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Mozilla Fights On For Net Neutrality (blog.mozilla.org)
285 points by DiabloD3 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

Hooray for Mozilla for joining this cause. They’re definitely one of the better companies around protecting the original ideals of the internet.

The claim that getting rid of net neutrality rules is unlawful is an interesting one. I can find the repeal being called illegal in multiple places, but what law specifically are they breaking in particular?

IANAL but my understanding is that the FCC cannot arbitrarily change policy; there is a specific process and they have to do certain things (or more precisely, they have to be able to argue in court that they followed the process). The relevant law is the Administrative Procedures Act, which among other things requires a public comment period for changes in policies and rules (and requires that public comments be considered before the final rules are established). The purpose is to avoid the situation we are in now, where regulations change whenever political parties change, which, ironically, is one of the reasons some ISPs opposed this latest change (ISPs need to make long-term plans, which is hard if the rules might change every 4 years).

So my understanding is that the law was broken because the FCC's rules change was arbitrary, rather than motivated by facts, and because they ignored expert commentary (including from the people who created the technologies discussed in the FCC's analysis). The final rules did cite various comments, from both ISPs and independent experts (myself included), but the pattern was pretty obvious: anything that does not support the FCC's case is dismissed as "not persuasive" while supportive comments from ISPs are cited as proof that the change is necessary.

It was all for show; from the beginning the FCC basically said that they were not at all interested in comments about technical facts, only about their legal authority based on the technical analysis they presented in their proposed rule change (i.e. they can make any claims about facts to justify a change in the regulations). The commissioners already made up their minds before opening the comment period and never intended to have comments affect their decisions. Whether or not that is allowed by the law is now a matter for the courts to decide.

Administrative law has all kinds of requirements regarding process and motivation. For the most part, the arguments in the legal brief (https://blog.mozilla.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/as-filed...) are about decisions being "arbitrary" e.g. not properly justified by public interest.

This is part of why the Obama era's regulatory changes in e.g. telecoms and finance reform took so long to get through the system - they dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. This is a much more durable way of changing things than an executive order, since it can't be overturned on the whim of the next president.

It is also worth pointing out that Tom Wheeler's decision making was impacted by public comment -- his proposal went from weakening net neutrality rules to a fundamental shift in how ISPs are regulated after a public outcry. Ajit Pai was never going to be affected by public comment and completely dismissed the comments people submitted.

Federal agencies are not absolute monarchs in their domains. They can issue regulations only that comply with their mandates from law and that were produced according to procedures as stated in law. In this case, they have to go through a fact finding procedure, get public comment, and show evidence for their decisions.

Fighting for net neutrality is like fighting the wind with your fists.

Mozilla does great work in raising awareness of these issues however until every Joe Bloggs and Susan Someone takes their own stand against companies, governments and other centralised organisations, then it's going to be a very hard battle.

How do we do that? Maybe start by not making it an issue that only geeks or tech savvy types are outraged about.

Working together is the only way to take back tech from the corporate overlords. We need to support Mozilla's efforts to liberate critical technologies like Voice to text via Mozilla DeepSpeech.

Building the Common Voice corpus is critical to generating highly accurate transcriptions, check it out at https://voice.mozilla.org

If we do nothing, there will be no large organization standing up to build foundational technology outside of corporate siloes.

I think a big problem in general with big corporates is that we are moving more in to the era where huge companies crush their competition just by having more data. The more data you have, the better user experience you can provide, killing competition, through which they start getting less and less data of their own, eventually dying out.

I guess in a way it's similar to having capital. If you don't have any money, it's hard to start a business. Similarly, if you have no data, maybe in the future it will be hard to start a business as well.

There's still a long way to go to reach that point, but I think we are seeing the start of it. For example, it's pretty hard to build an alternative to GMaps/Apple Maps. Even if you have a novel take on how mapping data could be used, you'd still first need the data to build the technology around it.

How do you fight that? Should it be fought? Or should we just accept it as a new requirement of building a business? In addition to starting with a good team (i.e. industry experts) and having money, you now need to immediately start building as wide of a dataset as you can.

> The more data you have, the better user experience you can provide, killing competition, through which they start getting less and less data of their own, eventually dying out.

The more data they have, the better-targeted advertising they can provide, because that data is more or less volunteered by their users even if conpanies don’t know to ask for it.

For most of the big companies, I’d say their UX is stuck in local maxima and can’t really become orders of magnitude better due to risk aversion — you’ll never collect the data that there’s a bigger maximum somewhere else that way. A smaller company willing to take risks can find those bigger maxima much more easily.

