either everyone can put up poles, no one can, or the poles that are put up have to be shared. But you can’t say Comcast, and only Comcast, is allowed to have poles.

              1. Yes, and the fact companies are allowed to build infrastructure in the public right of way that aren’t themselves part of the right of way is part of the problem. Local governments should not be able to extend use of public property to certain companies and deny it to others.

                Local government restrict the use of roads to certain types of vehicles or traffic and can even legally do so for arbitrary shit like ‘because he doesn’t pay child support’. The permission basis for use of public property, to use as a cudgel of political enforcement, is long established and legal. The existence of public property itself is unjust, but if we’re going off the rules established in that regime there’s not much to say that local governments can’t.

                And as for making ethical proclamations about what the government ought to do with public property, well that’s sort of precluded by the fact that public property is theft. It’s like saying that once a thief sells his loot, the buyer is entitled to own it.

                Either everyone can put up poles, no one can, or the poles that are put up have to be shared.

                Put up your pole, but if you think you can string up a line across my property without my permission, why then you’ll have to run to the state to ask them to violate my property rights on your behalf.

                1. The existence of public property itself is unjust, but if we’re going off the rules established in that regime there’s not much to say that local governments can’t.

                  I’m pretty sure allowing the federal government to block local and state governments from restricting commerce to favored business interests is the whole point of the commerce clause.

                    1. c.f. Gibbons v. Ogden

                      And your point being?

                  1. I’m pretty sure allowing the federal government to block local and state governments from restricting commerce to favored business interests is the whole point of the commerce clause.

                    Holy fuck not at all. It was to block local and state governments from restricting commerce between each others’ citizens on that basis. It was to facilitate a unified trade block between nominally sovereign entities.

                    Where in the Commerce Clause does it say anything about preventing “local and state governments from restricting commerce to favored business interests”?

                    1. So to be clear, you believe state governments have the power to restrict trade within their borders to a single government enforced monopoly, and that the federal government can do nothing to stop this?

                    2. So to be clear, you believe state governments have the power to restrict trade within their borders to a single government enforced monopoly, and that the federal government can do nothing to stop this?

                      Whether or not they have the power to do that and whether they have the right to do that are very different questions. Yes they have the power, no question there. No they don’t have the right since the government doesn’t have the right to exist any more than the Gambino Crime family does.

                      A single government enforced monopoly of all things would run up against a host of constitutional challenges and probably even under the modern reading of the Commerce Clause, yeah.

                      There’s lots of government actions that could very well be legally possible under a set of laws but politically impossible under those same laws.

              2. Congratulations, you have discovered the conundrum of “public” property. It’s not really “public” since it has an owner (or, at least, a de facto landlord) and it is not freely available to the “public” (or, if you prefer, the “public” is not everybody but rather some select few).

                The problem is that you are assuming the government is a neutral actor. It gets to use this “public” property (which it also has a “right” to appropriate from others at will) however it sees fit. Nowhere do I see you actually repudiate that the government should be doing the sorts of things you find it “unfair” for companies to be doing.

                In other words, you would be fine with all of this if instead of Comcast laying the wires and providing the service it was your friendly government ISP. This is a fundamental fallacy of many soft lefties (i.e., not communists) but it is completely without basis. The government is not a neutral agent. It is run by the same sort of fallible and corruptible people as any company. Furthermore, the different set of incentives it operates under encourage even worse abuses than those companies generally operate under.

                1. In other words, you would be fine with all of this if instead of Comcast laying the wires and providing the service it was your friendly government ISP.

                  Yes, “I want multiple private companies to be able to lay wire so they can compete” means “I want a single government run ISP”. Oh wait, they’re exactly the opposite.

                  1. I never said they were equivalent, I said nowhere do you actually repudiate that possibility. Still, you haven’t.

                    1. So since you haven’t explictly repudiated baby rape, we can all assume you’re a pedophile?

                    2. This has nothing to do with your arguments. When I have disagreed with what you say on a factual or logical basis, I have addressed it directly.

