Here Comes The Big Push For A Really Shitty New Net Neutrality Law

from the k-street-two-step dept

So we’ve noted repeatedly how major ISPs aren’t just pushing to have the FCC kill its existing, popular net neutrality rules. They’ve also been spending a lot of time and money pushing loyal politicians to support the crafting of a new net neutrality law as a replacement. Why? They know that if Congress is even capable of shrugging off its dysfunction and corruption to craft one, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter lawyers and lobbyists will be the ones writing it.

On the surface, having Congress craft a new law sounds like a good idea. It finally cements rules into law, and prevents the FCC rules from being created and killed repeatedly by the whims of appointed partisans. And while I’ve seen a lot of journalists support this route, most of them don’t quite understand just how strong of a stranglehold these corporations have over state and federal lawmakers and regulators.

There’s one reason ISPs support this route: they want to “put the debate to rest” with a flimsy net neutrality law that doesn’t actually address any of the current net neutrality areas of contention (usage caps, interconnection, zero rating), only really outlawing things ISPs never intended to do anyway (block websites entirely). As with the FCC’s flimsy 2010 rules (that were co-written by AT&T, Verizon and Google), there will be massive, tractor-trailer sized loopholes allowing them to do pretty much whatever they want, provided they at least pretend it’s for the security and safety of the network.

And while this ISP push for a new net neutrality law has been smoldering under the radar for a while, it’s about to be amped up dramatically. House Republicans are asking the CEOs of Facebook, Google, AT&T and Comcast to attend a public hearing in September, purportedly to “help settle the debate over net neutrality once and for all.” But if you look at the language used in the invite by Rep. Greg Walden, the objective becomes more clear:

“In a letter requesting their appearance, Walden said the open internet rules put in place during the Obama administration ? which subject broadband providers to utility-like regulation ? ?disrupted the longstanding regulatory balance that for years allowed the internet to grow and thrive.”

As Pai looks to repeal them, however, it gives both sides ?an opportunity to rethink the current regulatory model and build new rules from the ground up? in Congress, Walden continued.

?With your help, I know we can craft a fair, predictable and sustainable solution that not only benefits edge providers and internet service providers, but also the billions of consumers worldwide that deserve a free and open internet,? he told chief executives in his letter requesting their help.

On the surface, if you’re willing to ignore the false claims about how net neutrality stifled the telecom sector, this all sounds lovely.

Of course if you’ve been playing along at home, many of these Silicon Valley companies aren’t the net neutrality supporters they claim to be. Google hasn’t given much of a shit about net neutrality since around 2010 or so when it began pushing harder into the fixed-line broadband (Google Fiber) and wireless (Project Fi, Android) markets. Facebook likes to occasionally pretend to support net neutrality, but internationally has been trampling the concept repeatedly. Even Netflix, a one-time staunch supporter of net neutrality, has softened its stance now that it’s large and wealthy enough to afford AT&T, Comcast and Verizon troll tolls.

So what will be framed as a “consensus” for “a fair, predictable and sustainable solution” is really just going to be a bunch of massive companies getting together and throwing their support behind what will inevitably be a shitty law that’s a far cry from the semi-tough, popular protections we have now. They want this whole debate settled because there’s money to be made ignoring consumer welfare. And they want it settled with legislation that looks like its protecting consumers and the open internet, but sanctions all of the bad ideas ISPs have been chomping at the bit to implement for years (caps, overage fees, zero rating).

And if you read a lot of the media reports on this subject, you’ll consistently find reporters helping to push this entire narrative with comments like this:

“That vicious cycle has left both sides of the debate pining for Congress, not the FCC, to broker a resolution on net neutrality, so that the government?s approach to internet policy doesn?t change depending on which party is in power ? or who prevails in federal courtrooms.”

Except “both sides” aren’t pining for new legislation. Net neutrality supporters have repeatedly stated there’s a wonderful, zero-cost, no effort way to protect net neutrality: keep the current FCC rules in place. The drum beat for new legislation is primarily coming from ISPs, who again want to replace the existing rules with the legislative equivalent of fluff and nonsense. As the summer rolls along and fall approaches, supporters of net neutrality need to pay attention and better understand the real nature of this legislative push, or the healthy, competitive and open internet is going to be in a hell of a lot of trouble.

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Companies: amazon, facebook, google

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Comments on “Here Comes The Big Push For A Really Shitty New Net Neutrality Law”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Why aren’t they calling consumer rights organizations? Where’s the EFF for one? The article already settled things:

“They know that if Congress is even capable of shrugging off its dysfunction and corruption to craft one, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter lawyers and lobbyists will be the ones writing it.”

And with the current R majority in Congress you can bet it will be awful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

__________”Well, it is their “literal” job.”

…the barely concealed point here is that “We” don’t like/trust the current Congress/President/FCC/ISPs.

