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Twenty-two states ask appeals court to bring back net neutrality (techcrunch.com)
675 points by AhmadM91 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 242 comments



The system seems broken when states representing more than 50% of the population have to sue in court to try to change something like this. Instead with that much backing it should be done through the legislative branch. I'm concerned about the growing use of courts to try to decide policies because our legislative bodies can't work together and instead just try to force one sided issues through or block each other.

> Together, the AGs represent states totaling 165 million people — more than half of the U.S. population.


I came here to say the opposite. The states are doing what they can to limit damaging actions by the federal government. This is the system working for the people. Without the ability or interest from the states to push back against the federal government's decrees, we would be stuck with an authoritarian nation.

Currently, trying to pass meaningful legislation is like trying to squeeze a watermelon through a pinhole. That should certainly be addressed, but we can't ignore the current battle just to focus on the bigger war.


> The states are doing what they can to limit damaging actions by the federal government.

Or rather, absence of action in this case.

> This is the system working for the people.

The system working for the people would be the states to make their own legislation. Using courts to force federal government to take action that elected executive and elected legislature do not support is not system working.

> Currently, trying to pass meaningful legislation is like trying to squeeze a watermelon through a pinhole.

Legislature is complex and hard. Not the reason to try and make courts into its replacement. That's not how the system is supposed to work, and doing that will result in a system even more broken than now.


> The system working for the people would be the states to make their own legislation. Using courts to force federal government to take action that elected executive and elected legislature do not support is not system working.

It's called checks and balances, and it was how the system was designed to work.

> Legislature is complex and hard. Not the reason to try and make courts into its replacement. That's not how the system is supposed to work, and doing that will result in a system even more broken than now.

The courts aren't being used as a replacement, they're being used as a court. When one part of the government does something, you use another part of the government to counter it, until you've exhausted all your options. Then you can go back to the drawing board, which is to start a grassroots movement to push for overwhelming bipartisan support to force even a one-sided legislative branch to adopt the reforms you seek. It's an iterative process. Using the courts is not circumventing anything. You can always use legislation later to determine law that supersedes ruling by the courts, unless such legislation is found to be unconstitutional.


> It's called checks and balances, and it was how the system was designed to work.

No, it's not. Just repeating "checks and balances" doesn't mean courts can be abused for doing something that is not court's purpose. The court's purpose is preserving the consistency of legislation (including the Constitution as supreme, very hard to change part of the law) and adherence of executive to the law. In this case, the executive is clearly within the law, but some people are unhappy about it, so they want to abuse the courts to make them legislate from the bench that the policy must be different. This is not how the system is designed to work, this is the exact opposite of it.

> The courts aren't being used as a replacement, they're being used as a court.

They are being used to force through a policy that is not supported by either legislature or executive. That's not a function of a proper court.

> When one part of the government does something, you use another part of the government to counter it, until you've exhausted all your options.

No, that's not how it's supposed to work. It's not "try anything until my side wins, then block any attempt of other side to try anything at all". Your side may temporarily win, but when the other side does the same, you end up with the broken system where nobody respects any decisions and the only thing that matters is which side you're on. I call such system broken.


This is very much a case of checks and balances. This article is a little misleading because it only quotes those filing suit saying that they don't like the FCC's actions. The actual suit filed (https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/nn_govt_petitioners_br...) has actual legal arguments. First, they argue the process by which the rule was passed was in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. Second, they argue that the rule exceeds the FCC's authority by preventing states from enacting their own net neutrality regulation.


You seem to think "checks and balances" means "we have so many ways to get what I want through and it's ok to use any of them in any ways as long as at the end what I want is getting done". It's not the case. "Checks and balances" does not mean "if legislature doesn't get us the result I want, we should try courts next". It means each branch of the government has its role, and for the courts it's upholding the existing law, not creating policy. It is clear that the current dispute is a policy/political one - should we follow one policy or another. The courts is exactly the wrong place to decide such things, no matter how many times you say "checks and balances".

> they argue the process by which the rule was passed was in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act

Which may or may not be true (most likely not, since it would be stupid to undermine important policy decision by not signing a proper form, but of course one should never overestimate the federal government workers and their capacity of keeping things orderly). But if it's true, then they can just re-pass the same decision, now signing all the proper forms in the proper places and the end effect would be colossal waste of time and money and the same outcome at the end of it. Since FCC is the one to decide the policy, and head of the FCC has decided to not have NN, arguing essentially "but you didn't fill the TPC report in triplicate!" is not an argument against the policy that can be effective. It's also not a proper way to enact a policy.

> they argue that the rule exceeds the FCC's authority

That sounds ridiculous. Instituting NN does not exceed FCC authority, but reverting to pre-2015 does? I am not a lawyer, but for a common person that makes zero sense.

> by preventing states from enacting their own net neutrality regulation.

Hasn't then 2015 ruling been equally invalid for preventing states from enacting their own policies which do not include net neutrality regulations? If we argue it should be in the state level (which I'm always fine with) then 2015 rule should be rescinded and they should sue for restricting the current rule only to federal policy but allow states to enact their own policies. But don't they sue for reinstating 2015 policy instead?


I recommend reading the filing I linked (https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/nn_govt_petitioners_br...) for their arguments, but I'll summarize them here.

The alleged APA violation isn't a matter of not filling out the right forms, it's that their whole ruling was based on faulty logic. Basically the APA specifies that agencies have to make their rulings based on existing evidence and provide evidence-based reasoning for their decisions. The agency gets a decent amount of leeway on that reasoning, as long as it is not "arbitrary and capricious," which is a legal standard. The filing claims they did act arbitrarily and capriciously. For example, part of the FCC's change was made on the grounds that BIAS providers have voluntarily committed to not throttling customers and there is little evidence that they have ever done so, which completely ignores the fact that the reason they historically have not throttled people is because it was illegal, and thus was not voluntary. Again, you can read the filing for more information about their argument, it starts on page 35 in the PDF.

The argument that the rule exceeds the FCC's authority is based on the fact that the FCC recently disavowed have Title II authority over broadband. Title II authority gave the FCC the ability to preempt state and local laws. The new ruling is based on Title I authority, which can only allow the FCC to preempt state and local laws if the authority is rooted in some other statutorily mandated responsibility, which the FCC does not have. The actual argument is pretty technical, but that's the gist of it.


> The filing claims they did act arbitrarily and capriciously.

And that's baloney. There are arguments for and against NN, and just claiming "pooh, these other guys just saying nonsense, ignore them" is not a valid argument. It's asking the court to decide that only one side of the policy is correct, and the other side is just idiots. That's not how political decisions should be made in a democratic country.

> which completely ignores the fact that the reason they historically have not throttled people is because it was illegal

If it was illegal before 2015, then doesn't returning to pre-2015 state keep it so? In any case, if it's not illegal now, the Congress can easily make it illegal, it's not for the court to decide that though. Again, the discussion of whether we can trust providers to not throttle and whether we need government regulation to enforce that does not belong in court. It belongs in public discourse, which leads to electing representatives, which produce relevant legislation (or don't if people do not elect those representatives that want to do it).

> The actual argument is pretty technical, but that's the gist of it.

I am not nearly qualified to evaluate the technical arguments on merit, but for a common person something like "it's legal to enact NN, but it's illegal to rescind this action" sounds insane. If they just said "you're ok to remove federal NN rules, but you can't prevent us to make such rules on more local level", then they might have an argument there (though it still doesn't make that decision "arbitrary", it's just a discussion about limits of federalism in a particular case) but is that what they are arguing? I thought they are arguing for the return of federal legislation as enacted in 2015, aren't they?


> They are being used to force through a policy that is not supported by either legislature or executive. That's not a function of a proper court.

They're asking the court to reverse the repealing of legislation, with the argument that the FCC should not have been allowed to repeal it because their legal reasoning was flawed.

Who is pushing policy? Was Obama pushing policy by instituting regulation? Was the FCC pushing policy by repealing it? Are the states pushing policy by trying to get the repeal revoked? Yes, Yes, Yes. Welcome to government.

It's all about pushing policy, any way you can. The system regulates the ability to push policy by allowing you to push policy, within the confines of the system, and gives you the tools to continually push or pull policy.

> Your side may temporarily win, but when the other side does the same, you end up with the broken system where nobody respects any decisions and the only thing that matters is which side you're on.

I re-watched the film Lincoln recently. It's basically about pushing for the 13th Amendment, well before it was politically tenable to adopt it. Bribery, back room deals, switching allegiances, concealing moves, political pressure, manipulation. Politics is the art of doing anything you possibly can to advance your agenda, to the exclusion of others' agendas. Your side doesn't even matter, it's what you can gain or lose that matters.


> the FCC should not have been allowed to repeal it because their legal reasoning was flawed

I have not been able to pin this down.

What law/rule did the FCC allegedly violate?


Check out the NY filing for more complete information about their arguments (https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/nn_govt_petitioners_br...). But the short answer is that the FCC is being accused of violating the Administrative Procedures Act.

The APA was created in response to the growth of government agencies tasked with creating regulations, essentially to curb the power of bureaucrats. Agencies are required to keep the public informed about possible changes to regulations and to allow for public participation, but what's relevant to this case is the process by which proposed changes are approved. In order to change the existing regulations, there has to be a formal review process, which involves gathering evidence and making a decision based on that evidence. Essentially, agencies like the FCC can't just change their rules on a whim, they have to look at all available evidence and actually come up with an argument for why the change needs to happen based on that evidence. Agency heads still get a decent amount of leeway, but standard is that their decisions cannot be "arbitrary and capricious." That's a legal term with a whole body of precedent behind it, google for more info.

I should also point out that suing based on the APA has come up a lot in this administration. My girlfriend is involved with environmental lobbying groups, and a number of the EPA rule changes proposed under the Trump administration have been thrown out because they did not properly follow the APA. The DOJ's repeal of DACA is also currently being challenged as violating the APA.


> they have to look at all available evidence and actually come up with an argument for why the change needs to happen based on that evidence.

Make sense. Proving this seems like it would be an enormously uphill battle.

It would have to be an unambiguously wrong decision on the part of the FCC. (Otherwise, the court essentially becomes the FCC by upholding/overturning any "wrong" decision.)

Given that it only became a policy recently, and the current amount of debate...it's hard to believe that the court would decide that not having NN is egregiously in the wrong. But we shall see.


> It would have to be an unambiguously wrong decision on the part of the FCC.

