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Net Neutrality to Get U.S. Senate Vote as Democrats Force Issue (bloomberg.com)
343 points by rayuela 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 157 comments





This vote seems like the best chance of maintaining NN at the national level. Congress ultimately directly serve at the pleasure of their constituents, unlike the FCC commissioners.

Point being, the time leading up to this vote is probably be the best time to let your congress members know your opinion on NN. Do not let the "failure"[1] of previous efforts to get congress to act in defense of NN dissuade you from future action, particularly now: It is far easier for a politician to take no action (as they could when the FCC was ones doing the voting) than to actively vote against the wishes of their constituents.

---

[1] Failure in scare quotes since it seems likely part of the reason NN is still a topic being actively fought for in congress, in the courts, and at a state level is because there is a large amount of vocal support for it.


> This vote seems like the best chance of maintaining NN at the national level.

Shame, because this vote is incredibly predictable by anyone who has been paying any attention at all. Republicans are on the bullet train to dismantle and sell off the government to the highest bidders. This vote goes straight down party lines.

But, it'll be an easy banner for Dems to hoist in November to rally voters, since it's categorical that Americans do not want this madness from the FCC to continue.


I thought that was the point the article was positing; it's a symbolic vote to get Republicans on the record for their support of an unpopular position.

I think what people fail to realize is that it's not unpopular enough and not with the right people. For the GOP base, they may disagree wholeheartedly but what are they going to do? Vote for a abortionist gun-grabbing Democrat?

For Dems, the best use of these things is barrage the election cycle with negative news about the GOP. Failed policies, bad ideas, myopic leadership. Bad bad bad bad. Suck the energy right out the way the Clinton investigation did in 2016.


Reducing enthusiasm in the opposing party’s base is a key tactic in US elections, which are won at least as much by turnout of reliable votes as turning swing votes, however much the media prefers the swing voter narrative.

You didn't mention the largest voting block, voters who don't strongly identify with either party.

Unfortunately that voting block doesn't line up with reality, as least from the stats I know for the presidential elections. A given voter that voted for party X's candidate four years ago, if they vote again, will vote for party X's candidate about 92% of the time. This means that in the pool of 'likely voters', the two parties are realistically fighting over 8% of hearts and minds.

There is another caveat: 8% in ~12 states.

Greatest democracy in the world!


Swing states, where the votes matter the most, have been won by less margins.

Then why didn't clinton win easily?

HRC got nearly 3m more votes. That ain't nothing.

But less turnout than Obama. Disastrously less.

Obama preached change, clinton to stay the course. People are so desperate for change they even voted for trump.

Voters who claim not to strongly identify with either party vote as consistently with one party as voters who do strongly identify with a party, at least, from research I saw several years back.

The largest voting block are the people who don't.

It's something to use for undecided voters and something to rile up the democratic base.

Also, everyone to the right of Antifa have been told Net Neutrality was disguised legislation to censor conservative opinions.

Given how completely Twitter, Facebook, Google, et al censor right-leaning political opinions, and they're big pro-NN orgs, it wasn't a hard sell.

Unfortunately, NN has become yet another casualty in these weird post-fact times.


> Given how completely Twitter, Facebook, Google, et al censor right-leaning political opinions

for "completely" doing such, they're doing a terrible job.


> Given how completely Twitter, Facebook, Google, et al censor right-leaning political opinions

Right-leaning opinions which violate their TOS.

big difference. I'm pro merit based immigration and feel entirely comfortable tweeting that (if I had a twitter, never saw the point).


weird post fact times? heres a CMU taught, Cambridge written paper that concludes:

"we never had network neutrality in the past, and I do not believe we should engineer for it in the future either."

Its the exact condescension and willful ignorance of intelligent opposition in this thread that so characterizes the left.

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~srini/15-744/papers/p49-crowcroft.pdf


We've had net neutrality as official FCC policy with different enforcement mechanisms from 2005 until 2017. Being “CMU taught, Cambridge written” apparently doesn't stop the paper from being blatantly wrong and simple, easily verifiable facts.

Absolute nonsense. What mechanisms? The cases of fraud or misrepresentation are just that. Not preemptive regulation like NN.

> What mechanisms?

Case-by-case application of the Open Internet principles from 2005-2010, Title I regulation from 2010-2014, Title II regulation from 2015-2017. The case-by-case approach was struck down by the courts in 2010 while the Title I regs were being drafted; the Title I regs being struck down in 2014 with a specific identification of Title II as the legal basis that would support the kind of rules the FCC adopted under Title I is what prompted the Title II regulations to be drafted.

> The cases of fraud or misrepresentation are just that.

The VoIP and BitTorrent blocking cases before the Title I regs were adopted weren't based on general fraud or misrepresentation principles, but on the FCCs publicly adopted Open Internet (net neutrality) principles.


So no preemptive regulation before 2015. When the entire internet was created.

> So no preemptive regulation before 2015.

That's clearly wrong, but how wrong is a matter of interpretation: it's either the 2010 or 2005; the Title I regs in 2010 were no less “preemptive” than Title II, and the 2005-2010 approach was, IIRC, struck down because it amounted to preemptive regulation adopting the net neutrality principles as binding rules without following the mandatory process of the Administrative Procedure Act.


> since it's categorical that Americans do not want this madness

As an outsider it is kind of amusing when I see lines like "Americans do not want" said by both Democrats and Republicans.


Often these statements are carefully phrased to be correct. For instance, most Americans want to "protect gun rights", and also have "common sense gun laws". These two slogans don't conflict, but the politicians who push them clearly do.

