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Net Neutrality Day of Action: Help Preserve the Open Internet (blog.google)
1664 points by ghosh on July 12, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 433 comments



If Google were actually serious about Net Neutrality, they would use their insane market power to protect it.

How? Well, a simple statement saying "any ISP who abuses net neutrality will have their customers cut off from Google products". No Google search, no YouTube, no Gmail. Have those requests instead redirect to a website telling the customer what their ISP is doing, why Google won't work with them, and how to call to complain to the ISP. Make the site list competitors in the user's area that don't play stupid games.

Is this an insane idea? Yep. Would Google come under scrutiny because of their now-obvious market power? Oh definitely. And Google would probably lose money over it. But it would certainly work.

People don't get internet, and then decide to use Google. They want Google and then get internet for that purpose.

edit: an hour later, fixing an autocorrect word


I love this idea because I read too much cyberpunk.

Why doesn't Twitter flex its muscle and cause a national crisis by tweeting "watch out China, nukes are coming" from Donald Trump's Twitter? That ruins trust in the platform, but what if they just banned the US president's account for TOS or something? Enormous amount of power.

What if Musk's first ship to Mars had a hidden Railgun on it? "Anybody else that wants to come to Mars must pay equivalent US 100,000 million per vehicle." Alternatively, "I now own mars, who can come as well is up to my whim."

What if Microsoft issued a malicious patch that gave it access to the NSA's servers? What if Comcast slurped up FBI traffic?

In the internet and space age, corporations are getting enough real power that government power can be outright stepped over. Sure, say Comcast slurps data somehow from CIA and FBI, goes to prez, and says "give us x or we sell this to Russia," the US gov can turn around and threaten to arrest the CEO, or fine them, or kick down doors and start tearing apart infrastructure with the US military, but Comcast could easily say "do any of the above and the data is given to Russia, for free."

Musk has weaponised Mars, a state actor says "unweaponise it or be hanged," Musk can say "well, the cannon is automated, has 300 rounds of ammunition, and will not deactivate unless my secret passcode and the secret passcode of another person who I will not name, are provided. Per detected vehicle."

Etc.

Exciting, fun, terrifying. It can go fantastic for us (Google and Netflix telling telecoms to suck it), or absolutely horrifying (Comcast holding the US government hostage).


Technically, the US President holds the power to end life on Earth should he so desire. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safeguard in place that could prevent such a course of action if it were attempted. Even Comcast's power seems rather pitiful in comparison.


To the best of my knowledge, there is no safeguard in place that could prevent such a course of action if it were attempted

I can tell you for certain that there are dozens of safeguards. That scenario not only isn't possible, it's not plausible. Yes the President has the "codes" but those codes don't launch the missiles [1]. The scenario described is one in which there are literally nuclear warheads on a ballistic trajectory headed to the US with a verified source of origin.

I think the trope stays around because people, despite what they say publicly, like the idea of an emperor style president with supreme power.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2016-nuclear-wea...


I'm afraid that you have misunderstood the Bloomberg article. Nothing in it is about checking the power of the president (it says itself the president determines when to end the meetings and whether to ignore advice). It is all about verifying that The President has issued the order, and then ensuring that order is carried out. The President is contacted in this scenario simply because he's the only one who can actually authorize retaliation. He is enabled to do that independently, which is what the nuclear football is for.

Alex Wellerstein is a academic researcher on the history of nuclear weapons, and he describes the situation thus:

http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2016/11/18/the-president-and-...

"""

>>Are there any checks in place to keep the US President from starting a nuclear war?

What's amazing about this question, really, is how seriously it misunderstands the logic of the US command and control system. It gets it exactly backwards.

The entire point of the US command and control system is to guarantee that the President and _only_ the President is capable of authorizing nuclear war whenever he needs to. It is about enabling the President's power, not checking or restricting him.

"""


I was just describing the official process. Having spent 14 years in the military I can tell you that it's more complex than just that.

The entire point of the US command and control system is to guarantee that the President and only the President is capable of authorizing nuclear war whenever he needs to.

Yes, legally and formally. Informally though, as I said, it won't go down like that, especially if it's not completely unambiguous that there is a nuclear attack on the US.


this is not my understanding. there is no such checking because in a real threat the president only has about 7 minutes until the enemies nukes fall from subs off the coast. to be a credible deterrent it has to be assumed he can order the launch in less time than that. if verification of unambiguous threat takes more time than that then the enemy can just nuke us confident we'll all be dead before our pres can get his military to accept the order

http://www.dancarlin.com/product/hardcore-history-59-the-des...


I think you're technically correct, but those arguing with you (particularly those that have served in the armed forces) might cite this as a counterpoint, it takes a lot for it to make it all the way up the chain -

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


who cares about launching on 7 minutes when nuke subs can strike anyway at any time even after the attack ?


But who would you give command authority for that? Here in the UK, where we wouldn't even have 7 minutes in the event of an attack from Russia, we rely on exactly that strategy (possibly - the contents of the prime minister's "letters of last resort" to our submarine captains are secret and destroyed unopened when a PM leaves office) - but the flipside is that individual submarine captains have both the authority and the means to launch nuclear weapons without requiring approval from anywhere further up the chain.


as far as i know if deep sea subs cannot contact the headquarters for x amount of time they should assume their country was nuked and are supposed to retaliate.


That doesn't answer the question. Who do you give the command authority for that decision? Who gets to say "we cannot contact the headquarters", which amounts to being able to launch the nuclear weapons? And obviously if you want them to be able to launch under those circumstances you have to give them any "launch codes" or what-have-you beforehand.


In the case of the UK, there is a sealed letter in each Trident sub with instructions from the PM in case the nation's leaders have been terminated.


Yeah, I mentioned the letters of last resort, but while the letter will contain orders, the captain has sole launch authority, and it's difficult to imagine the system could work in a way that avoids that - whatever process you require the captain to follow, they could simply decide to follow that process as though the leadership were uncontactable.


I don't know what the actual procedure is; however like with Science Fiction and 'Self Destruct' codes I would think that a multi-agent auth challenge would be required.

The captain and some fixed number of executive officers. Possibly with redundancy for one or two crew being dead. The auth codes would cause a safe to unlock or message to de-crypt.

Presumably the instructions would be delivered to each authenticating member so that all could receive the orders simultaneously.


Learning that there only is an "informal" system for nuclear strikes is fairly disconcerting and does not inspire confidence, especially if there are no added details and no available confirmation of what you told us.


By the time it became completely unambiguous, it would be too late.


From a game theory perspective the aim of the administration is going to be to make the threat of instant retaliation seem credible to any outside observer therefore preserving the effectiveness of nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

In practice however I'd certainly be surprised to learn that there were absolutely zero checks on the process as suggested in the article.


The keywords here are "whenever he needs to".

Are there verified nuclear warheads on verified trajectories from verified origins?

Does the US President need to retaliated?


The problem is that nobody else's opinion matters. If the president wants to retaliate based on 0 evidence, they can.


Radiolab did an episode recently[1] which disagrees with that Bloomberg article.

They interview ex-Secretary of Defense William Perry asking him what controls there are, if any, on a crazy president just willy-nilly deciding to nuke something.

He says there's absolutely none, even if the president is in a room full of people who vehemently disagree with him he alone makes the call to launch.

1. http://www.radiolab.org/story/nukes/


Yes yes, but...

The President can make the call to launch and everyone in the room can ignore him, arrest him, tape his mouth shut.

Or just shoot him.

Edit: fixed a word


Many people were morally opposed to nuking Japan in ww2 yet the president still went ahead and issued the order. Not sure what you expect from the military, they are formatted to follow orders.


Yeah, you'd think that if nothing else, our current governmental situation proves that all expected norms should now be discarded. If this dipshit can act this way w/o recompense, there's no reason that the rest of the chain of command should follow orders...


Nuttiness. This is the same President the MSM declared had "finally become President" after he bombed a Syrian air base following a (hoaxed?) chemical attack. Then got attacked endlessly by the MSM for not continuing to bomb Syria and for deescalating the military-industrial "WWIII with Russia so we can all make a lot of money" campaign.

There's an argument to be made for checks on presidential power to wage nuclear war at a pin drop. President Trump pulling us back from the joint establishment Democrat and establishment Republican push for worldwide nuclear armageddon is not it.


It's pretty generous to assume that will happen. It might, but it's far from a certainty.


the Gov has a vested interest in other Govs believing that the president's button can do a thing. i'm not sure who to trust...

but I did learn the word "Verisimilitude" the other day.


