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Ajit Pai: ‘We Are Returning to the Original Classification of the Internet’

In a Fifth Column interview, FCC chair announces the beginning of the end of Title II regulatory classification of Internet companies, frets about the culture of free speech, and calls social-media regulation "a dangerous road to cross."

Good cover. ||| ReasonReasonFederal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai announced this morning that he is submitting a proposal to repeal what he characterized as the "heavy-handed, utility-style regulation" of Internet companies adopted by the Obama administration in 2015.

Colloquially (if misleadingly) known as "net neutrality" (see Reason's special issue on the topic from 2015) the rules, which included classifying Internet companies as "telecommunications services" under Title II of the 1934 Telecommunications Act instead of as "information services" under Title I, were intended by advocates to be a bulwark against private companies discriminating against disfavored service or content providers. In practice, Pai asserted today in a statement, net neutrality "depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation," and amounted to "the federal government...micromanaging the Internet." The measure will be voted on next month.

Pai, appointed to the chairmanship by President Donald Trump after serving as a commissioner since 2012, is a longtime opponent of Net Neutrality, memorably describing it in a February 2015 interview with Nick Gillespie as a "solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist." The commissioner foreshadowed today's move in an April 2017 interview with Gillespie, arguing that the Title II reclassification amounted to "a panoply of heavy-handed economic regulations that were developed in the Great Depression to handle Ma Bell." Today's move is already being hailed by free-market advocates and slammed by many in the online activist community.

Pai came on the latest installment of the Fifth Column podcast to explain and debate the announcement with Kmele Foster and myself. You can listen to the whole conversation here:

Partial edited transcript, which includes Pai's views on today's free-speech climate and this month's social-media hearings on Capitol Hill, after the jump:

Foster: As all of you listeners know, because you're weird stalkers, I have a deep background in telecommunication, so I'm actually happy to be chatting with you today, Ajit. And I think you also are announcing some things, and we should perhaps start with the news that you are making.

Pai: Sure, so I'm proposing to my fellow commissioners at the FCC to return to the bipartisan consensus on how to think about the Internet. And so instead of putting the government in control of how it operates and how it's managed, we're going to return to the light-touch framework that was established during the Clinton administration, one that served the Internet economy through the Bush administration and the first six years of the Obama administration. And we'll be voting on this order on December 14th at the FCC's monthly meeting. […]

Essentially, we are returning to the original classification of the Internet.

So, for many, many years, starting with the commercialization of the Internet in the 1990s all the way until 2015, we thought of Internet access as what's called an "information service." And as boring as the phrase is, it actually had significant import: It meant that the FCC would not micromanage how it developed, how it operated. We would let the market develop, and then take targeted action if necessary to protect consumers.

In 2015, that changed, and we switched to calling it a "telecommunication service," essentially treating every Internet Service Provider in the country, from the big ones all the way down to the mom-and-pop fixed wireless providers in Montana, as anti-competitive monopolists to be regulated under 1934 rules that were developed for Ma Bell, the old telephone monopoly. And so we are simply returning that classification back to the information-service one that started under President Clinton. And additionally, we are getting rid of some of the regulations that were adopted under that so-called Title II "common carrier" classification, in terms of the various…rules that were adopted back in 2015.

Welch: So give us a tangible sense of what are things, regulations, that were already happening under this classification, or ones that could be or were in the pipeline, at least until you got in, and how they would impact people's experiences or impact the market in a way that you would think is negative.

Pai: To me, the most pernicious one was something the FCC adopted called the "general conduct" standard. And under this, the FCC didn't specify what conduct was exactly prohibited, they said we'll take a look at any practice by any Internet Service Provider; we'll decide if it is violative of any number of different things, such as free expression online or the like, and we might take unspecified actions to stop it.

Welch: So just to be clear, the FCC had zero authority to discuss or consider the contents of free speech online before 2015. This opened the door to the FCC caring about whether Kmele's dropping F-bombs or whether you're giving a space to people who are cheering on Islamic terrorists or something like that.

Pai: Well, certainly I think that Kmele was safe, and would be safe, I would hope. But what wasn't safe, however…was indicated by my predecessor's comments when he was asked, "Well, how would this Internet conduct standard be applied?" He literally said, "We don't know, we'll have to see where things go." And in the subsequent months, what happened was the FCC initiated an investigation into free data offerings by wireless companies. So if T-Mobile, for instance, said, "You know what...you can watch as much video as you want, exempt from any data limits that might be on your plan." The FCC said, "No, you know what, that free data offering is something that could violate this Internet conduct standard. We're going to investigate it." And they initiated investigations into several other free-data offerings.

And that's the kind of thing that, last time I checked, consumers seem to like the offerings from the service providers, and that's the kind of thing that the FCC was starting to meddle in. And that's one of things that we are getting rid of, is that Internet conduct standard that essentially gave bureaucrats a free rein to second-guess, I think, a lot of pro-consumer and pro-competitive offerings

Foster: Let's let's try to take this from the standpoint of separating the access portion of the conversation and the content portion of the conversation. Because I think for a lot of people, when they hear about the FCC—and we should actually talk about some of the news that the FCC has been involved in throughout the first year of the Trump administration: There were the privacy guidelines that were done away with at the very beginning of the year, at least some rules that, as I believe, had not yet gone into effect. So this is, again, on the content side. We had, actually, the president, who has sent out a couple of tweets. This is your boss, so I'm not necessarily asking you to speak ill of him, but I won't stop you if you wanted to, but he has suggested on some occasions that "some people" are saying, or "a lot of people" are saying, maybe it was "many" people…whatever the phrase is, I think it generally just means that he is saying that there ought to be equal time, for example. So again, another content-related thing that networks ought to be giving equal time to both sides because he felt he was being treated unfairly by network television comedians.

