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New Net Neutrality Bill Introduced, Has No Chance Of Passing

from the good-luck-with-that dept

We've discussed for years how net neutrality debates all went sideways the second it became a "partisan" issue. In the early days of the debate, it was neither a Democratic or Republican issue, and there were some actually substantive conversations about the issue and what it meant, and what the consequences were. However, somewhere in the mid-2000s, suddenly it became Democrats "for" net neutrality and Republicans "against." It became a silly fight over "regulating the internet" and all reasoned discussion seemed to go out the window entirely. That's why net neutrality is basically a dead issue from the Congressional side of things. Congress simply isn't going to act because it's a partisan bloodbath, with each side screaming at the other with half-truths and misrepresentations about what's at stake. On the Republican side, you have claims about "regulating the internet" and plans to block the FCC from doing its job. On the flip side, we've now got the Democratic proposal coming out to pass legislation that will ban fast lanes online.

While the good intent may be there, the politics aren't. The bill isn't going anywhere. Introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui and powerful perennial underachiever Senator Patrick Leahy, it will be seen as a Democratic bill, with no chance of passing the House in any meaningful way. Oh, and if this sounds familiar, we were here a few months ago too. It's a nice nod to the important issue, but as a bill it's just an acknowledgement of how powerless Congress is to actually do anything on this issue when the issue is still (ridiculously) considered a partisan issue, rather than one about how the future of the internet will play out.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jun 17th, 2014 @ 3:30pm

    Leahy? Isn't he the guy behind PIPA? What's he doing trying to help the Internet turn out the right way this time? The big media cartels hate Net Neutrality almost as much as the ISPs do...

     

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  2.  
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    zip, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 3:49pm

    why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    The Republican stand against "network neutrality" makes some sense, because to many conservatives, government regulation of private companies is a slippery slope that leads to more bureaucracy and more law enforcement -- and less innovation.

    It's funny that back in the days of Compuserve and America online, network-neutrality was not such a big issue. Although these groundbreaking ISP companies provided much of their own content, people who didn't like their 'walled-garden' approach were free to choose from many other (dialup) service providers.

    Which goes to show that when there is truly open competition, government regulation of private companies is neither needed or desired. Maybe we should be working harder to force a competitive environment upon ISPs (as was the case in the old days) rather than allowing them to maintain a (regional) monopoly and then regulating them half to death.

     

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  3.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jun 17th, 2014 @ 3:57pm

    Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    The Republican stand against "network neutrality" makes no sense, even from the conservative perspective related here, because the Internet is already incredibly regulated as-is.

    It's horribly hypocritical to say "the Internet shouldn't be regulated" when we're talking about proposed regulations that would be detrimental to established massive companies in the field (read: major political donors) but ignore all the regulations in place that are benefiting them.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 4:27pm

    Another example of why this two party system is inherently flawed and disruptive when either party seeks to intervene for either side. It appears whatever remaining "civil" approach there was to addressing net neutrality will now be absorbed by these politics.

    Yes, I understand the neutrality issue wasn't an easy fix (given the complexity), but this will only introduce additional problems/difficulty. I suppose the citing the famous case of G.Douche v. T.Sandwich (2004) applies now...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    +1

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 4:57pm

    "Congress simply isn't going to act"

    Business as usual. The worst congress ever and they seem to revel in it.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    Exactly. The proposed regulations would only prevent the existing regulations from favoring incumbent players a lot more than startups and small companies. Either kill the existing regulations that benefit incumbent players or propose new regulations to ensure that the existing regulations don't disproportionately favor incumbent players over newcomers and small players.

    and this is what the shills around here don't want, they want it both ways. They want to maintain the existing one sided laws that favor incumbent players but they don't want new laws that prevent existing laws from unleveling the playing field.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 5:12pm

    Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    Republicans and sense in the same sentence - lol

    Yes more competition would put pressure on the industry players, but there is a big difference between that dreamland and the real world.

    btw, net neutrality was not such a big issue back then because the net was still small and the moneyed interests thought it was fad that was going to fade away within a few years. Once they realized they were wrong and there was lots of money to be raked in, they sprang into action attempting to monopolize it. And here we are, with idiots about to open the golden goose with a knife looking for more golden eggs.

