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FCC won’t delay vote, says net neutrality supporters are “desperate” (arstechnica.com)
245 points by adidash 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 196 comments



After reading about Pai, it seems like he was hand selected to be the figure head with which the ISPs would finally take down Net Neutrality.

This whole situation sucks, and no matter how much noise we make and activism we take part in, if Pai has the legal footing to ruin the internet, he will.


> After reading about Pai, it seems like he was hand selected to be the figure head with which the ISPs would finally take down Net Neutrality.

He's not. He's a generic Republican, appointed by Obama (since the commission is obligated by Congress to have no more than a simple majority of appointees from any one party).

The problem is, this is what all Republicans are like nowadays. Any other person that Obama could have appointed would be doing the exact same thing in these circumstances. And in fact, virtually every other regulatory agency and department is doing the exact same thing thanks to Trump appointees. They are un-interested in any semblance of reasonable governance, it's siphoning your money to their backers in the most direct and aggressive fashion, plain and simple.

Elections have consequences. A lot of prominent Silicon Valley figures backed Trump figuring it would be an easy tax cut for them, and this is the result. What's that story Trump liked to tell around the campaign trail, the frog and the scorpion?

Everyone fantasizes they'd be the ones to come out on top (Ayn Rand wrote a whole book about it!), but there is always a bigger fish. Welcome to laissez-faire capitalism, where buying the government is part of the game. Free Markets are not a stable social structure by themselves, they need government regulation to keep the playing field level.

The truth is not in the middle, and not all viewpoints have equal merit. We have one reasonable party whose positions you may or may not like, and one batshit insane party that begins tearing everything down as soon as they're in power. Shame it takes a lesson like this for people to realize that.

Sorry to be blunt, and sorry to bring politics into this forum. But that's the way it is.


Point of clarification: Pai was appointed to the 5 person FCC commission by Obama. He was named chairman by Trump. FWIW, the previous chairman, Tom Wheeler (ostensibly a Democrat), probably would've dismantled net neutrality if Obama hadn't come out strongly in favor of it.

I find it incredibly frustrating that people clearly see the need for referees in sports, but not in business. Nobody's saying that the NFL or the NBA would have better competition if there were no refs.


There is a referee in business: the court system.

What your proposing is more like a league which will solidify the rules as they currently exist. An example of this is banning innovations like Aluminum bats.


The court system isn't suited for this anymore. It was a different time in 1776 when corporations were not allowed to live in perpetuity, amassing as much of the valuable resources as they can, handing it off to ancestors upon the owners death (sounds a bit like monarchism, IMO).

"What your proposing is more like a league which will solidify the rules as they currently exist."

According to Thomas Jefferson, this is exactly what Constitution and laws are for.

Thomas Jefferson:

"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."


The dutch east india company controlled half the world at one point. Do you really believe today's corporations are more powerful?

Your quote says laws should evolve with the people which lends to neither of our arguments as we're discussing how it should evolve not "if".


"The world" during the high days of the VOC was only 8% of the population today so it's kind of difficult to honestly compare, IMHO.

But more importantly, the VOC "perished under corruption" not because it was dragged to court :) It's not really fair to say that "the system" dealt with it when it obviously just succumbed over time under the inevitability of impermanence.


The Dutch east India company had standing armies and war ships. To say that modern companies are more powerfully merely because of population growth is a bit of a stretch.

How they came to an end is irrelevant to whether courts are effective referees unless you believe the only fair thing is to destroy large companies.


Thomas Jefferson had more direct opinions on corporations, having tried (and failed) to add an 11th amendment limiting their power. For example:

"I hope we shall take warning from the example [of England] and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and to bid defiance to the laws of their country."

https://books.google.com/books?id=KCFfDQAAQBAJ&lpg=PT110&ots...


You must be unfamiliar with laissez-fare soccer. Technically there's still referees, but they're worth triple points.


There isn't a "reasonable" party, the Democrats could have made this a law making repealing it difficult. They found the to give ISPs billions of dollars, and to legalize spying on their customers though.

Both parties are a joke, voting for either is an awful choice.


That's a lie, plain and simple. 2017 is the year that the claim that both parties are just as bad went from being a somewhat valid commentary on American politics to the cries of the intellectually lazy.

One party would not attempt to ram throw a bill that took away health insurance for millions without a back plan. One party would not attempt to ram through a tax reform bill that was literally being amended on the floor before the vote. One party would not let a federal agency make a sweeping change that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not support. One party would not allow the president of the United States to use Twitter to incite violence and spread out racist messages. I can go on, but the point is that had Clinton won, this year would not have been such a mess as the Republican party bungles it's way around trying to pillage and loot America for the benefit of its donors.


Be careful who you call “intellectually lazy.”


Anyone who claims both parties are the same after the past year is intellectually lazy.


Intellectual laziness is reading "both parties are a joke" as "both parties are the same."


Not a lie, supported third parties for my voting life as it's clear the system is a broken joke. Voting Hillary in wouldn't have created a liberal paradise, just changed the details of the mess we are in.


Electing Clinton would have given us 4 more years of Obama. That means Congress would be busy wasting time, but as I said, we wouldn’t be dealing with any of the issues of healthcare, taxes, or net neutrality we are now.


So my poor friend would still be struggling to choose between healthcare or slightly more money, our taxes would still be used to indiscriminately kill thousands of innocents worldwide, and we might have the government spying on all our internet traffic for slightly less money. Huge improvement, I can see why I should support a party promising that.


The Democrats were pretty much unable to pass any legislation worth a damn after 2010, which is why everything done afterwards is so easily undone.

One party is for dealing with climate change, privacy, net neutrality, healthcare, etc. It may be bad, but it's definitely _less_ bad.


One of my examples was before 2010, the other was introduced by a Democrat and signed into law by one.

They didn't consider universal health care an option, saying they cared about privacy is a sick joke, they didn't make net neutrality a law. They may be slightly less bad but voting for them is still a terrible choice.


The thing about the lesser of two evils is that it’s the lesser of two evils and picking it over the greater of two evils is a good choice. That said, the most important issue of our time is climate change and the difference there is utterly clear.


The idea that it is a binary choice is a false one. The two parties will drone on about how other candidates are "spoilers" who only benefit who you see as the worse choice. That's nonsense, your vote should go towards who you think represents your interests best.

Yes, that vision ultimately needs more than just a third party win. The system itself is broken. It's still a better choice.

I'm not knowledgeable enough about various industrial wastes to comment on environmental issues. If that's what you see as the most important issue, why would you vote anything but Green? That's been a core of their platform for fourty years.


> The two parties will drone on about how other candidates are "spoilers" who only benefit who you see as the worse choice. That's nonsense, your vote should go towards who you think represents your interests best.

You need to learn Civics. I could write in my own name since my opinions are closer to my opinions than the Green candidate. What would that accomplish?

If, one day, the US introduces proportional or preferred representation then the calculations will change. In Australia, for example, you can vote (1) Green, (2) Labor (say) and then if the Green candidate is eliminated your vote is counted for your second choice. But if the Green candidate gets enough support then you get your first choice.

Even then, Democracy is difficult. In proportional systems, small parties can have disproportionate influence.


>I could write in my own name since my opinions are closer to my opinions than the Green candidate. What would that accomplish?

I don't think I have the political knowledge or general knowledge to represent my interests best in government, and failing to campaign shows I'm not prepared for the responsibility. I can't say for certain, but I assume it's the same for you. If I'm wrong, you should vote for yourself. I imagine most candidates do.

Yes, some better form of representation is part of my ultimate goal. The fear of small parties having a disproportionate influence doesn't worry me, small groups already have a disproportionate influence.