In the case of Net Neutrality, a survey which started by giving people pros and cons of net neutrality found 83% support for it, while another which phrased it as "government regulation" found over 50% opposed.

I would call this a good argument against government by referendum.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/12/12...


I find it a good argument for increasing education funding, especially in the non-STEM fields

Luckily in this case I can point to the data the FCC collected themselves. After it's been denoised/despammed, it's almost unitary that legitimate comments supported net neutrality.

Of course, the FCC was very quick to completely dismiss the entire data set, and didn't even refer to it in their final decision because it was so filled with bots spamming the list with identical submissions from dead people and even apparently Barack Obama - the very person who asked the FCC to take the strong stance in the first place. But, who would have expected any different from a government this steeped in corruption and controversy.

It's okay though. You're an outsider. You can easily miss the nuance of this conversation as it's played out on Hacker News literally every single working day.


It's a good rule of thumb that whenever you hear someone starting the phrase with "The American people want ...", you can basically ignore the rest of it, because it's meaningless propaganda drivel.

This is an easy opportunity for Republicans to show they can be bipartisan without actually risking much, given the widespread support there is for Net Neutrality. Later they can attack Democrats for not being more bipartisan on one of their issues.

>This is an easy opportunity for Republicans to show they can be bipartisan without actually risking much

Except this matters to their donors, and falls in line with the political ideology of current republicans, so why would they go against it?


> Republicans are on the bullet train to dismantle and sell off the government to the highest bidders.

This is equally true of the Democrats; they just have a different set of preferred highest bidders.


No it is not.

Republicans are far more dedicated to the task of destroying government than Democrats are. I agree that some Democratic senators have historically been pretty shitty on the topic of net neutrality but this false equivalence nonsense needs to stop. Republicans will sell off national parks, shut down the EPA and FDA and shut down any banking regulation you put in front of them.


I agree that some Republican senators have historically been pretty shitty on the topic of FDA, EPA and banking regulation but this false narrative of all Republicans are evil needs to stop.

> this false narrative of all Republicans are evil needs to stop.

Then perhaps they should stop being evil.

Republicans should fight the evil within their own party and drive it out. They should ask for the resignation of abusers, and voters should fire the ones that don't resign. Republicans shouldn't throw money behind suspected child molesters. Republicans shouldn't rescind laws that the vast majority of Americans want because Verizon and Comcast filled their coffers. Republicans shouldn't attack various races, religions, and immigrants, and should condemn anyone who does. Republicans should come out strongly against Neo-Nazis rallying and using their political party as a facade. Republicans should stop fighting so hard to stop voters from voting - removing registered voters, gerrymandering and voter suppression laws are categorically anti-American practices and need to stop. Republicans should want to work with the Democrats to come to a healthcare agreement everyone can live with, if they truly find the ACA so reprehensible despite amending over a hundred times and then voting for it.

Once the Republicans start acting like a conservative party and not an extremist organization, then maybe we can change the tone of the conversation back to "reaching across the aisle" and being friends despite not agreeing on the tax brackets or which companies get which subsidies.

But sadly that's not the state of political discourse in this country in 2018. The "Good" Republicans need to make their voices heard above the wailing of the lunatics currently running the asylum. The "Evil" Republicans need to be removed from office. And we need strong assurances that our democracy won't ever crumble like this again.


Framing it as "Good" vs "Evil" is half the problem. The real issue is a lot of the left have assigned morality to policy decisions and concepts about how government should work. You may strongly disagree with scaling back the EPA, FDA, banking regulation, Net Neutrality and who knows what other regulations but that does not scaling or removing regulation evil.

The rhetoric from the left that any disagreement with the left is "evil" is a really sad development for the United States and democracy. It has a chilling effect on any kind of debate once you brand your opponents as "evil".


Okay, how about shortsighted, stupid, corrupt, etc...?

This also sounds like an argument for political correctness.


None of those are exclusive attributes of the right. Democrats have done lots of all of the above.

For example, stupid and shortsighted... the Employer Mandate for health insurance which had the unintended consequence of businesses realizing it was cheaper to hire an extra employee or two so that they didn't have to make anyone Full Time employees and pay for insurance or get hit by the penalty tax.

Democrats and and pro-Union policies also generally have lots of dumb shortsighted unintended consequences for how businesses operate.

Don't even start with corruption. Both sides are corrupt in their own ways.


See, this is why evil is better.

Less whataboutism.

Of course I believe that the republican parties current path will lead to the destruction of America. So I'm probably not worth talking to.


Your comparison doesn't even work. Some Democratic senators have been weak on net neutrality, but a Democratic administration enacted the common carrier rules we are now losing. That is to say, while the senators were not perfect, the party still made the better choice.

None of this applies to the Republicans and the EPA, banking regulation etc.


Republicans run on a blatant platform of "wealth inequality is not only fine, we're happy to intentionally make it worse with tax policy". History has proven this to be deeply destabilizing over time, and so it's not unreasonable to maintain simplistic name calling.

[citation needed].

You're going to need some high octane evidence to compare adding new regulations that disproportionally help one industry, verses destroying the established works of the FCC, EPA, NOAA, the Bureau of Land Management/National Parks, the Department of Education... the list is literally too long for me to keep enumerating here, so take a look at articles like this one: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/05/23/here-li...