Ex secretary isn't really part of "The Gov" anymore.


The article you're citing appears to support the point it seems like you're trying to contradict -- it describes a system where the president is given explicit authority at every stage. There are opportunities for others to dissuade him, but he has every freedom to disregard them, and they have absolutely nothing in the way of legal power to stop him.

The only check currently seems to be people disobeying his orders, and even that is accounted for to some extent (see "mutiny is unlikely" in the article you cited).

It remains possible that ranking members of the executive branch and military might cooperate to make sure the president is isolated and unable to execute the protocol, and perhaps even conceivable (if unlikely) that enough of the military would refuse to participate. But that's the only real check, and it extralegal rather than any part of the system.

If you've ever been suspicious of "the deep state", think about that for a minute here, because it's really just another catchy term for the one of a half-handful of checks on the power under discussion here.

> I think the trope stays around because people, despite what they say publicly, like the idea of an emperor style president with supreme power.

I suspect that people really want to believe the system works, it can't be that messed up, someone else thought of this, some one else is paying attention, and they want things to be better, not worse, and they will take care of it for you.


Mutiny is likely. American officers in particular will tend not to follow orders to commit an obvious war crime. This isn't an extralegal check , it's very much legal.

But the system will fail if "the whole chain is stupid." This is why it's so dangerous to have a President obsessed with loyalty.


Yes, and that's why we have so many obligatory legal oaths. It is kind of astonishing that Americans without the internet developed a pretty rigorous system so long ago - Joe Rogan (sorry) summarized it well when he said that smart people think they're smart, but they're actually just regurgitating things they've learned from truly genius people from past generations


What makes you think mutiny would be likely? It would depend on many factors such as the psychological makeup of the launch & command staff and the circumstances du jour. No doubt they made sure independent-minded soldiers likely to be unreliable were not placed anywhere near any silo.


I think the article you mention supports the opposing from the one you are defending: that article seems to be saying the ultimately the President can decide to ignore everyone else's judgement and launch anyway. Care to elaborate on the dozens of safeguards? Anything that could actually stop the Donald if he decided he'd had enough?

A recent radiolab episode (http://www.radiolab.org/story/nukes/) made a pretty convincing argument that any US president could on a whim destroy the world. It goes into the whole history of why that power was given to a civilian, and not the military.


It makes for good drama. Like House of Cards. Or Fallout. We enjoy thinking our way through doomsday scenarios.


Military personnel are obligated by US and international law to not comply with such an order. Generals have also gone on record when asked about the potential for such crazy orders, and said they would not follow such a command (like nuking Mecca, etc.)


True, something absolutely needs to be done about that. The only failsafe is a US soldier illegally disobeying orders. Actually, most soldiers that have a key would need to disobey orders, because it wouldn't take too many nukes to end life as we prefer it on earth.


Hopefully the soldier is like Stanislav Petrov. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov


The world should have a national holiday in his honor. Possibly more deserved then any other human in history.


A few people have observed it informally:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=stanislav+petrov+day


I'm going to start celebrating these now. Holidays in honour of the two Russian officers who refused to start WW3


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

Don't forget about this lad!


He would have to avoid triggering the 25th:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

I.e. he must convince the Vice President et al. that ending all human life on Earth is a good idea.


There would be no time. He literally has a phone on the desk that he can launch all the nukes in a few minutes notice, and NOBODY can stop him without illegally refusing to follow orders (hope to god they would obviously) but assuming everything works as designed the world would end.


For the US military its not illegal to refuse to follow an illegal order. The US Marines have this drilled into them, not sure about the other services.


Sure, but you may have next to no information in that little amount of time to make the determination. For all you would know sitting at the terminal, that Russian/Chinese ICBMs were on their way. There was a Radiolab episode about this recently. It's tough to become one of the officers in this position and are heavily selected for those that would act unquestionably on orders. Any hint of questioning orders/superiors/the system gets you kicked out. This was done so that there would be no question in our rivals minds of our intent to follow through with the MAD doctrine.


I can confirm it's drilled into Army soldiers as well, so I'd bet on the air force and navy being the same way.


It's one thing to pledge to this, yet another to actually be in the silo with the alarms blaring and the the orders coming in with seconds to spare. It's impossible to predict in advance how someone would respond to this situation.


How is an order from the chief of the military ever considered illegal?


It worries me that this is a legitimate question. The chief of the military does not define law.


Yes, but in the army you are told to obey its superiors and to follow the hierarchy. The top of the pyramid is the president. Who will challenge him?


Not exactly true. There is a two man rule to launch. On paper the president has the power, but there are extensive safeguards in place.


Not so. The nodes in the command chain have little if any ability to question the order they've been given. Officers are even selected based on their ability to carry out orders unthinkingly. In the US military, an order from POTUS is the ultimate command. The only part of the chain that matters is at the very top, specifically, the armed individuals who surround the President. They can choose to stage a coup or declare the President medically unfit.


They have little authority to stop the order, which is not the same thing as saying they have no ability. In practice they are human beings and a Stanislav Petrov situation is totally possible.


AFAIK the two man rule is to prevent a rogue soldier from launching, they have no authority to question orders from the president.


They are not allowed to override POTUS.


I also wasn't allowed to smoke pot, while enlisted.

Which is to say, the orders may not be followed by the persons at the switch. I make no claim that they will, or will not, be followed. I merely point out that rules aren't always followed.


Correction: Overriding POTUS is illegal and has consequences that do not include the planet being nuked.

They absolutely have the real authority (ability) to refuse the order, and then the real authority to prevent the nuke from being launched (by eating their key, shooting anybody else that comes into the room, shooting the key/console, etc).


Though as I understand it each missile site has its own control and 2 man system. Even if only 1 out of 10 obeyed their orders and launched it would likely be the end of mankind or at least civilization as we recognize it.


I love these ideas because - apart from the railgun one - the far-fetched part isn't even whether those things are possible, it's just whether anyone would want to.

The Twitter nukes one wouldn't even have to ruin trust in the platform that badly. They could say the president's account got hacked. Hell, blame the hack on China if you're already trying to start a war there.


You have some serious thinking to do


If you're going to offhand dismiss someone's imaginative ability, I think the onus is on you to provide a little more insight than "you're stupid."


It's going to happen. It's not question of if, but when.

If a corporation succeeds in building General AI with enough hooks into basic infrastructure, and a loyal enough employee base, then they will have a more powerful weapon than any nuclear bomb. They can then build their own drone army that no conventional military could stand up against.


First of all, General AI is science fiction and there's no detailed theory to suggest it is even possible, beyond hand wavy neuron/transistor-count models. All evidence so far suggests a human-like gestation/development is necessary, and such a development would negate any advantage such an AI would have over traditional human cyborgs.

Second, what about an AI would give them an advantage over cyborgs in building drone battalions? Aren't conventional human cyborgs doing that right now?


> Aren't conventional human cyborgs doing that right now?

Yes, it's annoying to me that people who believe AI to be extremely dangerous forget that people themselves can already do all that nasty stuff.


Who isn't assuming that? My whole point was that instead of having to recruit humans to enforce coercion, we can build our own soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines to do it.


Recruiting humans is exactly how we build our own soldiers at the moment. (Like they said in the army, "we do have a potato peeling machine - you're the latest model".) Why is another way of building soldiers bad? Only because it's new, and new is scary?


I never said it was, just that it was likely. I think people assume my top level post is negative. It's not negative, it's likely.


> there's no detailed theory to suggest it is even possible

Not much that suggests it's impossible either.


> I love this idea because I read too much cyberpunk

"go on..."

> What if Musk's first ship to Mars had a hidden Railgun on it?

"oh god... don't stop!"

> ... the secret passcode of another person ...

brilliant.

yeah... we (in the US) gave AI/meta-cognative-entities/"corporations" a type of inalienable right with the Citizens United ruling. and now the gov't is going to find out what happens when those entities start testing the boundaries of their container. (plot twist: the container walls are permeable)


> yeah... we (in the US) gave AI/meta-cognative-entities/"corporations" a type of inalienable right with the Citizens United ruling.

Except that's not true. Corporations have always had personhood. See 1 U.S.C. §1[0]:

> In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise—

> ...