    Oh - and in addition, competition alone is insufficient by its self to keep the bad actors in line. Businesses will, and do, cut corners leading to disasters. This is well established fact.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 5:58pm

    Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    AOL and Compuserve were different though. Sure they had Intranet content that was faster than the content that came through their link to the outside world but almost all of that content was exclusive to the service and not provided from a special connection to an outside service.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 6:00pm

    More and more I am convinced that our two party system is broken and can not be fixed as is. It would take throwing out the whole mass of incumbents and removal of access by lobbyist as well as removing the bribe through campaign warchest contributions.

    As it is, the most likely outcome is he who throws enough money at getting through the law wanted. The finest laws money can buy.

    But no one who elects these politician creatures gets what they want unless there is a payday in it for the politician. That is not representation. It's basically serving under false pretenses and all the promises are thrown out once in office. For just how bad it is, all one has to do is look at Obama's promise of the most transparent administration in history and look at the real world how controlled the media as well as access to just the laws alone is.

    Ignorance of the law is now a valid excuse in court, no matter how it is viewed by the judge.

     

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  11.  
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    Whatever, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 6:59pm

    more than anything

    More than anything, the fact that a law like this has no chance of passing proves that there is not enough real interest in the public in making it happen.

    The house / senate will get into it in a more serious manner if the FCC / FTC and whatever other letter agencies can't manage to deal with the subject in a strong manner. Oh, and when the public actually makes it clear that something needs to be done. That will only happen if an ISP goes way over the line, which doesn't appear to be the case at all here.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 7:44pm

    Re: more than anything

    "the fact that a law like this has no chance of passing proves that there is not enough real interest in the public in making it happen"

    Hog wash. the fact that it is going nowhere proves Congress is a bunch of losers. Congress acts in their own self interest not that of the public. I thought this was well understood.


    "The house / senate will get into it in a more serious manner if .... the public actually makes it clear that something needs to be done."

    Wow - you are really delusional. What are you smoking?

     

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  13.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 18th, 2014 @ 12:13am

    Re: more than anything

    "More than anything, the fact that a law like this has no chance of passing proves that there is not enough real interest in the public in making it happen."

    No, it just means that it's a pointless gesture that will not achieve anything. Not to mention that half the public actually buys the distortions and lies that some of the republicans seem to have bought into. It's hard to pass anything when it's a pointless move opposed by a belief in outright fiction.

    "That will only happen if an ISP goes way over the line, which doesn't appear to be the case at all here."

    So, screw actually pre-empting problems, let's just wait until people start getting royally screwed and react when they complain?

    Sadly, I think you believe that this is the right way to do things...

     

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  14.  
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    andypandy, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 12:47am

    as i have said before

    Why can we not create a citizens website where every citizen has the right to one vote on all bills put forward, let's see if a few million people voting for specific bills as they are and with no changes are supported by the people, surely if politicians vote against something 6 million people take the time to vote in support of they will quickly realise how the public can vote them out very quickly.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 2:18am

    Re:

    Also note:-
    Politicians do not represent the people, but rather give them a choice about who will rule them.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 3:47am

    Re: as i have said before

    that is kind of what the several pirate parties are trying to achieve.

    Note that there is a reason we tend to go for indirect democracy; the idea is that you find representation that can put in the work for you, since you can't have an insightful and researched opinion on every issue at hand, and still have a real life/job. In theory that is the job of your selected representatives. Unfortunately, in our current systems, the representative spend way too much time and effort getting voted for, and way to little actually researching and forming founded opinions.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 5:07am

    Re: Re: as i have said before

    The problem is, your representative (most likely) does not give a shit about you. Corruption rules.

    The whole representative democracy is fairytale stories taught to school children. The real world is run by corruption.

     

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  18.  
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    TestPilotDummy, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 5:46am

    FCC authority

    The whole problem I have in the first place is the FCC has dumped it's original mission statement with a series of FASCIST mission statements.

    It's all been downhill since.

    So let's look how well the FCC has managed Power and Frequency in the Spectrum in the Public Interest shall we..

