Sunday, December 29, 2013

Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has sent "smoke signals" indicating that he's amenable to a compromise on the grand principle of net neutrality.
When pressed, he indicated support for a scenario that the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Rules are specifically designed to prevent, noting, “I think we’re also going to see a two-sided market where Netflix might say, ‘well, I’ll pay in order to make sure that you might receive, my subscriber receives, the best possible transmission of this movie.’ I think we want to let those kinds of things evolve. We want to observe what happens from that, and we want to make decisions accordingly, but I go back to the fact that the marketplace is where these decisions ought to be made, and the functionality of a competitive marketplace dictates the degree of regulation.” In short, he’s suggesting that high-priced express lanes on the Information Superhighway might be okay. For consumers, as well as for companies looking to get content to their customers through new, innovative applications or programs, this means another layer of costs added on top of an already complicated Internet market.
Wheeler sang a somewhat different tune when speaking to a congressional committee on a later occasion. Some people think that his off-the-cuff words represent his truest self.
The two-way payment schemes that Wheeler mentioned in his Q-and-A represent a clear example of where priority and discrimination would occur – precisely what the Open Internet Rules were designed to prevent. And when examined in the context of the concerns about interconnection, that would allow ISPs like Comcast to further leverage their gatekeeper status once again to extract additional fees from Internet content companies.

Basically, two-way payment schemes mean that ISPs aren’t just leveraging fees from CDNs like Level 3 and collecting monthly payments from subscribers. Now, they want to collect a third fee directly from the content providers themselves. Viewed in this light, it may be more accurate to call these arrangements “triple dipping schemes” rather than two-way payment schemes.

So, what’s next? Chairman Wheeler’s clarification of previous remarks at the House hearing and public commitment to the FCC’s Open Internet Rules are reassuring. But, those rules are being challenged in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and an adverse decision by the court would not only invalidate the rules but could also put the FCC’s authority in jeopardy.
The case, in which Verizon challenged the FCC's authority, began in September -- and we may get a decision soon.
Verizon Communications (VZ) challenged the FCC's authority to enforce Net neutrality rules, which bar Internet service providers — mainly cable TV and phone companies — from blocking Internet content or slowing down access to websites in a discriminatory manner.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler could be forced to rewrite the agency's Net neutrality — also called Open Internet — rules if the U.S. appeals court prunes back the FCC's clout. Or Congress might need to step in if the FCC loses the case, analysts have said, as IBD has reported.
Congress won't help as long as the Tea Partiers rule the roost. The 'baggers have long made clear that the oppose net neutrality, which they consider an "affront" to free speech. In their insane construction, the attempt to maintain neutrality is part of a socialistic FCC scheme to "regulate" the internet.

I would go so far as to say that Tea Party opposition to an open internet is part of the ongoing libertarian scheme for complete news management in the United States. As noted in earlier posts, our news outlets are being bought up by libertarian billionaires like the Koch brothers, Bezos and Murdoch. With net neutrality gone, the one-percenters will be able to assure that you can't easily get access to any news except their news.

From the Save the Internet site:
If Verizon gets its way, the rules protecting Net Neutrality will disappear, and just a few powerful phone and cable companies will control the Internet. Without Net Neutrality, ISPs will be able to devise new schemes to charge users more for access and services, making it harder for us to communicate online — and easier for companies to censor our speech. The Internet would come to resemble cable TV, where gatekeepers exert control over where you go and what you see.

Without Net Neutrality, ISPs like AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon would be able to block content and speech they don’t like, reject apps that compete with their own offerings, and prioritize Web traffic (reserving the fastest loading speeds for the highest bidders and sticking everyone else with the slowest).

The tools that ISPs use to block and control our communications aren’t different from the ones the NSA uses to watch us. Whether it’s a government or a corporation wielding these tools or the two working together, this behavior breaks the Internet as we know it and makes it less open and secure.
This issue gives the lie to those who say that more government always equals less freedom. Like it or not, only government regulation assures that we all have equal access to the internet.


Seth Warren said...

I think it's time to start looking for workarounds/alternatives to the big communications companies. I'm sick of paying Verizon when they think they are anything to me besides a method for transmitting and receiving data (I only subscribe to FIOS internet - they keep trying to get me to "upgrade" to a television package and I keep recycling the offers). Switching to the only other game in my town, Comcast, would be no better.

Once again, just like the major music labels tried to keep the genie of file-sharing and MP3s in the bottle, these companies - with their vested interest in cable television - are trying to make sure people play by their rules and supplicate themselves to an antiquated and unwanted business model. That libertarian moneymen are putting their weight behind these schemes casts an ominous shadow over the whole affair.

Anonymous said...

Wheeler has already made his first statement that he is going to push for more "competition, not regulation" the first week on the job as the newly appointed Head of the FCC. please check out the following regarding website:

Wheeler is making his first speech Jan 9th since his FCC appointment in Mountain View, CA for the Commonwealth Club of SF.

Please Joseph get up to speed on the first time in 17 years that the FCC is reconsidering the limits on radio frequency radiation (RFR) because the current limits don't protect people at all, they are set essentially 10,000 times too high as they are set for thermal standards, that of 'heating' bodily tissues, not non-ionizing or non-thermal health impacts.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Cell Phone Radiation: A guide to the FCC submissions regarding radiofrequency radiation standards

Cellphones and Health (Oct/Nov, 2013)