> the words "person" and "whoever" include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;

Corporations being people is what allows them to own property, use the judicial system (to sue), etc. Basically anything corporations are able to do is because they are people. The speech of a corporation is protected under the First Amendment. Donating your money to a non-profit is a form of speech, no? If I donate $25 to the EFF, I'm agreeing with what the EFF does. That's a form of expression that is protected under the First Amendment. All Citizens United v. FEC did was affirm that money can be a form of speech.

Citizens United didn't establish any president of corporate personhood anymore than Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 US 394 (1886)[1] did back in 1886.

[0]: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/1/1

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara_County_v._Southern....


> Corporations have always had personhood.

Always? You cite the U.S. Code, which was first published when? 1926.

>Donating your money to a non-profit is a form of speech, no?

It's a hell of a lot different when it comes to influencing people during elections. Bad analogy, and an insincere play to the audience here with the EFF. If we allow money to be speech, we allow outsized influence on governance by a few. Corporations have much more money to spend on campaigns which works against the public interest.

> Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company

The precedent of corporate personhood didn't even come from arguments in the case, it came from an oral remark by the Chief Justice Morrison Waite, who earlier worked as a lawyer for railroads. It was recorded by the court recorder J.C. Bancroft Davis, who earlier was a president of a railroad. The precedent and its house of cards should be thrown out.


Note that corporate personhood also allows them to be sued. Used to be that, if someone ran a train into your house, you could sue the driver (if he survived) and maybe his immediate boss. Personhood makes the corporation as a unit responsible for the actions of its employees.


> Except that's not true.

You're right.

And now there's precedent.


>we (in the US) gave AI/meta-cognative-entities/"corporations" a type of inalienable right with the Citizens United ruling

Holy shit I hadn't even considered this, this is awesome. New story idea.


In describing "Metacognates" to friends I often use the example of FedEx as a weird type of animal which eats gasoline and shits boxes on doorsteps.


I like this, I'm using it.

I'll contribute that this is a good way to explain to someone why corporations inherently care about their employees only to the extent of their usefulness.


Worth noting: Comcast slurping up FBI traffic won't be very profitable, I think. Assuming that the FBI is smart enough to use encrypted communication (https is really easy nowadays), Comcast is up for a challenge if they want to get interesting data.


> I love this idea because I read too much cyberpunk.

Can you recommend some novels ? (I'm also a cyberpunk nerd) Thanks in advance


The Musk play is straight from Snowcrash where a 'nuclear sovereign power' (a dude on a motorcycle with a nuclear bomb in the sidecar passenger seat keyed to his heartbeat still going strong) runs roughshod over just about everything with impunity.


+1 to jacquesm's suggestion, as well as pretty much the entirety of Neal Stephenson's library of work. Diamond Age and Anathem in particular.

For me there's a lot of crossover between Cyberpunk/scifi, the only difference being time period, so I'd throw in the Culture series and the Revelation Space series.

The Stars my Destination (grunge as fuck)

Neuromancer, though I'm sure you've already read it.


A book series that's, at least to me, frighteningly close to home while also being entertaining and totally interesting in it's premise is the Nexus trilogy by Ramez Naam. You could easily read only the first book, but the trilogy was a good read for me. You can find it on Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/Nexus-Arc-Book-1/dp/0857662937


> The Stars My Destination

Just wanted to chime in and say that this is one of the great SF books. Alfred Bester at the height of his powers. Gritty, fantastic, political, emotional, psychedelic, and epic. A truly astounding work, especially when you consider it was written in the early 1950s.

If you like science fiction: READ THIS BOOK.


Hardwired


> but what if they just banned the US president's account for TOS or something

Because the US Government has terrifying amounts of power and can be very spiteful.

Their ability to easily intimidate corporations has been demonstrated time and time again. See: NSA v tech, Qwest, broad anti-trust powers (which have nothing to do with monopoly and everything to do with subjective definitions), SEC, FTC, FCC, national security powers, executive orders, and the list goes for days.


I think parent's overall point is that the private sector has amassed quite a lot of power that could overstep / bypass the government entirely. It's not outside the realm of possibility that a team of rogue people in one or more social companies could literally trigger a war or worse.

It wasn't about one specific, small example but the big picture. Since these companies care about profit and the people running the companies likely care about their lives I'd imagine much of this wouldn't ever happen but it's all technically possible which, compared to where we were say 20 years ago, is just absolutely amazing in every sense of the word.


> the private sector has amassed quite a lot of power that could overstep / bypass the government entirely

I understand and that's a fantasy at best, which was my point. The US Government is radically more powerful than any corporation inside of its domain. It's not even remotely close. They're more powerful than every corporation in the US combined.

The moment they send federal agents to shut down Google HQ (even if it's just for a day) and begin arresting people on terrorism charges (doesn't matter if any of it sticks, they never have to stop coming), specifically targeting management, and then walking them through & out of the buildings in handcuffs - Google instantly capitulates as their stock collapses by 20% in one day. And that's the easiest of moves the Feds can make, that's a trivial demonstration of their power to intimidate.

Then the IRS begins pursuing any exec they want to. They can do horrific things to anyone at any time, even if it doesn't stick long-term it still makes your life hell - and they never have to stop coming.

Then x y z, forever, paying their bills with your tax dollars and the infinite fiat machine.

Their initial efforts don't work? They change the laws tomorrow to give themselves a new sharp stick. They only really need one really nasty stick, and they have dozens already.


But that's exactly my point - the US government has the kinds of enforcement power that deals with sending in troops to kick down doors and lock people in steel cages.

Google has the kind of power that staves off that from even happening in the first place. The US government isn't a singular entity, it is comprised of several hundred individually powerful people. Three branches, plus several military branches, each with their own branches of authority and people of power. Then you have states with their own 3 branches and national guards, police. You have a national police equivalent (NSA, CIA, FBI, ATF, Border Control).

That's a lot of people google can go to and say "Interesting that you are into midget porn, I wonder what would happen if the whole world knew that?"

That's a lot of people google can go to and say "Did you know that your neighboring state's governor is having an affair with a man? Give us this land grant for server space and we'll give you the proof."

"Give us guaranteed protection from the Fed and we'll give you the entire query history from all whitehouse IP addresses."

"Do not fuck with us or we will DDOS every single DNS server in the world with our absurdly massive server infrastructure."

"Do not fuck with us or we will turn the public against you by messaging the 63,000 people using our site per second"

"Do not fuck with us or we will make your very existence invisible to 80% of the people on the internet."


After issuing their threat, and getting "no" back, they would say -- "We do not negotiate with terrorists" and go in with the guns. Collateral damage be damned.

That's how wars happen, and why it's a bad idea to make ultimatums to the US government.


Again, I'm not suggesting Google issues a public statement before a congressional panel - "do the thing we want, US government, or we'll get ya!" I'm saying they could be much more insidious with the kind of power they have.

Like the King's head Surgeon - he could never take on the King in hand to hand combat, but he can certainly poison him slowly, over time and invisibly, in return for more consolidated power or money or some other such thing from the King's son.


I don't think anyone would bother with guns. Order ISPs switch off access to Google's servers and CDNs, order power regulators cut off their power, freeze their bank accounts (as well as those of the executive, employees and vendors) and declare them insurrectionists. If Google truly tried to act with insurrectionist intent, I'd expect (and want) our government to react forcefully.


I'm just playing along with the fiction at this point, so here's my response:

1. Order ISPS to switch off access to Google's servers and CDNs. Most internet traffic stops working as any website using a google CDN breaks, all analytics stops working, internet advertising breaks almost entirely, the internet is suddenly a less profitable and very scary, mostly unusable place. Google releases as its death-throes the fact that the ISPs are entirely to blame for this, gives coordinates of ISP offices and pitchfork emporiums. Customers revolt, UN issues a missive reminding the world that access to the internet is a human right.

2. Order power regulators to cut off their power - Pretty similar to above. Internet stops working very well, except Google continues to work in other countries, and suddenly it doesn't really make sense to do business in the USA. Google employees flee abroad where they can. Opportunistic countries take advantage of this and grant asylum.

3. Freeze their bank accounts - best idea yet, I think, except for I'm not sure how it would be implemented. Government order comes through declaring "Alphabet, Inc" to be entirely comprised of terrorists? Not sure. Either way, Google goes the way of Pablo Escobar and talks directly to bank VPs - "give us some of the money / give us a warning you get a freeze order / whatever, or we tell the world about your midget porn / location of all your private estates / your tax fraud." Alternatively, google uses its near total access to civilian populations to cast the US government as a totalitarian dictatorship issuing a coup against the American people's access to free information and fosters a revolution.


