New Verizon Video Blatantly Lies About What's Happening To Net Neutrality

from the up-is-down,-left-is-right,-and-you're-a-walrus dept

Lies and hyperbole are certainly no strangers to either side of the net neutrality debate, but as the FCC moves to kill net neutrality -- net neutrality opponents have taken things to an entirely new level. FCC boss Ajit Pai's speech last week unveiling the move was utterly packed with claims that had already been painstakingly debunked over the last decade (read: lies), from the absurd claim that gutting consumer protections would somehow help consumers in the Comcast era, to the similarly untrue claim that net neutrality killed broadband investment.

Of course ISPs followed Pai's speech with a bunch of their own misleading statements. Most of them tried to claim that nothing is actually going on and even if it were -- consumers shouldn't worry because large duopolists can always be trusted to remain on their best behavior in light of no oversight. Comcast, for example, was quick to post a missive to its website trying to claim that net neutrality somehow gets better -- by killing net neutrality. Just look at the banner used by the ISP:

Yes, consumers, prepare to "enjoy" the amazing benefits of gutting nearly all oversight of one of the least competitive, least-liked, and most anti-competitive companies in the history of American industry. You're welcome!

But Verizon upped the ante and deserves some kind of award for publishing this abomination of a video to the internet:

In it, a bespectacled faux-journalist named Jeremy asks Verizon General Counsel Craig Silliman about net neutrality. The "interview" is only under way for a few seconds before Silliman drops a major lie:

"The FCC is not talking about killing the net neutrality rules and in fact not we, or any other ISP are asking them to kill the open internet rules. All they're doing is looking to put the open internet rules in an enforceable way on a different legal footing."

To be clear: this is the same company that has been trying to kill net neutrality (in any form) for more than a decade, trying to claim that a former lawyer (FCC boss Ajit Pai) isn't trying to accomplish that goal (hint: he is). And while Pai may be pushing a line of nonsense about how gutting oversight of mono/duopolies like Comcast and Verizon is somehow a major step forward, anybody that actually believes that hasn't been paying attention. Rolling back Title II obliterates the FCC's authority over broadband providers, shoveling a tiny-thread of remaining oversight to an FTC authority ISPs have already shown they can tap dance around.

Verizon, you'll recall, has historically been so opposed to even the weakest net neutrality rules, it sued to overturn the original, flimsy 2010 rules it helped write (rules, it should be noted, even Comcast and AT&T were ok with). But Silliman crafts an entirely other reality out of whole cloth, insisting that unspecified "advocacy groups" are somehow lying to the American public, leaving it to a Verizon lawyer to provide the public with THE TRUTH (TM):

"You gotta understand there's a lot of advocacy groups out there that fund raise on this issue. So how do you fund raise? You stir people up with outrageous claims. Fortunately we live in a time where people have discovered it doesn't matter what's true, you just say things to rile up the base. It's not sexy to say they're changing the legal foundation for this, it's only sexy if they say they're killing the open internet. It's not true."

Silliman then trots out an analogy that, like most net neutrality analogies, is comprised predominately of nonsense:

"Imagine in your town someone says 'I'm really concerned homeowners may prohibit people from walking up their front walks, so the mailman can't deliver mail, girl scouts can't sell cookies,' it will be chaos, right? So the mayor says I'm gonna pass a rule: I'm gonna pass a rule that no one can prohibit people from walking up their front walk. But to pass this rule, I need you Jeremy and all home-owners to give me complete authority over your property. Well, how are you going to feel about that?"

But I'm not ok giving that authority, and the Mayor may even say 'Don't worry, I won't use that authority.' But you're not comfortable giving them that, right? So, that's where we are with Title II and net neutrality."