So with respect to the content side, with respect to treating content on the Internet both equally and making certain that it is sufficiently pure, that people's information is being protected by the ISPs who are collecting it, and by various other people who are collecting it online, could we talk a little bit about how the rules that are being introduced or proposed at any rate are affecting that, and what your own thinking is about the way that the FCC should actually be shepherding content on the Internet when it comes to both the privacy of users and giving their data to other people, and when it comes to the things that they're actually consuming online?

Pai: So that last factor is pretty easy for me. I come to the table as a firm believer in the First Amendment, and I think the digital era has only enhanced the potential for free speech and free expression. And to me, at least, the Internet is one of the greatest platforms I think we've ever seen in history, to be honest, for allowing people who, in a previous age, might only finds their views expressed in a letter to the editor, or if they happened to get onto a TV station for an interview. It's given them a platform to be able to speak without that intermediary. That's a great thing. And so that's why the FCC doesn't get involved in deciding what kind of content goes on the Internet, who is going to be allowed to speak, and all the rest.

In terms of privacy, Congress and the president made a decision earlier this year to rescind some the FCC's privacy regulations that were adopted last year.

Foster: And this was like right before the last administration went out, I believe like in December of last year.

Pai: Correct, late last year and in early this year, the current Congress decided to rescind those rules. And so that's why, I think that's one of the questions that we are confronting is, what to do about privacy? And I've long said that previous to these Title II common-carrier regulations, the privacy practices of every online player, whether it was an edge provider like Google or Facebook, an Internet Service Provider like Verizon or Comcast—the FTC applied a consistent privacy frameworks to all those players.

Welch: The FTC.

Pai: Federal Trade Commission, yes. By classifying ISPs, however, as common carriers, the FCC, my agency, created a void. And the reason is because the FTC under the law cannot regulate common carriers, and so that's why late last year, the FCC adopted very onerous regulations for ISPs in terms of privacy. So you had two different agencies adopting two different sets of rules for digital players in the online economy.

Foster: What was onerous about those rules, from your standpoint?

Pai: So, a variety of things. First and foremost, I think it didn't reflect the basic consumer expectation. Consumers have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and so if their information is sensitive as the FTC has long believed, they want to have an opt-in approach. If their information is less sensitive, they're more comfortable sharing it, an opt-out approach, if you will. And the FCC essentially just jettisoned all of that. It ignored the fact of that basic consumer expectation, and it also said that regardless of the fact that 85 percent of Internet traffic is encrypted, it's the HTTPS, nonetheless, we are going to treat it as if the ISPs had uniquely pervasive insight in what consumers were doing.

Foster: And to make it accessible, the way it's generally talked about is: My browsing history, the preferred sites that I visit on a regular basis, what I'm searching for on Google. In some way, shape, or form, the person I buy my Internet connection from has that information. And they might do something with that information, like, say, for example, sell it to marketers, in the nicest, most generous way, sell it to marketers so that they can advertise things to me that I'm interested in. Or to put it in a more nefarious way, they get all of my naughty pornography habits, and they are selling access to that information. […]

But in either case, you're suggesting that before these rules were introduced, there was a void—that ISPs could have been doing this thing, which it's interesting to ask whether or not they had been doing it, and even today there is still a void; effectively those rules never went into force. It has always been the case that ISPs could technically sell that information. Had they—

Pai: Currently, they cannot.

Foster: They can't now?

Pai: No, they can't, because currently they are Title II....So once we remove that Title II classification, the FTC will once again have comprehensive jurisdiction over both ISPs and online content providers, so they'll apply that similar framework to everybody.

Foster: […] So before the rules were adopted, were there restrictions then as well? Those would've come from the FTC?

Pai: Exactly, yes. The Federal Trade Commission would and did apply them consistently to everybody in the online space.

Foster: And were there violations of those norms? What was the reason for reaching for a stricter standard from the FCC standpoint?

Pai: Honestly it was just a power grab. I think the agency didn't really do a reasoned analysis of what it was that Internet Service Providers were doing that would justify those particular regulations. It didn't do, I don't think, at least an intellectually honest assessment of how the Internet operates. Just the mere fact, for example, that every time if you're on your computer, you see "HTTPS," that means your ISP can only see your domain name. They can't see the particular pages that you're on, and also—

Foster: But it could matter. The domain name might matter, if it's HotMoms.com or something, which I don't know that that's a thing; we're not advertising for that.

Welch: No, certainly not.

Foster: I'm going to find out if it's a thing right now. Please keep talking. […]

Pai: And if you think about how a lot of people use the Internet—for example, if you're surfing on your smartphone at home, you're probably using Wi-Fi, so you're—

Foster: It's not a thing, by the way. Go ahead.

Pai: So you're on your home network. But then, as you're driving to work, you might be on your cellular network, which might be a different provider. And when you get to work or go to a coffee shop or your office, you're probably on a third network. And so you use a number of different Internet Service Providers over the course of the day, so no one of them most likely would have pervasive insight into what you were doing on the Internet. And so the simple point I've made is simply just uniform expectations of privacy: The consumers expect that whoever has control over their information, whether it's an ISP or an online edge provider, they should protect that information if it's sensitive. And so that's one of things we're returning to the Federal Trade Commission, would be the comprehensive regulation of everybody who holds online consumers' information.

Welch: Now, the reason that Boing Boing hates you is the two-word phrase—which is loaded, and I think misleading—net neutrality, which you're against. You described it memorably for Reason in an interview, and I'm going to botch it, so I probably won't even try to—

Pai: I remember it.

Welch: Can you render it?

Pai: Back then, I think I called it "a solution that won't work, to address a problem that doesn't exist."

Welch: Yes. Very good.

But surely you understand the motivation for this, and this affects the Title II conversation and everything else, which is that people have a genuine anxiety that the freedom that they have known on the Internet is potentially imperiled, even if it's not now. Even if the problem doesn't exist right now, we don't know what will happen 10 years from now. My God, a lot of things didn't exist 10 years ago that exist now and exert a lot of control. So people are worried that a small number of powerful companies are going to start privileging some content or privileging some other businesses, and kind of start discriminating against others. Is that a problem? Is that something to worry about in an era where we have four companies that everyone, particularly, is obsessing about right now; it's all on the social media, it's Facebook and Google, I guess Apple, and fill-in-the blank on the fourth? There are amalgamations of power that have a disproportionate influence there. So do they not have a point to be concerned about, and are you concerned about that kind of accumulation of power among tech companies here?

