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No, the FCC Isn’t 'Overturning Net Neutrality'

Set aside the Chicken Little fears about the internet dying.

Ajit PaiRon Sachs/SIPA/NewscomThe left is in a veritable state of hysteria as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moves to vote on Chairman Pai's deregulatory "Restoring Internet Freedom" (RIF) order on Dec. 14. It's gotten so bad that incensed supporters of so-called "net neutrality" have taken to harassing commissioners' children and even threatening to kill a congressman.

It's a nasty state of affairs, and it's one unfortunately driven by a lot of false rhetoric and outright fearmongering over how policy is actually changing. Telling people that a policy change will "end the internet as we know it" or "kill the internet" can agitate troubled people into doing crazy things.

In truth, the Obama administration-era "Open Internet Order" (OIO) that the FCC is overturning has little to with "net neutrality" at all. In fact, the OIO would still allow internet service providers (ISPs) to block content—to say nothing of the many non-ISP tech companies that can and do openly suppress access to content.

Furthermore, repealing the OIO does not mean that the principles of "net neutrality" will not be upheld, nor that ISPs will be "unregulated." Rather, the RIF will rightly transfer oversight of ISPs to other regulatory bodies in an ex post fashion.

The OIO allows all kinds of content filtering

One of the biggest misconceptions of the OIO saga is that it achieved "net neutrality." It didn't. While proponents like to spin a lot of rhetoric about "treating all traffic equally," the actual implementation of the Obama administration's regulations did nothing of the sort.

As my Mercatus Center colleague Brent Skorup has tirelessly pointed out, the OIO did not require all internet actors—ranging from ISPs to content platforms to domain name registrars and everything else—to be content-blind and treat all traffic the same. Rather, it erected an awkward permission-and-control regime within the FCC that only affected a small portion of internet technology companies.

Not even ISPs would be truly content-neutral under the OIO. Because of First Amendment concerns, the FCC could not legally prohibit ISPs from engaging in editorial curation. The U.S. Court of Appeals made this very clear in its 2016 decision upholding the OIO. ISPs that explicitly offer "'edited' services" to its customers would be virtually free from OIO obligations. It's a huge loophole, and it massively undercuts any OIO proponent's claims that they are supporting "net neutrality."

But importantly, the OIO still allowed the vast majority of internet companies to filter and block away to their heart's content. Indeed, one could argue that content aggregators and search engines, like Facebook and Google, have proven to be much more draconian in their censorship of controversial but legal content than the ISPs over which so many agonize. Consider the recent incident where Twitter decided to block the political speech of a pro-life American politician. Most people are far more worried that social media companies will block their content rather than Comcast or Verizon.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made this very point last week at an R Street Institute event on the repeal. Major edge service providers like Google, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter have made their opposition to OIO deregulation loud and clear to their user base. Some have displayed automatic messages on their front pages, urging visitors to take action and encourage others to do the same. Yet at the same time, these services engage in kinds of content blocking that they say broadband providers could possibly do.

This hypocrisy is relevant for more than just ideological inconsistency. It's about economic power. By encouraging harsh regulation of ISPs that effectively controls the rates that major tech companies can be charged for bandwidth, these companies are engaging in a kind of regulatory capture. (It should be noted that there is some division within these firms: Google's Eric Schmidt, for instance, famously discouraged the Obama administration from pursuing these regulations in 2014.)

Not only is it unfair, it is absolutely disingenuous to the user bases that they have so inflamed with their rhetoric. These companies are not taking principled stands at all. They are trying to use the force of the state to improve their economic outlook. In Pai's words, "they might cloak their advocacy in the public interest, but the real interest of these Internet giants is in using the regulatory process to cement their dominance in the Internet economy."

Regulators will still go after bad actors

The second biggest misconception about the OIO repeal is that consumers will simply be at the mercy of unscrupulous broadband service providers without recourse or protection. This has never been true, and will not be true under the RIF either.

OIO supporters imagine a world where ISPs slice and dice internet access into tiered packages, similar to cable subscriptions. This misleading image is a popular one: It shows a hypothetical broadband package where consumers are forced to pay $10 for a "Hollywood" package including YouTube and Hulu, and a $5 "Playground" offering access to Steam and World of Warcraft. Of course, no ISP has ever come close to proposing anything like this arrangement, but this scenario has curiously lodged itself as a chief anxiety of many "net neutrality" supporters.

Recently, this hypothetical fear metastasized into a seemingly real threat. None other than Tim Wu himself, the brains behind the concept of "net neutrality," shared a scary story about the dystopian world of Portuguese broadband provision, where ISPs had seemingly started to act more like cable companies. An image shared by Silicon Valley congressman Ro Khanna seemed to confirm this worst-case-scenario, sharing an image of a breakdown of Portuguese telecom packages by category.

But there was a huge problem with this story, as an excellent post by Ben Thompson pointed out. That Portuguese telecom provider was not slicing and dicing the 'net for no reason, but rather was an offer for an extra 10 GB of access to a collection of apps on top of the existing family data plan for €25 a month, or about $30. There are examples from the U.S., too. In 2010, then-tiny MetroPCS began offering zero-rated, or discounted, access to YouTube content to be competitive. But net neutrality activists went berserk over this benefit to MetroPCS customers, putting this and similar services in legal jeopardy. Consumers like these kinds of plans because they can be cheaper than all-inclusive data packages while giving them access to the services that they really need.

These kinds of unhelpful hoaxes underscore the fears that "net neutrality" rhetoric has instilled into the public. Sometimes, as is the case with Portuguese example, an alleged "violation" is actually a valued (and voluntary!) option for many consumers. But in general, people believe that the OIO repeal will usher in a world where ISPs can do whatever they want without having to answer to anyone. Of course, this was not true before the OIO was instituted in 2015, and it will be even less true under the RIF.

