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FCC Filings Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality Once Spam Is Removed (jeffreyfossett.com)
380 points by xparadigm 191 days ago | hide | past | web | 144 comments | favorite



Anyone who thinks the FCC is going to change course under this administration based on public comments can buy the bridge I am selling in NYC.


> Anyone who thinks the FCC is going to change course under this administration based on public comments can buy the bridge I am selling in NYC.

I disagree.

I don't think Trump would change his opinion based on what Democrats or people he view as the opposition says. He probably figures they'll attack him no matter what. (And I'm not sure he'd be wrong.)

However, if his core base is expresses concern, I do believe his attitude will change.

In fact, I would argue that's one of the best hopes we have.

Net Neutrality isn't partisan. Or rather, it doesn't need to be. There are reasons for both Democrats & Republicans to support it.


> Net Neutrality isn't partisan. Or rather, it doesn't need to be. There are reasons for both Democrats & Republicans to support it.

I completely agree. Most techies who support Trump see that removing net neutrality could worsen partisan media. The issue hasn't been raised on r/the_donald because they can't get enough people to support Ajit Pai's proposed "Internet Freedom" policy.

The only people who seem to support it are die-hard free-market folks who don't understand the internet, or, who are already invested in a business that would benefit from such a change.

Killing net neutrality will never benefit the consumer, only the big players.


The free market argument is so frustrating to hear, and yet I do hear it from people...

You can't expect free market theory to work when you take net neutrality with one hand while giving ISPs the right to practically pen state legislation, deny access to lines and sue up and coming competitors into oblivion with the other.

You end up with the worst of both worlds: government sponsored unrestrained monopolies.


That's the underlying problem here. If most people had a reasonable amount of choice in ISPs, the large ISPs would be forced to actually provide value to compete. What we have right now, as far as Internet access goes, is not a free market; it's more along the lines of crony capitalism.

Because we have virtual monopolies/duopolies across most of the United States, customers can't get away from any sort of shady stuff their ISP pulls, meaning we have to regulate it out of existence.


This is why I oppose net neutrality on principle. In practice, however, I feel it is unfortunately necessary due to the existing regulations. The ideal solution would be to remove the existing regulations and thus remove the need for net neutrality (since new competition would finally be allowed to easily enter the market), but I simply don't forsee that happening in my lifetime.


There is misconception that "free market" means "no regulation". Actually free market theory works (perfectly) under extremely specific conditions, see for instance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_competition

Often government regulation (not intervention) can be useful to get closer to such ideal conditions for the market to work efficiently. One example is taxes that cancel externalities. Can net neutrality also be justified in that way?


So, the only possible explanations for disagreeing with you is stupidity or malice. It must be really nice to have so high confidence.


I feel strongly about this issue. If that's reflected in my choice of words, so be it.

That doesn't mean all of the above isn't simply my opinion and perception.


As someone who has written their Senators and Congressperson about it and gotten responses about the issue, it is sadly partisan. The Republican Congress stands behind Ajit's stance on anti-net neutrality.


His core base elected him on a platform that explicitly refused to touch entitlements. Didn't matter.

> Net Neutrality isn't partisan

Sorry, that's just wrong. This is one of the most partisan issues where actual policy is being changed. There are near zero crossover votes on either side. There are good guys and bad guys, and your refusal to actually put your support behind the good guys is absolutely infuriating to those of us who can see the truth.


The only reason it's partisan is because the previous government addressed it. Nothing else. There's nothing inherent in the values of either party to strongly side for or against net neutrality.


I think you and grandparent don't agree on the meaning of the word 'partisan', and ended up talking past each other.

Parties don't have inherent values at all. They're just factions of people who hang out at the same clubs. Their values swing as the people attending the parties change over time.


> There are near zero crossover votes on either side.

Citation? Because I don't know a single Dem or Rep who endorses removing Net Neutrality (although I think I just read the first comment to say so on HN above).


Literally every republican with a stake (i.e. the FCC board, and those responsible for nominating/confirming them) endorses this policy. It's literally the party line position.

I think this citation needs to go the other way: which republican do you know who have come out in favor of the current net neutrality regime. I honestly can't think of one.


Your original subject is "His core base", which was what I referenced. You are talking about party politicians. In this situation, we may both be correct.


I'm part of a large upcomming group on the net that has been pushed into a tiny corner that started with the original net neutrality. Many of these people supported trump, but now are joining in rallying against the FCC change.

This does not include that the new net neutrality we have now is not a true title 2. And has many loop holes inside of it. So what should be the conversation is getting a true title 2 on the books. Not a us versus them. As people I was talking about in the former do not hold the same beliefs of establishment Republicans


Yes, this won't affect a god damn thing - net neutrality is dead. I still submitted a public comment because I want the historical record to be clear, and as others have mentioned, the ferocity of the response may cause politicians to reconsider if for no other reason than to preserve their own asses.


> net neutrality is dead

I don't think so. You know why they don't talk about this on r/the_donald? Because their propaganda attempts to raise the issue have resulted in people speaking out against the FCC's proposed policy.

I'd argue that current techies haven't become conservative enough to consider removing net neutrality. In 10-20 years, when we have more competition among ISPs, perhaps this will come up again and we'll finally gut it. I don't look forward to that, but it's happened to all other forms of communication. Eventually, money works its way in deeper and deeper, finding new markets and new ways to sell what we already have.

Anyway, my point is, politicians don't have a job without our vote, and when people speak out en masse about an issue, they do hear you. Trump is as big a politician as anyone. He cares what other people think and doesn't want to be viewed as the bad guy. He wants to get re-elected.


