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F.C.C., in ‘Net Neutrality’ Turnaround, Plans to Allow Fast Lane (nytimes.com)
434 points by tysone on Apr 23, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 275 comments



Fred Wilson wrote some thoughts on this and I fear very much that he is accurate.. http://avc.com/2014/01/vc-pitches-in-a-year-or-two/


Decisions like this lend a certain credence to recent studies showing that only the desires of the economic and political elite actually affect policy.



What a fancy way of saying we don't live in a functioning republic.


It's also an evidence backed way of saying it. Which is quite useful.


That was exactly the conclusion of the paper. The US is effectively an oligarchy.


Legislating "net neutrality" is a crude hack. The real problem is telco hegemony in the ISP space, as pointed out in John Gilmore's 2010 essay at http://www.nnsquad.org/archives/nnsquad/msg04177.html


That isn't really true. Let's say we get structural separation and retail competition (which is a fantasy in our current situation). The backbone providers could still become rent-seekers by putting the arm on whatever service lacks technical alternatives to large amounts of bandwidth (which the retail customers already pay for). The retailers have more negotiating power than consumers do, but there is still a place for regulation to prevent a pricing policy from strangling innovation.


The UK has a structural separation between retail and wholesale, and the major ISPs are still desperate to be allowed to do deals with content providers. Consumer interests are not set up to directly disincentivize ISPs from trying to charge content providers for access to them. Consumers will not police that principle.


What would stop backbone operators from doing that? I'd guess the same thing that's stopping them from doing it now: actual competition. The monopolists are only a problem at the edge.


This situation partially exists on the backbone in the form of paid peering.


"Paid peering" is an oxymoron.


Here comes the proverbial "Consumer Choice": Which primary Internet package would you like: Google Plus, Microsoft Office with XBox Live, Facebook, or Yahoo? Do you need any specialty cloud services: Amazon, Dropbox, Spotify? Would you like full access to uncertified internet sites for an additional $15/mo?


You know what really scares me about this? I think a lot of Americans would be fine with this kind of internet. Why should their Facebook and Yahoo! news be slower just because transfire and kevando want access to every single possible thing on the internet?


Computer operating systems are increasingly closed to "uncertified" apps, so how long before "uncertified" internet sites are also closed?


That's what going on with the changes on Mexican laws, it let ISPs charge for 'premium' or content.


This law is the worst thing that could possibly happen to Internet. We need to as zealously fight against this as we did against SOPA. All the tech millionaires and billionaires out there: THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO SAVE INTERNET BY WIELDING YOUR CONNECTIONS. I'm not even sure how a cable lobbyist dick like Tom Wheeler got in FCC in first place and I continue to wonder how people like him would never hesitate to kill something as beautiful as the system that connects entire human being for their personal profits.


I'm pretty sure the major tech elite is on board with this - their companies can pay for it, and they won't get upended by some upstart competitor.

Consumers lose, big time. The cable-ization of the internet just hit an inflection curve.

Now where are all those fools who were complaining about Julius "Caesar" Genachowski?


It's not a law. It's an "administrative regulation" and there's nothing anybody other than the FCC commissioners can do to stop it.


It's so frustrating to me that this is all based around the stupid legal assumption that we have to stream everything.

God forbid your user should download something to watch later, to prevent having to redownload every time you watch it.

And then during peak Netflix hours, I just can't use the internet reliably.

If anyone knows any source for Libre video works, that I can download and watch with complete freedom, please let me know. I'd pay for it.


What's worse, is that if the ISP had implemented multicast for real, then we could save enormous amounts of bandwidth.

Think of the wasted traffic has thousands of people watch a live stream in unison. Or the millions watching viral youtube videos only a few seconds apart.


Honestly the assumption that we want to stream everything is a really good assumption. People are lazy and setting up a proper storage is tricky and costs money. This means 99.9% of people don't want to do it. Yes being in the .1% it would be nice if we were catered to but that's life.


That is why distributed storage would be so much better. You know, if 10 people download a movie, I should be able to download it from any of those 10 people. Or all of them could send me part of the file, improving throughput.

Oh, wait, we already have that technology. Too bad we have people who have worked for twenty years to kill it.


People espouse the benefits of FLOSS all the time, but I don't understand why no one cares about libre content. I want to watch videos that I can do whatever I want with.

I don't give a damn about NBC shows.


In my experience people seem to be able to use TiVos just fine.


Tivo's annual revenue is 406m, and the company is worth 1.45bn. (https://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ%3ATIVO) Respectable? Sure. But not even close to Netflix.

Netflix's annual revenue is 4.3 BN (i.e. over 10x higher), and the company is worth 21bn. (https://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ%3ANFLX)

Why? Sure, a relatively few people will use Tivo, but many more won't. Empirically, the convenience / lack of planning necessary to watch streaming video is worth approximately 10x more.

This illustrates the importance of using data rather than anecdotes to draw conclusions. As a HN poster, our personal experience tends to be heavily biased towards our self-selected associations with more technically oriented people rather than "normal," average people.


Netflix could easily deploy on a DVR machine which could pre-buffer watch list or recommended video. There's nothing wrong with DVR technology. I suspect limitations really stem from the legal licensing distinctions between distributing video streaming vs buffer & watch-later.


The problem with Tivo is their growth was cut-off when the service providers started selling their own DVRs. Who's going to buy an extra Tivo box when your cable or satellite company sells you an all-in-one box with the ability to record multiple channels at once?

I expect the number of people who use DVRs is close to that of premium television subscribers. People who don't are cord-cutters or only receive a low-cost basic package.


Tivo is a massively outdated business model. It's still relient on a time schedule run by TV networks. I'm looking for the modern equivalent of TiVo, something that lets me save and keep the content I'm streaming.

Parent was not using an anecdote to illustrate that streaming is better/worse than downloading.

Parent was using an anecdote to prove the fact that UIs exist that allow people to store media, rather than constantly streaming it.


The DVR model is really the way to do it. People know what they want to watch, so you present a catalog of all existing and future content and let people check the box next to the ones they want to watch. Everything downloads during off-peak hours as soon as the content is available and then you always have a list of things you can watch instantly, even if the internet is slow or unavailable.


The DVR model was strangled by the same content owners & distributors that are moving to kill competitive last-mile internet access. How many cable companies rolled their own crappy set-top DVR boxes instead of working with Tivo or some other independent DVR maker.


People could use Napster just fine, too.


How about smart caching? Why can't netflix automatically preload 3 episodes ahead in a show that you're watching?

Consumers might not want to have to deal with HDD storage, but I would bet you dollars to donuts that they want 4K without buffering issues.

EDIT: Also, I just wanted to mention that maybe our companies should be inventing new ways of storing things (like TiVo did with remarkable success), instead of spending all of their resources aquiring the rights to hit movies and extorting each other.


>Honestly the assumption that we want to stream everything is a really good assumption.

It's really more for the providers and cintent owners: keeps customers tethered and paying for the privilege of suckling from server teats whenever they consume content.

Because, really, storage could be made just as easy for consumers as streaming if providers had the will.

Instead, it's "put everything in the cloud, then pay us over and over again to access it".


That's fine. Make a tiny download link at the bottom of the page. It would require little to no infrastructure changes. Let the 99% stream.


If you had a 100 Mbps connection, like many other countries do, streaming Netflix in HD would not be a problem. So this is first and foremost a lazy monopolist problem, less so a congestion problem.


But look at the arguments being held up by both companies.

Comcast is arguing that Netflix is trying to get Comcast to build its infrastructure. Netflix is arguing that Comcast is extorting them for their infrastructure.

Both arguments assume that everything must be streamed, and the only reason for that is the DMCA and our copyright culture.


> DMCA and our copyright culture.

What's easier to fix DMCA or the Net Neutred?


I have a 100mbps connection.. I live in NJ. It costs me $80 a month (Which is robbery IMO).

But still, I have it.


Here in Australia with the most mainstream ISP it costs $90/month for 200GB and a theoretical max speed of 24 Mbits/s via ADSL2 (I only get 10). By global standards you are not being robbed.


I down voted you, allow me to explain why. I personally find this style of "at least its not as bad as somewhere else" argument really infuriating. Because it attempts to shift the argument from "How can we do better? to "Be thankful its not worse!"

Its defeatist at best, and actively promotes/degrades the status quo at worst.