> Order ISPS to switch off access to Google's servers and CDNs. Most internet traffic stops working as any website using a google CDN breaks, all analytics stops working, internet advertising breaks almost entirely, the internet is suddenly a less profitable and very scary, mostly unusable place

The scenario is insurrection. Communications going down while people are arrested is perfectly acceptable.

> Google goes the way of Pablo Escobar and talks directly to bank VPs

Bank VPs have no control over dollar clearing and settlement. In any case, violating an OFAC freeze is automatic jail time for lots of people. Nobody messes around with this.


> The US Government is radically more powerful than any corporation inside of its domain. It's not even remotely close.

For sure, that was never in dispute. No one pretended there wouldn't be consequences, either. That was never the point of my post or parent's. Take a look at the examples for what was being referred to.


> I think parent's overall point is that the private sector has amassed quite a lot of power that could overstep / bypass the government entirely. It's not outside the realm of possibility that a team of rogue people in one or more social companies could literally trigger a war or worse.

Let's not kid ourselves - well before that happens there would be "Guys with guns" to see them which would stop all possible posturing.


Whoa whoa, Broad anti-trust powers? are you saying you believe the US isn't in the stranglehold of several monopolies right now? That if we were to just relax our rules a bit(how??), everything would be fine? That is a viewpoint I seldom hear these days...


> cause a national crisis by tweeting "watch out China, nukes are coming" from Donald Trump's Twitter?

Are you serious? That would cause actual people to die. And Twitter will end up with a huge lawsuit.


We're about 1 security breach away from Twitter becoming a serious national security issue. I hope Trump has 2FA to login, but if someone got past Twitters internal system and started tweeting as DT then really bad Shit could happen.


I would hope Twitter has taken extraordinary steps to secure the US president's account.


The account for sure. I wonder about everything else though? Maybe it's naive but it seems like you could create a "presidential" tweet anywhere from their DBs to their CDNs.


not hard to imagine his tweets are sharded onto a dedicated server beneath the White House or something.


The point isn't that they wouldn't do it because of the consequences, but rather that a random company can wield this amount of power.


In that scenario a lawsuit would be the least of Twitter's problems. Best case scenario could easily be a treason charge.


US law only allows for treason charges during time of war.


I don't think that's true? Admittedly You could perhaps parse the statute[0] in a way that might imply it. But I think the point is that if you give aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States that you fall under the definition regardless of whether you are officially in a war or not.

[0]: https://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A3Sec3.html


This also goes deeper with things like GovCloud. Where government now no longer uses their own data center.

This theoretically gives a company power to shut the government if they really wanted to.


I love all things cyberpunk.. whats your favorite story?


To state the obvious, this proposal is antithetical to the concept of network neutrality.

Also, the belief that there would be "competitors in the user's area that don't play stupid games" that offer comparable services (eg, within a factor of 5x bandwidth-per-dollar value) seems to be a misunderstanding of the utility/monopoly/duopoly economics in play in many regions of the USA.


Network neutrality means that the network transit is neutral, endpoints such as Google are free to do as they wish. For example Google already blocks youtube videos based on ip address geo region.

But I agree that it wouldn't work because the ISP monopolies are more entrenched than the web service monopolies.


> this proposal is antithetical to the concept of network neutrality

Exactly the point I'm trying to make. If Google turns around and says "Fine, you don't like net neutrality? Let me show you how this works both ways".

The ISPs do not make the product, they sell the access to the product. If the product goes away, then they aren't selling anything at all- and their customers will stop paying them.


You talk like customers actually have a choice in ISP...


There's always a choice. Suppose your ISP started charging you $10,000 per month for the service you have now? Would you pay it? Could you? No, you'd probably just go without home service, or rely on your cellular data plan, or get dialup, or just take an internet sabbatical until the ISP cleaned up their act.

For some people, their tolerance for bullshit is less than others. For those people, perhaps charging a dollar extra for YouTube access is enough. It only takes a fairly small percentage of customers to put a lot of pressure on service providers. Monopoly or not.


That's a poor way of trying to weasel out of the actual definition of monopoly, which is defined as "a company or group having exclusive control over a commodity or service"[0].

What you're describing is a substitute good. When the "choice" is to not purchase said product/service and look to alternatives, you're literally describing the effect of a monopoly.

[0] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/monopoly


I'm not trying to weasel out of anything. Of course they're monopolies.

My point is simply that a monopoly isn't some sort of God-emperor who can do anything without consequence. Even monopolies have to bow to customer pressure, they're just less sensitive to it than companies in more competitive industries. Supply and demand applies to monopolies, too, that's why their prices might be higher than they would be in a competitive environment, but their prices aren't infinite. "Going without" is always a choice, even if there are no competitors.


We're talking about reasonably priced broadband services, no need to be pedantic or literal.

You can always put money on the lottery several times, win, buy your own satellite and have your own DTH service. Or kill yourself, so that you no longer need internet.

So no, there isn't always a choice in broadband service. And most times, there isn't a choice at all.


The idea that people should be willing to go without Internet, and if they don't they clearly don't care enough is self defeating and silly.


Umm there is always a choice as to wether or not you want to use a good or a service.


Yep, most places I've lived, I've only ever had 1 option (unless I want to pay for satellite internet lol)


IMO the reason Google doesn't do much here is that they are in a very good spot here. They are not in any danger, and if anything ISPs would probably pay them to provide their service.

So I doubt Google would ever do anything at this point.


Of course it is

If ISPs don't see the point in it then they can't complain when other don't follow it (and they get the shaft)


> To state the obvious, this proposal is antithetical to the concept of network neutrality.

the culture employs special circumstances when the situation exceeds the moral capacity of contact.

or to put it differently, sometimes outside forces are so strong that you either let your ethics... be flexible for while or just disappear in the annals of history.

whether OP's particular action would be effective is a different question - bing, ddg or baidu would gladly jump at the opportunity if this wasn't coordinated.


Therin lie dragons

That's how you start thinking it's okay to drop napalm and nuclear bombs on cities since "it'll end the war faster"


I think it's a bit disingenuous to compare net neutrality to a total war, regardless of the comparison made.

Anyone who doesn't subscribe absolutely to radical honesty or to a morality handed down by an all powerful being has to make these kinds of decisions in their personal life all the time and rarely do those decisions have as much impact as net neutrality. Large companies are made up of people and they shouldn't get a pass when they stand by and watch as when the very foundations of their industries are destroyed by extreme rent seeking just because they have shareholders to answer to, most of whom are in a far better position than the employees of the companies to jump ship when their investments don't behave like they'd like them to.


But that is OK if it does end the war faster, where "end the war faster" is understood to mean "millions fewer people will die"


yes. i've never said i think it's fine, it's just (to me) obvious that it's how some people think and how the world works due to the fact some of those people were given power to rule, or took it themselves.


Workflow:

1. I pay an ISP to provide me with internet service

2. Google cuts off services from my ISP I've already paid.

3. I call my ISP and say "google told me to complain to you," they say, "thank you for your feedback."

4. I look for a competitor. There aren't any, or the competitors don't suit my needs. Which is why this problem happens in the first place. If I could go to a competitor, I would. This is the key assumption that the whole scheme is based on and from what I understand, for most Americans, it is flat wrong.

5. I don't use my ISP's bandwidth cause Google is blocking it. I've paid them money. My continual complaints tie up a cheap call center which inconveniences them very slightly, if at all. They still have my money, plus the costs for the services they're offering me just plummeted cause I'm not using any bandwidth cause I can't access the internet. They win, I lose.


For the technically literate, three letters: VPN.

Unfortunately, they (we) are a minority.

Also, it's double expense, especially if you do something like Netflix.


What's to stop them from de-prioritizing or blocking traffic recognizable as VPN?


Also VPNs can be blocked easily. Look at China.


In china it is part of normal life to use a VPN. They are most definitely not blocked.


You can use cell phone data.

Or buy internet from phone company instead of cable company.


These are both not reasonable alternatives for all people.

Cell phone data is usually much more expensive and often people don't have a lot of choice on what connection options they have.


Using regular folks who are already a captive audience, as foot soldiers against big telecom is not very efficient and probably a non-starter from a PR perspective.

What is the net result of this? People call up and complain to their ISP? Complaining hasn't worked yet and that's the problem. You can complain all you want but when there's no competition it doesn't matter.

A far better idea in my opinion would be for Google to spend money and muscle in partnering to provide municipal broadband.

