Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest
open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable,
bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and
throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully
apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile
broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go
where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to
introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.
I know it's early but this is a great step forward.
Again, I'm paraphrasing. And I had no idea (at the time) whether he was being sincere, or just really slick in his deflections. As of today it's looking like the former, and not the latter.
That's because much of the tech press prefers sensationalism to get clicks over accurate reporting to inform readers. Here's a comment I made last week on another forum that covers what the tech press should have told us about Wheeler a long time ago, but didn't.
It's important to note when he worked for cable. Much of the reporting in the tech press gives the impression he came straight from some high paid lobbying job with Comcast to the FCC.
In reality, he didn't work for any one cable company, but rather was the president of their main trade association, and that was from 1976 to 1984. That was a time when the internet was still just for military, defense contractors, and major computer science and engineering universities. There were around 1000 computers on the internet then. The opening up of the internet for civilians, starting with the creation of NSFNet by the National Science Foundation, wasn't to start until 1985, and it wasn't until 1992 that the web was released.
So when he was a cable guy, it was all about television. Cable as an industry was also much smaller than it is now, and it was divided among many more companies. They were the upstarts, challenging the big broadcasters. Being pro-cable was arguably being pro-consumer.
From 1992 to 2004, he was president of CTIA, the main cellular trade group. By then, the public internet was well under way, but it was mostly wired. Internet on phones was available, but it was more of a novelty or an expensive luxury, with voice and text being the main interest most people had in cellular. CTIA lobbied, of course, but they also had a major role in setting technology standards. Wheeler represented the industry in discussions with the FCC to draft the rules that we now have for cellular voice, which in retrospect worked out well (and are the basis for the Title II proposal he's expected to reveal).
It's also important to note that cell phones in 1992, when he joined CTIA, were not nearly as common as they are today. There was much less infrastructure in place, and you paid by the minute. They were past the point where you'd stare openly in wonder if you saw someone with one, but still were something you had to work to find a good reason to justify their purchase.
The key thing to note here is that when he has worked as a sort-of lobbyist (I say "sort-of" because both times he was president of a trade association that had lobbying as just one function), it was for industries that were young and had a lot of promise to bring great things to consumers, and his work for those industries as far as I've been able to tell helped consumers, and the customers of those industries were better off when he left than when he started.
He seems to basically be a telecom policy nerd. Heck, he even does telecom stuff in his non-professional capacity. Only a telecom nerd would write a 250 page book called "Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War" .
Wheeler has been one of the three members of the FCC favoring pro-neutrality regulation for quite some time. Its true that he recently came around to the view that Title II was an appropriate vehicle for that regulation, but he's been a supporter of FCC action to enforce neutrality principles for quite some time, as demonstrated by the previous Open Internet Report and Order, the last NPRM in which he took one of the two paths toward enforcing those principles laid out in the court decision striking down the old Open Internet Report and Order, and his new move to use Title II, the other path laid out in that court decision.
The people I consider most dangerous to the public in regulatory positions aren't the ones who actively aim to undermine. They're they ones who just have such a strong sympathy with the regulated that they can't conceive of other ways to look at it.
Good regulation requires both deep respect and deep skepticism. Think, for example, of people who make sure restaurant kitchens are safe for the public. They have to respect the purpose of restaurants and the people who run them; otherwise they'll be ineffectively fussy or crabby. But their whole job is to never let those people slide. So as much as they understand and empathize with how hard and expensive it is run a restaurant, they still have to be willing to take the consumer's side say, "Yes, it's expensive, but you still have to throw out that $2k of meat." And mean it.
See also: all modern politics.
i work for a smaller cable company and it has been getting very deep lately.
sad thing is management doesn't seem to get that the grunts don't care. we never profit from the monopolies. every year we get some bs excuse why we won't be getting a raise this year even though reading the quarterly earnings and know what were spending on upgrades and know there is a lot left over that goes somewhere.
knowing how high the margins are in the industry, how little they pay, how lean things are already run its going to get bad.
if competition is somehow injected into the market and they are happy with a fraction of what the incumbents are currently enjoying would be devastating. there is very little left to cut at the bottom, and those at the top can't possibly be expected to not get their rockstar paydays.
what also could happen is the exodus of employees from existing cable companies to the new ones that would sprout up. even though the grass isn't always greener somewhere else, it won't stop those from finally having a choice.
don't get me wrong. I have zero problem with someone making a 100 million a year, but only when that comes after everyone from push broom and toilet brush to company car and private jet are all paid the highest for their position for a company that size. unfortunately almost everywhere you can go that isn't the case.
I've heard a lot of discussion how making ISPs a utility would just entrench the monopolies even further... what od you think?
Maybe you should have a problem with it.
I get what you're saying, that there may not be anything immoral about being extravagantly compensated, and in principle I agree with that. However, there is also something to be said for the overwhelming amount of political power that such wealth brings.
It may be that we want to avoid such concentrations of wealth not out of a sense of fairness, but to keep people from hijacking our democracy.
Do you really want the technology sector to end up looking like the healthcare system or the state run education system?
Everything government touches turns to crap.
To believe that government regulation with make anything better is not very intelligent.
Look outside your country and those things are very good successes.
For some reason this attitude has not led to effective, efficient governance.
By that extremely simplistic logic, we should have no laws at all.
Most likely, both.
What transaction are you referring to not being voluntary? Transactions in the economic sense are by definition voluntary. Without a monopoly on law, people hire courts of their choosing to settle disputes. They are not compelled by a third party to settle disputes in the third party's court. Most importantly, they are not compelled by a third party to use the third party's law. They may each have their own laws even.
More about polycentric law: http://www.tomwbell.com/writings/JurisPoly.html
No, they aren't, which is why we distinguish with the term "free market" the platonic ideal of an economic situation in which all transactions are fully voluntary.
> They may each have their own laws even.
If each party may have their own laws, those aren't actually "laws" in any meaningful sense.
