> If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it.
Specifically "and the content is legal" is what raises a flag for me. I've seen similar phrases in nearly everything I've read coming from any government official regarding net neutrality.
If this phrasing makes it into eventual laws regarding net neutrality, it seems to me that it could easily require inspection of all traffic by ISPs to ensure the legality of traffic.
It would also prohibit ISPs from modifying responses in situ - like inserting tracking beacons gifs into HTML responses or returning a custom search page (with associated ad revenue) when a DNS lookup fails.
Edit: So, with the 'if the content is legal' clause, Obama was probably referring to refusal to carry / illegal purpose court decisions. This can be applied only in very, very limited circumstances. A couple court decisions that are relevant:
* Nadel v NY Tel., 170 NYS2d 95 (1957); carrier suspected caller of using the telephone for illegal gambling transactions and terminated their service. Court ruled that service should be reinstated: the telephone company "is not at all qualified, in the absence of evidence of illegal use, to withhold from the petitioner, at will an essential and public utility."
* Shillitani v. Valentine, 53 NYS 2d 127 (1945); "a telephone company may not refuse to furnish service and facilities because of a mere suspicion or mere belief that they may be or are being used for an illegitimate end; more is required."
* People v. Brophy, 49 Cal.App.2d 15, at 33, 120 P2d 946, at 965; "public utilities and common carriers are not the censors of public or private morals, nor are they authorized or required to investigate or regulate the public or private conduct of those who seek service at their hands."
This implies that ISPs would be permitted to block illegal content. How can they know traffic is legal without some form of traffic monitoring/inspection?
In addition, Title II would probably put internet traffic on the same level as wiretaps in terms of (non-DHS) data snooping. If anything, it would give internet users more protection for this sort of thing than they are granted now.
If the former, we have issues because IP addresses are transient. If the latter, we have issues because that would require deep packet inspection.
Title II combined with the 2nd amendment actually prevents things like The Great Firewall :)
I'm searching for an adequate source for this information but I'm failing to find anything to stand on its own. It's definitely been treated like common carrier for many years, but as for an official classification... I'm struggling to find one.
Well of course they are, to a limited degree. They are not the sole carrier - I sometimes find it hard to express or notice the plural distinction - of moral, but neither is the justice system, although it likes to paint itself that way. As can be shown:
lt. moralis: proper behavior of a person in society
>nor are they authorized or required to investigate or regulate the public or private conduct of those who seek service at their hands
Clearly not authorized, but morally, they might be required to regulate, therefore to investigate, if possible without violating privacy rights, which with automation can be ensured to a degree. Even if warranted by a judge, or done by the police, it meant massive overhead for the providers, too. So it would be nice if we can go on without all that hassle. Maybe it would require relaxing some laws, that require those investigations; Or moving on as society, as calling on moral draws in a bag of huge implications.
What if crack junkies buying crack on silkroad steal copper cables from the grid? The Telcos are indirectly affected by that, when the users get unsatisfied and directly they have to pay for replacement.
The users are directly affected and responsible, so in first degree it's their responsibility. (not as implied, the court's or w/e).
Its not a requirement that ISPs block unlawful content, its a prohibition on blocking lawful content. A strong enough prohibition on blocking lawful content (e.g., one which provides consequences whenever lawful content is blocked, even if the intent was to block unlawful content and the lawful content just got caught up in the net) actually reduces the incentive for ISPs to attempt to identify and block unlawful content, since attempting to do so but making a misidentification in the process can result in penalties.
In fact, I'd argue that a no-blocking-lawful-content rule combined with a safe harbor provisions preventing ISPs from being liable for transmission of unlawful content by customers so long as the ISP wasn't actively involved in soliciting or promoting the specific illegal content is probably a good protection against ISP-initiated snooping, since it eliminates any liability-based incentive for it.
OTOH, it doesn't stop ISP-snooping-at-behest-of-government, but if you get a mechanism to do that, its going to be outside the context of net neutrality.
Additionally, I almost brought this up in my original post, but decided against it, but "lawful content" is another phrase I commonly see in the same discussions. IANAL, but my understanding is that unlawful != illegal. "Lawful" means the subject is specifically addressed and permitted by law, and "unlawful" is anything else. So traffic can be legal, but not lawful.
My biggest fear is that we in the tech community will rally behind a net neutrality law which sounds good in theory, but ends up a nightmare in practice. Phrases like "ISPs will not be able to filter lawful content" are nowhere close to "ISPs will not be able to filter traffic". I'd much prefer the latter in a net neutrality law.
Inasmuch as there is a distinction between "lawful" and "legal", but its pretty much the other way around. Both address conformity to the law, but "legal" focusses more on procedural, technical conformity. Something can be lawful (e.g., a contract for a non-prohibited purpose wherein non-prohibited performances are exchanged) but illegal (because, say, its a contract for a purposes for which the law requires certain procedures for registration, etc., of the contract, and these were not correctly completed.)
In the case of content in the US, an example might be commercial adult content where all the content standing on its own conformed to the law (so that it was lawful), but where the producers had not followed all the technical record-keeping requirements relating to such content (such that it was illegal.)
I agree with GP that the issue of snooping is important but is an issue unrelated to net neutrality (other than that they both concern the internet).
 That is, an incentive greater than the pressure they've received in the past from law enforcement/the NSA/the CIA already.
If he did not put that phrase in there, there would be a story on fox news saying "Obama supports child pornography".
Regarding having ISPs police users, I do not know why the government would do something like that. The government already tracks internet traffic all over the US thanks to the patriot law and you know how the government hates giving up its functions to private parties.
Actually, much the same language has been in both the 2010 FCC Open Internet order and the draft for a new order earlier this year, its not something that was original in Obama's statement.
Edit: Which in retrospect is more likely to outrage the Republican base.
Edit: I am not defending any party, just assume that in current poisonous climate ANY action of ANY high position party official of ANY party will be stretched and twisted by the other side.
Inspection of traffic with the coming certificate pinning and https implementations will be very hard. And you always have VPN. At worst there will be overnet in which bittorrent will flow.
If you've got a huge wallet you could run your own physical infrastructure but it would be hugely expensive for anything more than a small userbase . If you went that way you'd make peering agreements with your closest internet backbone providers to hook into the rest of the internet (backbone providers being even bigger ISPs than those mentioned earlier, the ISP's ISP if you like)
 It has been done in the past: http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/how-to-start-your-own...
On the other hand, besides the ACLU and maybe a few people organizing over the internet, there will be no money spent in lobbying to tighten up definitions and improve privacy.
So there, it's a 'pretty massive stretch' but by no means it's an unexpected thing.
Also, they both require the same technology to be automated and possible. The main constraint for the latter is computational power.
Yet that regulation cannot exist without this Right.
And the regulation is required to limit the abuse this Right can bestow on users.
This is a tricky one, because the right and the law are both mutually exclusive and mutually inclusive.
If he didn't put that in there, tons of idiots would go around saying how net neutrality will support all the crooks of the dark web, illegal filesharing websites, etc. Obviously that's ridiculous and not the case, but it would have really given net neutrality a bad image to the average person who probably has no idea what net neutrality is at all.
We've already got idiots let Ted Cruz tweeting that net neutrality is the "Obamacare of the internet."
Yes, granted, those rights are often infringed upon, especially in tech.
Is there a country that is regulating Internet in existence that is doing anything that we'd consider positive?
Every election is full of lies. Party divisions do not matter. They lie to get elected and then do as they please. They lie to pass laws, and then do as they please. Of course, Obamacare is a favorite punching back, and rightly so. The whole business of "an average savings of $2,500 per family", "if you like your plan you can keep it" and "if you like your doctor you can keep'em. Period" should be grounds for millions of people revolting. My family is going to have to pay $14,000 per year next year for health insurance. If we go to the cheapest crap plan we can find that number goes down to $12,000 per year. We were paying $5,000 per year before Obamacare and had fantastic health insurance with great providers. Un-fucking-believable.
Someone just sent me this today:
So, in a nutshell: Worry about what lies you are being told.
(I rarely side with Obama.)
People, the world is cruel, savage, sadistic, perverse, and brutish without social agreement on fundamental principles. If the underlying concepts that the Constitution is based on are eroded further and further the way they have been for years now, we will, with guarantee, find ourselves in the same predicament as all other people who wake up one day and are dominated by a totalitarian regime.
Some may see that as hyperbole, but too often humans take privilege, safety, and security for granted and squander away what their ancestors had to pay with their lives and livelihoods for to achieve.
The internet works because of the underlying open, bidirectional, equally privileged connections. If the corps are starting to change that it must be stopped. The internet is one of humanities greatest achievements and we can't let greedy monopoly beuraucrats kill it.
>>> The internet works because of the underlying open, bidirectional, equally privileged connections.
This is very simplistic view which does not match what really happens on the net. There are a lot of barriers, firewalls, routing preferences, private bandwidth exchanges, etc. It still works reasonably well so far.
>>> The internet is one of humanities greatest achievements and we can't let greedy monopoly beuraucrats kill it.
You realize that "monopoly bureaucrats" is the very definition of the government? If you were ever scared of huge bureaucratic power that would take away the control from you and use it for its own purposes, the US federal government would fit this role ideally.
Natural monopolies are obvious when you think about it a little bit. When your entire ideology depends on them not existing them maybe it's time for a rethink.
This sounds plausible, but it isn't correct. Remember, first of all, that no politician has real access to who did and did not vote for him. He has access to polling data, which generally scrubs well enough to reduce people to demographics. Conveniently, we generally engage with our politics through the lens of demographics anyways. But demographics are effectively never 100% accurate: samples are only samples.
Second, votes matter to politicians only if they want to be re-elected. They also matter on ballot measures and propositions and so on, but those are generally not what people mean when they talk about politician-voter relationships. Obama, since 2012, has no real reason to care about who voted for him in 2012 because he's not going to get any votes in 2016. There are other reasons in play, yes, but electoral votes are irrelevant when a politician has no interest in retaining his seat at the next cycle.
Third, politicians care about public opinion. They balance this against other competing interests, to be sure, but public opinion is the reason most of them ran for office in the first place. Those competing interests run the gamut from commercial interests to legal interests to moral interests to realpolitik, and ultimately, their job is to reconcile every interest with every other interest. That's what a politician is. People are afraid of politicians because they do not understand or recognize the interests they have outside of public opinion.
Public opinion is not votes, because public opinion is not tied to the electoral cycle. It suffers from the same problem of votes--that it is polled and often reduced to demographics--but from a far smaller degree because public opinion is also expressed by individuals who are willing to identify themselves.
The problem with public opinion, though, is that it's extremely rare to get anything solid resembling 50%. Nowhere close to 50% of a population is generally willing to identify themselves, meaning such a thing will always come down to polling data.