I'd argue that current techies haven't become conservative enough to consider removing net neutrality.

There's an entire school of conservative thought where government's only role in the market is maintaining a competitive market. It's unfortunate that this voice has been lost.

In 10-20 years, when we have more competition among ISPs

How's that going to happen if the current duopoly reinforce their position by removing net neutrality?


> How's that going to happen if the current duopoly reinforce their position by removing net neutrality?

I have a hard time imagining that we remain stuck with the status quo for more than 20 years. Markets love to move money around. Comcast is already stale -- their customer service is crap.

I'm not saying that the change will come from markets, necessarily, or that the impetus for change comes from the government. I just think things will change and eventually we'll see more competition on the last mile, or, something that mitigates the current problems.

And, they'll change because we care and are working to do something about these issues, not because we sit back and wait for something to happen.


Isn't Google implementing a global satellite ISP service? That might be competitive enough to challenge businesses like Comcast.


I lived through the tail-end of the telecom monopolies in the 1990's. I don't have much faith in the market's ability to fix things without intervention.


Don't forget your Senators and Representatives. That might be a more effective route than public comment.


The point is to leave a very clear track record that they did it contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of electorate.


Anyone who thinks that these bodies ever change their mind due to the public comment periods is gullible. The public comment period is mandatory, and it's not like the FCC commissioners are dying to know the public's thought process and need their input. They have already made up their minds.

The value provided by the public comment process is a) an opportunity for the public to get their comments on the record, not because it will change the outcome, but just for the historical value of having their viewpoint officially represented somewhere and b) the opportunity for FCC commissioners to be surprised by a higher-than-normal flood of replies and realize they may need to back something out for political expediency.

This is the same way it works when you call your Congresspeople or do almost any other citizen interaction with the government. It's not like your Senator actually cares about your specific opinion and may find it convincing. The proposals supported or opposed by politicians are much larger than any single person's opinion or ideology (including the representative's own).

Since Oliver did a segment on net neutrality under the Obama administration (in which he analogized cable lobbyist and then-FCC chair Tom Wheeler to a dingo hired to babysit a child), it really probably doesn't surprise them that a large volume of comments would be directed from that type of source again. It's also probably not surprising that people more likely to fill out an FCC comment form are generally pro-net neutrality.


> Anyone who thinks that these bodies ever change their mind due to the public comment periods is gullible.

It happened less than 2 years ago, on the topic of Net Neutrality. Remember? Tom Wheeler who was a known opponent of Net Neutrality? And the amazing flood of comments CHANGED HIS MIND?

Quit spouting off about how it's hopeless to change anything, and instead GO START REACHING OUT TO YOUR GOVERNMENT. (Your suggestion of calling congresspeople is a good one.)


> Tom Wheeler who was a known opponent of Net Neutrality?

Tom Wheeler was a supporter of net neutrality from his first day on the commission. The FCC majority he led didn't initially see common carrier classification as the best route to enforce neutrality after the 2010 Open Internet Order was struck down, and proposed a revised Order which sought to do that without reclassification, and on that point the comments changed his mind. But that's different than being opponent to neutrality regulations like Pai has been (and Pai was on the committee, and opposed to both the non-reclassifying and reclassifying version of the Open Internet Order, at the time of the last go around; if comments were going to change his mind, they already would have.)


Ehh, he supported internet fast lanes. Not so different in my opinion.

Anyway the GP's point is that comments changed his mind, not that Wheeler and Pai thought exactly alike.


> Ehh, he supported internet fast lanes.

No, he didn't.


Yes, he did

> "F.C.C., in a Shift, Backs Fast Lanes for Web Traffic " ... The proposed rules, drafted by Mr. Wheeler and his staff ... [1]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-ne...


Yeah the support for gutting net neutrality has been bipartisan by politicians, and the opposition has been bipartisan by the people. Anyone who supports gutting net neutrality is either a sucker or bought.


[flagged]


Isn't this the exact reason Americans give for having their right to bear arms? Why is there not an armed revolution against the clearly corrupt government?


Because that's ridiculous and exactly what foreign adversaries would love to see as a result of the currently tense political environment.

Plus, violent protesters almost never come out looking good. Any violence coming from the left would just entrench the powers of the right.

There are a few exceptions, like the revolutionary war. But, that's a time when American people were separated by great distance from its governing body. Revolution doesn't work when you're connected by land. Some foreign power would just take advantage of our weakness, and all Americans would lose.

We need to find a way to work together.


People usually need to anticipate a lot of hardship/uncertainty before they're willing to get into a war. De-prioritizing Netflix traffic doesn't really fit the bill.

These issues are much more sophisticated than many people appreciate. Democrat and Republican, all FCC commissioners have a telecom industry background, which causes everyone to posit that they have a bias toward their former employers. But how can you be expected to regulate the telecom industry if you have no idea how it works? How do you establish that someone knows what they're doing if they don't have an industry background? There are a lot of complexities here.

That's why our system of checks and balances is so important; it puts clear constraints on the powers of each segment, making it so no segment can get too much control. FCC is an executive-branch enforcement body; it can only do what Congress allows it to do.

Congress is at the heart of the governmental ineffectualness in the US. Fixing Congress would take care of most of our other problems.


> Anyone who thinks that these bodies ever change their mind due to the public comment periods is gullible.

If people didn't believe things like this we wouldn't have staunch Democrats and Republicans who never vote across party lines.


> the opportunity for FCC commissioners to be surprised by a higher-than-normal flood of replies and realize they may need to back something out for political expediency.