I understand being upset at the Dems for stuff like the TPP, basically rolling over to Hollywood any time they ask for a copyright extension or more copyright enforcement powers, or even being soft on enforcement of any given regulation... but in general there's one party in America that wants regulation and structure and enforcement of existing laws... and one party in America that's currently actively working to remove as many government agencies and regulations that exist to protect the nation from Captialism Gone Wild, and as a staunch independent it's quite easy to see the difference.

I'm sorry, but this shit needs to end. This statement might have been closer to true in the earlier 2000's, but it couldn't be further from the truth in 2018. This "both sides" equivocation needs to be put to death.


> I understand being upset at the Dems for stuff like the TPP, basically rolling over to Hollywood any time they ask for a copyright extension or more copyright enforcement powers

I am, but those are relatively minor compared to the real issue, which you are ignoring.

> or even being soft on enforcement of any given regulation

You appear to be laboring under the misapprehension that regulations in general are good, and the only issue is proper enforcement. But that's the real issue: regulations in general are not good. One obvious reason is regulatory capture: regulations end up benefiting the industries being regulated, not the public as a whole. The history of regulation of the Internet is a good example: we don't have the current dysfunctional structure of huge ISPs with monopoly powers and no easy way to dislodge them because of lack of regulation, we have it because of too much regulation, bought and paid for by those same ISPs to insulate them from actual competition.

I understand that we can't just dismantle the existing regulatory structure cold turkey, because, for better or worse, it's the status quo and everyone has made long term plans in good faith based on it. In that sense, the agenda Trump is currently pushing is not a good idea. But that does not mean that pushing for less regulation over the long term, and more recognition of the limits of government regulation as a tool for social improvement, is not a good idea. Unfortunately I don't see either major party in the US recognizing this (or, for that matter, any major party in any developed country). The Republicans are pushing to repeal regulations they don't like, but they will gladly put in place other regulations that they do like--for example, the various travel bans and restrictions that everyone was up in arms about early in the Trump administration, or laws like the Defense of Marriage Act, or...you get the idea.


I feel like our entire mechanism of discourse on this topic is broken. It is not useful to regard regulations in general terms because the factors that underpin whether or not a regulation is good or bad is entirely dependent on the details of the regulation and the context in which it is applied.

> But that's the real issue: regulations in general are not good

This is akin to saying "laws in general are not good", when they are simply a tool. Of course, overzealous regulation is a stifling obstacle for small businesses, but this is something we can all agree on, the disagreements always come down to the details.

> regulatory capture: regulations end up benefiting the industries being regulated

Yes, this is a negative side effect of regulation, but there are also positive side effects from regulation and we have to evaluate the spread on a case by case basis (or at the very least, differentiate the ramifications of specific kinds of regulations per a given industry). At the end of the day, regulations are society's response to a sordid and well-documented history of abuse by corporations; that doesn't mean regulations should be punitive, but they are a necessary tool.


[flagged]


Is this a joke? Your pivot to corruption is probably the strongest example of whataboutism I've seen on HN in a while. It has absolutely nothing to do with the OPs point, which is that Republicans are overwhelmingly in favour of removing government regulations in preference to big business, and the Democrats are not. (and do you really believe a Republican president would have been easier on Edward Snowden than Obama was?)

Case in point, Trump suggests killing the traitor, it's what we used to do in the good old days after all. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/2/donald-trump...

and Obama droned a 15 year-old American citizen without due process.

The 16 year old was not explicitly targeted. And I find the response by Gibbs in this piece to be unconvincing and also idiotic. But the more convincing argument isn't appeals about a 16 year old, it's about the negative efficacy of that program. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/how-tea...

This excellent Reddit comment shows that when it comes to the voting record, no, both sides are not the same.

https://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/6brytw/comment/dhpcbd...


I see plenty of things in that list where i find the democrat position abhorrable. same of some Republican positions. and a lot of positions where both parties switch as soon as they're in power

> This vote seems like the best chance of maintaining NN at the national level.

It's got near zero chance of succeeding, but that's not the only point; the point is to make NN a 2018 midterm election issue for Democrats if it fails. (Which, ideally, sets NN up, via regular legislation, for a vote with a more favorable Congress in 2019.)


>This vote seems like the best chance of maintaining NN at the national level. Congress ultimately directly serve at the pleasure of their constituents, unlike the FCC commissioners.

The best chance is actually passing a bill revising the Communications Act of 1934 to explicitly include internet access. Anything else will result in a return to court battles over whether the FCC has authority to control the medium.


Why don't Democrats pass NN through congress and get it enshrined into law? Instead of trying to block that from happening, since it's Republicans who are trying to do that.

Why was NN so easy to repeal in the first place? Why didn't Obama do a proper job if it's such an important issue? I still don't agree with the accepted wisdom about what NN is in the first place. Seems to me to suggest companies that are using up a lot of bandwidth are going to start paying more, competitors are going to start paying less. Which is why every single large company is opposed to the change.


> Why didn't Obama do a proper job if it's such an important issue?

To be clear, you're trying to blame Obama for something the Republican controlled Congress was responsible for? Obama wasn't a dictator; Congress decides what laws to pass and Congress wasn't exactly in favor of just about anything Obama wanted to do.

Also I think you're misunderstanding what Net Neutrality is about. Net Neutrality doesn't say that everyone pays the same regardless of what bandwidth they use - ISPs are free to charge more for more bandwidth usage. Net Neutrality says that ISPs can't rate discriminate based on the type of data shared. NN means that Comcast can't charge more for packets coming from foxnews.com as opposed to msnbc.com, but it doesn't say that they can't charge an end user that uses 5 GB more than one that uses 1 GB.


>To be clear, you're trying to blame Obama for something the Republican controlled Congress was responsible for?