The court—in an APA challenge—is not addressing whether the decision is right or wrong, but whether the process by which it was arrived at was complied with the legally-mandated process. Whether the decision is wrong (ambiguously or not) is beside the point, though that might be relevant to a challenge on other bases.


Remember that the FCC has to explicitly provide their reasoning for making their decision. Those bringing this suit don't have to prove that not having NN is egregiously wrong, they just have to prove that the reasoning the FCC gave is egregiously faulty. It is a difficult battle, but not as hard as you might think.


Especially if the FCC points to things like the provably false public comments they collected as their reasoning. When they say use evidence like https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/1051157755251 it's not hard to prove that they didn't actually have reasoning for their decisions beyond "me and my lobbyists wanted it"


Wow, apparently that comment was taken from some kind of boilerplate. Who comes up with this stuff?

https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/1051157755250


> Was Obama pushing policy by instituting regulation?

Yes.

> Was the FCC pushing policy by repealing it?

Yes.

> Welcome to government.

There's no problem with either Obama's executive or Trump's executive pushing their respective policies. People elected Obama, people got Obama's policies. People elected Trump next, people got Trump's policies. That's how it should work. The problem is when people are unhappy with Trump's policies and try to use courts to declare that only one side of the issue is legal and another is illegal. That's not how policymaking should work.

> It's all about pushing policy, any way you can.

Not in a proper government. In a proper government, courts should not be for pushing policy. If you want your policy, convince people to elect you and then enact the policy. Otherwise there would be no stable government possible - the Republicans would appoint their judges which would block every decision of Democrats, and Democrats would appoint their judges which would block every decision of Republicans, and it will always be about which team wins and never about getting anything good done. We're almost there anyway, but it's not a good thing, and there's no reason to make it even worse. Even if that means sometimes your team doesn't win.

> Politics is the art of doing anything you possibly can to advance your agenda

Why not murder your political opponents then (say you could get away with it at least long enough for the policy to be enacted?) Why not fake mass casualty terrorist attacks in the name of your opponents? Why there should be any rules at all? I think you'd agree there's some place where we'd like to draw the line. I'd want the line to be at using legislature for lawmaking and courts for enforcing laws.


What's broken is that there are "sides" at all. The American people are being restricted from free thinking on individual issues because of party-based politics. This is intentional, to create "wedge" issues out of thin air so we stay divided and whoever wants power has a shot at taking it.


Well, if the decision is "should we have state-enforced net neutrality regulations" then there would be "yes" and "no" sides I assume. Given binary-partisan US politics, there would be natural alignment of parties along such sides, but the yes/no question would remain even if we didn't have any parties at all.


> The system working for the people would be the states to make their own legislation. Using courts to force federal government to take action that elected executive and elected legislature do not support is not system working.

The tension between federal and state power is an intentionally designed feature of the system, and the fact that the states can push back is one of the several ways the system is supposed to work.


> The tension between federal and state power is an intentionally designed feature of the system

True, but "AGs of states finding friendly judge to force federal legislature to do their bidding" is not part of that design. If they just passed state-wide regulations and federal AG would sue them for it, then it'd be a different case, where one could justifiably invoke state rights. But in this case it's just plain lawfare.


The states brought suit in the court specified by federal law. They don't get to pick the judges. They're suing the FCC, not Congress.

The courts will either uphold the order or overturn it on procedural grounds. If they uphold the order, Congress doesn't have to do anything. If they overturn it, the FCC can try again, Congress can amend the procedures the FCC is required to follow, and/or Congress can enact the same rules the FCC improperly ordered.

The other part of the case is whether states can enforce their own regulations, which several have already passed. It's better for everyone to resolve that question promptly and with a single case. Declaratory judgment, where the courts resolve a dispute before it reaches a critical point, is part of the design.


It seems to me that it would be "lawfare" either way -- either the states would sue the Federal government or the Federal government would sue the states.


Lawfare is not when just somebody sues somebody else. It's when lawsuits are used to achieve goals that go way beyond and not connected with upholding the law - such as to enforce specific policy through courts, failing to pass it through legislative or executive branches.


> Or rather, absence of action in this case.

Issuing an order is an action. The states claim that the federal executive didn't follow the legally required procedure.

> The system working for the people would be the states to make their own legislation.

The federal executive says they can't. The states are asking the courts to say they can.


>> The states are doing what they can to limit damaging actions by the federal government.

I wonder how many of those states made laws forbidding or working against municipal broadband.


Here is a list of all 22 states that filed, with links to their local roadblocks to municipal broadband (if any):

California : https://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadbloc...

Connecticut

D. C.

Delaware

Hawaii

Illinois

Iowa

Kentucky

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Minnesota : https://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadbloc...

Mississippi

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina : https://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadbloc...

Oregon

Pennsylvania : https://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadbloc...

Rhode Island

Vermont

Virginia : https://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadbloc...

Washington : https://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadbloc...


It does not surprise me in the least that the executive branch of a state (which includes the AG's office) is supporting net neutrality at the federal level while the legislative is passing state-level laws to hamstring it.

I live in one of these states with bans on municipal broadband, NC. The relationship between our Republican super-majority General Assembly and our Democrat governor is completely dysfunctional, and our districts are so gerrymandered that we, the people, can't fix it. Republicans in the GA have been calling special sessions all summer to override the governor's vetoes. The GA recently put several state constitutional amendments up for referendum in November, aimed squarely at stripping the governor of more powers (something no one ever mentioned during our last Republican governor's term.) This is not going to change any time soon (see: gerrymandering.)

Our AG suing the fed is literally our only option to block most of the madness happening at the federal level (until the Supreme court rules on partisan gerrymandering,) because our legislative branch no longer works for the people, they simply push party and lobbyist agendas at all costs.


and how many of them have made any effort to clean up the permitting processes for rolling out fiber.


You both are likely correct.


How about "it's the fallback system working for the people"?


The ability for these State Attorneys General to do this is good. The fact that it had to come down to this is terrible.


The House of Representatives majority, which is held by the GOP and is anti - net neutrality, also represents more than 50% of the US population by this method of counting (which says the state AGs “represent” people who didn’t vote for them).

Under the constitutional system of the US something like net neutrality could be passed as a law by the congress, but there hasn’t been a congress that chose to do so.


Like legislators, attorneys general represent "the people," not just those who voted for them, and that is the case even if no one voted for them. (As an interesting side-note, there are a few states whose attorneys general is governor-appointed and even one whose attorney general is appointed by the state's Supreme Court.)

I believe the point being made was that it has been too difficult to get Congress to act on reinstating something that is overwhelmingly popular across the nation. The FCC won't do it. Congress won't do it. Yet, when we put some numbers behind it, WaPo reported in December of last year on a study concluding that 8 in 10 Americans disapproved of the FCC's handling of net neutrality.


> study concluding that 8 in 10 Americans disapproved of the FCC's handling of net neutrality.

Disapproved about which part of its handling on the issue though? Did they disapprove of it being instated or revoked? Or the timeline on which either occurred? Or did they disagree with FCC shoehorning it with regulations written for telephones?


Not OP, but I think they're referring to this story [0] about a survey conducted by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland. The results showed 83% opposition to repealing the existing net neutrality regulations. A lot of the coverage around this topic makes it out to be a partisan issue, but all of the research shows strong support for net neutrality regulations across the board.

[0]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/12/13...


The Senate actually came up with a resolution to reinstate NN but Paul Ryan refuses to bring it up for a vote in the House. So there is your legislative bottleneck. If it passes the house and the senate, of course trump will sign it and take credit for it. Not a difficult task there.


> If it passes the house and the senate, of course trump will sign it and take credit for it

That's pretty much inconceivable. He made repealing it part of his campaign, and specifically claimed that it was an Obama power grab designed to target conservative media.

Even if he has decided since then that net neutrality is acceptable, or even actually desirable and wants it to happen, he would not do it by merely reinstating the 2015 rules for that would be a tacit admission that he was wrong during the campaign.

He would do it by having new rules written, so that he could say that he fixed the Obama rules.


> If it passes the house and the senate

If. It is likely to pass the House?

> of course trump will sign it

If Trump supports it, why doesn't he instruct Ajit Pai to implement this policy, or if he doesn't want to do it, why doesn't he replace Ajit Pai with somebody whose views on the subject align with those of Trump? I think it might be because Trump doesn't actually support it.


Trump doesn't actually care about it, and I would be surprised if he understood it. Right now he's against it because Obama did it.


I think you confuse the caricature of Trump that is pleasing to you to behold because you disagree with him with the actual Trump. While it is pleasing to think people you disagree with are blithering idiots, in case one of them is a President of the US the ignorance of the real state of affairs is not on your side and is not going to serve you well. It is always wrong to underestimate your opponent, it's particularly dangerous if the opponent has a lot of power.


You have heard Trump speak right? You've heard his nuclear speech and his mouth instrument speech? You've read transcripts of his interviews? Listened to him ramble incoherently while tries to answer questions? Read his tweets? "I'm a very stable genius." "I have the best words." "My IQ is one of the highest." etc...

It's hard not to believe the caricature is real when the person creating it is Trump himself. Half of his tweets sound like literal caricature.

This is all completely independent of any disagreements I have with him. I saw Trump give a speech sometime in the early 2000s long before he was a serious political candidate. I thought he sounded like an idiot back then too.

Of course it's possible that he is actually very intelligent, but he just sounds dumb when he talks, or maybe he tries to sound like that to be more appealing to his base.

If that's the case though, you can hardly blame someone for taking him at face value.


Yes, I've heard Trump speak. And I've read the soundbites that people whose only professional interest seems to be to hunt soundbites collected. And since Trumps loves to speak, and his speech style is very peculiar, there's a lot of soundbites. But I also looked beyond the soundbites, and that is what any person that wants to understand and not just confirm their biases formed on Twitter should do. And if you look beyond the soundbites, Trump is not an idiot (neither are Bush, Obama, Clinton or any other politicians who people who get paid for painting caricatures and monetizing them as clicks painted as idiots). He is somewhat of an opportunist, though this is pretty common among politicians. He also has some very definite agenda - which is not to everybody's liking, of course - and part of this agenda is massive deregulation. If you didn't notice that, you may have been paying too much attention to twitter noise and too little attention to what is actually happening in the government (which, contrary to popular belief, is not ruled by tweets).


>He also has some very definite agenda

I don't think this is true at all. You could say that deregulation is his is goal, but you'd have to ignore his opposition to free trade and immigration, which are every bit as central to his policies as tax cuts, and reigning in the EPA.