Close enough to changing their mind for me.


In theory they are right. Basing your decision on counting these comments is as scientific as online polls.

My guess is that they're obligated to accept comments; lobbyists from both sides have already made all the points and the decision has already been made.


Hope you're right


So we shouldn't do anything?

No, that's how democracy dies.


> Stop spreading bullshit.

Please don't break the site guidelines by being uncivil, regardless of how right you are.


Fair enough, edited it out.


It would be naively optimistic to think the FCC is going to just remove the spam from their counts willingly. At best they may remove from their counts any cases where someone's name was confirmed to have been used fraudulently. But how many of those 440,000 comments would that end up happening for?

Unless the FCC fears public backlash, I think they're going to aggressively exercise plausible deniability on the spam counts, and push through their agenda using those counts as justification.


They'll probably say none of the comments can be reliable and throw them all out and push through their agenda.


Yeah if they wanted the comments to be reliable they would have spent 5 minutes to add a CAPTCHA. This way they get to easily ignore the public comment.


That caveat, yikes!

>there is some evidence of botting/spamming on the pro-NN side as well (though likely not to the same degree), which is not investigated in this post, and could shift conclusions.


Yeah, he took a lot of liberties to support the title statement. The fact that many thousands of pro-NN are variations on the same sentences, because the template was provided by J. Oliver, also means implies that part of the anti-NN bulk could have been registered by humans working off a template as well.

I would like to know the number of unique sentences and the stats on these.

The only sane conclusion from this debacle is that these things are highly unreliable and better ways to get the population opinion are desirable.


> Yeah, he took a lot of liberties to support the title statement. The fact that many thousands of pro-NN are variations on the same sentences, because the template was provided by J. Oliver, also means implies that part of the anti-NN bulk could have been registered by humans working off a template as well.

I agree that it's possible, but seeing as the anti-NN template was used 440k times, and the top pro-NN template was used 26k times, I think it's fair to say that it's highly unlikely.

Think about how viral that John Oliver clip/story got, and it doesn't even contain a template (IIRC), and then try to think of an anti-NN template that somehow got 17 times more viral/engagement.

It's also relevant to consider who benefits from what side.


I was pretty prepared for this when I noticed this is one of places I wouldn't have minded a captcha for once.


I'm pretty sure they knew there would be a flood of opposition, and they left it insecure intentionally, in order to delegitimize the overwhelming consensus by lumping genuine filings in with spam filings and declaring the entire process tainted.


It's a non binding public comment period. I think you overestimate how much they care.


I saw similar. Data for those that want to do their own analysis here: https://github.com/lutostag/gofccyourself-data/releases


It's obvious to the tech community that net neutrality is a good thing. Let me pose a counter view in any case: what if verizon/comcast said they will give consumers a 75% discount should they be implement the anti-net neutrality way? After all, this is what Google/Facebook does. Give things away for free and their version of net-neutrality is they get to decide who pops up in the first page results above all (ads).


Your proposed situation is exactly why regulations are needed; there are very strong incentives to do things incredibly anti-consumer, and regulation is in many ways the only defense. It's generally not possible to find a new ISP, and even if I could find an ISP that didn't do this, they would be competing with the many that do.


Google and Facebook are not monopolies, as ISPs are in many cases. You have options.

Internet service is also far more vital than Facebook.


I would also agree that ISP are mostly monopolies. You can always decide to use FB or not. But you have to use Internet now, and it all goes through the same pipes.


Keep in mind those pipes were usually built with taxpayer dollars (sorry for poor source but I feel this is common knowledge)

https://www.quora.com/Who-funded-and-built-the-infrastructur...


> Internet service is also far more vital than Facebook.

Yes. So by lowering prices, more people will get access. I feel like you are adding a +1 here to the anti-net neutrality view (cue the internet.org initiative by facebook).


You're overlooking the fact that open access to the full internet would not be what a 75% price-reduced 'offering' would entail. We've already been over this argument in fact watching Facebook's 'free basics' attempt to lock India down. Paying less for something different is not really a reduction in price, either.


Pai, Republicans, and ISPs don't want or expect lower prices. They want higher profits. This isn't about wider access. The mission of public, for-profit companies is not to provide a public service -- it's to maximize profits. They're now doing it by engineering their own regulations.


When Google Fiber rolls into a town, prices from entrenched ISPs drop drastically. There's nothing stopping ISPs from providing cheaper and better service - except for the moral hazard of monopolistic control, free from the normal pressures of supply and demand.


When Google Fiber came into my area, the speed went up by 6 fold, I'm still switching the moment I'm physically able even if it were slower and more expensive.


That's extremely doubtful. There are already programs in place for low income households to get broadband for almost free.


Strange to see the net becoming a weapon against public interest.

More so to see it be used to push politics.


The exact opposite of what it should be.


I am hoping (perhaps wishfully) that 5G wireless technology will make much of this conversation moot. The reason why broadband companies are even theoretically able to get away with throttling certain sites is because there is so little consumer choice in broadband; few in this country have a choice at all.

Assuming 5G delivers on its promise of broadband quality internet (far from assured), most US consumers will immediately have far more options. Competition between service providers will be a much better check than regulation.


Why would you ever think that 5g would come without criminally low data caps?


Because if there are multiple companies offering 5G (and they are not colluding), they will compete for customers. Verizon will offer a higher data cap than T-Mobile. T-Mobile will then respond with a higher data cap than Verizon, and so on.


