Internet Slowdown Day Generated 1,000 Calls Per Minute To Congress

from the nice-work... dept

A brief update on how the Internet Slowdown Day effort went, in case you missed it. Tons of sites jumped on board, including my favorite, Clickhole (The Onion’s lovingly wonderful attempt to satirize clickbait sites), which showed off images of koalas that refused to load to in an effort to call for net neutrality… With the effort on so many different websites, reports are that, at its peak, there were over a thousand calls per minute going into the Congressional switchboard, which is a huge deal. Many in Congress are indicating that their offices are getting swamped with calls.

The main act is over at the FCC, but not in Congress (mainly because Congress has no desire to get anywhere near reforming the Telecommunications Act, as it should). However, a big part of the issue at the FCC is the political fight that it will set off no matter what decision it eventually comes to. The more Congress realizes that the public really supports an open and neutral internet, the more likely it is that the FCC will have the political cover to do what’s right. This is good news. Again, if you’re still trying to understand all this net neutrality stuff, we’ve got a big primer to check out.

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Comments on “Internet Slowdown Day Generated 1,000 Calls Per Minute To Congress”

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62 Comments
G Thompson (profile) says:

Being a full blooded Aussie I suggest you send the evil and vicious cousin of the Koalas to those who want to destroy this net neutrality .

I give you the Drop bear (Thylarctos plummetus).

Somebody think of the Koalas!

(Oh and for those who doubt the existence of such a creature I would point out that that link is to the Official Australian Museum site endorsed by the Australia Federal Government – how much more proof do you need! Our Govt says it is true so it must be… oh wait)

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: A Better Choice of Animal

You must not take offense as an Australian when I point out that our animals are bigger than yours. We have the great Brown Bear (sub-species Grizzly and Kodiak), and the Polar Bear, both of which run up to two thousand pounds, but Polar Bears are confined to Alaska, and Brown Bears to Alaska and the Rocky Mountains. More common and widespread is the American Black Bear:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursus_americanus

We also have the Mountain Lion, or Cougar. as well as packs of Wolves. Howver, it might be more productive of confusion to introduce a non-predator species into the halls of Congress. One could select the Bison, or American Buffalo, but I think a better choice would be the Moose, or American Elk, a herbivorous animal, which has a strong folkloric tradition, but which nonetheless insists on its rights.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moose

Suggested cartoon: a moose sticks its woebegone face inside a senator’s office, and says: “Sir, I’d like to talk to you about Network Neutrality…”

Raging Alcoholic (profile) says:

Re: Re: A Better Choice of Animal

“packs of Wolves”

Your packs of wolves are impressive but, do they wear business suits, have law degrees, and carry suitcases full of cash to buy your elected officials. Our’s do. If I understand it correctly all your wolves do is run deer and elk to the ground and eat them.

On the other hand, your cougar are rival. There is nothing more majestic and desirable than a 40+ Aussie woman.

Anonymous Coward says:

and Congress will still only take notice of what it wants! yes, if they ignore the people, they risk losing their position next election but if anyone believes that the first rule of politics is the people, think again! in 99% of cases, the people are second to the politician. they will all have made provision for not being re-elected so they will only do what suits!!

JohnG (profile) says:

“Net Neutrality” is the desire for public control over private property. To believe otherwise is to ignore what the internet actually is — a network of privately owned computers

If you think the FCC or any government entity is focused on your freedom online and not about centralizing more control for itself, you are delusional.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Net Neutrality” is the desire for public control over private property.

Incorrect. It is a desire for a certain level of service.
Next you will be saying that the EPA mandated water quality standards are an attempt to control privately owned water supplies. Like it or not, the Internet has become a necessity and it therefore a public utility.

“To believe otherwise is to ignore what the internet actually is — a network of privately owned computers”

Your lack of knowledge is apparent.