You aren't making an insightful or interesting post by doing this, you are simply being dismissive and shutting down discussion.


I'm not making an argument. I'm just providing another perspective. I entirely agree that both situations need improving.


throwaway2048 really hit the crux of the argument but let me be a little more specific: you too are being robbed.

And I understand that Australia is a HUGE country with a tiny population/sqmi so at least for the next few years they kinda have to "steal" from you to make it profitable in the long run (same thing happened/is happening with our wireless services here) but still it's not really a fair rate to charge you and you should be always lobbying for less.


I entirely agree that we are both being robbed and that everyone's rates can be a lot lower. I was trying to offer some perspective. The geography and population size means that telecommunication costs will always be higher in Australia.


> If you had a 100 Mbps connection, like many other countries do, streaming Netflix in HD would not be a problem.

A 100 mbps connection to the ISP isn't much help if the ISP only has 1000 Mbps upstream to share amongst 20,000 subscribers.


I have a 100 mbps connection. Speed Test even shows it about 25% faster than that every time I test it out.

I have Cox in Tulsa, OK. It's $99.99 / month.


Another wrinkle: The popular devices for viewing online video, Rokus, Apple TVs, gaming consoles, tablets, and phones have little to no storage space for meaningful amounts of HD video.


The answer to this is to have a DVR attached to the network which takes care of the storage and then stream to all the other devices anywhere in the building.


If the above assumption I mentioned wasn't true, I would imagine all these devices would have USB ports.



Hey do you know any more about Vodo? I can't quite figure out what their bundles are. Are the movies and music and games in the bundle CC? I see the Free Movies page but I'm unsure what the licensing terms for the bundle are.


I am mostly familiar with the original content they have like the show 'Pioneer 1'. I haven't ever tried their bundles.

Since they redesigned their site, it is very difficult to figure out what stuff they have released in the past, but Wikipedia and the Internet Archive can help:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VODO

https://web.archive.org/web/20130129195347/http://vodo.net/f...


Oh, man. Thank you so much.


Streaming is seen, by many content creators, as a way to fight piracy.


Steam streaming games is seen, by many content creators, as a way to fight piracy.

Streaming (as a means of protection) is as useless as DRM except they're too stupid to not do that dance for their legal departments. It hurts legal consumers and doesn't punish non-legit consumers. It prevents you from using content you've paid for & used previously when your internet goes down. Not to mention the enormous waste of electricity/bandwidth/environment/people's lifespan. It costs us all.


I never said it was an effective strategy. I just said that it is seen as a means of fighting piracy. People go to large extremes to protect themselves from a perceived loss, even if their actions are more harmful in the long term.


I know. I'm just frustrated by that. We're imposing random and artificial limits on technology because of an outdated business model.

Imagine if the RIAA made a law that CDs could only be played sequentially, and you had to turn the disc over to get to the second half.


Well, this is not quite equivalent, but consider mobile platforms. Streaming makes much more sense there given the tighter storage constraints.


Shouldn't it be exactly the opposite? Mobile is hugely bandwidth-limited, but you can get a 128GB SD card for ~$75 these days.

The real reason for streaming is that most people don't know in advance what they want to watch, and with TV/movies, generally only watch something once.


> The real reason for streaming is that most people don't know in advance what they want to watch, and with TV/movies, generally only watch something once.

I don't know if this is really true. How do you find out about something you want to watch? You see a commercial for it, or somebody tells you about it, etc. If all you had to do was pull your phone out of your pocket and click a button that says "download this when it becomes available" and then be presented with a list of such stuff the next time you want to watch something, you would pretty easily end up with more stuff to watch than time to watch it.


Which is why I'm confused why you guys are advocating this form of consumption over streaming? Assuming most people watch a piece of content once wouldn't it be more bandwidth efficient to transfer them the data on demand when you know they're going to watch it instead of them speculatively guessing what they want to watch and maybe not watching it?


When people watch is highly time-sensitive and congestion is the problem. If a non-streaming approach meant downloading 3x as much data but doing it at night rather than in the evening that would be a win.


How about a sequential TV show? It would be a non-issue for netflix to figure out when you were binge watching and preload 4k video.


I don't watch much at all, but it's pretty rare that I plan ahead to watch it.


Internet archive has a shit ton of movies and videos that are public domain. You can also always Torrent.....


Sure, you can torrent, for now. Until it costs extra to buy the torrenting package from your ISP, and it would be cheaper to just pay for the content.


Internet Archive is great.

I'd like access to current creative commons works,though, not just public domain items. I'm trying to fight the copyright regieme, which prevents me from accessing the culture around me.

Going back in time to the 40s doesn't exactly do that for me. Don't get me wrong, IA is amazing, and I use it all the time. But I'd like something like Netflix that was exclusively for CC works. vodo seems like a good contender.


People don't like waiting for downloads, news at 11


Streaming is downloading. Your computer couldn't play it if it wasn't on your computer. The argument worth making here is that content on Netflix is generally watched once, or rarely. It would be trivial to not delete streamed data if that was a good solution to a problem.


"Streaming is downloading"

What was the point of this? Is your reading comprehension so poor that you didn't understand "download" to mean "download in full before playback" in this context? Or are you just trying to score pedant points?


Ten days later, but the point to this was that if there was demand for keeping the full copy of "Half Baked" that I felt like watching once last year on my hard drive, implementing that sort of feature would be a DRM problem, not a "waiting for downloads" problem. If you can stream the show once, you can keep it on your hard drive without downloading any additional data. There is no "waiting for downloads" necessary.

Nice personal attacks though. I was only responding to what you wrote, which contributed nothing to the conversation btw. So that was probably a dumb idea on my part.


What about bandwidth issues? I'd like to preload a film in 4K so that I could watch it without interruption.

And lets not forget that Netflix's whole business model is binge watching, which means you could easily preload future episodes of House of Cards.


Streaming is waiting until the point of consumption to download. Buffering entire movies/shows would make a lot of use cases viable that currently aren't.


This is largely due to the US Federal Courts' recent rulings that invalidated the FCC's previous attempts to guarantee Net Neutrality.

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/technology/appeals-court-r...

2. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/business/fcc-to-propose-ne...


Even so, there are two other solutions:

1) immediately remove all regulations that might block new competition from coming into the market, and competing locally with the big local monopolies

2) call them common carriers, and then they'd be able to regulate them however they want, and that's what the judge basically said, too.

I'd prefer 1) over 2), but at this point either one would be better. But right now FCC/US gov is doing neither of them and that should scare the hell out of everyone. This needs to be protested big time.


In a perfect world I would prefer 1) as well, but realistically I think 2) is the only option. I don't understand why it's taking the FCC so long to take the hint; IIRC the number of judges that have basically told them "make them common carriers and you can regulate them however you want" is now three.

(Actually, my cynical side does understand; but I have been hoping against hope that for once reasonableness would win out over cynicism.)


Yea, I hope YC for example can talk with them on solutions. sama, what do you think?


The FCC can regulate the internet under title II. They are simply refusing to.


In 2002, Colin Powell's son, Michael, was the Chairman of the FCC. He determined that broadband services weren't covered by Title II, and that they could be regulated 'better' under different statutes. That is the genesis for all of these problems.

Today, Michael Powell is the President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.[1]

Of course, today's FCC could walk that Title II ruling back, and reclassify ISPs from Title I to Title II, but that would be met with lawsuits for years.

1 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Powell_(politician)


Whatever the FCC does (well, except maybe not regulating at all) is going to be met with lawsuits for years.


I'm pretty confident there would be lawsuits following a decision not to regulate at all, as well.

"But, but, if the FCC isn't there to slow down unlicensed spectrum tech, all our exurban and rural customers will just sign on with their local WISP, and we won't be able to charge them lots of money for crappy service anymore! Then after that tech is in use for a couple of years, pretty soon it will be good enough even for densely-packed suburbs, and there goes that captive market! What would be left for us, running fiber to the inner city? What have we been paying you people for?!"


Are the lawsuits the only difficulty? Is precedent so important for something like the FCC? I can imagine it, I guess.

I'm asking out of curiousity.


The FCC has a pretty wide mandate, so yeah the lawsuits would be the biggest stumbling block.