His agenda is whatever works for him right now. He throws out policy ideas and sees what sticks. Granted it does take some amount of intelligence to recognize what's working and what's not, but I think his success is mostly a product of iteration and luck--he's been sticking his toes in politics since the late 90s.

But let's say he is fairly intelligent--his ability to believe his own bullshit means that he is just plain wrong about as often as someone who is actually just dumb. Completely ignoring his speaking style, he is just constantly, factually wrong. He's wrong about little details that aren't politically advantageous to lie about.

And like you said, he likes to talk, but nothing he's ever written or spoken about gives me any indication that he has more than a surface level understanding of any topic.


You raise some decent points in general, but it is hard to apply them to Trump in the case of net neutrality because he has actually spoken out on it [1]:

> Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media

[1] https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/53260835850816716...


In general, having Trump speaking on something in 2014 doesn't mean he'd not flip on it in 2018, but Trump has showed very definite desire for reducing regulations, so without an explicit statement I'd say it's unlikely he'd support Net Neutrality. He also doesn't have much tactical reason to - NN is the cause of major content companies, like FAANG, and those are no Trump's friends, and neither they are friends of his base. So Trump has no reason to try and make nice with them.


Yes, and it's interesting some of those states have an AG sueing for a policy the House Representatives won't support.


Also interesting is who the Representatives represent when supporting the abolishment of NN.


It represents a gerrymandered "50%" of the population.


Not sure why you’re downvoted when you’re right. The senate is meant to be the equalizer, where all states are on equal footing. The House is intended to favor more populous regions. It’s not that the people of the US don’t have as much of a say as they should — it’s that they don’t have _any_ say, anywhere.


Maybe the way you calculate representation is wrong when 30% of the population gets 50% of the vote.


The executive branch being in control of this is how we ended up in this mess. It should be done through legislation so it won't change with the White House.


The executive branch puts forth that they've banned net neutrality by virtue of not regulating it and are attempting to argue against state's rights at a convenient time when that party often argues for state's rights.


You are totally right, updating my comment! It was removed by the FCC but should be added back by Congress.


I feel like they're trying to get people to conflate representation of >50% of people with support from >50% of people. The attorneys general of 22 states is 22 people. The percentage support in the general population is high (~80% last year) but they aren't the same thing. Marketing is everything.

I completely agree that it should be decided in the legislature. I hate the idea of legislating from the bench. It was administrative policy when enacted in the Obama administration. Why should that enshrine it?


The system's not broken. If that many people in that many states really want net neutrality legislation, then they should advocate for that within the House of Representatives, who are our direct representatives at the federal level. The Presidency is designed to have broad national appeal---across rural and urban states, large and small states---so it's not enough that a minority of attorneys-general want regulatory change.


Except that, due to gerrymandering, the ratios of our federal representatives don't match the ratios of the population.


And even if you were to argue that gerrymandering didn't swing overall election results (it does), gerrymandering also makes certain seats more secure than they normally would be -- causing certain politicians to become incumbents. What reason does an incumbent have to listen to their local community's grievances? Their job isn't at risk if they don't please the public (which is the opposite of how it should be).

So, even if the House of Representatives was a direct representation of the US population, they would still not have the incentive to listen to their populace.


Even more egregious is the proportioned delegates within the electoral college.


While it is possible that the electoral college needs improvement or replacement, any proposals along those lines should be sure to address the dangers of pure majority rule. While imperfect the electoral college is meant to be a way to mitigate that failures mode of democracy.


> While it is possible that the electoral college needs improvement or replacement, any proposals along those lines should be sure to address the dangers of pure majority rule.

The protection against unchecked bare majority rule is Constitutional limits on the power of government, and an independent judiciary not tied to momentary electoral majority enforcing that, and checks and balances between the separately-elected (both in terms of balloting and timing) political branches. It's possible some of those things could be improved from the status quo system (e.g., moving elections for both houses of Congress forward or back one year so that in addition to different term length, Congressional elections were never simultaneous with Presidential ones.)

Skewing representation in a relatively consistent way (the structural bias in representation in the House, Electoral College, and Senate is all in the same direction, though escalating in degree as you move through that list) does not reduce the danger of tyranny of the majority, it just favors particular interests over others in establishing such a tyranny (and even enables tyranny of the minority, so long as it aligns with the advantaged interest.)


I doubt democracy is kept in balance by the fact that Californian’s have a fraction of their vote count as compared to Iowans. I can’t imagine that the skewing of representation is actually a positive feature of the system.


We aren't just a representative republic. We are a federal republic, with rural and urban states, with large and small states, and the EC helps balance these competing interests. What Californians "lose" in terms of representative power in presidential elections, they more than make up in the legislature (53 seats in the House vs. Iowa's 4), never mind their influence on national economic policy by virtue of being the most populous state.

That the Electoral College defies the spirit of "one person, one vote" is a feature, not a bug. The EC forces presidential candidates to have broad national appeal. It's the difference between the Superbowl, where you win if you score the most points in one game, and the World Series, where you win only if you win the most games. The Superbowl is biased toward outliers---teams that have inconsistent overall performance but one really good day can win, but that doesn't mean they're the best team that year. The World Series mitigates that bias by forcing teams to win consistently---a team can have one really good day but still lose the series because they can't perform well all the time. Likewise, because of the EC presidential candidates aren't competing in just one election but in fifty-one, and that means appealing to more than just coastal states or urban population centers (cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_Stat...).

Conversely, our direct representatives at the federal level are members of the House (by design) and the Senate (as of the 17th Amendment). All of this focus on the EC and the Presidency is misplaced. While we need a President with broad appeal, we also need Representatives (and to a lesser degree, Senators) who represent our interests, and here's where I think federal election reformers should focus: on alternate voting systems (like in Massachusetts), on better voter enrollment and balloting mechanisms (like in one of the PNW states, maybe it was Washington's that caught my eye), on non-partisan redistricting, and on publicly funding candidates. These reforms can and should start at the state level.

The genius of western liberal democracy isn't just the allocation of political power to the people but also the careful balancing of competing interests: No one bloc should have too much political power. Eliminating the Electoral College would be a move away from this balance. The right place to drive nationwide political change is in the House of Representatives, not the White House.


Hard disagree - I personally will never agree to the idea that fairness is achieved by taking away people’s representation in their elected leader.

It’s a stretch to call the electoral college the genius of western democracy, since every other western democracy doesn’t celebrate a system in which the minority can rule over the majority. The fact that every other major democracy can achieve this without stealing votes is a worrying tell. American presidential elections are becoming increasingly unrepresentative, with the winner of these contests being the opposite choice of the voters who actually voted (Bush ‘00 and Trump ‘16). I think this distortion is a root cause of political paralysis today, as narrow minded interests continue to assert their control over national policy at the direct expense of the majority.

This is in addition to the fact that the electoral college is a throwback to before America was actually a democracy, and part of a system which was explicitly designed to enslave a portion of citizenry and disenfranchise an additional portion. Lastly, if the goal was to moderate the influence of urban vs rural areas, the population differences between 2018 and 1830’s America are quite staggering, and trying to use a system based on 1830’s population levels is nonsensical.


I think it's a very common pattern now - to use courts as substitute for policymaking, since finding one judge that would issue necessary injunction, whatever it is, is easier than assembling a broad coalition to pass the decision through legislative/executive branches. It is also very wrong and very corrosive to the respect to the rule of law - if judges turn from independent arbiters watching for rules of the game into partisan players that use their power to bend the game to their side, eventually they'd have as much respect as other rank-and-file politicians, and that's not a very good place for the country to be in.


> Together, the AGs represent states totaling 165 million people — more than half of the U.S. population.

By this logic, the executive branch represents 100% of the population.


They do. Donald Trump represents us all.


It's the flip side to preventing what they called "Tyranny of the Majority", if my freshman polisci memory from many moons ago is accurate.

Imagine a scenario where the states wanted to make abortion illegal. We would want that decision scrutinized vs making a change to the law simply because a majority wanted it.


>The system seems broken when

When it does stuff you disagree with personally. That's a pretty universal feeling. While you may get plenty of internet points from your friends that agree with you, you have to realize, you are the one with the unpopular opinion this time.

>50% of the population

Counting illegals. 22 states isn't 50% either. This is the "not my president" argument all over again.

The people won. ISPs won. FAANG lost. It's time FAANG pays their share for video streaming bandwidth. It's not like they don't have plenty of money parked in offshore banks to cover the gap. This is just a tactic for them to sow more division and hope for a favorable future election outcome. Pretty disturbing to watch actually if you agree with Ajit Pai and internet freedom.


> It's time FAANG pays their share for video streaming bandwidth

They do pay their share.

In general, when party X and party Y communicate on the internet, they both pay a service provide (their ISP) for a connection to the internet backbone. That payment to their ISP fully pays for the costs of the data X and Y send to or receive from the internet (or their ISP won't stay in business for long).

What you are calling "internet freedom" is party X's ISP saying it won't allow X to communicate with Y unless Y also pays X's ISP, even though X is already paying X's ISP for the bandwidth X is using with Y.


The ISP paid for the network. They have the right to do what they want with it. That's internet freedom. The government has no business telling me how to run my personal network. It has no business telling ISPs how to run theirs. On top of it all, FAANG are direct competitors eroding those ISPs' cable tv business in most cases. So it's not just a matter of the government telling the ISPs how to run their network, it's the government picking a winner.

Tell me, if FAANG has a problem with internet freedom, why don't they just build their own ISPs? Answer, that's expensive. That's why Google quit building fiber after a half dozen cities. So instead, they want "net neutrality" which is where ISPs pay for the networks, FAANG takes all the money, and ISP customers get stuck with rising prices. No thanks.


What you keep overlooking is that FAANG are fully paying the ISPs whose bandwidth they use.

When I choose to watch, say, an Amazon Prime video that uses 3 GB of bandwidth Amazon uses 3 GB of Amazon's ISP's bandwidth to deliver that stream to the internet backbone.

The various internet backbone providers pass that data through the backbone, according to peering agreements they have made among themselves, on financial terms they have agreed to among themselves.

The backbone delivers the data to my ISP. From there my ISP uses 3 GB of bandwidth to deliver the data to me. That 3 GB of bandwidth is bandwidth I paid for. I pay my ISP something like $100/month in exchange for 1000 GB of bandwidth to be used that month.

Amazon is not using any of my ISPs bandwidth. I am using my bandwidth, which I bought from my ISP, to receive data from Amazon.