Funny how such blather was not voiced about the Communications Act of 1934 and its predecessors.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

BS. We don’t have government legislation mandating a certain level of service for restaurants or sports stadiums or other types of commerce. If it were about a certain level of service then we’d be talking about abolishing the monopoly agreements and let companies compete for the consumer’s dollar. That will do more to ensure a better level of service for consumers than governmental legislation could ever hope to achieve.

People bitch about the electrical networks and overloads, blackouts, whatever… that these public utilities haven’t invested in the electrical infrastructure. You don’t think there’ll be similar discussions if the gov’t turns Comcast into a public utility? That somehow it’ll be different than them? Newsflash: it won’t

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

As I stated, if NN was about improving service, the discussion would be about opening up the system to competition — eliminating right-of-way legislation and abolishing exclusivity agreements — not giving the government more power over private businesses. When the government takes things over, service doesn’t magically improve, nor does the cost of it decrease.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Net Neutrality” is the desire for public control over private property. To believe otherwise is to ignore what the internet actually is — a network of privately owned computers

You might have a point if (1) the internet was developed privately (it was developed by the gov’t) and (2) if the companies who built the infrastructure didn’t do so with subsidies, rebates, rights of way and spectrum… all from the government.

Face it, the internet exists in large part because of the government, and based on that it ALREADY puts significant regulations on how the internet functions. The question here is not about changing the level of that control, just what kind of rules there will be for the road. And, the whole point of net neutrality is to actually clear the path so that there’s much more openness online.

So, stop repeating debunked telco talking points.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“rights of way”

Exactly. ISPs use public property to operate their private businesses.

The public is demanding control over public property. When these private entities want to pass wires over public property their use of public property should be regulated.

Just like if I pass my private automobile on public roads by driving it it is subject to traffic laws. Likewise when private companies want to operate their equipment over public property regulations to ensure the public interest is served with their use of such property are appropriate. Otherwise the ISPs can take their infrastructure off of public property, put it in their private backyard or get rid of it somehow (at their expense), and the government can find someone else willing to follow the rules in exchange for having the privilege of using public property for their private business. The use of public property for their private business is a privilege and it should be regulated as such.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The government shouldn’t just freely give anyone the use of public property to operate their private businesses. The government needs to require something in return. The government needs to ensure that the use of public property is optimally serving the public interest. They need to pass laws requiring this.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It was the government that purchased all the servers, switches, routers, racks, patch cables, satellites and other gear that makes inter-networking possible? Is that really the argument you’re trying to make?

The government at best helped develop the protocols that power the web, and subsidized some of the cost of laying some of the physical cable (while also selling decades-long exclusivity agreements), but those aren’t sufficient reasons to turn the cable co’s (and all the other companies upstream of them) into public utilities.

“And, the whole point of net neutrality is to actually clear the path so that there’s much more openness online.”

What’s not open online right now? I still fail to see the problem that this legislation is trying to solve. That aside, if this legislation is passed at best you’re simply shifting control of some portion of the internet from the ISP to the government. And if you think the politicians care about what you want any more than the ISP you pay each month then I have some swampland to sell you.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Net neutrality is about treating all data equally yes? To prevent an a la carte purchasing plan (as evidenced by the graphic produced here: http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/how-the-end-of-net-neutrality-might-look-to-an-ordinary-customer/)? Is there any evidence of ISPs doing that now or is this legislation attempting to fix a problem that doesn’t exist? If it doesn’t currently exist, is the existing internet set to expire at some point and then this scenario would come into being?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Is there any evidence of ISPs doing that now or is this legislation attempting to fix a problem that doesn’t exist?