If their board of commissioners wanted to, they could reclassify all ISPs tomorrow and assert their authority. If however, their reclassification was overturned, it would significantly weaken their stance on all other regulatory matters. I half wonder if the reason they haven't reclassified yet is to hold that threat over the telecoms to make them play nice.


Apparently the reports are incorrect and the FCC will issue a statement shortly refuting the claims by the NYT:

https://twitter.com/fmanjoo/status/459154485793656832


I'm crossing all of my fingers and toes. Who sent the email that he took a screenshot of, though? On second thought, I suppose that would give away his source.


That response is quoted in the NYT article: “The same rules will apply to all Internet content. As with the original open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.”

Hilarious. In Wheeler's view, consistency means every large, wealthy corporation has an equal opportunity to pay extra for faster access to customers.


> That response is quoted in the NYT article:

A response is quoted in the NYT article, but not the published refutation that was discussed upthread, which is now available: http://www.fcc.gov/blog/setting-record-straight-fcc-s-open-i...

It sounds like the intent is to hew closely to the original order but to adapt it exactly and only as much as necessary to conform to what the FCC perceives to be the parameters of the D.C. Circuit decision.


America in a nutshell: bunch of smart guys make an amazing system that changes the world; bunch of politicians cheerfully destroy it in return for a quick profit.

If Snowden's revelations weren't enough to ensure the rest of the world got busy on routing traffic around America, legislation like this will.

This move isn't just going to screw American consumers & startups. It's going to remove America from its status as the hub of the Internet.

And all thanks to a few profit-obsessed monopolists.

Yay capitalism.


This makes my blood boil. The FCC is perhaps the one agency that could do something to step the dominance of the internet in the US by Comcast/Verizon, as nothing seems like it will happen legislatively. I have a feeling things will get a lot worse before they begin to get better.


I'm the lead developer at a video startup. This policy may make our concept economically infeasible. I'm so angry that I can't even think straight right now. I thought we won this battle. I thought it was over. I want to take to the streets. We need to do something. We can't let this happen.


I have a question for those more knowledgeable about this than me: compare this to recent EU [1] votes on net neutrality. What do you think, will this give European internet companies an advantage over ones here (specifically startups that don't have the big bucks to shell out to the large internet providers)?

[1] http://gigaom.com/2014/04/03/european-parliament-passes-stro...


> The Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules that allow Internet service providers to offer a faster lane through which to send video and other content to consumers, as long as a content company is willing to pay for it, according to people briefed on the proposals.

Willing? I'm fairly sure it's going to end up being a "mandatory" fee in order to compete with similar online services.


Let's all contact the F.C.C. and let them know how we us consumers are against this! I can't believe not a single HN user suggested this on this thread yet!

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554

To Contact the Commissioners via E-mail

Chairman Tom Wheeler: Tom.Wheeler@fcc.gov <<<<<<<<<

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel:

Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov

Commissioner Ajit Pai: Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly: Mike.O'Rielly@fcc.gov

Complaints: File a Complaint

Freedom of Information Act requests: FOIA@fcc.gov

Elections & political candidate matters: campaignlaw@fcc.gov

1-866-418-0232 FAX: toll-free

1-202-418-1440 Elections & political candidate matters


> Let's all contact the F.C.C. and let them know how we us consumers are against this!

The FCC Chair has already stated [1] that he is against the kind of rule that the NY Times story described:

[1] http://www.fcc.gov/blog/setting-record-straight-fcc-s-open-i...


I'm sorry; I think you meant to suggest we pool our pocket change and hire a lobbying firm. A fax and email campaign is going to do what? waste toner and mailstore space?


Such a cynical reply, it's worth try and cost virtually nothing... Maybe individuals like yourself deserves a gutted internet that restricts information, and stifles innovation.


Game over. The internet was fun while it lasted.

Anyone want to start a mesh network startup?


We need a raspberrypi-like device with wifi built-in, that can be fully off-grid (with battery, solar panel) and have about 100GB of storage, for about $100, and we can make this work.


I was thinking something similar while reading the article. The old adage is that "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it" and in this case I think we can regard this ruling as censorship. So we should route around it.

Actually, this idea of an "alternate" network is a fairly old one but it just never materialized. I think thats because the "normal" network worked fine and wasn't too damaged for most of the people. However, this new ruling may be enough to get people (i.e. us, the technorati) to act.

chris_mahan has proposed one solution in a sibling thread. Are there others? I had a thought to use a cell phone as the mesh connector. Its something we all have in our pockets anyway and wouldn't require any new hardware. What about a company that provides the hardware for free but charges for the service? This is very similar to how the cable companies started out and it seems to have worked for them. :)


Can we get the FCC to rule that Bit Torrent is a form of carpool lane and we should get faster access?


When the Democrats come around here soon during the next two elections, with their hand out towards the tech community -- remember this. They only promise openness when they're trying to get elected, not governing.


Well it is a little premature to cry doom before these guidelines are even adopted.

But if they are, it will be kind of funny to read in a few years the comments from ISPs re: anti-neutrality policies stifling 'new' streaming services:

"Our research shows there is weak to no consumer demand for alternative services"


> Well it is a little premature to cry doom before these guidelines are even adopted.

It might not be before they are adopted, but it is before they are proposed and, particularly, before the news stories based on inside leaks are even consistent about what the rules are in the area of concern.

EDIT: Not sure why the downvotes, but as I point out in another comment on the thread (with links to sourcs), there are at least three conflicting characterizations of what the new rules that the FCC chair is about to begin circulating and that the FCC might then propose with a public comment period will do on the point in question:

1. (NY Times): Allow ISPs to (apparently, with no signficant restrictions) negotiate per-content-provider rates for enhanced access to the ISPs users.

2. (WS Journal): Allow ISPs to offer enhanced access if the terms are commercially reasonable and open to all content providers.

3. (Reuters): Not address ISP-to-content-provider agreements at all.

My point is that its premature to react to the details of the rules when there isn't any consistent picture of what those details are likely to be.


I don't really get the downvotes either, although it took me two readings of your comment to understand what you were saying.

FWIW, here's what the FCC has actually published so far:

http://www.fcc.gov/document/statement-fcc-chairman-tom-wheel...

Unfortunately it doesn't actually say much.


> I don't really get the downvotes either

A user went haywire and downvoted a whole bunch of comments. We've corrected the damage, although users had already corrected much of it.

All: when you notice substantive, civil comments that are unfairly faded out, please give them a corrective upvote. This is a longstanding community practice. It usually only takes one or two corrective votes to get a good comment back to par, so every user can make a significant difference.


In the coming decades our current golden age of internet innovation will be looked back in wonder.


Yes. It'll be like looking back on the long https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_defunct_automobile_man... -- the early 20th century was a hotbed of innovation and technical progress, being carried out by hundreds of independent groups on a small scale. Then, the industry consolidated around a few gigantic players, and technical innovation ground to a halt for decades.


This is one of my principal reasons for being a singularity-skeptic. While runaway technological innovation might be possible, I think it's likely that economics and politics will stop it.

Physics won't stop Moore's law. Industry consolidation, slowing innovation, and a lack of demand will. I would not be terribly surprised if we never see computers more than 2X as fast/powerful as today's, since without corresponding software and networking innovation to drive demand why would they be built? That's a tad shy if what would be required for strong AI, "mind uploading," or any of that stuff.


We're already seeing that effect in chips, somewhat. The market has gotten to the point where relatively cheap chips are good enough for most people's purposes -- looking at webpages and viewing streaming video on a mobile device. You don't need a top of the line Intel chip to do that; a cheap ARM clone is fine.

There is still a higher end driver in the server space, though, as virtualization progresses... How many virtual machines can you fit into one box?


I don't have the best knowledge about the FCC's plan for Net Neutrality, but doesn't this go against everything that the plan stood for?


If it was as the NY Times piece (which seems to be fairly heavy on editorializing and weak on facts for a straight news piece) describes -- "will allow a company like Comcast or Verizon to negotiate separately with each content company [...] and charge different companies different amounts for priority service." However, the other reports on this have not described it that way -- e.g., the WSJ report [1] (which also hit HN today) says that the new rules to be proposed "would allow broadband providers to give some traffic preferential treatment, so long as such arrangements are available on 'commercially reasonable' terms for all interested content companies."