The only bandwidth that Amazon is using when I watch a Prime video is the bandwidth of Amazon's ISP, which Amazon's ISP charges them for.

> On top of it all, FAANG are direct competitors eroding those ISPs' cable tv business in most cases.

One can run a content provision business without running an ISP, and one can run and ISP without running a content business. That some ISPs are also content providers is not really relevant to the question of how internet should be regulated.

> So it's not just a matter of the government telling the ISPs how to run their network, it's the government picking a winner.

You've got that backwards. Net neutrality stops ISPs that are also content providers from using a tying arrangement to prevent normal market forces from choosing the most efficient way to provide content.

Question: how come I've never seen the people against net neutrality trying to repeal "telephone neutrality"?

For example, suppose you pick up your phone and try to call a local pizza joint to order delivery. Do you think you phone company should be allowed to make a deal with Domino's where Domino's pays the local phone company and the local phone company won't put through calls to non-Domino's pizza joints?

Or suppose the phone company also owns a restaurant. Should they be allowed to refuse to let you call restaurants other than theirs unless those restaurants pay your phone company. Assume the restaurants' are on a different phone system than the one you use.

Both of those things are illegal on the phone system, and have been so far a long time.


Thanks for the comedy relief. Putting Ajit Pai and internet freedom in the same phrase can only exist on a crass comedy or a complete malicious misunderstanding of the cause.

The people won nothing, who won are entrenched monopolistic companies that don't step on their customer's neck just because it's illegal. Fb and Google are not yet that evil, though Fb is definitely making an effort.


> It's time FAANG pays their share for video streaming bandwidth.

They do though.

FAANG pay their respective ISPs for X gigabit connections to their data centers. I pay my ISP for a Y megabit connection.

I shouldn't have to pay my ISP extra to have access to Netflix just because Netflix will use up a constant 8-12 mbps data stream. Why should I pay more to access Netflix versus any other high-bandwidth application?


A minority of the people won. Let's be clear there. Due to the House being capped, the GOP can hold 55.2% of the seats with 49.9% of the votes. Talking purely votes, not population.

And that's even ignoring the snarky comment about the people that voted the current majority in being from the less economically useful areas.


Federalism is about the states, not the population within those sovereign states. The US government is a federal system, population of specific states has little relevance. It seems like a nit-pick, but a misunderstanding federalism leads to assertions that the population actually matters when it comes to federal rules. The EU works similarly — otherwise why have a “rotating” presidency rather than simply having France and Germany pick the president by virtue of larger populations? Would Poland Lithuania find a population-based Presidency fair? Of course not, but Lithuania has an equal right to representation as a nation as would France — to think otherwise would be to destroy the EU (or the United States.)


It is a similar story with medical and recreational marijuana legalization.


Did that premise matter to you when a majority of californians voted to ban gay marriage? Did you jump up and say 'the system is broken'. I really doubt it.


[Comment redacted for being not well thought out and more cynical and less positive than I'd like to be]


Either you are not keeping up or have a lot of bias because the government makes a lot of changes every year and you will presumably agree with many of them.

EX: While many people hate it, Obama Care got rid of the preexisting condition exception on health insurance. Which was a major issue for many people.

Now you personally might not like that change, but that suggests you should like it when it's removed.


> because our legislative bodies can't work together

This is not (just) a people failure, it's a system failure. More precisely, it's the highly polarizing FPTP voting system that allows one party to dominate almost completely every election cycle instead of having to cooperate with others to government, regardless of how bad their behavior was the last time they run the government. With FPTP, it's just a matter of time before each of the two parties regains power, regardless of the policies they may promote. With FPTP the whole "red team vs blue team" game is inevitable, because FPTP promotes the existence of only two (very) long-term parties.

The second issue is of course the issue of companies and wealthy people buying politicians' votes through lobbying. I mean, who can deny it at this point? It's very clear that this is what lobbying actually does. It's not used just to "try and convince politicians" of something at this point - it's almost literally used to buy the votes.

A solution for each of these problems would be these:

http://www.fairvote.org/fair_representation#what_is_fair_vot...

https://anticorruptionact.org/

https://www.wolf-pac.com/the_solution


FPTP is bad but it's compounded by the presidential system. For example the UK's Prime Minister is elected by MPs, so it's not possible for them to be of a party that doesn't have enough voting power to actually pass laws, whereas in the US this is a common occurrence (as well as the President vetoing laws that the assembly has passed).


I would like to see Twitter, Google, CloudFlare and Facebook classified as public utilities. While Alex Jones is a nut case (And shouldn't be defended), other less publicized incidents of censorship by Social Media companies has occurred (related to picking winners between Israel and Palestine) [1]. While I am a Democrat who has been elected in the past, I agree with the conservative argument that: Corporate censorship dampens the spirit of free speech.

[1] Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments https://theintercept.com/2017/12/30/facebook-says-it-is-dele...


What makes these companies "public utilities" as opposed to others? I don't need Twitter in my life. Nor Google. Definitely not Facebook. And maybe lots of web sites use CloudFlare, but consumers don't interact directly with them.

Maybe applying common carrier status is something that's more palatable, but classifying them as "public utilities" doesn't have to be the mechanism by which CC is applied.


What counts as a need? Does one need land lines? Electricity? People live off the grid by generating these themselves and people live elsewhere without them at all.

Of course, one could bring a distinction between things that naturally grant a physical monopoly and things that don't, but I think one could make an argument that certain sites have effectively become the new public square and in doing so have a natural monopoly of our attention (or more pedantically a natural cartel).

There is also a natural monopoly of technology. If you have a patent for something, others can't use it unless you let them. Imagine if every major tech corporation aggressively pursued every possible patent claim against any companies trying to offer an alternate space for those banned from the mainstream, would the little company have any greater chance that a new electric company fighting against the entrenched players?


>what counts as need

When access to it is required to be on an even playing field.

Hence internet, yes. Electricity, yes. Phone? Yup.

Facebook? Ehhhh


If you want to reach an audience, the vast majority of companies would reach for Facebook and/or Google in a heartbeat. Either they're all wrong, or you're not on an even playing field if you do not use them as an advertiser.


Ok, but you a seven year old still needs the internet to have a level education playing field, and her mom needs it to sort out her taxes and ID applications and look up nutritional information and SNAP information and parks nearby and how to register a car and available jobs at the DMV and...


You need access to electricity, but there are alternatives such as solar panels or diesel generators. As for phone, more and more people are switching pure to cell phone, of which there are many different options.

By the same measure, depending upon what you are trying to do, it will not be an even playing field if you are removed from Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, etc.


Cell phone calls are regulated just like land lines... But yes I think data should also be a utility.

Being banned from Facebook/Google/Amazon doesn't prevent you from using the free irs file option, or applying for your ID online, or helping your child with math homework you have no idea how to work on cause you grew up without access to schooling, or etc.

I'm more talking level playing field for your average American, not your average hackernews poster.


What about LinkedIn. You could argue they are needed for career purposes.


You could, but I think I would win the argument that the internet is a couple of magnitudes more important to finding a job than LinkedIn... Plus all the other reasons the internet is necessary for a level playing field in modern life.


These days if you are a local or small to medium business and you aren't on these sites, you practically don't exist. Then again, this censorship isn't averted even if they are regulated by the government. I imagine Alex Jones would also have a hard time getting a 30 second ad on public access televison, despite however much money he was offering.


Personally, I'd apply a completely different property/rule on them. If they're open to the public, and they're used for debate/dissemination of data to willing individuals, then they are not allowed to restrict any speech that doesn't violate any existing laws.

That still leaves plenty of room for the removal/censorship of violent videos, copyright-violating videos, and content with outright calls to violence. Honestly, I've seen a ridiculous amount of the above three examples on all platforms to come to the conclusion that it's both impossible to police such content properly, and that the attempts at classifying content with political speech under the same umbrella is just silencing/censorship rather than it just being a matter of consistency.


> Nor Google. Definitely not Facebook.

While I agree with you on Twitter, these two are less clear.

Google wields vast influence by being search provider, advertising provider, email provider and phone provider simultaneously. Google IS the panopticon for the average user.

Facebook is someone I can't avoid in quite a lot of situations. When government starts using Facebook to coordinate and contact (and it has), Facebook has become more than a mere company.


As a fellow Democrat, I'm deeply disappointed to hear this. First, it's not a conservative argument in favor of free speech, because their criticisms of limits to free speech are limited to speech that they support.

Second, the first amendment is clearly and unambiguously intended to protect the right to free speech from governmental interference. There are myriad outlets for speech, and as long as that continues to be the case, you can't just handwave something like "corporate censorship dampens the spirit of free speech". Argue from facts, not ideology: show that it's actually happening.

Further, there is no argument for making Twitter, Google, Facebook, CloudFlare, or any other company into a public utility that wouldn't also apply to Fox News, Clear Channel, or the Drudge Report, and compel them to publish liberal views.

Alex Jones is facing backlash from these companies not because of his reprehensible politics, but because he has been inciting violence against other people and these companies, finally, are taking some responsibility for their role in that. Maybe when he finally stops trying to convince people to go after the families of Sandy Hook victims or "investigate" pizza shops, he'll be let back onto the playground to play with the other kids.


>right to free speech from governmental interference

I don't like where this argument goes. Do you think it should be legal for Google to remove every search result of a cannabis business? Should it have been legal for Google to censer anyone advocating for LGBT rights before they were a protected class? If you answer no to those questions its hard to justify saying that 1A only applies to the government.


Answer to both was yes, even before I got to your last sentence.

That's not a statement that I think either of those things is right. I would and should expect a lot of user and community backlash from actions like those.

But as far as the law is concerned, those things should be legal. Again, because to do otherwise would mean forcing businesses to adopt the government's position on any number of subjects.

And no, I'm not a free-market libertarian. There are lots of things I think businesses should be forced to do under strong regulatory terms. This just doesn't happen to be one of them.


The argument against net neutrality that I like the best is that net neutrality takes power away from the regulated telecom monopolies, which are more firmly under government control and scrutiny, and gives it to the tech multinationals who are much more loosely regulated. The tech multinationals are more and more acting a lot like governments with their coordinated content policies, so it's more about giving power back to the government regulatory agencies vs embracing the brave new world of banning unpopular speech on all the major platforms.


That's like saying cancer is good because it means fewer die of old age (fine print: because they are already dead).

Also, multinationals are the ones that can bend the telecom monopolies to their advantage and crush competition.


