Shocker: FCC Says Closed Door Meetings Failed In Creating Transparency

from the ya-think? dept

With a rush of negative publicity around the secretive closed door meetings with only industry lobbyists, the FCC has now come out and said that it is ending those meetings because they have “not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet.”

Ya think? A bunch of secret meetings have not worked to preserve openness? Shocking.

In the meantime, someone forwarded me a report from a DC think tank complaining that my last post on this subject represented a “new low” for Techdirt, because everyone knows the FCC has really been taken over by “leftist” consumer advocates. I find it ridiculous when anyone take an issue and pins “left wing” or “right wing” to the sides when the real issue is about neither. That’s a weak attempt at dismissing important arguments by focusing on the politicization of it, rather than the substance. But, part of that complaint was that having the companies involved work out a deal is much better than having “a small handful of elite, ‘consumer advocates,’ impervious to reason, debate or the sunlight of opposing viewpoints” make the decisions.

Beyond the rather stunningly ridiculous assertion that there is such a thing as a cabal of “elite consumer advocates,” the whole premise assumes (incorrectly) that there really are only two options. How about rather than a small handful of elites on any side of the spectrum figuring this out in backrooms, the discussion was brought out into the open, where everyone could take part? Is that such a ridiculous thing to ask for? Openness and transparency does not live on any particular segment of the political spectrum.

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Comments on “Shocker: FCC Says Closed Door Meetings Failed In Creating Transparency”

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Overcast (profile) says:

Re: Isn't this good news? No decision is better than a bad one.

I can retain some *slight* hope that the FCC retains a tiny bit of integrity and will eventually declare cable / DSL common carriers as they should be, and neutralize the heck out of ’em.

I commend your optimism – but that’s likely all it will ever be – sadly – hope.

Various corporations/elites own the companies that this would effect and by proxy – own the politicians who will make the decision.

I think when history looks back on the demise of our great nation, it will be said one of the biggest problems was allowing corporate dollars to run the show in politics. I guess we can sum up our current political climate with a great demotivator!!

Mistakes: It could be that the purpose our your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

^^ That pretty much ‘defines’ our current political climate.

Overcast (profile) says:

“I find it ridiculous when anyone take an issue and pins “left wing” or “right wing” to the sides when the real issue is about neither. That’s a weak attempt at dismissing important arguments by focusing on the politicization of it, rather than the substance”

That’s par for the course ‘procedure’ now for the media and politicians. They have to try and keep people polarized – as it allows them to get away with more behind closed doors.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Gov. regulation needed to keep capitalism from running amuck.

As much as people like to think that capitalism and the ‘free market’ are such wonderful things, taken to their logical conclusion would be disastrous for everyone. The end result of any truly successful capitalistic system is for one man to own everything and everyone else to be his slave. We have seen that in Standard Oil, in bad old IBM, in pre-breakup ‘Ma Bell’ and we are seeing it again.

As Lord Acton, expressed in 1887:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

People and by extension the companies they run have a tendency to degenerate into vehicles for extracting the maximum profit in the minimum amount of time and to hell with the consequences. While ultimately an unsustainable proposition, the collateral damage can be substantial. We’ve been reminded of this with the recent ‘crash and burn’ of our financial markets and the current depression in the States.

One of the primary purposes of the government is to regulate, to temper, the worst excesses of capitalism. To provide a basic level of protection for its people. In other words to provide the rules for the game of economic activity and enforce them to the betterment of society as a whole. If that means that a small number of people at the top have a little less so that the rest of the people suffer a little less, then they are doing their job.

Unfortunately America has joined many other countries in forgetting this. Of course the ironic part is that the current state of affairs is ultimately self defeating. In the drive for just a couple of million more _this_ quarter we’ve completely destroyed the virtuous cycle.

Virtuous Cycle:
Workers make decent money ->
Money available to spend ->
More things bought ->
More factories, etc, needed to make more stuff ->
Workers making even more money ….

and round and round it goes. The people who run the companies make a tidy sum through out. A little less in the short term, but sustainable and so total profits are much higher over time.

What we are stuck in is the vicious cycle.

Vicious cycle:
Workers make less money ->
Less money available to spend ->
Less things bought ->
Less factories, etc, needed ->
Workers make even less money, or laid off ….

and round and round it goes. The people who run the companies may make a larger amount in the short term, but it’s unsustainable and so the entire economy sinks into recession, depression and collapse.

What I find sadly amusing is that the people in charge know this, even if it’s on a subconscious level. We gotten to the point that we aren’t even involved in actually making things anymore. That’s the fiction that is intellectual property. We are buying and selling ‘ideas’. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the people in power are using the law to force other people to pay them for imaginary things. What’s a patent but the right to use an idea. What’s copyright, the right to make a copy of something yourself. It’s not like people are fighting for the right to have someone else make them more copies of something for free. They just want to be left alone to use what they have as they see fit, without hurting others. As if that isn’t bad enough, but now they want you to pay them if you want to sing a song that you composed based on another song you heard. They want to get paid for things you’ve built or created yourself.

Intellectual property is about transferring money from people who do stuff, who make stuff, into the pockets of people who don’t.

But enough about the larger problems, the view of what happens when government regulation runs amuck.