I call bullshit on this one. In Germany all 3 major providers offer LTE (O2, though, only since ~2-3 years), and still the most common cap are 3-4 GB, some discounter/business tariffs excepted. Telekom and Vodafone offer a high quality network but high pricing at both and outright scammy sales practices at Vodafone makes me say "no thanks". O2s network is rotten, and it regularly breaks dowm when it's congested (bei it due to political rallies or soccer games) but at least they're cheap and improving.

Competition does obviously not work, and Germany is still stuck with slow internet over copper wires and universally shitty mobile providers as a result.


It isn't a competition problem, it's a laws of physics problem. If you want to carry more traffic you either need more wireless spectrum or more towers. But "more towers" quickly devolves to the point that you would need a "tower" on every block, at which point you have nearly all the expense of a wired network and might as well run the cable inside the buildings.


We are talking about 35.46 gigabits per second. With 20x over subscription that works out to 20MBPS for 35,000 homes per tower. Or roughly a 200 x 200 home 'block' if everyone was your customer.

Alternatively, is your suburb is 0.5 homes per acre and 20% of people are your customers that's one tower per ~136 square miles.

Note: These numbers are not accurate for several reasons including directional antenna on towers etc but they give a ballpark.


DOCSIS 3.1 supports multi-gigabit speeds on coax. With actual fiber 100Gbps links are commercially available. For equivalent performance you aren't serving 35,000 homes per tower, it's more like 35. And a provider having a lower penetration rate doesn't save you any towers, they still have to exist and be operated by someone else in order for those people to have service. Splitting the market between more providers each with lower customer density would only make each provider's costs higher -- same total number of towers but now you each need your own spectrum.


Is it wrong to charge for a service?


It's absolutely wrong to overcharge for a utility - that's why they're so heavily regulated. In 2017, internet access is a utility and should be treated as such. It's nearly impossible to function in a modern economy without affordable, high speed access.


Assuming that opposition to net neutrality is based on technical limitations rather than a money grab - you're right about 5G. But really... if people can be offered tired access, why wouldn't they?


Parent wasn't saying it was based on technical limitations - they were talking about the market leverage that broadband providers have in monopoly markets. By that view, 5G is important for how it changes the market rather than how it changes the technology.


I get that it changes the monopoly. But if the rules allow tired access, there's nothing guaranteeing that mobile providers won't do the same.


There will be no guarantee. But there will be multiple service providers for people to choose from. Competition between service providers will push consumers to the better service.

For example, suppose Verizon obeyed net neutrality whereas AT&T did not, favoring instead their own content. Consumers would naturally choose Verizon because their connections were not being throttled. If enough consumers move, it will force AT&T to respect net neutrality as well.


In Canada our regulator recently discussed this and one of the largest monopoly ISPs went to bat in favor of net neutrality. I suspect this is in large part due to the great increase in competition from the leased lines being enforced.

If all the other companies aren't doing fast lanes and are doling out more bandwidth, well, you better compete, because that's something people will notice pretty quick.


Can't see why anyone wouldn't support net neutrality, especially consumers. If only the administration would listen, our opinion doesn't mean much.


Depends on the consumer. The ones getting zero-rated video from AT&T would hate to see net neutrality rules. To them, it's bad.


Then they are short sighted (or it is a tragedy of the commons). Zero rating is being done at the expense of allowing a free competitive market, and they will have no one to blame by themselves when service get crappier and there are fewer options in the future.


Well, not really, because it's not that the video is zero-rated, it's that everything else has an upcharge, which would go away due to competition


1: No informed citizen in their right mind wants this to pass

2: Big telecoms are making a lot of spam to force democracy to their whim

3: People become aware of this and its talked about in news, "Well I heard the count was neck in neck, 'Oh well I heard that Comcast paid spammers'", deepening public hate of Comcast-esque companies

4: Comcast et al will get their way as usual and next week no one will care


aren't there big players on the other side.

Why aren't the big VC houses fighting this? This seriously hampers their ability to have their startups have equal access to the open internet.


VCs are way more interested in investing in 10 companies that might give them a 100x return than meddling in politics.

Historically, regressive ideologies have funded think tanks at an order of magnitude higher than progressives. Good luck fighting old money dollar for dollar.


It will all implode eventually. And as the tech world likes to recycle things, we'll see some form of the late BBS early internet years again. Then it will all start over.

At least that's my hope. Just kind of clean house and start over.


If a bunch of techies did this, I could be a part of it, and I wouldn't mind that 90% of the general population didn't follow suit immediately and were stuck with Comcast throttle. "Save yourself before saving the passenger next to you when the plane is going down"


> in this post I use the term “spam” to connote an identical bit of text that was repeatedly filed many times

Wow! Nice definition of spam. Remove the most popular opinion, and hey look! everybody supports NN.

> there is some evidence of botting/spamming on the pro-NN side as well (though likely not to the same degree), which is not addressed in this post, and could shift conclusions.

IMO, this is just a blatantly biased attempt to delegitimatize any anti-NN feedback. Many people send their comments thru websites with boilerplate text, but they do it in support of what they believe. The author has presented no evidence that the comments he removed from consideration are actually spam and no evidence that the second most popular phrase (in favor of NN) is not spam.


I mean the below section of the post is fairly contradictory to your claim.

> To further investigate this hypothesis, I randomly sampled 1000 filings that used the repeated text and queried the HaveIBeenPwned API to retrieve a list of known data breaches that the associated emails were involved in. I found that ~76% of emails associated with the repeated comment had been involved in at least one data breach, and ~66% were part of the RCM breach specifically:


My email address has also been part of multiple breaches. But I have changed my passwords quick enough that I am sure my email was not used to spam in this instance. The author's hypothesis would be stronger only if the breaches are fairly recent. Anything > a few months ago is likely not compromised anymore. Also, we need to know the same number for the most popular repeated pro-NN comment.