> More about polycentric law: http://www.tomwbell.com/writings/JurisPoly.html
I find it interesting that that article highlights exactly why the historical systems described as polycentric legal systems (which are not, in any meaningful sense, a "free market of laws") tend toward natural monopoly and solidification into state law, apparently without realizing it, stating that defectors from such a system "would then have to either accept the jurisdiction of its courts or suffer ostracism from the community of law-abiding folk."
Of course, that effect not only applies to accepting some of the available choices in a polycentric system, but also accepting both the particular "law" (a rule system that becomes binding retroactively only after a dispute occurs and a forum chosen is hardly "law" in the normal sense, but...) and particular courts preferred by the most powerful groups in the community.
Huh? Law is enforced whether polycentric or monopolistic. I don't see what that has to do with the evolution of monopolistic statutory law.
I'd rather have Google, et al, provide a market solution to this, by aggressively expanding Fiber without regulation, and laying down a secondary network to compete with Comcast/Time Warner. As it stands this is starting to look more and more like an attempt to maintain power for the traditional shitty telecoms, while also taking a slice out of Google's pie.
> will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.
the keyword here is lawful. Will all content be lawful unless proven otherwise?
But it's still a huge net gain for startups, most of which fall safely on the lawful side of the line.
> In this context, "lawful" is probably...
If I've learned anything about law and politics, its that you can practically toss the context. If it can be twisted, it will be twisted more ways than you can imagine. Something like 90+% of "terrorist" surveillance usage is used for non-violent drug crime and they don't even have to disclose it (if you really push, they'll give you 'parallel reconstruction').
I'm sure at one point, someone in DC said something along the lines of "We will only prevent terrorist activity" (where terrorist is at least related to terrorism... probably...)
It means that actually blocking, throttling, (or, for that matter, paid prioritization, though that will fall afoul of other laws) of unlawful content is not a violation of this particular set of FCC rules.
It has no effect (positive or negative) on the pre-existing ability of ISPs, with or without a third-party request, to block unlawful content. Of course, because it is a federal rule, any local request seeking to block unlawful content that would also (or actually) block lawful content would be preempted by the federal rule prohibiting blocking lawful content, so it would constrain the kinds of actions that could be taken in pursuit of blocking unlawful content. But, in any case, any ability cities would have under this rule to request blocking Uber, etc., would be no more ability than they have without the rule.
That said, I'm really curious how preemption plays into this. For instance, if federal law is silent on the selling of some particular thing, and local law says that selling that thing is a crime, and there's a federal law that e.g. makes it a crime to interfere with "lawful" interstate commerce, and I interfere with you selling that thing, did I commit a federal crime? I can see arguments both ways that make sense to me as a layman, but I'm sure there's a standard answer to this.
In the case of Uber, what might be illegal is purchasing service from them (or them selling it to you). Them telling you about their service, even if it's illegal in your jurisdiction, is protected speech.
Cannabis is currently illegal to possess or purchase in my state (although not for long). It's still legal for me to read High Times or websites selling commercial products that are legal in Colorado. It'd be illegal for me to place an order.
(And if it's permitted under the proposed regulatory environment, it's probably permitted now, too.)
Sure but if the law is vague than the enforcement can be broad or narrow depending on case law and the interpretation of judges.
It is less risky to run a business in an area where the law is more clear cut.
More likely, it would be their burden to do so after blocking, when a violation of the no-blocking-lawful-content rule was alleged.
I was stating that you could see city government trying to get the Uber site blocked to local ISP customers as a way to side-step the court system.
If Uber's service is illegal, the content the site is delivering, insofar as it is solicitation to engage in an illegal exchange, may also be illegal.
2. an act of congress that diminishes the authority of the FCC would have to be signed by Obama, which he will not do. there is no faction in congress now that has a veto proof majority.
3. there is immense popular support for net neutrality and any action taken by congress against it is likely to lead to immediate and intense political pressure on those members of congress. lets not forget this country is still a democracy (mostly). the congressional representatives act against public interest at their own peril.
There's a little bit of fuzzing on the boundaries, but this issue has been the focus of lots of legislative action since it first became a controversy, and its pretty consistently been a large majority of Republicans opposing FCC action for neutrality and neutrality generally. And, over the years, the partisan alignment has increasingly solidified.
The recent moves have been lobbyist-inspired, though. Sad.
The Federal Communications Commission Open Internet -- the thing the FCC has done addressing what is known in public discourse as "net neutrality" -- principles haven't substantially changed, though details of the approach to advancing them have, and neither the principles nor the implementation approaches have ever included monitoring and censoring conservative blogs. And the GOP has been opposed to FCC regulating non-blocking and non-discrimination for all lawful content by broadband ISPs for years.
You seem to be confusing what is itself a misrepresentation of the Federal Elections Commission -- a completely different agency -- discussions on rules for political ad disclosures in the wake of a 2005 Federal court ruling requiring them not to exempt all internet communication from the scope of "public communication" in their rules with the FCC's Open Internet rules.
(Or perhaps confusing something that was an even bigger misrepresentation of Federal Trade Commission rules on online general advertising disclosures.)
Not entirely. It's a proposal, which must be voted on by the rest of the FCC committee. It's unlikely everyone on the committee will agree 100%, but I'd also contend it's unlikely for this to not pass in and around it's current state.
They'll probably just sue to invalidate it once the FCC finalizes it (they may seek a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement as part of that, as well); there isn't much they can do in the way of delaying it otherwise.
If the GOP wins 2016, however, the future may not be so bright once they install their pro-business people and fix all of this "Socialist" claptrap.
Can we please stop trying to make this a "GOP is evil and hates America" and "DEM is right and loves America" thing?
The GOP standpoint is to put policy in place that naturally overtime encourages small business to bring competition to the bigger guys. The problem with this plan is it takes time and people want an immediate result.
