Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
day of action, fcc, net neutrality

Companies:
facebook, google



Facebook, Google Wake Up From Their Coma On The Subject, Join Wednesday's Massive Net Neutrality Protest

from the nice-to-see-you-could-show-up dept

So if you hadn't heard, Wednesday will bear witness to a major protest (both online and off) against the FCC's plan to kill popular net neutrality protections here in the States. Spearheaded by consumer advocacy group Fight for the Future, the "day of action" is an effort to bring attention to the attack on net neutrality, to drive more people to the FCC's comment proceeding, and to generate a wave of backlash supporters hope will mirror the SOPA/PIPA uprising. Countless small companies, consumer groups, and many large companies (including Amazon, Reddit, and Netflix) will be participating in the protests.

But also joining the proceedings are several Silicon Valley giants that, in recent years, have not just been apathetic to genuine net neutrality, but in many instances have actively worked to undermine the concept. While they didn't make a formal announcement (that would have been too bold), both Google and Facebook reps are quietly telling news outlets they'll be participating in the protests. The depth of their involvement isn't clear, but managers of the campaign say they're obviously happy with the support all the same:

"We have not heard directly from either Facebook or Google, but we’re glad to hear that these companies are listening to their employees and Internet users and will speak out for net neutrality with the rest of the Internet on July 12," Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future and an organizer for the event, said in a statement.

"In previous years these companies have often been on the sidelines of these fights, so we hope that they plan to do something meaningful in the spirit of the protest and educate their users about what’s at stake if we lose net neutrality protections that protect our online free speech, and give them opportunities to take action."

Saying that Google and Facebook have been "on the sidelines" of the net neutrality fight is understandably polite on Greer's part. Both have been working hard to broaden their lobbying focus under the Trump administration, and both have been more than happy to sacrifice some integrity (and the health of the internet) in the process. They've not only been mute as the FCC has taken aim at the rules, but historically they've taken actions to directly undermine the entire concept of network neutrality -- here and abroad.

You'll recall Facebook faced a massive backlash in India after it tried to corner the ad market with a free, AOL-esque service that critics say gave Facebook far too much influence over what content consumers would see. Criticism only grew after the "zero rated" service initially went so far as to prohibit the use of encryption. India ultimately banned the practice after critics like Mozilla pointed out that if you want to bring internet access to the poor -- you should actually bring real internet access to the poor, not a curated walled garden that only thinly disguises your international ad ambitions.

While consistently still portrayed by some press outlets as a net neutrality ally, Google has also effectively been AWOL from the discussion since 2010, when it actively worked to make the FCC's initial rules as flimsy as possible. Working hand in hand with AT&T and Verizon, Google played a big part in ensuring the original rules didn't even cover wireless networks. When efforts emerged in 2015 to craft the notably tougher rules we currently have (for now), Google was nowhere to be found -- and has lobbied pretty consistently against net neutrality protections for consumers overseas.

So yes, while it should be applauded that both companies are participating in Wednesday's proceedings, the depth of their participation is far from clear, and their efforts to undermine net neutrality in recent years should not be forgotten by those working to keep the internet a relatively open and healthy platform for competition and free speech.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 10:47am

    Good that there's a protest

    Bad that Fight for the Future is still spamming. It would be nice if they managed to achieve the baseline ethics that they're so eager to demand from others.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 11:25am

    Re: Good that there's a protest

    You mean spamming their members? You can opt out of receiving the newsletters.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 11:30am

    It would be absolutely awesome if Google and Facebook came out in support of net neutrality on Wednesday. However, given their lack of support (and sometimes opposition) in recent years, this seems like a really weird move for them. The fact that they aren't signing on officially to the protest is strange if they really do support it.

    What do you think the chances would be if instead of protesting for net neutrality on Wednesday, they protested against it and that is why they are "participating" but haven't officially joined the protest?

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

  4. icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 11:34am

    I remember months ago when people were fearful about Mark Zuckerbeg, Facebook's CEO and Founder, running for president.

    I think Facebook's reluctance to join the Net Neutrality fight speaks volumes to the credibility of that rumor, it's not true. Zuckerberg would be out in front trying to generate free publicity for himself by defending net neutrality if he were really serious about pulling a Trump and launching a political career.

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

  5. identicon
    Pixelation, 10 Jul 2017 @ 11:35am

    Google

    They gave up on "Don't Be Evil", at least they could fall back to "Don't Be Amoral".

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

  6. icon
    Karl Bode (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 11:40am

    Re:

    He's clearly trying to make inroads in flyover country for one reason or another, possibly political. But so few people can actually tell you what net neutrality even is, I doubt it's much of an impediment to whatever his ambitions are.

    And it's not like they admit they oppose net neutrality. Most of the time they claim to support it while actively undermining it, something people not in tune to the recent "Free Basics" shit show over in India probably aren't aware of.

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

  7. icon
    Karl Bode (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 11:41am

    Re:

    Yeah the fact they didn't reach out directly to FTTF suggests they may have just been bullshitting news outlets to avoid being singled out as apathetic (if not outright hostile) to the concept. We'll see Wednesday, I guess.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 12:11pm

    Just in time for the photo op.

    Google and Facebook show up just in time to try to score some PR points, only to disappear just as quickly afterwards.

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

  9. icon
    Ninja (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 12:25pm

    Re:

    I've been asking myself why the sudden interest as well..

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Well Facebook is becoming a video streaming site, and Google could be put under pressure to edit their search results to suit the content owners who control access to their users. Perhaps they are realizing that without net neutrality their businesses could suffer.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Good that there's a protest

    1. As you should know, "you can opt out" has been the constant refrain of spammers for years. If you don't know this -- well, you do now. Understand that "you can opt out" is semantically equivalent to a full confession.