Pai: I completely understand that concern, and I would have two responses; one drawing from the past, and one about the future.

With us back to the past, prior to the imposition of these rules in 2015, we had a free and open Internet. We were not living in some digital dystopia in which that kind of anti-consumer behavior happens. There was no market failure, in other words, for the government to solve. Going forward, the question then is, what should the regulations be? Now as you said, there could be some kind of anti-competitive conduct by one or a couple players. And to me, at least, the question is, how do you want to address that? Do you want to have preemptive regulation based on rules that were generated in the Great Depression to regulate this dynamic space, or do you want to take targeted action against the bad apples as they pop up?

And to me, at least, the targeted action is the better approach, for a couple different reasons. Number one, preemptive regulation comes at significant cost. Treating every single Internet Service Provider as a monopolist, an anti-competitive monopolist that has to be regulated with common-carrier regulation, is a pretty...that's a sledgehammer kind of tool. And so that has significant impacts, and we've seen some of those impacts in terms of less investment in broadband networks going forward.

But secondly, I think it also obscures the fact that we want to preserve a vibrant open Internet with more competition. And so to the extent you impose these heavy-handed regulations, ironically enough, you might be cementing in the very lack of competition, as you see it, that you want to address.

And so my argument has been, let's introduce more competition into the marketplace in order to solve that problem. We've been doing that by improving more satellite companies, getting more spectrum out there for wireless companies, incentivizing smaller fiber providers in cities like Detroit, to be able install infrastructure. That is the way to solve that problem. Not preemptively saying, "We are going to impose these rules on everybody, regardless of whether there is an actual harm right now."

Foster: And you said before 2015 there weren't really violations of this standard, and the standard we're talking about here, this is primarily a conversation about access. So it's whether you're using your cell phone to get to websites using the Internet that way, or using your cable Internet provider at home, which oftentimes you only have one of those. The question is whether or not they're prioritizing some traffic versus other traffic, or maybe even just blocking you from getting to certain services, services that they don't make a profit off of your using.

In general, I think it's true that there wasn't a lot of that happening before. But even back in 2015, AT&T was throttling bandwidth on its unlimited data plan. So they're selling you an unlimited data plan, but once you get above say 25 MB, you've downloaded a couple songs, they start to actually scale back the rate of speed with which you can access the Internet. And there's been a fair amount of this throttling going on, and I think part of what a number of people who are concerned about net neutrality regulations want, is, one, they want to know that they can access all of the things at essentially the same rate, that there isn't any prioritization going on, which is a weird thing to want, because from a technical standpoint, there's always some kind of prioritization going on, but that's a separate point. But there is increasing concern, I think, especially as people get much more powerful mobile devices, to have their wireless connection also not be throttled in the way the AT&T was doing. And we still see a fair number of data caps, although they'll talk about them a bit more explicitly now. I believe AT&T was fined for some of that throttling back in 2015.

So there's at least some potential issue here, because there are, in many cases, only a few carriers that you can actually go to to get some of these services. So wireless in New York City, you can get one of, say several: T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon. Most places, they all have their own networks, for the most part. Everybody else is leasing stuff from those guys. But when it comes to Internet service in New York, if you want cable, you talk to Optimum. Or if you want fiber you talk to Verizon Fios. Those are your only two options. And in many places you've got fewer than those two. In a few places you've got more, say, if Google fiber is in your neighborhood or something. In places like that, Net Neutrality could potentially be a real issue for people. So I wanted to be sure to place it in that frame. I am similarly skeptical of the need for it, but I wanted to at least introduce that complexity for you to respond to.

Pai: Absolutely, and this is why what the one rule that we are preserving relates to transparency. I think that consumers, when they purchase a service, should have the right to know from the service provider, this is how we are providing the service, and the terms on which we are providing it, and so they have to disclose that. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission has authority over unfair and deceptive trade practices, as do state attorneys general, for instance, and other authorities. And so those authorities still remain. If a company is not living up to what they say they're going to do, and they have to disclose that again, under the FCC's framework as I conceive it, then they'll be accountable for that. And so that's the kind of thing that will empower consumers, I think, to understand what exactly it is that an ISP is doing in terms of business practice, and there will be authority still to take care of that problem.

Welch: We've talked a lot on this program over the last several weeks in particular, as there's been hearings on Capitol Hill dragging the social media companies up, and it's kind of tied up with the Russia investigation and all of this. I think we've all at some point characterized this moment as a bit of a "panic." It feels like there is a Capitol Hill regulatory...sort of existential panic about the power of social media companies, and also about the way in which people are worried that Facebook, in particular, could be manipulated by hostile forces. You …don't really work on the generating or commenting on legislation, but just watching this, do you have a bad feeling in your gut about where this is going? And if it went anywhere, if Dianne Feinstein or anyone else was going to write up some new kind of regulation, maybe on political advertising on Facebook or some kind of transparency rules, is that going to fall on your lap, and are you worried about it, and do you feel like taking any sort of preventive shots across the bow?

Pai: Well, generally speaking, I don't take preemptive shots across the bow with Congress.

Welch: I don't know why.

Pai: But I do think that it speaks to the transformative impact the Internet has had. This entire conversation would've been nonsensical to somebody 20 years ago, that you would think the Internet played such a large role in our daily lives. And not just in terms of ordering a coffee or reserving the table at a restaurant, as you said, even the core functions of our electoral process—

Welch: This conversation that we're having on a podcast that people are listening to on their phone.

Pai: Yeah, yeah, exactly right.

Welch: In a subway.

Pai: And that's why I think there's been the impulse in some quarters, and we heard it at last week I believe it was, or maybe two weeks ago, from Senator Franken when he said that I think these net neutrality regulations should apply to Facebook, they should apply to Google, they should applied to Amazon, to all these other online companies. And to me, at least, I think that's a dangerous road to cross.