That's not "hating america" and it's not "doomsday" if GOP wins in 2016.
Nor is the President a king -- ie. the President has Zero control over what the FCC does. So it really doesn't matter who wins in 2016 since you already have a strongly led GOP congress... who does have power over the FCC.
Other than appointing the commissioners, and exerting both indirect (and, through the use of the veto, potentially direct) influence over legislation which controls the scope of the FCCs regulatory authority, and appointing members of the Federal judiciary who ultimately resolve disputes over the FCCs actions, sure, the President has zero control over what the FCC does.
And for that matter, maybe they don't 'hate America', but it's awfully hard to tell sometimes, what with Sarah Palin's 'Hit List' of abortion doctors, and the keen interest they take in who can and can't get married, and pretty regularly making the poor out to be villains somehow, etc etc. I suppose if you you're only counting white, Christian conservatives, then Republicans don't hate America. Otherwise, it's a tough sell.
Whether or not the GOP is generally evil, it certainly seems to be true that their position on net neutrality has been consistently bad and if they're allowed set policy on it, they'll do it in a way that will let carriers interpose themselves as gatekeepers.
>The GOP standpoint is to put policy in place that naturally overtime encourages small business to bring competition to the bigger guys.
That's the rhetoric, anyway. It's less clear how that's likely to fall out of any of their proposed policies.
This isn't a party thing... let's not try to make it one.
The members of the FCC are Democratic and Republican political appointees.
> This isn't a party thing...
Every FCC vote on Open Internet ("net neutrality") rules for the last several years has had a 3-2 divide on party lines (Democrats for Open Internet regs, Republicans against).
How is it not a party thing?
And so are Supreme Court Justices. Once appointed, some future President can't just remove them because he/she disagrees. The President isn't a king.
It's not a party thing. Stop trying to make it one.
And Supreme Court Justices decisions, throughout their careers, on issues that are politically salient at the time of their appointment very closely track the positions of the President that appointed them. While lots of people like to pretend that the judiciary is apolitical and nonpartisan, all the actual evidence is that it is anything but.
> Once appointed, some future President can't just remove them because he/she disagrees.
Right, the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary in general -- while not at all apolitical and nonpartisan -- are still more insulated from partisan politics and the mood current among elected politicians than, say, members of the FCC because they have lifetime tenure rather than 5 year terms. I'm not sure how pointing this out helps your case that the current net neutrality debate, both in the FCC and more generally, is not strongly partisan.
> It's not a party thing.
I'd surely prefer that support for net neutrality -- on the FCC, in Congress, and more generally -- wasn't a strongly partisan issue, but all the actual facts show that it is an issue that is extremely partisan. You can keep repeating "it's not a party thing" all you want, but it won't stop the fact that on the FCC, support for net neutrality regulations has consistently been split with Democrats for and Republicans against, in the Congress, support for the FCC issuing net neutrality regulations, or the Congress adopting strong net neutrality regulations itself, has consistently been strongly tilted to Democrats for and Republicans against (and, conversely, support for legislation explicitly prohibitong the FCC from regulating for neutrality has been strongly tilted to Republicans for, Democrats against.)
It is a party thing, whether you think it should be or not.
The GOP standpoint is to put policy in place that naturally overtime encourages small business to bring competition to the bigger guys.
That's what I hear around election time, but I'm not convinced its supported by their legislative record.
Worth reading in this context Joel Brinkley's "Defining Vision", about the history of broadcast HDTV in the US.
Also, history strongly suggests that the GOP's political rhetoric is a load of dingo's kidneys. Do you honestly believe that stuff? Do you have any corroborating examples? Because the GOP that was in power prior to 2008 pretty much exemplified the opposite strategy.
Look at mobile data (exempt from title II) versus "broadband"/cable speeds.
Wheeler actually points to the success of title II on "mobile" while ignoring the fact that it only applied to voice. Meanwhile, all the relevant growth and innovation occurred in data.
I have to say I'ld like to see the "socialist claptrap", feel-good crap, out of here.
Lastly, who thinks the people have a leg to stand on versus the NSA and privacy if the government has more control over the internet?
Only voice and SMS mattered until 2007(iPhone launch). Title II seemed to work pretty well until then.
>Look at mobile data (exempt from title II) versus "broadband"/cable speeds.
The difference in infrastructure costs makes those two incomparable.
Look, you just suffer under a reality distortion field.
So the areas in which regulated are the ones which stagnated and became dramatically less relevant?
It seems to me like you're suffering the distortion field.
What did you expect? That a robot would read out websites to us?
Innovation like single-gig data caps? Or do you mean innovation like "unlimited data, except no streaming and no hotspots"?
Compared to the voice situation on mobile, or to landline Internet, mobile Internet is garbage. I don't understand what you mean. Heck, IME, 50mbps landline Internet is easier to get than 4G Internet is outside of cities. And the price isn't much better either. I pay $50/mo for 50mbps down for cable Internet, I pay $40/mo for my 2GB capped Verizon Internet which is 4G (sometimes).
There is also the separate-but-related political reality that the Internet, as a vehicle of basically free information, is opposed by those who depend upon their influence over the flow of news and information in order to maintain political and economic power. This policy shift will make it more difficult for them to keep their influence, and will therefore be fought against by very powerful people who face a long-term threat from its continuation.
A lot of the big proponents of net neutrality -- including specifically proponents of the FCC using Title II -- are also big corporations, and will inevitably file briefs supporting the FCC action (which they lobbied for.)
"Corporation-friendly" matters less when there are big corporations on both sides.
"Business-friendly" is politically coded language for favoring capital holders over employees, consumers, and unrelated but affected individuals.
Actually, I think the predominant interests -- at least, in terms of concentrated money devoted to lobbying and overall political pull -- for net neutrality comes from big online service and content providers that want to continue to be able to operate profitably rather than having the oligopoly of broadband ISPs engaging in rent-seeking behavior that extracts the profits from those service and content providers and uses the extracted profits to develop services that compete with them, and then outright blocks the other content/service providers to protect the ISPs own competing services.