The advantage that corporations have in influenceability isn't that 50% could walk away (which will basically never happen on solely moral grounds); it's that it can track their interests with far, far more precision. It can know if you stop spending money, and it can calculate exactly what effect that will have on its bottom line. A politician, on the other hand, cannot track your personal opinion, and even if he could, he cannot determine how that would play out against the myriad other priorities he must keep in mind, not least of which is the rest of his constituency's opinions.
A politician makes a marketer look like an engineer in comparison. And yeah. Improving this would basically be a privacy risk. So we're fucked.
That's not entirely true. Obama is not alone, there's a party around him, and what he does influences how this party is viewed and how others in the same party do on elections. However, if their base support is wide enough for being elected, there's no reason to feel any obligation to cater to people who are not part of that base.
>>> their job is to reconcile every interest with every other interest.
If it is so, most politicians do their job extremely poorly, as they are nowhere near every. In fact, it is very common to dismiss interests of opposing or unaffiliated groups completely, or even present them as evil for voicing such interests, let alone trying to get them recognized and respected.
>>> It can know if you stop spending money, and it can calculate exactly what effect that will have on its bottom line.
In theory, it could be possible if some corporation owned/had access to all the data, in practice, I don't think any big corporation does it on personal level. But on statistical level, it works the same way - the difference it, the market share is more fine-grained. So for the corporation offending each person is a direct loss, for a politician usually offending 20-30% of the population is no problem, provided all the others are OK with it.
In a purely-hypothetical dystopia it could be the basis of more invasive monitoring and control capabilities over network infrastructure.
Speaking of "bullying," assault, "an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact,"  is already illegal. Sounds an awful lot like credible bullying. Why should this be legal online?
This is currently a law enforcement blind spot, but that needs to change.
BTW, putting quotes around the world "bullying" isn't actually effective in mocking it as something actionable; it just communicates to us that you are perfectly ok with bullying.
We should also be careful about criminalizing bullies, since a large portion of them are young (and quite possibly bullied or abused themselves). It's a problem, and it needs more attention, but rushing to criminalize it seems hasty to me.
Not all wrongful doings ought be illegal.
The FCC has been trying to get their hands on the internet for decades, and I see enforced net neutrality as their Trojan horse. It's possible I'm overly paranoid.
fwiw, we probably agree on the actual definition of bullying, and also that it should be illegal. I put it in quotes to indicate I'm using it imprecisely, not because I'm OK with what I believe to be legitimate bullying.
President Obama is a lame duck. His party just got tossed out of the Senate, relegating his political capital to basically 0. In the wake of this, he's decided to take maybe the most important economic issue of the next 20 years and politicize it.
Neither the red team nor the blue team could say they owned this issue, but one of the most divisive voices in politics just stuck the blue flag in it - at a time when he has less influence over policy than any other time in his presidency.
I would have preferred him to just keep his mouth shut.
I like the Digg headline about this: Ted Cruz is the Uber for stupid metaphors.
That is disastrous. If the Republicans unite against Net Neutrality just because Obama supports it, we could easily get a Republican president in the next election, and then the Internet in the U.S. will be doomed for a very long time.
The Republicans have been generally against Net Neutrality since before Obama became President. (Bills on the issue first started being submitted in 2006.)
There is a selection bias in the issues you speak of. Non-polarizing topics are handled swiftly, without much attention from the public spotlight. There is no point in discussing what's already agreed upon, and that's one of the more reasonable justifications of political polarization.
That said, the polarization is greater than would be optimal, so I do agree - it would be nice.
 - you don't get to that level of power without substantial self-confidence and the desire for general adulation.
Obama campaigned on net neutrality and has been talking about it throughout his presidency. This is nothing new.
I don't disagree that it might have been better if he had said nothing - but I suspect the current antigovernment sentiment would have applied regardless of what Obama said.
Second, in-action on the part of any president is unacceptable. Presidencies are measured by the amount of positive change they can bring.
My question to Obama is: why now? This whole net neutrality debate has been going on long before Obama started his first term of presidency, why wait until you are almost out of the White House to act upon something as important as this? He has had six years to act on this. Could it perhaps have anything to do with the fact the Democrats took a heavy blow recently with Republicans being popular with the voters in the recent election? Is Obama merely trying to save some face with the voters for his party to mitigate risk at the next presidential election?
Maybe, maybe not. It probably is not fair of me to try and make connections to speculative thoughts like that. I am passionate about net neutrality and it just feels weird Obama is going public on a subject like this not long after votes were casted.
But you know what? Either way, if Obama can get a bill deeming internet to be classified as a utility within the next two years, maybe he will leave behind a legacy that we talk of in the years to come. It might be six years too late, but if anyone can make something like this happen, it is the president.
I am aware that the FCC can change things without any bills needing to be passed and while I am speculating here, the FCC is not exactly known for being honest and transparent. An independent agency with some suspicious ties to lobbyists and corporations trying to protect their monopolies like Comcast. The issue here is the FCC can change things and should change things but ultimately will not change a thing unless the pressure is there from the right hands. Obama speaking up is great, do not get me wrong, but I think the likes of the FCC will need more than gentle words to start changing things. Action needs to be taken.
I simply refuse to believe that an agency can run itself to the point where it controls what can and cannot happen with something as important as the internet which in my opinion is a basic human right to have access to.
Appointing pro-neutrality Democrats to the FCC is doing something about it, and the Commission majority has been pro-neutrality and actively seeking pro-neutrality regulations for quite some time.
(I suppose he could have done more to find pro-neutrality non-Democrats to appoint to the other seats given the no-more-than-three-members-from-one-party rule that Congress has imposed on the FCC.)
> Either way, if Obama can get a bill deeming internet to be classified as a utility within the next two years, maybe he will leave behind a legacy that we talk of in the years to come
Title II classification is an FCC decision. Legislation could direct (or prevent) it, but that's not Obama isn't seeking legislative action.
> More interesting is Hillary Clinton's position on net neutrality, since polls make her the most likely winner of the next elections at this point.
2016 polls at this point are meaningless. If you looked at 2008 polls in 2006, they said the same thing -- and Barack Obama won. If you looked at 2004 polls in 2002, Lieberman was certainly not a shoe-in to win the general election, but the most likely to win the Democratic nomination at least, which he still didn't due (even with his Joementum).
In 1998, such polls would have accurately predicted who would get the most votes in the 2000 Presidential election, but still wouldn't have predicted who the next President would be.
About all Presidential polls just after the preceding midterm election are good for telling you is who the media is going to spend disproportionate time talking about for the much of next two years.
My guess? The FCC is probably close to deciding and Obama knows which way they're leaning. So he wants to build some distance between the DNC and the FCC, before the FCC inevitably announces they're going to let the ISPs do what they will.
If Obama says nothing, Net Neutrality will continue to be a sub-headline issue even if/after the FCC allows it to die. Inasmuch as anyone notices, it will reflect poorly on the DNC in 2016.
If he says something now, the reactionary portion of the GOP will take the opposite position as a knee-jerk response. It will become a larger news item and the GOP will have inherited the fallout. Inasmuch as anyone notices, it will reflect poorly on the GOP in 2016.
That he didn't say anything prior is probably either because the FCC only recently notified him of their position, or he wanted to avoid any blowback on those democrats who were already running tough mid-term re-election races in conservative districts.
Given that the FCC Chair, who has repeatedly says he agrees with Obama on the need for neutrality (both before and after the recent statement), and specifically agreed that paid prioritization should be avoided, just announced that the final rules may be delayed into 2015 (he earlier said he wanted to get them out by the end of the year) because of legal work required by the consideration of the hybrid approach (a partial Title II reclassification which would go further than the original proposal and prohibit paid prioritization, which leaked recently as the current preferred approach of the commission) and the full reclassification approach, I suspect both the "the FCC is close to deciding" and "the FCC inevitably announces they're going to let the ISPs do what they will" parts of your prediction are wrong.
So why would Obama turn that -- getting what he wants (or nearly so) -- into a highly-politicized position, essentially guaranteeing that it's strongly fought, blocked and/or legislated away in the next session?
There's no up-side for him or the hypothetical acceptable compromise and a huge down-side risk.
And given how many years the FCC has avoided this issue, and insisted on preserving the farcical distinction between "communications" and "information" networks, I see no reason to be optimistic about the terms or lifespan of any compromise short of Title II, regardless of what has leaked.
Even if something workable were agreed upon, it wouldn't be likely to last any longer than previous compromises -- such as the FCC's last stab at Net Neutrality, or the short-lived DSL open-access rules.
Yeah, exactly. It's a pretty savvy way to drive a wedge through the GOP, and you already see the obstructionist crowd (e.g., Ted Cruz) playing right into it.
To all who fight to re-open the free internet -- such as Peter Sunde -- your time is now.
Hopefully it won't come to that, because I predict the odds of success being very low. Even if a law passes, it won't be before the lobbyists get their fingers all over it.
The FCC has been acting in the direction of neutrality for some time, and the House majority has been talking more about preventing them from doing so than encouraging them (much less legislating to mandate something more than the FCC wants.)
With a bigger Republican majority in the House and Republican control of the Senate, there's almost exactly zero chance of pro-neutrality legislation from the Congress. Its more likely that pro-neutrality FCC will be met with anti-neutrality Congressional action (the only upside of which, from the pro-neutrality POV, is that it might raise the profile of the issue for the 2016 election.)
Why is the president doing this now? I have no idea. He put off executive action on immigration until after the elections, and perhaps he was doing the same on this issue. Maybe this is low-hanging fruit to keep the base fighting going into 2016 and tempt corporatist Republicans to make foolish statements (see Ted Cruz's tweet). Maybe he thought it would be pointless to act before in the face of Republican obstructionism, and now he's using it as a challenge.
More interesting is Hillary Clinton's position on net neutrality, since polls make her the most likely winner of the next elections at this point. She has publicly expressed support for it as recently as last month.
If these words do lead to a bill, then great! But OP's complaint is that he/she believes this to be unlikely, given past precedent.
It's sad how much force a tiny factoid can pick up in a public policy debate on the Internet. Public policy facts are about as reliable on the Internet as Google symptom search results.
Obviously people were on the Internet before 1993, but I chose the term "consumer Internet" specifically to avoid this debate. I think it's clear that the Internet wasn't on Group W Cable's mind in 1983.
When the FBI start assassinating American Citizens in their sleep after an agent drugs their food to silence African American Political movements... THEN we can start talking about a "police state".
Remember: Martin Luther King Jr. was spied on by the FBI for years.
Today's laws make such surveillance and wiretapping illegal.
You do realize that the USA committed extrajudicial murder of an American citizen during the current president's term, right? Or are you just ignoring it because it's inconvenient to your narrative?
>>Today's laws make such surveillance and wiretapping illegal.
And yet we have the entire population under surveillance. Compared to that, spying on a handful of civil leaders is nothing.
If the FBI of the 1960's had the technology of today, I guarantee that they would have done the same—and probably more. Not to excuse the intrusion of today, but the government of the 1960's was certainly no better.