Thanks for posting this perspective. That is an interesting point.


> The argument against net neutrality that I like the best is that net neutrality takes power away from the regulated telecom monopolies,

This argument makes no sense. ISP monopolies are almost completely unregulated. It's not like Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) is regulated and subject to the kind of oversight that Con Edison is.


> I would like to see Twitter, Google, CloudFlare and Facebook classified as public utilities

This would be destructive to our venture ecosystem with dubious benefits to consumers. Few Americans love their public utilities–they're often mismanaged and at least somewhat corrupt.

Better to set up a system of rules and corresponding liabilities and--if necessary--regulators. (Given how profitable these companies are, though, litigation would probably cover all bases except those hurting the poor.)


This is going too far.

The Internet absolutely should be classified as a public utility, but the services on it should never be considered as such.

Telephones are a public utility, but a conference room service is not. This is by design, because the conference room service isn't integral to having a telephone system, but having a telephone system is integral to having a conference room service.

Likewise, the Internet is integral to accessing all of the sites that you visit, but all of the sites that you visit are not integral to the existence and continued functioning of the Internet.

You're suggesting that once a privately owned website grows large enough, that the private entity controlling should lose control of the service they created. I am curious where you would draw the line. If Facebook and Twitter are Public Utilities, what about Reddit? What about that web forum you're running in AWS that just hit 10,000 active users? What about a popular personal blog with server-side comments?

Classifying individual websites as public utilities was never the mission of net neutrality to begin with, and could actually be harmful. If such rules were to exist, all of the content-based censorship arguments against Facebook and Twitter for removing hate-speech from their platforms would be validated, because as public utilities these websites would have no right to moderate their own platforms anymore without government oversight.

Furthermore, it would give our government control over social networks, as they are now a highly-regulated public utility.

And how messy would it be for a website like Facebook to many any major change to their platform once such a rule took effect? By classifying it as a Public Utility, any feature Facebook added would be unable to be removed without a plausible argument that users were being robbed of utility. This would kill innovation, because why would any website implement a feature when doing so could result in immediate lawsuits, and the removal of such a feature once launched would be virtually impossible without legal consequences?


This is silly. We don't have to have Twitter, Google, CloudFlare or Facebook in our lives. We can live perfectly happy lives without them and they can be replaced by other companies as quickly as they were created by Twitter, Google, CloudFlare or Facebook. Electricity and phones are two physical services that we really need and can be ran by any company. Cable television is regulated because cable companies need right of way on telephone poles and under the streets, which is owned, more or less, by the city, county, state or federal government.


"they can be replaced by other companies as quickly as they were created by Twitter, Google, CloudFlare or Facebook."

You may not have Free Speech on the biggest platforms on the Internet today, but if you wait 15 years and are lucky, you may have it by then.

As arguments defending the status quo goes, that stinks.

(I'd sharpen my argument by saying "biggest and growing", but I'm not sure that's the case anymore. Facebook is definitely showing some signs that they've peaked, for instance. I'm not saying it has 100% happened, but it's a lot stronger of a claim now than it was even six months ago.)


It's vastly easier to replace your electricity or phone provider than your Facebook provider.


Electricity, water, cable, and phone are all "natural" monopolies because of the significant amount of infrastructure they require. Having private companies lay their own competing water mains would be an absolute clusterfuck.

Facebook is, at the end of the day, a website that happens to be popular right now. It's not even close to being a public utility. Anybody can enter the space and create a competing service. Given how fickle consumers are, I'll be surprised if it's still around in 10 years.


> I'll be surprised if it's still around in 10 years.

I agree that facebook the site, in its current form, is unlikely to exist in 10 years. I highly doubt that facebook the company is going anywhere in that time frame.


Then what even is the definition of "Facebook" if the entire business model can collapse and you still consider it to exist just because they have some money left somewhere and can continue being a business?


A company that doesn’t anticipate the end of a given revenue stream does a disservice to its shareholders.

Facebook is not its only web property and it will still have hooks in a majority of internet users for some time in aggregate by improving other properties and by acquiring new ones.

Does the Microsoft of 10 years ago look like the Microsoft of today?


It's easier for me to entertain the idea of treating ISPs like utilities, because it doesn't make sense for multiple companies to lay fiber to the same homes.

I'm not convinced for things like Twitter, Google, and Facebook. I think decentralization is the solution to this problem, not regulation.

It's weird to think about, but I almost wonder if something like Alex Jones starting a PeerTube instance might be the event that pushes enough people to start using ActivityPub to where the network is of a viable size.



Private entities are under no obligation to be a platform for all speech. Relevant XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1357/

If someone comes on to Hacker News and posts racial slurs, shouldn't HN have the right to ban that user? Wouldn't that be censorship?


Where did this new anti-NN talking point come from about how, if we're going to have net neutrality then we also need to allow people to be terrible on social media without taking responsibility for it? I swear I've seen this so many times in the past few months, including multiple comments in this thread. If moderation of corporate software platforms is an important issue for you, great, but surely you can see the difference between that and NN? Attempting to conflate the two looks pretty disingenuous and I'm pretty inclined to think it's some kind of culture war talking point.


It’s being heavily pushed by conservative talking heads. Basically just limping everything into “net neutrality” because everyone knows the phrase


>allow people to be terrible on social media without taking responsibility for it?

This is a euphemism for banning users and a misrepresentation of the the points I have seen, which is that it is hypocritical to seek government safeguards against ISPs favoring/disfavoring traffic/content depending on the source while clamoring for just that from giant internet media corporations


>US Internet Speed Has Gone From 12th To 6th Fastest Since End Of Net Neutrality

I see this being tossed around as a counter to the main point of NN being slow down of speed.

Also, why do the state dem AG's always suing to enforce new laws instead of the legislation process, it seems like the new way to pass laws is to get a judge to give it to you. We have legal weed from legislation now.


> >US Internet Speed Has Gone From 12th To 6th Fastest Since End Of Net Neutrality

> I see this being tossed around as a counter to the main point of NN being slow down of speed.

It's been nowhere near long enough to see the effects of investment in infrastructure for improving Internet speed since the net neutrality rules were repealed. Any change in speeds since November would be due to work that has been in progress for a while.


To show the improvements in speeds, all that ISPs has to do is provide full/unthrottled speed for speed test websites such as fast.com and speedtest.net.


...which they're now allowed to do, without net neutrality.


Even with net neutrality, they were allowed to do so. In fact, they were mandated to provide an even footing for all websites.


The point being that without net neutrality they can fudge the speed tests by prioritising that bandwidth, and excluding it from throttling.


> Also, why do the state dem AG's always suing to enforce new laws instead of the legislation process, it seems like the new way to pass laws is to get a judge to give it to you. We have legal weed from legislation now.

I agree with your position, but it's not just Dems. This is the main point of my comment also, this should be done with legislation.


I believe all the states that currently have recreation cannabis have it because of referendums and ballot initiatives. The legalization process has shown exactly how our legislatures have failed to address this issue. Canada did legalize recreational use with legislation, but they are the only ones so far.

I personally blame gerrymandering.


Vermont recently legalized it via the legislature, though I think your main point still stands.


Ah yes, their law did go into effect last month didn't it. Reading up on it, it sounds like Vermont has taken an approach like DC where commercial sales are not allowed, but personal possession, cultivation, and gifting are.

I wonder if we'll look back in 10 years and wish more places had taken these approaches, or if they well eventually also enact commercial legislation.


Recreational cannabis was passed by a ballot measure in Oregon.


Speed doesn't matter if bandwidth went down aka download caps.

So, speed can go up on the "preferred service" while speed goes down for "everybody else".

Lots of the ISPs now have deals where traffic to their preferred video streaming service doesn't count against your caps. And, wonder of wonders, that traffic is somehow faster than everything else.

NN isn't about "speed". It's about the fact that everybody's packets are given the same "speed".


And gay marriage, too.


Looking at Q1 2017, and comparing against Q3 2015, we saw the average speed of the US, as measured by Akamai (i.e., someone actually delivering content, not just a 'speed test', which we know is gamed, and largely only hit by people with quick speeds anyway; I've never checked my speed except when I got a new ISP that said it was faster than my old one, i.e., when I first got 100mbps, and when I first got fiber) increase from 12.6mbps to 18.8 mbps. A year and a half under net neutrality and actual, real world average speeds increased 50%. So that was the pre-existing trajectory. It's not like "we're going to repeal net neutrality" is going to cause ISPs to pull their investments instantly, not when they've already been investing. If it's even related.


this is one of the main reasons why states rights is important. Here are the big ones:

1. each state can be tailored to its population 2. each state acts an an incubator for new ideas and other states can follow 3. usa citizens have more choice in who governs then and can easily move between them


I mean, the same could be said for countries relative to the world, towns relative to counties, cities relative to states, etc.

I mean, I agree with you - I'm just pointing out that while I do agree with the idea, I've never understood if there needs to be a line or where that line of "new ideas" is actually implemented.

Some states are so big these days that they're basically the federal government by themselves. Ie, California. California hardly feels like an incubator for new ideas, as being wrong on such a massive scale could lead to very big problems.

Furthermore, rural and city life in California differs greatly, and I imagine there are often times where one group or another feels dismayed over a ruling that primarily focuses on the other group. Ie, the broad stroke of the state is so broad it may as well have been the fed.

Anyway, none of these are counter points. It's just discussion points that I've often thought about before. Ones that I have little answers to.


The problem is that people poor enough they can't choose to move states get kinda screwed over.


Well, yes, but that's also currently an issue for say your average rural Indian farmer. Or north Korean.

I get that we're talking about Americans here, and can't be expected to solve every problem across the world, but I'm having a hard time drawing some arbitrary line in the sand here.


getting rid of states rights doesn’t give them any more options either.

this is tangential.


The unfortunate part is that people generally only advocate for states' rights when the opposing party is in power. I've never heard more liberals advocate for states making legislation than I have since Trump got elected, and conservatives haven't been all that hot on states being able to make their own laws since.

People need to remember how crucial states' rights are from when the other party is in power, and then continue to advocate for them once their party is in power.


I was wondering whether post the net neutrality repeal any IP has actually started tiered internet packages based on what content is being accessed, whether they stared throttling as many were fearing. If they hadn't it doesn't mean that they won't, was just curious if it's happened yet


In the ARS article about Verizon throttling the CA fire dept's service they said the throttling policy was changed from "throttling during high congestion" to "throttling when they use their alloted amount of 'unlimited' data". This change was made basically immediately after the repeal went into effect.