If you put the blinders on and only look at ISPs doing exactly what’s in the infographic, no. The point is to avoid that, not to let it happen and then fix it. If you want to see examples of encroachments on net neutrality:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140502/07095427095/interconnection-how-big-broadband-kills-net-neutrality-without-violating-net-neutrality.shtml

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140731/06530628066/pay-different-prices-to-access-different-sites-virgin-mobile-leaps-through-net-neutrality-exemption-with-gusto.shtml

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140722/17020827973/verizon-gets-snarky-basically-admits-that-its-one-clogging-its-networks-purpose.shtml

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

and NN won’t address the core problem — a lack of openness, which leads to a lack of competition. Nationalizing ISPs and turning them into public utilities won’t magically cause prices to go down and service quality to go up. It’s simply an excuse to centralize more power in the Federal Gov’t. How is that a superior outcome?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“If you think the FCC or any government entity is focused on your freedom online and not about centralizing more control for itself, you are delusional.”

I just wanted to add this to Mike’s (quite correct) response: the private companies that you’re championing are even less focused on our online freedom and are at least as concerned with centralizing more control for themselves. So, if we’re going to frame the debate in those terms, we’re choosing between the lesser of two evils. And the FCC is currently the lesser evil.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And the FCC is currently the lesser evil

Absolutely true, and think just how “evil” you have to be for this to be the case.

Everyone is so fed up with the telco’s that we are more interested in having NN regulated by the US government.

Their total disregard for their customers is so out of control that we would like the people that brought us the Department of Motor Vehicles to force them to improve.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And why don’t telco’s care about the consumer? BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE TO! There is virtually no competition because THE GOVERNMENT sold them exclusivity agreements and has nonsense right-of-way rules in place to prevent new competitors from entering the market.

The solution to this is not to consolidate power in the government because they care even less about us than Comcast. At least Comcast never came out and said “We don’t spy on our citizens.”

But if it were found out that Comcast said that and lied (and this stuff always comes out) then we could sue Comcast. Because of byzantine bureaucratic rules and “national security” protections, suing the gov’t is damn near impossible.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Inefficient according to whom? You? It’s inefficient that there’s 14 italian restaurants to choose from and 48 pizza joints.

Regarding feasibility and incentive: We won’t know for certain until it happens, but I’d argue there likely is if a new player sees how he could supply better or cheaper service.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

I wouldn’t mind having a set of cables that anyone can share set up for by the government. However, if someone doesn’t want to use the shared cables and they wish to provide their own service over their own cable and to build their own cable network I see nothing wrong with that. The shared cable(s) may get over saturated during peak hours and so building a new set of cables creates more possible bandwidth.

It’s also not really inefficient because two sets of cables can deliver twice as much bandwidth as only one. So if you have three sets of cables that’s three times the bandwidth. Five sets of cable has five times the capacity. Redundancy is not a bad thing.

Relying on more service providers also minimizes widespread outages. An outage associated with only one set of cables can affect far more people in an area all at once. An outage associated with one set out of five sets of cables in an area will affect fewer people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

and the redundancy thing increasing reliability creates incentive for companies to compete on reliability. If you only have one set it’s as reliable as only that one set. There is a single point of failure and all the ISPs sharing it have about the same reliability over that one set. Little competition. With five sets being delivered by five ISPs if one ISP using their cables is unreliable I can switch to another. Now the ISPs must compete on reliability and they have incentive to keep their cables more reliable. The total load of everyone’s usage also gets distributed over more cables and everyone has incentive to upgrade their cables so they can carry a larger load and attract more customers with more bandwidth. With only one set of cables the speed is limited by that one set and who has incentive to upgrade since everyone is sharing the same set and all customers are subject to the same cables no matter what ISP they choose.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

and the redundancy thing increasing reliability creates incentive for companies to compete on reliability. If you only have one set it’s as reliable as only that one set.

That’s where the regulation comes in. Oh yes evil regulation the gubment is taking over our internets. They do a good job making sure the power company has reliable infrastructure and service everywhere I’ve lived; I see no reason they couldn’t do the same for internet.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

It’s also not really inefficient because two sets of cables can deliver twice as much bandwidth as only one.