                      However, I find you to be a disingenuous interlocutor. You comment on a lot of net neutrality threads with an undercurrent of “it would all be fine if some government somewhere reigned Comcast in” which is not, and should never be, the point.

                      Comcast should not be screwing you with the sanction of the government. But at the same time, I think you greatly overestimate how much of what Comcast (or any other major ISP) does is about screwing you. There are massive costs in maintaining and upgrading infrastructure.

                      It is true that Comcast passes some of these costs on to the taxpayer through the exclusive or at least preferred use of rights of way and other privileges. However, what you fail to establish is what the real costs of the work are and how much your bill actually reflects those costs vs other factors.

                      Your inability to just come out and say “no, the government would not be better” is telling. Not about your arguments, again, but simply about you. If you expect to be treated solely as an abstract purveyor of ideas, then you should not reveal your personal biases so much.

                    3. Lest you decide to play “gotcha” games, I have no love of Comcast. It is just a company, but it is many people’s go-to example of an “abusive” one in this context. If they disappeared tomorrow and were replaced with a dozen companies who provided better service at a lower price, I would not shed a tear. In fact, I would rejoice. However, the reality is that they are a business and have to operate in the general business climate of this country, as well as adapt to the local markets. Insofar as they commit abuses, those abuses are enabled by local governments, and those governments are elected (and re-elected) by the people who live in those places. The federal government should not be playing any role here at all, but it is not shilling for Comcast or any other such thing to say that they definitely should not be playing a greater role.

                    4. The federal government should not be playing any role here at all

                      This is a bit stronger than what I actually mean. There is a place for the federal courts to resolve disputes.

        2. This is roughly similar to one problem with healthcare–a lack of competition at the state and local levels. While I’m not sure there’s a good federal solution, almost all of the problem with service stems from the fact that competition is not at all robust, even with the options we have today.

          1. I will say that my FiOS is pretty damn good. No complaints about the level or quality of the service.

            I’d like to see the bill come down, but only more competition other than Comcast will cure that.

            1. I like FiOS, too, but it costs way more than it would if we had an open market.

    5. The problem is that in the inevitable dystopian future, evil corporate media cable companies will throttle subversive left-wing news sites.
      Because, Manufacturing Consent!!

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  5. Republicans in Congress are also responding with legislation that, according to Politico, “would prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling Web traffic ? while also avoiding utility-style rules for broadband and tying the FCC’s hands on regulating the Internet.”

    Good work, Stupid(er) Party, damn good work.

    You’ve got them right where they want you.

    1. A law that simply said that you can’t arbitrarily block or throttle specific websites wouldn’t be terrible. If you, could still, for instance, throttle all websites that are consuming more than some threshold amount of bandwidth.

      I could be happy with something that just said you can’t throttle specific companies or specific users, you have to apply a uniform standard.

      1. A law that simply said that you can’t arbitrarily block or throttle specific websites wouldn’t be terrible.

        Why would any company do this, other than to manage traffic? Seriously, can you imagine the bloody screaming if Comcast started blocking popular websites?

        If

        There’s that word.

        By giving some traffic priority, you are by default, throttling other traffic, assuming that your circuit is saturated. VoIP traffic is going to get hammered, without packet prioritization.

        Netflix must know something that we don’t, because I can’t see how this doesn’t blow up in their face.

      2. A law that simply said that you can’t arbitrarily block or throttle specific websites wouldn’t be terrible.

        Why not? I can arbitrarily block or restrict entry of specific people to my property and a law saying I can’t would be terrible.

        I could be happy with something that just said you can’t throttle specific companies or specific users, you have to apply a uniform standard.

        You would be happy with a statutory violation of property rights.

  6. In the meantime, Republicans will continue to declare their objections to the FCC’s regulatory overhaul of the Internet. It would be nice if they succeeded in stopping or slowing the move, but the FCC’s three Democratic commissioners haven’t exactly been swayed by Republican concerns in the past, and I doubt they will this time either.