Most people today living in industrialized countries are living under surveillance nearly as intense as MLK was under, and people of interest are under a lot more. This comment was probably logged.
Sorry, I seem to have missed this.
Americans were killed in all wars, extrajudiciously when they leave America and start making propaganda for the other side. Anwar al-Awlaki's death is an extremely common occurrence.
What happened to Fred Hampton makes Anwar al-Awlaki's death look patriotic. First, Fred Hampton's assassination took place in Chicago. Fred Hampton didn't run away from America, he simply went to his Apartment, talked with some "friends" (one of which was a plant who gave him a drugged beverage), and then went to sleep.
Soon afterwards, the FBI raided his home and shot him dead as he slept. Fred Hampton was completely unaware that he was even being tracked by the FBI, as it was all secret.
Anwar Al Awlaki on the other hand, ran away to foreign countries. The US made claims against Anwar Al Awlaki publicly, and ordered him to court. Al Awlaki refused, remained in foreign countries and worked for a terrorist organization. He may have been a US Citizen technically when he was shot by a drone, but his loyalty is most definitely under question.
And at very least, the nature of Anwar Al Awlaki's attack was entirely public the whole time. We all knew he was targeted by Obama for at least a year before they got him.
So when we start shooting hellfire missiles to assassinate US citizens in Chicago... entirely in secret like how we used to do things in 1960s, call me.
But from a historical context, Anwar Al Awlaki has _nothing_ on Fred Hampton.
You didn't read the Fred Hampton article.
The spying done under COINTELPRO allowed the FBI to assassinate US citizens on US soil extra-judiciously. Fred Hampton's cold dead body is historical proof of that.
King was just spied upon. But other civil rights leaders like Fred Hampton were straight up assassinated.
US Police power is _weaker_ today than it was in the 60s.
Personal attacks like this add nothing to your comment. It would have been better to leave that sentence out, or replace it with something less personal like "there are examples of worse behavior in American History".
"Not the absolute worst US presidential administration of all time" isn't really a compelling argument for why we shouldn't criticize this one.
But when he says stuff like "like no other president before him" he needs to be ready for a historical counter-argument. I happen to know the history of several presidents ya see, and can see what Obama and Bush have done in context.
These recent Presidents are actually quite good historically, despite their disapproval ratings. Movies and stories romanticize the past, forgetting major details like Blacks illegally sitting in the front of busses... or illegally drinking out of certain water fountains.
"The idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, All centuries but this and every country but his own."
--- W. S. Gilbert
If you are such a person, I will call you out on it. Criticize the president, for it is good. But if you start invoking history, be prepared for my counter-arguments.
Notice how I rephrased your point in my previous comment so that it wasn't about him, but was instead completely about history. It makes the point stronger.
I'm not defending tracker1; I'm defending Hacker News. Personal attacks make HN worse. They are low-value phrases that sometimes drag down high-value comments. The guidelines  are quite explicit about this, and the current top story  is about trying to improve comment quality (a discussion which is, in part, related to an e-mail exchange that came in response to a personal attack directed at my wife in .)
So, I reiterate: please don't make personal attacks on Hacker News.
 https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html -- the paragraph with the word "shortened" in it
The surveillance tools being used today far exceed what was used even in the 60's.
Oh, but our government had giving small pox blankets to Native Americans, or syphilis to African Americans or rounding up Asians and putting them 'segregated camps'.
That American History class may not be a bad idea. Just sayin.
There is a platitude of terrible wars that the US has partaken in through the years. At least Bush's war started with 5000+ US Citizens dying. The war of our generation was the first American blood spilled on American Soil since Pearl Harbor.
Osama Bin Laden was the first successful attack on New York City by a foreign entity since the War of 1812. Keep that in mind.
The legitimacy of Bush's war is far more than any of the other massive mistakes of foreign policy the US has done over the recent decades.
Come on, the US actually has had its best run of Foreign Policy in decades, mostly because US Citizens these past few years are actually keenly aware of US mistakes abroad. In the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s, US Citizens routinely ignored American aggression worldwide.
As bad as Obama's / Bush's wars were, they didn't drop Agent Orange across a country and poison the population for decades to come.
>>> The surveillance tools being used today far exceed what was used even in the 60's.
Compare COINTELPRO, which allowed warrantless surveillance against American Citizens for decades before being disassembled in the 80s.
Contrast that with the NSA leaks, which are about metadata collection.
Which laws are you referring to here?
US Code 50, section 1802. This law was established in the 80s after the Watergate scandal showed US Congress how much police power the Presidents (specifically Nixon) were assuming.
Because it will never pass with a Republican majority so he can pretend to take a stand for the public without any actual effect that would upset business interests.
The FCC has a 3-2 Democratic majority (all current members appointed by Obama, but under law which imposes a limit of 3 members of one party), and is the body through which this needs to pass.
The Congress (House of Representatives + Senate) can through the same basic process as regular legislation (the process is expedited, but it still requires majorities in both houses and either the President's signature or a veto override with 2/3 in each house.)
So, sure, Republicans in Congress could block FCC action -- if they can either get Obama or a significant fraction of the Democratic Caucus in each house on board.
Or is he supporting full net neutrality because that would give the government much more control over the Internet?
Either way I don't think he's doing this because "he cares". Whatever his angle/hidden agenda, it's probably a bad one for us.
I understand politicians often have ulterior motives but from the information provided, this is exactly what the majority of citizens were asking him (and the FCC) to do.
I'd never trust a guy who signs secret kill lists, even targeting US citizens without having a trial. He even publicly joked about this, which is sign of insanity to me.
And then there's the case of a jailed journalist from Jemen (who reported about a drone bombardment in Jemen), where he personally called the president of Jemen to prevent him from releasing the journalist.
When you have no trust in an authority, it's perfectly reasonable to question good news and be paranoid about true intentions.
Even this morning, I saw this video referenced:
It's an Obamacare architect admitting that they lied to obscure the tax/redistribution ramifications of the law. His direct message is that a lack of transparency is a weapon to get legislation passed.
And we should trust these people? Take them at their word? Why?
So its a story either way, either he has new owners paying him to say this kind of stuff (who is paying for this point of view?), or the guys who do pay him are going to be really angry that he's being a loose cannon. Either way the reaction will be interesting to watch.
Last week, Obama said, "To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too" - http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-tells-gop-br-my-mand...
It could be a way to make Democrats relevant again, by being the party they're supposed to be. They just lost big by playing it safe, they might as well push something progressive.
It's not like they could loose any worse.
My guess: He's bringing this up to drive a wedge between tech donors (pro-neutrality) and Republicans (anti-neutrality) in 2016.
This already seems to be working, with Ted Cruz calling Net Neutrality the "Obamacare of the Internet". Cruz knows he doesn't need tech sector money to get re-elected or to run in 2016.
"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
You just have to look at the what the BushII-era FCC did about policing broadcast media to see the potential dangers in letting the FCC heavily regulate every ISP in America.
Title II will heavily disincentivize investment into faster networks because of the uncertainty.
I agree that net neutrality should be law but not if we need Title II to get it. I'd only support that if the ISPs started fucking up the internet massively. Sort of a "nuclear option."
So, say they propose a fast lane for the internet. Or don't invest in the connections to level 3 to be able to provide Netflix to users.
Net neutrality wouldn't fix the Level3/ Verizon&Comcast issues. Net neutrality doesn't force free peering.
When I mean fucking the internet up, I mean significant degrading of service to extort huge payments.
The internet hasn't had net neutrality most of it's history and it's grown up just fine.
If the choice is no net neutrality or net neutrality and Title II, I'd take the former.
Title II in the wrong hands could be devastating.
The person watching pron and paying the same price for internet as you doesn't think so.
Neutrality would still allow the user to pay for different speeds or qos, ie 15mbps at modem versus 100mbps at modem, or a 100% guaranteed qos vs no guaranteed qos (current residential). So, the market pricing would determine which gets to your modem faster, the pron or vpn.
That would require that someone somewhere would have to actually look at the bits to make a value judgement.
And then you lose privacy and security.
Additionally, you open the door wide for moral judgement of your bits, because we're people and that's what we do, rightly or wrongly. It's probably fine because you may work on something innocuous - but what about the artist, the protestor or the troll?
Personally, I dislike trolls intensely, but in certain forums they're apparently desirable.
The transport itself should be totally neutral to content. Only the endpoints should matter.
That would be great for you of course by why should ISPs get to determine whose packets are more important especially if the entry criterion to being important is basically "pay up"? What if the reverse were true and other users' packets were prioritized over your work ones simply because Netflix, YouTube, Valve, etc. could afford it and your company decided not to?
It certainly wouldn't be the end of the internet.
Moreover, this sort of price discrimination already happens at some level. Certainly that is the reason CDNs exist, to get a better, faster connection. Even Netflix puts its own servers into local ISPs for a fast connection.
The internet is far from a level playing field.
Isn't this exactly what Comcast already did to Netflix? And they ended up paying up ...
It has to do with profit.
Here is a quote  referring to how Mitch McConnell (Republican Senate Minority Leader, soon to be Majority Leader) handles nut-jobs like Ted Cruz:
"Mitch has very carefully, very methodically, very much under the radar, isolated Ted Cruz. He's kind of sealed him off like the body puts a sack around some foreign matter"
I believe that's how most Republicans feel about him. Cruz echoes the idiotic thoughts of a very very small minority. But, since they sound like such bizarre nut-jobs, they get media coverage.
The GOP is masterfully adept at deciding on a set of talking points, getting them into the hands of key people in politics and the media, and then beating voters over the head repeatedly with it until the voters start repeating it back.
The Republicans just won the Senate back on the idea that Obamacare is the root of all evil. Watch them leverage that idea into every. single. thing. from now until 2016 (and beyond).
Yes, Cruz is popular among the rank and file, but he is very unpopular among the leadership and media. He is a very good speaker and makes a fair number of good points. He is also very easy to soundbite-attack.
If you look at rhino369's comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8585565 you can see what many of the Republicans fear. The boogeyman of "fairness doctrine" has even been raised. If you are serious about net neutrality and brush aside the concern then you are not going to advance any issue.
I don't expect anything to advance on this issue. Its to mantra and flags now.
If someone would narrowly define a technical definition of what techs actually want for net neutrality, then I think you could a fair bit of Republican support. Particularly if it was phrased as keeping the fairness doctrine out of the internet. Never mention the poison phrase net neutrality.
Obama had a 17% nod from Democrats two years before the 2008 election. It was all Gore, Edwards, and Kerry in that year.
Especially in light of last week FBI/NSA/DHS undermining TOR and killing its utility for any dissidents and free speech in authoritarian states. Under his watch the surveillance state has expanded and has become downright creepy
25 years after the fall of the Berlin wall we should be saying "Ich bin ein Ost-Berliner" :(
The Stasi would be proud of the surveillance state that western countries have created with Obama at the helm.
edit: Oh i see the cult of personality is still strong in this one, downvoted in under a minute.