No, he's blaming Obama for something the Democrat controlled Congress was responsible for. It was an important enough issue for him to cosponsor a bill while a senator, but while in control they let a bill die without debate.


So I assume you are in support of Net Neutrality? Wouldn’t the correct thing to do in that case be to support politicians that are in favor of it, and oppose politicians that are against it? Obama could have done better, but I am satisfied that he did more than any other president, before or since, to establish Net Neutrality.

I don't think it's productive to assign blame in situations where a politician helped, but didn't help enough by some arbitrary standard, especially in an adversarial political system like ours where the alternative is politicians that actively are trying to cause harm.


The correct thing to do is to support politicians who work to ensure net neutrality. That does not describe the Democrats, at best they worked to ensure the courts would decide the fate of net neutrality.

> The correct thing to do is to support politicians who work to ensure net neutrality.

I agree... we should support politicians based on their policies not based on their party, but it just so happens that the republican party is ideologically opposed to net-neutrality while the democratic party is, at a minimum, friendly towards the notion of net-neutrality, so democrats are really the only option if net-neutrality is your issue.


If it's "my issue," the Democrats haven't shown themselves to be an option worth supporting. If my only other option is the Republicans, then I have no option worth supporting.

> the Democrats haven't shown themselves to be an option worth supporting.

What is your goal? Your goal clearly isn't actually maximizing the chances that Net Neutrality is adopted, since your strategy doesn't do that. I can only guess what your actual goal is; it seems to me it's maximizing some sort of ideological purity or set of other moral values?


Very few congressional seats actually have just two options. A third party win seems like the only chance that anyone will pass a bill, so I see it as the best chance of ensuring net neutrality.

The official platform of the Democrats last election on net neutrality was roughly "we will not overturn the FCC ruling on net neutrality," while the Republicans ran on overturning that decision. Both platforms have the same result, a lengthy series of court cases deciding how broadband should be classified under the 1934 Communications act.

There's a nugget of truth to the idea that voting for the party pretending to support net neutrality will lead to more favorable judges, but I don't suspect the Democrats would seek out judges based on their view on the issue. And, shockingly, I care about more than one issue. For example, the Democrats record on online privacy is atrocious. A chance at better judges on one issue isn't enough.


It sounds like you're claiming that

P(Third Party controls government) * P(3rd party would institute NN) > P(Dems control government) * P(Dems would institute NN).

That's just.. So outrageously unlikely I'm taken aback. P(Third Party controls government) is so low we have never seen it in our lifetimes, and you are just assumping that P(3rd party would institute NN) is high to compensate with no evidence whatsoever.

We had Net Neutrality under Obama. Are you claiming that if Clinton won, she wouldn't continue Obama's policy? The only reason we do not have Net Neutrality right now is that Trump won. Based on prior observation, P(Dems institute NN) is significant, I would guess at least 50%.

To be honest, I think you are simply factually incorrect. The official platform of the Democratic party is that they support Net Neutrality, and it first existed as official policy under Obama. If Democrats regain control of the government, I would fully expect them to reinstitute it.


>We had Net Neutrality under Obama. Are you claiming that if Clinton won, she wouldn't continue Obama's policy?

We had and lost net neutrality under the Obama administration, as the FCC's authority for control comes from some vague sentences in ancient laws. The courts ruled that their loophole was not valid, so the FCC moved on to trying a different vague line.

The authority still isn't on stable ground. The courts could easily rule the FCC's loophole invalid, ending net neutrality. This is also why the current destruction is possible. As the FCC enforcement only comes from their specific interpretation, the new administration was able to sweep it away.

We have been aware of this problem for over a decade now. That is why Obama cosponsored a hopeless bill on the matter as a senator. Their failure to pass a law on it, followed by their failure to even say they would try to pass one shows how important they consider the issue.

>To be honest, I think you are simply factually incorrect. The official platform of the Democratic party is that they support Net Neutrality, and it first existed as official policy under Obama. If Democrats regain control of the government, I would fully expect them to reinstitute it.

They release an official platform before the election, and that was not their position. They will "... oppose any efforts by the Republicans to roll back the historic net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission enacted last year." Page thirteen.

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/papers_pdf/117717.pdf


I think your criticism of the dems is totally fair and that simply giving lip-service to a policy doesn't actually solve a problem. With that stated, the third party option is demonstrably pointless with regard to advancing policy goals, so unless your third party candidate is a liberal independent that has a positive working relationship with the dems, they'll never be able to make any progress towards NN.

Supporting a third part in the past had led to policy change, primarily with the antislavery parties turning into the Republican party. The chance of a similar event happening over net neutrality is slim, it's still the only way to vote for a party committed to ensuring net neutrality. As again, the Democrats stated position was to do nothing.

> primarily with the antislavery parties turning into the Republican party.

I think the fact that you had to reach back 150 years to find a practical example demonstrates my point pretty well. It is clearly much more likely that we'd see NN policy pushed forward by one of the two parties before we'd see a 3rd party do it, to suggest otherwise is just wishful thinking.


I picked the most famous example. Another example is Perot leading both parties to change their budget plans.

I suggested that net neutrality will be decided by the courts, as that is the position of both major parties currently. As that makes the vote less important, the best use of your ballot is to support someone with a better view on the subject. The Democrats have no reason to change their strategy if it already secured your vote.


> Why didn't Obama do a proper job if it's such an important issue?