> The defeat of net neutrality is still a corporate interest.
The interests of Google, Facebook, Netflix, et al., are as much corporate interests as those of Verizon, AT&T, etc.
> "Business-friendly" is politically coded language for favoring capital holders over employees, consumers, and unrelated but affected individuals.
Sure, but net neutrality isn't an issue that puts capital holders, in general, on one side and employees, consumers, on the other.
>> There is also the separate-but-related political reality that the Internet, as a vehicle of basically free information, is opposed by those who depend upon their influence over the flow of news and information in order to maintain political and economic power. This policy shift will make it more difficult for them to keep their influence, and will therefore be fought against by very powerful people who face a long-term threat from its continuation.
Sorry couldn't resist this quote. Any one else see the similarities with MGS2?
An unusually large segment of the public is paying attention to this. To kill it will require actively voting in favor of a bill. Seems like a big career risk for a politician.
Someone who actually makes sense.
My concern is, how are they going to define lawful content and services, and more importantly, how are they going to determine it in practice? It can easily translate into some heavy handed surveillance systems which analyze the lawfulness of the whole network.
They basically just include the word 'lawful' to allow ISPs to block unlawful traffic. Think specifically of DDOS attacks, you wouldn't want to disallow an ISP from blackholing DDOS packets.
Actually, once the FCC adopts a no-blocking-lawful-content rule, any alleged violation of that rule is potentially a subject of FCC action, which means that the FCC will, in the first instance, determine all relevant questions, including whether particular content is lawful. They will, of course, look at and apply court precedent and statute law to determine that, but the FCC absolutely will be called on to make that decision.
Those decisions, of course, may be appealed to the court in the same way as any other enforcement action by a regulatory body.
The difference is that right now if your ISP blocks torrent traffic you have literally no recourse besides going to a competitor (if one exists, which odds are one does not). You are after all not legally entitled to torrent traffic.
The change here is that if an ISP unilaterally starts blocking torrent traffic, you (or more likely, the EFF or similar org) can sue to have torrent traffic declared lawful, after which the ISP is legally bound to open the traffic.
The trick here isn't that ISP shitty behavior will be impossible under the new rules, but rather that there will be more power to the citizenry to combat many categories such shitty behavior.
But potatolicious's comment about is good.
Since FCC action against Comcast for blocking Bittorrent -- including the idea that Bittorrent, whatever unlawful content might be distributed by that means, was itself not unlawful and that Bittorrent traffic included lawful content -- was one of the starting points of net neutrality regulation at the FCC, I'm pretty sure that Wheeler, the FCC in general, and Comcast are all aware of that.
You do know that that's one of the earliest things the FCC addressed in the "net neutrality" / "open internet" space, even before the first attempt to adopt generally-applicable rules rather than case-by-case enforcement of net neutrality principles?
So some push should be done in the opposite direction.
I understand the NSA is associated with all kinds of serious issues, but it doesn't help us figure anything else out when the subject changes to NSA even when it doesn't really apply.
"What obligation does law enforcement have to regulate content that you and I, as open-Internet believers, agree is unlawful? Shall we allow illegal content in order to err on the side of caution?"
That question wasn't about surveillance. You keep changing the subject to surveillance, because you're unwilling to address the issue of whether we should allow illegal content.
What obligation does law enforcement have to regulate content? Not surveillance. Not NSA. Law enforcement. obligation.To regulate content.
Show we allow illegal content in order to err on the side of caution? Not should we allow surveillance. Should we allow illegal content. Content. Not surveillance. Stop changing the subject.
> What obligation does law enforcement have to regulate content that you and I, as open-Internet believers, agree is unlawful?
Translation: what obligation does law enforcement has to police Internet with surveillance in order to catch content that we agree is unlawful? Same can be asked about ISPs.
> Shall we allow illegal content in order to err on the side of caution?"
Translation: should we oppose massive surveillance to prevent power abuse even if it will prevent catching unlawful content?
To that I answered, that current surveillance is already abusive, so the question doesn't really start.
For example, child porn is an important form of unlawful content that many people do not want to allow. We might decide that the civil liberty issues are so important that we are just going to have to put up with more child porn than we'd have under a more restrictive regime. Or we might not. Either answer would pertain to the question.
But end surveillance now, NSA, it's all the same rah-rah doesn't pertain to the question.
No, the question was, should we accept surveillance as acceptable way to prevent unlawful content. And my answer was that this question is invalid - surveillance is already here, whether you want to accept it or not. If that didn't imply surveillance, what other caution are you talking about then?
Better examples would be the DMCA, the FBI's seizure of child porn-related domains, the seizure of Silk Road, etc. Those things are actually censorship. Having CC processors cut off Wikileaks was also slightly indirect censorship but still pretty much censorship.
We already do these things, and under the 1st amendment, there are very few things that don't fit under "lawful content" so I doubt this would change much.
They are close kin. Censorship uses surveillance to find what to censor. That's why it's not accidental that DRM cartels are so into police state mentality. These issues essentially converge.
> particularly when the surveillance is supposed to be a secret.
What difference does it make if it's a secret or not if it's there? Both are a problem when they are massive. Secret surveillance is even worse, since it makes people think that there is no problem with it. Compare it to obtrusive and non obtrusive DRM. People are easily annoyed by the former, but often are often OK with the later because they don't feel discomfort. So the second is actually much worse.
I disagree. People under surveillance self-censor. A recent study showed journalists censoring themselves in response to surveillance (i.e., their communications). Another showed that people's searches on search engines (or maybe just Google) changed after revelations of government surveillance.
It's not an accident. It's a well-known phenomenon and a method of intimidation.
(Sorry I don't have time to look up the details of those studies.)
Only if we ignore the chilling effect that surveillance has on the First Amendment.