Edit: apparently the RCM breach occurred quite recently. So I guess there is some legitimacy to the hypothesis. I would still like to see the same number for the pro-NN repeated comments too.


> But I have changed my passwords quick enough that I am sure my email was not used to spam in this instance

Why do you think that would matter? You don't need to give the FCC your email password to post a comment to these proceedings.

All you need to post a comment on the FCC is: name, address, and email. They do not validate that the comment-poster actually controls the email address they used. You can request a filing conformation, but that's optional and only says they received your comment.


There are 345085 "unprecedented" comments and 13744 "outraged" comments in the first million comments.

Only 127 of those comments use emails that are lowercase. Over 300k of those comments have emails typed in ALL CAPS.

Every single one of those comments are exactly the same (ergo copy pasted). This means there's some form of automation. It's NOT people copy pasting manually however because nobody types their email in all caps. 300k people do not do that.

Websites will normally capitalize the email address, since they are case insensitive, when it's saved into the database. When something is case insensitive, you compare the capitilized version of both. Eg: Is 'Abc'.toUpperCase() == 'AbC'.toUpperCase().

So this means either:

1. A bot is submitting for other people without their permission, using a hacked database(s).

2. A bot is submitting for other people on the behalf of a very large anti-net neutrality community (which I've never heard of).

3. People are clicking links in an email that presents a form with their data already filled out, which they manually submit (requires a large anti-net neutrality community).

4. There's a form on another website which people are filling out, that is using javascript to capitalize the emails before submitting it to the FCC's website.

The first case is much more likely than the other cases.

https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/6b4ouq/fcc_fili...

And the latest cache refresh last night points out that there is now 2 new "repeated" comments. There is (452143+220641+132240+15671 = ) 820k comments now, totalling 54% of the total comments.

https://www.reddit.com/r/netneutrality/comments/6ach2d/top_r...


There's an even better breakdown here that has graphs showing the submission times of the comments. There is suddenly 15 thousand identical comments submitted in 1 minute before "turning off" the next minute.

https://medium.com/@csinchok/an-analysis-of-the-anti-title-i...


Can you please find me an opinion piece that is anti-NN? Honestly, I would like to read that side's arguments.


Here is one: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2014/11/13/net-n...

I don't agree with a few things the author says, but I agree with the overall sentiment of resenting government interference in private business.


Anti-net-neutrality is the government interfering in private business.

Let's compare the Internet to a highway system, since that's the analogy politicians like. The Internet is all private roads. You pay your ISP for your road so that any traffic serving you can come across in either direction. I pay my ISP for any traffic serving me to come across in either direction.

Net neutrality says that if you and I send traffic to one another, your ISP can't charge me for my packets (trucks) carrying data (cargo) to you because you've already paid for use of the road. They also can't charge you more for a truck entering your road from my road than from their own other road, or from Google's road. It's all the same toll (or all included if you have an unlimited traffic plan) and you pay the same for your leg of the trip no matter how the truck got to your road.

Anti-net-neutrality folks think the government should grant the folks running the private toll roads we rent the right to waive tolls on those roads if they have a business relationship with one of the parties. They think the toll road operators should be able to charge you more rent or higher tolls if you do business with someone whose cargo came from a competitor's road to get to your section of road. At the same time, they say it's fine that the government itself has severely limited your choice in local road providers giving you no power to negotiate or find a suitable competitive road provider.

Then anti-neutrality folks call that an open, free market. Free for whom? Open for whom? Your state tells you who can install a road without a fair bidding process, that whoever installed the wholesale road doesn't need to allow a competitive resale market for retail use of the road, that you can't individually negotiate terms with the road operator, and that you can't build your own road to replace it. Now the federal government wants to tell you that the road operator under those terms set by your state can shut out cargo from its roads or charge huge surcharges based on who you bought the cargo from. What's free and open about that?


> Net neutrality says that if you and I send traffic to one another, your ISP can't charge me for my packets (trucks) carrying data (cargo) to you because you've already paid for use of the road.

Net neutrality has no business dictating how an ISP wants to conduct business and what pricing structure it wants. If you or me don't like our ISP's prices, we can switch.

> At the same time, they say it's fine that the government itself has severely limited your choice in local road providers giving you no power to negotiate or find a suitable competitive road provider.

This is the real problem that has led to this issue. Instead of treating the symptoms, the government must ensure that there is healthy competition and customers are able to choose from multiple ISPs. We got to this place because the government granted some companies a defacto monopoly. That must be undone. Net neutrality is trying to solve the bad effects of government overreach with even more regulation!

Lastly, I see many people on hn and reddit implying that NN is an open and shut issue. That any sane person is obviously pro-NN and anybody who speaks against it is either dumb or evil. This is an absolutely wrong position to take. It fosters no real discussion and results in name-calling while politicians muck up the real problem even more. Thank you for being open to discussion.


> If you or me don't like our ISP's prices, we can switch.

Hah.

> Instead of treating the symptoms, the government must ensure that there is healthy competition and customers are able to choose from multiple ISPs. We got to this place because the government granted some companies a defacto monopoly. That must be undone. Net neutrality is trying to solve the bad effects of government overreach with even more regulation!

The net neutrality regulation is to mitigate a symptom. However, it is difficult for the federal government to override what state and local governments have done with franchise fees and line-run regulations. In order to claim authority to undo the disease, the federal government would need to reclassify Internet access as an interstate utility the states have no right to limit as they have. Net neutrality is a much lighter touch when it comes to the federal government overriding state regulations than telling the states who can dig where or who can run overhead lines.