Fear of losing to the other party is the only thing that keeps them from being more awful. So please don’t stop voting.


Vote in every election, just never for an awful choice.


>They are un-interested in any semblance of reasonable governance, it's siphoning your money to their backers in the most direct and aggressive fashion, plain and simple.

They are uninterested in your view of reasonable governance. Reasonable people can and do disagree with things like net neutrality.


>They are uninterested in your view of reasonable governance. Reasonable people can and do disagree with things like net neutrality.

Really? On what grounds? Because I've literally not run into a single person, democrat or republican, who thinks net neutrality should go away.

*Mind you, I'm not personally friends with any executives from one of the big 8 companies that stand to benefit from it... but outside of them and shareholders I'm struggling to come up with the "reasonable" person who thinks this will be a good thing.


> Because I've literally not run into a single person, democrat or republican, who thinks net neutrality should go away.

My father. In his opinion, businesses should be allowed to manage themselves as they see fit, without outside interference.

Various people I've had 1-on-1 conversations with online. Often some variation on the regulations being difficult to enforce, and pointless because companies weren't doing things that were that bad before net neutrality anyhow.

We could debate the extent to which they were "reasonable" people, but I think that their opinions were reasoned out. They just started from assumptions that I disagree with.


>My father. In his opinion, businesses should be allowed to manage themselves as they see fit, without outside interference.

So consumers are just at the mercy of the corporate monopolies then? I'm curious how he expects a democracy to survive in the face of monopolies owning the media and controlling our "free" press. History has shown that's basically impossible, but I assume he's got a solution given you've said he's reasonable.

>Various people I've had 1-on-1 conversations with online. Often some variation on the regulations being difficult to enforce, and pointless because companies weren't doing things that were that bad before net neutrality anyhow

Then they haven't bothered to do basic research. It isn't hard to enforce and there was a framework in place already.


The argument I'd expect him to make: You're making the assumption that monopolies are inherently bad, and that alternatives wouldn't spring up out of the American spirit of entrepreneurship if they were actually required. Clearly, alternatives haven't arisen because we're doing well enough with what we have. Oh, the government grants exclusive franchise to specific companies? Just another example of the evils of government interference in the market.


I mean... In my lifetime we have had literally this exact thing. AT&T was a monopoly. It was inherently bad for literally everyone that wasn't employed by AT&T, and even most of them. The government didn't grant them exclusive rights, but they did step in to fix the situation. Assuming he doesn't have Alzheimers (literally), that would be a really, really bad argument given we've lived it and seen the results.


No idea how he'd connect it to the Bells. He's not an easy person to discuss politics with.


I’m making an inference here: you consider the current state of affairs to be reasonable governance.


Its not the elections or the Republicans.

The US was under the impression that they were special snowflakes. Every country has rules about corporate involvement in political campaigns. But Americans knew better. Our politicians can't be bribed because America fuck yeah!

All citizens are equal but some are more equal than others.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._FEC


Thank you for the bluntness, after taking a minute I cannot refute anything you said.

There are many complaints these days about the increasing level of political discourse on HN. But the way things are going, we’ll come to the point where we have to talk about things with the people next to us in the grocery store line. This is a dangerous road we are on.

The country in control of some deeply unhappy few that never queue for a checkout counter.


How do you determine which party an appointee belongs to? Why didn't Obama appoint someone from the green party?


> Why didn't Obama appoint someone from the green party?

Because aside from the law governing appointments, there is also the Senate confirmation process, and such a violation of both the spirit of the law and the established informal norms would both be unlikely to survive that process, and complicate other matters before the Senate, which was blocking more routine nominees.


He doesn't. Ignoring the public comment period and making comments like demonstrate he's not acting in the interest of the consumer. There's a good chance a federal judge will strike this down.


>There's a good chance a federal judge will strike this down.

Is there any historical precedent for this? I'm trying to assess the resemblance between this case and such a hypothetical case.

I want to believe...


Read Tim Wu's recent piece. There absolutely will be legal challenges due to the process that has occurred. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/opinion/courts-net-neutra...


Yes. The notice and comment period is intended to prevent arbitrary or capricious decisions by agencies.


What makes this decision arbitrary or capricious? The administration and the FCC see a policy objective in deregulating the internet, just because you disagree with it doesn't make it arbitrary.

It's going to have definite winners (telcoms) and losers (tech companies) but that is true of literally every type of regulation.

There are respects in which, say, fracking is not the best thing for the public either (lighting your tap water on fire, etc). The party in charge gets to decide what the best interests of the public are, and what policies to use to achieve them.


What makes this decision arbitrary or capricious?

Note that 'Arbitrary or capricious' is a legal standard of review for a government agency's decisions[0].

"In administrative law, a government agency's resolution of a question of fact, when decided pursuant to an informal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), is reviewed on the arbitrary and capricious standard. Arbitrary and capricious is a legal ruling where in an appellate court determines that a previous ruling is invalid because it was made on unreasonable grounds or without any proper consideration of circumstances. This is an extremely deferential standard."

It's a pretty low bar, but it exists.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_of_review#Arbitrary_a...


Sounds a lot like rational-basis but for administrative rulemaking (vs laws). i.e. the lowest possible bar the courts can impose. All you need is a reason this would accomplish some valid goal - doesn't have to be a good reason, doesn't have to have any basis in fact, it certainly doesn't have to be one you agree with. Just, "can you give me a reason for this law".

So, the reason here is "promoting competition". No need to demonstrate that this rule actually does it (in fact it does not, but that doesn't matter).

Courts ain't gonna do shit on this, sorry.


> What makes this decision arbitrary or capricious?

Disregard of the integrity of the legally-mandatory public comment process is, in and of itself, strong evidence that there is a violation of procedural rules governing regulation.


The public comment process is not an opinion poll, it's a mechanism to make sure the FCC has all the relevant information at its disposal. They are under no obligation to favor any viewpoint just because it's popular.

You've actually got it backwards. If this were a case of an Executive Branch run amok, the proper move at this point would be for Congress to pass a law and fix it. And Congress itself is definitely an opinion poll, we call them 'elections'.

Elections have consequences, and administrators have a large amount of leeway in how their departments get run.


> The public comment process is not an opinion poll, it's a mechanism to make sure the FCC has all the relevant information at its disposal. They are under no obligation to favor any viewpoint just because it's popular.

Which is a straw man, as I did not argue anything about failing to treat the public comment process as a poll.


But what move comes after that? If congress intervenes next and its not in our favor, the outcome could be far worse and harder to reverse.


Vote them out.


Well the consumer (us) cannot seem to define what we want other than "everything" or point to how the 2014 change fixed issues that were common place. Where is the list of events that were fixed with the change that had not been previously identified and corrected as overreach by an ISP?

Take a look at those pushing "net neutrality" and understand why. I am not saying they are not without merit but both sides have merit but one side is funded by very large monied interest for one reason, they know they can use net neutrality to force what they want to relieve costs on their business interest and never have to pass it on because all onus will be on service providers.

Service providers who have since the prior rule changes have reduced roll out of higher speeds including some very big names (google is one). Why should they? Where is the payoff for adding throughput if its going to get regulated.

I remember the last time it was all regulated, my choice was ISDN provided I could get it or T1 provided I could get it or just suck it up and stay on dial up. With lack of regulation new players came in with higher bandwidth and made it available to me increasing competition. With regulation on service people magically expect higher speed broadban but totally ignore the fact there is no incentive to provided it and once regulated it will be mired in delay after delay and only show where powerful politicians want it.

What is also means if with regulation of service providers they will tell you exactly what services you may use the regulated network for. welcome to China


>or point to how the 2014 change fixed issues that were common place.

