Here Comes The Big Push For A Really Shitty New Net Neutrality Law

from the k-street-two-step dept

So we've noted repeatedly how major ISPs aren't just pushing to have the FCC kill its existing, popular net neutrality rules. They've also been spending a lot of time and money pushing loyal politicians to support the crafting of a new net neutrality law as a replacement. Why? They know that if Congress is even capable of shrugging off its dysfunction and corruption to craft one, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter lawyers and lobbyists will be the ones writing it.

On the surface, having Congress craft a new law sounds like a good idea. It finally cements rules into law, and prevents the FCC rules from being created and killed repeatedly by the whims of appointed partisans. And while I've seen a lot of journalists support this route, most of them don't quite understand just how strong of a stranglehold these corporations have over state and federal lawmakers and regulators.

There's one reason ISPs support this route: they want to "put the debate to rest" with a flimsy net neutrality law that doesn't actually address any of the current net neutrality areas of contention (usage caps, interconnection, zero rating), only really outlawing things ISPs never intended to do anyway (block websites entirely). As with the FCC's flimsy 2010 rules (that were co-written by AT&T, Verizon and Google), there will be massive, tractor-trailer sized loopholes allowing them to do pretty much whatever they want, provided they at least pretend it's for the security and safety of the network.

And while this ISP push for a new net neutrality law has been smoldering under the radar for a while, it's about to be amped up dramatically. House Republicans are asking the CEOs of Facebook, Google, AT&T and Comcast to attend a public hearing in September, purportedly to "help settle the debate over net neutrality once and for all." But if you look at the language used in the invite by Rep. Greg Walden, the objective becomes more clear:

"In a letter requesting their appearance, Walden said the open internet rules put in place during the Obama administration — which subject broadband providers to utility-like regulation — “disrupted the longstanding regulatory balance that for years allowed the internet to grow and thrive."

As Pai looks to repeal them, however, it gives both sides “an opportunity to rethink the current regulatory model and build new rules from the ground up” in Congress, Walden continued.

“With your help, I know we can craft a fair, predictable and sustainable solution that not only benefits edge providers and internet service providers, but also the billions of consumers worldwide that deserve a free and open internet,” he told chief executives in his letter requesting their help.

On the surface, if you're willing to ignore the false claims about how net neutrality stifled the telecom sector, this all sounds lovely.

Of course if you've been playing along at home, many of these Silicon Valley companies aren't the net neutrality supporters they claim to be. Google hasn't given much of a shit about net neutrality since around 2010 or so when it began pushing harder into the fixed-line broadband (Google Fiber) and wireless (Project Fi, Android) markets. Facebook likes to occasionally pretend to support net neutrality, but internationally has been trampling the concept repeatedly. Even Netflix, a one-time staunch supporter of net neutrality, has softened its stance now that it's large and wealthy enough to afford AT&T, Comcast and Verizon troll tolls.

So what will be framed as a "consensus" for "a fair, predictable and sustainable solution" is really just going to be a bunch of massive companies getting together and throwing their support behind what will inevitably be a shitty law that's a far cry from the semi-tough, popular protections we have now. They want this whole debate settled because there's money to be made ignoring consumer welfare. And they want it settled with legislation that looks like its protecting consumers and the open internet, but sanctions all of the bad ideas ISPs have been chomping at the bit to implement for years (caps, overage fees, zero rating).

And if you read a lot of the media reports on this subject, you'll consistently find reporters helping to push this entire narrative with comments like this:

"That vicious cycle has left both sides of the debate pining for Congress, not the FCC, to broker a resolution on net neutrality, so that the government’s approach to internet policy doesn’t change depending on which party is in power — or who prevails in federal courtrooms."

Except "both sides" aren't pining for new legislation. Net neutrality supporters have repeatedly stated there's a wonderful, zero-cost, no effort way to protect net neutrality: keep the current FCC rules in place. The drum beat for new legislation is primarily coming from ISPs, who again want to replace the existing rules with the legislative equivalent of fluff and nonsense. As the summer rolls along and fall approaches, supporters of net neutrality need to pay attention and better understand the real nature of this legislative push, or the healthy, competitive and open internet is going to be in a hell of a lot of trouble.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 26 Jul 2017 @ 6:18am

    Why aren't they calling consumer rights organizations? Where's the EFF for one? The article already settled things:

    "They know that if Congress is even capable of shrugging off its dysfunction and corruption to craft one, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter lawyers and lobbyists will be the ones writing it."

    And with the current R majority in Congress you can bet it will be awful.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Jul 2017 @ 8:07am

      Re:

      Why aren't they calling consumer rights organizations?