The debate has never been over "regulation" vs. "no regulation" of ISPs. Rather, it's a question of whether it is more appropriate for an oversight body to observe market activities and intervene when foul play is suspected, called "ex post regulation," or whether a beefed-up precautionary regulator should preemptively prohibit new service innovations until private bodies can prove them to be in the public interest, known as "ex ante regulation."

The latter approach obviously stems new innovation and investment considerably, and in fact a study from the Phoenix Center found that broadband investment was choked to the tune of some $30 billion each year due to the OIO. Furthermore, introducing a Soviet-style ex ante regulator into the mix creates opportunities for regulatory capture and corruption.

The RIF will actually provide a more robust regulatory framework that then one that proceeded the OIO. It will transfer oversight of ISPs to the Federal Trade Commission, which has decades of experience ensuring consumer protection, privacy, and security. It will return to transparency rules established by the FCC in 2010, which would require broadband providers to disclose their network management practices, thereby cutting down on the potential for sneaky behavior. And most importantly, it would achieve these "neutral network" goals without erecting a Depression-era system of permission and control that is both costly and susceptible to corruption.

The OIO allowed content filtering anyway. The RIF is a far better way to promote a fair and innovative internet that does not bring the many costs of the OIO.

Keep calm and binge on

People who maintain that the sky will fall and the internet will forever change for the worse after the FCC votes to ratify the RIF later this month are either misinformed or unfortunately opportunistic. Moving oversight of ISPs from a permissioned ex ante regulatory regime to a permissionless ex post one not only makes plain sense, it is the kind of framework that allowed the internet to develop into the powerhouse of innovation that we enjoy today. The internet is important in our lives, and it is easy to see how people can get upset when they are told that a policy change will ruin it forever. But a brief examination of the facts shows no such threat, and in fact the RIF is what can actually preserve the internet that we all know and love.

Photo Credit: Ron Sachs/SIPA/Newscom

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  • Rich||

    With all due respect, $200K for this morning's website behavior?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Most things seem pretty repetitive to me, but the Net Neutrality fiasco seems unique.

    It's poorly labelled, it's not been around very long (at least the poorly labelled version of it), and everything good that has happened with the internet happened when it wasn't in affect, yet getting rid of it has raised the most religious reaction I've ever seen for what is essentially restoring a working status quo.

  • Rhywun||

    'Neutral' is good. Why do you hate good?

    That's really it in a nutshell. Try to explain the difference between "ex post regulation" and "ex ante regulation" (well done by the author, BTW - this bit was new to me) to the average gamer or tubehead and see how far that gets you.

  • mooo||

    Recommend everyone read the Wikipedia article on the Open Internet Order which presents a very different picture of Net Neutrality.

  • shawn_dude||

    The difference between "ex post" and "ex ante" is probably less important in a competitive marketplace. However, ISPs are largely regional monopolies where they operate, often with state and local governments enforcing that monopoly. None of this was much of an issue until technology made it possible to watch a la carte TV and movies over the same wire the ISP uses to deliver cable TV for a fraction of the cost. Their low-margin internet business is gutting their high margin cable business.

    In a monopolistic setting, it makes more sense to regulate behavior up front rather than rely on the FTC or the courts.

  • general gary||

    Hello I am the 0.000000013%,

    Net Neutrality is actually a big deal. Telecom companies will never stop trying to squeeze every penny out of you, and NN helps prevent that to an extent.

    There's a reason ($$$) the only people FOR repealing net neutrality laws are either: big corporations and people in government who are paid off by those corporations (such as Ajit Pai). I imagine you don't fall among any of those.

    You mentioned that "everything good that has happened with the internet happened when it wasn't in affect". That's not actually true. NN laws have actually been in effect for quite a while (just not the one we currently have), and many of the great things to come out of the internet have, in fact, been while those laws were in effect. Despite NN laws being in place, it hasn't stopped telecom companies from still trying to break them. If NN is repealed then consumers will be at the mercy of these businesses, and it will only get worse. Repealing NN is a very slippery slope, my friend.

  • general gary||

    Here's some examples I hope you'll check out of internet service providers (ISPs) illegally trying to overstep the boundaries of net neutrality:

    https://tinyurl.com/ISPlinks

  • Rhywun||

    tinyurl

    Reported as spam.

  • general gary||

    It isn't spam. It wouldn't let me post a link longer than 50 characters

  • Rhywun||

  • general gary||

    thanks

  • Brendan||

    What's funny is that some of those are not Net Neutrality violations or even in the jurisdiction of the FCC. They're cell phone carriers blocking the installation of apps on phones:

    2011-2013, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon were blocking access to Google Wallet because it competed with their bullshit. edit: this one happened literally months after the trio were busted collaborating with Google to block apps from the android marketplace

    2012, Verizon was demanding google block tethering apps on android because it let owners avoid their $20 tethering fee. This was despite guaranteeing they wouldn't do that as part of a winning bid on an airwaves auction. (edit: they were fined $1.25million over this)

    2012, AT&T - tried to block access to FaceTime unless customers paid more money.

    NN rules would not have any effect on the above.

    As for this one:
    2005 - Comcast was denying access to p2p services without notifying customers.

    The Net Neutrality rules didn't effect an ISPs ability to throttle or limit for the purpose of network management, etc. and it's an easy case that torrent traffic causes unique network resource issues - actual degradation of DOCSIS networks can be proven.

  • Hunthjof||

    Add to that record labels, networks, movie studios and artists were lobbying heavily for congress to force ISPs to block p2p sites for the prevention of piracy. There was also talk they were going to sue ISPs to force this as well.

  • Wally Ford||

    Illegal copyright infringement is not allowed under any version of net neutrality.

  • Hunthjof||

    Right but how would an ISP know what is or is not a legal download from a p2p site. The fear was that anything along those lines would pretty much force ISP's to block p2p transfers to comply.