One of things that's made the Internet the greatest free-market innovation in history, I think, is the fact that policymakers of both parties decided in the 1990s, "You know what, we're not going to treat this like the water company. We're not to treat it like the electric company. We're not going to treat it like Ma Bell. We'll let it evolve and see where it goes." And where it's gone is incredible. Trillions of dollars of value for consumers, trillions of dollars of investments across the country that wouldn't have existed had we treated it like the subway system here in New York. And so, to me at least, I wanted a level playing field for all of these online players, but I wanted it to be a light touch, a market-based playing field, as opposed to the government-knows-best playing field, in which online providers of all stripes have to come on bended knee to Washington and say, "Mother may I?" before we execute on our business.

Foster: Interestingly, I think that's the thing though—when you describe water, power, transportation in New York, the subway is the lifeblood of the city. When it's not working, it's a problem, which is frequent. But for most people, they think to themselves, "No actually, that's precisely how I want my Internet service to work. I want it to be a price that I understand from this provider that I know, with rules that are completely well-known," and in many cases that's the expectation from an economic standpoint, and they use this phrase "natural monopoly." The expectation that there can only be one player eventually. That in order for competition to actually exist, it would be more expensive than having one player actually be dominant in this marketplace. There's an expectation that telecom services which require this really expensive investment in infrastructure are in fact natural monopolies. And as a consequence of that, they've been regulated as such.

So your reference to Ma Bell is something that some people might not appreciate straightaway. It's important to acknowledge that the reason there are so few providers in a lot of these places to begin with is a consequence of proactive, preemptive regulation that helped to create these telecom monopolies in the first place. It created the monopoly with Time Warner in this particular region of the country, where they were the only broadband access provider for a time, and in various other places where Verizon for example, has come in to spend money, to build their own network, to compete to introduce another carrier, the incumbent has been able to actually make it challenging for them by appealing to local officials, which I think is worth mentioning. […]

Welch: I wanted you to a kind of chew on a bit of a paradox that I think you live through, and we all do in a way, which is that legally I don't think, or jurisprudentially, we haven't been in a better moment for free speech that I can think of. The Supreme Court, in particular, is very strong on free speech cases, they just took another three or four this past week....I mean, now…the First Amendment's starting to crowd out other amendments almost in the way that they're judging things. So we have this pretty great bedrock happening.

Culturally it feels like we haven't been as backslid like this in a really long time. Again, this is something we've talked a lot about. I know a couple weeks before the president started talking about equal time and this kind of stuff in his Twitter feed, you made some comments about just how the FCC is on the receiving end of a lot of like, "Hey, these people are either fake news or they're bad, we should look at this and we should…." Complaints about the political content of speech. How do you observe this? Do you feel like we're in a more politically oriented sense of we need to do something, and departing away from the free speech traditions that America has had, even at a time that we've never been more kind of legally free?

Pai: I think you frame the paradox pretty well, from a doctrinal perspective at least. The First Amendment is alive and well, if you look at some of these court decisions. But the problem, as you pointed out, is that there's a culture that is required to keep that promise of free speech alive, and especially if you look on college campuses it's…from Evergreen State to Yale, virtually every week it seems like there's another case in which somebody who just doesn't want to hear different point of view wants to and does in fact shut it down. And I think that's pretty disturbing for what it means for the future of free speech.

Welch: And how does this affect your work?

Pai: Oh, it affects it, I can tell you, just about every day I get multiple emails saying you suck at your job because you're not taking this network off the air. Sometimes it's somebody who hates, say Fox News, sometimes it's somebody who hates MSNBC. You name it. I read this article in my local paper, how on earth can they print something like this?

And look, that's sort of the core of what free press is all about. And so I know it's not going to make me popular, probably among anybody, but I'm going to consistently say that so long as I have the privilege of occupying this position, my ally's going to be the First Amendment. I trust in the marketplace of ideas, and I don't want to be in the business of deciding who gets to speak, and who gets to print, and who gets to think, and who gets to express. That's something for the American people to decide for themselves.

Welch: But don't functionally you have to respond to at least some…I don't know what it is, a process, like a petition, or look into this thing that happens?

Foster: Like if someone says cock-holster on television, like a late-night television host?

Welch: Yeah. Like you have to do something, and spend some minor amount of resources in this, right?

Pai: Well, if there's, say, a broadcast license renewal application somebody can always file what's called a "petition to deny." They'll say you should deny the renewal of this broadcast license for these reasons, and one of the reasons could theoretically be, "I didn't like the content of this broadcast," and the like. And that's kind of thing the FCC traditionally has not countenanced. It's one thing if they're actually violating a rule, but if it's just simply they're broadcasting something you don't like, the political tint of a newscast or whatever, we don't get involved in that sort of thing.

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    repeal what he characterized as the "heavy-handed, utility-style regulation" of Internet companies adopted by the Obama administration in 2015.

    Colloquially (if misleadingly) known as "net neutrality"

    It's as if a million voices on Slashdot cried out, and then were silenced...

  • Brandybuck||

    The Slashdot motto has always been "Tech welfare for tech nerds". Net Neutrality is so that people with $4000 dollar flat screen 4k televisions can stream HD broadcasts of Game of of Thrones pr0n for the same low low price as grandma gets her email.

  • some guy||

    And if you need even more bandwidth than that for your cool new tech business, sorry, no can do. We can't afford to give everyone the bandwidth you need, so no one gets that much bandwidth, period.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Equality!

  • harryborten||

    You don't understand how the internet works, at all.

    People who server more content always pay more. They always have. To the backbone providers, etc.

    Also people pay more for faster customer, residential speeds. Always have.

    NN is about ISPs charging more for different KINDS of content. Like comcast slowing down a video service that competes with their own streaming.

    Please read up.

  • Sevo||

    "NN is about ISPs charging more for different KINDS of content. Like comcast slowing down a video service that competes with their own streaming."