If people had a choice between a municipal broadband provider that preserved net-neutrality or choosing the existing duopoly that wants to "rent seek" then I think the net-neutrality issue might finally be able to be put to rest.

There are some case studies in successful municipal broadband deployments here:

http://www.bbpmag.com/snapshot/snap0612.php

Google is already partnering with NYC via Sidewalk Labs. See:

https://sidewalklabs.com/about/

and LinkNYC is already up and running, so its not much of a stretch:

http://screenmediadaily.com/citybridge-to-launch-linknyc-lar...


Your key assumption is that Google has all this market power. They don't. The only, and truly ONLY, reason that they're so big and powerful is that everyone automatically goes to google when in need of search. Their business would disappear in a hurry the day that changes.

What's one way that could change? Google stops working for millions of people, so they start using another product.


And gmail and android and angular and adsense and chrome browser and youtube and google maps.

Essentially, what i'm saying is they are not, and have not been for a very long time, about search

The money is mostly coming from advertising across these services and especially adwords and adsense


"Yeah we're gonna teach them that censorship is wrong by censoring people!!!"


But they'd just be censoring themselves


Yep. That was the point I guess.

Sometimes it seems easier to communicate something by stating the opposite and let people work out themselves why this is a bad idea.


[flagged]


Welcome to Hacker News!


Sadly, irony like that is lost on a lot of people these days.


I like it.

If you've ever experienced the not too occasional fighting between cable companies and some of the networks they carry, it can get ugly. With both sides claiming they're in the right. Sometimes the channels even go off the air because the cable company won't pay what the networks want.

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

The only problem is if say google pulls YouTube from comcast, its not like customers have a plethora of other internet providers to choose from, so they suffer.


Would be better to not block, but show a 30 second video explaining why comcast sucks before each video.

If you're blocked, you'll only see the message once. If you have to watch a video before instead, you'll get angrier and angrier each time.


Don't preach to users that $ISP is bad, just tie the inconvenience in to lack of net neutrality.


I strongly support net neutrality, but this is dangerous.

First: this is pushing the onus on the consumers. Not just pushing---forcing, even. My grandmother, my wife even, doesn't care about net neutrality---they want to use the Internet. I've seen suggestions of using a VPN, and I use Tor for all of my Internet traffic, but this is an even _greater_ onus on consumers. It's a far bigger impact than the abolishment of net neutrality itself.

Perhaps more importantly, this is subverting the legal/regulatory system by using your market dominance to essentially declare your own law. The system is failing us (those who support net neutrality, at least) right now, but it's there for a reason, and it's a slippery slope to try to reverse legislative and regulatory decisions by force.

Civil uprising is fine. Campaigns to raise awareness (like the blackout for SOPA), okay. Many other things are okay. But leave innocent people out of the crossfire. They should care, yes, but it's up to _us_ to make change---those of us who understand the issue and why it's important. It's up to us to raise awareness. I'm not going to go hold people hostage over my ideals. What if Google weren't on your side? What if they did _not_ support net neutrality? Would you be okay with them using their dominance to push an agenda you didn't like? I'd think not.


Well, -just place an annoying ad that shows up for everyone including customers, employees and executives who use any google property:

"""You seem to be using <x> which is a lousy internet provider for reasons x, y and z.

Feel free to call them now at <phone number> or send a mail to <email> and let them know what you think.

Also here are other known providers in your area: <list>

You can also sign <here> and <here> to show your interest to other sane providers that are considering offering fiber in your area."""


Didn't they already basically kill Internet Explorer this way?


Yes. And they are trying to kill every other browser as well :-/

At this point I dislike chrome for exactly the same reasons I disliked IE: it is not good enough for me[0] and its sheer dominance makes web creators lazy and triggers bean counters to skimp on cross browser compatibility checks.

But this time they could actually use it for good.

[0]: yep. You would hear the same thing back then: You are the only one wanting to use another browser. Just get over it and use IE.


Yes, I've been using edge. Every single Google page has a top bar bullshitting me about how awesome the page will look on Chrome. I dismiss the bar, it comes back in a day. On all Google websites.


>it is not good enough for me

Well, I am curious: what makes other browsers better for you? The other day I posed this question in a thread, and the main answer was "a good feeling inside".

Then the news that Mozilla forces you into being tracked by Google Analytics comes out, and that good feeling is gone, so what's your use case?


Here's one for ya - I can (and do) run my own account [0] and sync [1] server for Firefox.

[0] https://mozilla-services.readthedocs.io/en/latest/howtos/run...

[1] https://mozilla-services.readthedocs.io/en/latest/howtos/run...


Well, I am curious: what makes other browsers better for you?

Real extensions? Yeah I know they will be less useful than they used to be but still way better than anything else it seems.

The fact that it handles my browsing habits like a few hundred open tabs?

Oh, and by now using almost any other browser than chrome give me a happy feeling. The limit goes somewhere between Edge and IE it seems :-P

Then the news that Mozilla forces you into being tracked by Google Analytics comes out, and that good feeling is gone, so what's your use case?

I didn't see that and didn't find anything when I searched now. Do you have any pointers?


A bit of hyperbole, but here's the reference: https://github.com/mozilla/addons-frontend/issues/2785


Wow. IMO it's not a "bit" of hyperbole to call that "Mozilla forces you into being tracked by Google Analytics".

Additionally, from the link "legal contract with Google" on that page:

> Mozilla went through a year long legal discussion with GA before we would ever implement it on our websites. GA had to provide how and what they stored and we would only sign a contract with them if they allowed Mozilla to opt-out of Google using the data for mining and 3rd parties.

> We now have two check boxes in our GA premium account that allows us to opt-out of additional usage of our data. Because Mozilla pushed Google so hard, those two check boxes are available to every other GA user in the world regardless if they have a premium account like we do.

When and where Mozilla caves to pressures they always stood against, I will not hold it against them more than against the ones putting them under pressure -- or against those trying to muddy the waters even more in these already trying times, for that matter.


I like edge because it uses less ram and uses less battery. I can run my VM without swapping like crazy and my laptop lasts almost twice as long on battery.


W3C Encrypted Media Extensions

Editors: David Dorwin, Google Inc.Jerry Smith, Microsoft CorporationMark Watson, Netflix Inc.Adrian Bateman, Microsoft Corporation (Until May 2014)

https://www.w3.org/TR/encrypted-media/

So in this way we can save the net neutrality?


> Well, a simple statement saying "any ISP who abuses net neutrality will have their customers cut off from Google products". No Google search, no YouTube, no Gmail

So you are suggesting that they harm their own business interests? For how long exactly?


Ah yes, Google should definitely punish end users because of what ISPs are trying to do.


Now that Google (or rather, Alphabet) is also an ISP, wouldn't they get in a lot of trouble for this? Seems anti-competitive.


So if you're a customer of said companies tied with a long-term contract you'd be caught in the middle and fucked up beyond recognition. How on earth would something like that make things better?


>Is this an insane idea?

It's not even that insane. MTV did exactly this to gain an edge when negotiating with cable companies. They ran ads telling people to call their cable companies and say, "I want my MTV!" The campaigns were largely successful, and MTV quickly became a standard offering on cable TV.

Google has far more negotiating power than MTV did. If Google actually cut off ISPs and told people to call their ISP and say, "I want my net neutrality!" it would have a good chance of working.


I'm not against Net Neutrality but If Google were to do that it would be ironic, evil, and probably exacerbate the situation.

One of the arguments against Net Neutrality is it would help break up the Google marketing monopoly (yes this logic is shockingly what the cable companies have provided for the government as a pro).

In some sense Google is not much different than the cable companies except that the only entity that can out leverage the cable companies is the government that owns the poles and airways.

(If you don't think google is a monopoly or at least extremely unfair it is impossible to make a competitor to google as you would have to do your marketing of a such a product through them).

Frankly I'm already concerned that 99% of the marketing is controlled already by two entities: Google and Facebook. If google were to do what your proposing it would probably make far more people aware of the monopoly.


The problem with this is that the people who Google makes money from often aren't the biggest users, that would be blocking the users rather than the customers. I'm unsure if that matters, it would certainly be a massive wake up call to a lot of people.


You can't turn off Google. You'd risk lives. People Google for "Poison control" and other emergency services.

They could change their banner, though, and I'm sad they aren't serious enough about this issue to do that.


I personally think Google/FB/Reddit/etc should block users from ATT/Comcast/Verizon every monday as a sign of protest...

