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Americans from Both Political Parties Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality (blog.mozilla.org)
625 points by joeyespo on June 7, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 212 comments



The problem with this sort of poll is that rhetoric, for a huge number of voters, has a much greater impact than facts about issues. Even and especially if they aren't aware this is the case.

This poll reminds me of those ACA polls which concluded overwhelming support by focusing on particular aspects of the Act instead of just coming right out an asking "Obamacare: repeal or keep?" with no preface.

If you truly want to gauge public opinion as it will matter in election years -- which is pretty much the only way it matters -- you shouldn't define net neutrality and you definitely shouldn't ask a sequence of potentially priming questions. Instead, you should just ask: "Do you support Net Neutrality?" and nothing else!

Of course, the results of this survey are still important. But they might not be predictive of how the average person really feels when asked, over a beer, whether we should "keep internet Obamacare" or "let Comcast censor our speech"


"Obamacare: repeal or keep?" with no preface.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy, because if you change Obamacare to the Affordable Care Act, the answer changes.

http://fm.cnbc.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/editorial...

Search "11a"


It works on hacker news too:

>Facebook should not be allowed to...

"It is Facebook's business! Don't like it? Go start your own!"

>Comcast should not be allowed to...

"Right on! Stick it to those price gouging monopolists!"


I upvote things like this because it's a rare challenge that will leave everyone more enlightened. (sounds sarcastic but isn't) The internet is a utility now, and America doesn't have a variety of providers. But facebook is also pretty ubiquitous, to the point of employers thinking you're weird if you don't have a page.


Customers have ample alternatives to facebook, and avoidance of that entire product category is not debilitating. Neither are true of comcast's internet services.


what is an alternative to facebook (besides abstention, which I agree is viable in this product category)? the network effect is overwhelmingly strong.


Depends on how you define the product category. What teenagers used Facebook for 10 years ago, they use Snapchat for today. But what adults used Facebook for 10 years ago, adults still use Facebook for today.


> But what adults used Facebook for 10 years ago, adults still use Facebook for today.

I am a twenty-something without a Facebook account (used to have one, though). IMO, there isn't much I would want to do with Facebook that I can't do with email or texting.


Snapchat didn't exist 10 years ago, so I don't see your point.


I was answering the parent's question: if by "alternative to Facebook" you mean that you want the thing that made teenagers use Facebook in 2007, then the answer is that Snapchat is a viable Facebook... somehow. (I'm not too clear on how exactly myself, but it seems to work for them.)


Two different companies with two different types of businesses. I support Facebook's right to decide what's on their site, buto condemn any attempt of Comcast to screw with internet traffic. Especially given the lack of competition in the ISP space, I don't believe they should be anything more than dumb pipes.


"Obamacare" - ACA

Facebook - Comcast

Not.. even similar


How about:

Obamacare:ACA

is

Xfinity:Comcast

or (for many)

Spectrum:Time Warner


That's a little misleading. On the Obamacare question, only 11% said they didn't know what that was or that they didn't know enough about it, whereas on the Affordable Care Act question, 30% said that.