2014 Reclassification was a response to a legal order brought about by Verizon suing the FCC, from 2010 to 2014 NN was in place under Title I regulations, The Courts ruled the FCC exceeded its authority under Title I and if they wanted anything like the Open Internet Order the ISP had to be moved to Title II

Internet Service was also regulated under Title II from its inception until 2005 when it was reclassified by the FCC under Title I

As to violation here is a list, this is not all inclusive but is a good starting reference

https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-vio...

>> they know they can use net neutrality to force what they want to relieve costs on their business interest and never have to pass it on because all onus will be on service providers.

This assertion by the ISP that companies like Google are getting a "free ride" is moronic. It fails to identify who the consumer is of these companies, it is not Google or Netflix, it is the average homeowner or resident who pays and obscene amount of money for these companies to go out and pickup data from Internet Peering Points. Google and others also pay money to send data out to these peering points.

This idea that if Verizon and Comcast can start charging Google will be good for the consumer has no basis in reality or history. At best it will simply increase the already extreme profit margins for the companies. Companies with a Captive Consumer market do not "pass savings" along, why would they there is no other competitor around for the consumer to change to.

>>I remember the last time it was all regulated, my choice was ISDN provided I could get it or T1 provided I could get it or just suck it up and stay on dial up. With lack of regulation new players came in with higher bandwidth and made it available to me increasing competition

WOW, that is extreme revisionist history...

Had nothing at all do with advancement of Technology, no, it was all regulations that prevented everything

Jesus. are you for real


>>> With lack of regulation new players came in with higher bandwidth and made it available to me increasing competition.

Funny. In the UK, with it's massively regulated marketplaces, one has far greater choice in home broadband providers. The concept that all regulation by government hampers innovation and investment is a highschool-level understanding of economics, an Ayn Rand approach. In cases of monopolies, which includes ownership of private infrastructures (railroads, fiber etc), regulation can keep markets open and alive that would otherwise stagnate. In a great many circumstances government regulation can foster competition. But such wider understandings don't fit well with modern identity politics.


The practical difficulty of government regulation as a means of maintaining competition is that when your government representatives are directly sponsored by the incumbents through campaign donations and lobbying, they're motivated to protect their sponsors.

However, when incumbents over-invest in the status quo, if a newcomer can change the game then they can disrupt the incumbent and take over the industry. For example, Blockbuster was once the dominant name in video rentals in the US. Then along came a little rent-by-mail service called Netflix. I suspect something similar will happen to ISPs once we figure out how to remove the current reliance on their physical infrastructure. I have no faith that American politicians will regulate for competition in that field at least while the current incumbents remain the top dogs.

For anyone curious about the actual spending on lobbying and donations, here are the numbers:

AT&T (#9 in lobbying spending in 2016): https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000076

Verizon: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000079

Comcast: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?cycle=2016&id=D...

Charter: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?cycle=2016&id=D...


I was told that in Japan there is a strict separation between infrastructure and ISP services, which has allowed for a lot of competition between ISPs despite the fact that they all share the same infrastructure.

In capitalism, any market with a sufficiently high barrier to entry will always end in a monopoly in the absence of regulation.


> despite

Because.


That's what I said. Trump selected lots of people like that to head up agencies. They either have no experience, wanted to destroy the agency earlier, or will put their ideology before the will of the people every time.


Just a pedantic procedural point: The FCC is not an "agency", but a commission with 5 members. Once a commissioner is named, they cannot be removed by the President for any reason besides misconduct. The two of them besides Mr. Pai who are Republicans have been on for quite a while and their agreement is necessary for this scheme of his to work. He presumably has it, otherwise there would be no vote taking place, so it's not like this is merely a product of Trump’s unique intervention here.


I feel like this happens with every president. People like to blame the person in charge when in reality, there are a LOT of other people doing nefarious things behind the scene.

Not trying to let trump off the hook, more so trying to get the message across that we have more to focus on.


Let's be clear about something here. These are most likely not organic Trump picks. This is about the biggest donors getting their quid pro quo in the form of cabinet picks due to regulatory capture... and leaks of the Obama admin indicate the same thing happened with him, the same with Bush before him, and likely with presidents for a long time. With Obama it was citigroup who got most of the picks if I remember correctly, but with Trump it seems to be a bit more varied. (Eg Eric Princes sister for Education Secretary, etc)

Edit: I'd appreciate dialogue instead of just down votes. To clarify, by saying Trumps picks were a bit more varied I wasn't saying it was any better than bankers picking almost all of them.

The realpolitik response I usually hear is how only industry experts at a high level can fill these positions, but I simply no longer buy this argument.


I didn't downvote you.

I fail to see a Betsy Devos type character in either the Bush or Obama admin. She even wrote in a tax benefit to her neocon college in the Northeast.


Devos is actually a perfect pick if you assume the goal was to pursue her pet agenda at the expense of every other possible agenda that a Secretary of Education could have. Whether the skids were greased because of her rich brother or not, she still could have been picked by some hypothetical other Republican president.

Usually, the completely crooked, bought-their-way-into-the-Cabinet appointment in any given administration is whoever becomes the Commerce Secretary. You don't usually remember who the Commerce Secretary is because they don't typically do anything, but they're almost always a big money donor. There's a bipartisan tradition of that which stretches back to when it was created at the turn of the century.


I disagree. She was appointed for two primary reasons that I see from my admittedly limited perspective. One, to shore up support of the evangelicals. Two, because of donations made by her brother and similar people. Once in office, abusing her position to give favors to those who get her appointed seems little different to me than bankers donating and getting bankers cabinet positions and then those people doing similar things. (For example, I can almost guarantee if I did some digging I could find similar tax break schemes for their base under each admin) I feel like just because the neocons are slightly easier to hate on than bankers it causes a bit of willful myopia on the subject.


well, between neocons and bankers there's only one group that actively wants certain Americans out of their own country.


I mean, Pai was an Obama pick for FCC commissioner.


What would an organic Trump pick be if not based on some sort of quid pro quo?


Exactly so. While he often adopts the mien of those for whom he is a vehicle, Trump himself has no real political philosophy; every pick is entirely transactional.


That's a good but saddening point. I guess its hella naive of me to imagine a lotus might someday make picks based off who actually is best qualified for the job.


That really seems to be the case. See EPA or CFBP.


Are you writing this after having called the relevant representatives and senators for your state?


We've only had the rules for two years, and this only shows that the next administration can also pull and about-face. The lawsuits might not even be settled by then.


I highly doubt the next administration will do that, for a few reasons

1) Once the cat is out of the bag it's a pain in the ass to put back in. "Hey Comcast and Netflix, your fastlane agreement is now null and void". Tell that to every ISP and software company that made such an agreement.

2) It's hard to get the government to pay attention even when there are people sympathetic to your case. Getting Tom Wheeler to about-face was a huge effort.

This isn't to say it CAN'T happen. I'd just prefer for NN to not be removed in the first place.


We've had net neutrality enforcement from the FCC for 13 years; case-by-case until that was struck down in 2010; neutrality rules very similar to those later adopted under Title II adopted under Title I authority from 2010 until those were struck down by the courts in 2014, and Title II rules from 2015 till now.

And even prior to 2004, much of what then passed for broadband was regulated in ways which incidentally protected or encouraged neutrality, though that was piecemeal and incidental to regulation of the particular underlying phone or cable infrastructure, not part of a coherent internet-related policy.

The new rules would not seek to enforce neutrality as the new FCC majority claims enforcement is unnecessary, and that what minimal enforcement against anti-competitive practices should be done should be done by the FTC. This would be a condition which has not existed in the history of the publicly-relevant internet, not a return to the status quo of two years ago.