Did anyone else catch Ajit Pai's first public comment since we flooded the FCC with pro-net neutrality comments? [1]

If he thinks that is hip or cool, he's completely out of touch.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBt84HNAGwU


I like the part where he "supported" his thesis that a certain class of comments is "spam" by checking a random sample of the associated email addresses against HaveIBeenPwned and finding that 75% of them showed up in there, but did not bother to make sure this is actually a real signal by checking a random sample of "real" comments as well.


Corporate interests currently support net neutrality regulations for whatever reason. So you get entertainers like John Oliver pushing young folks who don't know any better to submit comments. Free market solutions are rarely in vogue. Thus the discrepency.


Shame it won't make any difference.


I, for one, am shocked to hear this. Shocked I say


Thats how democracy dies. It doesn't have to change it explicitly, it has to incite tact, and leave a trail. Every day, we are making history. If we do not speak, then the future will think we weren't talking.


Please don't post generic political rhetoric here. It might be good for rallying people to a cause, but HN threads are for substantive discussion, and the Venn diagram of those two things has little overlap.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14338291 and marked it off-topic.


The thread still has plenty of 'rhetoric' and opinionated pieces, including the one I was responding to. My post clearly stated that democracy cannot be sustained by a populace that thinks it has no say and history cannot be used if it doesn't exist. I would think hard before labeling that theory as 'rhetoric'.


Corollary: The more people that comment, the higher the budget of the think-tank whose job it is to make counter-comments (either via bot or shill). It's a difficult fight when any effort you put forwards can be matched with a few dollars.


Dollars have the disadvantage that they can only be coarsely targetted. A timely, laser focused argument will always beat whatever keywords Kellyanne Conway happens to be spamming millions of viewers with today. Campaigns at that scale just can't scratch the same itch. The trouble is laser targetted arguments take much more time to formulate, so you have to use them sparingly. The tau comes in handy.


Being cynical about the effectiveness of the agency is fine so long as that doesn't translate into apathy.

It should be a motivator to hold the agency accountable, to get it to do the job for which it was created. Write. Call. Show up at meetings. Pressure them back in line.


Sorry. I do not think people commenting on some document has anything to do with democracy that might be mob or troll rule but it isn't democracy (not that I am a fan of democracy either).

Personally I agree with FCC's stand and keeping governments and elites who want everyone else to pay more for their "fair use" out of the equation looks like a good thing for me. I don't have time to comment on that document because I agree with administration.


> Sorry. I do not think people commenting on some document has anything to do with democracy

What would have something to do with democracy, then?


Voting.


It's a shame you're being downvoted for sharing your opinion. Personally I think you're delusional, but it's not like downvotes are going to change your mind.


Thanks for being a voice of reason and free speech. I also do not agree in the slightest with the OP, but non the less being down-voted to hell is a bit harsh imho.

That is not how democracy should work. We should counter his (missing) arguments. Sadly he/she/it did not provide anything substantial on that one could base a valid argument.


> Thanks for being a voice of reason and free speech. I also do not agree in the slightest with the OP, but non the less being down-voted to hell is a bit harsh imho.

> We should counter his (missing) arguments. Sadly he/she/it did not provide anything substantial on that one could base a valid argument.

The last part is really the point though, isn't it?

"Free speech" is continually misused, in the sense that people expect everyone else to listen to mad ramblings. Presenting a "counterpoint" (on whichever platform/venue/outlet) in the quest to be fair when the original point is simply a fact isn't fair coverage, it's pandering to lunacy.


Sorry for the harsh language, but that's fucking ridiculous in this context.

Free speech? Free speech doesn't exist so that people can make ridiculous comments like 'taking comments from the public into account when making policy is mob rule'. Free speech exists so that people can make those comments on policy and have them heard.


You're wrong too --- but only in my opinion. What free speech really "exists for" is hard to pin down[1].

It's actually an interesting legal perspective. These are unelected officials, appointed by an indirectly elected official (albeit confirmed by directly elected ones) interacting directly with the public. It's a bizarre reversal of the Jeffersonian republic, like a direct democracy nested deep inside a republic. The fact that the poster is totally wrong does not alone make the idea worth censoring.

If you don't listen to people who disagree with you, how can you hope to engage them in debate? Case in point: you got downvoted so many times you were [flagged] and [dead], and I vouched for you. 1) You didn't deserve it. 2) I wanted to bring you back so I could make the point that, under your idea of free speech, you'd still be [dead].

[1]: https://www.thefire.org/a-reminder-about-shouting-fire-in-a-...


> Free speech? Free speech doesn't exist so that people can make ridiculous comments like 'taking comments from the public into account when making policy is mob rule'. Free speech exists so that people can make those comments on policy and have them heard.

You are flat out WRONG.

Free speech exists for all sort of speech including mocking, ridiculing and being outright stupid and retarded too.

> Free speech exists so that people can make those comments on policy and have them heard.

Free speech has nothing to do with policy, government, state or laws. It is an independent right that exists for no specific purpose other than itself.

And in this case it appears to be "free speech for you as long as you voice your support for me".


I am the OP. I don't even bother to look at downvotes and the fact that an opinion is unpopular does not really say anything about the merits of the argument.

I am pretty sure HN crowd will hound anyone who claims to agree with FCC on this point which I do.


[flagged]


You've been using HN primarily for political and ideological battle. That's an abuse of the site—it's destructive of what this place is for—so we ban accounts that do it, so please don't.