Obama was president while the Republicans held the legislature hostage. It was a miracle his administration was able to ask for and get any legislation passed at all; it was easily the most obstructionist congress ever. He couldn't even appoint a Supreme Court Justice because Mitch McConnell wouldn't allow congress to hold hearings - that's how impossible a situation he was in.

Obama did exactly as much as he was able to do with the powers he had. He wasn't about to try the kinds of stunts our current president thinks he can.

And speaking frankly, as a black person, I don't think he even could have tried to pull these kinds of stunts - he would have been impeached and booted, as any President pulling these kinds of fascist, dictatorial moves should be.


The Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate in 2009-2010. Anything Obama and other Democrats thought was really important could have been forced through then.

(Indeed, they did force a major health care reform bill through with zero Republican support, mirroring how a major tax reform bill was forced through with zero Democrat support a few weeks ago.)


The Democrats observed the regular order of the Senate, hosted 5 bipartisan meetings and finished the bill so it could actually be analyzed and read before being passed [1]. The republicans didn't bother with any bipartisan meetings and passed it within the same week of finishing writing it. And they broke the regular order of the senate to do it.

In any case, the two year period between 2009 and 2010 was spent almost entirely on the economy. Which given how strong the Obama-era recovery was, seems to be have been time well spent.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/07/10/us/republican...


(Another Black person here) I feel like he and Congress dems could have achieved far more, and shouldn't get this automatic excuse. I firmly believe that, if he and the Dems had cleanly articulated the things they would do were they not 'held hostage', they would have won far more elections!

> Why don't Democrats pass NN through congress and get it enshrined into law?

Because Republicans (and some Democrats, too) have consistently opposed that when it was a legislative issue, and Republicans currently have a majority, preventing Democrats from passing, well, anything without their support.

> Instead of trying to block that from happening, since it's Republicans who are trying to do that.

The Republican bill would explicitly allow paid prioritization and other practices that are contrary to net neutrality, and would prohibit stronger state protections of net neutrality. It is therefore a bill to prevent rather than protect neutrality.

> Why was NN so easy to repeal in the first place?

Because Republicans prevented a legislative solution, repeatedly.

> Why didn't Obama do a proper job if it's such an important issue?

Because the US President isn't a dictator that can impose laws or make “super regulations” that cannot be repealed under future administrations.

> Which is why every single large company is opposed to the change.

Huh? Large companies that are ISPs are against net neutrality. Large companies and small companies and medium companies that are edge providers tend to be for it. There is no side where all large companies fall.


No. Companies that are using lots of bandwidth will get bulk rates, or negotiate sweetheart zero-rating deals.

Upstart companies with spikes in usage may be killed because they can't get the bandwidth they need at the same low rates the incumbent players get.


> Instead of trying to block that from happening, since it's Republicans who are trying to do that.

They are? Which bills?



You do realize those bills are more bark than bite right? In typical fashion, the right+ in this country wants to act like it's doing something good while still being subservient to the worst parts of our society.

Seriously just fucking read them. What a complete joke.

>Except as provided in paragraph (2), nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the ability of broadband internet access service providers to offer specialized services.

Oh okay. Let's read (2)

>(2) PROHIBITION ON CERTAIN PRACTICES.—Specialized services may not be offered or provided in ways that threaten the meaningful availability of broadband internet access service or that have been devised or promoted in a manner designed to evade the purposes of this section.

NEAT. What is meaningful availability? Oh and I like how the same party is seeking to greatly increase the scope of what defines "broadband" (i.e., they're lowering standards).

The right+ in this country is literally our biggest threat to a prosperous and secure existence. Always dishonest, always disingenuous, always harmful, and always a complete waste of time.

Healthcare, the economy, and general social policies. I'm so tired of dealing with this crap.


LOL - you're obviously joking right? You seem to be stating as fact a fictitious opinion perpetrated by the far right press.

Oh, and Obama wasn't born in Kenya


No matter what you're replying to, comments like this just make it worse. Please post civilly and substantively.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This vote is an important device that serves to decouple net neutrality as a distinct political issue, rather than a footnote in a particular politician's larger platform which -- to many voters -- isn't as important as some other hot-button stances to merit single-issue voting. By triggering a senate vote, this gives an opportunity for each senator to make their stance on this a matter of official record, theoretically independent from any other affiliation they might hold. With the FCC's latest ruling opposed by a majority of liberal and conservatives alike, this is an opportunity to stand with their constituents.

The other objective of those who brought the vote is to illustrate just how few, if any, of those on the other side will vote to oppose the FCC's new rules. This can be weaponized on the ground in later elections, especially competitive districts -- or in this case, states.


Where the idea that FCC latest ruling is opposed by majority of conservatives comes from?

Moreover, if you think issue as obscure and technical as NN would be important enough for a senator to break with their own party, you are deluding yourself. The only way to make it so is to wage blatantly false campaign like "without NN you'd be paying 100x for Internet tomorrow and all your favorite sites would be blocked" - which is also kinda too late anyway, because we already know it's not true. Hoping that the average voter can appreciate the fine points of the tug of war between backbone providers and content generators is, as I said, delusional.


My assertion as stated in the parent post is based on the University of Maryland Program for Public Consultation's December 2017 poll, which asked respondents to weigh how convincing they found a pro-repeal and a con-repeal argument, and then asked their final stance. The results show [1] that 75% of Republican voters, over 88% of Democrat voters, and almost 86% of independents oppose changes are consistent with the result the FCC's undoing of the Obama-era NN rules. This survey at the time was widely covered in media, e.g. [2][3].

[1] http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12... [2] http://thehill.com/policy/technology/364528-poll-83-percent-... [3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/12/12...


