Rep. Eshoo Admits Her Net Neutrality Bill Nobody Thought Would Pass — Won't Pass

from the spinnin'-wheel dept

Earlier this month we noted how a group of representatives responded to the death of the FCC’s net-neutrality rules by introducing the Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014, a bill that aimed to simply bring back the FCC’s net neutrality rules (and all of the problems within). The bill, backed by Anna Eshoo was apparently introduced solely as a public relation stunt, given that it had absolutely no chance of passing. After years of distortion, noise and confusion, net neutrality is such an immensely toxic topic in Congress that nobody wants to touch it, assuming Congress was functional enough to pass a bill in the first place.

Speaking with C-Span, Eshoo admitted the bill has no chance of passing. So why bother? According to Eshoo it was the principle of the thing:

“She suggested it was to make a point. “I think that setting a bill down in the Congress of the United States in the form that it is in really reflects millions and millions and millions of people in our country, and most frankly around the world, that want the Internet to remain accessible and open and free to them.” She called that an important principle.

Except Eshoo’s making the wrong statement on the wrong principles. The rules’ dubious legal underpinnings aside, most of the people who recently lamented the death of network neutrality rules forgot, or never knew, that the rules didn’t do much of anything useful to begin with. They were based on framework language from the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Google (from Eshoo’s district), didn’t meaningfully cover wireless networks, and contained a lot of loophole language that allowed for any number of discriminatory network behaviors — just as long as the network operator proclaimed it was being done for the health and security of the network. The rules did ban outright blocking of content, but that’s something no ISP is dumb enough to do anyway for fear of incurring real consumer protections.

It was effectively the industry’s way of enshrining rules that had no real teeth but would prevent the introduction of tougher rules. That was, until Verizon decided to have their cake and eat it too — suing the FCC in an attempted killing blow to erode FCC regulatory authority over broadband. That didn’t work, and the resulting loss killed neutrality rules but in some ways left the FCC’s ability to regulate broadband ISPs intact. All eyes are now on precisely what track new FCC boss (and former cable lobbyist) Tom Wheeler wants to take this train of dysfunction.

Eshoo might think she’s helping by trying to resuscitate the carcass of busted, legally unsupportable and intentionally wimpy neutrality rules “on principle,” but the only PR statement that was made was that nobody on either side of the net neutrality debate in Congress actually seems to be entirely aware of what they’re fighting over.

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Comments on “Rep. Eshoo Admits Her Net Neutrality Bill Nobody Thought Would Pass — Won't Pass”

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20 Comments
Just Sayin' says:

of course it won't pass

A bill like this generally will never pass because it’s not coming from the party agenda, it’s pretty much just a few people saying “wouldn’t it be nice” and doing a little grandstanding for the cameras. It had no hope up front, it wasn’t on either party’s legislative agenda, and it never will go anywhere without it.

Also, I think that the US has a real problem in that any move to force the service providers into something like this will lead to even less investment in improving the product, and move the US further behind the world in getting truly great broadband.

It would probably be much more useful for them to put money and effort into supporting alternate service providers and getting true competition in the market place.

Mark says:

Wow!

Your article shows a total lack of understanding of the net-neutrality rules. Is this website paid for by AT&T or Verizon? (Or any of the other top backbone providers?)

Quite simply, the death of that regulation allows them to now throttle bandwidth to streaming providers who refuse to pay them more money. They don’t need to ‘stop’ services. All they need to do is charge more for heavy bandwidth consumers and as a result, kill some services. Hence, new streaming providers (and small providers) are not going to be able to afford to start up (or continue operations).

To not understand that fact, yet feel enlightened enough to write an article about this issue is simply silly.

Regards,

Mark Corsi

CK20XX (profile) says:

Re: Wow!

There’s a good point hidden here by arrogant wording. A tip for Mark: if you argue without having any respect for your opponent, you become wrong even when you’re right.

Verizon is already denying that they’ve been using the net neutrality ruling as an excuse to throttle Netflix and there is no reason to taken them at their word on that. In response, people have been beseeching the FCC to classify the internet as a utility so companies like Verizon can’t get away with that and a lot more. Having more competition in the marketplace may be a more ideal solution than reinstating net neutrality, but given how competition has been systematically squeezed out and people really do need the internet as much as electricity and water, I’m not sure that’s the most realistic solution anymore.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Right to Equal Network Utility Act

One of the problems with the phrase “net neutrality” is that no one knows what it means. We know what we think it means, but the other side co-opted it simultaneously to mean exactly the opposite.

We need a name for these acts that does not use this phrase and that, preferably, can’t be co-opted by the other side. How about pros and cons for “Right to Equal Network Utility Act”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Right to Equal Network Utility Act

“no one knows what it means”

This is incorrect.
Obviously, there are those who argue about the definition – but they are quite certain that THEY know what it means.

A lack of competition in the marketplace leads to monopoly, duopoly, whatever, the end result is an artificial market buoyed by collusion. Long term this is not good for the consumer or the corporate toll keepers. It will be replaced with the next thing that comes along, rinse repeat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Net-neutrality means treating all traffic equally. Verizon’s “sponsored data” monstrosity, favors some traffic and lumps the rest of the internet as “unfavored” traffic.

“Sponsored data” traffic is favored, and un-metered. The rest of the internet is unfavored, and metered against your “usage cap”.

Therefore, “sponsored data” is non-net-neutral. Either all traffic is metered, or no traffic is metered. That’s net neutrality in a nutshell.

Hopefully that makes things less confusing.

Just Sayin' says:

Re: Re:

Part of the confusion on net neutrality is that people supporting it act as if “sponsored traffic” would mean taking away from existing traffic. That is perhaps one of the better lies out there.

Sponsored traffic would generally be “over and above” what you are currently getting. It might mean as an example that a sponsoring company pays the data and it doesn’t count against your cap, or that they may pay for improved or larger peering with your ISP so that you can reach their site or services more easily.

Net neutrality isn’t about blocking any services. There is no talk about throttling, if anything there is talk about end users getting more.

Now, where there could be an issue is that some companies would work within the current structure, and certain could pay for over and above. That may create the negative impression that some services are slower (ie, at the usual speed as always) and some are faster, but it’s always a “current plus” situation, and not a “current minus” situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sponsored traffic would generally be "over and above" what you are currently getting.

It doesn’t matter if it’s “over and above”. “Sponsored data” treats traffic streams differently. One stream is metered, the other stream is not.

Therefore, there is a difference between the two traffic streams. The definition of “neutral” states, “Not aligned with, supporting, or favoring either side”.

Now replace “side” with “traffic stream”, and you know understand why “sponsored data” is non-neutral.

Due to the fact it has two separate data streams. One stream is metered, the other is not. There’s nothing “neutral” about it. Obviously the un-metered traffic stream is being favored above all other traffic streams.

That’s not the definition of neutral, because something is being favored. Something can’t be neutral, if there’s favoring going on.

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