>>We've only had the rules for two years,

False. A form of NN was in place from 2010 to 2014. Then the courts rules the FCC exceeded its authority under Title I so the FCC moved the ISP to Title II and reapplied the NN Rules in 2015.

Also one should note that from the internet inception until 2005 Internet Services were Telecommunications Services regulated under Title II.

It is more accurate to state we were only with out the rules from 2005 to 2010.


And even from 2005-2010 the FCC was suing ISP's that violated the principles of net neutrality.


Not only that, I haven't seen any improvement to consumers in the two years that we've had FCC oversight on this.

The only places I see improvement are in markets that have managed to create competition between providers. And that tends to only come from municipal players entering the market as the large ISPs (Comcast, Charter, ATT) generally avoid entering markets that have an established player as they'd actually have to compete.


> Not only that, I haven't seen any improvement to consumers in the two years that we've had FCC oversight on this.

That's because net neutrality was already the status quo (though enforced via other means than Title II classification up till 2014).

The FCC oversight wasn't supposed to bring improvements -- it was supposed to prevent negative changes (I'm sure we'll see what kinds within the next six months). As for improvements in amount of service, and pricing, and infrastructure, these will require far more intervention.


That kind of regulatory uncertainty is bad for the industry. Congress really needs to act.

... hahaha ... congress ... act ... hahahahaha ...

In all seriousness though: I think it's a mistake to focus on the FCC even now. That's obviously a lost cause. Focus on Congress and the next election cycle. Network neutrality needs to be law.


Its now December 2017. Everybody knew about his plan the day he was sworn in as chairman.

Between the resources at Google/ Yahoo/ FB/ Ycombinator alone they have the money, lawyers, know how, and have had since November of last year to do something about this, anything. anything at all. Actually, any fortune 500 company. Not a single whisper from wall street. not a single whisper from the private sector. Obviously insane levels of fraud happening with the comments being written by russian bots, fake names, and missing real comments with all investigations going nowhere thanks to shit pai.

We will probably loose it for good. it will most likely be a very slow process to make sure nobody is riled up enough to actually do anything about it.

I can almost guarantee instead of fixing or trying to solve any issues. Verizon, comcast, At&T, Tmobile and sprint all have new plans ready to roll out will full marketing behind them.

It is up to us state by state to dismantle the communication cartels once and for all.

But naw, some bot will flag this post just like the other 500+ threads that have popped up since November of last year critical of the government in any way shape or form. Seriously HN get your shit together, absolutely pathetic that it has even come to this point.

Ycombinator is who they are directly attacking, 12 gauge to the head, yet nobody around here seems to actually think they are worthy enough to live. Let alone get a fast, dependable, and cheap/ fair price on our own internet that the tax payers have paid for over and over again.

If that is the case then maybe we all deserve to loose it. I kind of am hoping we do. I want a new internet with blackjack and hookers. only way possible to make it happen is if the entire country were to be pushed at once to move on beyond ISPs grasp and make our own mesh networks. This is that opportunity to build something new and fresh and in our own control, something that will most likely take years and years to accomplish but once its done and stable enough to handle the countries users there will literally be zero use for an ISP beyond a public utility.

THEY ARE LITERALLY GIVING US THE KEYS TO THE FUTURE AND EVERYONE IS FUCKING MOPING AROUND LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN THIS COMING.

Communication cartels RIP was a good run guys. See you around when you crash the markets!


"Between the resources at Google/ Yahoo/ FB/ Ycombinator alone they have the money, lawyers, know how, and have had since November of last year to do something about this"

They did. They petitioned, used their own money, tried to convince Pai that his changes were bad. They did their part and Pai ignored them - flat out ignores them as if they don't matter. So... what about your argument works?

Pai was "hired" to screw the Internet and help the big ISPs make more cash. Trump is only there to overturn everything Obama did, nothing more. So Pai is just there to overturn NN, nothing more.


Petitioning works as a PR stunt and you know it.

Everybody blacked out for SOPA/ PIPA?

It needs to be more public, an actual movement from within to change something that will not end well for the vast majority.

Trying to convince isn't enough either, they shouldn't have to convince Pai of anything they know why he was appointed.

Why haven't they tried convincing their own users?

Would be wonderful to have a majority of the countries engineers rally overnight and protest by not showing up to work. It would literally take 1 day, less than 48 hours to permanently change the course of history forever. Wont happen of course, mainly because everybody is to busy planning on how to benefit from the repeal.


They did their part and Pai ignored them - flat out ignores them as if they don't matter

It's actually worse than that. He uses the imprimatur of the federal government and the commission he leads to ridicule opposing arguments. There's no honest and logical engagement; just the use of Twitterverse-ready phrases like "absurd", "desperate", and "utter nonsense".


Every last bit of the spectrum will be privatized and they will eventually make it illegal to use the Mesh.


Including light (ie - free space optical networks, which are usually commercial, but the Ronja project shows they can be DIY'd too)?

I've often thought that mesh networks are where things need to move, but they suffer from a larger problem here in the States:

Chokepoints

Essentially, there are large gaps between cities where there isn't enough population, or there are geographic features in the way (or both) that preclude mesh network relays from being setup by anyone other than a corporation which has the resources to purchase the land needed, and either install fiber, microwave relay towers, or whatnot - and maintain all of it over time.

Sure - you could probably mesh network most of the NE of the country. Maybe even California (though there'd be bottlenecks). But how do you jump from LA to Phoenix, or from Phoenix to Las Vegas or DFW? How do you link any of that to the east coast? How do you get this mesh network to the interior of the country?

Not likely to happen without a lot of money and effort.

What I can see happening, though, is a return to lower-bandwidth communication networks - ie, dust off that old BBS software! Dial-up, or low-bitrate comms (which can pass easier thru congested or low-node count mesh networks) would likely become the way to do things.

But I doubt it would become mainstream, as most people just don't seem to be able to live without their streaming TV channels and bookface feeds. But maybe that would be ideal; the hardcore and tech conscious using these lower-level channels to figure out a way to fix the problems in the mesh, so that one day all could share it.

Worst case, the signal to noise ratio would go down, and we geeks could finally have a space with intelligent discourse and fewer trolls.


Routing from LA to Pheonix via volunteered (albeit crippled) home/business lines seems like a fine solution. ie The mesh network connects cities through small slices of shared lines.

In that case censoring P2P connerilns would be ISPs next step, which would hamper a ton of progress, especially in regards to privacy.

Managing the functionality/thoroughput/UX of that kind of network sounds like a big challenge.

Having a good UX for rate limititing clients on volunteered lines, and good UX on how routes are temporarily "leased", might be places to start brainstorming.


How about the future?

Sound like someone who doesn't want to be apart of the future. Or anything really.

Good luck to you fellow HNer.


I don't really understand your comment.


probably because it's troll bait


you don't seem to be interested in or for the open internet with your comment.

Literally a non comment.

Of course they will try and make it illegal. Of course its privatised, do you have a few spare hundred millions to buy some up and use it?

If you put some thought into the future of this country for just 1 second. You wouldn't have made that sort of non comment. Your not interested in the future. Which makes you a liability for all of us who are interested in it.

Good luck.


Imagine the beginning of the new meshnet. It'll be like the internet was in the beginning. A bunch of computer nerds. I actually would kinda like that.


I'm guessing they will begin honeypotting devices connected to meshnet and ensuring that its users get persecuted (and prosecuted) for high crimes they didnt commit.