That argument makes no coherent sense. Net neutrality is about a lot of things. It's about keeping Verizon from using usage caps to harm streaming competitors (which Verizon is already doing). It's about keeping ISPs from using their power to unfairly drive up costs for transit or content providers (they've already done that, too). Verizon and Ajit Pai's "solution" to these problems is to make it virtually impossible to hold companies like Verizon accountable should they use a lack of competition in broadband to harm competitors and consumer choice in this fashion.

Mayors and god-damned sidewalks have nothing to do with it. And what Silliman really doesn't want you to understand is that it's Verizon's fault we're here in the first place.

In 2010, the FCC passed some feeble net neutrality rules. Despite helping write them (to ensure they didn't cover wireless), Verizon sued to overturn them anyway, and won. As a result, the courts told the FCC that it needed to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under Title II if it wanted to have the authority to enforce them, which is what the FCC did. Again, that's something you can thank Verizon for specifically. And while Verizon whines about over-reach, even the 2015 rules weren't very tough by international net neutrality standards, avoiding hard line bans on zero rating and broadband rate regulation.

The large ISPs spearheading this new assault on privacy and net neutrality protections are no stranger to using lies and hyperbole to justify eroded oversight of the uncompetitive broadband industry, but this video clearly ratchets things up to another level. Companies like Verizon are clearly feeling emboldened in the Trump post-truth era by the press' struggles to handle a tsunami of falsehoods. They also clearly hope their bare-knuckled attempt to crush meaningful consumer protections can somehow be twisted, contorted and massaged until it's perceived as a net gain for the public.


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  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 3:58am

    Silly Man

    It's hard not to think Verizon is trolling us all when their GC is named Silliman.


    Silly man. Tricks are for kids?

    Ehud

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 6:32am

    You have to wonder, who are these videos being produced for?

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 6:38am

    They're not lying. They're just not telling the truth.

    They have made up their own definition of net neutrality which is the exact opposite of what it means.

    To them, net neutrality is that the government will remain neutral with how they manage their networks. Including spying on customers. Selling customers' data. Lying. Throttling traffic. Over billing. Favoring certain protocols. Bogus made up fees. Favoring certain internet destinations that pay them under the table. Taxes on bogus fees. Harvesting customers' vital organs. Injecting ads into customer traffic. Not letting you cancel your service ever. Fees for processing taxes. Lying. Installing "management" and "optimization" spyware onto customer computers. Preventing a competitive market from emerging. Lying. Oh, and did I mention lying? Etc

    ISPs like it when the government remains neutral and doesn't interfere with how they abuse their customers. Government remaining neutral to abuses is what they call net neutrality.

    How do you think ISPs got to be one of the most hated businesses? Why do you think the US has the most expensive internet service? Why do you think the US ranks way down the list of countries with fastest internet speeds?

    Did I mention that ISPs tell you lies?

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

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 10:29am

      Re: They're not lying. They're just not telling the truth.

      Yes, they see the infrastructure as private property, and they intend to do whatever they want with it. You can see this mindset in his poor sidewalk analogy. The Mayor is the FCC, the mailman is Netflix, and the homeowner is the ISP. The people/customers/constitutes are... well... uhhh... I guess maybe they're the groceries in the ISP homeowner's fridge?

      To have consumers embodied in any human role in that analogy, the ISP needs to be a guy who owns the concrete sidewalk on someone else's land. Of course that makes it entirely reasonable for the homeowners (customers) to ask the mayor(FCC) to prevent Sidewalk dude from denying people entrance to their homes. It also makes it painfully obvious why installing 10 different sidewalks in your front yard isn't a viable solution.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 12:06pm

      Re: They're not lying. They're just not telling the truth.

      50 shades of the truth

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

  • icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 6:42am

    What we actually want to do is install a nice automated high-speed walkway next to your garden path and big, big gates at the entrance and then we'll charge you for both, charge the mail man and sorry girl scouts, no more cookie sales for you.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 7:02am

    Fortunately we live in a time where people have discovered it doesn't matter what's true, you just say things to rile up the base.

    You mean like what Verizon is doing?

