Trump Appoints Third Anti-Net Neutrality Advisor To Telecom Transition Team

from the burn-the-house-down dept

President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the DC swamp” has become a bit of a running gag as his administration plugs a wide variety of lobbyists and cronies into key cabinet positions. Telecom is certainly no exception, with Trump appointing a number of telecom sector lobbyists and allies to guide telecom policy and help select a new FCC boss. One of these picks doesn’t believe telecom monopolies exist. None of them can actually admit the broadband market isn’t competitive. And all of them have made it abundantly clear that they intend to roll back net neutrality and effectively gut the FCC from the inside out.

Trump completed a telecom sector trifecta of anti-net neutrality advisors this week, with the selection of American Enterprise Institute think tanker Roslyn Layton. Layton joins Jeffrey Eisenach (a long-standing Verizon consultant) and Mark Jamison (a former Sprint lobbyist) to form a perfect circle of industry allies — all of whom are on record opposing not only net neutrality, but nearly every FCC effort to make the broadband sector more competitive. All three have been visiting fellows over at the American Enterprise Institute, which takes money from large telecom providers in exchange for muddying the discourse waters.

Over at the AEI blog, Layton has consistently made her disdain for net neutrality very clear. Like so many broadband industry allies, Layton insists that net neutrality protections for consumers aren’t necessary, and that the concept is all some kind of secretive cabal on the part of Netflix to ride incumbent ISP pipes for free:

“Using their own definitions, however, companies such as Netflix hijack the language of net neutrality to lobby for regulatory favors. They want the government to mandate that transit costs they pay for today become free. In the offline world, such a deal would mean that retailers could not negotiate agreements with their suppliers or even where products could be placed on shelves.

This idea that net neutrality is a phantom problem and mostly about somehow secretly giving Netflix free bandwidth is a ridiculous idea we’ve debunked time and time again. Current FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, among the finalists to lead the next FCC, has tried to claim net neutrality is some kind of unholy Netflix cabal for years. Why the disdain and bizarre focus on Netflix? Incumbent cable companies loathe Netflix for its support of net neutrality, opposition to usage caps, and the erosion of their legacy TV subscriber base, so they work pretty tirelessly to smear the company as often as possible via proxy policy voices.

Blaming everything on Netflix helps incumbent broadband ISPs (and their allied think tankers, consultants, and lobbyists) avoid two glaring truths: one, that net neutrality is a symptom of the disease that is limited broadband competition, but if you admit the broadband market isn’t competitive, then you have to actually do something about it; and two, that net neutrality has broad, bi-partisan support among the public. Pretending net neutrality is solely about giving Netflix “free stuff” is a handy narrative that obfuscates both truths.

Layton, like Eisenach and Jamison, also opposed the FCC’s basic new privacy protections. Those rules, which only require that ISPs are transparent about what’s being collected and provide working opt-out tools, were passed only after Verizon was busted modifying user data packets to track users around the internet — without informing them or providing working opt out tools. The FCC also acted after AT&T began trying to charge broadband customers a premium just to protect their own privacy, and Cable ONE hinted at offering worse customer service to users with bad credit scores.

Like net neutrality, these violations are just another symptom of the lack of broadband competition, and the bad behavior on the part of incumbent ISPs has been fully apparent to anybody paying attention. But according to Layton, these privacy rules were just “partisan” gamesmanship, and utterly unnecessary because ISPs weren’t doing anything wrong:

“Chairman Wheeler?s three years at the FCC have broken records in partisanship, with more votes along party lines for rulemaking than previous commissions combined. Consider the recent online privacy rulemaking, which came about only because the FCC?s Open Internet rules reclassified Internet broadband under Title II, giving FCC new authority to regulate Internet privacy. Simply stated, the FCC rulemaking was not born out of any concluded necessity.”