YC is unique in the list that you give insofar as they're likely to not benefit from a repeal of NN, whereas the consolidation of money and influence in the big four has made the repeal of NN very attractive to them, and they're not inclined to fight it. Wall street, private sector don't care, they can reason about the repeal of NN and migrate to where the lopsided gains will accrete as a result. The money and market share at stake for these big players creates a suicide pact that pits them against the sentiment of their users and the instincts about freedom of the Internet that brought them into tech in the first place.

Direct action is required. Go vote. Route around broken Internet. Hit them where it hurts them.


> Direct action is required [...] Go vote.

I had so much hope for your last paragraph and then you just regurgitated the bullshit “go vote” mantra.

If that’s what direct action means to you people then no wonder you’ve had this pushed down your throat.


Talk about any other kind probably doesn’t flourish here on YC’s site.


Both/and


It's fine, the real innovation moves on. Telecommunication is a history of openness followed by control, radio, tv, internet and whatever comes next.

At least hopefully this isn't the end.


It's disturbing the degree to which this attitude is common for things like climate change, tax reform, net neutrality, etc.

To some degree, of course we have to adapt to what will happen. But as a society, we're supposed to have standing on important issues for the population as a whole.

There will be harm, routing around it is inhuman to those immediately affected. Seeing "opportunity" in every case is capitalistically narcissistic.


It's just a tendency for things to become more restrictive and less open as the masses get on board.

It's a problem with human scale. We're not meant to scale to the billions despite technology enabling that. Once the internet scaled, all the human problems came with it. The innovators are part of a smaller and smaller % of the population. The inertia of current systems bogs down potential future changes. Innovation is traded for security, convenience and entertainment. Certain things become ingrained.

So, all the people move on and start again in a greenfield. Maybe its not the best but honestly, taking the lessons of the past and applying it to a new greenfield can't be the worst approach.


> comments being written by russian bots .

Let's tone down the McCarthyism a bit shall we?


I guess it is still an assumption when they use Russian emails, submit through API, and are so formulaic as to be near identical ... but maybe it was legit. Sure.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/fake-view...

https://www.wired.com/story/bots-broke-fcc-public-comment-sy...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/11/24...


You probably didn't realize but the post is (I think) referring to comments on the FCC website, where several investigations have shown beyond all doubt that many "repeal NN" comments came from automated bots (though whether Russian in origin is not known).


I thought McCarthyism was the practice of blacklisting sociopolitical opponents w/ unfalsifiable claims of their allegiance to a foreign power.

Ok, you're suggesting the bot-comments were just domestic.



[flagged]


Not sure why this is downvoted. It's an uncomfortable thought but very little change has been brought forth in the US (and the world, historically) with peaceful protest. Too easy to ignore when politicians get paid millions to ignore it.

Think the abolitionist movement (pre-Civil War) was peaceful? Nope. Think women's suffrage was peaceful? Nope. Think Vietnam protests were peaceful? Nope. Think civil rights movement was peaceful? Nope. BLM peaceful? Nope.

Was the Occupy Wall Street movement peaceful? Yup.

Was the protests of NSA spying peaceful? Yup.

Was the Iraq war protests peaceful? Yup.

Was the US Patriot Act protests peaceful? Yup.

Are the net neutrality protests peaceful? Yup.

What's the difference between the peaceful and non-peaceful protests I listed?


This has been my point for months, and we'll probably both be downvoted to hell, or just have our comments removed by mods.

People need to be scared of screwing over the average joe. Companies and politicians are scamming us every day, and all we do (if anything is done) is fine them pennies on the dollar.


It probably got downvoted because people think violence is the absolute wrong way to go about things and assume getting to that level means you've lost a moral battle.

I understand why, asking nicely and blocking some streets for a few hours has been so clearly effective throughout history /s.


I happen to subscribe to a rather uncommon school of conflict. Once you have identified an existential threat to you, annihilate it utterly, and don't look back. But be absolutely certain before you start, because that's not a transaction you can easily roll back. And if you can't win, try not to lose for as long as possible.

I'm about 98% of the way to certainty that the current crop of ruling elites present an existential threat to (mostly) peaceful human civilization. Thinking about Putin, Kim, and Trump--all with their fingers on their launch buttons--inspired me to think about possible strategies and tactics for 5th generation warfare, and I'm sorry to say that I believe a shockingly large number of innocents are going to die in this century.

Your choice isn't going to be a matter of some people getting hurt and no one getting hurt. Your choice will be whether seven billion people die, or just a few hundred million, possibly including you and your whole family.

All those "preppers" out there are very likely planning for the wrong kinds of disasters. This is not going to be a conflict whose outcome hinges on the number or quality of the guns, or the number of years of stored provisions. It will instead depend upon one's ability to discriminate friend from foe. It doesn't manner how many guns you have if the one in your hand is pointed at your own foot, particularly if you have psyops-induced agnosia.

I'm not certain if I have the fortitude for war. And I'm not sure if I have the moxie for covert ops. I'm not even sure who would be in the smallest possible set of people that have to die in order for the least-bleak future to come about. My heart wants there to be a solution where no one has to die, but my head has already run too many thought experiments where passive acquiescence leads directly to ruin. There's no doubt in my mind that killing people and destroying property hurts one's own moral center, and that those who grow skilled at war become less suited to serve non-destructive roles in a world at peace. I think maybe I'm just too selfish to make a choice based on the proposition that a future might not exist unless I actively disqualify myself from being a part of it.

I'm certainly not going to be the one that moves first. But I am thinking about the second and third moves.


BLM?

Black Lives Matter or that Bureau of Land Management standoff?

I wouldn't categorize BLM (Black Lives) as NOT peaceful (or at least in the same category as Vietnam protests). If you mean riots, IMHO it's a separate issue.


Your comment is much better than what I wanted to say: What a douche canoe.


Meh, yours is on point too.


If ISPs are going to gut net neutrality, we need a way to introduce real competition into the market. I wouldn't care if Comcast wanted to sell me access to 5 websites for $99 or whatever crap they're trying to pull if I had the option to switch to a better deal somewhere else.

Strong state and local laws protecting the right to form municipal ISPs would be a good start. Those seem to scare Comcast & friends the most. If corporate ISPs become significantly restrictive, I think we'd see a big upsurge in interest for municipal broadband.


> Strong state and local laws protecting the right to form municipal ISPs would be a good start. Those seem to scare Comcast & friends the most. If corporate ISPs become significantly restrictive, I think we'd see a big upsurge in interest for municipal broadband.

Yeaaah about that? The GOP is no friend of muni.

Not that Democrats love it[0], but Obama's FCC did try to defend muni against state restrictions alongside its move towards Title II ISPs (it lost[2])

You probably won't see Pai's FCC defending municipal broadband.

[0] The map of muni restrictions as of 2015[1] is fairly evenly split between 2016 "red" and "blue" states on restrictions (red 4 blue 2) and outright bans (red 3 blue 2), however the deep south wins "regulated" for red team by a mile (red 7 blue 2)

[1] https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/198661-fcc-may-kill-stat...

[2] https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/08/fcc-admits-defea...


If the red states want to have a crippled internet let them. They’re all for states rights so let’s just have our states put in their own net neutrality (which will likely happen on the west coast in some form).


You're assuming ISPs won't try attacking muni federally.

> They’re all for states rights

If you actually believe that I've got a great bridge called "Fugitive Slave Act of 1850" for sale I'm sure you'd enjoy it.


The Republican Party was founded in 1854.


Name aside, the Republican Party of 1854 has nothing to do with the Republican Party of 2017, that has very little relevance.

My comment is about the "muh states' rights" crowd, back in the 19th century, they were Democrats (quite literally since the Republican Party was founded by anti-slavery democrats splitting off and uniting with the northern Whigs).