In this particular instance, Net neutrality legislation is needed, desperately. Not the false, short sighted, let those in power strangle the golden goose just a little tighter, mess we’ll probably end up with, but real long term forward looking play field leveling legislation.

Things it needs to contain;
1. Networks are a natural monopoly, anyone should be able to compete over the same wires. If you don’t want to be in the moving bits business then get out of it. Compete by offering the most reliable, fasted network at the most reasonable price.

2. People should get what they are paying for. No ‘up to’ language, no fuzzy ‘acceptable use policy’, no talk of ‘bandwidth hogs’. You should expect that people will use what you are selling them. If you sell them a 6MB connection then don’t complain if they actually use 6MB.

3. Treat every destination equally. Everyone’s a server, everyone’s a client. The reason the internet’s been such a boon is the availability of practically anyone to be seen, to develop innovative applications, to speak and be heard.

4. If you are going to ‘prioritize’ certain types of packets over others, then that has to be the user’s choice _not_ the company that’s providing access. No Comcast favoring their video over some other internet video site. No AT&T favoring their VOIP over a third party VOIP. Especially no favoring company A’s content over company B’s just because company A’s giving the ISP a bucket of money.

5. If you’re an ISP, your customer’s data is just that, their data. No snooping, deep packet inspection, or other sleazy manipulations to _monetize_ their information. You want to do something, it’s strictly _opt_in_. If you can’t convince people to sign up then it probably isn’t important enough to them.

That would be true beneficial Net Neutrality legislation.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Then we need to 'fix' the government.

Then we need to fix the government.

As I have hopefully illustrated, our current government isn’t doing what it should. If it was, then our economy, our society, wouldn’t be in half the mess it’s currently in.

That doesn’t mean that the government should just give up. The only way we can get the good government we need is to take it back. The only way we can take it back is to get more people upset over how things are currently run.

We need to poke, prod, embarrass our congress critters, our judges into doing the _right_ thing.

How’s that old saying go;
The soap box, the ballot box, the ammo box. Use in that order.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Then we need to 'fix' the government.

This is the difficult thing to do.

People talk about join up to take by force. Nowadays that doesn’t work quite as well.

The violence doesn’t work because it forces a violent response in kind. Think of a riot and how those turn out. Once it gets close to home, then it’s time to call the guards. So that’s out.

The response of “changing Congress” doesn’t work because the populace doesn’t know about various parties. We don’t have an electorate that gives proportion seating. Since one party would win it all, it basically ensures that Repubs or Demos get elected. Year, after year, after year…

If you look into courts, that’s been the best way to affect change. Present a case with precedents and show why something should be or not be.

Suffice to say, changing government means working with people you may disagree with 9 times out of 10. But numbers talk far more than violence. That has always been true.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“In the meantime, someone forwarded me a report from a DC think tank complaining that my last post on this subject represented a “new low” for Techdirt, because everyone knows the FCC has really been taken over by “leftist” consumer advocates.”

Show me the money or the report or don’t include it in your blog. How often have you gone after reporters, newspapers, and others for unsubstantiated statements.

“I find it ridiculous when anyone take an issue and pins “left wing” or “right wing” to the sides when the real issue is about neither.”

Agreed, its about corporations writing our laws. Pushing only for corporate interests and profits. Not looking at the consumer, and constitutional aspects.

The combination of the pendulum having been pushed so far to the corporate side, the lack of any input from the population, ease of communication, and the fact that people are being inadvertantly trained by using the internet to want to have a say. Is a train wreck waiting to happen for the US government and corporations. If you look at South Korea, Sweden, Canada, etc it gives a glimpse of what is beginning to occur in the US. People taking more of an interest in politics because they have access to information before the laws are passed. People wanting to take part in the debate and getting angry and frustrated when they can not. This is yet another disruptive curve that is going to expand as news becomes more personalized, and more people become comfortable with the new communications media that is the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

From your link.

“Free Press, Public Knowledge, MAP and OIC lobbyists (among other “reformistas”) have practically installed themselves at the FCC since day one”

Yes, because when the FCC holds closed door meetings that only include industry reps and excludes the public the public, and consumer advocate groups, are supposed to sit around and do absolutely nothing.

“The opposite would be corrupt – a closed process decided by a small handful of elite, “consumer advocates,” impervious to reason, debate or the sunlight of opposing viewpoints.”

How is a request that the meetings be made public conducive to a closed process? It’s the telcos that want the process to be made private and it’s the FCC that made the process a closed one, these consumer advocates are advocating that the process be made public to the consumer. Who is more likely to have the consumers interest in mind, those who want the process behind closed telco doors (the telco lobby) or those (public knowledge et al) who want the process open to the public?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

and excludes the public; the public *

(from same link)
“then blame the “monopolists” for corrupting the process.”

So then are you arguing that government imposed monopolies are a good thing?

If not then are you advocating that they should be abolished? If so then you agree with us on techdirt.

and, as someone said, this isn’t about “left” vs “right” it’s about government protectionism (big corporations) vs free market capitalism (techdirt advocates).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Compromise will happen. It should.”

Just because it should happen doesn’t mean it will. Clearly 95+ year copyright length isn’t a compromise, it’s corporations stealing form the public.

and why should I believe that the public interest will be served if these meetings occur behind closed doors? Who will defend the public interest behind closed doors when the only people involved are the telcos? The government? Yeah, we’ve seen how well that works.

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