Yes, the FCC has long split along partisan lines, quite often on issues (like net neutrality) that shouldn’t be partisan. Under Wheeler, that was largely thanks to Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly, who voted down nearly every consumer-benefiting policy the FCC tried to enact. That includes the duo voting down every single attempt to hold AT&T accountable for outright fraud, whether that involved AT&T ripping off programs for low income families, turning a blind eye to abuse of IP Relay systems intended for the hearing imparied, or intentionally helping crammers rip off AT&T customers by making fraudulent charges on bills harder to detect.

Under the guidance of Layton, Eisenach and Jamison, you can expect every effort to hold incumbent ISPs accountable for bad behavior to evaporate. Gone will be the FCC’s net neutrality rules. Gone will be the agency’s new privacy protections. Gone will be efforts to shore up broadband competition. In addition to selecting an FCC boss that will be sure to avoid admitting any substantive faults on the part of incumbent ISPs, you can expect a rewrite of the Communications Act in 2017 with a full focus on hamstringing the FCC’s ability to protect consumers while dramatically slashing its funding.

This tends to get lost among farmed think tank pie charts and misleading arguments from dollar-per-holler economists and fauxcademics, but boiled down to their purest essence, these positions are about one thing and one thing only: protecting giant incumbent ISP revenues. This isn’t really about deregulation — given that these same folks are generally ok with awful regulation, just as long as it’s AT&T, Verizon and Comcast writing the law. And the ultimate irony remains that this gutting of all popular, bipartisan consumer protections will be conducted under the false banner of “populist reform.”

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Comments on “Trump Appoints Third Anti-Net Neutrality Advisor To Telecom Transition Team”

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125 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Finally!

“President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the DC swamp” has become a bit of a running gag as his administration plugs a wide variety of lobbyists and cronies into key cabinet positions.”

The RIGHT way to pick on and bitch about Trump! Someone pointing out where he is clearly shitting on his campaign promises instead of just increasing the shrill levels about something that is going on like it would not have happened if Hillary got in!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Finally!

A good long while I imagine. These things are connected due to TD’s perceived pro Hillary bias. It might not be a lot but it is definitely there.

And true some of that bias does come from the commenters far more than from TD, so keep that in mind as get all defensive.

There are many ways to infer something without ever directly bringing up that which you are inferring too! There is an idiom for that call “reading between the lines!”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Finally!

Was it Pro-Hillary or Anti-idiot?

The idea that Techdirt was ever "pro-Hillary" is the most laughable thing I’ve seen. Can anyone point to anything positive we ever said about Clinton? Some people just keep insisting that anyone who criticizes Trump must be pro-Hillary. And all that does is reveal that they root for a team, and don’t care about actual policies. This is true of many supporters of either candidate. It becomes rooting for a team or even a religion, rather than anything rational.

We haven’t changed our position: we focus on policies and statements made by people, rather than what team they’re on. It’s why we rarely even mention party names, and why over the years we’ve criticized people from both major parties pretty much equally.

I know it’s tough for Trump supporters to recognize this, but believing he’s going to be a disaster doesn’t mean we didn’t also think Clinto would be a disaster (for what it’s worth, I thought basically every candidate would have been a disaster and I wish we had a better system for finding a President).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Finally!

How about the one today?

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161130/05165636155/wall-street-is-dreaming-megamergers-under-trump-including-verizon-comcast-super-union.shtml

I might be wrong but it smacks of “this wouldn’t be happening if Hillary got in” articles despite the fact that it totally would.

I can certainly stand to be corrected, but it’s hard to work through someones bias! You free to work on mine so…

Come at be bro!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Finally!

Do you bother reading the threads or do you just smack your trap like a toon? I was providing Mike with an example of why I thought a certain way as per his request.

It has nothing to do with “Drumpf won, move on.”

Try getting some context and maybe a decent meal, you might be running low on a few essential vitamins and minerals buddy. Maybe a nap too… it might be your nappy time lil fella!

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Finally!

I can all but guarantee we’re not too, too concerned with “would haves” or “could haves”. I know I”m fucking not. That I can guarantee.