If you normalize those results to people who claimed to know about it, there is a small difference, but it comes close to falling within the margin of error (3.4%).

  ~~~  Obamacare   ACA
  ++     15.9      14.2
  +       17       17.1
  =      14.7      15.7
  -      12.5      18.5
  --     39.7      34.2


I don't think that's misleading, I think that's almost exactly the GP's point. People don't just vote on the issues, usually they vote one abstraction higher on the brand and the rhetoric around it.


It'd be intriguing to see what people would think if you made them decide whether they agreed/disagreed with the language of the bill itself (or a summary—by, say, a supreme-court justice—of the implications of the bill), with no mention of the name of the bill.


Annecdotes from my life suggest there is no easier way to make someone angry with you.


The specific point where they get angry is when you do a sweeping reveal that, gasp, "it was [hated bill] after all!", though, right? The question doesn't have to come with a "punchline"; you can just poll people once for their opinions about named bills, and then again separately for their opinions about un-named bill contents, and correlate these, without ever revealing to the second group what bills the quoted language comes from.

Or do you mean to suggest that people get angry immediately when they realize they're being asked for their genuine opinion about something which might turn out to be something they're expected to toe a party line about? If so, that's a very interesting effect, possibly a chilling effect to any potential for genuine informal conversation about these bills.


In my limited experience, people get angry when they feel tricked, so the former of those two suggestions. I agree that you could not tell them and get some good info.


Or, for non-bipartisan legislation, of the party that sponsored it.


Almost no one votes on the issues.

Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government

https://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Realists-Elections-Responsi...

"...show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. They demonstrate that voters--even those who are well informed and politically engaged--mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents' control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly."

Those of us doing policy work using educate and persuade strategies need to adapt, up our game.


I think you're normalizing where you shouldn't. The commenter above said, "just coming right out an asking "Obamacare: repeal or keep?" with no preface.".

If that was the question asked, and we take the poll numbers as a proxy, then you end up with:

Obamacare:

29% - keep (very positive + somewhat positive)

46% - repeal (somewhat negative + very negative)

25% - unsure (neutral + don't know enough)

ACA:

22% - keep (very positive + somewhat positive)

37% - repeal (somewhat negative + very negative)

41% - unsure (neutral + don't know enough)

So in other words, even though the original poster was trying to say "cut the crap and just ask people", the difference by just changing Obamacare to ACA is a 7% swing in keep, and a 9% swing in repeal.

It's not like we normalize votes in the real world. We don't say "more people didn't know what that thing was, so we'll just fudge the numbers a bit". If people don't vote, then people don't vote. That's exactly why phrasing matters, and exactly why something like advice "asking Obamacare: repeal or keep" is so worrying.


I think what's misleading here is some people want to repeal the ACA for single-payer and some want to repeal it for a less regulated healthcare market. So having a high repeal value doesn't really tell you what people want instead and likely shouldn't be taken as support for repeal and replace with effectively nothing.


With apologies for the extremely unscientific anecdata, I've seen too many examples of individuals who profess to support the ACA while opposing Obamacare to believe that there isn't something here.


That's exactly the point being made.


A true testament to how much ill informed the American voter is


On top of that I think hardly anyone has a good idea of what net neutrality is or what specific actions would be affected.

Should an ISP be allowed to throttle or block data from a competing service?

Should an ISP be allowed to throttle or block data from a politically controversial site? From a suspected piracy site? From ip addresses involved in DOS attacks?

And then on top of that what is in the actual proposed legislation purporting to be supporting net neutrality? Even if politicians make an honest effort to do right (could happen....) how confident can we be that it will actually be for the better? My main point is we need to be vigilant in the details and not get caught up in a tribal fight over a label.


I'm not certain the details are problematic. If you rephrase the hypotheticals in the context of common carriers the detailed application is clear. So would a telco be allowed to block incoming calls from a competitor? [no] Would an airline refuse to ticket members of politically controversial groups? [no] How about from known hijackers? [yes]

Common carrier doctrine carries a lot of unfortunate historical baggage regarding regulation.

EDIT - added [answers]


> Instead, you should just ask: "Do you support Net Neutrality?" and nothing else!

If you aren't going to define the term, I would think it would be useful to ask the question but also add an extra checkbox, as follows:

1. Do you support Net Neutrality? [yes] [no]

2. Did you feel confident in your knowledge of what "Net Neutrality" means, when answering the above question? [yes] [no]

There's no option to answer #1 with anything other than "yes" or "no"—just like there wouldn't be when trying to decide what candidate to support and seeing it listed as part of their platform.

But it'd be great to know who really believes in a certain stance on an issue, and who's answering based on what even they're aware is uninformed speculation as to what "supporting" a given thing means.


#2 needs to be a knowledge test to be useful.


Which is a great way of determining the level of knowledge people have about a bill. Simply ask them if they support he soundbite position, then start asking them about the details. Particularly telling is if you start asking them to prioritize one thing over the other.

I think a few the obamacare surveys did this, but people were frequently too partisan to change their minds about it, even when presented with the fact that it wasn't going to kill all the babies, or OTOH, create cheap wonderful helthcare for all.


Eh, the classic version of this is a late 1960s experiment that asked people to sign a petition... which happened to be the Declaration of Independence. The overwhelming majority of Americans who started reading it didn't recognize it, and thought it was too radical.


I mean, that shouldn't really be a surprise. It would be a very bad sign if people today thought signing something like the declaration of independence (presumably independence from the USA, in this case) wasn't too radical. In theory, we should have a better relationship with our govt today than the colonists did with England back then. Although the way things are going, I wouldn't rule it out in the not too distant future, sadly.


That's fascinating. Do you have more information on that experiment? A few minutes searching did not turn up anything.


I wrote a term paper about the Students for a Democratic Society (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Students_for_a_Democratic_Soci...) in high school, and this is something I recall from it. I did a little googling and don't see a reference to it. Sorry.


Just found it!

After 36 Years, More Recognize Historic Documents, Survey Finds http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1987/After-36-Years-More-Recogn...

50 years ago, fear ruled Fourth: Reporter's petition measured effect of McCarthy http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/year...

Plain Talk: Would people sign ‘subversive’ petition today? http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/dave_zweifel/...


I don't even know if that works. If late-night comedy has taught me anything, it's that if you take an un(der)informed Obama or Trump supporter[1], attribute the [policy|activity|event] to the contra, and ask if they support it, they typically will not.

[1] Not suggesting that the average Obama or Trump supporter is uninformed or underinformed, but there are un(der)informed constituents to both.


Yes.

In the context of this poll, Q3 could've been asked first with no definition provided, and without a "back" button. Then, after the top-level question, you can start honing in on potentially-priming questions aimed at figuring out people's policy preferences and perceptions.


If you lead with the soundbite question, you end up distorting responses to all subsequent questions.

Designing meaningful/informative polls is very hard.


> Instead, you should just ask: "Do you support Net Neutrality?" and nothing else!

That might tell you who will favor a candidate who says "I support Net Neutrality" as a sound bite. It won't tell you if they mean the same thing that you have in mind. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If-by-whiskey .

"If by net neutrality you mean ..."


"Obamacare: repeal or keep?" with no preface

Among the problems with this is that many millions would respond as if the question were "Obama: like or dislike?"

It would boil "approval" down to namecraft: how well did the authors of the initiative accurately or deceptively name it? For the millions who know little to nothing about it, how effective is it from a trigger-word/dog-whistle perspective? What kind of group signaling is implied by the response options? (N.B. "Obamacare" is, of course, using what began as a derogatory term among the opposition to the plan).


I think it depends entirely on your goal. If you are trying to understand the political repercussions of something, then I agree the rhetoric is what is important. However I think that is one of the biggest problems with the current political climate. We are always focusing on the political aftermath of these decisions and not the decisions themselves. If the goal is to actually understand the views of the general population then the more details and the less buzzwords the better.

An "Obamacare: repeal or keep?" poll question might help some politicians stay in office, but why should I care about that? It is the "Do you think it is fair that people with preexisting conditions pay higher insurance premiums?" poll questions that would actually lead to a law that is a better representation of the beliefs of the American people.


> It is the "Do you think it is fair that people with preexisting conditions pay higher insurance premiums?" poll questions that would actually lead to a law that is a better representation of the beliefs of the American people.

Even this is incredibly leading. It presumes that:

* All preexisting conditions are equivalent, despite the fact that some are truly out of the person's control and others are the direct result of one's known actions

* A lack of fairness implies it should be corrected

* That correction should be done by legislation

* That legislation should be at the federal level

* The things that would need to be done as part of insuring people with preexisting conditions aren't relevant

The "belief" of the American people that "it's not fair" is pointless. It can only be resolved with policy, and if that policy is disliked, it's intellectually dishonest to hide behind individual portions of the bill being popular out of context.


I'm not going to quibble over the exact wording I chose for my off the cuff example, but I will concede I could have phrased it better.

>It can only be resolved with policy, and if that policy is disliked, it's intellectually dishonest to hide behind individual portions of the bill being popular out of context.

But that is exactly my point. It isn't the policy that is disliked, it is the name.

Many individual portions of the policy are liked. Those portions have to be paired with less favorable portions in order to create a functional law. Overall that collection of policies is generally liked. However if you throw the "Obamacare" label on it the popularity of the bill decreases compared to the same policies labeled as "The Affordable Care Act". The label is enough to cloud the the public's true feelings on the policy. Knowing the clouded opinions might help someone get elected but it isn't going to help them write a new healthcare bill that represents the will of the people.


> Many individual portions of the policy are liked. Those portions have to be paired with less favorable portions in order to create a functional law.

You're basically acknowledging is that a functional policy has to balance benefits against costs. But what you're proposing is inferring support for a policy (i.e. a particular point in the cost-benefit space) from a poll that just asks about the benefits. That's irrational.


It's not that many individual portions of the policy are liked. It's that individual presumed outcomes are liked.

The problem is that outcomes come bundled together, often in undesirable or unexpected ways.

Almost everyone in principle wants perfect fair outcomes for all. But reality requires tradeoffs (which many political actors don't realize, can't understand, or actively conceal). This complicates the whole business.


> But that is exactly my point. It isn't the policy that is disliked, it is the name.

It is the policy that is disliked. If you ask them how much they like higher premiums, they will tell you. You can't just ask about the positive goals and pretend that means they like it. The policy is the entire package, and it includes both.

> However if you throw the "Obamacare" label on it the popularity of the bill decreases compared to the same policies labeled as "The Affordable Care Act". The label is enough to cloud the the public's true feelings on the policy.

Obamacare is not a derogatory name. It's what it was called all throughout the debate and afterward by the news media and politicians. That some people react less negatively to a name that's less well-known and less widely-used doesn't justify what you're claiming.

> Knowing the clouded opinions might help someone get elected but it isn't going to help them write a new healthcare bill that represents the will of the people.

These aren't clouded opinions. They're reactions to actual liberal policy in action, and they're not positive.

We don't need more affirming of things we already know. What is needed is some retrospection on what happens when tens of thousands of pages of legislation is passed because people like a few bullet points of it when taken out of context.


> It is the policy that is disliked. If you ask them how much they like higher premiums, they will tell you. You can't just ask about the positive goals and pretend that means they like it. The policy is the entire package, and it includes both.

If that was true the reaction would be the same to Obamacare and ACA, which it isn't.


If it were called Obamacare and ACA in the news media and politics equally, then yes.

...but that wasn't the case. You can't just ask them questions about a less popular name and expect less-informed people to know it's the same thing.

Likewise, renaming it something else may even gain you even fewer unfavorables. Wow, they must really like the "Affordable Healthcare and America is the Best Act." Nevermind that it's the same as Obamacare--but that name does sound better and people aren't sure it's the same thing, so it'll poll better.

...or maybe if they're the same thing, it's most reasonable to just call it what it's called most often. That won't give you the answer you want, though.


> If it were called Obamacare and ACA in the news media and politics equally, then yes.

> ...but that wasn't the case. You can't just ask them questions about a less popular name and expect less-informed people to know it's the same thing.

But that was the point. "Less-informed people" aren't disliking something based on its content, which was what you originally claimed, but based on its branding and ads (attack or otherwise).

Yes, people don't want higher premiums, but they do want all the other stuff that comes with it. The results of similar polls will change dramatically once people experience what the effects of a repeal means.

