The Folks That Built The Internet Tell The FCC It Has No Idea How The Internet Works

from the repeal-this dept

By now the FCC has made it clear it has absolutely no intention of actually listening to the public or to experts when it comes to its plan to repeal popular net neutrality rules later this week.

It doesn’t really matter to the FCC’s myopic majority that the vast majority of the record 22 million public comments on its plan think it’s a stupid idea. It apparently doesn’t matter than over 800 startups have warned the FCC that its attack on the rules undermines innovation, competition, and the health of the internet. And it certainly doesn’t appear to matter than over 190 academics, engineers, and tech-policy experts have told the agency that its repeal will dramatically harm the internet — or that the FCC’s justifications for the reversal make no technical or engineering sense.

If the current FCC was actually capable of hearing these dissenting expert voices, they’d probably find this new letter from 21 of them worth a look. You might recognize some of the authors. They include Internet Protocol co-inventor Vint Cerf, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, several designers of the Domain Name System (DNS), World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, public-key cryptography inventors Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman, and more.

In their letter, they effectively argue that the FCC’s entire rationale for dismantling net neutrality protections rests on a flawed misunderstanding of how the internet actually operates. And worse, that the FCC has made absolutely no attempt to correct its flawed logic as this week’s rule-killing vote approached:

“It is important to understand that the FCC?s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.

Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order dismantles 15 years of targeted oversight from both Republican and Democratic FCC chairs, who understood the threats that Internet access providers could pose to open markets on the Internet.”

Their previous, ignored warnings highlighted how the FCC’s Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) includes incorrect assessments and conflation of the differences between ISPs and edge providers (Netflix, content companies), incorrect claims in the NPRM about how the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 functions, how firewalls work, and more. Instead of consulting people that actually know how the internet works in public hearings, the FCC blindly doubled down on flawed reasoning and technical inaccuracies. Why? Because ISP-driven ideological rhetoric, not facts, are driving the repeal.

The letter notes how experts aren’t the only ones the FCC is ignoring. It’s also blatantly ignoring the will of the public, as well as turning a blind eye to efforts to undermine the public’s only opportunity to make its voice heard during the open comment period of the proceeding:

“The experts? comment was not the only one the FCC ignored. Over 23 million comments have been submitted by a public that is clearly passionate about protecting the Internet. The FCC could not possibly have considered these adequately. Indeed, breaking with established practice, the FCC has not held a single open public meeting to hear from citizens and experts about the proposed Order.

Furthermore, the FCC?s online comment system has been plagued by major problems that the FCC has not had time to investigate. These include bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC?s on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.”

And again, while the FCC may be eager to ignore objective experts and the will of the public as it rushes to give VerizoCasT&T a sloppy kiss, the fact they did so will be playing a starring role in the lawsuits filed against the agency in the new year. In court the FCC will have to prove that the broadband market changed dramatically enough in two years to warrant a wholesale reversal in net neutrality policy. But critics will have plenty of ammunition in their attempts to prove the FCC engaged in “arbitrary and capricious” policy based predominately on fluff and nonsense, not hard data or engineering expertise.

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Comments on “The Folks That Built The Internet Tell The FCC It Has No Idea How The Internet Works”

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89 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Most likely several lawsuits will be filed which will drag out a couple of years. The filers of the lawsuits will more likely than not win, but if that eventuality occurs the interested parties can just buy the laws that want in Congress.

The bottom line is that net neutrality is sort of porked in the long term no matter what, there is too much extortion money to be made if it goes away for it to stay.

David says:

If the FCC has no clue how the Internet works, why should it regulate it?

Sorry, but to me the question is rather how it is possible that the FCC lost all clue about the Internet when Tom Wheeler got replaced by Ajit Pai.

I mean, it just does not seem plausible that all the clue comes and leaves with a single person. What are all the others doing?

It rather sounds like clue got a marching order. It would be interesting to find out how this affected job satisfaction at the FCC.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If FCC has no clue...

Why is FCC getting it so wrong now?

Plenty of critics have pointed this out, but there must be some basic flaw in the Federal/FCC regulatory concept that needs repair. Step back from the immediate issue, look at the bigger picture… and figure out why the FCC has detoured in this direction. Effects have root causes; you don’t permanently solve a problem without understanding its cause.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: If FCC has no clue...

