Gab CEO Ironically Pines For Net Neutrality

from the ironic-about-play dept

ISPs, looking to undermine, FCC authority managed to frame the whole net neutrality debate as “partisan” as to sow dissent, prevent consensus, block reform, and justify the 2017 repeal. But the idea was never really partisan. Despite headlines and DC rhetoric, a massive bipartisan majority of Americans actually supported the rules.

Why? Because net neutrality rules were imperfect, stop gap guidelines in the absence of competition to prevent telecom monopolies from politically or economically abusing their market power.

If you actually care about preventing AT&T or Comcast from ripping you off, blocking competitors, or stifling political speech, it made sense to support net neutrality (more on that here). AT&T and Comcast lobbyists cleverly turned that on its head, portraying modest level amounts of accountability as “government run amok” and “socialism for the internet.” Many politicians dutifully played along.

Of course, things have changed a little in the years since big telecom and the GOP worked hand in hand to kill net neutrality and lobotomize the FCC’s consumer protection authority. You’ve now got the same FCC Commissioners that called net neutrality “severe government over reach” trying to force the FCC to police social media, despite having none of the authority to do so.

Enter Gab CEO Andrew Torba, who like most right wingers these days, is upset because social media giants have belatedly started moderating the race-baiting propaganda the GOP now uses for recruitment in the wake of shifting demographics and an aging electorate.

Hoping to cash in on the endless “Elon Musk buys Twitter” news cycle, Torba offered Musk a board seat at Gab. He noted that that the steady flood of bigotry and hate speech on the platform has made it hard to do business, forcing it to develop its own payment processors, email services, and servers (?). But he’s now worried that big ISPs will also step in and start filtering Gab content:

What we are missing at the moment is an ISP. I fear that the next big leap of censorship is at the ISP level, with ISP’s blocking access to You solve that problem with Starlink. Together we can build infrastructure for a free speech internet.

There are a lot of underpinning legal issues here as they apply to the debate over common carriers, but I’m not wading into that because my interest lies elsewhere.

As we’ve long noted, net neutrality wouldn’t be necessary if you had effective competition among U.S. broadband providers aimed at disrupting U.S. monopolies. But we don’t have that thanks to widespread state and federal corruption, and we aren’t likely to have it anytime soon.

Due to the limit of physics, Starlink lacks the capacity to offer satellite broadband to more than like 800,000 subscribers worldwide anytime soon. About 20-40 million Americans lack access to broadband, and another 83 million live under a monopoly. So again, Starlink is a helpful niche solution, not a truly disruptive force.

Back to net neutrality. The repeal didn’t just kill net neutrality rules, it basically gutted much of the FCC’s consumer protection authority and power over these monopolies. So by supporting the repeal of net neutrality (again, just because AT&T, Comcast, and Ted Cruz said it was bad) many on the right effectively undermined any way to hold telecom monopolies accountable for pretty much anything.

A lot of partisan pundits who applauded that had no actual idea what they were applauding. And a lot of the right wing politicians who demonized net neutrality have long since been twisting themselves into pretzels to justify their attacks on “big tech.” Enter this weird myopia where big tech has been widely criticized, and companies like AT&T and Comcast have been treated like adorable little angels.

Amusingly, telecom lobbying and policy guys on Twitter got immediately nervous and defensive about Torba’s comments:

ISPs probably wouldn’t just censor a site like Gab outright, because it would upset potential customers and campaign contributors. Especially a company like Dallas-based AT&T, which actively created and funded OAN. But as the EFF notes, ISPs are still part of the infrastructure free speech stack and do still pose a risk to speech online, and it’s adorable that Gab executives noticed.

But after the right wing worked arm in arm with telecom for years to dismantle net neutrality and telecom consumer protection, it would be amusing if net neutrality saw a less informed push of support from the right, which, up to this point, has oddly given telecom giants a free pass.

It would also deliver ironic justice to an industry that literally had to use dead and fake people to support their attack on net neutrality because the rules had broad, bipartisan support. Especially given how hard the telecom lobby has worked to intentionally gridlock the FCC at 2-2 commissioners to keep the public from getting what it wants: a restoration of the rules.