But we really really like the current Net Neutrality rules that “Our” guy Obama put in place — and nobody now in government should ever tamper with those sacred rules

“We” are objective and unbiased, unlike people who disagree with “Us”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Except those rules WERE good. Hell even in reports by the telecoms note that the 2015 Open Internet Order DID NOT HAMPER INVESTMENT.

What you seem to be failing to grasp is that our congress doesn’t serve us the people. They sere whoever signs their checks. So you can bet ANY Net Neutrality law they draft will be shadow-written by telecom lobbyists and representatives who will make sure it’s riddled with holes that their companies can exploit all while saying they’re totes following the law.

There’s an old saying: “Don’t fix what ain’t broken” or in this case “Don’t break what isn’t broken”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yes, let's bring in the CEOs

Now, that is by far the most relevant comment.

If repressive Walden actually wanted the help of the people in this question, why the b**p is he inviting technical illiterates with little to no connection to/understanding of “billions of consumers”?

Even if he wanted the best rules, you go to the professional, not to his boss!

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So replace political parties with no political parties, and take money out of politics, let the government pay for elections. Which could be done with probably about 1% of NSA’s budget. No more lobbyists, politicians accountable to the electorate. Amongst a few other things, like the voting system.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m in favor of publicly-funded elections, but how do you propose to eliminate political parties? People have a right to free association, and people who share political goals have a right to form groups.

I live in a city with nonpartisan mayoral elections, but the last time we had a real race between candidates, everybody knew which one was the Democrat and which one was the Republican, even if the ballot didn’t identify them as such.

I believe California now has "nonpartisan" elections for governor, where there’s an open primary and the top two candidates move on to the general, regardless of party. (We had a similar proposal on the ballot in Arizona a few years ago, but it didn’t pass.) There are advantages to this system in that it favors consensus candidates and decreases polarization, but in practice, it changes a two-party system into a one-party system: instead of the only two viable candidates being a Democrat and a Republican, you wind up with two candidates who are both Democrats. (If it had passed in Arizona, it would be two Republicans.)

I don’t like political parties, but I don’t know of any way to actually get rid of them.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Switch to a jury-pool system like the courts. If a randomly selected jury of your “peers” can sentence you to death, they can certainly run the government for 3 months. During said time, accepting ANYTHING worth money is officially bribery. People/companies can submit reports trying to explain their side of issues, but no dinners, no trips, no jobs, no NOTHING that’s worth anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

if you want to help protect NN you can support groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU and Free Press who are fighting to keep Net Neutrality.

also you can set them as your charity on

also write to your House Representative and senators

and the FCC

You can now add a comment to the repeal here,DESC

here a easier URL you can use thanks to John Oliver

you can also use this that help you contact your house and congressional reps, its easy to use and cuts down on the transaction costs with writing a letter to your reps.

also check out!/

which was made by the EFF and is a low transaction​cost tool for writing all your reps in one fell swoop and just a reminder that the FCC vote on 18th is to begin the process of rolling back Net Neutrality so there will be a 3 month comment period and the final vote will likely be around the 18th of August at least that what I have read, correct me if am wrong

Thad (user link) says:

Re: The other myth...

Congress can, of course, change or repeal laws, but it’s harder to change a law in Congress than a regulation at the executive level. To pass a law, you don’t just need a simple majority in the House, you also need 60 votes in the Senate (thanks to the automatic filibuster, though its days may be numbered). And that’s if the president is willing to sign the bill; if he’s not, then Congress needs a 2/3 majority to override a veto.

It’s a lot easier to change an FCC regulation. Though there are safeguards there, too; if Pai does overturn Title II (as looks very likely), he’ll be looking at lawsuits, and will be obligated to defend his position with supporting evidence that the market has changed significantly since those regulations were passed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Best way to protest. Vote with your wallets. Cut yourself from all but the most basic services that you need from these clowns. Let them know why you’re doing it.
Otherwise you’re simply confirming to the ISPs that you’re ready to bend over as low as they ask you to.

_”B..but I can’t my husband/wife/kid/w.e. likes watching… this or that…”_

Well, tough luck then buddy. That just means that, in the end, your husband’s/wife’s/kid’s need for some show or website matters more to you than a free internet. At least you know where your priorities lie.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re:

That’s not practical at all since many of the services we need every day are primarily accessible by internet. what’s with the so-called “free market” enthusiasts that makes them insist that we take it on the chin when some shyster service provider runs away laughing with our money?

Don’t pretend we can always go to court to get it back, the costs are prohibitive even if tort laws haven’t been amended to make it harder to sue corporations.

A free market pre-supposes equal footing between the demand and supply sides, not the supply-first system being advocated above.

No, sir, I will not choose between “Bend over and take it” or “do without.” As a consumer I demand fair treatment.

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