  • Rhywun||

    consumers will be at the mercy of these businesses

    LOL. Thanks for the drive-by FUD, commie.

  • general gary||

    Can you care to respond why we wouldn't be?

    It'd be appreciated, rather than just replying "LOL"

  • Rhywun||

    Nobody is at the "mercy" of any business. I don't see businesses showing up at my doorstop with a gun in hand demanding me to pay up.

    That's the government's job.

  • general gary||

    No business is doing that.

    ...how is the government even supposedly doing that?

    Regardless, many people don't have a choice when it comes to ISPs in their area. They're stuck with one or two. Neither being great options. They can either pay the costs or not have internet. That's what I mean by "at mercy"

  • KDN||

    how is the government even supposedly doing that?

    Fun fact: if you don't pay your taxes you will be hauled off to prison and have your property auctioned off to the highest bidder. Beyond that, you can't opt out of the receiving or paying for services. This coercive regime is one of the primary complaints libertarians have towards the state.

    This is basic stuff. I'm disappointed that you didn't even try to get a feel for your audience before proselytizing to them. It's the deep wisdom behind that old internet adage: "lurk moar."

  • general gary||

    Granted, I do think government could stay out of things less than they already are. However, there's nothing to regulate ISPs beyond NN at this point, though. It's essentially an oligarchy at this point among ISPs. The consumer is getting boned in this scenario.

  • KDN||

    You have terrible reading comprehension.

    there's nothing to regulate ISPs beyond NN at this point

    Hint: this is considered a positive development around here. Also, it's obvious that you missed the point in the article where this is addressed. Scroll up and look for the following:

    Regulators will still go after bad actors

  • Sevo||

    general gary|12.5.17 @ 2:57PM|#
    "Granted, I do think government could stay out of things less than they already are. However, there's nothing to regulate ISPs beyond NN at this point, though. It's essentially an oligarchy at this point among ISPs. The consumer is getting boned in this scenario."

    general, anyone as stupid as you deserves to be boned by the government.
    At the point of a gun.
    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Zeb||

    ...how is the government even supposedly doing that?

    Ever heard of taxes? What do you think happens if you refuse to pay?

  • Rhywun||

    many people don't have a choice when it comes to ISPs in their area

    Those people can thank their local governments for that situation.

  • KDN||

    "We need more regulation to save us from the consequences of past regulation."

  • general gary||

    Having more choices is generally better for customer pricing

  • KDN||

    And a surefire way to ensure that happens is to decrease the avenues by which startups and competitors might profit off their investments.

  • Wally Ford||

    Not entirely due to government. Some small communities can't support competition.

    I am confused by the coments of leave government out of our business. That is not what this is about it is about corporations and monopolies being able to take advantage of the small guy.

  • Hunthjof||

    Bull it is about one group of publicly traded corps battling another group of publicly traded corps. Unless you somehow think Netflix and Google are little guys.

  • Eric Bana||

    Regardless, many people don't have a choice when it comes to ISPs in their area.

    This is incorrect. Nearly 80% of census blocks where people live had 3+ providers at 3Mbps or more for downstream as of 2015. About 95% had two providers.

    (I include "where people live" because there are almost 5 million census blocks where people do not live. Census blocks are geographic portions of land that cover the entire U.S. for the purposes of the U.S. census.)

    Page 6 from the FCC report

  • barfman2017||

    @general gary: Thanks for showing up to post warmed-over 'progressive' leftist fear-mongering. Super thanks for not reading the article. Your handlers will be so proud.

    *barf*

  • general gary||

    I love that your go-to is to insult me. Really says more about you than it does me.

  • Sevo||

    general gary|12.5.17 @ 6:02PM|#
    "I love that your go-to is to insult me."
    You fucking idiot, there is no rational response other than to call you a fucking idiot, you fucking idiot.
    Is that clear?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    So solve that problem. If there is a role for the federal government, maybe it's in making sure that localities aren't illegally supporting a monopoly.

    If you want to break a local monopoly, take all the money you are saving by not creating a massive government regulatory monster and use it to woo ISP's to your area. Heck, start an ISP yourself if it's such a wonderful thing to be.

  • Longtobefree||

    I think you confused ISP and healthcare insurance. Which is the best point against federal involvement.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Comcast and the other major telecom incumbents would be the major beneficiaries of regulation. They spend more on legal talent than they do innovation. If you want the internet we currently have for the foreseeable future, support FCC regulation of the internet. If you want to topple the telecoms, remove the regulations that make it incredibly hard for huge numbers of small companies to be formed. Regulations favor incumbents. A free market favors innovation and efficiency.

  • Hunthjof||

    Net Neutrality was a major boost for Corporations like Google and Netflix. Netflix benefits since it can spread the cost for the bandwidth used by it's users over all internet users. Netflix business might suffer if their users had to truly pay for the bandwidth they used. All you are doing is picking one group of corps over another. Least in the case of ISP's it is their equipment while Netflix is just looking for a free ride. I find it hypocritical that Google has seemed to be able to carve itself an exemption to almost every FCC rule or law that deals with the internet.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Excellent observations - thank you.

    Big government always favors the incumbents, and I don't believe Comcast has any objection whatsoever to being highly regulated. I find their hamhanded 'opposition' to NN to be pretty suspicious.

    "I'm evil and I must be stopped"

  • shawn_dude||

    There is no "free market" when it comes to the last mile connection to the internet. That is heavily controlled by regional monopolies and local governments. Largely, this is a hold-over from the days when the government wanted to get a telephone in every house and granted monopolies as a carrot for companies willing to build out infrastructure to unprofitable areas. But the poles and pipes that use government rights-of-way across private property are the larges barrier to a free market approach. As long as broadband requires a physical link to the network, I don't expect there to be any real competition.