These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services
I'd be very cautious about what shaping we permit to our network traffic. Laws are fickle, knowledge is power.
All he is saying is, if an ISP gets a court order, that they can then block access to content like they do now, and the FCC won't go after them as a result.
It isn't a new power or an expansion, just continuing the current situation that exists.
With the rules, ISPs cannot block lawful content without consequence, but the rules don't prohibit blocking unlawful content. OTOH, if there are penalties for block lawful content, simple prudence will also lead ISPs to restraint in efforts to block unlawful content absent other rules mandating such blocking, lest they inadvertently block lawful content and are penalized for so doing.
In the UK we have the IWF blocklist for CP, plus the Pirate Bay block, and gradually expanding inadequately controlled currently optional "adult content" filters. The slippery slope is real, but has to be fought at a halfway point.
I feel like this is still a leap forward on net, and we should be happy for it.
Its not only mobile broadband. It prohibits blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of lawful content and services for all broadband -- which previous FCC orders and proposals on net neutrality have done for fixed broadband. The part that is distinct about mobile broadband is that this proposal is the first that would apply those rules to mobile as well as fixed broadband.
Great, we finally get to exercise our freedoms!
> ... enforceable bright-line rules will ban ...
Oh, I see, now the "innovators" just have more regulation they have to deal with. Now they have to ask for ANOTHER entity's permission?
Doesn't sound like they'll need to ask permission since they'll know they won't get it. Are you in favor of these things?
I think reasonable people can disagree, but your positioning of these two statements as being contradictory relies on a complete lack of context to be convincing.
I'm certainly not a big fan of the status quo, but all that's being proposed here is to make a slightly-less evil version of the status quo the ONLY game in town.
(BTW, If I'm quoting a parent comment directly then how can you say there is no context? The parent comment IS the context.)
If you were hoping for last mile unbundling, your comment strongly suggested that you were on the absolute opposite side of the debate regarding regulation.
I personally learned the importance of open networks the
hard way. In the mid-1980s I was president of a startup,
NABU: The Home Computer Network. My company was using new
technology to deliver high-speed data to home computers
over cable television lines....But NABU went broke while
AOL became very successful....While delivering better
service, NABU had to depend on cable television operators
granting access to their systems....The phone network was
open whereas the cable networks were closed. End of story."
If you look at the bottom of many of the previous Net Neutrality threads, there will be heavily downvoted posts (some of mine included) that Wheeler was previously an entrepreneur who was trying to disrupt traditional service providers, he was a VC who backed truly disruptive companies, and he had already been blocked from implementing very consumer-friendly rules at the FCC -- so he might be not be some mustache-twirling villain.
The ignorant fervor was pretty intense.
Wheeler kept a blog for years about all of his thoughts regarding telecom regulation, but it's much easier to call him a dingo and assume he's evil than it is to do research and develop a true picture of his intentions.
Unfortunately, his blog has lapsed, but some of the posts are still available via Archive.org. Some Good posts;
* Networks are More Important than Nations - https://web.archive.org/web/20110205091739/http://www.mobile...
* How SOP was Undone by SOPA - https://web.archive.org/web/20120625185358/http://www.mobile...
The 2nd is particularly interesting since he explicitly supports the anti-SOPA movement:
The policy matter is not whether copyright holders
should receive recompense for their products (they
should), but whether legislation to protect that right
is aircover to perpetuate old practices at the expense
of new networks. There is no doubt there are honest-to-
God Web pirates operating in China, Russia, and
elsewhere who are stealing copyrighted product. These
pirates should be stopped. But SOPA’s effort to
accomplish this – which also just happened to strengthen
the hand of content companies in other regards – applied
concepts more applicable to the command and control
networks of yesterday than to the open access networks
The power of the Internet is its lack of centralized
control. Its distributed architecture means the network
functions at the edge rather than at a central point.
That edge activity, in turn, creates what the SOPA
supporters were trying to constrain: access they can’t
control. While its goal of stopping piracy is laudable
and important, SOPA’s practical effect was to
restructure through law the functionality of the
I think I fell for it myself and was pleasantly surprised when this announcement came. Now I know I had let a lack of diligence had prevented me from seeing that this announcement may have been far more likely than I ever thought.
It's easy to be swept up by the resounding chorus of comments here sometimes.
>It's ignorant to seize on one line of a political appointee's 40-year resume
People are often defined by their most recent accomplishment(s) (unless a worse one can be dredged up from the past).
I try to keep myself informed of current events, but I'm not always as successful as I would like, and I've not got unlimited time to go digging through the Internet Archive to find and read Wheeler's old blog posts (of which I was unaware). If they were so central to Wheeler's philosophy why did they not receive more recent attention?
>it's clear the blind Wheeler hate was completely unfounded.
If to you, "blind Wheeler hate" == skepticism, then it's not clear at all, but I am starting to warm up to the guy. Thanks for the blog links.
PS, I also doubt that we'd be better off today without the enormous furore over FCC internet regulation.
I don't mean to imply that you're a lazy cynic, just that the easily digestible stories on HN (especially political ones) are often lazy and cynical.
"OMG, I just saw John Oliver, did you know Wheeler was a lobbyist for the cable companies!?"
Acknowledging that he was a lobbyist for the NCTA during the Jimmy Carter administration and realizing that his more recent lobbying work was for the CTIA - (Still over 10 years ago) - where they were trying to free up more spectrum to enable wireless broadband.
For the past 10 years, he worked with a VC firm that invested hundreds of millions into tech companies. Wheeler personally sat on the board of Earthlink, InPhonic, and Telephia...
I'm not sure why the narrative was so far off the mark but I gave up trying to correct it a long time ago. Rest assured though, there at least a few people that weren't surprised whatsoever about Wheeler's pro-consumer actions.
HN isn't perfectly balanced -- there are certainly issues where the one-side or the other has substantially more support on HN. But its far from an echo chamber.