The most important thing to understand is that the ability of the executive to influence the direction of the government is limited. The reasons for this are several, but I will try to elucidate a few here.
First, it is commonly believed that because of the ability to hire/fire people the President can more or less do whatever he wants in regards to the direction of various governmental agencies. This true to an extent, but to a much more limited extent than is commonly believed. The President can nominate candidates for various positions, but these positions must be approved by Congress. Since President Obama has had a Congress whose primary tactic is to oppose everything the president wants, regardless of merits, this has severely limited his ability to get policies in place that he has otherwise wanted. This applies both to agencies like the FCC (the current chairman was Obama's third choice, IIRC; the other two were filibustered), as well as the judiciary.
Second, the government itself is made up largely of agencies which are outside of the ability of the democracy to affect. This includes the military, the intelligence agencies, and the federal law enforcement agencies. (You could arguably include the Federal Reserve here, as well.) These are what Lofgren calls the "Deep State". They are almost completely unaffected by elections, especially of Democratic presidents, and seek ever to increase their power and funding. Efforts to rein them in are rarely, if ever, successful.
Third, the current state of affairs re: intelligence gathering, etc., began in earnest with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947.
So while it may be convenient to blame Obama for the current state of government, it is overly simplistic. It has nothing to do with any cult of personality, but rather a simple recognition of the current realities of political power and the various players.
President Obama was inaugurated January 20, 2009. At that time, his Democratic party controlled both houses of Congress decisively. It was not until 2011 that his party lost the house. And in fact, his party still retains the Senate but will lose it in January 2015. But it is only the Senate that approves appointments and his party has controlled it the entire time he has been President. And if you look at the make up of his cabinet, you will see that he has been able to fill it with people that are reviled by the opposing party . To say that he hasn't gotten his way on the vast majority of cabinet appointments just isn't true.
Second, the government itself is made up largely of agencies which are outside of the ability of the democracy to affect. This includes the military
The President is the Commander in Chief of the military. He exercises complete authority over them.  All the heads of the other agencies you listed are appointed by the President including the Federal Reserve.
Your comment is typical of the current rhetoric surrounding attempting to "debunk" the thought that the President has substantial power. The fact is the President does have substantial power and saying otherwise is merely attempting to excuse the performance of Obama that so many people are disappointed with.
This is irrelevant, since the minority party can filibuster any nominations, and they have used done so extensively throughout Obama's tenure. In this regard, the party with the majority simply does not matter.
> The President is the Commander in Chief of the military. He exercises complete authority over them.
Again, I believe that this is an overly simplistic view of the Presidency. There are political realities around what Presidents can and cannot realistically do that contradict the "ultimate power" view of the Executive branch.
> All the heads of the other agencies you listed are appointed by the President including the Federal Reserve.
With Senate approval, and where no filibusters have been threatened or executed. And remember, there have been more filibusters during Obama's tenure than at any other time in history.
> The fact is the President does have substantial power and saying otherwise is merely attempting to excuse the performance of Obama that so many people are disappointed with.
Not at all. I am disappointed in the American government itself. I have never voted for Obama, and am merely stating my thoughts as an amateur observer. But if there is ever going to be any positive change in limiting Federal power viz. the military, intelligence agencies, or LEO, then clarity of causality is important.
EDIT: Came to my attention that Democrats did have a exactly 60 seats in the Senate for a brief period before Ted Kennedy passed away and his seat was won by Scott Brown in 2009. However, the point still stands that there was a very brief period over a span of 5 years where control of Congress was even possible for Democrats.
Reid was pro at changing the rules to prevent opposing views, people need to understand just how much of the problems in th Senate were his doing and his doing alone. Mister Nuclear just got nuked by the electorate
Not quite. The Democrats had 60 Senate seats for a very brief period before Scott Brown took over Ted Kennedy's seat when he passed away. The main ACA bill in the senate was passed with 60 votes the normal way. A second bill that was to modify that bill was passed with reconciliation as a way to get members of the House to drop their version of ACA, accept the currently passed Senate version, and then modify that to appease some of the concerns of various congresspeople.
> Reid was pro at changing the rules to prevent opposing views, people need to understand just how much of the problems in th Senate were his doing and his doing alone. Mister Nuclear just got nuked by the electorate
I so very much hate the 'going nuclear' talk. Filibuster breaks at 60 votes is a shit idea in the first place, plus changing it only in one case for appointments is hardly shaking up the political order at large. In fact, the reluctance to do it for all types of votes shows how conservative leadership for the dems were being.
Untrue. Fillibuster rules were only changed in late 2013, after years of being unable to even get votes on nominees.
No they passed the bill with 60 votes during the only time they actually had a supermajority. There were no rules changes needed or required. ACA was passed and signed before changes were made in the reconciliation process.
Other than that, I guess you don't follow the news much. Harry Reid changed the Senate Rules in 2013 to disallow filibusters of appointments.
Which lead to Republican senators using another procedural technique (refusing unanimous consent) to slow down appointments. This means appointments were delayed for days, and even weeks, after which time the same obstructing senators often voted for the appointee anyways.
It's disingenuous to claim that appointments would go through scot free after Reid altered Senate procedures.
This  shows a breakdown that includes filibusters of nominations.
To further refute your point, the appointment relevant to the discussion, Wheeler, assumed office after the rule change.
These holds have been common practice and they are very rarely publicized.
No, he doesn't. The Constitution specifically limits the President's ability to make war and wage military campaigns. He has a great deal of authority but even the US' current adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq are backed by Congress' approval through passed laws.
> At that time, his Democratic party controlled both houses of Congress decisively.
This displays a lack of insight around the Democratic party. Senator Lieberman was nominally a Democrat but he voted more often with the Republicans in the last few years of his career in the Senate. So-called "blue dog Democrats" are more conservative than you might think; that's why we got such grand bargains as the "Cornhusker Kickback" during the PPACA debates.
In reality, the President's party firmly controlled roughly 51-54 votes in the Senate with the remainder of the "majority" part of the coalition as a result of them simply not being as good a fit with the Republicans. That has arguably been one of the Democrats' greatest weaknesses: the Republican party has demonstrated its ability to move in lockstep even when some members disagree. The Democrats have not.
[EDIT: Well, he couldn't literally call anyone into the Oval Office today, since he's in Beijing, but a phone call would work just as well.]
No, he doesn't. The Congress has quite expansive (nearly plenary) power over the military (and to a lesser extent, the militia) expressly in the Constitution. The one limit on that power in the Constitution is that the Congress can't adopt a law giving the supreme command of the military (or the militia, when called into federal service) under the rules they adopt to anyone but the President -- that's what the designation of the President as Commander-in-Chief means.
They are reviled because they spend a lot of time demonizing them because this is politics.
Obama has been at work long and hard to make that the case. Since he has been unable to build any relationship with the Congress, and even holding majorities in both Houses his legislation and nominations had hard time going through, he has taken the decision to leverage his regulatory powers to circumvent the Congress as much as possible. It is not something that just happened - it is a deliberate policy which Obama chose. Of course, not him first - many presidents did the same, and some - like FDR - went a lot further than Obama ever did - but Obama is among those who believes in the Deep State and uses and intends to use it to the fullest extent possible. So if there is to be effort to rein them in, Obama is not your guy - he is the opposite of your guy. Of course, the blame does not lie solely or even primarily with Obama - it started long before him and undoubtedly won't end when he retires. But he is contributing as much as he is able to the raise of the power of the regulatory agencies and their ability to conduct policy completely independently of the Congress.
While I'm happy Obama is supporting net neutrality, I don't find him blameless.
 You didn't explicitly say that Obama really desired to reign in this "deep state," just that any attempt to do so would be difficult. If you did not mean that, I apologize.
Basically, any president which seeks to limit the existing power of government institutions will run into institutional resistance.
It's a signature away from ending. And Obama can forward any issues to the DoJ. If he wanted to end the NSA spying program he could simply have Holder charge those involved.
Obama is always powerless whenever people want him to do something he doesn't want to do, but to summarily try, convict, and execute a US child is apparently within his power.
And why do these common beliefs exist?
Compared to most other parliamentary democracies the president in USA is nearly a dictator. So Obama has exceptionally broad abilities in that direction.
Sources: I live in one.
This is false. The president can change interpretations of law (this is how E.O. 13233 was couched), but cannot pass a new law on his own. This is in Articles I and II of the Constitution.
In time of war or crisis, people will allow generous interpretations of the President's role to interpret the law, but time catches up.
Obviously Health Care (i.e., ACA) caused huge debate and negotiation with Congress.
The Iraq War resolution (the 2002 one) was a different situation in which Congress passed a wishy-washy resolution that was, in typical fashion, over-extended by the Bush administration. But Congress went along.
The practical distinction may vanish when the other branches do not effectively check the executive when it exceeds its Constitutional power, but that's not inherent in the President heading the Executive branch -- the same is equally true of excesses in other branches, though the unitary nature of the executive provides less of an intra-branch check on abuses by the President than exists for any actor in the legislative or judicial branches (though collective excesses, such as -- as a purely hypothetical example -- the Supreme Court intruding into Congress' Constitutional role in judging the propriety of Presidential electoral votes including the process by which they are assigned -- can still occur and be problematic if left unchecked by the other branches.)
And I suspect the reason you're being downvoted in the first place is that the TC post is about net neutrality and not government spying. While the two are connected (they both involve the internet, after all) they're different topics. If we refuse net neutrality until we also disband the NSA then we'll just lose on two counts.
No, of course it doesn't.
And, no, there's nothing wrong with complaining about the downvotes as there' heck of a lot of knee-jerk downvoting happening on HN. Almost as much as righteous preaching about proper HN "etiquette", but not as damaging in the long run.
That sort of complaining lowers the tone of the discussion and adds nothing.
Plus 8 times out of 10, just wait a minute and you'll get voted back up.
You'll find that what Bush started, Obama has drastically developed, distributed, and expanded.
Under Bush we had increasing levels of surveillance which were undesirable, but the veneer that it was still all about terrorism could at least be believed. Now, we know it's targeted specifically at us for the purposes of exploitation and domination of us.
Not if you were paying attention to any of the players involved before 9/11. Or even after for that matter.
That 9/11 was used as a pretext for things the people involved wanted for other reasons and had been seeking for years (in some cases decades) without any connection to terrorism was pretty obvious. These were in some cases the very same people that were openly upset while serving in the Ford Administration against the legislative constraints that were placed in the wake of abuses by Nixon.
It was never believably about terrorism, it was always about restoring overwhelming executive power.
I agree with you when you say that it was never about terrorism but rather increasing executive power, though. There certainly was a trend toward increased surveillance for many years before, but the entrance of surveillance into the new world-dominating media of the internet is a story in and of itself, I think.