Then again, this Reuters piece [2] says it won't address these types of agreements at all: "However, the rules are not expected to address the issue of interconnection, or agreements in which content companies pay network providers for faster access to their sites or services."

Maybe we should wait until the rules are actually released for public comment before freaking out over the specific details (about which there are many conflicting stories.)

[1] http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702304...

[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/23/us-usa-fcc-interne...


Honestly, hell no, we need to raise hell now. If they're even thinking about this as a realistic possibility, the entire notion needs to be burned from their minds. Purged.

Edit: Normally, I'm an arbiter of the 'wait and see' variety, but this is such a horrible, unethical, undemocratic, un-American idea that it cannot possibly for a moment be considered.


> Honestly, hell no, we need to raise hell now. If they're even thinking about this as a realistic possibility, the entire notion needs to be burned from their minds. Purged.

I'm just saying it will be more effective to react to the actual proposal when it is actually proposed and we know what it actually is. We have at least three conflicting news stories from anonymous sources supposedly close to the process, which suggests that at least two are mistaken (if not outright lies).

Something actually will be posted with concrete terms for public comment, and that's the time to respond to the specific content -- now, its probably better to talk about what should be in any new Open Internet order, rather than flying off the handle at rumors of what will be in the next Open Internet order.

Especially since one of the reasons extreme versions often get leaked ahead of actual proposals is to get activists to blow their top about something worse than the actual proposal, so that they aren't taken seriously when the actual proposal (bad in many of the same ways, but substantively different from what the activists have spent some period of time complaining about on the basis that it was the forthcoming proposal) is released.


I read this as FCC plans to allow slow lanes.


I agreed, that was my first reading as well. I mean, the only reason you would want to pay money, as a content provider, is if your service is rate-limited to a degree that affects your customer.

It's not as if that "fast lane" will be gigabit speed. It'll be the same "up to" speed the customer was paying for in the first place.


In six months FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will be a VP at NBC Universal/Comcast.

Not a bribe; just coincidence.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Wheeler_(FCC)

"Tom Wheeler is the current Chairman of the FCC.[1] Prior to working at the FCC, Wheeler worked as a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry."

Wow. This looks especially bad for consumers.


By "prior", they mean 30 years ago, at a time when the cable industry was the underdog fighting against the powerful broadcasters, and cable lobbyist [1] was a pro-consumer job.

Looking at what he's been involved in since then [2], it's all over the place. There's stuff in cable, stuff in wireless, stuff in phone, co-founder of a company that repairs aerospace components, PBS director, and a bunch of other things. I'm kind of at a loss to comprehend how someone can have held so many positions.

[1] It's not all clear that lobbyist is even accurate. He was the head of the largest cable industry trade association. Lobbying was one of the things they did. Calling their executives "lobbyists" would be kind of like calling the head of the American Medical Association a lobbyist.

[2] http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/pe...


In fairness, the head of the AMA is probably reasonably described as a lobbyist.


Examples of IRC § 501(c)(6) organizations include the Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, American Bar Association, American Medical Association, and National Association of Manufacturers.

The AMA is a c6 because: lobbying

The organizational definitions in IRC §§ 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) do not contain any explicit limitations on lobbying. The organizations described in these three sections may participate in an unrestricted amount of lobbying so long as the lobbying is related to the organization's exempt purpose. In fact, organizations whose sole activity is lobbying may be recognized under these sections...{etc}

Citation> Tax-Exempt Organizations: Political Activity Restrictions and Disclosure Requirements, Order Code RL33377


The AMA is, I believe, the largest lobbying organization in the country.


There are several larger; the US Chamber of Commerce is #1 -- AMA is big, but not even the biggest healthcare lobbying entity (BC/BS and the American Hospital Association are bigger than AMA) [1].

https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=s&showYe...


In fairness to whom?


What do you think the primary motivation for industry trade associations is, in general? The Cable TV business has been under constant threat of regulatory action since its inception. This is like its principal business risk because they are basically monopolies everywhere they operate. It is extraordinarily specious to compare it to the AMA.


Seems like he left the CTIA in 2004. IMO, he should be at the bottom of the list, if at all. Can someone expand the Wikipedia article?


Chris Dodd spent ~30+ years in congress and now he is the chairman/chief lobbyist for the MPAA. Funny (sad) how that works

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Dodd


There should be laws against this sort of stuff. Like you can't work for a company in a related domain for 5 years before and after taking the government job. As it is, it just leads to too much corruption.


The flip side is that you won't want someone in said position that doesn't know anything about the industry. Do you want a luddite making technology policy, for example.

Not that I'm all for regulatory capture or anything.


> Do you want a luddite making technology policy

No and that's exactly what we have right now.


> Do you want a luddite making technology policy, for example.

Would that be worse? Say 50% of the time they get the policy right where the corrupt policy maker gets it deliberately wrong all of the time.


That is not a flip side, it's a false dichotomy, because there is an enormous middle ground there.


I never said it was a dichotomy. Just because I presented an opposing side of an issue does not mean that I'm presenting a dichotomy.

One of the reasons that people are pulled from industry to fill these roles is because there is a view that they will understand the issues at play. This is true. We don't want people making policy decisions on issues that they barely understand. At the same time, it becomes the incestuous relationship that we have (aka Regulatory Capture) where there is incentive to make policy decisions that are pro-business while being anti-consumer.

There is some sort of a middle-ground to be had, but saying things like "people should not be allowed to hold office if unless they've been out of the industry for at least 5 years" seems a bit naive.


Well yes, "flip side" implies a dichotomy. What's the middle-ground of a coin's faces?

It's not helpful to characterize alternatives as naive, ignorant, or Ludditic. The question is not one of naivety, but of actual policy, which is the stuff that affects all of us. How would the work of an outsider (or statutory redshirt) differ from a revolving-door candidate, one whose foundation is sell side? Seeing that we have a documented public history of the output of people in this role, what conclusions can we draw? Should the incestuous relationship merely be noted, as you do, before dispensing with alternatives?


> Should the incestuous relationship merely be noted, as you do, before dispensing with alternatives?

My thought is that saying someone can't work in the industry for 5 years prior might help with breaking up regulatory capture to a certain extent, but could have consequences on the people filling the role actually understanding the issues at hand.

Your view seems to be closer to, "things are bad now, so we certainly can't do any worse." My view is that if we're going to make the effort to fix things, let's think things through rather than throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.


You're defining "the industry" as people with congruent CVs to Chairman Wheeler. And no, I'm not saying we can't do any worse, not the least because we've already had Michael Powell in this position.

I disagree that the revolving-door is equal to regulatory capture. While it may be a precursor, we do already know that supply-side policies like putting a time-lock on the door is a remedy. Note also that the door would be locked for industry to hire from the government agencies.

Revolving door people are no better apprised of "the issues at hand" than someone with a (e.g.) buy-side foundation. That's one of the places where you filter out alternatives, by assuming that the revolving door candidates are the ones who "actually understand the issues."

You also continue to perpetuate the dichotomy you said you weren't making by refraining from even acknowledging a middle ground, so maybe this is just a case of mauvaise foi on your part and poo on me for engaging.


> The flip side is that you won't want someone in said position that doesn't know anything about the industry.

CEOs rotate into of different industries all the time without knowledge of that domain.

The top-job isn't about making policy, it's about representing the organization's interests and setting strategy.


That may be, but the parent post did not limit the suggestion to just CEOs.


The colloquial term for this is "revolving door."


There's three kinds of corruption:

- apparent when there isn't (false positive - mistaken)

- apparent when there is (obvious)

- not apparent when there is (false negative - not obvious)

I'd define corruption as a pattern of putting profit/loss considerations ahead of public interests. Other than personal ethics, this is a really hard thing to control for because it goes to why people want to be public servants and what are their interests/relationships.


There's something to be said for lifetime appointments: "we trust you enough to give you this job and pay you enough to be comfortable for the rest of your life. If you clearly violate that trust, we'll impeach you and you will never again be trusted."

I could be wrong, but I don't think federal judges and Supreme Court Justices participate in the revolving door. Supreme Court Justices are deeply political, but they're not sell-outs like Chris Dodd.


Is the first kind really corruption then?

Corruption can be stopped when voters & consumers have more power than the politicians or their backers. No one can force you to vote a certain way or buy a certain product. You punish "public" "servants" by restricting their power, i.e. voting them out if they break the law or not enforcing the law equally.