    Who owns most of the public spectrum? Commercial Interests that's who. Whith a smidgen going to .Gov .Mil frequencies. You got public access, Ham, and CB. waa.. in light of CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, PBS (where you can NOT submit your material for playback)

    POTUS chooses the Head of FCC.
    So it's the way they WANT IT TO BE.
    It's BY DESIGN.

    So after this miserable mismanagement by FCC engineers in changing from managing power and freqs in the public interest, they now manage power and freqs in the FASCIST COMMERCIAL interest which is AT ODDS with the PUBLIC interest.

    yes I am yelling...
    because, then the MISSION CREEP...

    So now, tell me again, why the FCC got the authority to manage what comes out of my ETHERNET cable again?

    Hey if it was WIFI I wouldn't make a peep, but They are REGULATING cables now, not emissions.

    AND ALREADY it's going poorly. This week, net neutrality, next week no net neutrality, now that they have authority, they can change it back and forth every day, you have no rights you gave them the authority remember?

    Although I would argue, an OATH BREAKER gave them authority.
    but that's why my reps don't want to hear from me anymore.

     

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  19.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 18th, 2014 @ 6:51am

    Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    "people who didn't like their 'walled-garden' approach were free to choose from many other (dialup) service providers."

    ...and there's the root problem right there. The one that the major corporations don't actually want to see solved. NN legislation isn't the ideal solution -- it's more of the art of what's possible. The ideal solution is to have a thriving, competitive market for ISPs.

    I believe that as much as they hate it, the likes of Comcast would prefer NN legislation to anything that addresses the root cause of the problem. So the battle is over NN instead of monopoly.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 9:10am

    Yeah, let's continue to focus on bogus BS non issues like this instead of actual issues like healthcare and education.....

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 9:13am

    Re: as i have said before

    Yeah, let's let every libertarian Ron Paul whack job have a say in what gets voted on... these are the same people that STILL don't believe there's a racism issue in this country.

     

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  22.  
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    Zonker, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 11:44am

    Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    Compuserve and America Online (AOL) were never Internet Service Providers, they were always Bulletin Board Services (BBS). Your computer called their servers on the phone and allowed you to communicate, play games, and transfer data on their servers with other users and that's it. The Internet killed them and all other BBSes off as obsolete.

    Sure AOL tried to postpone the inevitable by offering shared Internet connections on their servers to their users, but attempted to keep their existing BBS services largely intact and off the rest of the Internet. That is why they failed. Broadband internet killed off the need for a phone connection and their last bit of leverage (large existing dial-up facilities) was gone.

     

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  23.  
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    zip, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    "I believe that as much as they hate it, the likes of Comcast would prefer NN legislation to anything that addresses the root cause of the problem. So the battle is over NN instead of monopoly."

    Call me a dreamer, but I would like to see a repeat of the telephone monopoly dismantlement-- when that former mega-monopoly was forced to allow competitors to access its local networks.

    It came as no surprise (to the anti-monopolists) that the consumer's cost of a long-distance telephone call dropped substantially as a result, despite the huge built-in inefficiency of having multiple redundant trans-national backbones, each owned and operated by a separate company.

     

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  24.  
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    zip, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    If AOL had simply spent its money buying up cable companies instead of blowing billions on it's disastrous Time-Warner purchase, I'm sure that AOL would be where Comcast is now -- and quite possibly much bigger.

     

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  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 18th, 2014 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    True, but it was far from clear in those days that cable would become the dominant form of broadband delivery. At that time, broadband was pretty much a specialty service that was only in use by businesses and the relatively wealthy. And there was no cable broadband.

     

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  26.  
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    zip, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    AOL failed because the company did not foresee the eventual demise of dialup internet, and therefore, did not invest in any emerging broadband technologies of any kind. And having already 'shot its wad' on another declining company before it became painfully obvious that dialup had no future, the situation was by then too late to reverse course.

    Even if AOL had instead sunk its fortune on some soon-to-be-deadend broadband technology like BPL -- at least it would have given the company a fighting chance to compete in a future broadband market.