They should be redirected to a page saying - your ISP is against Net Neutrality. Contact them and tell them how you feel about this...or find a new ISP. Your access will be restored on Tuesday. If you don't like this, get used to it-it's the way a net neutrality-less internet works.

Those same ISP's will be begging to bring back net neutrality in a month or two.


I think Google should allow neutral public access to their 100,000 mile private fiber optic network.

That would really send a statement that they were serious about network neutrality.


Also something to note: Google is not listed on the list of participants on the "battle for the net" web page. [0]

Is this a mistake? Am I missing something?

[0] https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12/#participants

Edit: I also checked for the parent company "Alphabet", which also is not listed.


I think it's a minor omission, not a dodge to pacify handset makers or network carriers.

To be fair, Apple is pro-NN but not vocal about it.


> "any ISP who abuses net neutrality will have their customers cut off from Google products"

> Is this an insane idea? Yep.

It sounds like we're in agreement on the latter, as for the former; the way it would play out is that Google Search, YouTube and Gmail would fade and successful competitors would replace them overnight.


Wouldn't ISPs just whitelist google? How would google even check without causing false positives?


Wouldn't that both be horrible for business and also run them into major anti-trust issues?


It would instantly bring on the full power of the US Government, which can do almost anything it wants to to a corporation through dozens of nasty approaches. I'm shocked at the naivety in this thread after what we just witnessed with the NSA v tech companies.

Suddenly Google is facing a fine 10x larger than what the EU just threw at them (after all, look at the business % ratio regarding markets over the last decade, the majority of their business has been in the US), and a dozen agencies begin pursuing them on a variety of issues.

The government can do anything it wants to to Google at any time it wants to do it. They have enough methods, they can make Google's existence absolute hell.


> Make the site list competitors in the user's area that don't play stupid games.

Which competitors?


Google Netflix Facebook etc. could stand to benefit by being able to afford faster speeds than younger smaller companies. The cost to compete is going to be higher, thus easier to maintain monopoly status.


No ISP is abusing net neutrality yet (to my knowledge), so they haven't had the opportunity. Also, as others have said, that worsens the problem and makes the Internet less neutral.


This explains net neutrality really well. https://www.cnet.com/news/comcast-vs-netflix-is-this-really-...

It discusses the use of faster lanes that only companies with money would have access to. At first this seems fair that companies should be able to purchase better technology to improve their speed. The question then becomes what happens to traffic on the slower lanes? I could argue this both ways. At the end of the day, the history of most ISP companies makes me not trust them.

Here's an article about Comcast trying to find loop holes https://www.wired.com/2015/11/comcast-may-have-found-a-major...


>Google would probably lose money over it

I think that's why they won't.you are asking them to do something where they have a deep conflict of interest not to.


Wouldn't this basically be a form of economic tort? If so, I doubt Google would want to be on the receiving end of the legal consequences.


If net neutrality was gutted, wouldnt they be allowed to do that? Is that not the same thing that the ISP is doing?


In the case of tortious interference, Google would be selectively attempting to interfere with the existing business relationship between the ISP and its customers by targeting specific ISPs it deems as violating what it considers as net neutrality.

Where as an ISP is unaware of any specific relationship and therefore isn't attempting to interfere.

IANAL but that's my interpretation of this specific tort law.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference#Elements


I think I understand what you're saying but wanted to express admiration for the opening thesis.


So, abuse net neutrality to punish customers of ISPs who abuse net neutrality.


Yes, it would cost them a lot, billions probably, as it would be unconstitutional action. They would be forced to close the shop if they continued.

[edit]

It could however work if they throttle priority isp traffic to counterbalance.


> unconstitutional

How? Google is a private individual/company; they can deny anyone service, so long as the reason is not discriminating against a protected class.


or using their market power to extend a monopoly.


Thanks in part to net neutrality, the open internet has grown to become an unrivaled source of choice, competition, innovation, free expression, and opportunity.

Unless my history is wrong, and please correct me if that is the case, until the Title II decision in 2015, there were no regulations preventing an ISP from discriminating network traffic. So to say that Net Neutrality has been key to an open internet from 1980-2015 seems without merit.

I think the argument here is the same for any argument of nationalization: To turn a private good into a public one.

Businesses, local and federal governments, have all contributed to the infrastructure that is the internet. So the private company can't say, "well it was all our investment" and equally the Government can't say "This is a public good."


Net neutrality regulations were adopted to protect (and in some degree restore) the net neutrality condition; the internet was largely neutral from its inception; though by the early 00s threats to neutrality in practice were becoming clear, and the FCC began discussion the issue, adopting open internet principles that it first attempted to promote via case-by-case action (which was limited by the courts), then Title I regulation (which was struck down by the courts) in 2010.

There's considerable reason to believe that even without enforceable rules, the attention and active policy activity directed at enforceable rules inhibited non-neutral action by ISPs compared to what it would have been without that activity.

> So to say that Net Neutrality has been key to an open internet from 1980-2015 seems without merit.

To say net neutrality regulations have been would be without merit, sure. To say net neutrality has been, OTOH, is factually true.


So if I understand your point here, it's basically that ISPs had an informal "code of conduct" if you will, that "All packets are created equal." That this was an informal contract with the users that everyone tacitly agreed to - what you state as a condition.

Starting in the early 2000s however some groups started breaking that informal contract and the goal in the early 2000s was to codify that into law.

So "net neutrality" in this case is trying to make a formal system out of what would be considered common law.

Makes sense holistically. Thanks.


One thing I've wondered is why ISPs turned evil after so many years of voluntary net neutrality.


They didn't change. They bought eachother and squeezed out competition out until their influence was more powerful than the consequences of playing unfairly. A long long time ago, you could choose between dozens of ISPs. That is no longer true.


I think what changed is streaming services - huge and costly (to the ISP) bandwidth hogs which are just asking to be extorted because they make money on their content.

Maybe it's also a matter of competition with cable TV - if Comcast reduces Internet service prices and takes the money from Netflix instead, Netflix will have to rise their prices and be less competitive?


Isps started competing with the companies they provided service to- YouTube and Netflix vs cable subscription, Verizon and its web properites, etc.


ISPs turned evil the day they started eyeing the pie they were carrying.

AT that time, we were comfortable because we didn't think DPI was possible.

But eventually some coder cooked it up, iirc it was to "protect the children", while being desperately sought after by the MPAA/RIAA.

From then on its just been a long slug fest to today.


Even though there were no explicit rules requiring something, there were nevertheless unofficial norms that were followed. If (almost) everyone does something without a rule, then making a rule is pointless. But when you get enough people skirting those norms, it then becomes necessary to codify them. For instance, the Special Prosecutor law that Ken Starr operated under was put in place in the wake of Watergate and the Saturday Night Massacre, when it became clear that the understanding that a special prosecutor should be protected from firing upon executive whim.


But when you get enough people skirting those norms, it then becomes necessary to codify them.

Is that what was happening, because if so it was never made clear to me. The first I remember this coming up was with the internet "lanes." AFAIK, again tell me where I'm wrong here please, there was nothing preventing an ISP from creating a "fast lane" before 2015.


Hasn't actually happened, no. The closest thing was some deal between YouTube and MetroPCS, though competing streaming services didn't have the technology required implemented and MetroPCS said they would add other sercices once that happened.

I'm very shaky on the details there, so don't take my word for it.


You're not wrong.

Before 2015, there was really nothing stopping them from doing it aside from consumer outrage. But as time goes on, large ISPs have been making more and more noise about "internet fast lanes". There have been several incidents of them throttling sites like Netflix in secret. So while they previously adhered to defacto-net-neutrality via informal gentlemen's agreement, the likes of Comcast are no longer acting like gentlemen.

Without net neutrality, it will get worse. Especially since ISPs are also cable and phone companies who are justifiably worried about how the internet is increasingly affecting their cable and phone revenue.


> Unless my history is wrong, and please correct me if that is the case, until the Title II decision in 2015, there were no regulations preventing an ISP from discriminating network traffic. So to say that Net Neutrality has been key to an open internet from 1980-2015 seems without merit.

The net neutrality was not necessary early on because it was not feasible in the past to control it on such large scale.

So between 1980-2015 net neutrality (did not exist as a law) but was there indirectly in forms of:

- the technology at the time did not allow for deep packet inspection

- net neutrality was indirectly present due to telecom regulations. For example telecom could not just block calls as they wished. So during dial-up times anyone could enter that market and provide service and cost was low. During the time of DSL there was a regulation that required telecom companies to lease their lines so again cost to enter and be DSL ISP was relatively low. There's no such thing with cable companies.