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

  • identicon
    David, 2 May 2017 @ 7:04am

    Fast lanes

    So road construction companies are given the option of selling access to the left lane for separate fees.

    Now what may be wrong about the following two statements:

    a) this will help us get rid of traffic jams
    b) this will incentivize the companies to build roads broad enough that traffic on the regular lanes will be smooth

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 7:11am

      Re: Fast lanes

      "Now what may be wrong about the following two statements"

      Sorry, I have to ask to clarify - was that a serious question, or was the joke how obvious the answers would be?

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 12:44pm

      Re: Fast lanes

      So road construction companies are given the option of selling access to the left lane for separate fees.

      ISPs have this option even with full net neutrality. And they USE that option, selling people higher speed connections for more money. There's plenty of incentive to build a faster pipe.

      No net neutrality, using your metaphor, means the road construction companies can partner with Lexus and Volvo and limit the fast lane to only those vehicles. Everyone else gets gravel and potholes. The incentive is to provide slower speed to the majority, to push them to those car brands.

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

    • identicon
      OGquaker, 3 May 2017 @ 9:22pm

      Re: Exceptionals ONLY

      I guess you don't live in California.
      The left lanes, 1st and sometimes 2nd, are electronically controlled and use of them W/out buying a special active transponder will cost you $200-400 when machines 'read' a scofflaw's plate every few thousand feet.
      Originally built and sold to Californians for ecology and to increase ride sharing, (electric and Hybrids were kicked off for a while) the State Legislators have changed them into restricted viaducts for the well-to-do. Two to fourteen persons of unknown legal nationality used-to be a permitted exception originally.
      These 'Diamond' lanes remain almost completely unused most of the day on our most crowded freeway sections now.

      P.S. crossing the Golden Gate bridge is not legal without an internet device or an active local transponder, GFYS.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 7:22am

    Why has no one tried patenting lying in videos? Think of the money they could make!

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 7:48am

    can we at least sue the isp's for a tube of lube, i mean if I am gonna take it up the ass from them, and if they "claim" I am going to like it, I damn well better make sure I am going to enjoy it. (not that I enjoy that kind of thing, but at least not as painful)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 8:16am

    >from the absurd claim that gutting consumer protections would somehow help consumers in the Comcast era,

    That claim is not absurb, when the aim is help the customers pay their ISP's more for less.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 8:32am

    "Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung."
    - Misattributed to Voltaire

    This was of course before the age of YouTube.

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

  • icon
    Jono (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 9:10am

    Complete nonsense

    I can't even begin to understand Silliman's ridiculous analogy. Usually I can follow their (flawed) logic, but this one, I have no idea the point he is trying to make.

    How the hell does a mailman walking up a driveway have any relevance in this debate? I am struggling to find even a modicum of relevancy.

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

    • icon
      dropcap (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 1:19pm

      Re: Complete nonsense

      That's because they're using two analogies in one, so that they can advocate their interests and sound homespun and folksy at the same time.

      Analogy 1 (the folksy one): The sidewalk is the internet infrastructure/ISP, the mailman is data, the mayor is regulators, and the home is you, the user. The FCC is trying to take over your whole property, when all they care about is the sidewalk! But this doesn't make sense, because the government isn't trying to confiscate anything from the public, it's just trying to ensure the sidewalk is clear, which is the opposite of the point they're making.

      Analogy 2 (their real interests): The sidewalk is... some portion of the ISP that is seen as relevant to net neutrality. The home is the entirety of the ISP's business, including marketing, pricing, etc, etc. The mayor is still regulators, and the mailman is whatever portion of the data is related to net neutrality. Now the government is trying to control the whole company and confiscate their property! But, now the public doesn't exist in the analogy at all, and the sidewalk doesn't connect to anything.

      I guess the hope is that you feel the emotional reaction to mixing the two analogies without worrying about it making sense: suddenly the government is infringing on property rights and your home is being taken away from you! Scary!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 9:35am

    War is peace.
    Freedom is slavery.
    Ignorance is strength.