The great thing about hyperbole is that it rebuts itself.
What about parallel construction, putatively started to help with terrorists but now usually used in drug investigations in order to sidestep civil rights safeguards?
It was legalized (both retroactively, covering events that had occurred prior to the act, and prospectively by broadening the allowed surveillance under the law) through the FISA Amendment Act of 2008, signed by George W. Bush on July 10, 2008.
Its true that Obama signed the bill passed by Congress extending parts of the FISA Amendments Act that were scheduled to expire in 2012 for five additional years. But that just kept it legal, it didn't legalize it.
I'm sorry but that's not good enough for me.
I am an ideologue, not a partisan. I'll complain about it when a Democrat steps over the line just as quickly as I'll complain about it when a Republican steps over the line.
I do however take issue with the ad hominem attack on the President. It's not necessary, nor constructive, to lay down a blanket criticism like "[he's] an utmost failure."
The "surveillance state" does exist, but it's a global phenomenon. In the US, at least, it's something that we're actively fighting, and the government is not shutting down dissenting opinions. The same cannot be said for countries like China, where the government's control depends heavily on the citizenry not questioning it.
Are we really, thought? At least at any meaningful scale? A handful of geeks on HN, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and Slashdot isn't much of a resistance. Do you perceive that people who care about this issue have mobilized in sufficient quantity and enthusiasm to do something meaningful, like influence election outcomes?
It's good that at least some of us care, but just chattering with each other here probably isn't going to accomplish much.
Forced compliance, as in "You are a utility and all such utilities must comply with NSA/CIA/FBI/ABC requirements"
Maybe they will be brand it under some title like "Internet Bill of Rights" and watch as people don't read the fine print.
All I know is, if I waited for the regulated utility known as the phone company to have provided me with faster internet, let alone a good phone connection during a thunderstorm, it would never have happened without competition.
What will ultimately happen, is the government will regulate the Internet so tightly, it will become extremely difficult, time consuming, and costly to create a start-up (while the technology cost will continue to fall). This process will not be fought by the existing tech giants, because they will think they benefit from it by limiting competition with artificial barriers. It's the exact same thing that has played out in every other major segment of the economy, and it's exactly what is about to happen to the Internet. These days will be viewed as the unregulated wild west, when you could spend $50 and create a start-up without hardly a concern.
For comparison, the electricity company can't restrict your wattage just because you are a business.
We have that now, without net neutrality.
The feds have had free access to everything for a long time, what you're likely to see after utility conversion is the local cops demanding access to all ebay/CL traffic for an entire city to track down stolen property fences or similar actions. Give me a list of everyone in my district who ever bought lockpicks or lockpicking stuff.
Essentially, we cannot create more competition at the broadband utility level but we can prevent monopoly power from begetting more monopoly power. Common carrier is regulation purposed towards facilitating a free market.
Yes there could be unwanted side-effects of such a classification, we have to cross that bridge when we get to it.
Would you prefer Obama to call for a closed internet?
You are confusing different things. Just because someone might be wrong with a lot of things doesn't mean he's not allowed to be right with something else.
As other's said: The world wide wrongdoing by the secret agencies is no invention of Obama. Not even an invention of the US. I'm German and even the BND did whatever it could to gain for it's purpose useful information. They did under governments of all kind of political orientation.
And then you're confusing things again. The downvotes most likely come from your indifferentiated opinion about net neutrality and spying activities. Not from your dislike of Obama.
> I am not American (feel free to ignore my opinion)
Why did you post it?
An internet where all traffic is closely monitored, recorded and data-mined is not free and open in my books.
The internet was never a private place and it will never be.
Edit: It's important that we don't loose the freedom and openness. That's what the discussion is all about. Not about the lack of privacy.
According to Snowden's documents, several mass collection programs shut down under his watch (including email header collection), and no new mass collection programs were added.
Meanwhile, in the passing of those six years the US has continued to fall further behind on fixed broadband speeds and ISP competitiveness.
He deserves criticism and his motives deserve criticism, but I'm just happy that he decided to support it after all.
Theres some interesting things to discuss regarding the validity of obamas actions but that doesnt seem to be the best way to start that debate ;)
Translated: "If you disagree with me, you're a stooge for the cult of personality."
What an effective way to make your position to be unassailable!
However, I totally agree with you when you're concerned about the diminishing privacy. I think the advance of technology is the key factor for this. Agencies are as ruthless as always and use this new technologies.
Most people are totally fine to tell Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, etc. everything about their private lifes in exchange to ... distraction. Think of all the health shit ... they gonna make furtunes selling our data to the pharma and insurrance industry.
I see all kinds of American apologists in this thread, but the fact is that regardless of what it inherited, this particular administration has of its own volition pursued an aggressive anti-freedom and anti-privacy agenda both on behalf of its own intelligence agencies, its tech industry and its copyright exploitation industry.
The fact that this president dares to call for a free and open internet disgusts me.
Spoken like someone with little sense of historical perspective. Or understanding of the DDR.
It outdoes the DDR by a factor of two with regard to those they imprison, as well the DDR stopped executing anyone in 1987, as of last year the US still executes minors.
... or the German citizens killed by the Stasi...
Do you really think the only difference between the Stasi and the NSA is the technology available?
I can understand if you're saying you fear the NSA's power grab because of similarities with the Stasi. I have trouble believing that you think there is literally no difference between the Stasi and the current NSA, given their body of work has significant differences.
Arguing about the niceties of barbaric practices is fruitless anyway, but we can argue about the size of the weapons wielded by the barbarians.
However, your tone and word choice, along with the hyperbole of your statements, serve to weaken your point.
The Stasi created a culture of fear in the populace of the nation they were supposed to protect. They used the citizenry against itself; fathers doubting children, wives were suspicious of neighbors.
German citizens and residents found sufficiently undesirable were imprisoned or executed by the Stasi.
While the US has committed some terrible acts abroad in the name of anti-terrorism, I still contend there is a significant difference between the current NSA and the Stasi.
It's similar to how I object when people equate the US internment of their Japanese residents with the Nazi Final Solution. Similarities, sure. Both awful, sure. But there is a difference between immorally and illegally imprisoning people based on race for a few years and trying to wipe an entire race from the face of the planet in a systematic and sick environment.
Anyone who conflates arguments like that sound like they're shouting with an agenda, and it only serves to weaken what would be, in a more measured tone, a strong argument.
Why not fix the root cause? Force last-mile providers to provide transit to third party ISPs like they do in the UK, or otherwise regulate them specifically.
I don't see why rules should apply across the board to markets where there is healthy competition. There is no problem elsewhere, is there?
And were the Republicans to win the Presidency, I can't see them pushing for a formal classification either. They think Comcast is a private company competing in a market, when it's actually a government protected and sanctioned monopoly just like AT&T and Verizon.
It's been illegal to grant monopoly franchises to cable companies since the mid 1990's. I don't know of a single market where Comcast is the only cable company because it has a sanctioned monopoly. There are a lot of places where Comcast has a de-facto monopoly because nobody else is willing to build high-speed service in a given area. But almost anywhere that's the case, it's because of telco-unfriendly regulations, not telco-friendly ones.
The people who rant about telcos can't get their story straight. They say Comcast has a legally protected monopoly, but then attack Verizon for not building fiber to the huge swath of places where the local governments are dying to get a competitor to the local telco. Their arguments are based on a false premise: that building fiber is profitable enough to justify the investment, and the government and telcos are getting in the way. The falsity of this premise is amply demonstrated when you look at places like New York, where the government has shoved the cable companies out of the way, but still has to drag Verizon kicking and screaming to build all this supposedly lucrative infrastructure.
There are .pdf's with the official agreement and some attempt at simplifying the info contained within on the page itself. I haven't read it yet myself, but I'm curious if it reflects the claims you make.
Section 2.4 - franchise is non-exclusive.
Section 2.2(B) - non-discriminatory requirements to access rights of way.
Section 2.6 - city reserves right to grant other franchises, so long as if it does so on more favorable terms than the existing franchise, then the existing franchise can be modified.
The FAQ on the page you linked has the most interesting information, however:
> Comcast's Franchise with City of Louisville:
> Comcast - the nation's largest cable television provider - is currently the primary source of cable television services in Louisville, serving approximately 4,500 subscribers. They currently operate in Louisville under a non-exclusive franchise agreement [Footnote] effective since April 2006. The agreement allows Comcast to use the City's ROW in return for the payment of certain rental fees - known as franchise fees - and other benefits for Louisville and its residents.
> Footnote: Should another cable provider want to offer cable service in Louisville the City would offer that company the same franchise opportunity that Comcast now has. To date, no other service providers have asked for a franshise.
Republicans in Congress threatened to overturn the 2010 net neutrality rules through legislation. Then the courts decided the FCC did not have the authority to enforce those rule. Congress could have passed net neutrality legislation but the Republicans are happy with the current unregulated status which is why they haven't discussed it.
Since then FCC has been trying to write new rules within their authority. Which is why the proposed rules are so limited and regulate fast lanes. The other option for the FCC is to declare ISPs as common carriers and regulate them like telephone companies. The Republicans will almost certainly try to block this.
I don't get calling for X then performing actions that negate X.
Edit: there's another front-page story to Bloomberg that actually explicitly mentions the Tom Wheeler connection: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-10/obama-calls-for-reg...
Wheeler was a huge lobbyist for over 20 years, talks to Meredith at CTIA on a first-name basis and knows all of the people who run the telcos and their lobbying organizations. In some narrative, he's the perfect person to lead the FCC and in another, he's not.
My opinion is that, YES, he was a lobbyist and YES he is anti-neutrality because that was the position that made the most sense at the beginning of his tenure. I'm bullish that he'll come over to the Network Neutrality side (and gave indications in that direction at CTIA Super Mobility week this year) but I think there's a chance he'll do title 2 with lots of caveats that will make this, let's say, complicated.
You are right that memes aren't helpful, but Wheeler was actually the biggest lobbyist in the history of telecom, IMHO, so that much is quite true. Whether he is anti-neutrality now is up for debate, but when he took the office, well, I think there's little evidence to show he was in favor of neutrality then.
Tom Wheeler has been one of the three members of the FCC supporting regulations promoting net neutrality. Yes, Tom Wheeler was the leader of a cable industry lobbying organization in the past.
> I don't get calling for X then performing actions that negate X.
I don't think the companies -- including cable companies -- that keep suing the FCC over Wheeler's pro-neutrality efforts would agree that appointing Tom Wheeler has been a way to negate net neutrality. I agree that his past work for them might have been a valid reason to be mildly skeptical of whether he would be a supporter of neutrality when the appointment was made (but given the distance between that role and both the appointment and any connection the cable industry had to the internet, only mild skepticism.) I don't think it makes any sense, though, to treat him as an enemy of neutrality on the basis of that when he has an actual record, at the FCC, of promoting regulations moving the status quo toward neutrality.