    Please stop bullshtting.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Oh look, it's Some Guy, the dumb fuck who doesn't understand how network management and data allocation works.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Have you not seen "pr0n" written that way? That's a really fucking old internet slang term for it to bypass chat filters.

    Oh god, I'm old.

  • Brandybuck||

    Not as old as me. Now get off my lawn!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I identify as St, Jerome, and you are to bow to me before speaking.

  • ThomasD||

    How about we call you Sebastian and give you a different sort of bowing?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    BEST PR*N EVAH!

  • Mitsima||

    Because pr0n is 733t!

  • harryborten||

    Aw, someone doesn't understand how the internet works. At all.

    There are monopolies for ISP, hence the need for regulation. Idiots.

  • harryborten||

    You don't understand how the internet works, at all.

    People who server more content always pay more. They always have. To the backbone providers, etc.

    Also people pay more for faster customer, residential speeds. Always have.

    NN is about ISPs charging more for different KINDS of content. Like comcast slowing down a video service that competes with their own streaming.

    Please read up.

  • Sevo||

    "NN is about ISPs charging more for different KINDS of content. Like comcast slowing down a video service that competes with their own streaming."

    We
    Don't
    Care.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    It's not Thanksgiving without some Pai.

  • sarcasmic||

    Was there really a tiger on the boat?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Fuck that movie!

  • some guy||

    There's a tiger on every boat.

    Think about it.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Now that I think about it, I am on every boat. Rawr.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    In my mind I could see your hand make that little clawing motion. Ooh.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Get a room, guys.

  • Rat on a train||

    I thought it was cougars.

  • some guy||

    The net neutrality fanbois are apoplectic over this. techdirt.com and others are accusing the FCC of using Thanksgiving to "hide" their "attack" on net neutrality. /r/Technology is losing its collective mind. WaPo has wrung its hands down to the bone. (no links, because they don't deserve it)

    It's glorious!

  • SparktheRevolt||

    /r/technology hysteria knows no bounds.

  • Mitsima||

    #AllSportsCarsMatter

  • ThomasD||

    Calling an ISP a telecomm is like calling UPS a package store because they bring me wine and liquor.

  • Mitsima||

    Calling an ISP a telecomm is like calling a liquor store a liquor store because they forward booze from distillers and distributors to their customers.

    Not that hard, people; it's really not.

  • Finrod||

    Here in Atlanta they have I-75 all torn up so they can build these damned Lexus lanes on pinball ramps. I'm just wondering how long it'll take before some bad accident completely blocks the fucker and people die because the emergency vehicles physically cannot get there.

  • Blake||

    Remember when techdirt and the EFF were against net neutrality? I believe they were infiltrated by pro-net neutrality people over the years. I talked to people there years ago as soon as they flipped and was told they did an internal vote and changed their reporting. I stopped supporting the EFF after that since the reasoning they gave me were a straw man a with little to no evidence.

  • Mitsima||

    EFF is pro Net Neutering? Well, SPLC was also relevant once upon a time.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Well, SPLC was also relevant once upon a time.

    citation needed.

  • Robert||

    So you forfeited your chance to stay influential & try to win the vote back for your side? If the other guys could infiltrate & flip it 1 way, why couldn't you get more people to re-infiltrate & flip it back?

  • harryborten||

    Crazy, all these people who are invested in the net, work in the net, and make money off the net don't want republicans to let ISPs and the huge media companies take it over.

    Odd, right?

    Idiots. There's a reason why only the GOP and the telcos (worst internet in the first world, by the way) want this. Grow up.

  • Finrod||

    Imagine, people already in a market don't want to be threatened by new people coming in, so they propose massive regulation that they can cope with but new people can't.

    Oh wait, you don't have to, it's the same damn story all over again.

  • harryborten||

    Uh, again, you fundamentally don't understand the problem.

    There is an inherent conflict of interest for a media company to also own the transmission lines. Do you not have the brain power to understand that?

    ISP don't innovate, the've held back our speeds for decades because of the power position.

    The regulations, supported by the original creators of the internet, MAINTAIN the status quo.

    Read up, chump. Please.

  • Finrod||

    No they don't. You're just spewing bullshit and claiming you're wise. You want to replace local monopolies (which have been disappearing) with a federal monopoly.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • harryborten||

    What "federal monopoly" are you talking about? Jesus, did you read that on breitbart?

    The internet, since inception, treated all content equally. THAT spurred innovation in content and allowed small guys to compete. ISPs want to charge more, because they have a monopoly.

    Do you get it? Do you not want small internet sites and startups to be allowed to flourish? Because without NN, they ALL would be subject to ISP shakedown.

    Read up, chump.

  • Finrod||

    Look, another leftist asswipe that thinks everyone that's not a progtard reads Breitbart.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • harryborten||

    Aw, so angry. I win. Glad to see I'm in your head.

    Get back to me when you understand how the internet works, chump.

  • Finrod||

    Go throw yourself into a running woodchipper feet first, progtard.

    I've been working professionally for Internet companies for two decades, so take your "chump" bullshit and shove it up your ass with a broken glass bottle. I doubt you can even explain the difference between TCP and UDP, much less backbone routing.

  • harryborten||

    It's cute how you all think this is the FCC supporting free markets and low regs. Ajit just announced the plan to tell state and local governments that they CANNOT impose local laws regulating broadband service. So much for small state/county governance, right?

    Aw, kinda throws a wrench into that argument?

    Chump.

  • Robert||

    I don't see the contradiction there. To the extent you can't impose local laws, those on whom those laws would be imposed are freer.

  • Finrod||

    Chump here can't explain the difference between TCP and UDP, which was quite literally the very first technical question in the interview for the job I have now.

    What makes its ignorance especially delicious is that streaming video that it's been blathering ignorantly about tends to use one while most Internet traffic uses the other.

    Fuck off, slaver chump.