Which is proof that they don't answer to polls about the policies in it, but its brand.


> Which is proof that they don't answer to polls about the policies in it, but its brand.

It's proof that you can confuse people by calling something one thing for a few years and then ask them about something else and telling them good things about it. Virtually any policy can be made more popular this way.


I guess we agree on the concept, but differ in assumption of whether ACA is unpopular due to smear or favorable in polls due to phrasing.

I'm convinced that (while it having many flaws) no one in the poorer 80% of the country would prefer the AHCA over the ACA if informed on both.

Which might seem obvious economically, but it's also clear that polling or voting doesn't turn out that way, which I take to mean that obfuscation through attack ads and aimed media is doing effective work.


"The "belief" of the American people that "it's not fair" is pointless. It can only be resolved with policy, and if that policy is disliked, it's intellectually dishonest to hide behind individual portions of the bill being popular out of context."

I disagree. I think it's intellectually dishonest to claim that a policy is unpopular when the provisions of it actually are popular. And I think it really is telling that so many people claim to dislike the ACA, yet really like the provisions of it.


"Nobody knew healthcare could be this complicated"


The basic problem is that people are not educated, sophisticated -- whatever term we choose, they don't possess enough of it to have any sort of nuanced understanding of an issue. Politicians simply noted that fact and use it to their advantage.

You ask, "Do you think it's fair that people with preexisting conditions pay higher insurance premiums?", and I'll just ask, "Do you think it's fair that people should be forced to pay for the health care of others?" As long as I can ask the question to get the answer I want, polling is worthless for driving policy.

What we'll end up with is the notion that Americans want free healthcare, free college, the best military, every veteran to have a $60k a year pension, and to save the planet, while they also want to pay no taxes and suffer no inconvenience to their daily lives. Good luck making that into policy.


I agree with you about what should matter most. I'm just not convinced that it does matter most.

> ...but why should I care about that?

"Elections have consequences" and all that.

> It is the "Do you think it is fair that people with preexisting conditions pay higher insurance premiums?" poll questions that would actually lead to a law that is a better representation of the beliefs of the American people.

Maybe. But if identity politics are important enough to take priority over policy opinions, then knowing what policies people prefer doesn't really tell you anything.

Which, I agree, is very unfortunate!


>"Elections have consequences" and all that.

Except they don't. The person who occupies the 3rd Congressional seat in Georgia has no impact on my life. I shouldn't care about it and the media should spend less time focusing on it. What matters are the actual actions of Congress. Asking about "Obamacare" is a question about politics. Asking about "preexisting conditions" is a question about what actions Congress should take.

>But if identity politics are important enough to take priority over policy opinions, then knowing what policies people prefer doesn't really tell you anything.

It isn't identity politics. It is marketing. If a particular policy is popular when it is described but unpopular by name, the only thing it means is that the message about that policy has not been properly communicated.


How's this for actionable polling?

"Do you support Congress passing a law mandating you to pay for other people's preexisting conditions?"


In a direct democracy, maybe this would matter, but we have a republic. Politicians aren't machines that would collate the beliefs of the American people and act accordingly if only they had the information. They are individuals with their own agendas and incentives. So, the only way to get a law passed is to prove that passing it will result in positive outcomes for enough politicians to get a passing vote, which unfortunately tends to boil down to how voters react to the sound bite version of the issue, because not enough voters to matter will actually be thinking about a fully informed (or even marginally informed) version of the issue when it comes to voting day.

So, yeah, while there are some uses for polls to find out what the beliefs of the American people actually are, they are mostly academic, not practical. National elections are popularity contests and tribal pissing contests more than anything. Or maybe I'm just in a cynical mood.


> If you truly want to gauge public opinion as it will matter in election years -- which is pretty much the only way it matters -- you shouldn't define net neutrality and you definitely shouldn't ask a sequence of potentially priming questions. Instead, you should just ask: "Do you support Net Neutrality?" and nothing else!

Well, "would you change your vote" or "would you stay home rather than vote for a candidate who disagrees with you" are even more meaningful questions, if you think they'll answer honestly.


> The problem with this sort of poll is that rhetoric, for a huge number of voters, has a much greater impact than facts about issues. Even and especially if they aren't aware this is the case.

It's not just an issue of rhetoric. It's that policymaking of this sort is an exercise in cost-benefit analysis, and that's very difficult to capture in a poll.

For example, when British Telecom was privatized in the 1980s, there was an economic analysis into how to craft the regulatory structure to balance consumer prices against investment incentives: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/people/emeritus/dmgn/files/palgrav... (pages 4-7); http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTFINANCIALSECTOR/Resour.... How do you craft a poll that intelligently asks voters to weigh in on these choices?

Imagine asking people: "should sewage/water rates be cut?" One can imagine a majority of people supporting the position. After all, who doesn't want lower prices? But of course that ignores the enormous cost of cheap water (both in terms of environmental impact, and depriving utilities or revenue needed for capital improvements and maintenance). Indeed, because water rates are generally set by public bodies beholden to voters, our water rates nationwide are far too low: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/15/business/economy/the-pric....


Phrasing matters. "Death taxes" vs "inheritance taxes".

I realized I don't know the origins of "net neutrality". Coined by Prof Tim Wu. It's pretty good marketing; nicely done Prof Wu!

Nor has Frank Luntz been paid to conjure it's evil twin. You can see the counter argument hasn't been weaponized yet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality#Unnecessary_reg...

Aside: Thiel and Levchin arguing the internet has thrived despite the government is hysterical.


> These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted May 24-25, 2017 on behalf of Mozilla. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,008 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English.

I wonder if the online polling affects the kind of people who are selected for the sample.

Would it make a difference if the people involved own their own computers, have their own broadband, or has to go to the library to access the internet?

What about people who don't use the internet?

Does age group or other socioeconomic factors matter in this? What about people who accesses the internet primarily from a mobile device?


It matters. Anything except a truly random sample of the population (essentially impossible) invalidates the statistical guarantees of polling. Consequently, polling involves a large number of processes to both get the most representative sample possible, then adjusts the results to reflect the biases they are aware of. This is something of an artistic process, and is one reason why pollsters have house effects/biases: they each do things slightly differently.

Having said that, the general feeling is that online polls are as reliable as offline polls nowadays after these adjustments have been made, partly because polling by telephone has a well-established set of biases associated with it too.


> Instead, you should just ask: "Do you support Net Neutrality?" and nothing else!

Even that phrasing would give biased results, since "Net Neutrality" has a positive and virtuous ring to it.

That's probably why the phrase "Net Neutrality" is preferred by its supporters, instead of something like "Government Mandated Internet Usage Restrictions". ;)


> That's probably why the phrase "Net Neutrality" is preferred by its supporters, instead of something like "Government Mandated Internet Usage Restrictions". ;)

Especially since that would be blatantly false. The entire thing revolves around enforcing that your internet usage ISN'T restricted. Which is why the phrasing is both positive AND accurate.


Net Neutrality is "positive AND accurate", sure. But for a useful survey the phrasing should be just accurate, and neither positive or negative, if you don't want bias.

The example of negative phrasing I provided is intentionally over the top, just to illustrate the point.


> Net Neutrality is "positive AND accurate", sure. But for a useful survey the phrasing should be just accurate, and neither positive or negative, if you don't want bias.

Is it bias if the accurate description naturally leans to one direction?

Isn't that like saying I'm biased if I describe Earth as an oblate spheroid instead of "roundish shape up to interpretation"?

I'm firmly opposed to the notion that you need to cater to both sides of an issue and meet in the middle, when the legitimacy of both sides are clearly assymetric.


> Is it bias if the accurate description naturally leans to one direction?

No, but you should be confident about that.

> I'm firmly opposed to the notion that you need to cater to both sides of an issue and meet in the middle, when the legitimacy of both sides are clearly assymetric.

Sure, if you feel it's clear.


>> If you truly want to gauge public opinion

That probably shouldn't be the goal of all polls. Some polls are supposed to predict the outcome of elections, but I'd like to see more polls that get at the root of why people support different things - so I'd like a poll that gauges people's motivation for a certain stance.


If anything the 2016 election has shown, it's that polls are often done to influence instead of to measure.


Rhetoric changes, though. Now that Obamacare is at risk of repeal, people are paying a lot more attention to the details of what it does. That's why GOP members, who thought they would be heroes back home for finally repealing it, are instead getting screamed at.


I oppose net neutrality regulation. In principle, I don't think there's anything wrong with an ISP prioritizing certain kinds of traffic over others, so long as it does not have an anti-competitive effect.

For example, I don't see how Netflix paying Comcast to zero-rate Netflix traffic is fundamentally different from Amazon contracting with mail carriers to subsidize the cost of shipping for Amazon purchases, or even -- to use an example another commenter made -- an appliance manufacturer contracting with electrical utilities to subsidize the cost of electricity used by their appliances. So long as Comcast makes its zero-rating program available to all content providers -- including their own -- on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, I don't think there are any competition issues.

I've heard people argue that zero-rating makes it harder for smaller content providers to compete, since they won't have the resources to subsidize their customers' traffic. As I said in another comment, that's just the nature of business. Being big affords you certain advantages, like economies of scale. This makes it easier to compete on price. Smaller companies have to compete in other ways.

In my view, the real problem with the telecom industry in the United States is a lack of competition [0], a problem caused at least in part by municipal [1] and state [2] governments. With more competition, net neutrality would be a non-issue. Consumers would just stop using ISPs that unfairly discriminate between traffic.

[0] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/410353/net-neutrality-...

[1] https://www.wired.com/2013/07/we-need-to-stop-focusing-on-ju...

[2] http://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadblock...


I think the Wired article misses the bigger picture. As you mentioned, the industry of providing network access is one with huge economies of scale. The result (if left unregulated) is always a monopoly or an oligopoly - with certain regions belonging to certain providers. Introducing a new competitor is very, very difficult in such a market, regardless of regulations and lowering prices for right of way. Google learned this the hard way - they have stopped their expansion back in 2016. As a government you can either heavily regulate such markets to make sure the consumers get a fair deal (which is what net neutrality is about) or you can turn it into a public service, ie. allow municipalities to provide internet access (what your third article alludes to).


> For example, I don't see how Netflix paying Comcast to zero-rate Netflix traffic is fundamentally different from Amazon contracting with mail carriers to subsidize the cost of shipping for Amazon purchases

Two things:

1) Net neutrality is about not slowing down transit of all other packages (that don't get paid extra for)

2) Your comparison is flawed. Comcast isn't the mail carrier, Comcast is the (only) road. If Amazon makes a deal with a CDN (if they didn't have their own) or any other middle-man service on the net, that isn't an issue, nor related to net neutrality at all.


(1) Sure. Pay more for mail and it goes faster. Amazon helps gets that increase in speed subsidized.

(2) Generally incorrect.


1) First off, the comparison like I said is flawed, but just to play ball: Other peoples mail doesn't get slowed by you paying for premium shipping.

2) Do you care to expand on that with reasoning or logic?


(1) They most certainly are slowed down. Mail services have limited bandwidth (e.g. Christmas), and higher priority package can and do displace low priority ones.

(2) Usually ISPs don't have a monopoly.


1) Which is either where the comparison gets accurate to bandwidth without net neutrality, or breaks as a comparison with net neutrality, because then it's FIFO regardless of which service/delivery network.

2) When you say usually, do you mean globally or in the US where we're discussing net neutrality? Because there most certainly usually is a local monopoly.


There most certainly is not.

100% of all developed US census blocks have at least two broadband providers.

https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-344499A1.p...


> There most certainly is not.

> 100% of all developed US census blocks have at least two broadband providers.

That's false going by your own source. Broadband requires 25Mbps/3Mbps [1] (even if I personally think even that's low), and 58% percent of developed census blocks lack choice there, of which 21% can't even get it.

The truth remains that if you want broadband, you're in a majority of cases locked to a local monopoly. This is what net neutrality fixes. Until local monopolies can be dealt with at least.

[1] https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progr...


Hm, looks like the definition of high speed internet changed in 2015. (Since we need all that bandwidth to download crap ads.)

In any case, most census districts with high-speed internet have multiple providers.


> In any case, most census districts with high-speed internet have multiple providers.

Nice cherry picking. So screw those other 37% that live under ISP monopolies?

Are you still denying that local monopolies is a real problem?


They should have updated the speeds considered "broadband" but by definition, you'll always have a portion of the population lagging behind any standard that's defined as "what 80% of the population had access to"


Avoided the question.