Its a fundamentally political issue. It doesn't make sense to discuss "politicizing" it.
* National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) (from 1976 to 1984, becoming president in 1979)
* Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) (from 1992 to 2004, serving as CEO)
It's pretty disingenuous to note his lobbying for cable companies in the 1970's and 1980's, before they even entered the Internet service business, while ignoring that his most recent connections are to Internet companies that ride on the infrastructure built by the telecoms.
Also, CTIA represents wireless carriers, which are under a different regulatory umbrella than telcos or cable. To the extent you can infer bias from Wheeler's work, the strongest inference is in favor of a bias towards Internet companies, not a bias towards telcos. Of course, I wouldn't characterize him as biased, but rather as someone with experience with the "full stack."
Mozilla: "The petition calls on the FCC to designate last-mile delivery of edge provider communications as “remote delivery” services, and as telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act."
Obama: "I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act."
And I know the control Obama's saying he wants the FCC to exert over the internet does not yet appear directly tied to the NSA, but after the past year of Snowden revelations I just want the government to keep the hell as far away from technology as possible. Because the only way this policy becomes politically feasible is when there's a way net neutrality could somehow be perverted to weaken the internet's ability to shine light on corruption.
Not to mention that given a little time these problems will work themselves out anyway (eg google fiber, municipal broadband, etc). The only reason you have to put your faith in ham-handed federal involvement is an irrational fear of corporations and a lack of patience.
Something should be done, but I'd rather the focus be on removing barriers to more local competition by getting rid of ordinances that create a defacto monopoly by constricting access to utility poles and right-of-ways. When Verizon offered fios to my area, overnight comcast dropped their prices and then raised their speeds significantly. I want more of that.
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I think even asking that question leads us down the wrong path. If 15 years ago, the "experts" had gotten together to brainstorm about new ways to communicate, we never would have gotten anything as disruptive as our current social networks. Instead let new people enter the market and let's see what we get.
With all that said, companies like Edison and PG&E are regulated monopolies, so at this point in time they don't have much incentive to innovate. You can't unsubscribe from your electricity provider.
Yes, exactly. Instead of competing, they are in the business of compliance. I want my ISPs to ruthlessly compete for my business and not check the boxes provided by the government required to keep their monopoly.
Now everybody is working on a national/regional "Internet", even the EU is going the first steps into this direction.
Him calling for open and free Internet is absolutely bizarre. Who knows, maybe he'll call tomorrow for the end of torture and drone executions without trial.
No paid prioritization
Same rules apply to mobile internet
Those sound to me like the basic and less controversial components of net neutrality. It prevent disadvantaging specific sites, protocols or users if applied in a reasonable way.
This isn't a request to "set up a committee to explore regulation ideas and form lobby groups from all stakeholders" - it sounds more like "I want to pass laws AND create an enforcement structure for those laws".
Ambitious and probably overly optimistic, but it's a good perspective from the top.
There is this other headline which came to my mind when I read the above headline: "Retroactive Amnesty for Telecoms".
Which reads more like the actual intent?
Edit: The two submissions got merged, so my comment is now outdated.
It's going to take a very strong argument to support the idea that freedom is enhanced by limiting freedom. Not that it's impossible; my glib statement plays fast-and-loose with "freedom", using the same word in one sentence to mean both the overall amount of freedom as well as in a microcosm. But even so, the apparent contradiction should make us think before jumping in.
Sometimes liberty is best preserved by limiting the ability of the powerful to bring that power to bear. The alternative is "might makes right", or private tyranny.
In the case of US ISPs, most people simply have no choice and are locked into one company. This creates a difficult situation and allows ISPs to easily collude. You theoretically have freedom to switch to another company, but in practice it's not possible because most people would have to up and move their entire family.
Why can't we decide? Because if we could, it would open the door to trickery and coercion. The fact that no slavery arrangement is legal keeps a lot of people from being tricked or coerced into one.
Hence, limiting freedom (of agreements) can enhance freedom generally (no slavery).
Similarly, you can't sell me a house made of popsicle sticks even if I'm informed. We want a market where houses below a certain level of quality just don't exist, because it's better for everyone.
It's possible that net neutrality is like this. "An internet connection where ComCastMovies.com works great but Netflix is severely throttled" would be a crappy product that Comcast is incentivized to sell, and consumers may be tricked (fine print) or coerced (no other options) into buying. It may be in the public interest to outlaw it.
But are we sure that's true?
A couple months ago I recall seeing that one of the major wireless providers was planning a level of service that was (a) very cheap; (b) allowed unlimited access to Facebook and a couple of other major social apps; and (c) was very expensive for data usage outside that area. It would be marketed toward poorer people as a cheaper means of getting that basic connectivity.
One outcome of the arguments for net neutrality, and your argument in particular, is that there's no means for providing low-cost services designed for the less-rich. It's not obvious to me that setting a bar this high is a good thing for the lower economic rung in our society.
> But are we sure that's true?
It depends on how you calculate the cost of the low-quality thing. Take houses. If people could sell houses made of compressed dryer lint, some would. And some poor people would buy. And many of them would be horribly burned in fires.
What's the cost? It depends on how much responsibility we take in caring for them. Do we pay to treat their burns? Do we pay for their funerals? Do we pay to raise their children and give them counseling? What about the lost potential of all those people to contribute to the world? What about the value of life itself?
> One outcome of the arguments for net neutrality, and your argument in particular, is that there's no means for providing low-cost services designed for the less-rich. It's not obvious to me that setting a bar this high is a good thing for the lower economic rung in our society.
It's not obvious to me, either. But it seems like Facebook-only phones are a bit like dryer-lint houses. How much would it cost society to have its bottom ranks unable to read Wikipedia or look up medical conditions on MedLinePlus or comparison shop on Amazon?
And if such plans succeed, how long until we have to consider every ISP's plans with "features" such as "doesn't block category X" and "doesn't throttle site Y"?
No, that's a completely unfair characterization. There's nothing "poisoned" about the lower level of service being contemplated here, it's just a lot less capable.
You seem to be putting yourself into the position of deciding for these hypothetical poor customers that if they can't have the A+ level of service for top dollars, then they shouldn't have anything at all. It's all or nothing.
If you think that we should limit things in this way, then let's be up-front about it. Admit from the beginning that the result will be that we're preventing low-cost plans, so the industry will be forbidden from selling plans designed for disadvantaged people.
The lowest rung, the only rung, on the internet ladder is - a connection. Nothing costs more or less than that. The rest is an attempt to charge rent on property that isn't theirs. To mix the metaphors. They are a carrier; they don't provide web sites and its none of their blessed business which ones you visit using their precious phone.
Regulation isn't the only solution.
US ISPs have managed to fend off regulation and thus removed competition, resulting in monopolies or at most duopolies in most areas.
Competition and regulation are not opposites.
However, if you want cable into your house you only have one option: Virgin Media. Since they paid for and created all the cable in the first place.
I feel that there is a strong likely hood that G.O.P. will have a switch for Net Neutrality once they see that this policy has such a strong vocal majority.
Entrenched market players LOVE, LOVE, LOVE more regulation. All they have to do is hire more compliance officers and pass the cost on to us, while at the same time raising the cost of compliance for smaller and would-be competition.
I'm a libertarian, and I'm not necessarily pro-NN.
I don't get how people don't see that this is a monopoly based on Government intervention???? Started with cable TV and now we are stuck with this in internet monopolies which are 100% anti-free market.
The second strongest argument is the comparison to the phone company. When was the last time a landline phone company was considered a fast-moving, cutting edge technology company?? Not for many decades. Every innovation in telephony service over the past 30 years has come from wireless or Internet telephony companies, both of whom are lightly regulated compared to landline phones.
Heavily regulated industries tend to slow down and become conservative; innovation flows around the regulations. You see it in transportation, telecomm, banking, power, etc.
I'm not saying these are winning arguments--the world is obviously different now than it was 10 or 20 years ago--but they are not easily dismissed either.
I pay my ISP for 15 Mbps download bandwidth, and
some Web site with video clips pays their ISP for
10 Gbps upload bandwidth. So, I connect to that
Web site and download or 'stream' a video clip.
Web site better get their 1 Gbps upload bandwidth,
if they want to send that much, and if they send
me 15 Mbps of video then I better get the full
15 Mbps I paid for.
So, what's the role of 'fast lane', 'slow lane',
the Web site paying my ISP for 'more', 'slow downs',
Or as far as I can see, if I'm getting my 15 Mbps
(from any Web site sending me that much)
and the Web site is getting their 1 Gbps, everything
should be okay. Otherwise, either my ISP or the
Web site's ISP is not delivering what they were
paid for, and I have a tough time believing that that
would be common.
I'm failing to see the opportunity for funny business.
Or, yes, if use the Internet as a video phone, then
there could be issues of dropped packets, out of order
packets, latency, jitter, etc. -- is that what the
talk is about?
Believe it. It's happening today.
Internet plans are always advertised as "up to" some speed, which is a logically meaningless statement. 0 is "up to" 15.
2. Barack Obama (BO) can "call for" many things, but after the latest elections he cannot do much. Even if he, personally and as a POTUS, would want to do something to protect NN.
3. If you hope GOP will do something about it... well, harsh reality is this: Republicans will do what corporate interest wants them to do. Democrats (along with BO) were doing the same. Now that GOP has the majority in both the congress and the senate they MIGHT pay lip service to the issue, but, nothing will change in essence.
4. Maybe you think/hope, people will go out on the streets, write petitions, fight for NN. If recent history teaches us something it's this: Snowden revelations didn't move much US citizens on to the streets. And, compared to NN, it was a larger issue.
(Hope for a better world is something to strive for, but after all these years, I've realized that there is only one reality: Interest. And Big Money has a lot of it to fight NN)
The liberal side of this issue is huge. Whining about how we can't do anything because big cable and their bought legislators is wrong and counterproductive.
> There's a huge amount of public support for Net Neutrality, plus all the money in Silicon Valley.
There we have it: Interest. This time for NN. Another great thing.
> Whining about how we can't do anything because big cable and their bought legislators is wrong and counterproductive.
For the sake of keeping this discussion sane, let's not use such words as "whining". Now, as a supporter of NN, I've described things one has to be aware of as well. I wish and hope positive attitude of the people like you will prevail and that NN will be protected by law.
It has been argued previously that the FCC lacks the authority to reclassify Title II common carrier, and that such a reclassification could actually be damaging
Does that work? Is that implementable and/or good? Isn't peering a pretty reasonable thing to do in a lot of cases?
Question is, how? What? These are the sorts of answers we have to find. A DHT over a P2P with no central control? It still seems so out of reach ..
Torrents really expose these issues very well and it's the same sort of thing you see going on between Netflix and Comcast.