Honestly, UX is probably the easiest thing to do better than the big companies. Their UX is usually terrible.

Just look at how much worse Google recently made the GMail UI.

Thing is, for the particular example of Maps, data really is king, and both Apple and Google haven't figured out that whole data importation problem. Hence why Google Maps blows outside major cities (roads are missing, horribly out of date, etc) except for businesses, where Google Scouts (aka random android users) generate somewhat accurate data for Google.

Meanwhile, Apple has no scouts, a bad geocoder from OSM (compared to Google's), but notably better maps (on average) from all the footwork OSM does to import maps regularly from each of the thousanda of counties across the US.

Outside the US, countries like Germany literally use OSM as their offical map for plotting land ownership, utilities and numerous other functions.

Where Apple is dying is the lack of an Apple Scouts program and having massive teams in India essentially importing data from OSM, one other sketchy map vendor that is a decade out of date and user reports. The former should be automated, as Apple Maps India literally does not comply with the standards defined by Apple stateside, and there is no value being added in this process of manually importing map data.

Cute but Repubs just lowered taxes again. American politics can be really simple once you remove all the fluff.

Citation please?

> Working together is the only way to take back tech from the corporate overlords. We need to support Mozilla's efforts to liberate critical technologies like Voice to text via Mozilla DeepSpeech.

I don't think that fighting back with specific technologies and products (which all come and go) is a good solution. It needs to be encoded in law. If mozilla makes a thing that is 'free and open', and it becomes popular enough, what happens when a Google or Amazon decides to throw serious money at acquiring it (or even Mozilla) so that they can control it? Nothing would prevent that.

Can a non-profit organisation be acquired by a 'for-profit' organisation? I've no idea on laws in this area, but it seems unlikely. I can't see any of the big four trying it anyway. Even if it was legal it looks like a massive PR disaster.

[edit: found the following link] https://www.501c3.org/who-really-owns-a-nonprofit/

What has speech to text got to do with net neutrality?

Its the same core freedom issue, currently the highest quality speech to text services only exist in the hands of a few tech giants.

Just like with telecoms restricting and throttling access, these silos of technology are holding back progress in numerous fields, hurting the disabled and kneecaping upstart projects and businesses that may challege their dominance.

> Maybe start by not making it an issue that only geeks or tech savvy types are outraged about.

I also think that in order to unite the wide public for a cause, we should have a clear message about the dangers of no neutrality being explainable to a kid.

But I wonder what is the biggest danger we try to warn about?

Some people think its just about not having bandwidth to watch 4k videos. Some people think its about lack of privacy. Others mostly disturbed by the possibility of losing our very access to information itself. That is, public knowledge being manipulated. What does that mean for society?

> How do we do that? Maybe start by not making it an issue that only geeks or tech savvy types are outraged about.

As far as I can tell they throttled Netflix and the people didn't move.

My biggest beef is with the idea of trying to control something that doesn't need to be controlled for it to work, just because it'll increase profit margins. The web does not need to be regulated or controlled by ISPs for it to work. We've known this for decades. It's unfortunate that it's necessary to have a law in place in the form of net neutrality to keep ISPs from finding and using this as an avenue of revenue generation, but capitalism isn't perfect.

Private organizations are of course able to take and support political opinions, especially since there are competitors in the browser space.

Mozilla seems to have integrity. It’s great to see.

They should take the momentum of these values and launch an alternative to gmail.

Interesting that they would fight for this, but yet they push malware, HTML5 EME, CloudFlare DNS, ADs with Pocket and to be the gate keeper of the truth [1]. Mozilla. The Mozilla Project and Foundation have become quite toxic and this two-faced stance that it cares about its useds is quite appalling.

[1]The Mozilla Information Trust Initiative : http://archive.is/jcJWg

Edit: censored

You know Pocket is owned by Mozilla right? They were planning to include a similar feature and decided it was easier to use an exciting product. And they only included EME after losing a years-long fight against it.

> You know Pocket is owned by Mozilla right?

That does not make it any better. So what if they did finally release the sources for the plugin (only took them a year or two to do). They have not released the server component. They are also using it to push ADs that I don't want. I should not have to toggle 50 different things and remove a bunch of stuff before I can use Firefox and then the next update undoes all of that.

That is annoying but not what I would call toxic. And yes I trust Mozilla not to hand my data over because they've worked to earn that trust. Anyway who would they hand it to?

Pocket is a great product. It's not perfect, but I enjoy using it.

How is it great if I don't have the freedom to run my own server. Do you really trust that Mozilla won't hand over your browsing history and saved pages?

Whats your specific concern? Handing over data to a government, or handing it over for commercial purposes?