  • ||

    This looks like a bot to me. If you read down the page, it's the same comments over and over again, pasted in wherever it might even tangentially pass for a response to something.

    At best, harryborten is 17 and picks up a nickel for each post.

  • Sevo||

    Chump.
    Thanks, asshole.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Get back to me when you understand how the internet works, chump.

    Take your own advice, dipshit. All I see is a redditard who doesn't understand that data allocation has taken place on the internet for decades.

  • Sevo||

    "Crazy, all these people who are invested in the net, work in the net, and make money off the net don't want republicans to let ISPs and the huge media companies take it over."

    Did you read that strawman someplace or just make it up?

  • Mitsima||

    That's what I was thinking. The statement doesn't make sense prima facia. Firstly, ISPs and huge media already own "the net" because they provide either the infrastructure or the content - there literally is no Internet without those businesses. Secondly, most of, "these people who are invested in the net, work in the net, and make money off the net", work either for ISPs or media because point #1. And lastly, it says something about one's values when not using violence to stop people from engaging in free enterprise equates to "letting" them do something.

  • ||

    Is this the Almost Weekly Holiday Schedule? Y'all are toying with me!

  • John||

    Unless Trump starts a nuclear war, I am hard pressed to see how ending net neutrality does not by itself justify his election. Net Neutrality was going to be the end of freedom as we know it on the internet.

  • some guy||

    It'll only last until the next Democrat takes over, though. Which is better than, nothing, of course. And it's not like Trump can force Congress to act on the issue, so it's really the best he could have done.

  • John||

    We will see. But it will be harder to put back than it was to dream up. And it would have been virtually impossible to kill had it ever actually come into effect. Trump's election saved us from certain doom in that regard. How long that safety last remains to be seen.

  • Mitsima||

    This. I'm not wearing a #MAGA hat, but I've discarded my #NeverTrump sign. Color me impressed.

  • lafe.long||

    Often overlooked, but Pai definitely goes into the "plus column" of Trump's scorecard.

  • some guy||

    A commission chair who's willing to say "Hey, we really shouldn't regulate this thing" is a rare and wonderful thing.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    And that he was appointed by the Obama administration.

  • Mitsima||

    He was appointed a commissar commissioner of the FCC by 44; chairman by 45. There are, at present, 4 commissars commissioners. The job description of FCC commissar commissioner is unsurprisingly absent from the FCC website.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    And that he was appointed by the Obama administration.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And he was born in Buffalo, NY. A major reason to distrust him.

  • Rhywun||

    >:-/

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I did not click submit twice. Pai's rollback is clearly having a negative effect.

  • DenverJ||

    Pai means "dad" in Portuguese

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I am told that Pai would only grant the interview so long as a) it was before the drinking hour, and b) Moynihan (mean drunk that he is) would not even be there.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Yo!

  • Mitsima||

    I've got such a man crush going on.

  • esteve7||

    It really does take the absurd mind of the left to see the internet --- one of the greatest success stories of our lifetime --- and think, yeah, that should be regulated.

    I mean, what the flying fuck. If the left had their way, the internet would still be 56k and web 1.0. They want to freeze in the current state of being because they can't grasp innovation.

  • Mitsima||

    Freezing is irrelevant. Innovation is irrelevant. We are equal. Resistance is futile.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    The left still thinks that a title of a bill/law says what it does. They really thought the Affordable Care Act was going to make medical care affordable.

  • harryborten||

    Aw, someone doesn't understand how the internet works. At all.

    There are monopolies for ISP, hence the need for regulation. Idiots.

    USA has almost LAST in ISP speed, because of the monopolies.

  • Finrod||

    Did Netflix hire you to spew this bullshit?

  • harryborten||

    You fundamentally don't understand the problem.

    There is an inherent conflict of interest for a media company to also own the transmission lines. Do you not have the brain power to understand that?

    ISP don't innovate, the've held back our speeds for decades because of the power position.

    The regulations, supported by the original creators of the internet, MAINTAIN the status quo.

    Read up, chump. Please.

  • Finrod||

    Fuck off, slaver. Your ISP bullshit is outdated.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    Monopolies propped up by..........?

  • esteve7||

    what allows ISPs to have a monopoly?

    I think it's something that starts with a G.

    What is your job, harryborten? Paid sock for George Soros? I've spent my entire career in the industry so you have no idea what you are talking about when you say I don't know how the internet works. Stop projecting, slaver.

  • Bearded Spock||

    "We are returning to the original classification of the internet"

    So, nothing but porn and cat pics then?

    And do we have to use Netscape this time around?

  • Arizona_Guy||

    yes, the 'Net will be back in dark days of..........
    2014

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Mosaic...

  • Robert||

    You young whippersnappers can use Mosaic, I'll stick to Gopher, unless I feel really frisky, in which case I'll fire up lynx.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    That was great.

    And, looks like I need to stay off FB for a few days. The wailing and gnashing of teeth will be deafening.

  • Richard Bennett||

    I loved the tech chat after Pai left. You guys are great.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    On a related note:

    Earlier this year, Cox Communications (PHX ISP) announced a soft cap of 1TB/month for residential plans.

    People I knew were OUTRAGED! that they might have to pay more to be a heavy user. The sense of entitlement was ridiculous.
    HOW CAN I RUN MY MEDIA SERVER NOW?!?

  • harryborten||

    Yeah, this isn't about this. The regs right now block ISPS from charging more to SPECIFIC things, not the amount.

    Would you want the phone monopolies to be allowed to charge you more to call grandma? No.

    Use your head, chump.

  • Finrod||

    Because that was such a horrible problem way back in 2015.

    Oh wait, no, no one did that ever.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • harryborten||

    Uh, the rules were put in place BECAUSE the ISPs started to block and slow traffic that competed with their interests.

    But, you don't know that, because you are dumb.

    Try again chump.

  • Finrod||

    No, they were put in place because the government wanted to control the Internet, CHUMP.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    Didn't say it was about this. I said it was related. (because it's the same people complaining)

  • L.G. Balzac||

    "Would you want the phone monopolies to be allowed to charge you more to call grandma? No.