The only reason Google accomplished it is by throwing money at the problem and laying new infrastructure, bypassing the existing in most cases. The barrier to entry of a competitor is so high from the infra cost alone.
Modern cable infrastructure is not a big coaxial cable strung along telephone poles. It's often buried fiber with media conversion for a local loop. Either way it costs money to roll out, and where poles are involved there are ongoing leasing fees for those.
This is only part of the infrastructure anyway. You've still got all the routing, switching, media conversion, etc. to make that cable do something useful.
It is in the company's interest to flog that dollar for all it is worth, forever, as a justification to never upgrade and maintain a monopoly so that nobody can force them to reinvest in infrastructure and they can just sit around in maintenance mode, collecting the checks with the minimum possible outlay.
If the government owned the infrastructure outright, we could at least have the discussion about why service is shit, but with this reasoning, "it was expensive to build these cables" permanently shuts down any ability to get upgrades or break local monopolies.
Media conversion? Like taking HD signals, converting them to "standard definition" and putting those on the line too? So you can then charge more for higher quality "HD" signals which are still transcoded to lower bitrates? Yeah, we can do without that stuff.
This is standard terminology: https://www.google.com/search?q=fiber+media+converter
To be frank, your post is a little ridiculous, IMO.
>Like taking HD signals, converting them to "standard definition" and putting those on the line too? So you can then charge more for higher quality "HD" signals which are still transcoded to lower bitrates? Yeah, we can do without that stuff.
The cable company in my town does this. Ostensibly it was to maintain compatibility with CRT/low def. televisions as a convenience to people with obsolete equipment but the scheme persists. It seems to now serve the purpose of allowing them to advertise low prices for this subpar service and then upsell customers to much higher price tiers. Sure, that's a legal tactic, but it probably wouldn't work in a competitive market.
Not to mention all the old wiring in everyone's house, especially in the city.
Oh and if for some reason you actually do decide to invest in infrastructure, you get to fight local, city, county, AND state government for permits, taxes, etc.
Sometimes government good, sometimes government bad. Haha.
The cable networks are still closed.
The latter IMO is a lot less fair, even though my personal experience is that I had more choices for service when it was done w/ DSL.
Yes, the cable companies have gotten government hand-outs to build out infrastructure, but teasing apart which of that was public and private money (and therefore which would be 'fair' to force open) would be a nightmare.
There's a lot of change packed into this, and I'm sure Wheeler's plan will be to keep the changes and shakeups rolling.
The internet wouldn’t have emerged as it did, for instance,
if the FCC hadn’t mandated open access for network equipment
in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone
from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network.
Yes, the last-mile is a natural monopoly, but there's a wide gulf of possible solutions between "Let AT&T kill all competitors" as they have been for the last century and "Have the FCC regulate competition into existence" as they did in 1996 . Neither of those extremes worked, and to the extent that this policy seems to understand that, it looks like a good outcome. The line about "no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling" is especially promising in this regard.
However, the proof is in the pudding, and I think we have yet to see an FCC that is truly effective in inspiring local broadband competition through regulatory policies.
Also all of these things will never exist independently of each other. If we had an anarcho-syndicalist system, we'd be complaining about the inability to use omnidirectional antennas effectively because of all of the interference of the airwaves, possibly...
1) The problem this fixes is largely non-existent today. The threat of fast and slow-lanes is one I've yet to experience.
2) Opening the door for more internet regulation seems risky. At first, things may go swimmingly, but I suspect regulatory capture will creep up on this industry, just as it has so many others. You may trust Obama and the current FCC head, but if and when the next Nixon comes to power, will you be as comfortable with his appointee?
3) The language "lawful content and services" seems like the kind of opening that could be the death of services like Bit Torrent or Tor.
4) Holding up the old telephonic lines as having been improved by regulation seems specious. In fact, the telephone system has been frozen in amber for decades. Perhaps overregulation is part of the reason we get our high-speed internet via the much less regulated cable lines and not phone lines.
Verizon is already throttling Youtube and Netflix traffic because the content providers refuse to pay extra for normal delivery.
> 2) Opening the door for more internet regulation seems like a bad idea. At first, things may go swimmingly, but I suspect regulatory capture will creep up on this industry, just as it has so many others. You may trust Obama, but if and when the next Nixon comes to power, will you be as comfortable with the executive's increased authority over the internet via the FCC?
The FCC already has the authority to regulate the internet. It's trying to establish rules within the authority granted to it by the US Congress.
> 3) The language "lawful content and services" to me seems concerning. Could this be the death of bit torrent?
This does seem concerning, but there's some discussion up the thread about what this likely means. We won't know for sure though until the actual proposed rules are announced. This is more of "announcing an announcement" than anything else.
You can read their peering rules here: http://www.verizonenterprise.com/terms/peering/
We can argue that it is just semantics but it is more in-depth than "throttling."
The requirement that traffic be balanced is nonsensical. In a logical sense, all packets in a connection should be 'billed' to the initiator. Raw data rates are a terrible proxy for this, and shouldn't be used at all. So in the case of Netflix, Verizon is responsible for about 99% of the traffic and the only party that should even think about charging for the interconnect is Netflix.
Is there anything else that's a problem?
However I'm not sure where you get the 99% or anything like that. If I'm Verizon and I own the last mile to the eyeballs you want then I can set my policies to benefit me, which they have. However they aren't throttling and Title II will do nothing about the peering issue or the policies they have set around it.
Technically. The problem is that setting the rules so that some providers saturate is functionally equivalent to throttling arbitrarily.
Verizon is setting these rules in a way that can't be reasonably complied with, so they are fully responsible for the outcome. It shouldn't be phrased as if it justifies anything.
Thanks for the downvote.
I'm not a networking expert so someone please correct me if I'm wrong here, but those peering terms also specify shortest-exit routing, in which case the 1.8:1 traffic ratio is necessary to ensure that one peer does not do dramatically more "work" in terms of bit-miles.