> to use an example another commenter made -- an appliance manufacturer contracting with electrical utilities to subsidize the cost of electricity used by their appliances

Is that something you are claiming currently occurs, or something you think should be allowed to occur? IANAL, but I do work in the energy/electricity sector, and that sounds illegal. Utility regulations tend to be fairly strict.


> I don't see how Netflix paying Comcast to zero-rate Netflix traffic is fundamentally different from Amazon contracting with mail carriers to subsidize the cost of shipping for Amazon purchases, or even -- to use an example another commenter made -- an appliance manufacturer contracting with electrical utilities to subsidize the cost of electricity used by their appliances.

Strawman argument because zero-rating != net neutrality.

Amazon does NOT pay for prioritization, they get volume discounts... meaning they pay less to get their package "into the pipe" but the pipeline treats all packages equally. That is what net neutrality looks like - all content is treated equally in the pipe. The relevant example would be if Newegg packages were put on the broken slow trucks, or shoved in a pile until all the Amazo npackages have been delivered. This is obviously unacceptable and does not happen.

I'd love to hear more about your appliance manufacturer example because that sounds very unusual. However, again, that's fair because there's no issue of prioritization. Every appliance gets equal access, and brownouts impact all appliances equally. Electric non-neutrality would be: Chromebooks don't charge during a power outage, but Apple laptops do because they paid the electricity company extra. Also obviously unacceptable.

> I don't think there's anything wrong with an ISP prioritizing certain kinds of traffic over others, so long as it does not have an anti-competitive effect. > I've heard people argue that zero-rating makes it harder for smaller content providers to compete, since they won't have the resources to subsidize their customers' traffic. As I said in another comment, that's just the nature of business.

A practice that makes it harder for smaller content providers is also known as an anti-competitive practice.

> As I said in another comment, that's just the nature of business. Being big affords you certain advantages, like economies of scale. This makes it easier to compete on price. Smaller companies have to compete in other ways.

True free markets don't have an entry fee, consumers are the only ones to decide who is competitive. For all it's imperfections, the internet is the freest market we have - any idea or product can enter the market, and every consumer has equal unrestricted access to the domain it's located at.

> In my view, the real problem with the telecom industry in the United States is a lack of competition [0], a problem caused at least in part by municipal [1] and state [2] governments. With more competition, net neutrality would be a non-issue.

This is definitely a contributing factor, net neutrality would be a suicidal proposal if we had competitive ISPs. That says something about the idea.

It's a nice hypothetical, but we must regulate based on reality, with the intent of creating freer markets.

And the reality is these FCC rollbacks are ment to further undermine competition. The big ISPs don't want to keep investing in network growth and competing on service, they want to auction access to a fixed-capacity network. Remember the good ol' days of Ma Bell and those lovely long-distance fees? I thought we killed the beast but Frankenstein's monster is back.


> they get volume discounts... meaning they pay less to get their package "into the pipe" but the pipeline treats all packages equally.

If Amazon paid the same price as everyone else to get their packages into the pipeline, they would send fewer of them, and more delivery resources would be available for everyone else, would there not? It's not just the speed of the trucks, but their size and who's available to load, unload and deliver.


> If Amazon paid the same price as everyone else to get their packages into the pipeline, they would send fewer of them, and more delivery resources would be available for everyone else, would there not? It's not just the speed of the trucks, but their size and who's available to load, unload and deliver.

They only send packages that people order. I'm not sure I see your point.

Roads can get congested with 100% Ford cars, but the road isn't discriminating against any other brand of car.


Amazon would either have to eat that cost or pass it on to their customers. There's only so much money, therefore fewer packages would be ordered from Amazon or they would be less profitable/competitive.

If the roads were congested with Fords because Fords got on the roads for 1/3 the price, then the outcome would be the same as if there was discrimination. Assuming the physical traits of the package are compatible, the pipe doesn't/can't discriminate. The operators do: government requirements, tolls, fares, delivery charges, etc.


> If the roads were congested with Fords because Fords got on the roads for 1/3 the price, then the outcome would be the same as if there was discrimination.

Of course. But there is no such brand.

Toll roads are actually a fairly good analogy for (non)net neutrality, since roads are also local monopolies.

If toll income goes back into building more roads, it's a win for consumers and businesses using the roads, but if it's for-profit or is diverted elsewhere (other state departments), then you don't want to develop more roads, because you'll force more people (and businesses) into using toll roads.

This is what local ISP monopolies want, and no consumer or other business wins. At best; Amazon in your analogy keeps status quo by paying a protection fee.

I'm fine with you arguing that net neutrality MIGHT be unnecessary if there were no ISP monopolies, but that isn't the reality, nor would it be easy to both keep enough ISPs on the market to weed out misuse, or as a consumer switch between these.

In the reality we live in now, net neutrality is VASTLY superior the alternative.


A for-profit toll road is only bad because it's a natural monopoly. Competitors can't (cost-effectively) stack (or tunnel) their roads.

Good thing that the subject of debate here is something very tiny and very light. Older wired technology requires right-of-way and permits. That scheme is effectively a natural monopoly, assuming there's only one provider. That doesn't necessarily mean the next time the ISP digs up their lines to replace them that competitors shouldn't be able to bury their wires at the same time as long as the cost was shared, even though the monopoly will fight like hell to prevent it, but local laws like that should be written in order to promote competition.

Newer wireless technology is much less cost/regulation prohibitive, and not much slower. This forces the incumbents to compete and provide a valuable service.

If local ISPs use their government-sanctioned monopoly to exhort consumers or the business who cater to them, let's crack down on that. That's a specific abuse that harms specific customers.

In the case where a local ISP wants to finance an expansion or upgrade of the network with prioritized service for select customers, while not degrading what existing customers are paying for, I don't see the harm in that, especially in competitive markets, in which case the only reason for the upgrade is because the market, not a group of bureaucrats, demands it.


> Good thing that the subject of debate here is something very tiny and very light. Older wired technology requires right-of-way and permits. That scheme is effectively a natural monopoly, assuming there's only one provider. That doesn't necessarily mean the next time the ISP digs up their lines to replace them that competitors shouldn't be able to bury their wires at the same time as long as the cost was shared, even though the monopoly will fight like hell to prevent it, but local laws like that should be written in order to promote competition.

Yes, local laws like that should be written differently, but they're not, because they're lobbied (by the local ISP) not to.

> Newer wireless technology is much less cost/regulation prohibitive, and not much slower. This forces the incumbents to compete and provide a valuable service.

One might hope, but I'm not holding my breath for wireless ever competing with wired internet, on speed in relation to (no) caps.

> If local ISPs use their government-sanctioned monopoly to exhort consumers or the business who cater to them, let's crack down on that. That's a specific abuse that harms specific customers.

Yes, we should, but again, this isn't the case.

> In the case where a local ISP wants to finance an expansion or upgrade of the network with prioritized service for select customers, while not degrading what existing customers are paying for, I don't see the harm in that, especially in competitive markets, in which case the only reason for the upgrade is because the market, not a group of bureaucrats, demands it.

Again, it's a well sounding hypothetical, the only problem being it's never happened, nor do I expect it to ever do, because it will either degrade existing customers through stagnation (not following bandwidth inflation) or purposefully to push as many as possible to more expensive service.

In a non-proven utopia, net neutrality is unnecessary, which I agreed with earlier, but again, we're not there, and we disagree about us ever getting there.


> If Amazon paid the same price as everyone else to get their packages into the pipeline, they would send fewer of them, and more delivery resources would be available for everyone else, would there not?

No. High volume allows the shipper to operate at a higher scale, with lower costs, and they pass along some of the savings in the form of a volume discount to Amazon.

I think you're missing the part about scale. Amazon is not taking away resources, their volume creates capacity and lowers prices.

Let's say UPS has 1 truck profitably serving a neighborhood route before Amazon comes along, delivering K packages per day operating at $N/day. The current businesses customers pay $M per package, that's the average delivery cost factoring for fluctuating actual delivery costs (operating costs are mostly fixed, a day with fewer deliveries is less profitable than many deliveries).

Now Amazon enters the scene and doubles the package volume. What happens? Assuming the first truck was well utilized, UPS will buy a second truck and split the route in half. Operating costs per house goes down because the routes are shorter, the distribution hub services more trucks, and maintenance operates at a higher scale.

Every previous business customer will pay $M or less - pick up costs are the same, but delivery from the UPS hub to the customer is lower due to volume. Amazon will pay even less because they get a volume discount from UPS; that discount reflects lower pickup costs for UPS, receiving a full truck load of packages from one Amazon distribution center costs less than picking up packages from multiple small businesses. Plus other factors like Amazon's ability to pre-sort within their warehouse on behalf of UPS.

At no point are small businesses competing with Amazon for delivery. The delivery company needs to grow, so they do grow, and as a result everyone from consumers to small businesses to massive corporations benefits.

The issue is that teleconglomerations do not want to grow. They have accrued tremendous organizational and technical debt which requires significant investment to overcome - generating large profits long-term, but only after a couple years of poor profits / shareholder dividends.

That's why we're seeing this "net neutrality issue". To be blunt, it's a fucking idiotic excuse for badly managed uncompetitive companies to sit on their laurels of regional monopolization. They're so short sighted that they can't fix their internal problems, and their size enables them to squash disruption, so their strategy is to use lobbying in order to slow down the growth of the internet (and our nation) to match their inefficiencies by charging both ends of the connection.

To tie it back to your example - this is like UPS not buying a new truck because they only have one parking space, then forcing Amazon and small businesses to bid for limited delivery capacity and charging customers based on where their package shipped from... all because their management takes 8 years to fund, design, approve, and construct a new parking space.

There is no excuse for this behavior. It's utterly absurd from any political/economic stance.


There's also no excuse for this red-herring. "At the 10Mbps/1Mbps threshold—which captures slower DSL technology in addition to cable and fiber—about 90 percent of census blocks have at least two providers."[1]

UPS only buys the new truck because they have to in order to stay in business, just like competitive ISPs adding value to their service. Amazon would have to pay for prioritization if UPS suddenly became the only game in town, if it wanted to maintain the same delivery speed and prioritization were available. I was just challenging your assertion about the original UPS-Amazon comparison and that it's only "fundamentally different" in the absence of competition, which is a problem, but not one affecting all Americans.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/08/us-br...


I think that this comment is basically right about the economics of the situation, but because it focuses on economics it misjudges the ideal role of the Internet in society by considering it (only) as an aggregate of capital, i.e. an economic tool. Economic tools in this case work for the benefit of individuals on an individual self-interested basis.

However, the Internet also acts as a medium for communication and socializing, which has benefits to society which cannot be explained by direct benefits to individuals from their self-interested exploitation of the medium. As an example, consider a case where a person reads a moral argument online and chooses to act less selfishly than they would have otherwise. This has a negative direct effect on the individual's actual life, but the outcome of many such events is a net positive for society. So too is it a social benefit if, for example, people in an economically undeveloped city learn about the effects of wood fires on air quality and switch to electric or gas cooking. And these are not services that any individual pays for.

As such it is important that the Internet is regulated to ensure, among various other goals, that as many people may be socially connected via the network as is possible. However, the ongoing centralization of the network has resulted in the perception among many people that online social activity is becoming increasingly confined to fora in which self-expression is either officially restricted or may cause the poster to be targeted for harassment. In reality, this is a result of the fact that some people just don't get along, and you've either got to keep them on lockdown or separate them, cynical as it sounds. As such, the claim that, for example, big companies having an advantage is "just how business works" must be evaluated in light of the effects it's having on our social environment (which we depend on). In practice, some groups of dissatisfied people (of varying political views but we all know who I'm really concerned about) have started to avoid the mainstream altogether, and because small companies are at a "just business" disadvantage, people unsatisfied with mainstream Western online media often turn to media sources owned by countries such as Russia or Qatar, or subsidized by billionaires with questionable motives, and so forth. It stands to reason that encouraging the network to grow in a way that supports "grassroots" alternatives to social media may limit the ability of unscrupulous actors with capital to influence politics.

It's always been my understanding that limiting group size reduces conflict and so if net neutrality gives smaller companies an "unfair" advantage and leads to lower economic growth, I think it would still be a good thing. But primarily, I want to emphasize that the Internet is not just a service provided to individuals.


Who, when asked, wouldn't support "Net Neutrality?"

It sounds like something everyone should be for.."hey, Net Neutrality hell yeah and we shouldn't club baby seals either!"