    2. They're spamming addresses that don't belong to their members, that have never belonged to their members, and in some cases, have never existed.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 12:41pm

    Re:

    Perhaps you're right about this. But since we've already seen how a having a sociopathic billionaire with narcissistic personality disorder as President works out, hopefully we won't have to run the experiment a second time.

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

  13. icon
    Avantare (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 2:00pm

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Is Techdirt going to participate? If no, why not?

    Does anyone know offhand if Conde Nast, specifically Ars Technica, or Slashdot is going to participate?

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

  14. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 2:02pm

    Empty words

    Giving how last minute their claims of 'support' are coming, and the fact that they appear to have been rather vague as to what form that support would take, I'm guessing this has little to nothing to do with actually supporting NN, and everything to do with a cheap PR stunt and/or avoiding the backlash from people who realized that they've been rather silent on the issue so far.

    PR and/or CYOA more than actual support basically, not worth a round of applause, but maybe enough for a half-hearted 'well, you tried'. Still, given the size of the companies if they do actually show a measure of support it's better than nothing I guess.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 4:17pm

    Its the moment when you realize that Google Facebook and Netflix dobt really want or need net neutrality. The are the big dogs now.

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

  16. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Inquiring minds want to know.

    Techdirt is always participating.

    What i would do is search the relevant site or see if they are on the FFTF list. (Although said list seems a bit wonky in some browser environments, to say the least.) Slashdot seems to promote it and is on the list. Ars/Nast are not listed AFAICT. But i am uninterested and therefore unwilling to investigate further into some particular creature's participation or level thereof. You will see in a bit more than a day at this point. Maybe someone with more site affinity to ars knows.

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

  17. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 5:05pm

    Re:

    I think that moment was quite a long time ago. Netflix is the only one with personal skin in the in any remotely recent sense. Not sure that any part of FB culture ever cared. Certainly many arguments could be made about teh goog. But if any of them ever had true principles they wished to espouse, they are far past that point. The best one can hope is to shift them in a better direction by popular demand, whether they do it grudgingly or in an attempt to capitalize on it.

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Good that there's a protest

    What do you do with the axes when you're done grinding them?

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 5:39pm

    The shameless opportunism is so blatant that even a Techdirt minion noticed.

    And against Google and Facebook! Why, this hard-hitting piece makes up for the prior years non-criticizing of both here at TD.

    Oh, relapse last paragraph! This half-hidden PR stunt "should be applauded", eh? -- Techdirt should always mention that Google sponsors Masnick's little "think tank".

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 6:25pm

    Re: The shameless opportunism is so blatant that even a Techdirt minion noticed.

    Did you use google to find your TOR pirate exit node?

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

  21. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Jul 2017 @ 6:51pm

    Incorrect claims and one-eighth truths

    The funny thing about making claims like that is that those of us who've been here for years know how completely full of crap they are. TD has criticized Google and Facebook plenty when they did something wrong, so claiming otherwise is either misinformed or deliberately dishonest, neither of which are something you should be proud of.

    As for Google sponsoring the Copia Institute, you got that partially right, so that's something I suppose. Google is one of the sponsors, alongside eight others.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2017 @ 12:24am

    Re: Incorrect claims and one-eighth truths

    Apparently the RIAA can sponsor whoever they want, but the moment Google puts money anywhere, regardless of whether anyone else benign or unrelated is also paying, suddenly the well is irreparably poisoned.

    Google could make a donation to the Society of Believing That Slitting Your Throat is Bad For You, and out_of_the_blue would foam at the mouth.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2017 @ 3:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Good that there's a protest

    If you don't understand that spam is abuse, and that abusing the Internet in order to putatively save it is the act of unethical, despicable scumbags, then I can't help you.

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

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2017 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Good that there's a protest

    > As you should know, "you can opt out" has been the constant refrain of spammers for years. If you don't know this -- well, you do now. Understand that "you can opt out" is semantically equivalent to a full confession.

    As someone who runs mailing lists for a number of non-profit organizations, it is amazing how many times I get accused of spamming when none of the mailing lists I run (for others) are set up to allow people to be added without their explicit authorization, meaning that not only do they have to click the button that says "please add me to the mailing list" but also have to respond to the email sent to their account saying that they clicked on the button and asking them to confirm they want to be on the list. And if my server receives negative confirmation, their email is blacklisted from future requests. And every confirmation is logged.

    Yet someone always comes along and says "you're spamming me, I never asked to be on this list." And when presented with the log messages and the process, they always skulk back into the ether. (Of course, I remove them and blacklist their email address...which has caused it's own drama.)

    It always amazes me when someone comes in to a forum such as this and blasts stuff like this...while it may be true, in my experience it is usually someone who adds themselves to a mailing list, forgets they did, and then can't seem to manage to figure out (usually posted in the headers and footers of mailing lists,) how to get out of the list.

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

  25. icon
    XcOM987 (profile), 11 Jul 2017 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Good that there's a protest

    Do you happen to have any evidence to support your second point?

    I never recieved any communication from EFF other than website adverts till I signed up to their newsletters and such, I also note that you can unsubscribe from them.

    The unsubscribe thing is a big deal, as it means I had to subscribe in the first place therefor precluding it from being spam.

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

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2017 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re: Incorrect claims and one-eighth truths

    Well foam at somewhat south of it's mouth at the least.

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

  27. icon
    Daniel Audy (profile), 11 Jul 2017 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re:

    But if we don't try it again it might just have been freak luck that made having a sociopathic billionaire with narcissistic personality disorder as President not work out. I mean no one could identify any reasons that it might not have been a great idea the first time so it should obviously be tested for replicability.

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


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