They didn't ask however whether people oppose specific changes to FCC regulations, but whether people oppose the consequences that those regulations' supporters claim that will result from removing those regulations. This is somewhat different. In any case, thanks for the links.

But, they didn't ask how much voters cared, like whether a congressman's stance on the issue would change their vote.

We have a monopoly problem with Comcast, etc. so this isn't that complicated. It's an oversimplification to say that net neutrality is going to solve that problem, but I don't think it's an oversimplification to say that people against NN are against solving the problem, and I think most people get that intuitively, even if they don't get the details.

> but I don't think it's an oversimplification to say that people against NN are against solving the problem

You think wrong. Actually, there's three levels of wrong here.

1. Not everybody thinks that government regulations are the best way to solve the problems, especially ones largely created by government regulations.

2. Not everybody thinks that this particular way of regulations that Obama's FCC took is the best way to solve the problem.

3. If people disagree with you about particular way of solving the problem, it doesn't mean they are for not solving the problem.

And, of course, most of the population wouldn't change their vote for Senator because of such niche issue, especially if the best argument here is "Comcast is the monopoly, NN wouldn't solve it but if you don't vote for NN it would be bad".


The U.S. Senate voted on an older version of net neutrality in 2011 with a resolution introduced by former republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (a resolution of disapproval of the FCC's Open Internet Order of 2010). It was a party line vote, 48-52, with republicans (the minority caucus in the Senate at that time) voting against the order and democrats voting in support of the order.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/112th-congress/senate-joint-re...

Also in 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives had a disapproval vote which passed 240-179, since republicans were in the majority at that time. All but 2 republicans voted to disapprove the FCC order, while all but 6 democrats voted in support of the order.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/112th-congress/house-joint-res...


The problem isn't net neutrality, it's lack of competition among ISPs. Normally, I would agree with them - regulating the internet is not the way to spur innovation. But with an ISP monopoly or duopoly in most markets, either more competition (my preferred solution) or regulation is needed. As we've seen with phone service (if you're old enough to remember), regulation will give us reliable but expensive service, and competition will give us cheap, reliable, and feature-filled service.

"competition will give us cheap, reliable, and feature-filled service". Really, I would love to see the evidence that this would be the case.

Competition lowers costs in most industries, especially in markets with a low barrier to entry. In 1956, fridge would have cost the equivalent of $3000[1]. Now, it's down to a few hundred of dollars, completely because competition spurred the creation of technological and manufacturing advances, driving the price down.

The issue here is that some industries, particularly industries with a high barrier to entry and low returns due to existing competition, are incredibly difficult to enter. The internet service provider industry happens to be one of those industries that form monopolies.

[1] http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/50selectrical.html


What's your proposal for increasing competition?

Allowing any company access to the last mile would be a start. They just pay rent to the line owner, just like it was back in the mid 90s.

Net Neutrality and competition are two completely separate issues.

Not really. In a competitive market, ISPs couldn't pull the kind of anti-consumer shenanigans that NN is meant to prevent, but wouldn't be hamstrung from reducing costs by forced compliance to regulations. The closest analogy that I can think of was Ma Bell, followed by the breakup of ma bell, followed by open access to long distance lines. The best and cheapest long distance service came after the regulations were lifted and true competition was established.

Nobody benefits without net neutrality except the telecoms. It shouldn't be allowed.

Okay, but they are also doing nothing about the monopolies.

So put another way, whichever party in power is against net neutrality, and whichever isn’t is for it?

No - republicans in both chambers voted against net neutrality, and democrats in both chambers voted for net neutrality. The resolution of disapproval of net neutrality only passed in the House because there was a republican majority in the House at that time. It failed in the Senate because there was a democrat majority in the Senate at that time.

As usual, Democrats are the only party that gives a damn. Really baffling why anyone younger than me votes for anyone else.

What I don't understand is: why did it take so much effort to get to 30 supporters, when Democrats have 48 in the Senate? What are the other 18 Democratic Senators doing? Why are they not fully behind NN?

Follow the money. I suspect you will find the answers to your questions here:

https://www.opensecrets.org/influence/

https://www.opensecrets.org/elections/


Careful, don't want any of those senators to step out of line over there. I hear dissent is treated with lashing and in-party sabotage.

Would a CRA force a House vote as well?

(The House has another procedure called a discharge petition to force votes on things that are supported by a majority of representatives but opposed by a majority of the majority party -- it seems unlikely that there are enough votes in the House to force a net neutrality vote, though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discharge_petition)


It only goes to the House if the CRA resolution passes the Senate. CRA resolutions function just like other resolutions or bills, being introduced and voted on in one house and approved via vote in the other.

> "Would a CRA force a House vote as well?"

According to the article, it appears that the call for CRA will:

> "Democratic senators have collected enough support to force a vote to block the changes from taking effect."

...

> "To take effect, the CRA would need majority votes in both houses, in addition to sign-off from the president."

It's not clear to me if the Senate would vote first, and, if the vote fails, whether the House would also be required to vote.


If your senator(s) are on this list [1] write them to THANK them for stepping up to do so. (And if they're not, write them to request that they do so!)

[1] https://twitter.com/SenMarkey/status/950498741366247424


IIRC, the FCC commissioner's (stated) argument against net neutrality was that it was Congress's job to legislate things like that, not the FCC's job to just write regulations to make it so. Arguably, it's a defensible point.

Note well: I take no position on whether this was his actual reason, or just a smoke screen.