Any pissing and moaning you perceive, I’d guess, is because we’re fucked. Or we’re certainly bent over and spreading, anyway. “We” the ones “using” this network utility.

… fucking joke. We are, pretty much officially, a nation of corporations. United by one common bond. Only one.

Trump did do well, did he not? I could care less, personally, as we are already spiraling.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Finally!

How about the one today?

The other one that doesn’t mention Clinton, at all?

I might be wrong but it smacks of "this wouldn’t be happening if Hillary got in" articles despite the fact that it totally would.

You’re wrong. Any reference to Clinton you read in that article is the product of your own imagination and not the text of the article.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Finally!

Hey look, we can’t help if if you are unable to figure this out or how to talk about someone or something without directly referencing it. Most of us adults along with many professional writers have figured out how to do it quite easily. Many others as well have figured out how to learn about a writer political leaning in their writing without the ever directly admitting to any either.

Did you happen to know that there are entire fields of study surrounding human behaviors and how their biases are shown through their efforts even in cases where they seek to hide them? Heck they are building AI systems surrounding these things so they can better track AC’s like myself so they can hopefully consistently identify people.

Or better yet, have you ever heard of charades, or how about the concept behind the movie inception? The idea is to give someone an idea without actually directly giving them one. Any intelligent person can play these things to great effect, which should be considered a compliment to the writers at TD for being able to mange it well. And one does not even have to be dishonest about it either, they could be trying every bit to be responsible and suppress it but it still gets out no matter what. The sharing of ideas and complaining about certain ones kinda pigeon holes you.

Kalean says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Finally!

You know, pointing out that Trump is an awful presidential candidate, is likely to be an awful president, and has already made decisions that dramatically and powerfully harm the future of our country is called journalism.

If some of the things being talked about wouldn’t have happened under a Clinton presidency, that doesn’t automatically make talking about them “partisan” or “pro-Hillary”. It just makes the truth more depressing.

The election’s over; you can get off your party bandwagon now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Finally!

Hear hear.

Sec. Clinton is an mendacious self serving politicrat.
President Elect Trump is an idiotic, self aggrandizing narcissistic sociopath intent on self enrichment.

The choice between them isn’t one of “good” or “bad”, it’s one of “Do I want to die of cancer or infection?”. In the end, you still die.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Finally!

I don’t know if I see any bias in the articles or not. If there is, it’s not obvious to me. But IMO some of the comments by the authors on this site in the comment sections have seemed very pro Hillary, anti Trump.

Do a search on “Shillary.” Take your time. She gets bashed all the time. Now drop the identity politics. Move away from the identity politics. We need to nuke it from orbit, people, just to be sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Finally!

There is no way to determine that.

While I do agree Trump has far more idiot tenancies I am not sure that should outweigh the negatives of Hillary can bring to the table.

In a competition of who is worse, I don’t have a real answer for that one… both are egregiously bad for America to the point that I only think Trump won because he seemed more honest in his plans for America. That may not hold true as we move forward, but at there are a few promising events like the stock market which might deflate as well and the Carrier cancelled moves to Mexico. I think it is clear to say that none of these are likely to have occurred if Hillary was elected because she essentially promised more of Obama during her administration and to be honest, I think that comment only harmed her because she is a tough as nails old bat and she should have said I have my own ideas about how to run the nation. I think she would have definitely gotten farther on that than on… “I will be following in a mans foot steps.”

Now we get to find out!

Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Finally!

“the Carrier cancelled moves to Mexico.”

“I’ve watched politicians talked about stopping companies from leaving our states. They’d give the low-interest loans. Here’s a low-interest loan if you stay in Pennsylvania. Here’s a tax abatement of any kind you want. We’ll help your employees. It doesn’t work, folks.” – Drumpf, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, October 10, 2016

Carrier looks to have gotten a tax abatement of $700,000.
“What neither Trump nor the company has announced officially, however, is just what the Indiana government has offered as an inducement to stay. But you can assume, even with the pressure from the President-Elect, that Indiana paid up. Earlier on Wednesday, a source close to the company told Fortune that United Technologies would get $700,000 in state tax breaks for a number of years.”
http://fortune.com/2016/11/30/trump-carrier/

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Finally!