> Businesses, local and federal governments, have all contributed to the infrastructure that is the internet. So the private company can't say, "well it was all our investment" and equally the Government can't say "This is a public good."

I think you're misunderstanding it. This has nothing to do with Internet being a public good or not. It's all about controlling access to it.

What net neutrality does in a nutshell is preventing the ISPs (which provide Internet access) from being able to censor at their whim what you can access.

In normal scenario, free market would solve this issue. No one would use ISPs that place restrictions on their service and would move the competitors.

The problem is that we don't have a normal scenario, we have regional monopolies, and if you don't like your ISP, tough luck.

It's also nearly impossible to enter this market anymore, for example Google was attempting to deploy Google Fiber, but even they failed.

We need net neutrality now more than ever, because a single company essentially now will be able to control what content you can access. It would be a smaller issue if each region had its own separate company, but in reality the only companies that benefit on this you probably can count on your one hand.


Thanks for the in depth reply. Great point about technical capability to actually impact usage - and I would imagine the regional monopoly is one of the reasons that is possible.

Seems like breaking the local monopolies would solve all of these problems. Even with Title II it's still a huge problem and local ecosystems don't really benefit.


Since there's limited space and it's not only prohibitively expensive for companies to run their own fiber, but also impossible (due to limited space) for the city to allow every company to run their fiber, it would be great if city would create the infrastructure, maintain it and lease it to companies (of course at cost to cover the maintenance).

Although whenever city wanted to start providing internet access existing ISPs were fighting in courts to prevent that.

Another solution would be to do something similar to DSL that the cable companies are required to lease their fiber at reasonable price. The problem would be to determine what reasonable price is, and I'm sure the cable companies would fight against that.

But even then I still think net neutrality should be there. ISPs should just provide access to the Internet with parameters I agreed to paid for. They have no business to control what I can access (or even monitor my activity).

It's similar to electrical or water companies, they don't care what appliances you plug in[1], they won't charge you extra because you want to use 50" TV a dishwasher or add a water filter. All they care is how much electricity/water you consume, that's how it supposed to be.

[1] ok, with electricity there's thing called power factor (https://www.bchydro.com/accounts-billing/rates-energy-use/el...), which you should strive to be 1 (or 100% on the mentioned site) otherwise you might get charged extra if you're big consumer of electricity, but this is there to not waste energy


Hasn't the spirit of the Internet always been about a neutral Internet? That spirit was being threatened and so regulations were put in place to keep it neutral.


We have retroactively latched on to this RMS style idea of a digital library of alexandria that has somehow been abandoned.

It's like nobody remembers the internet of the 90s and how blatantly over the top siloed it was for the average AOL style user. I mean I remember my paid dial up internet service came on a floppy and had it's own browser and pop-up ads.

The "free" services required that you click on header links every few minutes.


The Internet of the 90's I remember was a small, local ISP that basically gave me creds to a unix system. I had access to ftp, telnet, usenet, web, email, etc. I knew the people working there and could drive over and have lunch with them. They were eager to share how it all worked. As long as you didn't (regularly) go over your storage quota, you were good.

This is the neutral net that I recall and so wish I still had.

I never once dipped my toes into the AOL muck.


AOL was not originally an ISP. That was a service they added to their other private services around when they adopted the america online name.


Yet from the network perspective, there was not much preferential routing based on service providers, because consolidation is always a late stage thing. (Where content and connection providers combined.)


If there are bad players, why instead don't you get rid of the legislation that gives them monopolies, so other people can offer better services?

Instead you're just giving the bad apples your money. Oh how awful for them... and they will put data caps and raise prices, because as long as the laws gives them monopolies you can't do nothing about it.


I would love to get rid of the legislation that promotes monopolies among the ISPs. Please do tell me how? Seems every politician these days doesn't hold my same opinions.


There were net neutrality actions before 2015, and net neutrality has applied ever since they were using phone lines for internet service (as, for example, those - phones - are where the original legislation was targeted, and where net neutrality came from). The 2015 Title II was a specific decision about specific ISPs (namely mobile data plans).

So yes you are wrong.


There were net neutrality actions before 2015

Actions such as what? I'm talking specifically about regulations that prevent a company from throttling traffic in a discriminatory way.


Well you could google it. It also has it's own wikipedia page with like a hundred entries. Maybe don't be dense.


This has been the weakest day of action I could imagine. I thought sites were going to be throttled. Turns out its just some color changes and, oh, reddit has a fancy "slow-loading" gif for their website name. A real wake-up call!


This is exactly what I thought.

Went to reddit.com...where's the Net Neutrality protest? Oh I just realized they made their logo a gif that looks like it loads slow...and they made a post...

Went to google.com...the doodle is unrelated and I saw nothing about net neutrality on the site...

Went to mozilla.org and I see absolutely nothing about it. I feel like I must be missing something here.

Hackernews...looks the same but slightly grayed. Oh the black bar is a link, didn't realize that. But no messages or anything obvious.

LinkedIn.com maybe? Nothing

Twitter? They have a hashtag that's trending...that's it.

Facebook? I see nothing. Not even a trending topic.

This is a very luke warm day of technology companies protesting net neutrality. I expected at least a tiny blurb on a homepage SOMEWHERE. So far Netflix and DuckDuckGo are the only large sites that I've notice actually put something on their homepage.


Agreed, this is a very poor showing of support from major websites.

I remember Wikipedia doing a "black out" day, along with several other websites years back. If you visited the web page, all you saw was a black page and a quick explanation that the web could be censored if legislation were to pass.

I've visited several participants' sites to see nothing. GitHub didn't have a single thing, Wikipedia: nothing, and Google (or Alphabet) isn't even listed on the list of participants [0].

[0] https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12/#participants


The Wikipedia community seems to have a strong dislike [0][1][2] for anything like the SOPA blackout, partially as it's not as black-and-white as SOPA, and partially because Wikipedia directly wouldn't be affected (their site is pretty fast).

Worth noting that Wikipedia Zero [3] exists, and has been taking flak for not being the most NN-friendly initiative.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jimbo_Wales/Archive_...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_(propos...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_(propos...

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/11/25...


Pornhub is doing more for this than many companies listed here if you check their homepage (still very minimal), which says a lot to me...


Reddit didn't even change their banner announcement - it's currently promoting signing up for Reddit Gifts. The slow-loading logo only has a clue to what it's about in the alt-text; the link hasn't changed.


I think archive.org has the best Net Neutrality protest. Very _in your face_ and clear


Actually, twitter trending a hashtag on it is pretty good given that is their core product. The rest, yes I agree.


Sure it's a core part but the trending hashtags are not easily visible unless you're on a desktop site and they just blend into the background. They don't seem very prominent at all and I certainly missed them at first when I was looking around for Net Neutrality references.

I would be curious if users even look at those on mobile since it requires more effort to see.


Why do you want to ruin the internet more for the rest of the world today?


Because I want to protect it for the whole world for the future. Netflix, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, Reddit, and other major services you use which are supporting net neutrality all started as American companies. If this measure fails, it's less likely that equally good companies will come from the resulting situation.

Sorry about your Internet today, but they're doing it for your Internet tomorrow.


We all know US market != Rest of the world market. What you have at home as a US Citizen isn't what the rest of the world gets. I agree that you should have a strong action at home. But spreading this to other countries and calling it collateral damage just shows how little consideration you have for the rest of the world.


weird considering they all came about from that "situation"


facebook and wikipedia cannot protest net neutrality; they are working to get (a version of) their websites zero-rated.


I think we need a new term and perhaps a visceral, easily understandable metaphor.

Common Joe just doesn't get it or know what we're talking about.

He instantly gets "death panel" or "fake news." But net neutrality sounds like something fuzzy almost benign.


Many countries don't have network neutrality. In Australia, Optus use to off "free social" where Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and a few other sites didn't count against your bandwidth.

Add network neutrality legislation and it would be very easy to lobby against: "Turnbull wants you to pay more for Facebook and Twitter"

Most people don't have an understanding of what Quality of Service is.


Perhaps the "corporate internet"?

At least it has a negative connotation to it, while "net neutrality" has not.

I'm guessing it is easier for people to oppose something, than to support something. Opposing something feels more urgent.


I've always thought "Anti-Internet Racketeering" described the issue and ramifications pretty succinctly.