It seems like Netflix and a consumer ISP are never going to be able to peer with traffic ratio requirements. If the consumer ISP offered best-exit routed settlement-free peering options, though, Netflix could easily comply.
It is my impression that a consumer ISPs refusing to offer settlement-free peering with a best-exit routing policy is apparently charging for access to its customers, not charging for access to its network.
Obama on the other hand has failed to turn around most of the worst Bush era policies. Not to belittle his archievements with health care (which Nixon also tried to pass).
For context, I'm neither for nor against Obama - I just think people who take a position of "It's an idea from the other political party so I don't like it" cause more harm than good. (See belief in vaccination, evolution, and global warming as other examples)
I was speaking specifically about the issues mentioned in the parent post. Namely vaccination, evolution, and climate change. The Republican positions are objectively wrong on these issues. Projecting from there, it's not unreasonable to assume they're wrong on other issues that I know less about.
To be more explicit, I was disagreeing with this:
> I just think people who take a position of "It's an idea from the other political party so I don't like it" cause more harm than good.
If one party is consistently wrong on many, many obvious issues, I don't see much of an issue with dismissing their views on more nuanced issues. If you can't figure out something relatively simple like evolution, I don't have much faith in you figuring out national economics.
 See Christie and Rand Paul's recent statements
- Shortening unemployment insurance from 99 weeks did help nudge some folks back to work.
- Encouraging housing development is better than rent control.
Perhaps I just agree with the Democrats more on hard science, and the Republicans on the dismal science. The latter is (of course!) less amendable to hard and fast truths.
Basically hides the comments on every site unless you enable them. It's a little aggressive and sometimes if you notice something weird on a site you just need to disable it for that site.
But it honestly improves the entire internet experience exponentially.
Do you folks always avoid the comments section? Obviously not, because you're here :) and the idea that this is such a generalized "Internet Rule" is contradictory to being here. If you're disgusted by other people's abrasive comments (on Wired or wherever else you're avoiding the comments section), can you offer your own respectable perspectives and steer the conversation that way? Or have you completely given up? A reasonable (but unfortunate) situation. I dislike the hair-on-fire knee-jerk screaming too. I hope we can change that.
I wrote more about this after thinking a while about Jeff Atwood's piece.
As such, those comments are liable to attract a wider variety of people, some of whom are crazy, some of whom are trolling, some of whom are trying to push some arbitrary agenda. Here, there are rules and a culture that (it seems to me) rewards interesting conversations.
Plus, most random commenters are anonymous, whereas most people on HN are pseudonymous. I consider what I write here much more strongly than what I write on reddit, or 4chan.
Perhaps we should take a more subjective look at comments on Hacker News and ask ourselves if a genuine 'hacker' (by PG definition or otherwise) would applaud new regulations for the internet.
Like you said, Rule #1. I suppose the Wired readers savvy enough to have an interesting voice on this issue are also smart enough to not voice it there.
> I see the telecoms have sent their minions to the comment sections.
I don't see why we should stop the free market; if one internet provider is doing things you don't like, another one will open and the consumer can change to that one if they care. I also feel that companies should have a right to provide some websites at higher speeds. There will always be a trade off; perhaps you could get cheaper internet if you only care about the top few sites.
If they charge the same as internet providers that do have net neutrality, then they will quickly lose market share, and I believe that should be the market's choice, not the government.
Imagine if all those people who signed the petition for new regulations instead signed a petition promising not to use any provider that throttled some websites. That would make a strong market incentive not to throttle sites.
And if the consumers can't do that, why should the government step in to save us?
If you argue that it's very hard to open a new cable internet company (which is the argument I got last time I brought this up), my answer is that enough rich people would be interested enough to open a competitor if there was demand.
The lack of regulation you want already exists, and it's starting to strangle free and open communication as we know it.
Also, not sure if this is clear, but net neutrality doesn't regulate prices. Companies can charge whatever they want for their service. The only thing that's regulated is how they treat data...all data must be treated the same. Other than that restriction, companies can do whatever they want. I don't really see how this could be viewed badly. Yes, people seem to really like the "regulation is bad" argument lately, but it doesn't really apply here, nor does it work as a blanket statement.
>And the two providers you generally expect to have do not care anything for consumer experience.
In a free market, this fact means that people don't care enough about their experience. If they cared enough, they would choose based on that, instead of on price.
>They also lobby for other companies (or even townships) to not be able to set up their own fiber/cable connections.
I would support strongly any attempt to make it easier for companies to open up new internet providers. Again, the reason there aren't so many options is because of regulations.
>The lack of regulation you want already exists, and it's starting to strangle free and open communication as we know it.
Give an example of a free market that doesn't have any net neutrality options, but has consumers that want it.
>Also, not sure if this is clear, but net neutrality doesn't regulate prices. Companies can charge whatever they want for their service. The only thing that's regulated is how they treat data...all data must be treated the same. Other than that restriction, companies can do whatever they want. I don't really see how this could be viewed badly. Yes, people seem to really like the "regulation is bad" argument lately, but it doesn't really apply here, nor does it work as a blanket statement.
I know what net neutrality is regulating, and I don't think that choice should be taken away from companies. I'm against government doing something that can be done by the consumer.
Why doesn't the regulation is bad argument work here?
As a consumer, I can see instances where I'd prefer to have cheaper service rather than pay more for net neutrality.
What about wikipedia and other sites that can be accessed for free in some countries, but wouldn't if nn was implemented? Have you seen http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/11/25... or http://qz.com/215064/when-net-neutrality-backfires-chile-jus...
There are plenty of use cases for not-nn.
And again, if the consumer decided they really want it, then choose a provider that offers it.
Internet access isn't a Free Market anywhere in the US, that much should be clear. There is no consumer choice going on here.
"Here, there's a problem because regulation has made the market not free enough."
"I know, let's fix it with more regulation!"