    Comcast customers will enjoy strong net neutrality protections.

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

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 9:50am

    two points

    1. "Fortunately we live in a time where people have discovered it doesn't matter what's true,"
    And that's exactly why he can say whatever he wants. Or how Trump got president and Ajit Pai got the FCC.

    2. His analogy would be slightly more accurate saying you'there renting your home and your landlord decides to charge UPS $100 to deliver something for you, and not FedEx. Or charge you $100 a month for unlimited FedEx deliveries, while only allowing 3 UPS deliveries a month.

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 11:55am

    The crazy things liars say

    The video is unlisted, but strangely the comments and votes are enabled, and as you can guess, they're not even close to peaches and cream. I bet the one and only thumbs up came from them, because oddly enough, YouTube lets you do that.

    I'm guessing they have the video embedded in a page, and don't have to worry about the politicians and investors they're selling this crap to being smart enough to know how to click through to the actual YouTube page and see the reality of it. Security through obscurity.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 12:56pm

    For everyone..

    For all the money paid for Lawyers to DEBATE this..

    YOU ARE PAYING FOR IT..

    For every penny paid to City and county and STATE politicians to restrict your ABILITY to have competition..

    YOU PAY.

    For every COMPANY that is OUT of their CIRCLE of servers, that HAS to ADD a server or pay for going THRU their service..

    YOU PAY..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 1:19pm

    while no one in Congress is prepared to do anything about this because they are nothing other than paid employees of the ISPs (before being paid employees of the people who were stupid enough to vote them into office), nothing is gonna change! until the people actually do something about the lying ass holes who are sitting in Congress, like voting the fuckers out, nothing will change! either stand up and be counted, people, or shut the fuck up and put up with it! you were all warned Pai was gonna be the new FCC boss, what he was gonna do and not one word was said against him!

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

  • icon
    McGyver (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 2:41pm

    Not just false, but insulting...

    The sad thing is how much more the Trumpster's antics and nonsense captures the public's attention, then what is really at stake.
    Look at the monkey puppet on a string and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, folks...
    I find it hilarious that if you go to the Comcast link above there are "0" comments and a friendly offer to "be the first to comment"...
    Yeah.
    I'd love to be the first to comment on that...
    But having had far lesser comments removed elsewhere, than what that drivel is brewing in me, I find it hard to believe it would remain posted for more then a nanosecond.
    And (so far) 60 "Likes" which either means that at least 60 senile individuals have internet access and somehow found Comcast's page, or Comcast only was able to find 60 soulless employees to click "Like", the rest having more integrity then that.
    It's not just a flat out lie, it's completely and deeply insulting to sling bullshit like this at people.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 8:15pm

    YouTube video has

    3 likes

    and

    549 dislikes

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

  • identicon
    Steve Carr, 3 May 2017 @ 9:39am

    Privacy

    Privacy is every Americans right. Freedom of speech and freedom of the internet,. We must keep the internet free from the government. When they passed net neutral, that was a way for the government to get there greedy hands on the internet. Stop the Government from spying on everybody. Use the search engine that does not change its results for political reasons and respects your privacy, just good old fashion results that are not tracked. Lookseek.com Have a great day

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 4 May 2017 @ 12:05am

      Re: Privacy

      "When they passed net neutral, that was a way for the government to get there greedy hands on the internet."

      *sigh* another useful idiot who doesn't know what net neutrality is. How is is it this possible for people who are this passionate about something to think it means the reverse of what it actually does?

      It even undermines your plug attempt. I mean, if you don't know the basics of the subject you're whining about, why should anyone believe your claims about the site you're shilling for?

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

  • icon
    Genexer (profile), 30 May 2017 @ 9:09am

    Beyond depressing

    A feeling of helplessness and despair is creeping in. It's disgusting that Verizon even gets to exist.

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


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