For the same reason, would you please not go into overheated rhetoric ("murder", "kill women, children, and the elderly") in HN comments either?

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14338291 and marked it off-topic.


> that the Republicans are trying to kill women, children, and the elderly

> literally trying to murder them

I don't understand how people can believe that that is the intent behind the actions taken.

Do people really believe that the outgroup is comprised of inhuman monsters?

The people in the outgroup are people, individuals each with their own beliefs, preferences, tastes, values, experiences, relationships, etc.


> I don't understand how people can believe that that is the intent behind the actions taken.

Because knowledgeable policymakers can be presumed to intend the rationally foreseeable consequences of the policies they champion.

> Do people really believe that the outgroup is comprised of inhuman monsters?

No, the monsters are human, which is far worse but something that history shows really happens, and not at all infrequently.

> The people in the outgroup are people, individuals each with their own beliefs, preferences, tastes, values, experiences, relationships, etc.

Yes, and people with their own beliefs, preferences, etc., can have vile beliefs, preferences, etc., and there are plenty of historical examples of political movements where at least the leaders did so, and either spread those to their followers are used propaganda to get backing from followers with different beliefs for actions that served the leaders' beliefs.

Believing that it can't happen, or can't happen here, is indefensible and contrary to all evidence.


> can be presumed to intend the rationally foreseeable consequences of the policies they champion.

Well, I suppose it wouldn't make sense to call a foreseen outcome an "accident" or something like that, and I can see there being a sense in which you might call it "intent", but something that it clearly would not be, would be a "goal". "Trying to do <x>" when <x> has <y> as a known consequence, does not seem like "trying to do <y>" to me. If aware of some other means to achieve the other goals they have, with a decreased amount of death happening, it seems pretty obvious that they would pick that option?

Someone taking a morally abhorent trade-off (say, causing something that they want which is of little value at the cost of something much worse they do not want) is not the same thing as having both outcomes as desired outcomes of the action.

If it were, then anyone who made a reasonable trade-off, where the cost incurred is significant would be guilty of having that cost happening as a goal. That doesn't make sense.

I can't really imagine someone valuing the deaths of women, children, and the elderly, as an end in itself. That doesn't make sense. I don't see that as being a thing a real human person would value.


> The people in the outgroup are people, individuals each with their own beliefs, preferences, tastes, values, experiences, relationships, etc.

Um, duh?

It's just ironic considering the Republican hysteria about Obama's "death panels", rationally known as end-of-life planning. I guess in/out-group demonization isn't an issue as when Democrats were the out-group?

Now the Republicans are proposing changes that will lead to higher mortality rates (read the CBO report), and suddenly death isn't an issue.

I do understand the fiscal conservatives argument for these changes, the price of human life versus death... that does little to dull the irony, and nothing to gain my support.


Its possible that there's some bias in what things I would respond to in that sort of way, but if people here were saying that democrats were trying to kill people-in-general, and it wasn't already greyed out from downvotes, I would hope that I would respond in generally the same way that I did here?

I don't know if I really would fulfill the expectations I have for myself in such a situation, but I hope that I would.

I am not saying that the proposed policies aren't bad, or even that they aren't evil (not saying it is either. I would need to do a lot more reading to know), just that the goal isn't killing people, and to believe that the goal is killing people, (not just an expected outcome of a decision made for other reasons) is rather absurd.

No major USA political party has as general goal "kill the women, children, and elderly people". This should be obvious.


I find your comment particularly indefensible given the actual facts involved. At the very _bare_ minimum, to pretend to give a fuck about the lives of the Americans about to lose their health insurance requires a cbo score and more than 1 hour of debate. To pretend that the express tradeoff of the bill isn't American lives in exchange for ~680million in tax cuts for income above 125k/year feels intellectually gross. An honest analysis would simply restate the Republican argument for the bill, that this tax cut was needed now because it will allow for greater tax cuts in the future tax reform bill.


To clarify, I was not attempting to argue that the republican healthcare plan is a morally acceptable one (I need to read more about it), just that saying that the goal is killing people is clearly incorrect?


I don't know how you could ascertain the latter without the former. Especially if you believe, as I do, that healthcare could save lives and the less money means less healthcare.

I'm not against conservative ideas - there have been plenty of conservative healthcare reforms in America (Mitt Romney was very successful and was widely praised when he did it), but it'd be an insult to compare this current bill to attempts like his - again, because I see his attempt as one honestly intended to make his constituents lives better and there's no way I can say the same here. Pretending to care about consequences would require more than an hour debate before reshaping the largest industry in America. In my view I can certainly ascribe intent to someone who malevolently callous in their actions, so I'd reword 'the goal is to kill people' to 'are more than happy to kill people to cut their own taxes.'


> being completely opposed to everything the American people want has taken control of the entire government

That's not remotely true. That's what the media portrays, however. Don't try to spread FUD to an audience who has grown up learning to separate sensationalism from fact cough MS cough.

They were GIVEN control (despite the pervasive belief that campaign money would win the day for the presidency, but maybe it did?) and there are many aspects of the Republican party that continues to support what the American people want via the status quo and initiative that people in blue states tend to not like. That's not the same thing.


>They were GIVEN control (despite the pervasive belief that campaign money would win the day for the presidency, but maybe it did?)

The fact is, the majority of the voting public did not vote for Trump.

Whether by gerrymandering or by unfortunate coincidence, Trump had a deficit, but the minimum votes needed in the areas that mattered.