This is what overturned net neutrality in 2014, and possibly would have overturned it again without the current administration. The FCC states their right to regulate the issue comes from one incredibly vague line in a 96 act, that they are to “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans."

This is risky. If lack of net neutrality regulation doesn't result in clearly-out-of-bounds behavior by ISPs in the near term, Democrats will be the ones looking bad for trying to add useless regulation. I hope they've thought this scenario through.

The ISPs have already been caught red-handed throttling/shaping traffic to fit their business goals over and over.

Comcast was blocking bitorrent traffic in 2008. 1

Verizon blocked tethering apps in 2008. 1

AT&T blocked FaceTime in 2012. 1

Comcast imposed data caps for all streaming services except their own offered through xBox live in 2008. 1

Comcast currently exempts its own Stream TV service from data caps. 2

1. https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/net-neutrality-violations-hi...

2. http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/News/Online-Video-New...

I dug that up by googling for 5 minutes.


Data caps and zero-rating are not illegal under Title II regulations.

The ISP bad behavior has already been going on for years and is now hitting a high-pitched fervor now that the FCC has repealed net neutrality. I don't see how it's risky; the bad behavior is already there and regulation is sorely needed.

This would benefit strongly from examples.

It is risky because you are wrong; nothing is hitting any fervor at all. What are you referring to?

The people who care about "useless regulation" are already anti-Net Neutrality, so you might as well count them out.

It's important to fight for the things that matter to us.


What's a good resource for understanding broadband markets as a whole?

At least in SF in the past 5 years, Comcast seems to have upgraded 100Mbps connections to 1Gbps connections. Not sure whether that translates to a bigger shared pipe for the city as a whole, but it certainly looks like a good amount of improvement in $:bits, at least in comparison with $:sqFt.


I'd bet that at least part of that is in response to competition on the ground. Monkeybrains and Sonic (disclosure: long time sonic customer) both are bringing high-speed broadband to SF. In particular, I have symmetric gigabit for like $50 a month.

I have 15 down 0.5 mbps up sonic for $70...

There are areas where Sonic is dependent on ATT for service. Sure, it is not a great solution, but they (sonic) at least answer calls, have a decent portal, and not trying to upsell you anything or steal your dns queries.

I agree that their service is much more reliable and definitely much better than Comcast, but at some point the main offering differences are going to come into play.

On a no-contract comcast plan I'm paying the same price for 250 MBPS down now. It's good they finally got fiber, because there is no way their DSL offering would be considered competitive, or a viable alternative to comcast (the only other provider I have).

I'm not even in some random part of SF. I'm on Valencia, in the Mission, 3 blocks from BART, which is pretty central. The fact that I have only 2 internet service providers in such a dense part of town and one that doesn't really have a competitive offering is sad, and also why "net neutrality" is necessary until real competition exists.


I've got 55/5 from Comcast for half the price. Promotional, of course, but once promotion ends I'll find some other promotion, likely. Not SF though, a bit south from it.

I have 3 mb/s down sonic for $68. It comes bundled with a phone line that I do not need. They charge me $10 extra because they are trying to improve the network elsewhere.

I've used Sonic. They advertised $40/m (still do) but it turned out that plus additional $10 just because, plus hw rental fees, plus taxes on the phone service I don't need and can't get rid of. All summarily $65. Plus they use AT&T infrastructure, which also conveniently makes it impossible to switch from them to regular AT&T without cancelling the service completely (thus cutting off internet) and ordering a brand new install, since AT&T software can't handle it otherwise (they don't have option to move same service to different billing engine). Plus they told me I have to cancel a month in advance (and pay for the extra month even if I already have another service). So, I'm no longer using Sonic.

I'm paying Sonic ~$100 for 12 down/2 up bonded DSL, and two phone lines I think I've used one of, about twice.

I'd still rather give them that money than Comcast any.


Its an improvement but Comcast has been delaying real improvements for years but collect insane profits (afaik). I would love to see the numbers as well. The X1 DVR as far as I am concerned was horrible compared to the ReplayTV or Tivo circa 2001 (except for obviously HD improvement). It only took 15 years and lots of legislation mandating cablecards and whatnot to get them to get there. I don't have hope that they will act in our best interests given past actions but I have to use them because there are no other real options.

Honestly I would like to see the effective monopoly on physical layer internet broken up. Allow municipalities own the cables under the street and and not allow Comcast and others to block companies like Google from expanding by blocking access to the last mile. There is a lot of unused dark fiber in lots of places that could have supported 1Gbps a long time ago but doesn't


Comcast profit margin is 12%: https://ycharts.com/companies/CMCSA/profit_margin That's on the high side, usually it's around 10%. For comparison, profit margins for Internet/IT companies are around 25%, Google's 24%. Facebook's a whopping 45%. Microsoft's a remarkable 26%.

Is 12% "insane"? Which one would be the "sane" one?


For a company not having any R&D cost, granted monopoly/duopoly via lobbying, yes 12% may be insane.

Why do you think they don't have any R&D cost? They just launched a mobile network, you don't think that involved at least some R&D investment? How much would be sane in your opinion? 1%? No profit at all?

> Its an improvement but Comcast has been delaying real improvements for years but collect insane profits (afaik).

Comcast has raised speeds from about 16 mbps to gigabit in the last ten years, through multiple rounds of DOCSIS upgrades.

As to access to the last mile: that’s already the law. Pole and conduit owners are required to lease out access at non-discriminatory rates. Comcast owns few if any poles. They lease access from the power company or the phone company, just like Google would have to do.