The problem with that is that the only folks qualified for these jobs are folks with some sort of recent related experience, and the only future job that this is revenue-boosting for is in related domains.


But that doesn't mean that we have to appoint from within industry. There are probably many academics who would be just as qualified or more than former industry lobbyists. Moreover, these people would probably be more than happy to return to academia and research after serving their tenure.


Who could possibly have foreseen this?


What would it take to get someone who cares about the greater good (not an industry crony) appointed to these key roles?


Money.

There are 100 senators. 34 or so come up for election every two years. Each election is won, 75 - 90% of the time, by the candidate who spends the most. The most expensive campaigns spend about $20M; the tenth most expensive campaign spends about $5M. The margin between D and R in the Senate is 8. Form a SuperPAC and fund it with about $75M.

Ensure the election of a crop of senators who know what the key issues are for their big contributors... and that if they step out of line, they won't be getting those contributions next year.


If you think about it: lot of issues we can probably solve by writing a check of $20M to anyone who becomes senator and signs oath for not entertaining any lobbyists representing commercial interests. That would be a drop in a bucket in US Gov budget but would prevent lot of these guys from being lobbied by private interests or even cold calling them to funds their campaigns.


Tax pay funded campaigns with a ban on all other spending to promote candidates.


How do you ban a random person from spending to promote candidates?


They don't get access to the 'no strings' super-fund if they take money or favor from other lobbyists.

Still not going to solve the revolving door, but might make thing a bit more fair.


> Each election is won, 75 - 90% of the time, by the candidate who spends the most.

Source? Tell that to Meg Whitman.

The biggest problem I have with the argument about limiting the amount of money that can be spent in elections is that it essentially implies that the electorate is uneducated and easily swayed. So shouldn't the solution be a more informed (however you want to do accomplish that) electorate?


> The biggest problem I have with the argument about limiting the amount of money that can be spent in elections is that it essentially implies that the electorate is uneducated and easily swayed. So shouldn't the solution be a more informed (however you want to do accomplish that) electorate?

This is true in somewhat the same way that the solution to teenage pregnancy is just to get all the teens to practice abstinence. Where that view falls down is that not all problems are equally tractable. Attacking a tractable problem generally gets better results even if attacking an intractable one seems more noble.


I grant there are problems that are relatively more tractable or intractable, but I challenge the notion that limiting how much money can be spent on political campaigns is the solution to a problem of an uniformed electorate. Why does limiting every candidate to some level n of spending necessarily lead us to better governance?

Further, in your analogy, I'd argue that the equivalent to teaching abstinence is the idea that we can somehow legislate political contributions and then large political contributions will disappear from the surface of the earth.


Because it limits the impact of those with immense wealth to unduly impact the funding goals of those running for office.


I imagine it's a whole lot easier to pass campaign finance regulation than it is to transform a population of hundreds of millions of people into an intelligent, knowledgeable, rational group.


That's not the only way of making a more educated electorate. Another method would be to limit the electorate.


You mean restrict who can vote? The public wouldn't go for it. Which is good, because if people were okay with having their right to vote taken away, we'd be in a much bigger mess.


> That's not the only way of making a more educated electorate. Another method would be to limit the electorate.

Care to elaborate? On what criteria would you limit the electorate?


https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/11/money-wins-white-ho...

Here are quite a few numbers that back his claim. There are of course exceptions, but for the most part the candidate with the most money wins.


Correlation is not causation; most Congressional races have either an incumbent or a structural advantage in registration for one party (often both, favoring the same party) and whichever party has one or both of those advantages will usually also gain more donations.

There's plenty of cases were elections where for one reason or another the money tips the opposite direction of those advantages -- and the money loses, while the structural advantages win.

Money is nice, but there's plenty of reason to think that it is more likely to be the product of structural electoral advantage than the source of it.


This is useful, thanks. Though I wonder if the connection is causal.


It doesn't necessarily imply that the electorate is uneducated and easily swayed. I think it's more likely that most of the time these elections are a close call and campaigning sways people who are in the middle or motivates people who might not otherwise vote.

The argument basically just implies that advertising has some influence. Which is true - even for an educated and informed audience. Nothing you do to the electorate can make them immune to advertising. So money will always be a motivation for politicians. Especially since extra campaign money can always be spent on all kinds of fun expenses, and giving well paying jobs to friends and family.

Also, bear in mind that even the most well informed educated electorate has a very limited feedback mechanism. Many people care so strongly about particular issues that they will never change their vote. Which means people in the middle ground only really get to choose between the two main political parties. In practise, it works out a bit like a price fixing cartel. Basically both parties take turns screwing everyone over. Candidates only have to make the appearance of being better than the last guy during election time. During their last term they can do whatever they want, which sets the bar really low for the next guy. It's a race to the bottom.

As long as the influence of money is present, politicians will behave as corruptly as they can get away with. Improving the education level of the electorate reduces the amount politicians can get away with, but because of the two party system, they'll always be able to get away with a lot.


A big problem is candidates with little cash might have problems getting their existence out there. More than limiting spending, providing more airtime for registered candidates might go a long way.


The educated and informed are also easily swayed. Advertising works.


The system should work like jury duty - much like in ancient greece where they had a system of lots (based on black + white balls) - you get chosen then have to do your best for your alloted time.


Combine this with a TTL of 10 years for all laws. Hopefully, keeping theft, rape, and murder from going legal preoccupy all of lawmakers' time.


Seems like riders would become a huge problem under that system. I guess you could try to make them unconstitutional, but a rider is hard to define; it seems like you would always be able to sneak unpleasant but tangentially-related things in.


This would result congress becoming a body whose major action was reaffirming existing laws that were expiring, and would minimize their ability to take on further responsibility.

There are many cases where they have in the past given laws a time limit, and most of those either

- get up/down extended, at which point why bother with the limit, or - mire congress for weeks because someone decided to pick a fight over a normally non-controversial law.

I'm not sure that would improve the system or help us move more power back from czars and appointed directors toward our elected representatives.


That kind of system really hasn't worked out too well with things like the debt limit in recent years...


I am thinking of something similar, but for a much longer term like up to 20 years.


Is that because juries of neophytes work so well?



Stop electing the politicians who appoint cronies?


One of the first things Obama did on entering office was write an executive order contractually banning lobbyists for working for the administration for 2 year after their most recent lobbying job, or going ot work from the administration into a lobbying job in the same field for 2 years after leaving office, as well as posting a list of such restrictions publicly. It's somewhat effective: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2011/01/19/obamas-revolvi...

However, at the moment it has to be contractual because constitutionally it's quite hard to restrain people from taking whatever job they want, and also because many voters want elected representatives to 'bring home the bacon' by getting government subsidies for business that will lead to more job creation. I don't think this should be the role of representatives or senators, but a lot of people do. Even people who argue for smaller government and campaign against 'pork' seem quite happy when government largesse lands in their own community.


A) Of course, how do you know they'll do so until you elect them? B) Many politicians who get into office are quite busy, so they tend to trust the people they actually talk to, which are often the people at campaign fundraisers. Cronies may just be people who, conveniently, are always at fundraisers, hence are familiar to politicians.

I don't think that's proper, obviously, but easy explanations rarely capture the complexity from which corruption arises.


Not to mention that a major skill in politics is to hide who pulls your strings. It is anti-democratic for Obama not to call this kind of thing out when it happens, to speak for the citizenry rather than the industrialists. If Obama was on the customer's side at all, he would be leaking information. "Sorry guys, but the way it actually works is..."


So with only two parties, both of which are corporatists, and money=speech means those with the most money buy the best laws (for themselves), you end up blaming the voter?

Remember in 2000 when Ralph Nader was prevented (by both parties) from attending debates? How many third parties get any visibility from the corporate-funded media?


Appointing cronies seems to make it easier to get reelected or prepare a nice landing for after you political career is over.

What incentives can be applied to promote appointing the competent and unbiassed?


Too bad there aren't any.


You could run for office. Would you appoint cronies?


You could run, but how to get the funding to be an actual contender?


Oh, c'mon, that's just an excuse. In fact, it's the same excuse people use to avoid entrepreneurship.

Money helps you run a campaign, just like it helps you run a business. But sometimes the scrappy, bootstrapped startup still beats the big entrenched enterprise. That's why we're on HN, right?