Too many syllables for a good slogan. Need something like "It's my internet!" or "Fight internet extortion!"


“Open Internet” is good, and is what the FCC policy focus has always been labelled.


The biggest problem with terms with a positive connotation is that both sides will claim them.

For example, Comcast will simply say "we support Open Internet" with the implication that "Open" in this context means "We can do whatever we want with our own lines.", i.e. complete corporate freedom. This deliberately promotes confusion, and then whoever has the most money wins.

In my opinion, the biggest problem is that this topic is relatively more technical than most people are used to understanding, which makes it very difficult to convey the various ramifications without over-simplifying.


The ever popular 'Free Choice/Freedom' angle? Removal of Net Neutrality ensures that the ISP gets to decide what the consumer watches. 'Don't let them tell you what to watch!' (followed by horrified alpha males watching Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman on Youtube or whatever else passes for horrifying nowadays.)


How dare you imply that Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was horrible!


Ha, just passing along a tired old joke :). I personally never saw the show myself but plenty of shows had a good time making fun of it (Home Improvement, Red Green Show (?)) I guess I stopped watching TV after the 90s sitcoms stopped so my references are old and tired.


I know right? The question for me is why? Netflix has gone on record saying "well, we're big enough to negotiate the deals we want so we don't particularly care if the ladder gets pulled up behind us". I imagine many other big corporations/sites are in similar positions. But even so I doubt they'd want to make said deals in the first place, they'd be expensive. So isn't a stronger response in their best interest?

Or perhaps they're all secretly looking forward to fast lanes they can buy...


I think they just don't see the point.

I don't think the people pushing to dismantle net neutrality are stupid. They know that removing it is bad for innovation and consumers but they'd rather help the ISPs make more money than help keep America's economy healthy overall.

Probably because they directly receive benefits from the ISPs.

So since we are all being ignored, why will yelling louder make a difference?


It worked against SOPA/PIPA, although granted that was legislation up for a vote, not the policy of a commission. At the very least it might give some of the politicians a moment of pause to know they're seriously pissing off other powerful moneyed interests, and it would certainly increase public awareness and perhaps make more people care. If you talk about how YouTube might be throttled without Net Neutrality, people will definitely care.


Don't you find it weird that businesses have to fake that it's an issue by adding gimmicks to their sites like the slow loading gif? Maybe if it become an actual instantiated issue in the future we could expect a real grassroots movement, but as is, the arguments are mostly academic and it's hard to rally people around that.


I would like to see sites with severely limited usage as well but I imagine that would result in angry customers who don't give a rip one way or the other hurting the bottom line.


This is correct. I am not a fan of net neutrality and the level of "protest" that has appeared today already makes me uneasy. It's easy to claim that google is so monolithic that blocking its services for a day would be a crippling blow to the anti-net neutrality crowd, but it's really just blackmail. I don't think the public would be responsive to such a threat, and there are plenty of alternatives (even if the quality isn't quite the same). I'm sure one of those alternatives would be content to not force its politics on its customers.


Wow - not a friend of net neutrality? Such person exists?! And reads hacker news? Site which sucess is directly connected to open internet ..

I thought that this will be the one issue where hacker news crowd will be united.


Google has global network with their caches everywhere. If you want private peering with google you can have it for free, they will not pay for peering with you. I know an example in one of Eu countries in which big ISP wanted google to pay them for private peering, this ISP had around 40% of internet market in this country. Google said no and this isp is peering with google for free now, while charging other companies double digit euro for megabit..

Google has so much private peering around the world that they just don't really care, it will not affect them too much. People will change their ISP to have fast youtube access rather than stop to use youtube or google.


> this ISP had around 40% of internet market in this country

oh I tought it is way more than 40%. well the problem is the other providers are not (that) better options either.


They're hedging their bets. They don't want to alienate half their audience, so they make a token show for the minority that care, and leave it at that.

Also, isn't it likely that the largest companies would benefit most if they were in a position to pay for priority over small upstart competitors?


I didn't even realise it was today until part way through reading this page of comments.

Hacker News -> Noticed the black/grey bar, but assumed it was a variant of the "someone notable has died" black bar so didn't pay it much attention.

Reddit -> Didn't even see the altered logo until probably the tenth page I was on, and just though "Oh, the logo didn't load in all the way, weird" (by the time it gets to the "Bandwidth exceeded" message it's probably off the page, and even that's hardly a call to (user) action).

Google/Twitter/Facebook -> Didn't notice anything.


I was hoping Amazon would do something creative like offering Prime Six-Day Shipping but nope - just some graphic tossed aside so they can keep selling Fire devices.


Well it's certainly made me pause when I saw HN's fancy grey header.

That's perhaps the intention. Raise awareness first, then come together to do something. It's gonna take lots of days of action over the years to gain momentum..


Clearly, this day of action needs more hashtags. Maybe a building to be lit up in different colors tonight. /s

Seriously, I'm disgusted by what counts as "action" these days. This reeks of lip service, nothing more.


"Net Neutrality" in its final form did not solve or fix any problems with the Internet. The definition of "Net Neutrality" is poorly defined, too vague and does not have any proposed legislation attached to "fix" things. Even when new rules were implemented, ISPs still throttled torrents and manipulated traffic. The only way to fix the Internet is to do so from a technical perspective, not by adding more regulations that ISPs won't obey (they work that into their business model). The "Internet" has never been free and has always been controlled by a handful of entities. The only fix for the Internet is if everyone actively participates in the Internet's infrastructure and we work to create technologies that thwart active threats from ISPs or that gives ISPs competition.

;TLDR I don't support Net Neutrality.


I've mentioned a number of times before, but I'm actually advocating to my friends against their participation today for the reason that I believe, if the Evil ISP acts in a crumby way, that it will create demand for better service. And I think that's the only way to get to a Mesh Internet For The People, By The People.

My position is that: We don't need big pipes (or millions of hours of television piped to us every month), we need the interfaces and hardware for connecting with each other.


Comcast is already despised by its customers. There is already demand for better service but most people don't have any other option. It is naive to think that the loss of net neutrality will be the straw that breaks the camel's back for Comcast.


Unpopular opinion: I've never had a problem with Comcast and I loved the fact that they allowed users (in my experience) in the same residence cash in on promos.

promo ends -> cancel plan -> new roommate signs on.


So you're happy that Comcast allows you to not grossly overpay for their service if you have enough roommates? Kind of a weird endorsement.


I'm happy that they allow me to grossly underpay for their service, if I have enough roommates.


OK. Does the current situation cause harm? Is there a good reason why it needs to change?


ISPs could provide higher fidelity for voice calls and streaming video by discriminating in favor of these packets.



Net Neutrality is an illusion, at best.

It is similar to price controls, limiting the price a service can be offered at. Like price controls, it causes shortages by making the service too cheap for some users, increasing demand for them to use it even more, and making it too expensive for other users, who don't use it very much.

Let's say you're a company like Netflix, and you and/or your customers use 30% of an ISP's bandwidth. Why shouldn't you and/or your customers pay more for using more bandwidth? If Net Neutrality forces everyone to pay the same, then the costs of the extra bandwidth used by some customers will have to be paid by other customers, raising everyone's prices.

The idea of offering different levels of service at difference prices should be welcome, because it allows low-income people to afford the internet, and it ensures that enough resources are allocated for heavy-duty users. If Net Neutrality says that all internet services should be offered at the same bandwidth and same price, then it will raise the price for all customers, and it will make heavy users of the internet overuse it, making ISPs use throttling to avoid the inevitable overuse which occurs when prices are too low for some customers.

(Think of the 1970s gas shortages when Nixon instituted price controls -- the result was that customers had to be "throttled" by only being allowed to buy gas on certain days based on their license plate number. If this "throttling" wasn't done, there would be worst gas shortages and empty tanks because the heavy users would use up all of the gas because their demand for it is more than the price-controlled price indicates.)

As for blocking or throttling certain protocols/ports, this is wrong, but I think it's a symptom of other issues, such as security vulnerabilities, or overuse of a given level of service because it's priced too low.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYoOSHYXI3c


So since it doesn't do everything you want you are totally against it?


> "Net Neutrality" in its final form did not solve or fix any problems with the Internet.

I'm against it because it as an idea has failed in both its proposal and implementation. If people are going to whine and rally for a "fix", they should at least propose an action that will actually fix things instead of complaining. Proposing new legislation (which I'm not fully in favor of) or expanding rules would be doing something.


I'm also of the same opinion. So, don't think you're alone here.

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