One thing I don’t understand is why states do not enact their own net neutrality legislation. As far as I know every state has a public utilities commission of some sort that regulates power, water, etc. Why could this not work for ISPs?


I think the FCC is trying to remove that ability from States now because federal law overrules state law.

> The Attorneys General are hardly alone on this one. As Reuters notes, Mozilla, Vimeo and Etsy also joined forces today to file a legal challenge, while governors in six states have signed executive orders and three states have passed their own net neutrality laws.


The goal is to forbid net neutrality as a policy of the Republican Party. Net neutrality is seen as "bad for buisness", but in reality is bad for those that pay off the party and Ajit Pai.


> I think the FCC is trying to remove that ability from States now because federal law overrules state law.

Sort of. The relationship between federal and state law is complex, and it's actually disputed whether the attempts to prevent states from enacting their own net neutrality laws are themselves constitutional.


> because federal law overrules state law

The FCC does not (and cannot) pass laws.


The FCC gains it's authority to create regulation from federal law though.


Which many argue as unconstitutional.

We've essentially given an unelected group of people a blank check.


> One thing I don’t understand is why states do not enact their own net neutrality legislation.

I'm not from the States, but my guess is that they want it to be enforceable at the federal level. At state level, the ISP could theoretically lodge a compliant at a federal court and as per the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, the federal law, (no net neutrality), is extremely likely to win over state law.


Cable companies are the bulk of the ISPs in the US and they are subject to local municipal regulation in return for right-of-way access. In more conservative parts of the country this power is/was used to ban channels deemed unfit for community standards, like MTV. These same communities could impose net neutrality on the cable ISPs if they wanted.


Some places are trying to. America trusted corporations to have public interests in mind for too long.

Additionally, the federal government is attempting to censure states and municipalities which are doing so. When the federal government is in regulatory capture, the will of the people is immaterial.


Is the current situation (lack of net neutrality) simply the lack of a law or is it a law or regulation? If the former, the states can enact their own net neutrality legislation. However, if the latter, the federal law or regulation takes precedence and the states cannot override it.


The current situation is a mess. The FCC derives its power to regulate telecommunications from the Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce.

However, the FCC believes it is limited to interstate telecommunications—when it suits them. They refused to defend their own price caps on intrastate prison calls because it was not a matter of interstate commerce. However, despite this, they purport the reclassification of ISPs preempts state law with regards to net neutrality. I find the logic behind this mind-boggling.


It is not mind-boggling because your logic is oriented toward things like law or service to the public. The logic is Greed. Price caps would interfere with price gouging prisoners. Net neutrality would interfere with price gouging both content providers and their own customers stuck in monopolies or duopolies. Both are "follow the money" cases. The Party will always argue in favor of greed and whatever suits the rich and powerful. They will invent whatever motive suits the goal of greed.


Yea, this is the world view I'm starting to work with here.

Before, I'd say, "companies can't do that, it'd be illegal!" Now I think, "would it cost more to do the thing and fight a legal battle over it than the profit possiblity? Do the damaged parties have the means to fight a pitched legal battle? Is there a lobby angle than can be taken to simply change the laws?"

I wish I didn't have to be so cynical.


Doing it at the state level would only protect the consumers in that state, but not the producers. As a producer, your content could still be throttled in states where there are no neutrality laws.


For anyone in a place with options, My suggestion is simply switching to a Net Neutrality proponent. Ditching my comcast today in favor of Sonic fiber. Cheaper, supports net neutrality, and waaayyy faster :)


A big part of the point is that almost nobody has any options. If there were room for real competition in the space, regulation might not be necessary. Part of the barrier of entry is inherent: building infrastructure is hard. But part of it has been artificially constructed by the existing players through lobbying: https://www.wired.com/2016/09/utility-poles-important-future...


yeap. I'm lucky enough to have options in Berkeley, but where I lived in the past, there was only ATT and Comcast...


The Entities involved:

The coalition of 23 Attorneys General collectively represents over 165 million people – approximately 50 percent of the U.S. population – and includes the

Attorneys General of:

1. New York

2. California

3. Connecticut

4. Delaware

5. Hawaii

6. Illinois

7. Iowa

8. Kentucky

9. Maine

10. Maryland

11. Massachusetts

12. Minnesota

13. Mississippi

14. New Mexico

15. New Jersey

16. North Carolina

17. Oregon

18. Pennsylvania

19. Rhode Island

20. Vermont

21. Virginia

22. Washington

23. District of Columbia


I haven’t noticed any change in my Internet connectivity since so-called net neutrality regulations were rolled back. That said, the fears of a single party dictating what you can and can’t see on the Internet are not just clear, they’re present. How many net neutrality supporters stood up for Alex Jones? Or say anything about shadow bans on Twitter, Facebook, and Google search results based on organizational capriciousness?

Net neutrality is just another example of a regulatory capture competition between the old telcos and the new masters of the Internet. The massive PR spending alone is proof. See Paul Graham’s article[1] for a better explanation than I can give here.

Interestingly the authentic left has the answer: Publicly owned corporations, universities, and perhaps other mainly local institutions providing network connectivity are the real antifragile solution to the problem net neutrality regulations claim to address.

[1]http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html


Here's the EFF's Civil Liberties Director coming as close to standing up for Alex Jones as any reasonable person needs to: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/beware-the-digital-c...


> How many net neutrality supporters stood up for Alex Jones?

Are ISPs refusing to peer with Alex Jones? If not, this has nothing to do with net neutrality.


If net neutrality is exclusively a regulatory power grab by Google and the like at the expense of traditional ISPs, then it's true Alex Jones has nothing to do with it. However, if one acknowledges some kind of moral principle that content shouldn't be discriminated against based on the source, then one has to show why that should apply to traditional ISPs and not to the newer Internet companies that run all the same infrastructure the traditional ISPs do.


It seems unrelated to me. If I write an Op-Ed and send it to the New York Times, it's not a net neutrality issue if they refuse to publish it. Maybe they personally hate me. Maybe my idea seems dumb to them. Myabe I ka'nt spel rite. Even though The NYT has a website, that doesn't mean they are under any obligation to publish something there just because I want them to.

I don't see why Facebook is any different. It's their website, they have no obligation to publish anything.

Whether or not you believe Facebook can exercise editorial control over user-submitted content, it's not a net neutrality issue. Net neutrality is about moving IP packets around without charging different rates based on what's in the headers. That's all.


You didn't respond to my central point.

You did however clarify that for you net neutrality is purely about application layer providers strong-arming link layer providers via regulatory capture. Thanks, it makes your position much clearer.


> How many net neutrality supporters stood up for Alex Jones?

By asking this question, it makes it clear you don't know what NN is about. It has nothing to do with censorship.

> That said, the fears of a single party dictating what you can and can’t see on the Internet are not just clear, they’re present.

Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/etc. didn't ban Alex Jones because they didn't want us to be able to see what he wants to say. They did it because they didn't want to be the ones broadcasting what he says. He incites violence. I do not fault anybody for refusing to be the platform relaying that message.


> I haven’t noticed any change in my Internet connectivity since so-called net neutrality regulations were rolled back.

That's just because of how slow ISPs are at reacting to anything. I know product owners at a couple cable companies and they are actively modifying their systems to take advantage of the new lack of net neutrality.

> That said, the fears of a single party dictating what you can and can’t see on the Internet are not just clear, they’re present. How many net neutrality supporters stood up for Alex Jones? Or say anything about shadow bans on Twitter, Facebook, and Google search results based on organizational capriciousness?

Net Neutrality regulates the ISPs. If he were banned from Comcast or something so that he couldn't have internet connectivity, then that would be applicable.



I'm still trying to grok why ISPs are supposed to treat all customers equally while PayPal, eBay, youtube, GoDaddy, Twitter, etc. are allowed to pick and choose.

I'd be more comfortable with the arguments if people were consistent in them.


The ISP's are more important because of their physical locality. It's infinitely easier to create a competitor for Facebook than a competitor for Time Warner (Google, one of the world's most powerful companies, tried and failed).

That said, with the amount of ubiquity and sway on society that self-proclaimed platforms like Facebook and Google have started to have, I would not be opposed to regulating some of those as utilities too. But that's a more nuanced issue. The ISP issue is so black and white as to be hilarious, if it weren't so disheartening.


It seems to me that I have more choice between ISPs than in auction sites, as an example.

The tendency towards monopoly in networks makes all these cases similar I think.


Most people have exactly one choice of ISP. If you're lucky, there might be a second one with the same price and 1/10 the speed.

Whereas I could go build an auction site myself if I really wanted to. Scaling a business takes work, but the power of software is that it requires no material resources to get started. Laying fiber is not only immensely expensive in and of itself, but ISP's have also lobbied to stack the deck severely against newcomers: https://www.wired.com/2016/09/utility-poles-important-future...


I think the amount of effort and traction you'd get from trying to launch your own auction site to compete with eBay would be about equal to getting a couple shovels and burying some cat5 around your neighborhood to compete with comcast


You aren't allowed to bury cat5 in your neighborhood without government approval, and they'd tell you to just lease time off Comcast lines.

What will you connect your cat5 cable to?


Plug your router into your neighbor's, and everyone else that wants to join your new ISP. I don't see the difficulty; it's just as easy as starting a new eBay site and getting people to sign up


You can create an ISP and then you have to work to get people to sign up.

You can create a eBay site and then you have to work to get people to sign up.

And your argument is the hard part of making an eBay site is signing people up and hand-wave over the build part of both these things? Apples to Spaceships comparison.


Well, the argument is that if you don't like eBay it's easy to just go make your own. I'm not disagreeing with that. I'm just assuming that part of "making your own" is getting the other users to sign up, since an auction site with no one to bid isn't very useful. So it's the same with ISPs: if you don't like it just make your own.


You cannot make your own ISP. You can make your own eBay.

There is no competition for Comcast, there is for eBay. It appears your very premise is flawed but I welcome you to demonstrate why this isn't true.


Sure I can make my own ISP. It just won't be an international network with billions of people on it. But I'll set up a server in my house with my new ebay on it and connect it to my neighbor running his new facebook. We could even do it wirelessly.

It won't be that great, because he wants to share pictures of his kids and I want to sell my funko pops, but it's definitely easy. Unless your definition of an ISP inherently includes a connection to millions of people, in which case I don't understand why your definition of an eBay doesn't as well?


That's funny because your eBay clone will have a connection to millions of people.