There's value in your comment, but please try to tone it down and not take it too far.

So, criticizing Mozilla is not allowed or using strong language to drive a point? If anything, my original comment did not go far enough. All of the people here helped to kill Internet freedom and the Web. Civil discussion is only allowed if certain organizations/topics are not on the table and their malicious actions just get brushed off like it is no big deal. I was a huge supporter of Mozilla (Project/Foundation) and gave lots of money to support them. As each issue came up, I was brushed off as a crazy loon whose opinion has no merit or weight. Flagging and censorship seems to be the tool of the day to ease the pain of having to deal with an unpopular opinion. As my final and last post to this Brogrammer circle jerk, I leave with this:

First they came for the CEO because he used personal funds to support things that we did not agree with and I spoke out in support of him as a gay man because Free Speech is important. Then they came for the browser, because they believe in a "Free and Open Web"..."Privacy".."Truth":

* EME (can't have a Free and Open web without DRM) * Pocket (just save pages with this non-free service in the cloud, trust us...we care about privacy) * Studies (pushed a malicious plugin that you were not suppose to know about) * Cloudflare DNS (TRR) (we must ignore all system DNS settings at all cost because we trust CloudFlare) * telemetry (we can't trust the user really wants to disable it) * Ministry of Truth [1] (everyone trusts Mozilla to be the gatekeeper)

The laundry list of things keeps growing and these issues fall on deaf ears. "Well, you can fork...change things" I should not have to maintain my own fork of a now shitty browser just so that malicious features are removed or stay turned off.

Hacker News was the last and final place on the Web that I go and participate. I dumped Facebook 8 years ago and I have been kicked off of Reddit (remember when Snowden news articles from mainstream sources were banned from r/technology?). I guess my best bet is to move to an island so I don't trigger or bother the fine folks of Hacker News / YCombinator...

[1] The Mozilla Information Trust Initiative : http://archive.is/jcJWg

Not only Mozilla, but also most other web browser software is terrible. I currently use an old version of Firefox (with many hacks, including configuration changes in about:config, CSS and JavaScript codes, hex editing binaries, changing SQL schemas, changes to file permissions, and more), but wrote about many idea how to make better software than all of the existing ones. I design by the principles such as:

* Assume the user knows what they are doing, and really mean to override anything. Do not try to outguess the user.

* By default, assume that the remote server (and the data received from the remote server) is hostile (even if it is HTTPS).

* You have enough ropes to hang yourself, and also a few more just in case.

* Make every program a filter.

As I wrote, I see interesting and valuable points in your comments above. But I think the apparent commonality and prevalence of outrage in recent times starts to grow boring on me, and it's hard for me to keep reasonable respect to users of it, I'm afraid. I'm finding armchair critique cheap and easy. While trying to do something constructive is so much harder, as one opens oneself to inconsiderate, authoritative condemnation on any slightest imperfection.

I think your language is overly combative, but I appreciate you bringing to my attention this Mozilla initiative. It's clear from that article and this report [1] that Mozilla is supporting the building of web tools to suppress speech. They may repeatedly stress the value of free speech, but tackling "hate speech", "fake news", and promoting "inclusivity" will take precedent. Of course, once the tools are created, these definitions will expand and become political weapons to silence speech.

The author of your linked article, Katharina Borchert, is clearly a far-left progressive activist based on her twitter feed [2]. She is also the "Chief Open Innovation Officer" at Mozilla and formerly the CEO of Spiegel Online. She retweets Sleeping Giants [3], a progressive activist organization which orchestrates campaigns to bully corporate entities into silencing right-wing outlets. It's not surprising that a former journalist will look at the internet climate and come to the conclusion that people need to be sheltered from alternative media and inaccurate reporting, while ignoring the fact that the trust in mainstream media is at an all-time low.

Knowing that this person and her values are at the helm of Mozilla is disappointing. The fact that they're trying to integrate technology into the browser which may ultimately be seized by organizations like Sleeping Giants to control online speech is terrifying.

I think Net Neutrality has been a colossal ruse in a power struggle between Silicon Valley and the ISPs. The tech giants warn of a hypothetical threat posed by ISPs, all while showing signs of how dangerously unchecked their own power is. They act like they're sticking up for the small businesses, when in all actuality, repealing Net Neutrality probably makes small businesses more competitive. They warn about how power would keep getting consolidated, when their modus operandi is to snatch up every startup the second it shows promise.

[1] https://internethealthreport.org/2018/

[2] https://twitter.com/lyssaslounge

[3] https://twitter.com/slpng_giants/status/1046944600152129536

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