You are completely ignoring one of the main points of the article in that they are basing these decisions off of faulty and incorrect assumptions about how the basic internet works.

The internet never has and never will be an information service, it is, properly, a telecommunications service. The internet can be used to provide information services but it itself is not. Thus Title I is not a proper classification and Title II is.

An Onymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: If FCC has no clue...

You are completely ignoring one of the main points of the article in that they are basing these decisions off of faulty and incorrect assumptions about how the basic internet works.

That, itself, is a flawed assumption. They’re basing their decisions on what best suits the ISPs and then backfilling the "reasons" with whatever they can come up with that sounds most plausible.

The trouble for them is that nothing they’ve come up with is remotely possible. The trouble for the nation is that none of that matters; We’re all fucked regardless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 If FCC has no clue...

Is that not what I said? “The internet can be used to provide information services but it itself is not.”

Internet – “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.”

The internet is the underlying physical architecture and protocols (does not include content/information service providers such as Google, Netflix, etc…).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 If FCC has no clue...

So then what we have here is differing definitions of what the internet is.

To clarify the definition of the internet I gave in my previous post is what I am talking about, the physical infrastructure and protocols that Google and Netflix use to deliver their services.

And perhaps that is the problem with some of the arguments over NN. People are misunderstanding each other about what they are truly talking about. NN supporters are talking about the infrastructure alone, ISP’s, we are not lumping information services into that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: If FCC has no clue...

…and you are completely missing the larger point raised — Why Why Why is the FCC “basing these decisions off of faulty and incorrect assumptions” ???

FCC is supposed to be an objective “expert” on these matter… to ensure the private communications/internet markets operate properly. But FCC is not demonstrating such expertise.

Why Why Why ! What is the root problem here?

TKnarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 If FCC has no clue...

Already noted: this administration doesn’t want the FCC to be an objective expert, and they don’t want the markets to operate properly. They want to cater to their friends/donors, so they put in representatives from their party (who make up a majority of the FCC board, including the chairman’s slot) who’ll do exactly that. See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 If FCC has no clue...

they put in representatives from their party (who make up a majority of the FCC board, including the chairman’s slot) who’ll do exactly that.

The FCC has to have a one-vote majority for the President’s party.

That said, it didn’t have to be Pai, and it didn’t have to be anybody opposed to net neutrality. There are a lot of Republicans who favor Title II regulation, just not many of them on Capitol Hill.

TKnarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: If FCC has no clue...

Yes, there is a basic flaw. It’s name is Ajit Pai. Or more specifically, the flaw is in the GOP appointees’ desire to deliver what their financial supporters want over what most benefits the public or even what the public overwhelmingly says they want. The fact that it was only after Ajit Pai got control that things went pear-shaped should be the first clue.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is something that gets lost and doesn’t get enough attention in the larger debate over Net Neutrality. Broadband internet service should never have been classified as an information service in the first place because that isn’t at all what it is.

Moral and political arguments aside, from a purely technical perspective, the way the internet works doesn’t even come close to meeting the definition of an information service. Information services can be provided over top of the internet, but the internet itself is not such a service. It is more similar to phone lines than not, especially considering that using phone lines was the only way to access the internet in its early days.

Anonymous Coward says:

The signatories are worth noting

There are some seriously heavyweight names on that letter. A lot of people tend to think of Brin and Page and Yang and so on as representative of Internet expertise, but by comparison they’re all novices who just got here last week. It’s not an exaggeration to say that if you really want to understand how the Internet works, and WHY it works that way, that you should find everything those people have ever written and read it. Every word.

Which of course what the FCC would do if they were seriously interested in understanding prior to rulemaking.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Information Service ... "MonkeyFracasJr" another ODD commenter.

Some of the resident trolls are so very desperate. They stopped being able to come up with remotely convincing lies, and they didn’t get the responses they wanted when they started attacking the authors of the articles personally.