You also seem to forget that the "I" in ISP stands for Internet. Your connection to your neighbor is just a LAN/WAN and by definition is not an ISP.


If it's not connected to the internet, it's not an ISP.

How will you access global DNS?

Can I ask your motivations here? You seem very keen on muddying the waters in this discussion.


> Well, the argument is that if you don't like eBay it's easy to just go make your own.

The argument isn't that it's easy, the argument is that it's possible. There is no guarantee of success but you can try. Why even start Facebook when we already have Myspace?

There are actual physical impediments to building your own ISP and natural monopolies involved. By comparison, just a lot of people using something doesn't make it monopoly.


False equivalence. Not only does eBay have actual alternatives, the start up cost is much higher for a new ISP.

Startup cost is not equivalent to "getting customers" cost. I can launch eBay 2 tomorrow, I cannot do that for Comcast2.


But what makes eBay eBay isn't their startup cost, it's the millions of people buying and selling items that make it a usable service instead of just one guy posting pictures of his funko pops for sale.

So yeah, I could launch ebay2 tomorrow but it would just be me on there. I could actually do that with Comcast2 as well, just by turning on a computer in my house but if it's not connected to anything else it's about as useless as the ebay2 running on it.


But the availability is what matters.

If I want to make an ISP available to even just a small neighborhood, we're talking tens of thousands of dollars of investment. Scaling it up so an entire city can use my ISP is an investment in the millions of dollars.

If I want to make a new eBay available to the world, it's a couple days of software development for a proof of concept and a few dollars for a VM in AWS/Azure/GCC. Polishing it a bit and scaling it up is only a few more months development and possibly a couple thousand in server costs, which your revenue would be scaling nicely with.


When was microsoft microsoft

when was twitter twitter

when was facebook facebook

Comcast was an Internet Service Provider when it Provided a Service that allowed access to the Internet.

It will take far longer to route your home server to global DNS, all while bypassing comcast, than it would to register that server's IP on the DNS with your new URL, ebay2.com

But, that's just the same thing I, and many others, have been saying, for about five posts deep now, so I'm curious where this fight of yours is coming from.


By that argument, eBay itself on September 3, 1995 wasn't eBay either. When over the last 22 years did eBay actually become eBay?


Not if eBay started making extremely anti-consumer choices like Comcast has. At some point it would get to be too much, and competition would step in. We see that starting to happen a bit with Facebook lately, although the network effect there is stronger than with an auction site. But Comcast can do whatever the hell it wants, because nobody can even try to provide a way out.


For selling a product, off the top of my head we've got eBay, Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, nextdoor, and whatever other social network you can think of. Amazon, with a bit of work. Crowdfunding sites if you wanna go that route. If that thing you're selling is a car there's specialized websites for that (shift, for example).

I have only ever been able to have Comcast, ever. In the 9 houses in 6 different cities in 3 different states I've lived, always Comcast was the only option.


Is it infinitely easier? Google tried and failed to make a Facebook competitor too.


Correction: They succeeded in making one, it just didn't take off as a business. There's a difference. When it comes to simply getting a certain piece of functionality, even an open-source community is free to go build a competitor and give it away for free. The obstacles when it comes to internet infrastructure are encountered before you even get in the gate.


They also essentially failed to make an ISP, so not a great comparison.


I think of the internet as a communication technology. It's not simply a product. I think we all agree that everyone should have reasonable access to water (cleaned and distributed), because it is very important, it satisfies very primitive needs. You could see electricity as another one of these technologies we think most people should have reasonable access to, but whose primitive importance situates itself between the importance of access to water technology and the importance of access to information communication technology (the internet). It's great how individuals' humane aspects can develop from access to information and communication technology. It's certainly not a need for a human being, but it's important for helping people grow. I can continue but I think this answers the difference between the importance of information communication technology and the importance of products or services found on the internet.


The former provide infrastructure that the latter services run on. They are therefore in fundamentally different categories and so different regulations apply. That's why there isn't consistency between them, because they are different things.


The latter largely do not produce their own content and thus are not fundamentally different than what a carrier provides. Why would you say that it's ok for Google to ban Alex Jones from youtube, but not ok for level-3 to do the same?

It's a convenient kind of bullshit to draw a line below layer 4 of the ISO stack and say "everything below this line has to be fully neutral, everything above this line can be fully biased and curated". A company that provides their own content, such as Netflix, is very different than providing a platform for other people's content, i.e. Youtube/Twitter/Facebook.


Because internet is more important than binge watching Netflix. To many of us, we're thinking of it on par with water, electricity, etc.

With that said, I would agree that some other services such as information seekers ought to be regulated somehow. Ie, Google/Facebook can do massive harm these days, and their reign of independence is failing here.

Another point is that, many companies have previously ran into issues of anti-competitive behavior. This in recent years has become very very lax, too lax I feel. Windows should be providing an equal platform for everyone to run on. They shouldn't be blocking competitors applications (a hypothetical). Same goes for ISPs. My ISP shouldn't block Netflix because the ISP prefers their own media site.

To be honest, your objection really confuses me. You seem to argue that ISPs can do whatever they want, because we're inconsistent with other sites/etc. So rather than enforcing other sites, you want to give free reign to ISPs? How does that make sense? I agree consistency is important. Lets fix all abusers, not just ISPs. That should satisfy your argument, no?


> To be honest, your objection really confuses me. You seem to argue that ISPs can do whatever they want, because we're inconsistent with other sites/etc.

I don't have an objection against net neutrality. I have an objection to net neutrality policies that concentrate control with a small number of companies while stripping such autonomy from other companies. It's absurd to say that backbone providers are required to carry any traffic, but microblogging sites, video streaming sites, etc. can curate and have any bias they choose.

If it were me we'd have net neutrality, but the net neutrality policies would be conditional on whether a company wants to claim safe harbor under the DMCA or not. Anyone who wants to hide behind the DMCA has to be neutral on their platform. Anyone who is willing to take responsibility for the content they distribute can have any bias or opinion they want.

I'd also extend the DMCA safe harbor provisions to require that the customer be identifiable and within the legal jurisdiction of the United States.

> Lets fix all abusers, not just ISPs. That should satisfy your argument, no?

It would make me feel that we're being consistent and actually taking the internet closer to fairness and equity.


> I don't have an objection against net neutrality. I have an objection to net neutrality policies that concentrate control with a small number of companies while stripping such autonomy from other companies. It's absurd to say that backbone providers are required to carry any traffic, but microblogging sites, video streaming sites, etc. can curate and have any bias they choose.

Why? Going back to the common carrier regulations pre-Internet, it's like you're saying that just because mail carriers have to carry anything (as long as it's safe), then magazines delivered by mail carriers would have to allow anyone to write articles.

There's just a fundamental difference between forum and transport.


> Why? Going back to the common carrier regulations pre-Internet, it's like you're saying that just because mail carriers have to carry anything (as long as it's safe), then magazines delivered by mail carriers would have to allow anyone to write articles.

I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that an entity that wants common carrier protections has to act like a common carrier. If they want to be a publisher with full editorial control of the content they publish content, then they don't get common carrier protections. If Facebook and Youtube/Google want to say "you can't say that here", then they can take responsibility for what they do allow to be distributed on their platform. I feel the exact same way about Comcast or Level 3.


Facebook/YoutTube/Google don't want to be common carriers though. They're DMCA safe harbors, but that's totally different.

Do you think newspapers shouldn't be allowed to have opinion articles that are prefaced with "not the opinion of the paper"?


> Facebook/YoutTube/Google don't want to be common carriers though. They're DMCA safe harbors, but that's totally different.

I didn't say they should be. I was correcting your analogy, then I reiterated the idea that you can be a publisher with control over what you publish and liability for what you publish, or you can be free from liability and not have editorial control. It's an easy concept and it fits perfectly as a principle to strive for with regards to net neutrality.

> Do you think newspapers shouldn't be allowed to have opinion articles that are prefaced with "not the opinion of the paper"?

What relevance is your question to the topic at hand? It's not like newspapers are absolved from liability for what they publish, even OpEd's and opinion columns. Imagine a newspaper publishing a six hundred page sunday edition, chock full of advertisements, and the full contents of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone under the byline potterfan69 and a header on the page saying "Opinion."


"Lets fix all abusers, not just ISPs. That should satisfy your argument, no?"

Yes.

Of course, people want to build an internet that suits them personally, so there are a million answers.


Exactly.

The vast majority of media websites that make their money by delivering other peoples' content have an interesting problem. They skirt the line between curating and merely providing a form of storage for everyone. The minute you curate, you fall down an interesting rabbit hole.

That's not even to mention the business model of youtube which is largely based on copyright violation.

In any case, the difference between ISP and major media website is insignificant to the average user. It's one big blob.


If you get blocked on Twitter, you go to $OTHER_PLATFORM on the internet.

If you don't have NN and you get blocked from Twitter, your ISP can also make it so that you can't go to $OTHER_PLATFORM.


What would this other platform be that provides a similar reach?

Freedom of speech isn't just saying what you want while alone on your back patio.

Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc is the "digital public space".

Hell just take a look at what private companies are doing to the attempts at making alternatives: gab is threatened daily, and BitChute keeps getting bumped by payment processors.


> Freedom of speech isn't just saying what you want while alone on your back patio.

Freedom of speech isn't "You can say what you want on any platform and reach as many people as you want" either. Saying Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube are "digital public space" is akin to saying some sports stadium is a "public space" - yes, big crowds come to them, but they can still escort you off of the field. You can even just try protesting peacefully (in USA) and get a not-so-nice visit from the police.

NN can prevent things like an ISP blocking $SOME_PRESIDENTIAL_CANDIDATE_WEBSITE or $ABORTION_CLINIC_WEBSITE or $GUN_STORE_WEBSITE. Not having NN is more like electricity company blocking you from charging Android phones and requiring that you only charge iPhones, or vice-versa.


> some sports stadium

You can actually go right outside that sports stadium and still have your message heard. If you're banned from Twitter, FB, and YT; you have effectively no voice on the internet.

The social media companies that have monopolized public discourse on the internet would be more akin to the whole city being owned by the stadium owners, and that specific scenario has been ruled in favor of the first amendment in the past.


==Freedom of speech isn't just saying what you want while alone on your back patio.==

It's also not going onto other people's property and doing whatever you want. Having a successful platform doesn't make them the government.


> It's also not going onto other people's property and doing whatever you want.