One solution is for consumers to have more choices. I recently read an article where some town I think in Colorado put in their Internet access by lighting up dark fiber they had. It use to be something the cable companies fought citing that municipalities could have a monopoly.
The other game changer is WiMAX and generally speaking, faster mobile data rates. If I no longer need my buried cable to get fast Internet coupled with the fact I can take my device with me, is a huge selling point.
But like cable companies, you can have traffic pile up on a cell tower but it seems easier to add more radios to a cell tower than it is to lay more fiber and/or coax.
Maybe the solution is to get rid of TCP/IP and use something different such that traffic can spray out like a torrent and be recollected from different route paths. For example, if you have Internet from two or more cable companies, there is no way to dynamically balance traffic between those two circuits between two parties. You have a default gateway and there isn't much more you can do with that at the end user level.
> To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services.
> If the FCC appropriately forbears from the Title II regulations that are not needed to implement the principles above — principles that most ISPs have followed for years — it will help ensure new rules are consistent with incentives for further investment in the infrastructure of the Internet.
The biggest regulatory threat to the Internet is "net neutrality."
In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. It puts the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service, and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities, and higher prices for consumers.
The Internet should not operate at the speed of government
>How does one even begin to engage with people that find this in any way intellectually valid?
>It doesn't even make sense and yet I have family that shares his status.
IMO, anytime officials are talking about it, they are guaranteed to screw it up.
I am actually surprised that they aren't talking more about having it be $Free and under government control. Maybe that is step 2.
Either way, the less authority the ISPs and the Government have over your network traffic the better.
That said, I'm still not convinced a "no slow lanes" policy is possible. Peering is a huge part of the Internet, and without it, the Internet doesn't work. Paid peering is a private network owner's right to ask for, and it's every other person's right to deny.
If he REALLY wanted to help, he'd start supporting the opposite of everything he wants to do. He should be good at that, re: NSA, Drones, Gitmo, etc. "I will close down Gitmo! ... lol"
Imagine a power grid where different sources paid different amounts for the last mile. Would it be right to deny the last mile to a new actor, say a new solar power plant, on the basis that its competing with existing coal power?
The Internet is completely different, and the whole point of peering is acknowledging that fact. Netflix and Comcast peer because Netflix has something Comcast can't get anywhere else.
The Internet isn't very much like a power grid at all, in fact. That's a terrible analogy.
Also, Netflix is not paying money to Comcast because Netflix has something Comcast can't get anywhere else. Netflix is paying comcast because otherwise comcast is refusing their user access to netflix.
Broadband intensive services like Netflix:
I think a problem that they face is that their connection is often slow, not only intentionally, but also because developing infrastructure is expensive. Why would an ISP bother building out the infrastructure if they can't extract a higher value from those that it most benefits (Netflix)? In fact, Netflix thinks it's worth it to pay Comcast directly. If that was not beneficial, I don't see why Netflix would have done so. Sure, they would probably prefer to get that service for free, but it must be mutually beneficial for both parties to go along. If Netflix were not allowed to make sure a deal with a company like Comcast, would that really benefit anyone?
There is the risk that ISPs try extracting a toll but I think it may not be worth it a lot of the time for the ISP. I think this fear is overblown, although I could be wrong.
Consumers that don't use broadband extensive services:
Why should those consumers be subsidizing those that use broadband heavy services?
Consumers using broadband extensive services:
Why should Netflix not be allowed to help subsidize the cost of providing broadband? Why should this fall solely on the individual?
The obvious concerns of more governmental control of the internet.
I could imagine a scenario where Netflix was not allowed to pay Comcast directly for increased bandwidth. Instead, Netflix would spend that money to lobby politicians to force Comcast to build out their infrastructure. I don't see how that's a better scenario than currently exists.
I think a better solution to very little competition in ISPs would be to decrease the barriers it takes to compete. Further regulation would only increase the barriers.
Netflix paying Comcast:
Starting an ISP is Really Hard:
Why would an ISP bother building out the infrastructure if
they can't extract a higher value from those that it most
Looking at it from my perspective. I'm paying Comcast for the ability to stream Netflix. They advertise to me as having the fastest speeds for streaming video. And yet when I request Netflix they refuse to do what's necessary to allow me to stream Netflix.
Consumers that don't use broadband extensive services: Why
should those consumers be subsidizing those that use
broadband heavy services?
I think a better solution to very little competition in
ISPs would be to decrease the barriers it takes to
compete. Further regulation would only increase the
The real crux of the problem here is that large ISP's like comcast are selling one thing to their consumers: a certain amount of bandwidth to any site on the internet and then purposely failing to deliver that bandwidth to the customer and blaming it on someone else.
I'd imagine if ISPs abused this rent-seeking, companies like Netflix and Google would actually become interested in building out their own infrastructure. However Netflix would be less inclined to do so if it were not able to favor their service over competitors.
One decision is to treat ISPs like a public utility which is where I think the US is heading. In my experience, though, services brought to me by the government are often lack-luster.
More important than shelter, food and energy? We draw a line as to what the government should provide/subsidize/control and what the private sector provides in those sectors.
The information they carry is, like journalism, a 4th estate to democracy.
If the 4th estate is a check on government, why would we want the government to decide what constituted it? Please don't conflate a first amendment issue with this conflict between content providers and ISPs.
I'm sorry I wasn't more clear. You are right: the analogy breaks down on the level of mechanism of preservation.
I attempted to be more general. Specifically: Journalism is a check on public and private coercion, but the mechanism is free speech. Common Carrier regulation is a check on (largely) private coercion. The mechanism is monopoly prevention (originally monopoly rejection, via AT&T breakup).
Except with the government it's radically worse. They have the guns, and the legal 'right' (might) to spy on you and criminalize what you do if they see fit - or you know, use your porn habits to blackmail you as the NSA chief suggested doing. They also already substantially control education in countless ways.
So a violent central government that likes to murder innocent people by the thousands overseas, with a rising police state domestically with military weapons given to them by the Feds, and a mentality to wage perpetual war, and spy on all citizens and acquire all information they can in any way they can without any regard for the Constitution or privacy ... and you want to give them more power over the biggest free speech platform in world history - oh yeah, this is going to end real well.
If Netflix were to offer some ridiculous streaming option like 50k video, customers simply wouldn't be able to stream it because the customer is only paying its ISP for 10mbit or whatever. If the customer really wants this 50k video, it will have to pay the ISP to upgrade.
In this way, the ISP is making its money off of Netflix already.
Netflix is not getting the benefit, the end user is. That is the demand side of things. They can and do charge more for higher bandwidth, and Netflix will require more than the national average to reliably stream at 1080p. Netflix only exists to fill that need, and the ISP exists to fill that users bandwidth need. It is not Netflix's direct need.
> it must be mutually beneficial for both parties to go along.
It is. Netflix makes more profit off working Internet from Comcast than they lose paying the bribe. But we lose, the consumers, because Netflix is getting a fast lane now, and sets a precedent that ISPs can hold ransom their bandwidth from anyone.
> I think this fear is overblown, although I could be wrong.
It takes no effort on their part to set up their routing to have everyone in a slow lane unless you pay the fee, and they have no motivation not to, because when smaller websites are slow, users stop visiting them, they don't drop their ISP over it.
> Why should those consumers be subsidizing those that use broadband heavy services?
They should not / aren't. At least in terms of month to month server upkeep. In terms of infrastructure wire, you pay the same taxes that maintain the roads if you drive a hundred miles a year as the guy who drives ten thousand miles a month. Previous models have showed that the overhead of calculating physical infrastructure usage (ie, power) is hard, and unless the per-unit volume is valuable enough it is not worth the bureaucracy.
> Why should Netflix not be allowed to help subsidize the cost of providing broadband? Why should this fall solely on the individual?
Because they are not subsidizing at all. End user will pay the same for Internet regardless of how much money content providers throw at ISPs because the vast majority are in monopoly positions and can do whatever they want up until the point users just drop service all together.
> I don't see how that's a better scenario than currently exists.
If it were the case that ISPs were the underdog here, because compelled by legislation to spend their private earnings to build cable that they cannot dictate price on and must lease compulsively, then you would have an argument.
But current ISPs have the opposite. They inherited their infrastructure from public works and other telecom companies, where the laying of cable was heavily subsidized by taxpayer money, and in some cases (verizon) they were given money to invest in infrastructure that they then ran away with and faced no consequences.
> decrease the barriers it takes to compete.
There are only three ways to do this.
One, you have "wire lanes" where anyone can run wire across the nation. This means starting an ISP no longer has the insurmountable mountain of regulation surrounding breaking ground, and you can just buy fiber, run it, and hook up each end user that wants it on an individual basis from the street corner.
The downside is you end up with tons of redundant infrastructure investments, and wire itself is mad pricey. This means that the industry as a whole is inefficient, due to the redundancy. The good news would be that with laying cable being an actual option, entrenched players would have a motivation to lease what they have at reasonable rates to avoid someone else investing heavily in competing in the infrastructure.
But it is also completely infeasible. There is no way to set up New York City or rural Arkansas in a way to just let anyone lay fiber cable. The investment alone in getting to that point vastly eclipses the costs of just laying a public fiber channel owned the state that anyone can hook up to.
Option two is compulsory leasing, which is what Title 2 is in effect. If nobody can lay wire and actually compete with entrenched interests, you cannot have price competition on the rental rates of wire in the ground. So you have to use legislation to force it.
Option three is either eminent domain of the telecommunications infrastructure or the build out of a publicly maintained fiber network. It could emulate the power companies, where regional switching stations are mandated to maintain the network within their jurisdiction using funds from acting as a private ISP, and the networks just need to be interconnected by mandate. This means that the wire is effectively free to use, and you just have to hook in servers and provide bandwidth.
The problem there is that you need junction points where you connect to the backbone, and adding one to an already established network is on the order of complexity as laying wire itself. So it is either that, or wholly public ISPs with taxpayer funded Internet service.
The downside to that is that you can look at all public infrastructure in the US and see how well that went given our current organization of government. The roads in many states are decrepit, the power grid is woefully in need of an upgrade, water services all over the place are being sold off privately and are also in deteriorating condition, and at least pedestrian rail is on the brink of death (no idea about commercial rail, but the prevalence of trucks in the PA area tells me it is not doing too well either). Our local, state, and federal government have collectively and decisively shown that given the political leanings and organization of state we in the US have, that none of them can maintain infrastructure, let alone improve it in the way we desperately need our Internet infrastructure improved over time, not just kept in its current state.
One thing that stuck out to me though:
> If it were the case that ISPs were the underdog here, because compelled by legislation to spend their private earnings to build cable that they cannot dictate price on and must lease compulsively, then you would have an argument.
I feel that opinions of issues are heavily influenced by the actors involved. Amazon vs Hachette being a key example. No one likes Comcast, nor do I, but I don't think that choosing sides based on the beneficiaries is the right way to go about things. I don't think you can argue that a person or group (corporation) took a benefit in the past and is now beholden to the person that dispensed that benefit. That's especially true if the decision makers and owners (stockholders) are a dynamic group.