Kind of ironic that you're making this statement on this thread. The Net was indeed supposed to democratize the world, including, presumably, politics. A candidate would then be able to run a bootstrapped, grassroots campaign.

But, that didn't happen, and for reasons very similar to the subject: entrenched interests use their money to continue advancing their own agenda through the media, other corporate gatekeepers, and regulatory capture.

It will soon take $1B to run for the presidency, and about as much to pay ISPs in order to launch a competitive streaming company.

So, you might just have it backwards: the current rules have to change in order to allow for a viable bootstrapped candidate. This, instead of such a candidate miraculously making her way to success, then changing the rules.


Who says it costs $1B to run for President? Obama didn't exactly win the 2008 primary by being the rich establishment candidate. He wasn't personally wealthy. He did have a very internet savvy campaign staff, though...

Why don't you ask Linda McMahon how much it costs to buy a Senate seat? Not only did she spend tens of millions, she lost to a guy who is still paying back his student loans.

There's nothing stopping a candidate today from using the Net to spread their political message and, as odious as the alleged FCC changes are, they won't really change that.


>Obama didn't exactly win the 2008 primary by being the rich establishment candidate.

You may be confusing personal wealth with campaign wealth.

Obama raised nearly a quarter billion during the primaries and 3/4 billion overall in 2008. Sure, he used the Net to raise a significant amount, but the extent to which small donors fueled his fundraising was greatly exaggerated [0].

In any case, Obama was certainly rich as a candidate, and wildly so.

>Not only did she spend tens of millions, she lost to a guy who is still paying back his student loans.

Certainly, no one is saying that the candidate who raises the most money always wins. On average, however, money matters--big time, and has an outsized impact on our electoral process. This is why so many incumbents confess that they spend an inordinate amount of their time on fundraising.

>There's nothing stopping a candidate today from using the Net to spread their political message

Well, there's nothing stopping them from trying any moreso than a startup can try to market online without a budget. In practice, it is insanely difficult to be heard and/or gain momentum in the political world without a ton of cash to spend on exposure. And, rulings like Citizens United exacerbate that problem.

Yes, there will be outlier underdogs who miraculously scratch out a win from time to time. But, the Net is nowhere near the democratizing force it could be. It is trumped handily by plain ol' cash. And, it shouldn't take a miracle for an otherwise better-qualified candidate to win an election simply because of a financial disadvantage.

>as odious as the alleged FCC changes are, they won't really change that.

Apologies for the miscommunication. I am not saying that the FCC changes will prevent candidates from trying to use the Net. I was simply noting that both our political process and the FCC have been co-opted by entrenched interests.

[0] http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/24/study-obamas-s...


> So, you might just have it backwards

Not really. It's a chicken-and-egg problem, not causality. This is a problem that predates the concept of America. Monarchies addressed it by having a three-way tug-of-war between the monarch, the entrenched interests, and the masses, and American politics have tried very hard to ape that with a very powerful central executive.

With, you know. Predictable results.

Changing the rules won't actually make a difference, much respect as I have for Lessig's Rootstrikers' efforts. That is, as Colbert put it, rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenberg. The fundamental problem isn't that no one gets elected without spending oodles of cash; the fundamental problem is that oodles of cash have to be spent at all.

We live in an age where democracy requires marketing. That's the rule you need to change.

Not coincidentally, that's also the rule that makes free markets impossible.


Well, what I was trying to do was point out a bit of irony in the GP comment. Judging by your and eli's responses, obviously I wasn't successful. I'll give it another shot.

At a time when our political process is broken, full of cronyism, regulatory capture, and co-opting by moneyed interests, we get this new position from the FCC. The position itself is about giving those with money (e.g. Netflix) advantages on the Net. The Net, of all things, which was supposed to be a democratizing, equalizing force.

So, what did the GP say in response? "Hey, money doesn't matter. Scrappy bootstrapped campaigns can overcome!"

This, even while the very topic of this thread is moneyed interests' de-democratization of the single greatest potential tool for making scrappy, bootstrapped campaigns an actual possibility.

I mean, at what point do we consider that democracy is losing and money is winning?

>Changing the rules won't actually make a difference

>We live in an age where democracy requires marketing. That's the rule you need to change.

You're not going to change the need for candidates to communicate with the electorate, nor should we want that. Instead, you change the rules such that candidates simply do not have the money to spend, then you watch as the media, parties, candidates, and entire political process re-structure themselves to allow for viable candidates to be identified and subsequently engaged with the electorate.

Here's where the Net can truly be a democratizing force, and even moreso when combined with other media. There's no need for candidates to spend money on marketing. They are the story, and the media clamors endlessly to get their messages out.


> The Net, of all things, which was supposed to be a democratizing, equalizing force.

No, it wasn't. You were made promises, not by politicians, but by a powerless counterculture who spoke loudly and had no clout. There is nothing democratizing or equalizing about the Internet.

> I mean, at what point do we consider that democracy is losing and money is winning?

Well, I would have put it somewhere in the 19th century, but that's just me.

> You're not going to change the need for candidates to communicate with the electorate

Why not? Why does this need exist? We have the Internet now. There is no such need anymore.

Let me ask you a different question: why do we need to have any candidates whatsoever? What are they for? Or the more important question: what is a public office for? What is the purpose of that concept?

> Instead, you change the rules such that candidates simply do not have the money to spend, then you watch as the media, parties, candidates, and entire political process re-structure themselves to allow for viable candidates to be identified and subsequently engaged with the electorate.

If you don't subscribe to Rootstrikers, you are seriously out of touch. Unlike you, Lessig has actually been doing things along this line, and unlike you, he has some notion of how to build political capital.


>You were made promises, not by politicians, but by a powerless counterculture

No. The promises were made by the technology and its potential. But, you're reading my statement out of context anyway.

>We have the Internet now. There is no such need anymore.

Wait. So, you're now a representative of the powerless counterculture? You just said "there is nothing democratizing about the Internet. Now, you're hailing it as the solution to what is arguably the single biggest threat to democracy in U.S. politics today: money.

Make up your mind, man.

>what is a public office for?

Direct democracy has its place, but you're not seriously suggesting rule by referendum, right? I mean, I'm having trouble seeing any implied alternatives in your question that don't lead to utter silliness, so please feel free to make your point.

>If you don't subscribe to Rootstrikers, you are seriously out of touch

Says who? But, hey, color me seriously out of touch. If you put any stock in third party traffic analysis, I'm in good company (unfortunately). But, thanks for the pointer.

>Unlike you, Lessig has actually been doing things along this line, and unlike you, he has some notion of how to build political capital.

Awesome that you know me so well. I feel like we're old pals from way back. But, of course, your opinions of my capabilities in this area--even if accurate--have nothing to do with the merit of the statements to which you are responding. In fact, I'm trying to name all of the fallacies there: Appeal to authority? Red herring? False dilemma? Am I missing any?


> The promises were made by the technology and its potential.

Still bullshit. By this measure, the machine gun and the IED are also democratizing and equalizing forces. An armed society is a polite society, yeah? Technology amplifies. A pen makes it possible to communicate with someone you cannot be face-to-face with, but it still comes down to the way you formulate and express your ideas. A sword makes it possible to cut and stab in ways that your hand can't, but it's still your hand being raised against another.

If you want to invoke technology, then all technology is a "democratizing and equalizing force". And, while we're at it, all technology becomes a tool for elitism and oppression when it fails to be equally distributed. And is it ever, really equally distributed to begin with? You have to pay people a profit to receive internet. There is no possibility of equality there while wealth and income inequality remain significant.

> So, you're now a representative of the powerless counterculture?

"Representative" is going too far. How about we stick to calling me powerless, rather than give me credit for participating in an actual culture?

> Now, you're hailing it as the solution to what is arguably the single biggest threat to democracy in U.S. politics today: money.

Hahaha. No. But it's funny that you can't read. I'd certainly take advantage of the Internet as part of the solution, but I would also take advantage of the fact that we have bookbinding technology.

And money is not the biggest threat. Democracy? Doesn't exist in America. Not really. The media is right: we are a country ruled by elites. Those elites might be liberal or conservative, but they're not us. There is no government by the people, because the people don't give a shit. That's why Dubya went up and thought that getting some elections happening in Iraq would make democracy happen.