It is when that property is considered the public space.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_v._Alabama

The internet should be regulated in the same way with defacto monopolies over "public" communications wrt. Twitter, FB, YT, etc.


At the bottom of your Wikipedia article there is a more relevant case:

"While the Marsh holding at first appears somewhat narrow and inapplicable to the present day due to the disappearance of company towns from the United States, it was raised in the somewhat high-profile 1996 cyberlaw case, Cyber Promotions v. America Online, 948 F. Supp. 436, 442 (E.D. Pa. 1996). Cyber Promotions wished to send out "mass email advertisements" to AOL customers. AOL installed software to block those emails. Cyber Promotions sued on free speech grounds and cited the Marsh case as authority for the proposition that even though AOL's servers were private property, AOL had opened them to the public to a degree sufficient that constitutional free speech protections could be applied.

The federal district court disagreed, thereby paving the way for spam filters at the Internet service provider level."


> A more relevant case

So are we deliberately conflating spam with political discourse now? Seriously?


Not at all, no idea where you got that idea. The discussion is about the right of the government to force private companies to do things with their own property.

The AOL case is more relevant because it involves a private internet company and data crossing it's privately held servers, much like Twitter today.

The Marsh case involves a company acting like a government, then trying to stifle free speech. Twitter never acted like a government.


The Marsh case handles a scenario in which a private company controlled the public space.

The big 3 of social media currently do the same thing, however in a digital sphere. Trumps twitter, for example, was ruled as a public resource and therefore he couldn't block users from his feed. So here we have a private property leveraged as a public gathering space.

Would you have the same opinion here if Twitter was banning minorities based on race? Is it still a private company that can do whatever they please?


==The Marsh case handles a scenario in which a private company controlled the public space.==

and acted as a de-facto government by providing fire, police and other services typically provided by governments. Twitter is not similar, as multiple people have already mentioned.

==Trumps twitter, for example, was ruled as a public resource and therefore he couldn't block users from his feed.==

His personal Twitter feed is a public resource. Trump is the government, blocking people is literally the government limiting free speech. Twitter is not the government.

==Would you have the same opinion here if Twitter was banning minorities based on race? Is it still a private company that can do whatever they please?==

No, because they are very different, as explained by justice.gov [1].

"Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person's national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status."

[1] https://www.justice.gov/crt/federal-protections-against-nati...


> No, because they are very different, as explained by justice.gov [1].

Then please explain to me individuals like Sarah Jeong being outwardly racist yet a member of the blue check cadre.

There is clearly a double standard here, and you seem to be in the grouping of individuals that appreciate the oppression when it suits your own interests.


Now we have moved the goalposts from banning people to giving blue checks. I'm not even sure what stance you are arguing anymore. One more time, Twitter is not the government.

Mike Cernovich is outwardly racist and has a blue check, what's your point? Are you applying a double standard?


I'm pointing out that twitter selectively bans individuals who step over a line arbitrarily drawn by twitter, not anti discrimination laws.


Which people continue to explain is perfectly legal because twitter is NOT the government.


Only political discourse is free speech?


The government does indeed criminalize spammers, so I'm not sure where your logic is going here.


The AOL case wasn't merely about spam--you can't pretend that it was. Here's part of the opinion:

> By providing its members with access to the Internet through its e-mail system so that its members can exchange information with those members of the public who are also connected to the Internet, AOL is not exercising any of the municipal powers or public services traditionally exercised by the State as did the private company in Marsh. Although AOL has technically opened its e-mail system to the public by connecting with the Internet, AOL has not opened its property to the public by performing any municipal power or essential public service and, therefore, does not stand in the shoes of the State.


Do you think your water company should pick and choose? How about your electric company? Maybe they can charge you a higher electric rate during Game of Thrones because they know you want your power more than normal then? etc

I don't want a company picking and choosing which bytes of mine are fast or slow. I'm buying byte containers, their job is to ship them. I dictate how fast, and who it gets shipped to. End of deal. Full stop. Any deviation of that is wrong in my book.


Actually, electric companies already do charge higher rates at different times when demand is higher.


I've seen electric companies bill like that to reflect the realities of power generation and usage, but it's applied equally to all consumers of electricity at the time of day.

Using 1000w of electricity with a 1950's toaster cost the same as using 1000w of electricity with a 2018 microwave.

And hopefully it would cost the same to use 1000w of electricity to power your home server hosting a website that criticizes the local electricity company.


> And hopefully it would cost the same to use 1000w of electricity to power your home server hosting a website that criticizes the local electricity company.

Yea, I think this is the most important thing.


Yes, but electric companies don't charge differently for different appliances that one is using (they couldn't know anyway), but it's applying those high peak rates globally and indiscriminately. The problem with internet post net neutrality is that internet providers could pick and choose based on what service one uses.

And we all know that internet providers try to be something else besides moving the byte across the network. They want to be telcos, they want a share of the media and grab whatever they could get their hands on. Net neutrality, from my understanding, attempted to prevent just that.

I would be OK with whatever speed I want to purchase and be stuck with that speed no matter what content I am choosing to consume. And in high demand if they chose to charge higher rates indiscriminately I'd be OK with that.

If their pipes are at full capacity they should charge more but indiscriminately!


But they don't shut off your power because they do not like the type of business you run or you personally.


For consumer-facing eyeball ISPs, in almost all US markets, consumers have an extremely limited set of ISPs to choose from, typically a traditional telephone provider like AT&T or Verizon and a traditional cable provider like Comcast or Cox (if they're lucky enough to have both). As such, those eyeball providers have an effective monopoly, and if I don't like the network policies of my ISP, I have almost no recourse to change them. Those monopoly providers have also consistently lobbied against any challenges to their position: attempts to start a municipal ISP offering services to residents will be strongly challenged by incumbent providers, often to the point of outlawing municipal ISPs entirely at the state level.

In contrast, I can very much choose alternate providers for everything else you've listed--I don't like GoDaddy and don't use them for domain registration or hosting, and I had thousands of options to choose from. Twitter is by no means the only social network in town, and has challengers within its specific microblogging niche.


So, you don't really need a law for AT&T to not policy your traffic, but that you need competitors to be able to enter the market and provide services. Something even Facebook and Google has (although they're quite close to a monopoly) but US ISPs don't.

If a service provider starts to do some silly stuff no one wants, there's no reason not to start a competing business, offer service without that silliness and win over the market. Except if entry barriers are too high.


I know you're just trolling, but one this is clearly apples and oranges.


But the trolling is a serious problem and more effort needs to go into addressing it directly. This is the stuff that righteous idiots grab a hold of - it's basically an iron buoy thrown to people that can't swim.

To top poster: these two things are not the same. They are wholly different classes where at the very base level one cannot exist without the other, literally. One is a utility provisioning and the other an appliance, figuratively.


lol. I guess that I'm a righteous idiot then (ie. someone who might not agree with you).

Mostly, the point is that people choose their battles based on bias or their own needs, not some sort of overall logic.

I can understand the argument over the various sorts of non-neutrality. A need to bring together cable tv and internet pricing and bandwidth needs, the opportunity to break out fixed and variable pricing on bytes moved, etc. The main point is that it simply isn't as simple as waving a sign around and getting out the vote.

Heck, we might as well all get worked up about the fact that the USPS allows you to buy 1 day shipping or that the shipping companies cut special deals with large customers. Another example is toll roads.

The world is a complicated place and doesn't succumb well to slogans.


Those services all have vibrant competition, your ISP definitely doesn't.

The whole point of common carrier regulation is to make sure that industries that are essential to the economy, inherently non-competitive, and impossible to implement effectively as a government service can exist and serve their purpose in society. Youtube/google/fb doesn't fit that definition. There is absolutely competition in that space, and there's little switching cost for individual actors.


Google has almost no competition in several different market categories, and not just regionally, but on a global scale. I have three ISPs which offer about comparable service offerings, and four major wireless carriers. And no wired ISP even can say it has national coverage.

Tech monopolies are bigger, they have more money, and they've spent more of that money convincing you ISPs are the big bad.

I'm not opposed to regulation, but regulation needs to apply to tech companies as well as ISPs equally. And you'll discover that support for regulation vanishes as soon as that comes into play.

People have forgotten that tech companies now also do infrastructure and ISPs now also do services. So when tech companies are trying to get ISPs regulated, they're trying to lock down their competition. (Unsurprisingly, Google Fiber was known for trying to dodge being classifed as a telecommunications company specifically so it wasn't subject to the same regulations it's competitors weer.)


You are lucky to have 3 comparable ISPs. In the area where I live each town has at most 2 ISPs. One of them provides DSL and the other cable. This means if you want speeds above about 5Mbps you have 1 choice. We were forced to switch to cable because our DSL provider couldn’t even manage to maintain a consistent connection much less the 5Mbps we were paying for. All this to say there are plenty of places where there is effectively 0 competition between ISPs.

On the other hand if I don’t like Facebook I can choose not to use it or I can use another social media platform. If I don’t like Google I can easily use an alternative (at least for all of the consumer products I use from them). I can’t easily go to a new ISP that is comparable if I don’t like my ISP.


You are missing most of the point: ISP competition and tech competition are not dissimilar, and their placement in the product market is not dissimilar. They should be subject to the same regulations. But the tech companies pushing these regulations are strongly opposed to being subject to these same regulations.

Most people cannot easily leave tech companies easily, even if they believe they can. You actually can't leave Facebook, for instance, if you want to talk to your friends who are on Facebook. You can't leave Gmail without finding every contact and online account you have and updating your email address. (This is why AOL still has so much email!) Similarly, most people have options for ISPs, both wired and wireless, though it may be a worse service offering.


Heck, life generally is filled with that kind of inertia.

It's not easy to change banks or brokerage houses. Does it make sense that someone with $1M at Vanguard gets a bunch of special perks and lower fees? Not fair!!!


the system is broken when people care more about internet speed than voter fraud. This title should be twenty two states ask court to bring back paper voting ballot


Once more unto the breach.


Be careful what you wish for. A significant portion of the general population see Twitter, Google, and Facebook as infrastructure companies. If a large enough portion of the population is convinced that net neutrality is important and legislation must be written to accomplish it, the three companies and likely CloudFlare will likely fall under its umbrella. If you ask people to recall an incident of Internet censorship, if they recall anything, it will most likely be something done by one of those 3 and not by an ISP.


How would this not be a good thing? Facebook and Google probably should face more public scrutiny, not less.


At this point, the public is probably sick of the tech giants enough to want to nationalize them, or to at least break them up.




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