So, where are all the jobs for displaced people who happened to live in a gerrymandered, rigged state?


Telecommunications tend to form a natural monopoly. It's a bit like roads and railroads, only you're transporting information rather than people. I looked online and it's got all the common characteristics: there are few close substitutes, the product is non-storable (although, maybe if it gets bad enough in the US we'll start seeing services that mail us USBs full of last week's Hacker News posts), supply is all about location, and fixed costs are unusually high relative to variable costs.


That's why you need something municipal dark fibers that every ISP can cheaply rent. The last mile is the expensive part or a network which should be open-access and never belong to a single ISP.


Agreed. There is an additional simple point of view which I believe clarifies the situation, which is to look at the total costs and total "value created" ("social welfare") under different systems. In other words, you ask what is the "first best" and what system can achieve it.

Consider selling wheat. If one company owns all the wheat fields, or the wheat fields are evenly split among two companies, the total amount invested in growing wheat is the same. And since multiple companies means competition, lower prices, and more consumers served, having multiple companies is more efficient in the econ sense (higher social welfare = total value - total cost).

But with fiber infrastructure, having two copies of the infrastructure is a huge waste of total resources. It is far more efficient to only have one set of wires. The problem is if they are controlled by a monopolist, they will keep high prices and serve fewer people. So a single copy of infrastructure with a monopolist is sub-optimal, but so is multiple copies of infrastructure with competition. Optimal is a single copy of infrastructure along with regulation or some other means of keeping prices lower than monopoly.

Of course, you can still try to implement market competition over those wires via regulations that force companies to share the wires, etc.


Oh no, don't you read mises and vood^H^H^H^HAustrian Economics? Natural monopolies don't exist: https://mises.org/library/myth-natural-monopoly


Natural monopolies exist, but they don't perpetually persist. They can fluctuate between monopoly, single firm with pricing power plus challenger(s), unstable market, and complete market collapse with no suppliers.

Legally protected monopolies are intended to avoid the latter state, especially where interruptions of service could have ripple effects on other industries.

I believe the legislative goal was never about costs or overbuilt infrastructure, but to ensure that at least one provider was always available. So they chose to mandate that there could never be more than one. For the sake of having a dial tone 99.99% of the time, they made the choice for everyone that phone service would cost more, for everyone, every day, forever.

Talking about "natural monopoly" is just a distraction. The de jure monopoly is about the difference between "no choice" and "zero choices". You may have made the same choice on a smaller scale when designing code that expects exactly one input instead of zero to N inputs. An alternate solution would be to operate a state-owned, not-for-profit utility, as the supplier of last resort, but that has its own problems, which may be more or less difficult than the monopoly problems, depending on specific circumstances.

Von Mises is a good economics resource for libertarian-leaning folks, but you can't trust any single macro-economist to get everything right. I'm actually not sure any single one of them is more than 50% correct, or even if their amount of correctness is stable over time. Markets have this annoying habit of integrating all information, whether true or false, and reacting to it. This includes everything that all economists in all schools have ever written. It truly is a dismal science.


The more they tighten their grip, the more star systems will slip through their fingers.

What ever happened to the ~2003 promise of local WISPs and wireless mesh networks?


Wireless doesn't really have the bandwidth for anything more dense than a suburb (and even that's probably really pushing it). Approaches like microwave are also less reliable due to LoS/weather problems.

2.4Ghz is noisy in cities/apartments, 5Ghz doesn't penetrate well.

All that on top of the fact that there's still not really a standard, easily set up protocol for that kind of mesh ISP arrangement.


Webpass uses fixed wireless in San Diego.

https://webpass.net/san_diego


Well, he's not wrong. We are desperate - desperate to keep our internet free from corporate greed.


Right? "Genocidal conqueror won't delay massacre, says civilians are 'desperate'"


Since when is being desperate a bad thing?


We lost that battle a long time ago. The Internet is mostly corporate now and will be for the foreseeable future.


His smug attitude of showing how he doesn't care about the public he is supposed to serve, will be his downfall in court.


No, it won't be.

Anything involving this will be handled by gov't lawyers, not by him, and you can bet if he does end up in front of the court, his responses will be 100% coached by those lawyers.


His attitude outside of court is admissible to court. It likely would be brought up to show that the agency did not represent the consumer in good faith.


Federal court cases have already been influenced by the current administration's actions (speeches, interviews, tweets) outside of court documents and statements by attorney. What Pai says now can indeed be referenced within court proceedings. Whether that will be effective or not is unclear.


The court system seems to be looking the other way with this current administration though, so I wouldn't get your hopes up too high that his actions would have any effect on any court case.


Bureaucrats don't serve the public. They serve their institution to implement policy. Policy which is ambiguous. If any lawmakers cared they would have clarified this through law.


Does anyone remember when Jack Valenti was widely mocked for his being instrumental in abusing the rights of consumers? There were huge campaigns against the MPAA and Valenti.

Where's the PR push back from the techno-intelligentsia? Why aren't we pointing out Pai's attacks on the rights of American citizens? Why aren't we pointing out to regular people why this is clearly an attack on one of the few freedoms they have left? Where are the "Put this in your Pai hole" t-shirts and bumper stickers?


By now they're probably suffering from nihilistic-destruction-of-institutions-failure-of-imagination fatigue.


What are our alternatives for wireless and wired ISPs? I'm done with the incumbents.

I'm familiar with Republic Wireless and Google Fi, but I'm a long-time iPhone user who doesn't really want to switch. Are there any similar carriers who fully support iOS?

Given the control wired home ISPs have, what are the alternatives? Is there a good, reasonably affordable wireless alternative?


I was thinking of Project Fi but Google just buys the data from TMobile/Sprint/US Cellular. So the same carriers just get richer, giving them more power. There's really no way to hurt the carriers or ISPs bottom line.

The only thing I can think of is supporting municipal broadband. I wish there was some generic nation-wide municipal broadband fund I could pledge to donate to if net neutrality is revoked. I'd even pledge the same monthly amount I pay my ISP.


Project Fi also locks you into Android phones. Good luck running an iPhone, or Windows phone, or Sailfish OS phone on that.


As I understand it activation requires using an android phone, but it's entirely possible to then use it with an iPhone.


So, suppose everyone's worst nightmares come true - the FCC proceeds down the path it's currently on and ISPs begin to implement arbitrary throttling/blocking of content. How will something like SpaceX's planned "mesh network" of thousands of internet-providing satellites affect the landscape?


"Chairman Pai's plan to restore Internet freedom"

This phrase bugs me so much. I can't believe they're calling the end of net neutrality "internet freedom".


There is an argument to be made that hijacking the word "freedom" for this was already half the battle for repealing net neutrality. Good luck battling "freedom" in America... If only the other side could have gotten there first.


It’s a matter of perspective.

Freedom from what? In this case it’s freedom from regulation.

It’s like hospitals always wanting to cut costs. But it’s never about the patient saving money.


Stay away from Orwell's 1984.

You will be pissed.


Honest question, what changes can we expect as ISP consumers if this happens?

A follow up, if all it is is them charging customers more for using more bandwidth, how is that any different from any other fundamental resource like water, electricity, etc? Why should I pay as much money for my SSH and Hacker News as the guy down the street streaming Netflix all day?


That's a good question. Net Neutrality is not about whether an ISP can charge you more for using more bandwidth. It's about whether an ISP can charge your more (or restrict your usage) based on which websites you communicate with.

