Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why we should be worried about "net neutrality"

The FCC's decision yesterday to grab for itself the power to regulate the internet through so-called "net neutrality" rules is the latest grab for federal government power over private industry. There wasn't any big demand for such regulation. The internet has grown from the small source it was in the beginning to be the wonderful source that it is today through private companies investing and competing with each other. But that isn't good enough for the Democrats on the FCC. They want more control.
U.S. companies are sitting on $2 trillion in cash, and the Obama Administration has just made telecommunications a less attractive place to invest. To health care and financial services, add one more industry that the federal government has drawn into that huge gray cloud called "economic uncertainty."

Yesterday's action is breathtaking: At a stroke, the Democratic-controlled Federal Communications Commission circumvents Congress, defies the courts and declares itself overlord of the Web.

Under the "net neutrality" rules adopted by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and two fellow Democrats on the five-member panel, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and other Internet service providers will have less say over how they manage their networks and serve customers going forward.

The rules prohibit Internet providers from blocking legal websites, a principle the industry already voluntarily adheres to. More problematic are rules that would allow the FCC to determine if an Internet service provider is engaged in "unreasonable" discrimination in terms of prioritizing traffic on its network. Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell, who voted against the new regulations, noted in a statement yesterday that "reasonable" is not only a subjective term but "perhaps the most litigated word in American history."
They took this arrogant step in the face of a federal court decision saying that they did not have this power and urging from over 300 members of Congress to desist. This was a problem in search of a solution and, when government gets involved, that solution is always more regulation and control.
There is no compelling reason to subject the Internet to more regulation. New devices and applications proliferate. Competition among broadband providers is robust, barriers to market entry low, and evidence of market failure nonexistent.

What the FCC has done here is a naked lunge for political power. It forces every player in this crucially important industry to first clear what they can and can't do with their Washington masters. Minimizing the inevitable damage ought to be a top priority of the next Congress.
John Fund explores the back story on who is behind this. It's the same groups that were so eager to stifle freedom of speech through campaign finance reform plus some of the same people who would like to restore the Fairness Doctrine. Cleverly, the FCC commissioned its study on the need for net neutrality by asking the same groups that had already been advocating for net neutrality to produce reports about how the FCC had to regulate the internet to ensure net neutrality. Now that is interconnectivity!

20 comments:

pumping-irony said...

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly and officious jerks gotta be officious and jerky. And if there aren't any REAL problems for them to "solve" (or worsen), they'll invent one. So it was, is and shall always be.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

here - charles johnson explains it much better than i could:

Wingnut Blogs Go Cuckoo Over Net Neutrality Bill

Charles Johnson
Technology • Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 10:34 am PST • Views: 2,056

I’m not crazy about the new Net Neutrality regulations, because they’re: 1) pretty weak sauce, and 2) full of loopholes that will let big ISPs get away with funny business, especially wireless providers.

But one thing it obviously is not is an attempt by the Obama administration or the FCC to “take over the Internet,” and only an idiot, an ideologue, or a liar would try to portray it that way.

I’ll let you decide which categories these right wing bloggers belong in:

Rep. Marsha Blackburn Explains How GOP Will Block FCC Takeover of the Internet (Video) | The Gateway Pundit

Dictator Obama Seizes Control of Internet - Atlas Shrugs

Power Line - Abolish the FCC

Fausta’s Blog » “Net Neutrality” just a pretext for FCC power grab

Government’s Internet Grab Begins: FCC Approves Internet Regulations - Big Government

Michelle Malkin at least has the honesty to come right out and admit she thinks the cable companies should be allowed to set up discriminatory barriers on the web.


http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/37775_Wingnut_Blogs_Go_Cuckoo_Over_Net_Neutrality_Bill/comments/#ctop

Tacitus Voltaire said...

briefly put, the end of net neutrality might mean that when you go to click on the link to betsy's page, a dialogue box might pop up saying "this site has been classified as a super premium service site by your internet provider. viewing betsy's site will cost you 10 times as much as a non premium website such as msnbc"

now, i can't say that private companies don't have the right to charge whatever they want for services. but they haven't made these distinctions in internet service before, and it won't be a good experience for any of us if and when they do

Tacitus Voltaire said...

here's the wikipedia definition:

Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for users' access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication

Pat Patterson said...