I repeat: The fundamental problem isn't that no one gets elected without spending oodles of cash; the fundamental problem is that oodles of cash have to be spent at all.

> Direct democracy has its place, but you're not seriously suggesting rule by referendum, right? I mean, I'm having trouble seeing any implied alternatives in your question that don't lead to utter silliness, so please feel free to make your point.

No, if you can't answer the question one way or another, then I have no point worth making. My ideas aren't coherent enough for people who don't already have the solid grounding in what democracy actually is. Which you demonstrably don't, because you keep saying that the Net will save democracy or something. Indeed, you can't seem to get your mind off it.

> But, of course, your opinions of my capabilities in this area--even if accurate--have nothing to do with the merit of the statements to which you are responding.

It's pretty convenient, then, that I wasn't responding to any of the statements you were making there, right? It's almost as if I was responding specifically to the section I quoted. I mean, it's great that you feel we're in high school debate club or something, but I graduated from high school a while back. I assume you did, too?

Here's a fallacy you missed: the fallacy fallacy.


>Still bullshit.

Really? Because immediately after you dismissed hopes that the Internet might be a force for democratization, you said the following in reference to candidates' corrupting (and incompatible with democracy) need for money:

"We have the Internet now. There is no such need anymore."

Were you thinking of something more democratizing than that?

The rest of that paragraph and the next are ridiculous strawmen.

>If you want to invoke technology, then all technology is a "democratizing and equalizing force".

That argument is just plain stupid. Are you being deliberately obtuse? Trolling? Or are you really that prone to committing such gaping logical fallacies?

FWIW, I didn't just "invoke technology". I referenced the Net.

>And money is not the biggest threat. Democracy? Doesn't exist in America. Not really. The media is right: we are a country ruled by elites

And who are the elites? The poor?

You know, this is pointless. Your entire comment is void of any introspection and is not even internally consistent. It just argues with itself. Worse, you sincerely can't seem to follow a thread. It's so bad that I really do hope that you are just trolling. But, in any case, I'll leave you to your "self-stimulation".


Google, Apple and Netflix just have to bribe harder


Why? Fastlane charges are just another barrier to entry for potential upstart competitors. The companies you've listed are big enough to negotiate separate contracts for a lower rate or create solutions like OpenConnect to lower their costs. What better way to ensure that they have little-to-no competition than to have a crippling fee that smaller competitors would have to pay just to compete with them?


I'm not sure. Google is very aware that 100% of their userbase (and revenue) are one click away from using another search engine. If this decision makes it more difficult for a start up to create a better way for people to search the internet, you can see why Google might not put up a fight..


> Google is very aware that 100% of their userbase (and revenue) are one click away from using another search engine.

Actually, google outperforms all other search engines. It seems some people prefer duckduckgo (as search engine i mean, not just for the other features), but most i heard people couldn't get the same results (including myself).

Secondly, Google is much more than search nowadays. 100% of their income isn't gone just like that.

And they have the means to make a stance against paying extra by informing the public. Not to mention Google Fiber.


You're right, Google is by far the best. I tried using bing,duck,yahoo and none of them even come close, but that doesn't mean everyone else who uses Google values the same features that I do. Pretty soon people might want to search based on what their friends like, and suddenly Facebook becomes the new discovery engine. It's not too far fetched.

And yeah, not 100% of revenue, but it's like 95%


> It seems some people prefer duckduckgo (as search engine i mean, not just for the other features), but most i heard people couldn't get the same results (including myself).

Try https://startpage.com/ instead, then.


Why? If the ISP's push the issue too hard, the public will be up in arms for net neutrality. If they just push hard enough to keep small companies from competing it will be a win/win for everybody since the ISP's make even more money, and the internet companies get to avoid new players.


I'm not sure how you'd categorize Google, Apple and Netflix generally as "ISPs."


I didn't, but I can see how my wording was misleading. In my eyes I see the ISP's at odds with the companies which require heavy internet usage. Comcast/Time Warner/Verizon/etc don't like Apple/Netflix/Google. If they had their way, they would impose the pay per site model that we are all afraid of. This obviously won't fly so the ISPs throttle the non-isp media providers until they are willing to pay up (as we are seeing with Netflix especially). As long as this process is more or less transparent to the end user, nobody will make a big deal about it and all parties involved will get something positive out of the deal (besides the consumer).


It's a mistake to consider Comcast/Time Warner/Verizon pure ISPs. They are media companies who happen to own last-mile internet pipes into homes in addition to other products which are in direct competition with data which users may want to access through that pipe.


"...and the internet companies get to avoid new players."

I think you missed that part of GP's comment.


This is all good news for Netflix because the barrier to creating a competitor will be getting much higher now.


You can't really blame Wheeler. The courts tied his hands.


bs. The courts tied his hands on a surprisingly weak argument. All he had to do was resurrect direct Net Neutrality language and everything would have been fine. He didn't...this administration hasn't raised its regulatory voice, anything. I don't understand how anyone can defend their record. They just killed small internet business.


You have a source for that? I'm not denying just curious. I've seen multiple decisions go against neutrality, but don't fully understand the precedents.


Its not clear to me that this is a "turnaround", since it is not clear to me that pay-for-quality offered under the terms that the leaks about this have suggested (commercially reasonable terms open to all content providers equally) would have been prohibited by the previous order (had it not been struck down.)


Looks like I wasted my time writing Mr. Wheeler an email on this very subject a few weeks ago.


Yeah, good luck with that; regulatory capture has effectively killed any attempt at citizen influence of state and federal agencies. And, in addition to the revolving door at the FCC -- which is uniquely shameless even by iron triangle standards -- Big Cable is excellent at targeting its political donations. They're increasing cable prices faster than inflation, and using the proceeds to hire key FCC officials and donate wads of cash to any politician -- federal, state and even local -- that might be involved in oversight. Your silly little attempt at exercising your rights as an informed citizen doesn't even register.

I would argue that the cable industry is pretty much the perfect example of an industry that should be held at arms' length by its regulators; the entire industry has a history of significant and intentional corruption of the political process, particularly at the local level. It's instructive, if you have the time, to check out the story of Cablevision's efforts to get the cable franchise in Queens in the early 1980s: it's essentially a blueprint for how the industry acts across the board.


Between this and the comcast / twc merger, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the government cannot act on behalf of the consumer.

Please feel free to reach out to Tom Wheeler on twitter https://twitter.com/TomWheelerFCC


The Edge in one of its recent "Question" issues ran a piece by Charles Seife on capture, in response to the question "what should we be worried about".

It's a tremendous problem, and not just of government (principle-agent problems in management and business are also rampant). Recommended reading:

http://edge.org/response-detail/23674

And the answer isn't "don't regulate". It's "regulate appropriately and effectively". Just realize that this is an eternal challenge.

NB: Sadly the formatting of the questions and responses is horrible. In particular, navigating the full list by title is all but impossible. I've highlighted the specific essay in question.


Fast Lane? more like 'not slowed down lane'


Honestly—who does this benefit, apart from ISPs?


Entrenched services that can pay the premium. It's their "don't worry about upstart competitors" tax.


Yep. There will never be another video or audio streaming startup after today. Doors closed, ladder pulled up behind them, that's it, finished. The ones that exist today are all there will ever be. Sound crazy? Exaggerated? Check back in 10 years and see.


As I was reading, I thought this was just a move by the FCC to get the people to understand that the internet without net neutrality is a nightmare. As I'm reading the HN comments, I'm not so sure anymore...


That's, huh, way too much social engineering.


People say: this could hurt startups. Which makes me think: so? Isn't it inherent to startups that they have a competitive disadvantage in areas where expensive infrastructure is required? Isn't it an inherent advantage big businesses have over startups?

Let's take the history of telco monopolies off the table for a minute. Let's say these are purely privately funded networks with no government sanctioned subsidies. Is net neutrality still a good idea? Does't artificially take away an advantage big companies inherently have?


This is a strange position to take (net neutrality == affirmative action for startups?) but to answer your question: yes, it's still a good idea and yes, it artificially takes away an inherent advantage (or: 'regulates').

In this scenario I think regulation would be unfair and wrong, but it would be still be a good idea considering the public benefit. Although, were this to be the reality then I suspect we wouldn't have an Internet at all.