  • Mark22||

    Net Neutrality is actually a big deal. Telecom companies will never stop trying to squeeze every penny out of you,

    They are a business; that's what businesses do. They are constrained in what they can do by market forces and competition.

    and NN helps prevent that to an extent

    There is no evidence of that. Instead, NN mainly seems like a big handout to companies like YouTube and Netflix, as well as big volume users.

    There's a reason ($$$) the only people FOR repealing net neutrality laws are either: big corporations and people in government who are paid off by those corporations (such as Ajit Pai).

    There is a reason why the only people AGAINST repealing net neutrality are either: big corporations like Google, Facebook, and Netflix, or their employees, or bandwidth hogs. See, two people can play this "ad hominem game".

    I imagine you don't fall among any of those.

    I imagine you do fall into one of those categories.

  • shawn_dude||

    "They are constrained in what they can do by market forces and competition."

    Care to explain how that's possible with over 50% of the country having only one broadband option? States passing laws to protect those monopolies?

    Have you read about AT&T suing Google to prevent Google from gaining access to telephone poles for running their network cables? Or state legislatures preventing cities from building out public network infrastructure?

    Monopolies aren't constrained by market forces and competition.

  • Number 2||

    What is it about "net neutrality" that draws people like this, who never post on this website on any other occasion, out of the woodwork? Since they feel free to accuse Pai of being a "tool" of the ISPs, would it be amiss for me to suspect that these posters are the tools of the Big Content Providers who are trying to use FCC to further their own commercial interests?

  • Bubba Jones||

    BitTorrent was throttled. That is all that matters.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    In fact, the OIO would still allow internet service providers (ISPs) to block content...

    O_O

  • ||

    This seems to be one of the better examples of tribal parroting we've seen in a while. The completeness of the left to oppose this, bereft of any marginal understanding of the issue at hand, is almost astounding.

  • timbo||

    Absolutely and perfectly said. These idiots have no idea why they are marching to their doom.

    If I have this straight, please indulge me:
    The greatest invention in the history of mankind has offered the most incredible benefits of convenience and access to knowledge before never dreamt of.
    In spite of its obvious success and popularity, the brainwashed leftist horde wants to regulate something that, prior to regulation, made everything on earth better just because they don't like trump?

    That is a very successful propaganda campaign right there.

  • sarcasmic||

    the brainwashed leftist horde wants to regulate something that, prior to regulation, made everything on earth better

    But regulation makes everything better. Otherwise there are no rules whatsoever. No rules means the corporations decide how to do things, and all they care about is making profits. So we need regulations, because corporations.

  • DarrenM||

    We're just lucky corporations have no say in what those regulations are.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Greatest invention in the history of mankind? I would disagree with that.

  • ||

    I vote for concrete.

  • Thrackmoor||

    Toilet paper

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Silicone implants

  • sarcasmic||

    deodorant

  • timbo||

    I can't think of anything that allows more access to knowledge, massive amounts of mobility, choices, competition, innovation, and creative destruction in history.

    And anything that confounds idiot scumbag politicians and scares them this much is something that should be embraced-UNREGULATED- by the whole world. Kind of like bitcoin frightens the central bankers' fiat schemes.

    one could argue that the future of freedom, liberty, and certain free markets depends on keeping our government out of more regulation of the internet.

  • timbo||

    That or beer and fried chicken.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    I mean, all of this can be traced back to the Sumerians and the invention of written language, which is critical to the survival of civilizations. So perhaps we can give a few points to cuneiform.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, I think writing is a good candidate for the best human invention.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Written language
    Wheel
    Forging/smelting
    Agriculture
    Steam engine
    Refrigeration
    Haber Bosch
    Electric motor
    Transistors
    Precision clocks
    Probably hundreds more.

    There are so many inventions that come before the hodgepodge that is "the internet."

  • StackOfCoins||

    The Wheel is just a circle. It's not particularly grand. It was developed independently by almost every civilization on the glove.

    What's REALLY cool is the Wheel + Axle

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Sliced bread.

  • Longtobefree||

    Air conditioning

  • stuartl||

    Electric power distribution

  • Mickey Rat||

    Not Trump, he does not help their emotional state but they have been hysterical about this ever since at leat Ted Kennedy's video about it before he died.

  • general gary||

    Hi timbo,

    Net Neutrality is actually a big deal. Telecom companies will never stop trying to squeeze every penny out of you, and NN helps prevent that to an extent.

    There's a reason ($$$) the only people FOR repealing net neutrality laws are either: big corporations and people in government who are paid off by those corporations (such as Ajit Pai). I imagine you don't fall among any of those.

    I see a lot of people argue that "everything good that has happened with the internet happened when it wasn't in affect". That's not actually true. NN laws have actually been in effect for quite a while (just not the one we currently have), and many of the great things to come out of the internet have, in fact, been while those laws were in effect. Despite NN laws being in place, it hasn't stopped telecom companies from still trying to break them. If NN is repealed then consumers will be at the mercy of these businesses, and it will only get worse. Repealing NN is a very slippery slope, my friend.

    Here's some examples I hope you'll check out of internet service providers (ISPs) illegally trying to overstep the boundaries of net neutrality:

    https://tinyurl.com/ISPlinks

  • Bubba Jones||

    Ad hominem

  • general gary||

    How do you mean?

  • KDN||

    "You should oppose the repeal of the OIO because ISP's are in favor of it."

    Pretty textbook. There's no supporting reasoning to your argument beyond distrust of a certain class of corporation.

  • general gary||

    Have they given me a reason I should trust them beyond providing me with internet? I trust them with that because that's their job. I don't trust them that they won't raise prices when these laws get repealed. And neither should you.

    Let me ask you, what's wrong with the current internet?

  • KDN||

    That doesn't address the fact that it was a textbook ad hom. You're questioning his assessment but can't dispute it for the clear reason that he's right.