So, when faced with absolutely unquestionable facts, they’ve started trying to pick apart the posting history of other commenters to try and invent a grand conspiracy (while providing no way other others looking at their own history, of course). It’s kind of sad, but satisfying.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Information Service ... "MonkeyFracasJr" another ODD commenter.

Are you folks all drinking from the same bowl of stupid?

If I am the one casting doubt on his claims, it then becomes his job to prove his claims… not mine. Another poster child for the unlimited nature of human stupidity. People like you helped get Trump and Ajit fucking elected every damn cycle. You silly twits deserve each other.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Information Service ... "MonkeyFracasJr" another ODD commenter.

Ah so you subscribe to the “guilty until proven innocent” theory. Most of us here prefer “innocent until proven guilty”.

Generally speaking, if someone casts doubt on to another person, it is up to the doubter to provide at least a few credible facts to back up his assertions, else everyone dismisses him as a liar and/or conman, and in some cases, troll.

If he does provide facts that would go against the current status quo, then the person being doubted is responsible for either admitting to it or providing counter facts or an explanation as to why the doubter is incorrect.

You have provided no facts to back up your doubts, merely said “yea…there is nothing opinionated about that statement at all”. We responded with post history that can be checked and verified that confirms PaulT’s assertions.

So, I say again, provide links to hard, verifiable facts that what PaulT says is not true. Then we can talk.

As it stands you have provided no facts and we have at the very least made reference to publicly available and verifiable facts.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Information Service ... "MonkeyFracasJr" another ODD commenter.

“If I am the one casting doubt on his claims, it then becomes his job to prove his claims”

You didn’t really do that, though. You made a sarcastic comment about them being opinionated, but you didn’t state a reason why they would be wrong (plus, you can be opinionated and factually correct, you know). So, what are you demanding I prove?

For someone demanding that everyone else stick to particular rules of conversation, you’re bad at setting them.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Information Service ... "MonkeyFracasJr" another ODD commenter.

Actually, unless you have something to prove me wrong, it’s a statement of fact, not opinion. Regular AC commenters here have a habit of switching various tactics when they have nothing else to say, the newest one being to whine about the number of comments someone else has made in the past. That’s truth.

This would be where you present evidence that I’m wrong rather than whining about me pointing out the liars round here.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Information Service ... "MonkeyFracasJr" another ODD commenter.

A few this year, 16 month gap to only ONE comment in 2016, all of 4 in 2015… Just ODD, eh?

Or it could be that MonkeyFracasJr has a real job, and isn’t paid to troll Techdirt.

I have been posting anonymously for a while because Mike reset our passwords due to a potential exposure of our passwords. So I haven’t posted using this account since January 2017 because I didn’t see a reason to log in…am I now going to be seen as ODD despite posting anonymously for most of 2017?

NeghVar (profile) says:

Criminal charges

The AG of New York is trying to investigate the ID thefts involved in the FCC comments. ID theft is a crime, even if there no harm has been done to the person whose ID was fraudulently used. Pai’s constant refusal to release information concerning a criminal investigation is obstruction of justice which is a criminal offense. He should be arrested.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Criminal charges

Well, he should be charged and THEN arrested. But yes, it’s now obvious to everyone — thanks to multiple studies including this one:

https://medium.com/@jeffykao/more-than-a-million-pro-repeal-net-neutrality-comments-were-likely-faked-e9f0e3ed36a6

(read that piece all the way to the end)

that the comment process was completely corrupted to provide political cover for Pai, and that he’s now covering it up/obstructing justice in order to maintain that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let's look skeptically at your list of "experts":

First, I don’t agree it’s very difficult to invent protocol once have the hardware. IBM and ATT pioneered ALL the basics, so should have primary say?

Internet Protocol co-inventor Vint Cerf: now employed by GOOGLE, so a spook.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak: APPLE.
designers of the Domain Name System (DNS): looks up text, returns #, requires only fast hardware.
World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee: designed for spying, doesn’t worry about javascript!
public-key cryptography inventors Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman: spooks / mathematicians, should never be trusted.

Just on surface, I don’t trust any of them, because they’re either Them or mere techno-bots.

And again: all we’re seeing here is the struggle of corporation against corporation.