The balance between advantages to existing firms and advantages to startups is very much set by political and regulatory choices (like this). Given how much other legislation and regulation there already is affecting the balance, this is only one variable in the mix, and I'm hesitant to believe it shifts the balance in the right direction (where "right" is what's best for society).

Furthermore, ISPs seem to me to be a far cry from the "free market" (I have very few options for my ISP), so I don't believe simply reducing regulation will lead to the best outcome.


This would be pay for play(speed) though. Not efficiency for play(speed). Efficiency should rightfully be encouraged, but pay for speed effectively means the first entrant is the winner for the rest of time no matter their improvements in efficiency (obviously depending on the nature and implementation of these rumoured policies).


Don't for get to call your ISP and demand your cut of the money they're now earning for pimping you out to the content providers


Signed up for yesterday, had to pay $5 comcast tax for HBO go (HBO = $15, them "letting" me use HBO go - $5).

This system is bull shit.


You have a choice.

You can always NOT pay the HBO "tax" and pirate it like the rest of us.


Or not pay the HBO tax and either buy the shows on disc or go without watching them. I refuse to sign on to this entitlement mentality that says I have an automatic right to watch popular shows by hook or by crook.

This isn't an endorsement of the status quo for consumers, but I do think that publishers such as HBO have the right to sell their content in whatever way makes them the most money - they're running a business after all.


Nobody is talking about taking away HBO's right to sell entertainment in ways that make them money. They can and should out-compete BitTorrent.


Bit Torrent doesn't produce anything, it's just a distribution channel. I fail to see why HBO should spend anything on accommodating people who have no inclination to pay for the product they produce.


Maybe HBO should embrace an innovative distribution model, instead of clinging to the obsolete premium-cable-channel model. HBO itself would have been impossible if the media establishment had been success at killing cable; why should I feel an iota of sympathy for HBO's unwillingness to embrace newer, better technologies? Why shouldn't I use better technology to access entertainment, regardless of whether or not HBO has bothered to try monetizing those technologies?


Because you don't have an automatic right to be entertained. I might want to watch Game of Thrones, but since I haven't seen fit to buy a HBO subscription I do without, and HBO is under no obligation to give it to me.

A lot of people seem to assume that HBO and similar publishers either have no interest in or no understanding of new technology, but the fact is that they're as eager to exploit it as anyone else, hence the availability of HBO Go to Amazon customers later this year. That won't have the latest and greatest shows on it, though; not because HBO is trying to make your life worse, but because they have signed multi-year contracs to provide their product exclusively to cable companies for a minimum period. Cable companies want to be able to offer their customers something that they can't get anywhere else in order to retain them as subscribers. Exclusivity or first-refusal deals are the norm in the publishing world, because it's hard to run a business without them.

Again, why do you assume you have the right to be served entertainment through the channel of your choice? You wouldn't call up your local pizzeria and demand they deliver a Big Mac and fries, would you?


why do you assume you have the right to be served entertainment through the channel of your choice? You wouldn't call up your local pizzeria and demand they deliver a Big Mac and fries, would you?

Because the marginal cost of a Big Mac and fries is huge compared to the marginal cost of one more person watching Game of Thrones.

Not saying that's a good reason, but that's probably the reason for that assumption. People often fail to consider fixed costs when deciding how high should a "fair" price be.


I think a more appropriate comparison would the marginal cost of adding another distribution channel, which was the basis of my analogy. I'm not talking about getting a Big Mac for free, but about the unfounded expectation of having one delivered to you.


It's more like asking your neighbor to fetch two burgers, and then give you one of them. Except that your neighbor has a burger-multiplying-machine that can keep giving you burgers once your neighbor gets their first one.

There is no reason we should sit around worrying about HBO. HBO pays people lots of money to figure out how to monetize their entertainment. Let them figure out how to monetize BitTorrent and similar P2P systems. If they choose instead to ignore those technologies, well, they can suffer the consequences when someone else figures it out. The rest of us should not have to worry -- we do not worry when we turn on the radio or use a VCR, so why should we be so concerned here?


So, for HBO including their Go product with their subscription to everyone, I should stick it to HBO by for renting everything because Comcast is tacking on an additional fee (forcing me to upgrade my internet to higher tier)?


I'm moving back to the states in a couple of months, what the actual fuck. Is this true or are you exaggerating for effect?

Are they really double dipping with their customers? Which ISP does _not_ do this? I'm moving to Boston. I want to pay an ISP $X and download at X speed - they shouldn't care what I use it for.


Fuck you, Tom Wheeler.

That is all.


Are there to be any regulations to prevent ISPs from artificially degrading delivery of low-priority content providers? Prioritizing content is one thing, but artificially withholding or delaying delivery of content is quite another.


There's no difference.

TCP/IP works by gradually increasing transmit speed until packets are lost. Making traffic 'faster' for one set of connections is accomplished by dropping packets on others.


Fair enough, but what about periods where there is little or no competition between connections of different priorities? Could low-priority transmissions be throttled well before they begin to experience packet loss?


Packet loss is the way that TCP/IP transmissions are throttled by the network. It's beautiful in its simplicity that way.


As of 23:52 BST this article has 63 comments, 18 of which have been downvoted.


A user went haywire and downvoted a whole bunch of comments. We'll correct the damage.

All: when you notice substantive and civil comments that are unfairly faded out, please give them a corrective upvote. This is a longstanding community practice. It usually only takes one or two corrective votes to get back to par, so every user can make a significant difference.


Thank you, I will remember that.


Can americans explain to me why cable companies seem to have a monopoly on internet in the USA when presumably most houses still have copper phone lines capable of running VDSL connections capable of 52mbps?


This all from a president the YC is hosting for a fundraiser. I bet he's saying, how do you like me know! Sorry my cynical behavior, but this is horrible.


To strike a contrarian tone, how much is this going to matter a handful of years from now as the internet at large and bandwidth to the home continues to increase? In a decade is it unreasonable to expect that "really fast" home internet is 1 gigbit? At that point even your pokey 50mbit connection already has 10x-20x the bandwidth Netflix sees for a "good" connection (their metric). Does this make it harder for Netflix and future video streaming companies to send us 4k video, sure, but I struggle to come up with too many other ways that this will hurt.


It's going to matter a lot, because consumer internet consumption is shifting inexorably toward mobile, which tends to have data caps. You could blow through the standard 2 GB monthly allotment in a single HD movie streamed to your phone. If suddenly Youtube videos no longer count toward your data allotment, you're much more likely to use Youtube, and not any other competitor which are metered.


It is not just mobile that has data caps either. Sure the caps are a lot higher than mobile caps of a few gigs but even 150-300 GB caps are pretty small.

At the highest bit rate, 1 hour of Netflix video is about 3.1 GB. Now add in the fact that there is only one internet connection per household so you will have multiple people watching Netflix video and doing everything else on the internet they do and it is just terrible. A digitally downloaded game, which is not just done on PC anymore but also will be huge on the new consoles can be around 30 GB or larger.


"Continue to increase"? As has been amply documented in various HN threads, it hasn't increased at all in the last 15 years or so, really. Certainly not to the degree one would have expected. DSL speeds are basically exactly the same (slower in many cases) as they were in the late 1990s. If you are lucky and in the right urban area, you might have fiber or cable internet with faster speeds, but otherwise? It's still the late 1990s. And the prices, if anything, are higher today for the same service.


Do you live in America? I find it laughable that our internet will get that good unless Google gets Fiber into large enough areas forcing competition.

Even then, ComcastWarnerXfinity will find ways to jack up prices.


"To strike a contrarian tone, how much is this going to matter a handful of years from now as the internet at large and bandwidth to the home continues to increase?"

Who will enjoy the benefits of the increase? If you are only getting 9.6kbaud unless you pay millions of dollars in fees to every ISP between you and your peers, then all that bandwidth is useless to you.

"In a decade is it unreasonable to expect that "really fast" home internet is 1 gigbit?"

One gigabit to Youtube, unless you are on a Comcast connection in which case it is 1 megabit for Youtube and a gigabit to NBC's streaming service, and 256 kilobits for anything else.

"Does this make it harder for Netflix"

Oh you wanted to have access to Netflix? Well that will be $300/per gigabyte for a business line that has real Internet access. For a mere $20/month, you can have unlimited access to the best of Comcast, now partnered with Microsoft!!!


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