As always, its the policies that really matter...having a catchy must-be-for-it-for-virtue-signaling moniker hardly explains what going on in the back rooms where the legislation is being written.

It's like the "Affordable Care Act"...who doesn't want affordable-fucking-care?

We are all currently learning, however, that this "care" is hardly that and "affordable" is nowhere in sight.


> It's like the "Affordable Care Act"...who doesn't want affordable-fucking-care? We are all currently learning, however, that this "care" is hardly that and "affordable" is nowhere in sight

The polls show the opposite of what you're claiming, though. If they ask people whether they support ACA by name, the result is lower than when they ask whether they support specific provisions and programs that together add up to ACA.


Probably because "ACA" triggers the words "Obamacare" in most peoples minds, right?


Probably because ACA/Obamacare has been specifically targeted by political ads and in the media by name. So many people don't really know what it does, but they do know that it's bad for some reason or the other.


> Most Americans do not trust the U.S. government to protect access to the Internet

Net neutrality is regulated by the FCC, a government agency under Donald Trump. By this article's own admission people have very little faith in the government. There's an interesting sentiment on HN that more regulation is the correct response to distrusting the government but I'd imagine lessening executive power is the more common response.


Very true, but despite the distrust of the government, Americans tend to have even more distrust of Comcast


i wonder if it's something like people saying "I support net neutrality", but then will be attracted to a plan that promises "free spotify" or "free netflix".

that's probably irrelevant anyway. most people have principles but will act pragmatically.


> Who, when asked, wouldn't support "Net Neutrality?"

Me; not sure that counts though. Although, I support local loop unbundling, which has similar goals.


Local loop unbundling is a very much needed thing and I've been for since Bob Metcalfe used to push for it back in the 90's, but the name hardly virtue-signals like "Net Neutrality" does.

I don't really see how the two are at all similar though.


They're both attempts to prevent incumbent carriers from doing bad things. In Net Neutrality, you list the bad things and attempt to prohibit them. In local loop bundling, you make it possible for someone else to provide better service, so there's a competition incentive so the incumbents are less likely to do bad things.

Of course, it's trivial to circumvent either. In net neutrality, you can't deprioritize traffic to someone you don't like, but you can underbuy transit, and setup restrictive peering agreements that only your friends happen to be able to meet. In local loop unbundling, you can sell your retail products for significantly less than the wholesale price (like Pacific Bell did), and make it harder to move services when customers are on an unbundled loop, thus providing an economic and convenience incentive to go with the incumbent. Even still, in this poorly regulationed unbundled loop case, it's economically feasible to get better residential service; in a poorly enforced net neutrality world, you won't necessarily have any real options if you don't want to pay crazy money to connect to dark fiber.


>that this "care" is hardly that and "affordable" is nowhere in sight.

What do you mean by this?


Nothing really new here, much of what the government has been doing for at least the last 25 years is unpopular with not only a majority of people, but a majority of both democrats and republicans.

What is s surprising is that, in many ways, the last 4 presidents all ran on a "change" message and have been unsuccessful at changing many of the things that both sides agree needs changing.

Why is a deeper discussion, with plenty of blame, but the best way to summarize it, might just be to call it a bad marriage, where two people can no longer give the other side the benefit of the doubt in conversation, so everything being said sounds like personal attacks.


Many Americans don't understand how their government works -- you can't expect a president to be able to change things on their own. I agree with former Supreme Court Justice Souter's criticism here of civic education in this country: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWcVtWennr0. Schools and the media ought to focus less on the office of the president and more on the actual operation of the government, including the behavior of our representatives in Congress.


> you can't expect a president to be able to change things on their own.

But you should expect them to at least talk about the really important issues, and to use their media spotlight to put pressure on whoever is keeping these sort of bipartisan changes from happening. I don't see any recent American presidents doing that though.


> What is s surprising is that, in many ways, the last 4 presidents all ran on a "change" message and have been unsuccessful at changing many of the things that both sides agree needs changing.

Not really surprising: the President is the most powerful single individual in the US system, but the legislative branch as a whole is more powerful than the executive branch.


Running a change message campaign, and having the intent to behave as a maker of change are two different things. The simplest explanation is that these "change message" candidates were paying lip service to the electorate. It's not a charitable explanation, of course, but I'm not convinced being charitable ought to be a given when it comes to politicians' motives.

So in my view it's not surprising at all.


> The simplest explanation is that these "change message" candidates were paying lip service to the electorate. It's not a charitable explanation, of course, but I'm not convinced being charitable ought to be a given when it comes to politicians' motives.

They don't deserve the charitable interpretation. These are people that facilitate the sale of weapons to extremists all over the world. You shouldn't have to tip-toe and be polite about it, the recent American presidents are corrupt, murderous authoritarians whose primary function is to act as a talking head for the banks and the war industry.


I wonder what the results would be if it were phrased:

"Do you think the government should make it illegal for a cell phone company to allow it's customers to stream unlimited music and movies from Netflix and Spotify with no data charges?"

"Do you think the government should make it illegal for an Internet service company to willingly partner with a content provider to provide faster service for that content?"


Good point. When voters are introduced to net neutrality the phrasing of the definition isn't going to be as clear as "Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers providing consumer connection to the Internet should treat all data on the internet the same, not giving specific advantages or penalties in access by user, content, website, platform, or application." It seems more difficult to be against net neutrality when it's defined like this.

If people only get informed about the net neutrality issue from TV advertisements made by ISPs then the results will be a lot different.


I'm skeptical that most people have sufficient information upon which to make a decision. They just like the way it sounds.

Here's the definition they provided:

> “Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers providing consumer connection to the Internet should treat all data on the internet the same, not giving specific advantages or penalties in access by user, content, website, platform, or application.”

Doesn't this seem like it makes any sort of QOS prioritization impossible? What if an ISP wanted to prioritize all real time traffic (voip, videogames, streaming video)?


> What if an ISP wanted to prioritize all real time traffic (voip, videogames, streaming video)?

Then they should increase bandwidth in their backbone or reduce latency for everyone.

All that prioritizing real time traffic means is the ISP gets to judge what is important on the wire and what isn't, rather than the consumer. I don't want my ISP going anywhere near my packets.- or anyone, really - except for whoever I am sending them to. All they need to know is the destination address and the fastest way to get it there.

If there were competition in ISPs, you could reasonably argue that ISP's being given sovereignty over the traffic on their lines would be acceptable. But as long as Internet service in the US is the domain of very few regional monopolies, they have too much power over the consumer to be able to mess with such critical infrastructure for their own gain.


I mean sure, theoretically sounds good, in practice you would not want to give up the myriad QOS instruments that are already in place. They make your internet usage feel faster with very little downside.

Absolutely, the Net Neutrality rules need to be in place, but your parent commentor is right when he says it's not going to be a trivial thing to define.


What kind of QOS adjustments would be made impossible by assuming the above definition of net neutrality?

Genuinely curious.


Analyzing the traffic to optimize the service.

- With p=0.86 this UDP stream looks like a VoIP traffic and the least latency route would be over this peer.

- And this TCP connection is to the YouTube video servers. No matter what, it's better not route through this peer, because for only $deityName knows why but it doesn't work well and customers complain about random buffering.

- And that is BitTorrent traffic - better feed that info_hash and so the locally-running cache would prefetch the data. Okay, that's probably not possible in the US, lol, but this simple trick significatly lowered upstream utilization, making network perform better for everyone.

That's how it works in a "good ISP" scenario. There's a "bad ISP" scenario though. There, NN prevents those:

- This is Netflix traffic and customer'd better pay for our cable if they want 4K. Shape this down to 5Mbps. Not like that customer has any choice of ISPs in their area.

- That's VoIP and and user's better burn minutes on our telephony services. Add randomized 1-5% packet drop.

- That's BitTorrent and we know it's only for pirates. Block the traffic, no Debian ISOs for you buddy.

So, as far as I get it, NN is unnecessary or even harmful where there's a significant competition (like, no less than 4-5 different ISPs), and may be helpful in case of mono- and duopolies.


All of that is a terrible idea, as you still suddenly have idiosynratic behaviour of some traffic streams, with some VoIP protocols working on some providers, stuttering on others, what have you ... just an unreliable, undebuggable mess that makes innovation essentially impossible (because now you need to upgrade/reconfigure all ISPs' routers to introduce a new VoIP protocol, say ... which in practice means that you can't).

If you want to do QoS, you have to do it using a standardized mechanism (such as the qos header in IP) and let the customer control which data streams they want prioritized.


Maybe it is, would we've lived in a world of standards being developed, implemented and followed and users having good understanding about their computer systems and networking concepts.

Have you ever saw HLS or DASH HTTPS traffic tagged distinctively from bulk .iso downloads, and all that being distinct from page loads? Does your VoIP client uses DSCP field? Which level does it set? What ISP is to make if some "smart" client marks all their traffic as "critical"? And more importantly - how that's supposed to even work across multiple ASes?

Heuristics is the only way it can be made work in the real world scenarios.

That, or "sorry, we understand that your MMORPG lags terribly since the last week but we can't even try to help you" ISP support replies.


That definition disallows QoS based on the ISP knowing-what's-best-for-you

I don't think it would preclude an ISP offering "we'll treat your packets either as high-bandwidth high-latency, or low-bandwidth low-latency, based on tags you set". Which, I think, is preferable anyway, because the user probably has a much better idea of whether they want a little bit of data, reliably fast (voip, video games), or a lot of data, whenever it arrives (netflix, downloads, etc.). If the ISP is trying to guess, based on destination IP, port, or packet inspection, they'll often get it wrong. Especially if the destination IP is a VPN, the port is non-standard, or the packet is encrypted.

I also don't think it precludes an ISP offering better throughput or latency to a directly-connected customer who pays more.


One of the reasons I don't fully support it is I don't think we've actually seen the problem it's supposed to fix happen enough, that I'm a little more concerned about what happens if video streaming and similar traffic starts saturating more of the links. In that scenario I would like the ability (even if I had to pay for some of the less necessary privileges) for my work, communications, or perhaps more time-sensitive issues to take priority over lower-value entertainment, etc.


But that's completely besides the point. Nothing regarding net neutrality should prevent your ISP from prioritizing specific traffic on your link if you wish that they do so. And there should not even be a problem with charging you for the additional service.

The only thing they can not do is to prioritize your aggregate traffic over a different customer's aggregate traffic on their backbone, or to force prioritization on your link, or to charge differently for different traffic on your link, every bit transmitted has the same price.

If you think that being able to buy prioritization on the backbone would be a good idea, think again: If they sell you a gigabit pipe, and they sell your neighbour a gigabit pipe ... how could the solution to possible saturation of the aggregate uplink be anything but that they need to increase the uplink capacity in order to fulfill their contracts? It's obviously unacceptable to charge you more in order to reduce the quality of the service of your neighbour even more, isn't it? Or to let you decide that your work is more important than their entertainment? Either they have to invest in their infrastructure so they can actually deliver the service that they sold you, or they have to cancel the contracts/decrease the bandwidth of the links (and charge less accordingly).


No that's exactly how every popular attempt at explaining net neutrality I've seen explains it: net neutrality prevents your ISP from making one service artificially appear slower than another. If I pay Comcast for a certain speed I already expect that speed. I've never seen anyone discuss net neutrality the way you're describing it. I would consider your definition just part of tort law.


Well, then you are misinformed? Yes, net neutrality prevents your ISP from making one service artificially appear slower than another ... but "artificially" simply means "based on their own interests". They are not allowed to consider what traffic they prefer when prioritizing packets or when setting prices, that's it. Just as the postal service cannot refuse to deliver letters from a specific sender, say, but that doesn't mean they aren't allowed to reject letters to you on your explicit request.


So I'm reading through FCC 15-24 A-16, and I don't see language that supports what you're saying. Their definition of throttling is effectively banning any kind of prioritization. The fact that blocking P2P file sharing is the biggest of the few examples of violating this principle that seem to be out there is not doing much to assuage my concern about deprioritizing traffic that has a tendency to hog resources.

P.S. I've also confirmed that my contract with my ISP is loaded with caveats about things that may limit my uplink speed, and it sounds to me like my whole neighborhood going to town on P2P file sharing can interfere with that and I can't hold them to it.


Now, are we talking about deprioritizing traffic on the backbone or on a specific customer's link?