I would consider the news every bit as positive if Hillary brokered this exact same thing. Now, did Hillary mention anything about this on her campaign trail? I am not saying she did or did not I do know, but I did hear Trump.

Trump did follow through with doing something to make them stay, even if that something is not viewed as the best method for accomplishing it, which makes him look better than worse for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Finally!

No, I am not trying to diminish that part, Trump should have stuck to this guns and did it that way which I think would have sent a better message.

But I still view it as positive that the jobs were saved even though it did not happen the way I wanted it to.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusion that Trump is some awesome person, he is a smelly turd just like Hillary. I just say if I liked something or not regardless of candidate being talked about.

Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Finally!

“But I still view it as positive that the jobs were saved even though it did not happen the way I wanted it to.”

Then I take it you love Obama for saving the auto jobs in the bailout of 2008-2010? It would take 30 years Carrier deals, at 1 a week, to match that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_the_2008%E2%80%9310_automotive_industry_crisis_on_the_United_States

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Finally!

I hated most of Obama’s policies, and no I hated the TARP bailouts that Bush started.

Yes I see the arrangement for Carrier as a positive, and NO I do not think it is the best one. Since I already view taxes on business as already too high, this just happens to come as a net benefit. Though I do not like the idea of giving businesses tax breaks just to keep them here as it sets a very bad example. They need to be controlled by tariffs. They should have to pay to play in the American Economy for the obvious reasons.

If this is the only trick Trump has up his sleeve then yes, even this deal will turn sour over time, but we have to wait to see.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Finally!

No, I dislike trump about as much as Obama just for different reasons.

If Obama had just given the Auto MFG’s a tax break then I would have liked that much better.

But that did not happen, Obama took MY & OTHERS MONEY and fucking gave it to them without any fucking Constitutional Power to do so! There is a huge fucking difference! If you are to stupid to figure that one out then please stop opening your mouth and eating your foot!

It is at least constitutional for the government to levy taxes and tariff, but they have ZERO POWER to give any business, any cause, or any country any money!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Finally!

Have you read it? Section 8 go and fucking read!

The Constitution does three things.
Dictates the structure of the Government.
Grants Powers to those respective entities.
And establishes Amendments specifically defining the Rights that the Government are never to usurp!

The Constitution never granted any branch of government the power to ever give away money to anyone or anything. They are specifically to be used to…

“1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”

Taking money from the tax payers and giving it to the rich in some reverse fucking robin hood scheme is not promoting the general welfare by any fucking stretch, but hell… with all the crap going on these days tell me… what would you NOT put past the government of today? The Constitution is shredded, division is building, and people care more about their fucking parties before the nation itself.

Oh…
“And what Constitutional Power prevents this?”

This sentence reveals how ignorant you are of the US Constitution. Powers are defined and granted in the Constitution not prevented, if they are not there, then they do not have the power despite having already assumed many on behalf of ignorant citizens like yourself. That is how the document works. You are a breathing example of the stupid that pervades the American Citizenry… or are you not an American?

Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Finally!

Too bad the Supreme Court wasn’t interested. What do they do again?

“Prof. Laurence H. Tribe, an expert on constitutional law at Harvard, said in an interview that such a challenge was unlikely to succeed because the doctrine of Congressional delegation, which flourished in the 1930s, was significantly weakened during the New Deal and never recovered.

The bailout, Professor Tribe said, “certainly tests the outer limits of Congressional delegation authority,” and “if the delegation doctrine were genuinely alive and well, TARP might be among its potential victims.”