    Personally, I never understood the attraction of AOL. By the late 1990s, there were plenty of other dialup ISPs that were much lower priced, and with much better user-to-port ratios than AOL. But AOL was a marketing powerhouse, selling to the unwashed masses who had no idea what a bad deal that over-priced, under-maintained & badly managed (other than their sales dept.) clanking rustbucket that AOL really was.

     

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  27.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 19th, 2014 @ 4:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    "Personally, I never understood the attraction of AOL."

    "But AOL was a marketing powerhouse, selling to the unwashed masses who had no idea"

    You pretty much answered your own question there, I think. They were slickly and well marketed to people who otherwise had no clue of how to get online (or what to access once they were there). Once they found their way outside of the walled garden, most people jumped ship as they recognised the poor quality of the actual service offered, but its attraction was definitely there as an easy first step for many users.

     

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  28.  
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    The Wanderer (profile), Jun 19th, 2014 @ 6:18am

    Re:

    I think it *could* be done with something less extreme than that: just replace the current "single-choice" voting system with a Condorcet-compatible "ranked preferences" voting system.

    At the very least, that would eliminate that "don't vote for a third-party candidate, because you'll just be throwing your vote away" argument, thereby making it much harder for existing powers to keep their stranglehold on access to power.

    It might still turn out not to be enough; for example, monied interests still might be able to tout their own candidate(s) and bash or downplay the alternatives enough to prevent any significant chance of differing powers from getting into office. In that case, doing something about the "money in politics" aspect would still be necessary.

    The whole "money in politics" thing is a much harder problem to solve, on a design level, however; it may not be much simpler to actually implement, politically speaking, but every design solution proposed so far has had problems. I'm also not convinced that fixing that part by itself would be enough, either; at best, it would only fix some of the problems, and still leave a dysfunctional system in other respects.


    It looks to me as if throwing the current, corrupt incumbents out, and changing the rules about money and lobbying to help prevent corruption from recurring in the future, would only be treating the symptoms of the problem and would come at a considerable cost, in terms of compromise on principles - because in order to be effective at preventing the recurrence of corruption in the long term, you'd have to sharply limit what private citizens are legally permitted to do with their own money, and sharply restrict the ability of private citizens to contact and interact with those in power.

    Fixing the voting system to allow people to better express what they actually want, by contrast, looks to me as if it would address some of the underlying problems, and leave a more stable, less corruptible system on which to build for the long term - without any of those trade-offs in restrictions on individual (or, I think, even collective) liberty. In the long run, I think it's a far better choice than just kicking money out of politics, and probably far more necessary.

     

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  29.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 19th, 2014 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: why AOL's walled-garden was OK, but Comcast's is not?

    " By the late 1990s, there were plenty of other dialup ISPs that were much lower priced"

    AOL was not an ISP until very late in the game. By the time they got around to trying to become an ISP, there was already a thriving, competitive ISP marketplace that beat AOL on all measures, including price.

    You know what destroyed that marketplace? The fact that broadband delivery was not deemed to qualify as a common carrier. It was pretty much instant monopoly at that point.

     

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  30.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 19th, 2014 @ 9:36am

    Re: FCC authority

    "Who owns most of the public spectrum?"

    The public. That spectrum is then licensed to private companies and individuals. Technically, those licenses can be revoked at any time.

    Where I fault the FCC is that they aren't more heavyhanded about what the terms of those licenses are and enforcing those terms.

     

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  31.  
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    fgoodwin (profile), Jun 19th, 2014 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: as i have said before

    Note that there is a reason we tend to go for indirect democracy; the idea is that you find representation that can put in the work for you, since you can't have an insightful and researched opinion on every issue at hand, and still have a real life/job. In theory that is the job of your selected representatives.

    Exactly. No one can be an expert on every issue.

    The same holds for Representatives and Senators. So they educate themselves, and one way of doing that is lobbying. We may not like it, but the truth is, lobbying is necessary, unless you want people to vote on every issue without any clue as to what the issue entails. And lobbying isn't limited to pro-ISP interests. The ACLU, EFF, Consumer Reports, and many other pro-consumer groups also lobby.

    So be careful about efforts to ban lobbying -- that would result in banning all those pro-consumer groups, too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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