LGF and Wikipedia, there the two greatest sources have been quoted so that means the issue is moot. Hooray, spam for all.

pumping-irony said...

Pat Patterson is correct. It reminds me of a conversation I once had with a liberal friend: "Bill Clinton is innocent! It says so right here on this newspaper editorial page." Oh, well, then case closed.

equitus said...

..and it won't be a good experience for any of us if and when they do

Wow, I had no idea the imminent threat we were facing! I want only "good experiences" and to be protected from making choices. We should all fall on our knees and thank the FCC (and TV) for saving us from this living hell.

Now, what other non-enumerated powers and liberties can we hand over to our benevolent unelected leaders to protect us from this demonic future? Tell us, TV... we await your pearls of wisdom.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

tell, equitus - what "demonic" interventions of the government is betsy warning us about in her post? surely you can detail and enumerate them for us

Tacitus Voltaire said...

i'll keep in mind, pat, that you consider "all your sources bite the big one" a valid response in debates

i'm sure it really impresses people where you come from

Pat Patterson said...

BTW, this is what Michelle Malkin did say to the probably amazement of TV and the befuddlement of LGF.

"Face it: A high-speed connection is no more an essential civil right than 3G cell phone service or a Netflix account. Increasing competition and restoring academic excellence in abysmal public schools is far more of an imperative to minority children than handing them iPads. Once again, Democrats are using children as human shields who provide useful cover for not-so-noble political goals."

Now, what barriers is Johnson and his talking dummy referring to here. If I choose not to pay the extra money both both for a nifty new gadget and monthly access how is that somehow a right to gain such use anyway?

Tacitus Voltaire said...

If I choose not to pay the extra money both both for a nifty new gadget and monthly access how is that somehow a right to gain such use anyway?

right now, betsy can disseminate her opinions on the web just as cheaply as anybody else. nobody charges more for you to read her page than to go to msnbc or LGF, nobody puts her page on a slow pipe and msnbc on a fast one, and she isn't charged particularly any more to post her page than anybody else renting hosting from the same service. right now, the internet is, in actual reality, a very democratic forum where money is no real barrier to free speech. hypothetically, television could be the same way, but it isn't. it costs a lot to get your face on the air, and with the coming of cable, the premium packages give you access to channels you don't get on the basic plan

this isn't about legal or constitutional rights. there is no constitutional right to be able to publish whatever you want and communicate with the entire world at for $8.54 a month and with essentially no censorship. it is just a realization of democracy in action that actually happens to exist right now. the name for this is Net Neutrality

there is no civil or constitutional right to not have the cost of internet access, both from the publishing as well as the reading point of view, priced according to whatever the providers desire, and there is no civil or constitutional right to not have, say, conservative web page bloggers charged extra to get their page on the web, and consumers charged more to get there, so that web service providers can drive traffic - by charging less - to more commercial sites by providing cheaper access to them, or driving traffic to websites with ideological content that they like. no constitutional right at all

it would just be the end of the state of democracy we happen to have on the web at the moment

i like free speech and democracy. if it doesn't mean that much to you, that's your business

Pat Patterson said...

