Comcast Pinky Swears That The Death Of Net Neutrality Won't Hurt In The Slightest

from the just-a-little-pin-prick dept

In the wake of the FCC's attempt to kill net neutrality, ISPs like Comcast have been working overtime trying to convince the press and public that nothing bad is actually happening. Shortly after the FCC voted to begin killing the rules, Comcast posted a trifecta of press statement, comment from company CEO Brian Roberts and commentary from top lobbyist David Cohen all saying the same thing: nothing bad is happening, and whatever happens -- Comcast really, truly adores transparency and will work tirelessly to defend the open internet:

The fact that this runs in stark, documentable opposition to reality and Comcast's behavior over the last twenty years isn't something you're supposed to dwell on. Cohen (the company gets mad at us for pointing out he's still a lobbyist despite using the title of "Chief Diversity Officer" to dodge lobbying accountability rules) has also been spending the last month or so trying to argue that we can still have net neutrality despite walking back the FCC's authority over broadband providers:

"While some try to conflate the two issues, Title II and net neutrality are not the same. Title II is a source of authority to impose enforceable net neutrality rules. Title II is not net neutrality. Getting rid of Title II does not mean that we are repealing net neutrality protections for American consumers."

That ignores history. You'll recall that the FCC's original 2010 rules were demolished by the Verizon lawsuit, with the courts saying that the FCC couldn't impose such rules without first classifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II. So in 2015, former FCC boss Tom Wheeler did precisely that. Walking back that decision means stripping out the legal authority to actually enforce net neutrality, and Comcast certainly knows this. In fact we've repeatedly noted how the government's plan is to effectively gut privacy, net neutrality and other broadband consumer protections, and to replace them with the policy equivalent of wet tissue paper.

This message that nothing bad is actually happening and that Comcast really secretly loves net neutrality has been the cornerstone of an ongoing PR effort at the company the last few weeks. But given there's few if any people who trust what's arguably the least-liked company in America, responses to these claims on Twitter haven't been what you'd call warm:

One of the only pieces of evidence Comcast provides for its professed dedication to net neutrality is that it didn't, unlike Verizon, sue to overturn the FCC's 2010 rules. But as we noted back then, Comcast and AT&T didn't oppose the rules back then because they weren't really enforceable, but more importantly they simply didn't do very much. Having been written by Google and major ISPs, they carved out massive loopholes for all manner of anti-competitive behavior, and didn't even cover wireless networks.

But as the EFF writes in a missive taking aim at Comcast's new image reformation effort, the company also saw no point in suing then because it was bound to adhere to the (already flimsy) rules as a condition of its 2011 merger with NBC Universal:

"In its PR campaign, Comcast claims that its decision not to challenge the 2010 Open Internet Order is evidence of its support for network neutrality. In reality, it's likely the company stayed quiet because shortly after the Open Internet Order was approved Comcast was required to operate neutrally as a condition of its merger with NBC Universal. It had little to gain from publicly opposing the 2010 Order because they could not lift network neutrality obligations over their network even if they won in court due to merger conditions."

In short, Comcast didn't fight to overturn the 2010 rules because it loves net neutrality -- it did so because it knew the rules were garbage, and merger conditions wound up binding the company to them anyway (for whatever good that would have actually done). It's only once the rules had actual teeth -- provided by Title II authority -- that Comcast began to get nervous that somebody might actually stop the company from being an anti-competitive jackass.

Comcast's positions are viciously contradicted by a decade of indisputable anti-competitive decisions on this front, including the company's early decision to throttle all upstream BitTorrent traffic (and lie about it, repeatedly), its ham-fisted decision to use usage caps and overage fees to hamstring video competition, and it's decision to try and limit what devices consumers use to view the content of their choice on the platforms of their choosing.

By and large you'd be hard pressed to believe any major ISP -- especially Comcast -- has much if any credibility on this subject, and it's not really clear exactly who one of the least-liked companies in America thinks it's fooling.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: competition, fcc, net neutrality, open internet, title ii
Companies: comcast


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2017 @ 7:16am

    when a company/industry swears that customers will be protected and see no changes, you can bet your ass that they wont be protected and there will be monstrous changes, all to the benefit of the company/industry!!

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Sponsored Promotion
Public Money, Public Code - Sign The Open Letter at publiccode.eu
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.