Anywhere. I doubt the backbone is going to get saturated, and we can ignore what happens on my specific link because that's my business (although given how someone can get fined for not being licensed to do a certain job even if I explicitly accept the risks of them not being licensed, I'm not hopeful Net Neutrality will never get used to prevent ISPs from offering me more individualized service). But let's say the links from my local infrastructure to larger backbones is getting saturated by everyone in my town using P2P software (most likely for illegal purposes). I'd like my VoIP system to keep functioning reasonably well. And it seems like the P2P users are propped up as the victims in this discussion. All-traffic created equally sounds great, but all traffic is not equal. And I don't like the idea of my ISP making that call, and I don't have a lot of options of ISP, but I don't feel like the government saying the ISP is never allowed to make that call is really solving any of my problems, and I'm not convinced it's not going to cause other issues. I kinda support it but I just can't see why everyone is so solid about it when there are tons of other caveats in the situation not addressed by the FCC.

Will likely be going to bed before HN lets me reply again...


But that's completely backwards, isn't it?

The ISP decided to make a contract with you that they would provide you with an n Mb/s pipe. And they made a contract with your neighbour to provide you with an m Mb/s pipe. How would it be even remotely reasonable to then give the ISP the option to not fulfill their contract with your neighbour in order to fullfill an additional contract with you that would allow you to make a reliable phone call? Or even if you don't pay extra for the privilege: Why is the fact that you think your phone call is more important than your neighbour's bittorrent in any way a sensible reason for the ISP to then throttle your neighbour? If the neighbour thinks their torrent is more important, shouldn't they rather throttle your phone call? Why do you get to make the decision whose traffic is more important?

When a link is saturated, bandwidth simply should be allocated equally to all customers (or rather, proportionally to their respective link capacity, I guess), don't you think? Why should it matter that you are trying to make a phone call? If the equally divided bandwidth is sufficient to make a phone call, you can make a phone call, if it's not, well, that's not a reason to tell your neighbour that they can't do what they would prefer to do, is it?

But much more importantly, shouldn't it be the responsibility of the ISP to build a network that doesn't normally get saturated? After all, they are selling both you and your neigbour a specific link capacity, so how aren't they responsible for actually providing the bandwidth that they sold you? How is it even remotely reasonable to suggest that they should be allowed to not fulfill one contract in order to fulfill another (while also still charging both of you)?

The whole concept of other customers "hogging resources" is just bullshit IMO. When I order ten books and you order one book from Amazon ... am I "hogging recources"? Should amazon simply just send me only nine books, charge me for all ten, and then send the tenth book to you, and charge you for it as well? People aren't hogging anything, they are simply using a service that the ISP volunarily agreed to provide, and that they are paying for, and it's the ISP's fricking job to make sure that them using what they paid for does not prevent you from using what you paid for, nor the other way around. If your neighbour is ordering tons of stuff from the internet, are they "hogging UPS"? Is that a reason for UPS to throw away some of their packages that they deem unimportant to free some capacity to deliver yours instead? Or isn't it rather UPS's frickin job to deliver all packages that they made contracts to deliver?

All in all, I don't see how any of that justifies prioritizing based on packet contents.

(BTW, consider one other area that is well-known for overbooking: Airlines. Do they just leave you stranded at the airport if too many people actually turn up for the flight, and still get to keep the money ... or isn't it rather completely their own risk, and they have to pay for your hotel stay, and move you to your destination ASAP, and potentially also pay compensation for your lost time? How is it that actually turning up for a flight that you paid for is not considered "hogging the airline"?)


Interesting use of overbooked flights as an example. If I book a flight I better get my seat. And if I don't get it because the airline over-provisioned, I don't really care about statistically even chances of getting kicked off the airline, especially when the Doctor ends up on YouTube getting his face bashed in while screaming, getting dragged off the flight because he wasn't an obedient little citizen. My bigger concern is why they're still overbooking seats. STOP OVERBOOKING SEATS. Oh there's a federal minimum reimbursement? That's great. But what if it's not enough for the inconvenience? The government just gave the airline permission to pay me that little and the right to then tell me to fuck off. And if I don't, armed government agents enforce the airline's screw up.

>> The ISP decided to make a contract with you that they would provide you with an n Mb/s pipe.

No, they made a contract with me that they would, on average provide me with an n Mb/s pipe and 6 pages of reasons why it's not their fault if at any point in time that doesn't happen.

>> But much more importantly, shouldn't it be the responsibility of the ISP to build a network that doesn't normally get saturated?

Oh I agree - that's way more important. I'd love it if they could make strong guarantees in that regard. And THAT is a problem I'd like to see the FCC spend more time on than net neutrality. But it's not trivial because it's not just "giving me a pipe". It's giving my a pipe only some of the way and interacting with other pipes (and with the FCC's net neutrality rules, what appears to me to be a poor definition of what a "lawful" destination for the pipe is). Compared to that problem, I just don't see why net neutrality is being treated as the final battlefield for a free and open Internet by everybody. If it came with provisions that guarantee lines aren't oversubscribed and cleared up the wording on lawful destinations, I'd be a lot more for it.


Well, I certainly did not mean to say that overbooking was necessarily a good idea, but rather point out that at the very least it is seen as the airline's fault and thus responsibility.

However, I wouldn't dismiss overbooking outright: Overbooking gives you better utilization of resources, and thus has the potential to reduce prices/improve service at a given price point, if there is competition/a functional market. I don't know how big the effect is in the case of flights, but it's certainly considerable in the case of IP connectivity: Having a gigabit link available certainly is useful for large downloads, even if your average bandwidth use is far below that, but actually reserving a gigabit for everyone on the backbone and backhaul lines would be pretty expensive, so it's actually a good idea to overbook links to give you that advantage at a much lower price point.

I think the problem there is more one of transparency and lack of guarantees of mimimum bandwidth. In the case of flights as in the case of IP connectivity, you should have the option to buy "non-overbooked", at whatever the price for that is, and if you buy overbooked, it should be clearly specified what the statistical properties and minimum bandwidth is, so you can actually know in advance that there will always be enough bandwidth for your phone call, if that is what you need. While most people don't really need gigabit 24/7, it is actually important to know whether you get minimum 100 Mbit/s with gigabit available 95% of the time, or minimum 32 kbit/s with gigabit available 1% of the time.

> No, they made a contract with me that they would, on average provide me with an n Mb/s pipe and 6 pages of reasons why it's not their fault if at any point in time that doesn't happen.

Well, yeah, that certainly should be regulated. A market cannot work if, when agreeing to a contract, you can't actually know what you'll be getting.

> It's giving my a pipe only some of the way and interacting with other pipes (and with the FCC's net neutrality rules, what appears to me to be a poor definition of what a "lawful" destination for the pipe is). Compared to that problem, I just don't see why net neutrality is being treated as the final battlefield for a free and open Internet by everybody.

I think all of that pretty much boils down to net neutrality when you think about it.

As explained above, I don't think forbidding oversubscription would actually be a good idea, at least not in the strict sense of requiring fixed reserved bandwidth. As long as it is clear what guaranteed properties the link has, that should be perfectly fine. And I guess you shouldn't be allowed to advertise with some essentially made-up maximum bandwidth, but rather only with values that actually sensibly reflect the actual service that you would get.

But apart from that, the problem is that you probably don't want to have the actual prices regulated if you can avoid it, and you also don't want to regulate what bandwidths ISPs have to provide for the most part, at least as long as there is some competition, because you kindof need the market to discover the products that people actually need and what they are worth.

But especially the problem of defining what a "lawful destination of a pipe" is really is probably best suited for leaving that to the market, and that kindof is what net neutrality is all about. Net neutrality essentially just ensures there actually is a market. There really is no need to specify any particular location or distances or whatever as to where the ISP has to guarantee bandwidth, if you instead specify that the ISP can essentially specify the other end of the pipe arbitrarily, as long as other parties can connect to that other end without buying anything from the ISP. So, they could just define that the "other end" is at their local CO ... but they'd have to allow anyone who wants to to bury a fiber to their CO and to plug it into their router to do so, possibly charging their own costs of doing so, but nothing more.

It's just really not sensible to regulate in detail the bandwidth from any specific point on the internet, and it's also pretty pointless, if you can make sure there are markets everywhere that ensure that monopolistic price gouging doesn't happen, and that customers are informed enough about products to actually make informed choices.


As I understand you can do QoS based on service type but not for a specific entity. You can prioritize all VoIP to get consistent latency but not prioritize Skype over other providers, for example.

If your pipes are not full QoS doesn't do anything anyway, so it is better to just have enough bandwidth that you don't need QoS.


I've noticed a, seemingly disingenuous, pattern of naming things within the USA approximately opposite of the effect of the bill. Affordable healthcare makes it more expensive, Net neutrality is about allowing ISPs to censor and filter etc.

Why is the above the case?


Who has claimed that net neutrality is about allowing ISPs to censor and filter?

Regarding the ACA, affordable and expensive aren't necessarily opposites. You could make something more expensive (but still affordable) for those who are well off, but more affordable for those who are poor, and claim a net increase in "affordableness". Anyway, the PATRIOT act seem like a slightly better example of a disingenuous name for a bill IMO.


Our problem is that Net Neutrality just isn't a big enough issue. Even if almost 100% of the people support it, not enough of them will change their vote on its account.

American democracy is broken because we're always only given two choices. You're never allowed to vote for someone who is going to represent everything you believe in.

Things could be different. If we had a system in which you could vote for whomever you want (regardless of where they're from) and that person had voting power in the legislature that was proportional to the share of votes they got, then the laws we would get would actually reflect the will of the people.


> If we had a system in which you could vote for whomever you want (regardless of where they're from) and that person had voting power in the legislature that was proportional to the share of votes they got, then the laws we would get would actually reflect the will of the people.

More simply (and easier to manage) we could just have multimember districts with a proportional, candidate-centered, ranked-preference voting system like STV.

(Your version has all kinds of challenges, like how you manage a legislature of reasonable size while maintaining the general structure, and is more radical than is necessary for major improvements in representation.)


That seems problematic. The person whose views most closely match my own is me. If I can vote for literally anyone and it works out the same, then I'd vote for me, presumably everyone else would vote for themselves, and you'd have a weird version of direct democracy.


I don't think it's problematic. The duopoly system forces a large number of voters into "lesser evil" stances, or at least forces them to narrowly focus on their one pet issue and vote for candidates based only on that issue.

a system with more choices has more opportunities to find candidates that you agree with on multiple dimensions of policy, as well as hopefully finding more candidates that you can respect as human beings.

the post you're responding to is proposing a kind of non-geographically constrained proportionally allocated representational democracy. so, instead of voting for just one of the 2 candidates in your congressional district (which is likely gerrymandered anyway) you can vote for anyone in the country and that person's voting power in congress is proportional to their popular vote count. that's not dissimilar to a lot of corporate governance systems (voting shares of common stock widely distributed).


I'm not sure how this addresses my objection. Sure, more choices means more opportunities to find candidates who match me perfectly. And if you allow literally anyone then that candidate is me. So you might as well not elect candidates at all, just give every citizen a vote in the legislature instead.


the way it addresses your objection is that the congressional voting power is proportional to popular vote received.

unstated in the OP, but my supposition (reasonable, I hope), is that there will still be a limited number of congressional seats so that candidates below a certain popular vote threshold will have 0 representational power. in that case it is still in the best interests of voters to vote for someone who is likely to clear the threshold and not throw their vote away by voting for a perfect ideological match (i.e. themselves).

this seems fairly elegant to me except that it might lead to a neglect of the provincial concerns of low population density areas (which was a major concern of the founders), but on the plus side, those rural voters can at least find an ideological match even if they don't find someone to represent their geographic interests.


If there was some minimum threshold, then yes, my objection goes away. But that wasn't stated.


I think there are plenty of possible variations. I've been thinking that representatives above a certain threshold actually get seats in the legislature and committee positions, etc. But any one person would have the freedom to vote on every piece of legislation (if technically possible) if they wanted.

In all likelihood, a few people would get most of the votes, because they're competing for attention from a national audience. Therefore, it is possible that local issues get marginalized, so I think it would be necessary to give people multiple votes. That way they can split their vote and choose both national candidates and local candidates.

We can debate all these details when we get to the constitutional convention.


I don't know much about statistics, but is the sample size of 1000 people surveyed here significant enough to be drawing conclusions from? It feels small to me, would anyone with a stronger background in this area care to comment?


1000 is enough for this case.

Depends on how "accurate" you want to measure a ratio. Here the ratio is the percentage of Americans that support net neutrality.

In this case, sample size is 1000, estimated ratio is 76%, the 95% confidence interval is 76% +/- 2.65%, which means if you repeat this survey again, you have a 95% chance that new estimated ratio is within 76% +/- 2.65%.