Is it the actual cables that cause saturation? I’m not a network expert, but IIRC it’s equipment further upstream that needs to be upgraded to serve more customers. Meaning if for example the cable loop in your area is serving too many customers and speeds are dropping, the solution isn’t to dig up the ground and lay more cables, it’s to upgrade hardware at the CLEC, or whatever it’s called.

Redundancy is not a bad thing.

Yes, but you’re not going to get very meaningful redundancy by laying more cables in the same trench. And having multiple independent routes for the cables is A) expensive and B) ISPs will be continually cutting each other’s cables when working on their own, either accidentally or “accidentally”.

Relying on more service providers also minimizes widespread outages.

I am 100% in favor of multiple service providers, we need that badly. That doesn’t necessarily imply redundant infrastructure. In fact I’m pretty sure there’s nowhere in the world that has solved this problem with redundant infrastructure.

An outage associated with one set out of five sets of cables in an area will affect fewer people.

Not likely. Whatever affects cable 1 will probably have the same effect on cable 2 right next to it (see above for problems with guarding against that).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

“Is it the actual cables that cause saturation? I’m not a network expert, but IIRC it’s equipment further upstream that needs to be upgraded to serve more customers.”

Yes the cables do cause saturation. The cables and equipment work together. For instance two 100 Mbs Ethernet adapters need one cable to connect them. Two sets of Ethernet adapters would need two cables. Some industrial routers have two 10Gbs Ethernet ports that connect to two other 10Gbs ports so that they can use two 10Gb/s cables and get 20Gb/s. Cables are indeed a limiting factor. AFAIK that’s part of the whole issue with the phone lines and their need to upgrade their backbone that wasn’t designed for high speed Internet vs fiber optics. The fiber optic cable is the backbone. One of the advantages of fiber optics vs Ethernet cables is that the bandwidth doesn’t attenuate as easily with distance which makes it ideal for large sites and ISPs. The wire costs more than Ethernet but, for long distances, you use less equipment because you need fewer repeaters. Ethernet is cheaper for short distances.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

“I’m not a network expert, but IIRC it’s equipment further upstream that needs to be upgraded to serve more customers.”

The ISPs always seem to complain that the most expensive aspect of their business is last mile delivery. From my understanding level three charges very little for traffic across their network and to justify the high prices when traffic across the highest levels are very cheap ISPs say the highest cost is in the last mile. In fact I’m pretty sure many of the shills around here have argued that it’s the last mile that’s most expensive (then again if you look you can probably find arguments from shills saying that it’s the higher level aspects of ISP services that are most expensive depending on which argument is most convenient at the time).

From level 3

“Verizon has confirmed that everything between that router in their network and their subscribers is uncongested – in fact has plenty of capacity sitting there waiting to be used. Above, I confirmed exactly the same thing for the Level 3 network. So in fact, we could fix this congestion in about five minutes simply by connecting up more 10Gbps ports on those routers. Simple. Something we’ve been asking Verizon to do for many, many months, and something other providers regularly do in similar circumstances. But Verizon has refused. So Verizon, not Level 3 or Netflix, causes the congestion. Why is that? Maybe they can’t afford a new port card because they’ve run out – even though these cards are very cheap, just a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more. If that’s the case, we’ll buy one for them. Maybe they can’t afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that’s the case, we’ll provide it. Heck, we’ll even install it.”

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140718/06533327927/level3-proves-that-verizon-is-absolutely-to-blame-netflix-congestion-using-verizons-own-data.shtml

To be fair it’s almost certain ISPs largely exaggerate their last mile costs and if hard data shows up to prove that it’s cheap (and the fact that communities have tried to build their own community networks and big ISPs have lobbied hard against such community efforts to shut them down and the fact that other countries with varying geographical features and population densities have managed to offer better services at a cheaper price suggests it is cheap) the ISPs will find a way to argue that the true cost is somewhere between the last mile and the highest level transfer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

“And having multiple independent routes for the cables is A) expensive and B) ISPs will be continually cutting each other’s cables when working on their own, either accidentally or “accidentally”.”