    Let there be no doubt that as both parties are a threat to liberty, the Democrats in particular are downright antithetical to liberty.

    1. Yes. Just because the Republicans are not generally friends of it doesn’t mean they are not significantly better than the Democrats now that the Democrats have gone full foaming at the mouth evil.

      1. I’ll fully grant that the Democrats want to drive off the cliff at full speed, but the Republicans are still driving in the same direction. This ridiculous unwillingness to fight beyond strong words is tiresome. What’s the point of electing them on a repeal/stop the madness mandate if they’re going to keep all of their best weapons in their holsters?

      2. It’s not popular to do, but I see no ethical or intellectual problem with comparing Democrats to ugliest species of socialism; fascists and communists. Because they are those things.

  7. The GOP now has incredible power to deal with stuff like this. But it won’t use it.

    1. There will be much harumphing! There will!

      1. They won’t even go to the wire to attack Obamacare, which is quite unpopular. Net neutrality has proponents, though most don’t understand that they’re going to do more harm to their service with more government involvement.

        1. This is smaller is some ways though. And so, one would think, a better starter project using the power of the purse.

          What would happen if the FCC was just completely shutdown tomorrow? Some puritanical dicks of the left and the right would be sad about a lack of censorship, but other than that? Almost nothing would happen. Who would really give a fuck?

  8. Republicans in Congress are also responding with legislation that, according to Politico, “would prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling Web traffic ? while also avoiding utility-style rules for broadband and tying the FCC’s hands on regulating the Internet.”

    Basically, it’s net neutrality that big Internet providers would be happy to live with, and, if I had to guess, probably helped craft. No doubt there are giveaways and protections built in for big ISPs.

    So the Republican response to a Democratic takeover of the internet is to propose a Republican takeover of the internet.

    How’s that libertarian moment coming along, anyway?

    1. Fucked we are, yes, hmmmm.

        1. No. Try not. Do. . .or do not. There is no try.

  9. I would like to draw Net neutrality supporters attention to the fact that the proposed regulations only require that the ISPs treat “lawful” and “legal” content equally. I.e. they are still permitted to throttle your illegal downloads, you dopes.

  10. I’m curious how the law is going to apply to content distribution networks. If net neutrality is supposed to mean all content is accessible at the same speed to consumers, then wouldn’t CDNs suddenly become illegal? I mean, the goal is suppose to be to prevent established players from paying to get faster speeds, but they are already doing that with CDNs.

    1. You would think, but the FCC has previously stated that CDN’s improve end user experience and (a “therefore” should probably be included since that seems to be the FCC’s guiding principle in this debate) don’t violate net neutrality.

  11. I demand the FCC regulate wire communications disguised as “online” and have a pending Motion for Summary Judgment mandating this at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. I seek an order REQUIRING the FCC to enforce the Communications Act and treat wire communications as a Title II common carrier regardless of the device or apparatus used to terminate these 47 U.S.C. ?153 ?(59) wire communications.

    Yes; this common carrier includes enternet, wi-fi, mobile phones, and most communications traveling interstate as well as ALL communications from hundreds of miles away since EMF can only propagate in straight lines. Hmmm; The earth is still round and viewing a radio tower marker light from 100 miles away would require the radio tower be 1-1/4 miles tall or over twice the height of the tallest building on earth.

    I have spoken to one FCC Commissioner’s personal assistant. They either vote to regulate wires or they will be forced by United States Courts to follow the law of the land.
    This has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

    Brief Supt. Motion for Summary Judgment

    1. http://theendofpornbywire.org/…..newed.html
      (Motion for Summary Judgment)


      http://theendofpornbywire.org/…..auper.html

      (Brief Supt. Motion for Summary Judgment)

      Spaces break links in HTML even if URL encoded.

  12. How hard can it be for REASON to set up a comments system, whereby it is clear who is replying to whom?

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