Also, freeness isn't binary, it can be more or less free. It's free enough that Google Fiber can exist. As long as it's possible to open something given enough money, there will be an upper limit on how much companies can screw their customers, which doesn't seem too high to me.
The FCC is doing what it can within its legal jurisdiction to improve the actual reality of internet access in the US.
The one dimensional perspective of 'more regulation bad, less regulation good' is completely unhelpful in this situation.
Some solutions would be to fix the laws allowing these lawsuits to go on like this, perhaps requiring the loser to pay the costs for frivolous suits like the ones described, or stop the FCC regulations that are the official cause of the lawsuit.
Why doesn't the government go after the monopolies under anti-trust laws?
In this case, I truly believe net neutrality is an optimal solution for consumers. The goal of society is not to make things easier on companies, the goal is to advance society as a whole. Freedom of speech and expression of ideas does this, but allowing companies to block this at their whim benefits nobody but the companies. Battling internet providers day in, day out is tiresome enough without having net neutrality on the chopping block constantly. I don't want to have to switch providers every time they start blocking content. How do I even know they are blocking or throttling content? Will they even tell me? The free market offers me no protections against this. A company could be lying to be and I'd never know.
With a regulatory body, at least there's some oversight, and by default a good amount of protection.
I think if enough people in society determine they want something, that becomes a public matter. Trying to shoehorn every problem into the free market is a lot messier, IMO.
The FCC allows companies to throttle whatever they want, but requires all the data to be provided publicly, and they make press releases every so often specifying which companies throttle and which don't. That would solve your not knowing problem.
In addition, in any location where a company is the sole provider, net neutrality applies, which would solve the problem of choices. You also rule out the obvious loophole of having multiple related companies operating under different brands to get around this.
How many of your problems could be solved by this? What problems would still remain?
(Oh, and is there any chance of getting people to support anything this complicated? No.)
Ok, so we're back to regulating again? Do you want a free market or not? I don't understand how forcing companies to provide transparency data is not regulation. How is this any better in your eyes than forcing them to treat all data the same?
> In addition, in any location where a company is the sole provider, net neutrality applies, which would solve the problem of choices.
So regulation in some instances, but not in others. A known, well-established regulation is now much more complicated to a) understand and b) enforce.
> You also rule out the obvious loophole of having multiple related companies operating under different brands to get around this.
Much harder than it sounds, I believe.
Your solutions are band-aid fixes for the fact the the free market is not equipped to handle this problem. Not only that, but you are attempting to work around regulation by creating even more complicated regulations on top of the original.
When you have to jump through a tangled mess of hoops to get to a solution that has an obvious, simple answer then you are doing something wrong.
I just don't see what the big deal with regulation is. The only ones who get hurt by this are telecoms.
I explained this in my other comment so I'll just paste it here:
>I did say I'm not opposed to all regulation. Free markets only work perfectly with perfect information, so I support almost any regulation that's about making information public. I've got no problem with forcing companies to put nutrition information on all their products, for example.
I'm not the one who's deciding on things solely based on whether they are regulation or not.
The reason this is better is because you're only forcing them to provide information, not change business practices.
>Not only that, but you are attempting to work around regulation by creating even more complicated regulations on top of the original.
I'm supporting making the info public, which is needed for markets to be truly free.
>When you have to jump through a tangled mess of hoops to get to a solution that has an obvious, simple answer then you are doing something wrong.
I went through some of the problems with the obvious answer above.
>The only ones who get hurt by this are telecoms.
I gave use-cases and reasons why a consumer might want it. Why are you ignoring those?
What we are doing here in Brazil regarding the upcoming regulations on the Internet and data protection  is to frame it around human rights issues -- freedom of expression and press freedom are the main ones.
The existence and action of governments is only justifiable for me to keep people from hurting each other too much, and preventing abusive power relationships. I believe current net neutrality issues are one of those situations.
You've floated this idea a few times here. How would you propose this rule apply in Manhattan, where the availability of a second ISP option can vary not only block by block, but building by building? I'm not sure if this is unique to New York City, but the choice to bring a supplier into a building is often the result of an exclusive contractual agreement with that provider (I waited about five years for FiOS to arrive as the second option in my building, finally supplanting the incumbent Time Warner 10/0.5 "broadband" option).
N.B.: My initial response was to your similar comment deeply threaded below.
Among others, a limited, but greater than one, number of providers in an area all trying to push their own, e.g., video service and so all blocking/throttling Netflix and other competing video services.
I find it difficult to imagine a scenario where Netflix is completely inaccessible or heavily throttled in an area and the public outcry can't stop it. The problems Netflix complained about were fixed by the free market without any NN rules.
At the same time, the government should make it easier for new ISPs to open, by relaxing the regulations.
Remember the days when a college kid could run an ISP out of their basement?
As an aside, as anyone been able to show what it would actually cost providers to adhere to a net neutrality standard?
You've floated this idea a few times here. How would you propose this rule apply in Manhattan, where the availability of a second ISP option can vary not only block by block, but building by building?
Looks like regulation to me.
"In addition, in any location where a company is the sole provider, net neutrality applies..."
I'm not the one who's deciding on things solely based on whether they are regulation or not.
Also, you didn't answer my question about whether you would support my proposal over the net neutrality one.
I'm not the one to which you raised your question. I think your suggestion is a fine one except that I wouldn't use it in place of protecting us from the monopolies we're experiencing, but in addition to net neutrality.
I would also point out that the FCC has not been granted any additional regulatory power. They could have made this move at any time and they can un-do it at any time as well. Congress can also take action to remove or re-define the FCC's power.
I don't see this as "the" be-all and end-all action, but it seems worth trying to see if we can get the average connection speeds across the country up and the minimum cost down.
The telecom space hasn't been a "free" market in decades... and likely never will again. The only thing that happens if you remove regulation is that eventually we'll have a telecom monopoly again, while prices go through the roof and industry profits soar.