I doubt they’ll do it on purpose because one ISP cutting the cable of another will not go unpunished. The other will retaliate and both ISPs will lose out. Seems very unlikely. As far as accidentally I suppose the cable provider can accidentally cut power lines as well. Or they can find ways to make distinctions. They can color code the cables or have them tied to different boxes with different keys. The very small potential for accidental confusion among cables that belong to other ISPs is hardly a reason to avoid allowing multiple providers to serve the same area using different cables. There is a million ways that can be solved (line tracers, color coding the wires, labeling the wires, separating them into sections, etc..). This is a non-issue.

“Whatever affects cable 1 will probably have the same effect on cable 2 right next to it (see above for problems with guarding against that).”

I’m pretty sure that if I had both cable and DSL at the same time the chances of one going out when the other goes out are very small. In fact I’ve had cable internet, phone, and T.V. and often when one goes out they all go out. I’ve also had a second line with AT&T phone and when the cable, cable internet, and cable phone go out the AT&T phone still works. Likewise I’ve also had DSL and At&T phone (over the same wire) and when the At&T phone goes out so does the DSL. The cable T.V. and cable phone still work. Even during power outages the At&T phone still works (the cable modem has a battery and whether or not the cable phone goes out may depend on the state of the battery). So they really seem to be independent systems or at least there are many aspects of them that are independent. So having multiple systems using different infrastructure does create incentive for those using the infrastructures to compete on reliability.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

“Having 5 sets of cables is inefficient if the exact same services from the same companies could be delivered over one set.”

Right, because there’s no difference between 2-wire copper and fiber-optic cabling.

“The same is not true of restaurants.”

Based on your logic why couldn’t we also assume all pizza joints are the same because they all make pizza? You and I both know not all pizza is made equally. Why do you assume that all internet service would be delivered equally?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

Good points and I didn’t even think of that. Some ISPs can design their networks for lower bandwidth, lower latency activities like gaming and low bandwidth video or audio conferencing. Others can design their networks for high bandwidth activities like HD streaming and downloading that don’t necessarily require really low latency.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: "private" indeed...

The internet doesn’t work because you have a freakin piece of copper wire running under your lawn. Switches, routers, racks, patch panels, servers and all of that is what makes the internet work and it wasn’t the government that purchased it, it isn’t the government that operates it and it isn’t the government that maintains it. All of that is private property and “net neutrality” is about controlling that private property.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“”Net Neutrality” is the desire for public control over private property.”

What? All those cables passing through my telephone polls are passing through private property? I always thought the roads I drive on is public property.

ISPs are being subsidized by public rights of way on public property. They’re using public property to deliver service to me because their wires are crossing public property. The use of such property should be regulated.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re talking about 1 component – the physical cable that connects your home to some junction center. But it takes a helluva lot more than a piece of copper wire to make the internet work. Switches, routers, servers, racks, patch panels, satellites, and all of that equipment wasn’t purchased by the government, isn’t operated by the government and isn’t maintained by the government. Those things are private property and THAT is what makes the internet work, and THAT is what the government wants control of.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

All of that equipment has absolutely no value to them without public rights of way. The real value is in the rights of way. Without it their business can’t operate. Everything else is just a mere cost of doing business and is paid for by their customers.

Public property should be used for the public interest. The use of public property should be regulated in the public interest. ISPs use public property for their private businesses. Their use of that public property should be regulated in the public interest. Otherwise they can take all that equipment of theirs off of public property and, from there, I don’t care what they do with it. Then some other ISP that is willing to follow regulations is free to enter the market.

and I agree with you that a lack of competition is a problem. Fundamentally you are right. But it’s the ISPs that keep arguing they have a natural monopoly. They can’t have it both ways. Either they don’t have a natural monopoly and they must compete with everyone else wanting to offer service or they do have a natural monopoly and they must face strict regulations ensuring they only make a normal, and not an economic, profit.

pdkl95 says:

ISP Choice: "common carrier" or "liability"

Much of this debate focuses on the notion of common carrier. While this is the solution that I strongly ISPs should use (it simplifies so much for all parties), it is NOT the only option. The alternative is liability.