    You: "Title II is bad because ISP's are bad."

    Board: "That's ad hominem argument, which is poor reasoning."

    You: "it's a justified ad hominem argument."

    Raising prices is a value-neutral act. If you think that a particular increase is unjustified, fraudulent, or malicious then take it up with the FTC or your local relevant authority. I have yet to hear a compelling reason as to why Comcast's or Cox's business practices are any of my business as an Altice customer.

  • KDN||

    * - "The repeal of Title II is bad..."

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    But you will trust facebook, google, msft, amazon, twitter even though they have already been caught censoring. Telling.

  • Brendan||

    Can we throttle repetitive comments?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Or it is all driven by Reddit.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Or it is all driven by Reddit.

  • harryborten||

    Genius, the internet was a government program.

    It takes only a little bit of intelligence to understand that the telco monopolies need regulation, or breaking up. Chump.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Moron, "the internet" is completely reliant on private technology and it didn't actually start to flourish until the government started pulling out.

    It takes even less intelligence to realize that there's almost nothing the government won't fuck up.

  • Longtobefree||

    On the other hand, (D)ARPAnet was a lot less crowded with idiots, and a lot more about sharing actual information and discoveries. I do not mean discoveries about where the latest cat video is.

  • Wally Ford||

    "In spite of its obvious success and popularity, the brainwashed leftist horde wants to regulate something that, prior to regulation, made everything on earth better just because they don't like trump?"

    You are VERY confused. Under Obama when there were 3 out of 5 liberal FCC commissioners the FCC was sued by cell companies for the right to regulate content and the FCC won. Now under Trump we have 3 out of 5 conservative members and they are voting to change the law to what it would have been if they lost the 2015 lawsuit even though nobody is suing the FCC at all this time.

    They are back pedaling on the principles that they previously upheld for no reason what so ever than Trump wants them to. FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel said regarding net neutrality, "We cannot have a two-tiered Internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind. We cannot have gatekeepers who tell us what we can and cannot do and where we can and cannot go online, and we do not need blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization schemes that undermine the Internet as we know it."

    I don't know where the guy who wrote this article got his facts but it is quite a bit different than what I and FCC commissioner Rosenworcel believe is at stake.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    "We cannot have a two-tiered Internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind.

    Oh, fuck off. You really think internet performance would go down the drain because you'd have to pay Netflix an extra $5 a month to pay for their proprietary bandwidth pipe that won't fuck up the internet experience for non-Netflix users? Or that Google might have to shell out a small share of their billions to keep YouTube going? Come back when you actually understand how network management is done.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    It's not just lefties. My sister and her brood are religious as heck, absolutely hate Obama, yet all claim to be for "net neutrality" and their arguments are as nonsensical as posted here. When I posted about it, they went bananas on me, claiming I was deluded and that I was ignoring aspects of the proposed rule which don't even exist.

    I finally posted something about government restoring the old AT&T-style regulation, stifling and suffocating all innovation, and asking what they think would happen to, say, grocery stores if "net neutrality" had been imposed -- would express checkout lanes be banned? Would 24-roll toilet paper packages be forced to have the same per-roll price as 4-roll packages, or big boxes of Cheerios forced to have the same per-ounce price as the small boxes? One nephew said that was not a good analogy, probably because if it were, he'd have had to answer.

    I guess I am out of the cultural scene to not understand where all this outrage comes from. Why, of all the things to be outraged about, did this God-fearing Republican family jump on the net neutrality bandwagon?

  • general gary||

    Net Neutrality laws can't really be implemented in a grocery store setting. If prices were raised for your favorite supermarket, what would you do? You'd likely go somewhere else. Because there's many options.

    Now imagine, your internet service provider starting raising prices significantly (and they will if NN is repealed). What would you do? You'd likely go somewhere else? But what if they're the only option in your area, as they are for many, many people? You're basically resolved to bending over for the ISP because you have no other choice. That or you go without internet.

    If you have any other questions, I would be happy to address them because this is an important issue for everyone who uses the internet.

  • KDN||

    Having been a party to scheduling and implementing a Title II-regulated pricing regime as well as purchasing far, far more of these types of services than 99.9% of the general population, I can tell you from experience that its imposition will do functionally nothing about keeping price increases at bay in the long term. All it does is guarantee such increases will occur, and at what interval.

  • Eric Bana||

    Here's what's going to happen: The Open Internet Order of 2015 is going to be largely overturned. And things will go along fine. There will be no dystopia as so many are screeching.

    Let's wait a couple years and see what happens. If I'm wrong, then you can rub my face in it. If you're wrong, then let it be lesson for you.

    But what if they're the only option in your area, as they are for many, many people?

    You need to cite this rather than simply assert it.

    "At download speeds of 3 megabits per second (Mbps), which approximates the Federal Communications Commission's current standard for basic broadband service, 98 percent of the U.S. population had a choice of at least two mobile ISPs, and 88 percent had two or more fixed ISPs available to them (See Figure 1)."

    http://www.esa.doc.gov/under-s.....among-isps

  • harryborten||

    Yeah, most people have 1 or 2. That is not choice, it's oligopoly. Do you understand that word?

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Yeah, most people have 1 or 2."

    According to the US government (you know- the people you want to have regulate the internet), 98 percent of the U.S. population had a choice of at least two mobile ISPs, and 88 percent had two or more fixed ISPs available to them. Which you would have known if you read the post you replied to, or the link included in it.

    To recap, the number of ISPs (using the lower of the two options) available to the US population according to...

    The US government: two or more for 88% (which would be most) of the population
    You - one or two for most people

    Maybe you should rethink asking others what they understand- just a thought.

  • general gary||

    How many of those are just subsidiaries of the bigger ISPs though?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    How many of those are just subsidiaries of the bigger ISPs though?