One way to think of it is that we already have "electric neutrality" (not a real term), which is to say, you pay for the amount of electricity you use, but you're free to plug in any appliance you want. Losing "electric neutrality" would mean that, for example, your utility could charge you more or less for plugging in an Apple microwave than a Microsoft microwave. That would be insane. Can you imagine trying to start a company selling a new appliance if you had to pay a special fee to an electric company to stop them preventing your customers from plugging it in?

Net neutrality supporters want the internet to be treated like a utility. We are willing to pay for the amount of data we use, but we are not willing to let an ISP decide which websites should have their data made cheaper or more expensive.

An internet with net neutrality is one where you pay for access to the whole internet (perhaps per Gb or perhaps your ISP chooses to sell you a plan with unlimited data). An internet without net neutrality is one where you might pay $X for a connection that only talks to Facebook, and connecting to Gmail costs $Y more. A brand-new startup in a world without net neutrality is at a huge disadvantage if they aren't included in the package of websites that a customer buys. That's the end of the internet as we know it.


> you pay for the amount of electricity you use, but you're free to plug in any appliance you want

You can get metered at different rates for different uses for electricity. A simple example I found just now is shown in https://www.eversource.com/content/docs/default-source/rates... (see Rate 1 vs Rate 5 vs Rate 18), but that sort of setup is pretty common.

Now, this is metering based on _type_ of use (heating vs hot water vs whatever else), not based on the manufacturer of your water heater. But to be a devil's advocate for a moment, this is the sort of thing ISPs _claim_ they want to do: prioritize certain _types_ of content over others. Now I don't believe them on this, of course...

But a priori, there is not necessarily a problem with an internet where you pay one rate for data streams that need certain bandwidth and latency guarantees and a different rate for ones that don't. That would be equivalent to the different-uses electrical billing above.


Your comparison with "electric neutrality" is a great analogy. Another one I've used is "road neutrality": you can be charged a toll for using a road, but what if your toll depended on what model of car you drove? Or what if you had to have a certain model of car to use the road at all?


OK, thanks. That's a great explanation. Now it's clear why everyone hates this. Fuck.


> if all it is is them charging customers more for using more bandwidth

It's not -- this is currently legal. Examples of what they can do if NN is repealed are: charge you extra per month to use SSH, VPN or other forms of encrypted traffic; and charge the guy down the street extra per month to stream Netflix (but Comcast video comes bundled free).

> what changes can we expect as ISP consumers if this happens?

It's hard to predict with much certainty. I see short term and medium term possibilities and likelihoods.

1. Short term, expect pricing changes that involve bundled services. Video is very likely first and biggest -- some video services strike deals with some ISPs to be offered at low cost while their competitors cost customers extra.

However this principle could easily be extended to any kind of websites -- music, social media, online banking, retailers, search engines, news sites, etc. For example you could picture a deal between CNN and Comcast such that all basic internet plans include CNN free but block Fox, NBC, etc unless the customer pays for a news upgrade.

2. There is also a near-term likelihood of extra charges for certain kinds of traffic -- SSH and VPNs top of the list because they can circumvent the other blocks; gaming; torrents; etc.

3. Censorship. This I think will start slow but is the biggest medium and long term threat. It could start with some politically unpopular sites like thepiratebay.org and wikileaks.org. Then I would expect it to creep in scope gradually, and soon the government will want to tell ISPs what to block like they do in Britain.

4. Messing with traffic in other ways, e.g. stuttering or buffering videos, dropping packets, changing contents of unencrypted connections to change text or insert/replace ads, etc. These things I see as possible but less likely, especially with encryption being more popular. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see these underhanded tactics employed against competing video services like Netflix, so that the customer gets fed up and switches to ISP Video.


> 3. Censorship. This I think will start slow but is the biggest medium and long term threat.

We already have that under NN (the Daily Stormer incident a few months back).


That did occur, but two points. First, any additional avenue for censorship is bad. Second, it's a completely different mechanism. There, if I recall right, web hosting companies refused to host the website. Worth noting, this can be routed around by hosting the website in other countries or even on one's own computers. Still I agree it's a form of corporate censorship.

However, the corporate censorship opened up by removing NN is much more direct and, I argue, frightening, because there are much fewer ISPs, and they can directly block users from accessing the site very easily. Once they start it will be very easy for them to grow their blacklists quickly. Further, it's actually in the direct business interest of these ISPs to block sites in many cases, which was not the case for web hosting. Finally, it's much easier for governments to step in and start censoring via this mechanism since they can control all ISPs in their own country -- not true for web hosting.


There are countless ways you can use traffic discrimination to pad your own pockets without adding any value to the economy.

In the past we've seen ISP's block apps and websites that compete with their own services. For example, Verizon blocked tethering apps and AT&T blocked FaceTime at one point. A slightly different example is the time Comcast imposed a monthly cap on users (250 GB), but then exempted their own streaming media service.

We don't know how it will play out in the future. Most likely ISP's will act slowly at first to avoid excessive backlash. They may try to shake down websites instead of customers directly. For instance, they may take payolla form established players and slow down their competitors. Or they could do the cable TV style bundling thing. I suspect that VOIP, VPN, streaming, bittorent, and cryptocurrencies will suffer first and hardest.


With regards to exempting services from data caps, it's called "zero-rating" and as far as I am aware, the net neutrality laws we have on the books don't mention it (which is why mobile carriers have been doing it for years).

I do believe that if you exempted only your own services you would start to fall into anti-competition territory though.


If memory serves, the current Net Neutrality doesn't apply to mobile carriers. They got exempted from that and some other rules apply in their cases.


Metered usage is not a violation of neutrality.

Varying prices or manipulating quality of service based on the endpoint's identity is.


So if I understand, they're disguising this as "Netflix eats up so much bandwidth" but really it's "we want an unfair advantage over Netflix"? Otherwise, I have no idea why republicans would support this.


Yes, that's a good assessment. You can think of it this way: ISPs act like roads between people's houses and the sites they want to access. People currently pay ISPs to reserve a certain amount of road, and net neutrality says they can drive whatever cars they want over that fraction of road without being discriminated against in pricing or speed.

The ISPs say things like "xx% of traffic is Netflix -- that uses up an unfair portion of bandwidth". But a more accurate phrasing is that xx% of people on the road choose to fill their purchased slots with Netflix traffic.

Right now, since all traffic on the road is routed fairly and equally under NN, all video services can compete on a fair footing. But after eliminating NN, ISPs will be able to charge users a big premium based on what kind of traffic they route down the road, even though there's no difference given that they already paid to reserve that portion of the road. So ISPs can route their own video service faster and everyone else's slower (or charge you extra to regain equal speeds), which squashes competition.

> I have no idea why republicans would support this.

I don't get it either. I think that most republican politicians have little understanding of the issue and how anti-competitive it would be to eliminate NN. Instead, they just hear superficial arguments that "NN is a regulation, and regulations are bad for competition" and since this comes from other Republicans, they trust and believe it. Unfortunately the ones it's coming from are lobbied really hard by ISPs, perhaps they believe their own propaganda.


> People currently pay ISPs to reserve a certain amount of road, and net neutrality says they can drive whatever cars they want over that fraction of road without being discriminated against in pricing or speed.

In the case of roads, heavy vehicles like big rigs cause more wear-and-tear than light vehicles like compact cars. It would be fair then to charge heavy vehicles more so users of light vehicles aren't paying for users of heavy vehicles.


...but it wouldn't be fair to charge people using the same car more or less depending on where they are driving.


Some roads have weight limits, so you're actually banned from driving certain places depending on the car you have.


Right, so they'll have to split it up into vans instead of semis, like a 5Mb/s plan versus a 1Gb/s plan. But you pay for access to x vans/second--and potentially y vans/month.