    Use your head, chump."

    You still pay for phone calls and call others "chump"?

  • Finrod||

    It seems to be the only insult the cretin knows,

  • harryborten||

    It's cute how you all think this is the FCC supporting free markets and low regs. Ajit just announced the plan to tell state and local governments that they CANNOT impose local laws regulating broadband service. So much for small state/county governance, right?

    Aw, kinda throws a wrench into that argument?

  • Microaggressor||

    The same state/county governance that creates most of the monopolies? Sounds like a good plan. This Ajit guy must be smart, unlike you.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Pai came on the latest installment of The Fifth Column podcast to explain and debate the announcement with Kmele Foster and myself.

    Finally fired that Moynihan fellow, huh?

  • The Last American Hero||

    No, the black helicopter came after him because he knew too much about Russia.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I thought it was the gay culture of the 1970s he knew too much about.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It will be nice to see the #NeverTrumpers argue that The Trump Administration should have total control over the Internet.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    They still keep demanding government healthcare with Trump in office. The look on their face when I ask "so you want Trump to be in charge of your health?"

  • harryborten||

    Crazy how dumb you idiots really are. Would you support allowing phone companies to charge you more to call grandma?

    No, because it's crazy.

    Learn how the internet works and get back to me.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Depending on the circumstances, yes. That's called Long Distance calls.

  • harryborten||

    Not the same. The cost for a bit from website A and B do not cost the ISP more.

    Sorry, try again chump.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Okay, so your example is a flawed comparison. Make your argument instead of saying everyone here is too ignorant to know what is right. Because as far as I can tell from your posts, you're just asserting that no one understands the internet.

  • harryborten||

    NN is about ISPs charging more for different KINDS of content. Like comcast slowing down a video service that competes with their own streaming. That is their goal, end of story.

    You can't reject NN without also breaking up the big ISPs, because it will trap the average consumer with only one choice for internet than can decide what they want to see.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Fine, then I am fully for breaking up the ISPs that are monopolies. Though we should look at the reason these monopolies exist in the first place. You say it is pure greed on ISP's part, but pure greed makes for poor competition. So I am doubtful of that simplistic message being the root cause.

    Also, stop copy pasting.

  • Finrod||

    Wrong. It depends on where they are on the backbone, which if you knew a damned thing about the Internet, you would know. But no, you come on here spewing authoritarian bullshit to solve a problem that has never existed.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Not the same. The cost for a bit from website A and B do not cost the ISP more.

    It absolutely does.

    It didn't cost the phone company any more to send a warble from Lake Oswego to San Diego either. But it costs them plenty to sent 1,000,000 warbles from Lake Oswego to San Diego and all points in between. The more bits the ISP has to send from website A to B, simultaneously is very much a cost to the ISP, because it translates to capacity, aka bandwidth.

    Nothing is free, and the fact that you believe that is stunning in 2017.

  • Sevo||

    "Not the same. The cost for a bit from website A and B do not cost the ISP more."
    Nor does it cost a phone company more for long distance calls.

    "Sorry, try again chump."
    STFU, asshole.

  • harryborten||

    Also, the regs are mostly about CONTENT. It's simply a power grab by the ISPs to push their own media services. How do you idiots not see this? Dear lord.

    Please read, then get back to me.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And one can also view this as a power grab by the federal government. A major one at that as you are arguing for a federal monopoly over many aspects rather than even a simple regional one.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    Remember, it's not a monopoly when the government does it. Because...... reasons.

  • harryborten||

    ....what?

    In what way does the government benefit from forcing ISPs to treat all content equally?

    Oh, it doesn't. It's just a boogeyman.

    In no way is this a "monopoly". Do you know what that word means? Telling all the existing monopolies to "play nice" is not the same as a monopoly.

  • Finrod||

    Because of course government regulation would never go any further than that.

    You really are a complete dumbfuck, aren't you?

  • harryborten||

    Sorry chump, do you even know how the internet was developed? jesus.

  • Finrod||

    ARPANet was created by the Department of Defense, the one part of the government you progtards hate, and run as a non-profit.

    But you don't know the difference between TCP and UDP and are just here to spew progtarded talking points, so fuck off, slaver.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    "Net Neutrality" benefits the FCC quite a bit. It gives them a bunch of power over the Internet they didn't have before.

  • harryborten||

    Uh, again, no it doesn't. The regulations were already light-touch and codified into law what the common practice was BEFORE comcast tried to force netflix to pay more than it was already paying. And don't even start with that BS "free-ride" shit, netflix pays billions to access the net.

  • ||

    Uh, again, no it doesn't.

    Uh, yes it does. And no amount of cuteness on your part changes your ignorance/dishonesty about it.

    "Net Neutrality" changed the legal status of the Internet to recreate it as a Public Utility just like broadcast airwaves, over which the Federal Government can regulate pricing and content.

    I think what you meant to say was not that "Net Neutrality" doesn't grab massive power on behalf of the Federal Government, but that they promised not to use it. Just like they promised not to use Social Security numbers as citizen tracking numbers, or to use state DMV's to coordinate identifying information for law enforcement purposes.

    This time, they probably mean it, though, so your condescending snark is totally not misplaced at all.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    You don't often see the plural of monopoly.

    In what way does the government benefit from forcing ISPs to treat all content equally?

    On that specific issue it gives a big stick that they can hold over ISPs for further action. There is now threat of law and significant consequence that they can get to do many things.

    More generally, this will create a much closer relationship between the two where there is already too much to begin with. This will lead to an ever increasing amount of information sharing between user activity and the government. There is a tremendous amount already and this leads to an obvious partnership to making that worse.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    ....what?

    In what way does the government benefit from forcing ISPs to treat all content equally?

    Ok, someone's never been to China.

  • L.G. Balzac||

    Horseshit. Title II would allow censorship of the Internet similar to TV. No referring to people such as you as a "cocksucker". ; >)
    Network engineers know net neutrality is not doable nor desirable.

