Senator Doesn't Buy FCC Justification For Killing Popular Net Neutrality Protections

from the repetition-forges-reality dept

So we've noted for years now how incumbent ISPs love to breathlessly insist that net neutrality protections "stifled broadband industry investment," despite the fact that publicly-available SEC filings, earnings reports, and the ISPs' own public statements on this subject have repeatedly proven this claim false. Traditionally, large ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter have employed industry-friendly economists to massage and cherry pick the data until it looks like a slowdown occurred. But every few months or so a journalist will painstakingly document how this slowdown claim is complete and total bullshit.

But this being the broadband industry, and lobbyists being lobbyists, the repeated debunking of their claims never seems to matter. In large part because they know that if they repeat this claim often enough, repetition will forge reality in the minds of people who don't know any better. That's why, several times a week for years, you'll see either editorials like this one by Montana State Senator Doug Kary or claims from organizations that pretend not to take money from the telecom industry, insisting that net neutrality rained all over their investment parade.

Ajit Pai once again trotted out this bogus claim during a hearing last week before the Senate Commerce Committee, a move that appeared to annoy Senator Ed Markey:

"Markey asked Pai what problem he is trying to fix by repealing net neutrality rules. Pai responded, "One of the concerns we have raised is these regulations might be dampening infrastructure investment."

"They might be, but there's no evidence of it," Markey fired back.

Pai continued, saying, "There has been evidence raised, and that is part of the reason why we are testing this proposition... we wanted to test this proposition in an open and public process."

Pai continues to pretend that he has an open mind and is "just testing stuff out," and not grotesquely dismantling popular consumer protections to the sole benefit of a handful of telecom and media conglomerates. And again, we appear to be stuck in a game of existential patty cake, where people pushing an agenda friendly to these duopolists hope repetition forges reality. Even though major ISP executives have made numerous public statements acknowledging this is all a bluff. Wyden was also quick to highlight these ISPs have never once informed investors of this apparent problem, as required by law:

"Publicly traded companies are required by law to provide investors accurate financial information, including reporting any risks or financial burdens. However, I have found no publicly traded ISP that has reported to its investors by law that Title II has negatively impacted investment in their networks. Many, in fact, have increased deployment and investment."

Wyden also was quickly to highlight that absent this bogus claim about sagging investment, there's really no sensible justification for killing net neutrality rules:

"I feel that the evidence [to repeal the rules] right now is not there and if it was, the broadband companies themselves would have in fact been providing that evidence to their investors in their filings, and they have not done so. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. There is no factual basis for that change [proposed by the FCC]."

We all know (or should know by now) that Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Charter want the rules dead simply so they can make more money. They know that with neither organic market competition nor functional regulatory oversight they'll have a green light to abuse this lack of competition in a rotating array of obnoxious and creative new ways. Of course they can't just admit this or they'd be laughed out of town, so we get to instead engage in this endless, idiotic game of "is not, is too," while they pretend removing oversight of some of the most anti-competitive companies in America is somehow economically essential.

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  1. icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 26 Jul 2017 @ 12:07pm

    It MIGHT hurt infrastructure investment

    "Markey asked Pai what problem he is trying to fix by repealing net neutrality rules. Pai responded, "One of the concerns we have raised is these regulations might be dampening infrastructure investment."

    Hey Pai, I hear that we might be about to be invaded by an evil race of space aliens.

    And I hear that these aliens might be allergic to milk and anyone who drinks at least 1 gallon of it a day.

    So since this might very well be true even though we have no evidence of it, this calls for drastic changes! We must mandate everyone buy and drinks a gallon of milk every day, because you know, it might fix a serious problem that may or may not exist.

    Because you know, that makes as much sense as throwing out a good net neutrality system that works and ditching all consumer protection, when all the evidence shows if we change anything we should go in the opposite direction of more consumer protections against the broadband/cable monopolies.

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