Netflix shouldn't be charged more on the basis that they gave people a reason to use their vans.


But it's based on the weight of your car, not whether or not you're spending money at establishments the toll road owner also owns or based on the toll road owner's financial relationship to your car's specific manufacture.


Sure, you can take my exact analogy, but where "fraction of road" is interpreted as "fraction of the weight the road can take". The key point is charging fairly by usage (e.g. weight) not by brand, for example Netflix trucks costing more than Comcast trucks of the same weight.


In the case of Trump, no one knows if he would support or oppose net neutrality if he knew what it was. He thinks net neutrality means that websites will be required to be neutral in their content [1], which will be used to target conservative media.

[1] "Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media." https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/53260835850816716...


> Metered usage is not a violation of neutrality

According to the document the FCC released trying to justify this stuff, ISPs can't always figure out how do that, so they need paid prioritization: "Without paid prioritization, ISPs must recover these costs solely from end users, but ISPs cannot always set prices targeted at the relevant end user".

See paragraph 252, which starts on page 142, of this document: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017...

Here's the full paragraph in case the FCC site gets slow (their file hosting wasn't designed for a world where people are actually interested in FCC documents):

FCC> 252. Efficiency. We find that a ban on paid prioritization is also likely to reduce economic efficiency, also likely harming consumer welfare. This finding is supported by the economic literature on two-sided markets such as this one, and the record. If an ISP faces competitive forces, a prohibition against two-sided pricing (i.e., a zero-price rule), while benefiting edge providers, typically would harm both subscribers and ISPs. Moreover, the level of harm to subscribers and ISPs generally would exceed the gain obtained by the edge providers and, thus, would lead to a reduction in total economic welfare. The reasons for this are straightforward. Some edge services and their associated end users use more data or require lower latency; this may be the case, for example, with high-bandwidth applications such as Netflix, which in the first half of 2016 generated more than a third of all North American Internet traffic. Without paid prioritization, ISPs must recover these costs solely from end users, but ISPs cannot always set prices targeted at the relevant end users. The resulting prices create inefficiencies. Consumers who do not cause these costs must pay for them, and end users who do cause these costs to some degree free-ride, inefficiently distorting usage of both groups. When paid prioritization signals to edge providers the costs their content or applications cause, edge providers can undertake actions that would improve the efficiency of the two-sided market. For example, they could invest in compression technologies if those come at a lower cost than paid prioritization, enhancing efficiency, or, if they have a pricing relationship with their end users, they could directly charge the end user for priority, leading those end users to adjust their usage if the user’s value does not exceed the service’s cost, again enhancing economic efficiency. And to the extent an ISP has market power, antitrust law would only allow such ISPs to engage in pro-competitive paid prioritization practices.


> Without paid prioritization, ISPs must recover these costs solely from end users, but ISPs cannot always set prices targeted at the relevant end users.

Is there any way this statement is not a straight up pants-on-fire lie? Why wouldn't an ISP have metering built into its infrastructure? And the only other thing you'd need in order to make it happen is the freedom to set your price -- are there places in the US where ISPs aren't free to price on bandwidth usage?


I've never seen an ISP that didn't have an extremely accurate measurement of my usage in MB, so it's a bold face lie.


I would also like to hear a rational answer to this. For example Comcast claims that they support "sustainable net neutrality protections" for their customers. Then why are they fighting so hard to dismantle it? What are they going to change?


The arguments I've read is that ISPs would like to investigate traffic priority solutions. e.g. I'm a business that needs low latency (maybe I'm League of Legends or something similar), so I could pay Comcast to prioritize my packets.

Opponents would argue that it's pretty much the same as a "slow-lane" by virtue of the fact that everyone else gets de-prioritized. Proponents would argue that companies like Netflix already put their hardware in ISP's data centers to get that advantage, so this is just a more accessible way to do the same thing.


On the verge of being sold out by a corporate shill? You can bet we are desperate.


I feel more helpless now than I did on November 9th, 2016.


This will not just get rammed through. I believe both the ACLU and EFF have lawsuits waiting to be filed once the vote happens. Between Pai's comments and actions, they have a strong case that the agency disregarded the public's opinion and is therefore not acting in the interest of the public, which, I have been told is a legal requirement of the FCC. This is another example of a Trump appointee trying to weaken the agency he was put in charge of, only to have the federal courts deny that.


Don't you think they've already anticipated lawsuits and have been working on their rebuttal? All they have to argue is that removing the regulations improves competition, or that broadband providers aren't subject to regulations. Net neutrality rules have only been around for a couple of years, they could easily be reversed in one or two more.


Considering the current administrations lawyers claimed to have tweeted admission of obstruction, I wouldn’t be so sure they’re the brightest bunch out there. They probably figured it would be a cakewalk.


That was Trump's personal lawyer. He is separate from the lawyers at the FCC, or the White House Counsel, or the Attorney General, etc. There's a lot of different lawyers. Some of them are political veterans, and some of them are former corporate lawyers. They have a lot of experience between them.


Make sure you are registered to vote if you are in the United States. And vote in every election. Even something that seems small like school board has more implications then we know.


And if you live in a city, demand the election commission open more polling places/etc. Low turnout in urban areas is at least partially because people don't want to wait in lines for hours, while the poling places in rural areas have 0 wait times...


Give me candidates worth voting for first.


This is the most important issue. The system is rigged in favor of the incumbents in many, many ways.


Nothing stopping you from running, even if it is to just push the conversation in a certain direction.


Not enough.


Wasn't Pai appointed by Trump instead of by election?

Didn't most of the voting Americans vote against Trump?

It seems like a better approach to US politics is to be rich.


Don't worry, at least this isn't the worst thing that will happen this year. You'll have to wait for that until Alabama elects a child molester (accused by 6? different women) over a Democrat.


I too am saddened as what happens in the US will influence the rest of the world; I expect to see similar things happen closer to home if this goes through.


Yes, we are desperate for a representative government. May we have one please?


It's really unlikely anyone is going to convince a Republican to vote for a Democrat, or vice versa. It's not like politics in other countries were people are willing to switch parties when it's obvious the representation isn't working to their interests. The U.S. is stuck in tribalism for the foreseeable future, if anything it probably gets worse before it gets better.

The motivation though, should be on the ~55% of eligible voters who don't vote. If nothing else I think we'd get a better signal to noise ratio in the actual election results, which is exactly why Republicans make up lies about voter fraud, in order to make it harder for citizens to vote. Notice how they aren't running to secure old voting systems and make them auditable. No they go directly to voter suppression and gerrymandering. And it makes complete sense, because if they stop doing that, they lose.


Are there any tools we should download before half the internet is blocked?

(Can't believe I had to just write that).


Get Tor while it still lasts. And just about anything on gnu.org's ftp servers.


Is there really no alternative to using an ISP for a connection?

Is it possible to build a decentralised and encrypted network on our mobile phones? I guess we still have to run traffic through mobile service providers...


We're a ways away from it being as powerful as our current internet solution, but it's called a meshnet. On a super basic level everyone connects to eachother via wifi. No ISPs or mobile providers are part of it.


<speculation> Use an educational or national institution for an Internet connection, bypassing commercial networks.


Those educational networks still connect to the commercial networks, via commercial ISPs.


Well. Maybe it's really just about allowing ISPs to run the same exploitative business models as Google's intimate personal information empire, Google/Apple's 30% tax app stores with far from neutral content policy, etc.

But how about giving them some credit? Maybe the plan is to temporarily allow ISPs to suck on some of Google/Youtube monopoly rents (weakening their defenses) while regulators look into regulating the whole pile of internet monopoly garbage?

It's possible. And it would be so good.




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