  • Finrod||

    I seriously doubt this 'harryborten' asswipe has ever worked any technical position in its miserable pathetic little life.

  • harryborten||

    .....

    wow, so much failure.

    The internet worked fine until now right? Every piece of content is equal.

    The ISPs just want more money, because they are monopolies.

    It's really not that hard.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The internet worked fine until now right? Every piece of content is equal.

    Are you contradicting yourself or just being sarcastic with this comment?

  • harryborten||

    Again, you fail to understand what the ISPs want to charge for. It's not the amount, but type. Especially if it competes with their own services. Please think about this and get back to me.

    Scenario: startup wants to make a video site. Comcast has their own. Comcast decides to charge them 10 million for access. They can do this because the startup has no choice (monopoly).

    Sounds great, yup. With that in place, no internet company would every succeed.

  • Finrod||

    Because no Internet company EVER succeeded before 2015!

    You can't invent people this fucking stupid.

  • harryborten||

    aw, you are so angry. So cute, you right-wingers really latch on to corporate speak these days.

    Ajit used to work for Verizon. Do you understand regulator capture chump?

  • Sevo||

    "aw, you are so angry. So cute, you right-wingers really latch on to corporate speak these days.
    Ajit used to work for Verizon. Do you understand regulator capture chump?"

    Somebody can invent people this stupid; harry the asshole posted this.

  • Lester224||

    http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/04/
    we-know-how-isps-will-screw-
    us-over-they-did-it-before.html

    (take out the carriage returns as I'm too lazy for tinyurl)

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Here you go

    This raises an interesting question. So the argument is that the expense of higher bandwidth usage such as this falls upon the consumer, as opposed to the provider of the data. (Or the ISP just eats the cost, which won't happen and is ridiculous to assume so.)

    So that seems like a very clear advantage for these tech companies to argue for this regulation. Because now it becomes illegal for them to shoulder the possible costs of their high bandwidth activity.

  • ||

    Comcast decides to charge them 10 million for access. They can do this because the startup has no choice (monopoly).

    Why couldn't they just do it through AT&T? Or Sonic? Or some other provider?

    You must understand, on some level, that when you use the word "monopoly" in the plural you're just putting a certain level of ignorance on a big flashing display?

    And why is the "solution" to this horrific, horrific problem to classify the Internet as a Title II Public Utility and give the Federal Government absolute power over pricing and content? Isn't there some smaller hammer in your box?

  • L.G. Balzac||

    "Scenario: startup wants to make a video site"
    Not the best way to go about it. If you build a web site you should host it on a server that is in the "cloud" not at the wrong end of a residential service.

  • Microaggressor||

    Would you support allowing phone companies to charge you more to call grandma?

    I just find it really funny that you're asking this on a libertarian website, and you're dead serious.

  • Rhywun||

    slammed by many in the online activist community

    That Popular Mechanics link would make Salon blush it's so woke.

  • sungazer||

    The sledghammer of regulation that leads to the slippery slope or regulation? Did I just read you are promoting the need of onion routing to watch vanilla porn on Comcast? Might as well fuck privacy a little harder... We've got internet speeds that allow encrypted P2P video streaming, so to invert the argument, what exactly are we gaining by getting rid of network neutrality rules? Seems like 90% of your readers can't tell the difference between generic bandwidth and speed limits versus China style service firewalls. Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, regulations preventing ISP's from operating like China are good for freedom?

  • Sevo||

    "Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, regulations preventing ISP's from operating like China are good for freedom?"

    NN always brings out the idiot who claim regulation+ freedom.

  • sungazer||

    If only the bill of rights had regulations that promoted freedoms...

  • Microaggressor||

    First I thought you were joking, then I realized you're just stupid.

    regulations preventing ISP's from operating like China are good for freedom?

    The difference between China and private ISPs is that if an ISP limits your content like China, you would have the option to switch to a different ISP. And I suspect many other people would too, which is why limiting content is not considered a wise business decision. The Chinese don't have that option, can you guess why?

  • sungazer||

    Ah yes, so if all the networks throttle anything coming from an unverified IP address, say an anonymizing service, you're just going to have to figure that out? Transparency my ass. If I were say, running on Xi Jinping's official communist platform, I'd be putting some of that Chinese bank money to subtly put limits beyond the Chinese "wall". But anyhow, as we all know, libertariantards are incapable of doing threat modeling outside of the US government. We all know big corporations and foreign nations have our best interests at heart.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Apparently you don't realize that data allocation has gone on for decades.

  • Sevo||

    sungazer|11.21.17 @ 5:50PM|#
    "If only the bill of rights had regulations that promoted freedoms..."

    So you can't read?
    "Congress shall make no law..." And that extends to regulatory bodies.
    Man, your stupid pills worked today.

  • sungazer||

    Wow, so you're telling me the bill of rights is literally a regulation that promotes freedom? Who knew such a thing could exist?

  • Lester224||

    We can just wait and see what happens. Comcast and other ISPs may just decide to slow sites that compete with their own content to a crawl unless those sites or services pay exorbitant prices to use their bandwidth. Or maybe they will be generous and not cripple possible competitors. I'll venture to assume that ISPs will do whatever makes them the most money. Ratcheting down the speed of competitive content should make them money.

  • esteve7||

    so were they doing in this 2014?

  • Microaggressor||

    unless those sites or services pay exorbitant prices to use their bandwidth

    This has actually happened before, and it's not as exorbitant as you think. It's a useful mechanism for bandwidth hogs like Netflix to contribute to the continued development of infrastructure.

    The reason content providers like Netflix are so adamantly in favor of net neutrality is because they don't want to have to pay for the burden they place on somebody else's network. Follow the money.

    Content providers are good at producing... influential content. That's why they've been able to convince an army of useful idiots to do their shilling for them, for free. Luckily for them, ignorance of market forces is widespread, so it's not particularly challenging to convince someone that less freedom is actually more freedom.

  • DenverJ||

    How is hotmoms.com not a thing?

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