Edit: 99% confidence interval is 76% +/- 3.48%


Well, it depends on where the 1000 people are drawn from as well. Your assumptions only hold if for both the original survey and the repeat, the pool of people being surveyed are an accurate sample of all of the United States.


Good point. On the other hand, the confidence interval I provided is correct as long as the original survey and the repeat are sampled in the same way (regardless whether it is un-biased sampling or not)


I am from India and I am closely aware of the wave that started with comedy groups in youtube of youtube and ended up defeating facebook's internet.org. I am little ambivalent about internet.org, but ended up converting 2 people to support internet.org. The common complaint here is this will make unpaid sites slow. This is partially borrowed by netflix event. They use "net neutrality" term, which most of the people have no idea what it means, and they get their entire idea from watching videos which shows faster and slower pipe. On asking them, for whom internet.org specifically is bad, they just don't have anything to say. I have to make them understand that this fight is not about a thing that will make their internet slow. The whole point of a million mails sent is not great care for the internet, but a feel good protest. They would have a much greater effect if they protested for better speeds for local websites, which kind of sucks more in India than one would expect. People are not very sad for seconds of delay, but are more concerned that some company will use faster lane to reduce delay by 10ms-20ms, which is of no use for company in a country which can tolerate very slow sites.

Anyways, my point here is this term sound more of a fundamental characteristic of internet that we are loosing, than it is. The commonly envisioned future that we have to pay by services is not happening. Until that, we have far more important thing to protest against. I personally think better privacy and less data processing by machines is what we should protest for more often.


I support it, but only partially and with caveats.

If we are going to regulate service providers then why not limit what content providers can do as well? Why should they get a completely free ride?

Here is that NN results in. Permanent protection from competition for internet providers as long as they agree to not be too profitable. In return for having their rates called into question and rate increases reviewed they are protected from having anyone being able to undercut them because those same would be subject to the same rates and rules.

Which means, what you got now is what you will have for a long time. NN does not guarantee, in fact it slows, the chance for higher speeds because there won't be competition to deliver such to you.

So those are my caveats. I would like to see additional pricing for content providers limited but not at the point they can free ride the net. We are just adding dollars to the content people's wallets and for what? So we can feel good about sticking it to Comcast (which I don't use).

This didn't work for railroads or long distance, it took us a century for the former and nearly half for the latter to fix


Hu? How does NN limit rates, or competition, and how do content providers "free ride the net"?!?


I think similar surveys like cheaper healthcare, healthier food, lesser college tuitions, better salaries and lower rents will also get similar support from both parties. Everyone like good stuff for them and bad effects can be pushed to other people/state/country and so on.


Politicians don't care what their constituents want. Americans overwhelmingly support basic gun-control laws, access to legal abortion, single-payer healthcare, and lots of other issues. Politicians only care about what their lobbyists and financial donors tell them to care about. That's the sad truth. We created this perverse system, so we can reform it when we choose. The only way to reverse this is to make elections publicly funded and reform campaign finance.


It's about the manufactured perception and not the material reality.

Who manufactures this perception? Anyone who knows how to tell a good story...


Yeah, we want these government sponsored & subsidized monopolies to stay the hell out of our packets.

Ajit Pai knows this, he just doesn't care.


The results are contradictory and highlight technical illiteracy of the respondents.

Another conclusion: Americans trust ISPs to protect access to the internet more than they do any branch of government.

These issues are complicated and susceptible to populist whims. It's a good thing America is not a direct democracy.


In America, only two political parties?


(I'm not sure if your comment was genuinely asking about the number of political parties in the U.S., or sarcastically remarking on the fact that there's only effectively two parties)

While there are technically more than two political parties, the vast majority of Americans support one of the two major parties - the GOP (a.k.a. Republicans), and the Democrats. Between them, these parties more-or-less represent most of the range of political discussion and ideology in the U.S. The next-largest party is generally considered to be the Libertarians.

Thus, while the statement "Americans from both political parties" may contain a technical inaccuracy, as there are technically more than two parties, it's a useful shorthand for "Typical Americans, regardless of political affiliation"

As for why there's only two major political parties in the U.S., it's likely the result of most elections being simple plurality (a.k.a. first-past-the-post). This heavily encourages potential candidates to compromise and coalesce until there's only two candidates, to avoid the spoiler effect.


And just to show how disconnected our government is, the Democrats barely support it, and the Republicans outright do not support it.

Ridiculous. But hey, continue not voting for a third party. That will sure fix things.


I love the "throwing your vote away" argument. Sorry guys, by voting for the big two, YOU are the one throwing it away. Third party support growth is a great indicator of the public's desire for real change. So what if you lose? You're voting to express your opinion, not to win.


> So what if you lose? You're voting to express your opinion, not to win.

If I want to "express my opinion", I'll write an essay. Voting—which is by secret ballot—is poor for expressing opinions. It's to participate in choice of political leadership or (in the case of initiatives and referenda) concrete policy.

In that light, winning—that is, getting the best outcome attainable in terms of leader or policy chosen—is more important than expressing opinion.

Now, ideally, the electoral system would aggregate opinions well such that there would be nomdofferenve between optimizing for outcome and optimizing for accurate expression of opinion. But you go into the ballot box with the voting system you have, not the voting system you wish you had.


That's trying to influence people, not express an opinion on policy or candidates up for consideration. Winning isn't as important is being right, in my opinion.


I vote because of the practical consequences it has. Voting for a candidate who can win can have practical consequences. Voting for someone with no chance of winning has no practical consequences.

Voting to express your opinion is ridiculous. Expressing your opinion by voting has as much effect as expressing your opinion by shouting at a cloud.

If you want viable third parties you have to change the system. The way it's designed now, viable third parties are impossible. Doesn't matter how much you vote for them. If by some chance you manage to make a third party into a viable national force, they will just displace one of the current major parties and you'll be back to a two-party system with slightly different labels.


You said impossible. I don't even need to come up with something clever here.


In MA, we are pushing for instant runoff and Democrats just added it to the state platform. Stop complaining and help make it happen around America! Then other political parties will be viable.


That sounds more complicated...


It has the virtue of actually working. The mathematics of first past the post means the spoiler critique is literally true even as it undermines Democratic ideals. This tension can only be resolved by structural change.


> You're voting to express your opinion, not to win.

No, that's not why most people vote. And to be clear, I have nothing against anyone voting to express their opinion (vote is speech, after all), but most people actually use their vote to make their next few years as least shit as possible.

That often means voting for someone you disagree with, because they're more likely to win. (This is, by the way, one of the reasons that Emmanuel Macron managed to finish first in the first french election round).


You can choose to play politics, but nothing says you have to. I think we've done it too much already. If you have to sacrifice most of what you care about to win, you lose yourself, and that is heart breaking.


> So what if you lose? You're voting to express your opinion, not to win.

It sounds like you don't actually have much at stake here. If you're poor, or queer, or Muslim, and you're choosing between a high-minded protest vote vs. keeping out the guy who will spend the next four years trying to destroy your family's safety, you sure as hell are voting to win.


A poll showing huge support for a candidate from the poor queer Muslims would be a hell of a thing, wouldn't it?

I grew up poor. I am queer. Winning isn't everything. Sometimes enough people need to care for things to change, and sacrificing what you care about to win will NEVER get you there.


It's funny to me that obviously the "First-past-the-post" voting system is reason for so much problems in the US, from amplified corporate influence to a president who has very little support with the public. Why don't you - yes you who is reading this right now - start a long term grassroots campaign with the goal to move to a better system within 20 years. This would be the most important thing that you would have ever done, and it would make America better, and it would make the world better.


Our (hopefully benevolent) AI overlords will be in control well before the US changes away from first-past-the-post, at least on the whole. The US is too geographically and culturally distinct (for good reasons, not just blue/red states) to implement proportional representation in a way that doesn't piss off everyone.

I had written some more explaining why, but the simple fact that you'd need to convince roughly half of US states to vote to give themselves less power means this would never happen. We can't even get reforming the Electoral College through enough blue states, and the President is supposed to represent all states.


> The US is too geographically and culturally distinct (for good reasons, not just blue/red states) to implement proportional representation in a way that doesn't piss off everyone.

Candidate centered more proportional systems with multimember districts (e.g., STV) could be implemented without substantially changing the state based structure or apportionment of legislative power (if you go with fixed five-member districts for the House, you'd need to increase the quantum of apportionment to 5 seats, which would somewhat shift power unless you quintupled the number of seats.)

This would leave the regional distortions in place, but address the limited-time problems of duopoly.


In the current system, it sure seems like all those third party votes do is make sure that whichever mainstream candidate you consider the greater evil is that much more likely to win, since presumably you're voting for a third party rather than who you perceive to be the lesser evil.

To the degree that the US government really is disconnected from the people it represents (which I hope it is, because the alternative is much more hopeless), the solutions are getting money out of politics as much as possible, and adopting systems of voting which make it easier for third parties to be successful (or at least, constructively influential).


Re: Money-in-politics: I used to consider myself a Lessig-style single issue voter, but now everything is on fire and during the next 4 years there's a good chance I'll just vote for anyone holding a bucket of water.

Once things are back to being normal-broken (instead of meta-broken), I'll get back on the wagon.


The problem is that normal-broken is going to be more broken than it was in 2016 pre-Trump, which was more broken than in 2000 pre-Bush, which was more broken than in 1992 pre-Clinton, which was more broken... etc.

I only don't mention Obama because, despite his mass expansion of drone warfare, erosion of civil liberties, total corruption in the face of wall street destroying the economy (and in response to Occupy), flawed healthcare law, military interventionism, and botched promises (nice job closing gitmo) Bush was so bad that it basically just maintained a status quo badness throughout his administration by shifting the bad from the absurdly bad (extreme torture, geneva violations, letting entire cities sink) to just normally bad (including letting a city parch itself on toxic lead water, which is still happening by the way).

It is also valuable to consider that the more broken it gets, the harder it is to correct. The more power the oligarchs have, the more rules put in place to prevent protest and revolution. Gerrymandering has (on average) only gotten worse. The longer you wait to realign reality against neoliberalism the more traumatizing the correction is (and the more people that suffer and die under the regime, either from lack of healthcare access to being blown up by tomahawks).


Yes, President Obama did not close Gitmo despite promising to do so. He also did not send anyone to Gitmo. It went from 220 when he was sworn in down to 41 when he left office, down more than 80%. Congress also did not close Gitmo. In fact they voted to deny any funds for closing it.


That's a good description for how things feel right now (meta-broken). I'm past agreeing or disagreeing with whoever's in charge- right now it feels like no one is in charge, or if someone is in charge, I don't know who it is.

This doesn't feel like different teams playing a game, so much as it seems like failures in the social fabric that allows the games to happen in the first place. This isn't a music festival with shitty bands. This is the Fyre festival and you're just wondering where to sleep and how to get home; it's already a given that there will be no bands.


Barely support it? Hillary ran on it and Obama's pick lead to reclassification.


For starters, the title should be "Americans from the two major parties...".


I recall the GOP publishing their support for Net Neutrality in a previous election cycle platform and then abruptly changing it within a week to the opposite.

Google is failing me in finding that original platform.


No one is going to lose an election for not supporting net-neutrality.


Right, but they could lose a lot of campaign funding.


They obviously would. It gives them more control over the internet.


Satisfied my intellectual curiosity for the day ...


I'm surprised that only one person here has mentioned campaign finance as the true issue here -- and they were downvoted.

As horsecaptin noted on this thread, "No one is going to lose an election for not supporting net-neutrality."

They do stand to lose serious campaign funding, however. Congressmen and Senators spend a majority of their time raising funds for their campaigns. If it weren't so important to them, they wouldn't. House representatives -- incumbents, no less -- need to raise about $20,000 a week to hold onto their positions, and Senators about $10,000.

In 2014, the top four cable providers spent twice as much on campaign "donations" than the top five pharmaceutical companies. I'm not sure about 2016 but imagine it was similar.

--- Some links

How Much Money Big Cable Gave the Politicians Who Oversee the Internet [2014]

http://gizmodo.com/how-much-money-big-cable-gave-the-politic...

House Rep. Pushing To Set Back Online Privacy Rakes In Industry Funds

http://www.vocativ.com/415350/house-rep-pushing-to-set-back-...

The Campaign Cash That Can Kill the Open Internet [2015] All but two of the 31 co-sponsors of a House bill to kill net neutrality received thousands from telecoms in just the last election.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-campaign-cash-that-can-kill...