    Doesn't really matter since it's going over two different mediums.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The neutrality angle certainly is applicable to grocery stores, or any retail store. The whole point of it is to forbid variable pricing because that is discriminatory. Express lanes? Prime meat. Different prices for bulk buy? Discrimination!

    Everything government touches goes to hell. The only thing government is good at is violence and corruption, and even that is done crudely and incompetently.

  • Brendan||

    Package equality now! It's wrong that the same molecules are shipped by the same carrier, but some people can pay to have theirs prioritized, thereby throttling those of us who don't want to be "double charged".

  • DarrenM||

    Outrage has become a hobby for many it seems.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I'm literally shaking right now.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm figuratively aghast.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Consumers like these kinds of plans because they can be cheaper than all-inclusive data packages while giving them access to the services that they really need.

    I suspect this is one aspect that "net neutrality" fanatics dislike. Consumers buying only what they need seems to really piss off some people, not just in regard to internet service but in other areas like healthcare insurance. Jeebus, the impulse to collectivism is ridiculously strong in some people.

  • sarcasmic||

    People don't know what they need. Only enlightened government bureaucrats who write the rules can possibly understand what people need. That's why we have regulations and rules. Because people are too stupid to possibly understand what they need.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Progressivism is the institutionalized unwillingness to trust in people.

  • sarcasmic||

    Authority worship.

  • timbo||

    It is also the complacency that arrives with great national and per capita wealth.

    People stopped paying attention in America a long time ago. The pols jumped on it sometime in the late 80s early 90s and put the pedal to the floor.

  • harryborten||

    Or, you know, telcos are monopolies?

    Jesus you chumps are hilarious.

    The "left" is evil! bahh! crybabies. The KochKool-aid is working, I see.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You mean the government mandated telco monopolies? Those monopolies?

  • Hunthjof||

    Again even if they are there is already a regulatory body that deals with such things called the Federal Trade Commission. There is no need other then to get the Government into the day to day operation of the internet to have the FCC piggy back on that. If Netflix feels that Comcast is engaging in an unfair practice then they can report Comcast to the FTC who then open a case and deal with it. There is no need to get the FCC involved or create new regulations for a problem that hasn't really existed. This is the camels nose in the tent.

  • Hunthjof||

    What it all boils down to is people want their use subsidized.

  • KevinP||

    The left is in a veritable state of hysteria...

    This is news now? Isn't this the default state of nature?

  • Brandybuck||

    The core problem is that we don't pay for the bytes we transmit. We pay for the speed at which we transmit them, but not how many of them. We pay for access, not usage. It was just a historical anomoly. That's why spam is such a problem, it doesn't cost the spammer anything to send an email to a million addresses. It's why grandma pays the same fee to Comcast that junior does, even though grandma only uses email but Junior is streaming Netflix all day long. Access pricing created a tragedy of the commons. Last mile access is fairly cheap. But it wasn't paying for the backbone.

    At least that's the way it was until cellphone data plans came along. It's also around the time that people started losing their shit over this issue. Before then it was just a mostly nerd idea that all bytes, regardless of source or destination, must be equal. But now one had to pay for what one used. And cellphone users wanted to be streaming the Netflix too.

    The idea that all bytes much be treated as equal is utter bullshit, and anyone who thinks it through knows it. The bytes monitoring the hospital patient are more important than the bytes sending your grandma's email. So you give precedent to the hospital bytes. At the same time, streaming video demands higher quality byte delivery, so you prioritize that at the same time you charge more for the service. Everyone wins.

  • KDN||

    All true, and not relevant. That ship has sailed - even wireless is going back to the unlimited usage model. If you think anger towards data providers is fierce now, just wait until they charge you $3.27 each time you spend four hours binge watching 90's teen dramas.

  • Rhywun||

    Oh really? I bought a limited plan specifically because I don't watch tiny phone videos - though I am pretty certain it's still overpriced and subsidizing streamers anyway.

  • KDN||

    It's an assessment of mass market attitudes, particularly of that portion of the market which is most concerned with this issue.

    There will still be plenty of limited plans, but they won't be the preferred option.

  • Rhywun||

    True, because businesses want to maximize their profits and they've been pretty successful at convincing a lot of stupid people fall to for that model because they think it will "save them money" or something.

  • DarrenM||

    There is no reason to pay for more than you need. If the price per MB of data is higher, for example, so what? It's like those coupons where you can save 50% on something you won't use anyway. Do you really "save" any money?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Very well said. Thank you.

    I would add that streaming as it's currently implemented is completely a function of access pricing. If things were charged on the basis of cost+markup, it may very well be that the Netflix app could be much smarter about caching and employing strategies like torrenting.

    There isn't any reason my Roku box couldn't cache Stranger Things for the first couple of weeks it's out. Everyone in my family watched it at one time or another, and every download after the first was wasteful and cost all of us some tiny increment more than we needed to pay.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    it may very well be that the Netflix app could be much smarter about caching and employing strategies like torrenting.

    Torrenting can get tricky as Blizzard discovered when World of Warcraft came out.

    But I agree with the general premise of your message. A little AI/demand caching could be employed which could dramatically reduce the amount of streaming video/data.

  • general gary||

    Brandybuck, I agree with you to an extent:

    "The idea that all bytes much be treated as equal is utter bullshit, and anyone who thinks it through knows it. The bytes monitoring the hospital patient are more important than the bytes sending your grandma's email. So you give precedent to the hospital bytes. At the same time, streaming video demands higher quality byte delivery, so you prioritize that at the same time you charge more for the service. Everyone wins."

    In a perfect world that's how things WOULD be prioritized. However we don't live in a perfect world (unfortunately).

    We live in a world where ISPs want to milk you for every penny you have.