They've only done that in very specific areas

It's widespread: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r30960001-Speed-Report-DOCSI.... Anecdotally, I've lived in five cities in Comcast territory, and four of the five show gigabit cable for $80 and multi-gig fiber for $150 at my former address.

I don't count "A couple of cities in each state" as widespread

There is no single resource. Fierce Telecom and (oddly enough) the forums on DSL Reports are good resources if you actually want to know what’s involved in getting from 100 Mbps to gigabit using DOCSIS. These sources definitely have an industry bent, but they also help you understand that “the Internet” is routers and switches and sense amps, not some platonic abstraction.

As for the policy side, you need textbooks and primary sources. Telecom is a highly regulated market with almost a century of regulations, precedent, compromises, etc. Reading an Ars Technica or Tech Crunch article on it is not educational. I recommend Master Switch by Tim Wu, and Telecom Law and Policy by Benjamin and Speta (disclosure: I’m biased because Speta was my professor in law school).


SF-specific. Comcast has to step up because competition is fierce.

Even just 30 miles south from SF, Comcast is crap because there's less competition there.


28.4 miles south from SF (according to Google Maps driving directions from "San Francisco"), I've got gig down/40 up from Comcast. And the only competition is ATT DSL (yes, I'm like 2000 feet from the CO and they'll only give me 40mbit).

Comcast advertises on broadcast TV all over the bay area "gigabit now available in your area". So I'd think penetration is pretty high now.

Now, I'd rather pay pretty much anyone other than Comcast, and in particular I'd rather not pay $170 for gigabit, and I'd rather have symmetric FTTH, but hey, someone finally brought the bandwidth and I put my money where my mouth is.


They're still pretty awful anywhere they can get away with it. In the Boston area, the best upstream I've ever been able to get from Comcast is 10Mbps (real-world 12Mbps) regardless of package. So I hope you don't like to use video chat, or Twitch streaming, or the like.

Comcast advertises on broadcast TV all over the bay area "gigabit now available in your area". So I'd think penetration is pretty high now.

I wouldn't read too much into that. Here in Boston, the Verizon vans have sported "get FiOS now!" advertisements for more than a decade.

But FiOS is simply not available in most of the area.


> only give me 40mbit

In most of the US you'd be lucky to break 5Mbit with DSL even in close proximity to the CO.


Why net neutrality has turned into a partisan issue is beyond me, but in this era seemingly everything must be politicized as part of a divide and conquer strategy.

I suspect the best hope for net neutrality is for states to adopt it themselves at the state level.


It became a partisan issue immediately, as we have one party that is really against regulation. why wouldn't a conservative/libertarian party feel this way?

Dems should run on it, win and sign it into law for good!


Title II was never meant to be a good solution to net neutrality. It was used because it was the only level that the FCC had.

Congress can actually craft internet specific legislation and should. It seems like Title II has become the end game for many because of pure politics, not because it is a good solution. Remember, parts of Title II had to be ignored to get this square peg to fit.

No, don't vote for this. Develop an actual, specific policy if that is what you want. I fear that after Title II is enacted it would be very difficult to move to better policy in the future.


A good idea, in theory. But, in practice, this would require many more votes, and cooperation from Republican leadership in both houses of congress to develop a bill and get it out of committee and survive the likely filibuster.

The CRA route (restoring Title II classification) may not be perfect, but it's the only remotely viable strategy on Capitol Hill. (And it's still a long shot, at best.)


If you expect the Republican leadership to not support it, they won't even need the filibuster-- they've got the numbers to vote against it already.

TBH, I've lost track of who supposedly supports what and why. The votes and arguments on the NN debate, in our political sphere, seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with policy anymore, so it's hard to "predict" how someone will vote.


Seems to me that some of the "ignored" parts of Title II would have nonetheless benefitted consumers.

Personally, I would love to see last loop unbundling for broadband.


It's amazing for me to watch the tech community go from the hands off libertarian attitude to full socialist over this issue.

This reaction only makes sense if the situation without Net Neutrality regulation by the FCC is a reasonable approximation to a free market. It isn't. There is already a massive amount of regulation in this sector; it just mostly isn't regulation by the FCC. The big ISPs have cut sweetheart deals with state and local governments for monopoly access to particular areas; and when particular municipalities try to go around that by, for example, building out municipal broadband to be rented out to all comers at market rates, the ISPs have sued them and mostly won.

Net Neutrality regulation by the FCC is certainly not an optimal situation; it's trying to make the best of a highly suboptimal situation because there is no feasible path to an optimal situation.


I'm not sure why you're being down voted for expressing a rational argument.

I'm all for net neutrality, but I would also much rather Congress made it a law rather than relying solely on title ii.


I don't care if it's optimal, I care that it works, which it does. That makes it good. Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.

I'm gonna say this flat out: Do you believe in net neutrality? Because this argument that you're concern trolling with leads me to believe that you don't actually believe in it. Trying to give supposed "advice" to advance a goal—that doesn't actually do so—is deceptive.


This comment crosses into personal swiping and name calling, which are not allowed here. Please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and don't do this again.

Works for what, exactly? You obviously have no idea what you're talking about.

We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the site guidelines and ignoring our request to stop.

There is section 706 instead of II

Good, force people to put their name behind an issue.

That should ensure an easy win for Oprah in 2020...

what is your NN position, Mr. Lurr?

I am pro net neutrality and unwilling to reveal my real name.

I'm also not an elected representative of the people.


Bernie did it right. There is no reason for the government to force net neutrality if instead the government focused on maintaining a competitive ISP landscape.



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