**Techdirt is slanting this as if We The People win by Google getting what it wants.**

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let's look skeptically at your list of "experts":

“The wheel. Used later by the MILITARY!”

Don’t stop there – ARPANET was a MILITARY PROJECT! The spooks are in your computer right now, RUN!

I suspect he’s being a little insincere, but sadly in today’s climate it’s impossible to tell whether someone using the internet to whine about its inventors conspiring against him on the internet is meant to be satire or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Let's look skeptically at your list of "experts":

Techdirt is slanting this as if We The People win by Google getting what it wants.

no it just so happens that what the people want an what google wants happen to align.
Though I think most would agree that stronger NN that curbs the spying should be introduced. At which point the peoples and googles wishes will no longer be aligned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Let's look skeptically at your list of "experts":

I wasn’t going to respond further to this but it’s just so absurd I just couldn’t let it go.

“mathematicians, should never be trusted”

You do realize that everything in the world, even nature itself, relies on mathematics in some way shape or form, do you not? Heck, music theory is completely mathematically based.

If we can’t trust any mathematicians, then how the heck are we ever supposed to be expected to live in this world? I suppose you disagree that 2 + 2 = 4? Or how to find the area of circle? Because a mathematician came up with those.

Heck, you use math everyday in managing your finances, which potentially makes you a mathematician using principles developed by other mathematicians. I guess that means we shouldn’t trust anything you say.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Let's look skeptically at your list of "experts":

Techdirt is slanting this as if We The People win by Google getting what it wants.

The really funny thing about this is that Google hasn’t been fighting for real net neutrality for years. It helped write the bad 2010 rules that got thrown out in court, and the company more or less sat out the 2015 rulemaking and is sitting out this round as well. Every once in a while they make a quiet statement here or there, but they’ve been almost totally uninvolved.

Google would be fine if NN is killed. In fact, it would thrive because it would have advantages over everyone else since it can cut deals with the big ISPs. So if you really hate Google, you should be for Net Neutrality.

Of course, the fact that I’m advocating for a position different than Google’s is one that our trolls can’t seem to process, so they have to pretend that whatever I say must also be Google’s position, even though it’s not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Let's look skeptically at your list of "experts":

Nice troll. But…all of these people knew more about the Internet thirty years ago than you know today. And given your obvious cognitive limitations, you’re never going to catch up. Inferior people like you are often jealous of those equipped with superior minds, so it’s not surprising you’re feebly lashing out.

cpip says:

Re: Re: Well...

This is pretty much the textbook definition of regulatory capture — “a form of political corruption that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.”

The argument IS that Ajit Pai is in the pocket of the ISPs and advancing their goals rather than what’s best for the people, no?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Well...

The fact that Ajit Pai is in the pocket of ISP’s? No, I think the case can be fairly solidly made for that.

It’s all the other stuff he spouts off about, like the entire FCC being in regulatory capture from it’s inception and that regulatory capture is what it was created to do in the first place.

For some reason he thinks that all our problems would be magically solved by completely doing away with the FCC as a whole.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Well...

“It’s all the other stuff he spouts off about, like the entire FCC being in regulatory capture from it’s inception and that regulatory capture is what it was created to do in the first place.”

Hmm… hey look, no one saw that lie coming. If you could just stop lying we might get farther down the road.

“For some reason he thinks that all our problems would be magically solved by completely doing away with the FCC as a whole.”

O wait… not just one, but two lies. This is why people don’t believe you. The only game you got is to constantly misrepresent people, and its terrible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Well...

My apologies if I have apparently mistaken you for someone else. It is not my intent to misrepresent people.

I take it you are claiming you are not the same person I and many others here have debated with constantly on the last few NN articles in which said person has claimed all the things I said and this can be verified by reviewing those comments.

If you are not this person I am deeply sorry for the mistake, your comment style is very similar to his so I assumed it was the same person.

Please accept my apologies. However, even though what I said does not apply to you, it does accurately reflect the other poster I was talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Well...

wait… so when I say it… its wrong… but when TD says it… well no big deal.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171206/13482138756/india-embraces-full-net-neutrality-as-us-turns-back-concept.shtml

You see… this is why you are an idiot. The only thing that matters to you is WHO said it. Makes is clear you are nothing other than a knee-jerk reaction idiot.