    Our reality if NN is repealed -- You want to pay for the website package to check your email? Perfect, we'll set you up for that package! Oh you also wanted to check Facebook? Sorry, Facebook doesn't come with the same package that email comes in, so it'll be an additional charge. And you're in luck cause the website package that Facebook comes in, also comes with CNN! You'd rather have Fox News? Ah sorry, that's in a different package that you'd again have to pay more for.

    Our current reality -- You want to pay for the package to check your email? Perfect, also here's every other website in existence as well!

  • Zeb||

    Every business wants to get as much money out of their customers as they can. Every consumer wants to spend as little as they can on the stuff they want or need.

    The near monopolies enjoyed by cable companies in many places are indeed a problem (one largely created by government). But keep in mind that the FCC not regulating ISPs doesn't mean they won't be regulated at all. And in my book, it's much better to regulate things only when there is demonstrable harm done. Not by applying set rules that may or may not help anyone.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The outrage is coming from the people who abandoned cable because they had to pay for a hundred channels they didn't watch.

    Now that they have cut the cord, they want to pay the same for internet as does grandma who still has cable.

    They don't want Comcast to filter content, meanwhile they downvote anything on Reddit they don't like. There is even an Orville episode centered on this mentality.

    And don't forget BitTorrent. Can't have that filtered or throttled.

    There are long treatises on the internet explaining why the marginal cost of data is zero, therefore there should be no data caps. While at the same time you shouldn't prioritize traffic.

    It is a perfect storm for really shitty internet during prime time.

  • general gary||

    Let me ask you, what's wrong with the internet right now, in it's current state?

  • KDN||

    Nothing that price controls can't fix, obviously.

  • Eric Bana||

    ISP's should be free to experiment with paid prioritization and fast lanes, which would expand consumer choice, by giving consumers the option of different types of packages which are currently illegal. Companies should also be free to provide free options as well, which has been blocked.

    If it's not a viable business model to have paid prioritization or fast lanes and if consumers don't like these options, then they won't succeed as businesses will have an incentive to provide consumers with the services they prefer. But simply blocking that option and not allowing exploration into it prevents potentially beneficial innovation.

    The Open Internet Order of 2015 is simply too broad and restrictive and should largely be repealed.

  • harryborten||

    Except, you know, telcos are monopolies?

    Jesus you chumps are hilarious.

    Either get rid of the monopolies, or regulate them. You idiots don't seem to like breaking up big corps, so regulation it is.

    How hard is it to understand?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Clearly it's quite hard for you to understand.

  • Sevo||

    "Except, you know, telcos are monopolies?"
    No, they are not.

    "How hard is it to understand?"
    I wonder about that myself; why do you not understand that?

  • Hunthjof||

    Even if they are we already have a regulatory body to deal with that and have since 1914. The Federal Trade Commission. Any and all bad practices can be handled by them. There is no need to throw a new agency into the mix.

  • Brendan||

    There are slashdotters who think that ISPs should be paying Netflix and other streaming providers because the customers of those ISPs are demanding those services. The same people will also whine that the reverting the rules to pre-2015 would turn the internet into the cable channel model.

    Apparently there's some good drugs being passed around.

  • Wally Ford||

    Not pre 2015 rules, pre 2010 rules

  • Hunthjof||

    It all comes down to a pissing contest between content providers and ISP's. This isn't the people v Comcast this is Netflix v Comcast or Hulu v Time Warner. The difference is one group has convinced the people that they will be victims where truthfully what it is they are trying to subsidize their users bandwidth across all ISP customers.

  • Jim Logajan||

    Here's what some of the small ISPs think, in this case Wireless Internet Service Providers Association:

    "WISPA argued that regulating broadband providers like utilities under Title II of the Communications Act and adopting a vague "general conduct rule" has created uncertainties that have undermined investor confidence, which ultimately affects WISPs' abilities to provide better service to consumers.

    Most U.S. WISPs are small and medium-sized businesses serving rural areas with an average of 10 employees or less. FCC regulations designed to treat all internet providers like large monopoly utilities are taking resources away from investment in under-served areas and diverting them toward lawyers and compliance consultants instead."

    Extracted from press release on http://www.wispa.org/News/WISPA_Announcements

  • Sevo||

    "[...]Most U.S. WISPs are small and medium-sized businesses serving rural areas with an average of 10 employees or less. FCC regulations designed to treat all internet providers like large monopoly utilities are taking resources away from investment in under-served areas and diverting them toward lawyers and compliance consultants instead."

    It's almost like regulations impose costs on the regulated companies!
    Who could possibly have known?!

  • Hunthjof||

    Sush we are not suppose to listen to little guys. This is like all about like the evil mega corps v the people. Cause like muh netflix. LOL

  • Wally Ford||

    If net neutrality is as simple as chief commissioner Pai wants us to believe whys is FCC commissioner Rosenworcel making comments like "We cannot have a two-tiered Internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind. We cannot have gatekeepers who tell us what we can and cannot do and where we can and cannot go online, and we do not need blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization schemes that undermine the Internet as we know it."?

    No sir, your description of what is really at stake is inaccurate. The FCC has been sued over Net Neutrality multiple times since 2010 and won. No coincidence former chief FCC commissioner Michael Powell is now a lobbyist for cable companies and fighting against the FCC he used to be head of. The FCC enacted the laws it did in 2015 to protect consumers as the lawsuit the FCC won against mobile carriers recognized. Now that we have 3 conservative commissioners and 2 liberal commissioners on the FCC they have followed conservative Chief Commissioner Pai's urging to do a 180 degree about face and abruptly change policy from the consumer protection rights supported in their lawsuit. Now that the big corporations have the FCC in their pocket no need to sue them again.

    This is a very misleading article and incredibly shallow in terms of explaining all of the issues involved.

