Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to bring net neutrality back from the dead

By now you know that Obama has sold us out on net neutrality -- just as he sold us out on government transparency, privacy, NAFTA, war, and a lot of other things that were part of his original campaign. If you're a fan of casuistry -- and as I always say, strained rationalization is the highest form of humor -- you'll enjoy reading FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's defense of his turnaround. He makes clear, incidentally, the there will be no blocking of "legal content" -- which means that ISPs will be able to turn off the torrents.

A Kevin Drum puts it:
So Google and Microsoft and Netflix and other large, well-capitalized incumbents will pay for speedy service. Smaller companies that can't—or that ISPs just aren't interested in dealing with—will get whatever plodding service is left for everyone else.
Marvin Ammori (who knows a lot about this stuff) says that the new FCC rules are even worse than most people think:
The FCC is authorizing cable and phone companies to start making different deals with thousands or millions of websites, extracting money from sites that need to load quickly and reliably. So users will notice that Netflix or Hulu works better than Amazon Prime, which buffers repeatedly and is choppy. New sites will come along and be unable to compete with established giants. If we had had such discrimination a decade ago, we would still be using MySpace, not Facebook, because Facebook would have been unable to compete.
I personally think that Facebook was not such a good thing, but I still agree with Ammori's basic premise: The new rules will make current behemoths even behemothier, while new start-ups won't be able to compete. Or, to put it another way,
“The FCC is inviting ISPs to pick winners and losers online,” Michael Weinberg, vice president at Public Knowledge, a Washington-based consumer-advocacy group, said in a statement. “This is not Net neutrality. This standard allows ISPs to impose a new price of entry for innovation on the Internet.”
By the way: When the Tea Party first entered the public eye, they spent a lot of time spreading anti-Net Neutrality propaganda. This fact told me that the TP was never just a grassroots group of anti-Obama libertarians who were later co-opted by the GOP machine. No, the TP was of the machine from Day 1.

So how do we fight this thing? These guys have some good ideas. Here's the key point:
The court clearly told the FCC that if it wishes to ensure Internet users can send and receive information free from ISP interference, then the agency must classify ISPs as telecom carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.
That's it. That is freakin' IT.

But how do we get there? It'll be a tough fight.
But now is the time for action. The next three weeks are absolutely crucial to building the public pressure it will take to get the FCC to scrap this wreck and do what it should have done in the first place: reclassify broadband.

So sign a petition and spread the word. Call Tom Wheeler right now and remind him he works for you — and that you won’t settle for anything less than real Net Neutrality.

Start making plans to be in Washington, D.C., on May 15 to stand up for the open Internet. FCC commissioners spend too much time staring at lobbyists: They need to see our faces.

What if you had only three weeks to save the Internet? What would you do?

Whatever it is, you should drop everything and do it right now.
These guys have even more.
To Contact the Commissioners via E-mail

Chairman Tom Wheeler:
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn:
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel:
Commissioner Ajit Pai:
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly: Mike.O’

To call and contact commissioner’s offices, call 1-888-225-5322.

In addition, call your elected representatives. Tell them if net neutrality is ended, you will hold them accountable by withholding your vote. Both parties hope to control the senate after the mid-term elections, so you have more power than usual to let them know they are losing your vote if they fail to take action to stop the FCC proposal. The number for Congress is 202-224-3121.
There's also a petition.

Remember: Defeatism never solved anything.


Propertius said...

Look on the bright side, Joseph: Comcast (owner of MSNBC) will be able to pretty much block access to for much of the country (something that always made me wonder why Bill O'Reilly was such a staunch opponent of net neutrality).

As for Obama "selling out", you already know what I think about that.

david p said...

The analogy that springs to my mind is a State that builds and controls the roads and freeways. Under the new measures the State places tolls on the major freeways which the leading transport and delivery companies are happy to pay because they can pass the costs on to their customers. The smaller freight companies, seeking to avoid the tolls, have to take the back roads. Here's where it gets interesting. First, there are no financial incentives for the State to maintain the back roads properly. Over time they fall into disrepair and are clogged with traffic. As well, the State decides to up its revenue. How? By blocking off bypass roads, narrowing their lanes and generally making it hell to travel off the main tollway. Now the situation is not the same on the Internet. I am lead to believe that, in general, the interent infrastructure is of generally high quality for most people. What some are arguing is that for the new system to become really profitable the ISPs have to create artificial choke points and delays on normal internet traffic to drive people onto the tollways. I don't know whether this is true but it's certainly possible. Expect normal internet traffic to experience abnormal delays and obstructions until users get the marketing message.

Bob Harrison said...

Golly, Prop, what an idea: corporations competing against each instead of us. I like it.

Pennelope said...

I'm a "government worker bee" in a small agency of a small state. My big boss is a term limited state Representative and a term limited state Senator, but generally a good guy and a liberal.

He once asked us to write our state representatives on some issue of concern to the people who use the services of our agency. In his talk about what to say in the letter he strongly admonished us NOT to threaten to withhold our vote. He said that was a sure fire way to get the worthy to ignore your plea.

So I would just like to point out the advice in the last part of the quote is extremely counterproductive.

Don't threaten, cajole.

Propertius said...

Well, Pennelope, I guess the problem here is that the telecom companies have invested heavily in lobbying and PAC contributions to make sure that comments from the "little people" get ignored, whether they threaten or cajole.

When I look at the campaign donations to my own "liberal Democratic" Senator (Mark Udall), I see that he's taken nearly $8 million in corporate PAC money. "Progressive" organizations and labor unions don't even make it onto his top 10 list.

No wonder he voted for telecom immunity (as did a certain junior senator from Illinois) back in 2008 when he was my lowly Congressman setting his sights on the Senate.

Propertius said...


It's perfectly possible for them to compete against each other while colluding against us.

Unknown said...

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proved he is running the FCC totally at the beck and call of the big telecom industry he once worked for. The citizens of the USA need and deserve a free and unfettered Internet. Net neutrality is THE free speech issue of this moment in US history.

Please sign my petition!