When I start using Wikipedia and LGF I will deserve the abuse. But you're wearing the horns in the meantime. Especially if you chose not to verify the representation of what someone else said. Primary sources over secondary sources always.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

If I choose not to pay the extra money both both for a nifty new gadget and monthly access how is that somehow a right to gain such use anyway?

right now, betsy can disseminate her opinions on the web just as cheaply as anybody else. nobody charges more for you to read her page than to go to msnbc or LGF, nobody puts her page on a slow pipe and msnbc on a fast one, and she isn't charged particularly any more to post her page than anybody else renting hosting from the same service. right now, the internet is, in actual reality, a very democratic forum where money is no real barrier to free speech. hypothetically, television could be the same way, but it isn't. it costs a lot to get your face on the air, and with the coming of cable, the premium packages give you access to channels you don't get on the basic plan

this isn't about legal or constitutional rights. there is no constitutional right to be able to publish whatever you want and communicate with the entire world at for $8.54 a month and with essentially no censorship. it is just a realization of democracy in action that actually happens to exist right now. the name for this is Net Neutrality

there is no civil or constitutional right to not have the cost of internet access, both from the publishing as well as the reading point of view, priced according to whatever the providers desire, and there is no civil or constitutional right to not have, say, conservative web page bloggers charged extra to get their page on the web, and consumers charged more to get there, so that web service providers can drive traffic - by charging less - to more commercial sites by providing cheaper access to them, or driving traffic to websites with ideological content that they like. no constitutional right at all

it would just be the end of the state of democracy we happen to have on the web at the moment

i like free speech and democracy. if it doesn't mean any more to you than a "nifty new gadget", that's your business

Tacitus Voltaire said...

gee, pat, your little problem with dictionaries is cropping up again. you manage to not know the meaning of either "wearing the horns" or "primary source"

look 'em up before you get back to me, ok?

Pat Patterson said...

I figured that clueless and confused was accurate so I'll leave it to the one who still doesn't have a real grasp on quotations or where buster is residing.

Rick Caird said...

TV still has the reasoning ability of a 12 year old. If he spent even a smidgen of time on the topic, he would understand this is not at all about net neutrality. It is another government sponsored extra advantage program.

The whole idea of so called net neutrality is to allow some commercial products to hog the bandwidth and force everyone else to pay their application. The drivers of "net neutrality" are people like Netflix and Google. They want to be able to deliver their products cheaply and not to be forced to pay for the bandwidth they use.

In the case of Comcast, the cable companies use CSMA/CD technologies. That means the delivery is on a contention basis. So, if someone is trying to access email and the web, very low bandwidth applications, they will be forced to interleave with high bandwidth movie delivery. When Comcast is forced to upgrade their facility to provide adequate service, those using the low bandwidth applications will be forced to pay to subsidize the high bandwidth Google and Netflix applications.

TV does not understand this. But, what else is new. TV understands so little that he is too embarrassed to use his own name. But, that does not stop his from lowering the IQ of all who come across his inaccurate ramblings.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

amusing, rick. perhaps you could explain to us where you get the idea that google, or blogs for thar matter, are "high bandwidth applications"

Tacitus Voltaire said...

The whole idea of so called net neutrality is to allow some commercial products to hog the bandwidth and force everyone else to pay their application.

apparantly you don't understand the meaning of the phrase at all. we have net neutrality now. who are all these "commercial products" that are "hogging the bandwidth"? who is it who has to pay? my iphone contract has a bandwidth limit that stipulates that i pay extra if i exceed its limits

study up and try again

Rick Caird said...

I do grow tired of having to offer you basic education. Google owns YouTube and, yes, that is high bandwidth. Google also offers "cloud computing" such as spreadsheets. Netflix, of course, streams movies. Those are all high bandwidth applications.

I never said blogs were high bandwidth. In fact, they are usually low bandwidth unless they have a bunch of embedded flash applications.

Pat Patterson said...

Lifehacker has an article on the pros and cons of net neutrality that even I understood. Being a Luddite when it comes to anything more complex then a two-barrel carb and vacuum tube. After reading it twice it seems a issue in search of a problem. It would be nice to not have to pay for bandwidth but then the government is still pouring money into passenger trains for over 150 years to no avail.

http://tinyurl.com/24svp2j