>The downside is you end up with tons of redundant infrastructure investments, and wire itself is mad pricey
I normally discount this argument as it is often used as a justification of centralized control. Besides, one can argue that most commercial activities are redundant; from advertising to the endless variety of consumer goods available to people in the US. I do concede that this likely won't work in a lot of places as the technology currently exists. My hope is that some new technology can come about and change the economics materially. And I think that a light regulatory environment would best help foster this technology and encourage new entrants.
Mesh networks anyone?
> I feel that opinions of issues are heavily influenced by the actors involved.
It is not so much individual commercial actors than ISP's in general having power. If they were being exploited through regulatory abuse, then they would be in a defensible position. But none of the policy surrounding them harms them significantly more than it helps, in that most of their networks were built on taxpayer dollars and that is a key reason why nobody can compete with them without state funding of infrastructure.
> from advertising to the endless variety of consumer goods available to people in the US
I agree wholeheartedly advertising is one of the worst industries around, because it creates terrible returns on investment (the real productivity gain of advertising is more informing consumers about goods and services than using psychological manipulation to get people to spend money a certain way).
But non-structural goods and services (ie, bread, or housing) has per unit per person utility. Common infrastructure like roads does not behave in the same "here are X units of good and Y units of buyer, and the market will adjust to make sure those numbers stay close to each other regardless of the number of competitors". With networking, power lines, roads, sewage systems, transit systems, etc - they all have the upfront opportunity costs, say the factory, but their marginal costs are nothing compared to them. Additionally, underutilized consumerate goods can just be shelved until sold. With bandwidth and power, unused power gets rerouted to inefficient storage mechanisms or just burns up on the wire. Unused electrical potential on the lines is just overbuilding without need, because maybe your wattage requirements in a region do not match the wires used (though this is rarely a thing, it is more often under-estimated). But there are no units to sell, and lost potential in the now is gone forever. If you build a highway that nobody drives on the investment was wasted, in the same way building a toy factory that never sells a toy is a waste, but for the highway the marginal cost of a driver on it (basically just wear on the road surface) is pennies, and the highway cost billions, whereas the toy factory cost millions and a million toys will sell for ten million.
With network wire the same thing applies. Underutilization means wasted potential, where the wire and infrastructure around it was incredibly expensive but the per-unit costs of electricity transporting packets over it is negligible. This means unlike unsold toys, any second the wire is underutilized is wasted productivity and potential.
The factory owner does care if hes manufacturing at capacity, but the market is much more fluid for toys and per-unit volume goods than it is for infrastructure.
> And I think that a light regulatory environment would best help foster this technology and encourage new entrants.
There are a lot of ways a regulation free market could solve our current networking mess. The biggest one would be that without "ownership" of wireless spectrum, you would have many more channels to broadcast on with radio technology, and could have radios that slide along much greater spectrum bands to find a compromise between bandwidth (high frequency) and range (penetration, mostly, at lower frequencies). You can balance usage more appropriately, and most everything from the 1mhz to 100ghz band is usable to some degree intelecommunications - the lower end is extremely low bandwidth, and the higher end has extremely short range, but in between you have a lot of potential value that is completely absent from the market as it is dedicated to private companies or one telecom provider.
In such a market it would not be about last mile probably, because the wireless technology would be so good. It makes a lot more sense to have one router with 100gbit bandwidth for a suburb than gigabit ethernet to a hundred homes, because you have the same underutilization problem on a per-consumer basis, and that last mile cable was the most expensive.
Besides that, in a regulation free environment, you could use wifi points to bridge property the owners would not let you lay wire on, or you could have communities agree to lay wire themselves.
And of course mesh networks, but there is still no solution for a macroscopic mesh network encompassing millions of nodes - you eventually have to gate them and have centralized routing between subnets because of the algorithmic complexity of each added node in a mesh like that.
And you can honestly do that today. You just need to wire between all your neighbors, and if they wire between all their neighbors, and you set up a subnet of your own with proper traffic monitoring, you would have a mesh net running under one backbone connection. But you still need that backbone, and you need to connect to it somehow.
The goal with this move is to AVOID common carriers and AVOID competition. Paid prioritization is a minor symptom of the problem that ISPs are not common carriers. I say this because without common carriers, if the only ISP has paid prioritization, a there is no competitor to switch to. Banning paid prioritization will do nothing to address the actual problems with American ISPs. Our cable lobbyists and therefore our government will do anything to avoid common carrier legislation being passed.
Common carriers would not be allowed to control the content on their wires at all -- they would be forced to let ISPs purchase bandwidth and compete on the same wire. Granting wire ownership and content control to one company is a natural monopoly: In almost every locale new ISPs cannot use the wires someone else owns, new ISPs cannot dig trenches for new wires, and new ISPs have no common wires to offer service on. Therefore, no new ISPs can form under normal conditions, and competition cannot exist. The only logical conclusion is that we are being denied a free market, on purpose.
"No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect."
"To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies."
Title 2 is Common Carrier.
Now whether they actually do anything with a Republican senate/congress in 2015 idk. But they are suggesting what you are asking for.
Errr... no, it won't preserve the system. Because the system right now, at least at the interconnect level, already has paid prioritization. See: the interconnect fight vis a vis NFLX, Level 3, Verizon.
> The goal with this move is to AVOID common carriers and AVOID competition.
Not sure where you're getting the competition thing, but it's absolutely not about avoiding common carriers. Title II is very, very specifically a common carrier.
> Our cable lobbyists and therefore our government will do anything to avoid common carrier legislation being passed.
No need for legislation; just a reclassification. No legislation needed for that.
> Banning paid prioritization will do nothing to address the actual problems with American ISPs.
Nothing? It'll do something. It's a step in the right direction. One of the requirements under Title II has to do specifically with interconnection: this bullshit between Verizon and Level 3 and NFLX would be patently illegal.
> Common carriers would not be allowed to control the content on their wires at all -- they would be forced to let ISPs purchase bandwidth and compete on the same wire. Granting wire ownership and content control to one company is a natural monopoly: In almost every locale new ISPs cannot use the wires someone else owns, new ISPs cannot dig trenches for new wires, and new ISPs have no common wires to offer service on. Therefore, no new ISPs can form under normal conditions, and competition cannot exist. The only logical conclusion is that we are being denied a free market, on purpose.
I think you're kind of missing the point of what common carriers actually are. You're hitting some things, but completely missing on others.
Nobody is calling for granting wire ownership to a single entity. That's not what common carrier status means.
Read up a bit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_carrier
Here is the more relevant part
"In a letter and a video posted on the White House website, President Obama said he believes "the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act," allowing Internet Service Providers to be more heavily regulated. According to Obama, the change would acknowledge that "the Internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life."
This basically would mean government will now have a much bigger control over how new players enter this space and how they operate and how much profit they can make. When was the last time you heard PG&E doing something innovative ?
The real problem with net-neutrality has not been that the operators are bad. The real problem is existing government regulation does not facilitate entry of new players. More government regulation would only mean slowing down of innovative services like Google Fiber or SpaceX's internet satellites.
This sort of regulation would destroy the internet as we know it and will give more control to Government as to how we consume internet.
No segregation or discrimination online. There are no fast lanes, only slow lanes and tolls roads in our future if this isn't preserved. The internet is one last place of freedom in the US, don't turn it into a class/caste based system.
I'd love to see a poll of the HN community to see the distribution of support, amongst what should be a relatively knowledgable group of people. Unfortunately I don't have enough karma to create it myself.
UPS and FedEx are free to charge a different price when delivering a package from Amazon.com compared to Walmart.com.
So why should an internet service provide be prevented from charging a different price for delivering data from Amazon.com compared to Walmart.com?
Is it simply a case of there not being enough competition between internet service providers? If so, should net neutrality still be required in areas where there IS competition? For example, where I live in Australia I can get a 4G mobile data plan from any of 3 different providers (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone). Competition between them seems very effective, so is there really a need to require net neutrality in this case?
This is a big part of it (2/3) of the US have 2 or fewer options for broadband.
> UPS and FedEx are free to charge a different price when delivering a package from Amazon.com compared to Walmart.com.
This is the wrong analogy. A better one is probably a gated community (which Wikipedia tells me is rare in Australia, unfortunately, so it may not be a good one for you).
The cast of this little play is as follows:
Netflix (played by amazon).
L3, Akamai: Played by UPS and FedEx
Comcast: played by the community association
You live in the gated community. You pay the association that runs the gated community for upkeep of the roads within the gate. Part of this includes a guard who lets delivery vehicles in.
Delivery vehicles used to be relatively low volume, but Amazon becomes popular, and all of the sudden UPS trucks are coming in a lot; as in to the point where the association needs to hire a second guard to let them in. The association refuses to do it unless UPS pays a monthly fee.
Around this time, the community association starts its own online store which residents can by from without any shipping delays.
Meanwhile, FedEx (which enters the community via a different gate) is having no trouble with deliveries. Amazon notices this and starts using FedEx in addition to UPS to solve the problem. Unfortunately the same pattern as with UPS happens.
People start complaining to Amazon and UPS, which results in a blog article from UPS talking about how the Community Association wants them to pay extra for more gates into the community; this makes no sense for 2 reasons:
1) The CA is there to serve the residents, and the residents are the ones who ordered from Amazon
2) Traditionally the CA pays for any infrastructure improvements within the gate, primarily due to #1
So the CA which is supposed to be serving the interests of those living within it is now abusing its status as gatekeeper to charge Amazon for the privilege of delivering packages to it.
This finally gets resolved with Amazon, under protest, paying to put a shipping warehouse within the gate, which is something they had earlier offered to do without charge.
But what about situations where there are multiple providers of the 'last mile' connection and effective competition between them? Should net neutrality rules apply in those cases?
2) I welcome Obama being well advised, but he remains the spy master of the world.
I appreciate the premise behind net neutrality, but all governments are not the same; if you give two different governments the same power, they'll use it differently. This is an extraordinarily abusive government, that just loves to silence people, they cannot be trusted to be hands off when it comes to controlling free speech online. It's best to keep them far away from such powers.
This falls into the category of "free markets need to be regulated", which is the economic field's most important and most repeated caveat.
Is there not a direct connection between his appointment by Obama and this issue?
"I am from government and I am here to fix things for you".
Now, the government is in-charge of how we consume internet. This is bad and very bad. I cant see any scenario where this would be good for us. Expect the prices to go up and service to go down.
It was under his Presidency that NSA expanded their programs.
Here, however, the ISP market is what we're talking about. Certainly the two topics are related. My hope also is that Snowden kickback has informed this Administration, as it finishes its second half of its final term, how the world and how Americans think about the internet.
So no blocking of torrent sites? yeh as if thats going to happen, rolls eyes