Go and read up what regulatory capture means brain child.
Like Einstein said… only two things are infinite… the universe and human stupidity (YOU) and he was not sure about the former.

You are a stupid human, on a the bright side, you can fix that… if you can just put down the kool-aid!

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder...

…Perhaps Ajit Pai is actually for NN? Think about it for a moment.
Here’s a guy who really hasn’t hidden his agenda about removing NN. His kowtowing to the big ISPs is so obvious as to be almost criminal. He has completely ignored everyone except the ISPs as far as comments are concerned. He’s even participated in a “parody” claiming to be a “plant” for Verizon in a long game. It is now to the point that many people are gleefully looking at his antics and saying that the repeal of NN should actually fail in court.

Maybe that was his plan all along? Maybe he truly understands that NN is good and that the current “rules”, while not perfect, are pretty good. Maybe he is behaving this way precisely so that he *will* lose in court and he can then turn around to the big ISPs, shrug his shoulders and say, “Well, I tried. Sorry.”, thus allowing him to still receive a cushy appointment at the end of his term while at the same time saving NN without appearing to do so.

Well, if I’m going to dream (or hallucinate), I want a unicorn that farts gold coins as well, please.

David (profile) says:

Misunderstanding the problem

What everyone seems to misunderstand is that the government no longer works for the people. It works for big business. It is business that provides the funding that gets these people elected and business expects a return on their investment. Liberal or conservative, it doesn’t matter. That is why the Founding Fathers wanted to limit the federal government.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Misunderstanding the problem

Liberal or conservative, it doesn’t matter.

It does in the case of net neutrality, which, in Washington, has become a partisan issue (even though among the general public, it’s not).

That is why the Founding Fathers wanted to limit the federal government.

You seem confused about what is actually happening here. Ajit Pai is acquiescing to the will of corporate America ("working for big business", as you put it) by overturning federal regulations, not creating them.

Someone says:

Hmmmm

So far i’ve cared enough to actually read the existing net neutrality documents, and i’ve gotta say that both sides have a point. The opposing side has a point that the current net neutrality needs some heavy editing and rewriting because a lot of content is opposite of what should be defined as net neutrality, while the defending side has a point that it shouldn’t be repealed (since it’s a basis at least) while the defending side should also develop some brain matter and read the documents they are defending before they defend them (i’m looking at illiterate reddit and such).

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hmmmm

No, only the idiot strawmen(in both senses of the word) people in your head hold to that position.

If you bothered to stop patting yourself on the back for being The Chosen One long enough to read what people’s actual positions are you’d realize that no-one thinks that net neutrality rules are some magical cure-all that will solve everything, and things are a bit more nuanced than you portray them as.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Words inserted into mouths

@Anonymous Coward
You realize you just insulted yourself and admitted that you don’t have much brain matter right? Since you are on the other “side” from us who want to keep NN rules. Perhaps you should refrain from insulting other people. You don’t seem to be very good at it.

No one has claimed it is a panacea. What we have said is that there will be dire consequences for the health of the internet if it is repealed. No one, not even TD, has argued that these rules will solve all our problems. Many, including TD have lamented that the NN rules DON’T include rules against zero rating.

@Someone
I would be curious to know what specifically you think should be re-written and what is improperly defined as Net Neutrality. As I read the rules I didn’t see anything that jumped out at me as being misclassified but your argument is one I haven’t heard before so I’m interested to hear your thoughts on it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hmmmm

“these guys are claiming that NN is some kind of panacea for all their NN woes”

Who is? I keep seeing claims like this, but never see any evidence to support it. I’ve never seen any defense of NN like that, only “what we have is a hell of a lot better than nothing, and we need to keep it).

The fact is this – NN in its current form is a band aid, a patch, not a perfect fix. The rules need to be updated, revised, maintained to remove loopholes like zero rating that are able to be gamed in violation of the spirit of the rules, and any future loopholes that appear.

But, they’re vastly better even in their current form than removing them and handing the American internet over to corporate monopolies, as Pai and his band of robbers are attempting to do.

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