  • Hunthjof||

    You mean a different group of corporations have the FCC in their pocket now. If you think that the FCC cared about you the user under the OIO I have a bridge to sell you. This is nothing more then one group of corporations in a pissing contest with another. In this case one group wants to impose rules that benefit them on another corp while at the same time carving themselves as usual clever little exemptions to the rules. Just like with the internet privacy rule that the FCC also proposed Google and Facebook ensured that only applied to ISPs while they could sell your info to whomever they wanted to. This is Netflix V Comcast Google v Time Warner. This isn't the people v ISPs.

  • Hunthjof||

    Seriously do you think Google would be happy if it had to abide by similar rules. Search Engines are the gate keepers to the web. Should the FCC regulate them. Prohibit a search engine from say boosting results for sites with paid advertisements(looking at you there Google) Be required to submit their algorithms for approval to the FCC as well as any changes.. Prohibit web browsers from directing users to a particular search engine(again looking at you there google) Goose for Gander

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Because Rosenworcel's an idiot who clearly doesn't understand how data management works.

  • Mitsima||

    That's generously suggesting that there is some reasoning or rational behind his support for Net Neutering. It's about power, politics, and ideology, and things like property rights, morality, and economics be damned.

  • Hunthjof||

    Well put!

  • Episteme||

    "I hate these filthy Neutrals, Kif. With enemies you know where they stand. But with Neutrals, who knows? It sickens me."

  • L.G. Balzac||

    There are a lot of ignorant people talking about how they would design a network.
    Here's a few tech terms they should consider: DiffServ, QOS, real time vs non-real time traffic, upload vs download throughput.
    I know everyone has an opinion and an asshole but most of these "conversations" are clogging up the InterWebs.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This is what comes of letting coercive politicians mingle with other mentally incompetent actors. Then again, the politicians have armed goons, so it's hardly a level playing field. With unruffled equanimity I observe Democrats and Republicans initiating deadly force against each other as an improvement over the dogfights of the Mencken era.

  • sys1ibmuser||

    The shilling for the big ISP's here is breathtaking. Given a free rein by the FCC to screw over customers any way they can, the majority here seems to think that won't happen. Except it already has, many times, by Verizon and AT&T. Blocking applications, throttling, zero-rating. So the harm that is to come isn't theoretical, it's already been tried.

    Zero rating isn't free data for customers. It's a fine that you as the customer have to pay for not using your ISP's version of that application.

    All these ridiculous scenarios that the NN repealers make up are just that. It's simple: Imagine the electric company tells you that if you buy any other fridge than GE you have to pay a $40/mth surcharge. That's the behaviour that no Net Neutrality results in. Netflix and everybody else -pays- for network access. So as soon as you see someone saying these big companies like Facebook need to pay because it's not fair that they get access for free,you know that person is both a liar and a shill for an ISP. Everybody pays for network access. Netflix uses more, they pay a boatload more for that access.

    Internet ISP's today are the equivalent of the water and power companies. The local water utility has no say in what brand of bathtub I hook up, or how often I run a bath and in just the same manner an ISP should have no say in what business I conduct with NetFlix or any other company on the internet.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    The shilling for the big ISP's here is breathtaking.

    So is the shilling for publically-traded media content providers by retarded bugmen. Nothing you wrote is remotely close to how things are in the real world.

    I also don't give a tinker's damn if you end up having to pay Netflix or Amazon an extra $5 a month so they don't fuck up the internet experience for the rest of us.

  • Sevo||

    sys1ibmuser|12.6.17 @ 7:17PM|#
    "The shilling for the big ISP's here is breathtaking."

    The shilling for government price-fixing by lefty imbeciles really isn't breathtaking, it's expected, lefty imbecile.

  • Hunthjof||

    Once again the "muh Netflix" arguement. You are seriously joking. No they are not free to engage in unfair practices. The Federal Trade Commission was specifically created to prevent any type of company from doing that. If you feel an ISP has engages in such practices then notify them. Likewise Netflix etc can do the same. There is no need for the FCC to get involved. Amazing how these loudest criers like Google have managed to carve themselves exemptions to almost any law regarding the internet. Search Engines are the gate keepers of the internet. Should they not be subject to at least partial over sight by the FCC under your scenario. Should they pass rules that prohibit Search Engines like Google from boosting results for paid advertisers, requiring their search algorithms to be approved by the FCC to ensure neutrality, and prohibiting web browsers from directing to specific search engines?

  • New construction windows||

    Nooo, I don't trust them that they won't raise prices when these laws get repealed.

  • Mitsima||

    Meanwhile, back at ISP World Headquarters, CEO Joey Bag O'Dollars is counting down to the repeal of "Net Neutrality" ..

    JBO: 4..3..2..1..NOW! NOW, damn you! Raise all rates so that only the 1% can afford The Internet! HAAAAaaaaahahaha. All your bases are belong to meeeeeee!

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    "Oh wait, the 1% only has 1% of the internet connections. I guess we'll have to go out of business since we can't possibly do what we need to satisfy customers. Unless... Heh, that's right, we are a utility. The government needs to subsidize us so that we provide the service we are regulated to provide. Forced payment is so much better than having to please a customer. Moo Haaa Haaa...".

  • josh||

    I barely talk about this issue, because I think it's pointless since there's so much misinformation out there. Maybe after it's repealed, and a couple of years pass, passions will die down and we can have a more civilized conversation...maybe.

    I actually got into a civil debate just a little bit ago with someone who I knew was intelligent. I tried to point out that "NN" doesn't prevent editorializing, and he quoted some of the case above to me that clearly backed up his point that content neutral ISPs can't discriminate, but when I pointed out that the ruling said the exact opposite about those ISPs that don't claim to be content neutral, he just said "we'll never know until it's litigated".

    He was smart, articulate, but even when it's right in his face he doesn't want to see it, because it just feels wrong, I guess. For that reason, I'll just be happy when the FCC does the right thing and give the mob a chance to get used to it. Anything else just requires too much damn energy.

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