In the early years of the internet, there was the Blue Ribbon Campaign. This was a very different fight, with many ISPs begging to be recognized as “common carriers”. They needed that protection, because there were a lot of people that wanted to hold ISPs responsible for the content they delivered. While the usual copyright cartels were a concern, that threat was still getting started.

The concern at the time was the Communications Decency Act. The idea of having to defend against the Miller Test when the internet potentially allowed any “community standards” to apply was terrifying.

The big argument against that threat was that the task of actually discriminating between “normal” and “obscene” content was not only ambiguous (who’s “community standards”?), it was not even technically possible due to the volume and variety of data.

If Comcast, in defiance of all good sense, wants to announce they have the capability to discriminate between various types of content, the are asking to take on the liability of being responsible for that content as well. They have hidden behind the DMCA as a way to avoid that liability with its “Safe Harbor” liability shield, but that is largely focused on copyright.

I highly recommend the recent talk by Dan Geer at Black Hat (transcript). Among many other good recommendations, he has the good idea to suggest that the real solution the “Net Neutrality” is that if you want to discriminate against one category, you get to be responsible for them all. Otherwise, be the neutral “common carrier; as Dan Geer puts it, “Choose now, no refunds at the is window.”

I would advise ISPs to pick the “common carrier’ route, but if they want to take on incredible amounts of liability, that should be their choice.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: ISP Choice: "common carrier" or "liability"

I’m not sure relying on censorship laws is the best way to get to net neutrality… is there something other than obscenity that you have in mind they would be liable for? Or are you saying an ISP would be liable for anything? Like if someone commits fraud over the internet, every ISP that transmitted the messages would be liable? Because that would be a terrible idea. And I wouldn’t support enacting terrible rules to try to push people towards the better ones.

pdkl95 says:

Re: Re: ISP Choice: "common carrier" or "liability"

Liable for anything. Because they are claiming responsibility for the data by picking and choosing which data they want to provide to the customer.

Oh, and fraud is small time, though many types of fraud should count – just like it does on other forms of business.

The fun starts with criminal charges for stuff like people bullying some kid to the point where they kill themselves. I brought up obscenity charges and the Miller Test as they are a traditional fight and are always a long, expensive mess to fight in court.

Yes, this IS a terrible idea. I strongly suggest ISPs not choose the liability route, and instead choose to shield themselves by being a content-neutral common carrier.

I could see some ways they might (hypothetically) choose the alternative. Maybe an expensive whitelist-only service (“not internet”) that provides some type of specialized access to some type of internet content. There, the liability could be a selling point. Perhaps some kind of “Guaranteed No NSFW Videos” access to some video sites; business pay for someone else to have the liability of providing “limited-access free wifi”.

I’m not advocating a strategy, technically. See the Dan Geer talk for a better explanation; I’m mostly advocating the idea that “common carrier” and “liability” are intrinsic opposites – pick one, you can’t avoid both if we want to have a functional society.

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06:23 Telecom's Latest Dumb Claim: The Internet Only Works During A Pandemic Because We Killed Net Neutrality (49)
13:36 Ex-FCC Staffer Says FCC Authority Given Up In Net Neutrality Repeal Sure Would Prove Handy In A Crisis (13)
06:27 Clarence Thomas Regrets Brand X Decision That Paved Way For The Net Neutrality Wars (11)
06:17 The FCC To Field More Comments On Net Neutrality. Maybe They'll Stop Identity Theft And Fraud This Time? (79)
08:56 AT&T, Comcast Dramatically Cut Network Spending Despite Net Neutrality Repeal (16)
06:18 Ajit Pai Hits CES... To Make Up Some Shit About Net Neutrality (24)
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