But, he said, recent cases in which the Supreme Court approved broad delegations of authority made it clear that it was unlikely to intervene on constitutional grounds. As an example Professor Tribe cited the authority conveyed to the federal Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/us/politics/16challenge.html

Keep dreaming in your safe spots, snowflake.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Finally!

That is not positive news, it is another transfer of citizens money to a corporation. You can be sure that where governments give tax breaks to companies, they increase the taxes on the citizens to compensate, or ramp up the money making activities of the police to enforce red light speeding and parking tickets.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Finally!

By whom? Republicans own both Houses and only the Senate can impeach a president, if memory serves. Assuming that’s true, and that the Dems get enough representatives into both houses during the mid-terms to tilt the balance back their way (given that only about half of the seats are up for grabs during the mid-terms, if memory serves), then it’ll be at least two years before they (and dissenting Republicans) can do so. Failing that, he will serve his four years. God help us all.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Finally!

“Finally”

Strangely, most of the places I’ve been reading about this stuff have been pointing out the hypocrisy since the first appointment was made. When people say that nobody’s talking about this kind of thing, I always wonder where they’re getting their one-sided news.

However, pointing out that Hillary won the popular vote and this appears to reveal fundamental flaws in the election process does not mean that you can’t also talk about this. There can be more than one story at a time.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

But the forth one stayed drained, and it’s the most blatantly corrupt patch of damp ground you’ve ever seen! It’s so great and honest it doesn’t even pretend not to be filled with alligators that will rip your limbs off the second you get close enough, unlike those other, dishonest swamps where the alligators promise that they’re just really big geckos in need of belly rubs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Trump is going to resolve so many open questions!

how bad it can get?… will always remain a question that can be answered.

So don’t ask it ever again… or have you not seen movies where they prove those points realistically?

Cause after it start raining… someone says “great what next?” then you git hit by a fucking lightening bolt… after which you may not even be alive or conscious enough to be dumb enough to ask for fucking more!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think that would be fair. A politician is a full time job so now you have to do two jobs just to do your civic duty. I always thought that politicians should be paid the average wage of their surrounding constituents. Then there is actual inventive to figure out how to improve quality of life for your voters.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I am a firm believer that the only good politician is the one that doesn’t get paid to do it”

So, a man like Trump would be able to able to enter politics at any time because he’s inherited/made enough money that the salary doesn’t matter. A man like Obama, however, may not be able to enter at all because his means elsewhere can’t support his family. I may have noticed a flaw…

I’m not 100% on the history, but wouldn’t the intention of such a salary be to attract lower/middle classes who wouldn’t otherwise enter the profession, to avoid having a government full of landed gentry?

Also, the salary isn’t really the problem. Pork/bribes/kickbacks/etc are where the corruption is, not the fact that they get a regular pay packet.

aerinai says:

Would you rather?

Honestly, it is really amazing we are having this conversation given that Wheeler has been the only breath of fresh air that government agency has ever had… I guess my question is what is worse, an agency ran by people who actively work FOR the people they are supposed to enforce, or no agency at all?

It would be interesting to see what would happen if the FCC was completely dismantled and the various parts were to be under the FTC instead. The very nature of the job would mean that the ‘enforcers’ couldn’t be so narrowly picked (ex-telco, telco lobbyists, etc). Could it in fact make things better for consumers?

…Might be an interesting article to research…

Anonymous Coward says:

Drain the swamp. Hahahaha!!!

He’s not draining anything. He’s just turning it into a mountain of shit! He has been scraping the bottom of the barrel with every choice he makes! By the end of next year, buyers remorse is going to set in and a good many Trump voters are going to realize that that vote was the biggest mistake of their lives. I want change in Washington too, but he was the WRONG person to choose to do it!

Bruce C. says:

Help me Obi-wan

…my only hope is that at least one of these characters turns out to be another Tom Wheeler. When he was first appointed we all were in a panic because he came in as a cable industry lobbyist and that he would roll back net neutrality. But he served with integrity.

But that hope is slim to none. Some of them have already voted against net neutrality as FCC commissioners.

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