Half of Anti-Net Neutrality Comments From "Shadowy" Koch Bros. Group

http://gizmodo.com/half-of-anti-net-neutrality-comments-came...

Koch-affiliated astroturfers call Net Neutrality "Marxist" [2014]

http://boingboing.net/2014/08/26/koch-affiliated-astroturfer...

Vote correlation: Internet privacy resolution and telecom contributions

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/03/vote-correlation-in...

The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them

https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15100620/congress-fcc-isp...

Internet Firms Are Far Behind Cable Companies in Political Donations

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/upshot/internet-firms-are... [2014]

The Humiliating Fundraising Existence of a Member of Congress [2014]

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/06/the-hum...

Are members of Congress becoming telemarketers?

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-are-members-of-congre...

How much time do politicians spend fundraising?

https://www.quora.com/How-much-time-do-politicians-spend-fun...


Net neutrality is bad for the market. What people think they want does not supercede decades of economics.

Regulating ISPs will do irreparable damage to the web, and it could be a decade or more before the average consumer can afford to be a part of a meshnet internet.

Y'all just don't understand the level of manipulation happening. Point at the comcast boogieman (and rightfully so, tbh) as they strip ISPs of their liberties and force a certain business model on them.

I have been somewhat disappointed with my fellow citizens before, and there's always been a certain kinship between Americans, but this is just too far.

I guess we will learn econ 101 the hard way.


I don't understand why anyone would support Net Neutrality.

What's the difference between forcing a TV cable provider to provide all channels, forcing Netflix to provide all movies, forcing Spotify to provide all albums, forcing Amazon to sell all products, forcing Fedex to ship anywhere, forcing libraries to carry all books, forcing AT&T to let me call anyone (at no additional cost), and forcing Comcast to provide all websites?

What if some ISP build their own protocol, are they subject to Net Neutrality's regulations? Why?

Why prevent content providers from working with ISPs to better distribute their content? How is it different than allowing stores to associate with arbitrary shipping companies?


First, bandwidth is not scarce in the same way that those other products you mentioned are. Channels must be produced and licensed, as must music. Products must be bought/warehoused/shipped. Internet bandwidth is simply a function of available infrastructure, infrastructure the ISPs have in abundance and are seeking to artificially limit to gouge customers.

Second, TV channels are not an essential service, nor is music, nor is Amazon. Internet access most assuredly is in the 21st century.

Third, cable is not the only source of media, Spotify is not the only source of music, and amazon is not the only source of products. In the US ISPs are often monopolies.

A better analogy IMO is that letting ISPs discriminate how users utilize their bandwidth is like letting electrical utilities say that if you buy Whirpool appliances it won't count against your electric bill, because they have a deal with Whirlpool. Or perhaps even more accurate, you're forced to buy the electrical company's appliances, period, or else incur penalties. It decreases consumer choice and competition, and is actually anti-business and anti-capitalist despite the rhetoric to the contrary.


I recognize that net neutrality makes sense when the infrastructure is regulated, funded or subsidized with public money. Perhaps that's true in most places and that's why so many people believe it's a necessity. I can understand that.

Let's imagine a different scenario. I put a satellite in orbit and offer internet access to people. No government subsidies, no monopoly. Should I be free to discriminate and only offer the websites I want?


Is your satellite the only source of internet access for a given region? Are you going to actively lobby and sue to prevent municipalities and other companies from building their own competing satellites?

If the answer to both of those is no then sure, discriminate away! If people don't like your offerings they can go elsewhere, or can build their own. But the big ISPs, at least here in America, would answer "yes" to both and have long, well-documented histories to that effect.


Is the goal net neutrality or is the goal to get rid of ISP monopolies?


The goal is net neutrality. However at present the ISP monopolies are abusing their position to prevent it so that they remain free from regulation and have captive markets to exploit. Given their legally binding fiduciary duty to their shareholders and the current lack of competition, we can hardly expect different behavior from them. Either we need an infusion of competition, or we force them to "play nice" as justified by their position. At present either option requires some form of governmental regulation aka net neutrality.


That's a bit like comparing a water utility company versus a company selling bottled water. One has a natural monopoly (and likely only exists thanks to generous government support), the other does not.


I agree that bandwidth is not scarce in the same way as other goods. However, the fact remains that network infrastructure is expensive and it makes sense to pass more of the costs of that infrastructure onto those who derive more value from it (that is to say, those who use more of the available bandwidth).

What's wrong with Whirlpool subsidizing the electricity use of their customers? So long as the electrical utility allows any appliance manufacturer -- not just Whirlpool -- to participate in such a program, I don't see a problem. Like the original commenter, I see it as fundamentally no different than certain retailers subsidizing the cost of shipping for purchases.

You might argue that smaller appliance manufacturers don't have the resources to participate in such a program, but that's just the nature of business. Being big affords you certain advantages, like economies of scale. Smaller companies have to compete in other ways.


> However, the fact remains that network infrastructure is expensive and it makes sense to pass more of the costs of that infrastructure onto those who derive more value from it (that is to say, those who use more of the available bandwidth).

Which you do by charging different prices for different bandwidth or different amounts of traffic, just like you charge electricity based on the energy used?!

> What's wrong with Whirlpool subsidizing the electricity use of their customers?

Nothing is wrong with it, it's just nonsense. A business cannot subsidize the costs of using their product, at best they can sell you a package with the future costs already included in the purchase price, if they want to avoid going bankrupt.

> So long as the electrical utility allows any appliance manufacturer -- not just Whirlpool -- to participate in such a program, I don't see a problem.

... and at the same price, yes, then everything would be fine. And completely pointless, because you'd simply end up pre-paying for the electricity with the purchase instead of when you actually use it.

> You might argue that smaller appliance manufacturers don't have the resources to participate in such a program

That contradicts your earlier premise that any manufacturer could participate in the program.

> but that's just the nature of business.

This is not about the business, but about the customer. Whether it's "the nature of business" or not, it limits competition, and limited competition tends to limit innovation and to increase prices ... if you like that as a customer, then I guess you should be against net neutrality.

> Being big affords you certain advantages, like economies of scale. Smaller companies have to compete in other ways.

That's essentially an argument for monopolies. If you prefer to buy from monopolies ... strange, but sure, you probably should oppose anti-trust law in general.


You are arguing against something other than net neutrality. I don't know what you're arguing against (sounds like a strawman for socialism), but it's not net neutrality. The purpose of net neutrality, like the purpose of antitrust laws, aren't to subvert the free market, but to prevent bad actors from subverting the free market for their own gain. Nobody's asking Spotify to have every song, because if I don't like what's on Spotify I have tons of alternatives.

Comcast customers (for example) are already paying Comcast to receive bits from Netflix. Comcast wants to double dip that traffic by charging Netflix to send that data to those customers. That's it. If there's no legal impediment to them doing that, they are going to do that. Ultimately, customers end up paying for that- any service that a telecom double dips on will be forced to charge their own subscribers to cover at least part of the difference. So really, it's just more money leaving customer's pockets and being indirectly routed to Comcast. No value is added. Maybe, possibly, there will be some extra resources spent on the telecom side to help a double dipped content provider better distribute their content. But that's not a guarantee and there's nothing preventing them from making such arrangements already.

Net neutrality has nothing to do with whether or not telecoms can build better infrastructure to better support certain content providers. Net neutrality is about making sure telecoms don't double dip, just because they can.


There's actually a third dip: Comcast can tell the customer that for an extra fee they can get faster Netflix.

That is, even though the customer is already paying for internet access, Comcast can throttle Netflix traffic (even making it unusably slow), then offer to the customer to remove the throttling ("get turbo Netflix speeds!") for an additional fee.


Because the internet isn't just entertainment, it is a telecom service that provides common carrier services. The internet is also how many Americans make phone calls, access government services, organize physical travel, and conduct their banking. When I pay for internet access, I expect to be able to access any site on the internet. I don't want Comcast saying, well you can't register with the DMV because their ISP isn't paying us extra--that's why net neutrality is important and is fundamentally different than the inapt comparisons you've provided.

Further, the telecoms embrace their common carrier status when it does things like allow them to use the eminent domain powers of the government to construct infrastructure across private land or on public lands--which is fantastic as long as they reciprocate by providing common access to their infrastructure. Amazon didn't need use eminent domain powers to build their warehouses on a promise of a universal public service.


It's also worth pointing out that ISPs rely on the "dumb pipe" theory of their service to avoid liability for carrying problematic data like IP infringement, child porn, drug deals, etc.

I'd be less worried about net neutrality if ISPs acquired liability for content once they started being selective about what they carry. That would be a pretty strong incentive to stay neutral.


I support repeal of net neutrality if I can charge internet providers access to the utility easement on my property.


Only two of those things are communication channels, and one of those has a plausible case for tolls. And that same one is also heavily regulated.

Comcast has an effective monopoly on service to my home, granted to them by the gov't, paid for to some extent with my own tax dollars. They should be regulated.

And to be completely frank, the gov't should own the last mile wiring and make it available at central locations to any ISP who shows up. Then _maybe_ you have a plausible argument for allowing ISPs to discriminate on content, because I'm more likely to have options to switch to a competitor.


The postal service already has to serve everyone. So do phone companies. So bringing those up as counterexamples seems odd to me.

I think of net neutrality as "just deliver the mail." ISPs are in the delivery service and they don't care who the stuff is from, who it's going to, or what's in it, they should just deliver the mail.

FedEx doesn't block or slow deliveries from Amazon in an attempt to get me to use their own store. AT&T doesn't block United's ticketing number because they got a better deal from Southwest. Just deliver the mail.


Those are completely different business models. Cable companies pay channels to host them. Spotify pays artists / record labels to play their music. Comcast does not pay websites to transmit their data, and the websites are fine with that; they just want to be seen.


They would support it because your analogy is faulty?

Because our providers of internet are often the ONLY choice, due to enforced monopolies, any choices the carrier makes are forced choices on the consumers.

If you were forced to buy all your products from amazon, all movies from netflix, and all songs from spotify, then your analogy would hold.


What if carriers were forced to provide a package that gives access to the entire Internet, but also free to provide packages that makes streaming Netflix or Spotify free?


Then YouTube, Pandora, and any little startup video or music streaming service is at a crippling disadvantage when Comcast decides to zero-rate stuff from Comcast, Netflix, and Spotify free.

Which, by the way, won't happen. Comcast owns NBC, Universal Pictures, and a whole lot more. They own part of Hulu along with Disney, Fox, and Time Warner. They'll be zero-rating Xfinity On Demand and Hulu. Netflix, YouTube, and anything else they don't own will suffer from unequal market conditions in the large areas where Comcast has government-mandated monopolies. It's essentially government granting unfair competition to monopolies they already granted.

Imagine if Ford or GM built toll roads, but customers who bought Ford or GM cars could pay nothing or some small percentage of full price to drive on those roads.


That's ultimately just nonsense. Streaming Netflix or Spotify consumes bandwidth, and the infrastructure that provides that bandwidth costs money, thus, streaming Netflix or Spotify costs money.

So, if someone is offering you "free Netflix streaming", you should ask yourself: Who is paying for it? If you are not paying for it, someone else is. The ISP certainly is not (they are a business and not a charity). So, obviously Netflix is paying for it. And as that's a cost for Netflix, and they, too, are a business and not a charity, they'll have to set their prices to cover those costs as well. So, in the end, you are still paying for Netflix streaming, it's just that you are paying for some of the bandwidth of your provider through Netflix.

Now, so far that would be just pointless (you are paying for it anyway ...), but not anything necessarily wrong with it. Now, the question is: Why would anyone fight for and implement such a pointless setup? And the reason is that it allows monopolies to be established, and being a monopoly allows you to charge higher prices: If every streaming service could buy bandwidth to some ISP's customer at the same rate, which would also be the same rate that the customer would otherwise pay themselves, it would just be pointless all around ... so, what happens instead, is, that some parties buy exclusive rights in some form or another, which puts the competition at a disadvantage.


While I have no conceptual problem with that, it only really makes sense if you pay for bandwidth. Right now, I pay for "internet @ speed". I think your model would work if I paid for "100GB of Internet @ speed".

The argument against it, which I am O.K. with, is that the carrier would bias consumption toward established brands, and that would set up competitive barriers to entry for new companies. This would theoretically reduce consumer choice and decrease competition, eventually raising prices. (after all, if the carriers just recoup the costs from Netflix, they'll eventually pass them along to us.)


You've got your value streams all mixed up.


Is the internet a utility or not? That's the real question.




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