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Companies: gab

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Comments on “Gab CEO Ironically Pines For Net Neutrality”

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Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

This quote says it all...

There are a lot of underpinning legal issues here as they apply to the debate over common carriers, but I’m not wading into that because my interest lies elsewhere.

It’s a sign of the right to express yourself that YOU get to choose what YOU want to wade in on and it DOES get published (thanks, TechDirt).

Gab’s CEO wagging a monkey by the tail because it’s visible doesn’t make it right and certainly doesn’t justify cruelty to animals. Gab created Gab and its failure (aka “lack of immediate moneybags going full) is because of its own choices, just like OANN, and the **** sites dedicated to allowing unhinged right-wingnuts the ability to express their glands through their keyboard mouths.

Is there a problem with people able to express opinions without censorship in these United States? I don’t think so. The quote from Karl suggests not. While I can’t post what I think to Parler, I sure can on many other sites.

No problem located. Solution unneeded. No further action required.

Closing non-ticket. Right wingnuts are welcome to step off the boat to the stern, while motoring. Keep the splashing/drowning screams down… people with brains are sleeping.


PaulT (profile) says:

“I fear that the next big leap of censorship is at the ISP level, with ISP’s blocking access to You solve that problem with Starlink”

Yeah, just another Musk fanboy who thinks that a utopian future awaits us all if we just hand everything over to him and just believe instead of thinking about things he hasn’t sold to us…

Whereas, in reality, you probably won’t get one of these people to correctly define “censorship”, let alone how to prevent it – and I’d guess that this guy was also one of the people demanding the removal of NN protections because he couldn’t define that either.

Anonymous Coward says:

As we’ve long noted, net neutrality wouldn’t be necessary if you had effective competition among U.S. broadband providers aimed at disrupting U.S. monopolies.

Unless as a cartel, the broadband providers divide up access amongst themselves, so that subscription to all them is needed for full Internet access.

TFG says:


At which point it’s no longer competition. Also, that’s essentially what we have now – except instead of them divvying up the internet itself (which wasn’t feasible post-AOL walled garden) they’ve divvied up geographical service areas.

Thing is, the more players there are in the market, the harder it is for a cartel of that nature to take hold, because you will get players who decide they can get more out of it by not being party to the cartel – and since they offer what the others won’t, people will flock to them.

Plus, if you switch to regulatory regimes which are actually anti-monopoly, which actually encourage competition, then cartel actions of that type can be squashed.

For example, if you adopt a system where the infrastructure is publicly owned (i.e. the city, county, or state owns the actual cable lines that are used for the transmission of data) and the ISPs are granted the right to use said lines (equal to all comers, low barrier of entry) then that type of action can be very easily squashed: any ISPs that collude to do that can get kicked off the lines at the extreme.

My point here is, competition isn’t the natural state of business. Business is in large part based on greed (or at minimum attracts the greedy), and greed moves people to maximize their profit in the short term with no care for the expense of others. Thus, instead of competition, you get collusion, bribery, and exploitation.

The market cannot be treated like a wildland, it must be treated like a garden or a managed forest. You must eliminate pests and disease (bad actors and exploiters), you must eliminate weeds (monopolists who choke out everybody else), you must ensure proper nutrition (low barrier of entry and good incentives for competition).

Only by doing that will you get good results – good food from the garden / sustainable, healthy wood from the forest.

Whoever says:

Their own servers

forcing it to develop its own payment processors, email services, and servers (?).

I think what he means by ‘its own … servers’ is that they are not using cloud services like AWS, Microsoft Azure, etc.. Note that they say they had to build their own servers, not develop. is behind Cloudflare, so one easily can’t see where their servers are actually located.

PaulT (profile) says:


After being refused service by most reputable providers, Gab went to Epik for its domain registration. They also provide web hosting and are a safe haven for less savoury content, so I would guess that they’re just using Epik for their servers. I very much doubt they had to develop all that much, it was more a case of “we needed to find a data centre that will allow us through their doors, then we needed to read up on basic server administration since our previous plan depended on AWS doing all the heavy lifting”.

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