He's not opposed to -everything- the American people want, but he is the less popular of the two least popular candidates of all time. So yeah, he goes against the majority of America on a huge amount of policies.

> there are many aspects of the Republican party that continues to support what the American people want via the status quo and initiative that people in blue states tend to not like.

Aspects yes, but the I'd wager most of the decisions made have nothing to do with what the electorate actually want, and are more to do with what their corporate donors are pushing for. There are a lot of "safe" areas where it really doesn't matter what they do, voting repub/democrat is a way of life, not a choice.


> The fact is, the majority of the voting public did not vote for Trump.

If you want change, you have to focus on an issue. If this is the issue, then you need to stop saying "Trump" as if he is special, since it appears to be a partisan attack.

http://www.factcheck.org/2008/03/presidents-winning-without-...

It should have been stopped at Bush but the Republicans are too short sighted to take aim at it right now, especially since it's helped them out about once a decade.


I think this is a comments board mature enough to realise we aren't doing attacks on people. We are discussing issues.

If this was reddit or slashdot, I wouldn't phrase it that way.


> The fact is, the majority of the voting public did not vote for Trump.

That only puts him in the company of Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

If you don't like the electoral college then fix it. But all that changes is how candidates will campaign. Republicans would still win half of elections, because that's the nature of a two party system. The only way out of that is to adopt a different voting system (e.g. range voting) so that there can be more than two viable parties.


> Republicans would still win half of elections, because that's the nature of a two party system.

No it's not. (A lot) More than half of the population benefits/are catered to (what capitalists' Adam Smith would call maximized utility) by one party, while very few benefits from the other. That's why gerrymandering and lack of facts are vastly larger issues on one side.


Republicans currently get slightly less than half of the popular vote -- compared to Democrats who also get slightly less than half of the popular vote. Hillary Clinton didn't have a majority of the popular vote in 2016, she had 48% compared to Trump's 46%.

And some of the highest population states (California, Texas, New York) are immutable for both parties in the electoral college. If you put the votes there in play it would completely change the nature of the campaigns.

> That's why gerrymandering and lack of facts are vastly larger issues on one side.

Don't be partisan. The Republicans lie, the Democrats lie. The common "women make 77% of what men make" is a lie; that number doesn't account for different occupations or hours worked. Any healthcare plan that doesn't reduce the revenue of healthcare companies is not going to reduce the cost of healthcare; both parties are equally guilty of that. Nearly every statistic you hear in politics on both sides is inaccurate or taken out of context, and the Democrats are especially egregious about this with respect to intersectional politics.

And gerrymandering is what the party with a legislative majority does every time the census comes in. This time it happens that mostly Republicans were in power when the lines were drawn, but don't pretend the other party wouldn't or hasn't done the same thing when it's their turn.


> That only puts him in the company of Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

The number of names is right, the names aren't.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_presiden...

Abraham Lincoln, percent of popular vote 39.65%

John Kennedy, percent of popular vote 49.72%

Bill Clinton, percent of popular vote 43.01% (1992) / 49.23% (1996)



It's not hard to figure out all whom you name won both popular and electoral votes, though jfk only by a very small margin.


The concept of a majority vote was traded away when multiple states with different population was united into a single nation. The evening out of power difference between high population state and low population state is a very strong bargaining chip in avoiding a split back to the previous system.


> completely opposed to everything the American people want

The recent success of the Republican party in my mind is more indicative of a few things:

- "Safety nets" are largely sight unseen (except when they break down), and even for those who benefit from one or two programs, all other programs are "government waste" and "handouts." People who need to be frugal and only spend on their own necessities will naturally project that expectation onto their government.

- It's very easy to blame globalization for the rapid restructuring of the U.S. workforce. And while arguably no group is more supportive of globalization than the group attempting to loosen regulations on increasingly international businesses, it's easy for them to hide that intent behind "well this is all actually an initiative by the previous administration." Obama fighting for the TPP did no favors to his legacy.

- The "information overload" presented by modern (social and traditional) media places emphasis on clickbait and easy-to-communicate ideas. And it's much easier to communicate "taxes are taking your hard-earned money" than "funding this program has a small but measurable effect on X because of the complex economic relationship between Y and Z, and since there's an 8% chance of X mattering to your children's lives, you should care." (For every John Oliver taking 20 minutes per topic, there's an Alex Jones screaming about 20 topics every minute.)

- When confronted with a scary world, people retreat to the communities they understand, and it's very easy to make the leap from "my community's values are effective at reassuring me that life won't get worse" to "these values are globally optimal for all time, and those who disagree or seek progress are the enemy."

- No matter how much your candidate might not follow your values personally, they can't be any worse than the guys already there failing to execute on the above priorities.

People ARE voting for their interests as they see them. Insofar as you agree that a "state" is still a culturally significant unit of division in the U.S. (and therefore justifies the weight placed on votes from smaller states), democracy is working.

What is not working is "empathetic rationality," the ability to set aside gut reactions and internalize the problems that other humans might face under probability-weighted scenarios. Closing this gap is the most pressing question of our times.


> I'm encouraged that now that the Republicans are trying to kill women, children, and the elderly by taking away their healthcare

> united Republican political and propaganda machine literally trying to murder them

If people prefer to hear an intelligent argument, Stefan Molyneux lays out some of the healthcare problems and makes the case for a free market solution:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peVLkW7uirI


[flagged]


Unless the whole point of the exercise is to beat cheating, as it were. Burning the village to "save the village" comes to mind. And seeing how muddying the waters, blurring the lines, seems to be tool numero uno, why help with that? Also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oJ9w0x_dzo




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