      Those organizations fight for the average consumer, not for people with billions of dollars waiting to drop into a politician’s campaign wallet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 6:28am

    "On the surface, having Congress craft a new law sounds like a good idea."

    Well, it is their "literal" job.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 7:18am

      Re:

      __________"Well, it is their "literal" job."

      ...the barely concealed point here is that "We" don't like/trust the current Congress/President/FCC/ISPs.

      But we really really like the current Net Neutrality rules that "Our" guy Obama put in place -- and nobody now in government should ever tamper with those sacred rules

      "We" are objective and unbiased, unlike people who disagree with "Us"

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re:

        Might want to look into a new lightbulb for your projector. We could barely tell what a partisan hack you are under all the the juvenile sarcasm.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 9:04am

        Re: Re:

        Except those rules WERE good. Hell even in reports by the telecoms note that the 2015 Open Internet Order DID NOT HAMPER INVESTMENT.

        What you seem to be failing to grasp is that our congress doesn't serve us the people. They sere whoever signs their checks. So you can bet ANY Net Neutrality law they draft will be shadow-written by telecom lobbyists and representatives who will make sure it's riddled with holes that their companies can exploit all while saying they're totes following the law.

        There's an old saying: "Don't fix what ain't broken" or in this case "Don't break what isn't broken".

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 9:08am

        Re: Re:

        So, in your mind, there is no good/bad - only us/them?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 9:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That is the nature of partisan politics, our gang good, the other gang bad, because politics has become gangs for the public to join, while the actual politics is driven by the elite and their money.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 6:31am

    just how strong of a stranglehold these politicians have over state and federal lawmakers and regulators.

    I think you mean "companies", Karl.

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

  • identicon
    JD, 26 Jul 2017 @ 6:45am

    typo

    Yes, it's "corporations" or "lobbyists" in paragraph 2, not "politicians".

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 26 Jul 2017 @ 7:26am

    Message to Congress...

    If it ain't broke, don't break it!

    Thanks.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 7:31am

    Yes, let's bring in the CEOs

    Let's not bring in real live network engineers who've spent the last 40 years building the Internet. Nope, let's bring in beancounters whose sole concern is their personal enrichment and who couldn't configure a router if their lives depended on it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 11:45am

      Re: Yes, let's bring in the CEOs

      Now, that is by far the most relevant comment.

      If repressive Walden actually wanted the help of the people in this question, why the b**p is he inviting technical illiterates with little to no connection to/understanding of "billions of consumers"?

      Even if he wanted the best rules, you go to the professional, not to his boss!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 7:56am

    although it will be too late, the only recourse is to replace the senators who bring in any new law that aids and abets the ISPs and telecoms companies and totally screws the people!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 7:58am

      Re:

      requires replacing both the parties... a near insurmountable task.

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

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 26 Jul 2017 @ 8:17am

        Re: Re:

        Not to mention, the choices the parties will give us to replace the old ones will be younger versions of the old ones with no other discernible differences at all.

        "You don't like this old greedy and corrupt politician? Well, here's a YOUNGER greedy and corrupt politician you can vote for!"

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

        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Jul 2017 @ 10:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So replace political parties with no political parties, and take money out of politics, let the government pay for elections. Which could be done with probably about 1% of NSA's budget. No more lobbyists, politicians accountable to the electorate. Amongst a few other things, like the voting system.

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

          • identicon
            Thad, 26 Jul 2017 @ 2:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm in favor of publicly-funded elections, but how do you propose to eliminate political parties? People have a right to free association, and people who share political goals have a right to form groups.

            I live in a city with nonpartisan mayoral elections, but the last time we had a real race between candidates, everybody knew which one was the Democrat and which one was the Republican, even if the ballot didn't identify them as such.

            I believe California now has "nonpartisan" elections for governor, where there's an open primary and the top two candidates move on to the general, regardless of party. (We had a similar proposal on the ballot in Arizona a few years ago, but it didn't pass.) There are advantages to this system in that it favors consensus candidates and decreases polarization, but in practice, it changes a two-party system into a one-party system: instead of the only two viable candidates being a Democrat and a Republican, you wind up with two candidates who are both Democrats. (If it had passed in Arizona, it would be two Republicans.)

            I don't like political parties, but I don't know of any way to actually get rid of them.

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

            • icon
              JoeCool (profile), 30 Jul 2017 @ 11:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Switch to a jury-pool system like the courts. If a randomly selected jury of your "peers" can sentence you to death, they can certainly run the government for 3 months. During said time, accepting ANYTHING worth money is officially bribery. People/companies can submit reports trying to explain their side of issues, but no dinners, no trips, no jobs, no NOTHING that's worth anything.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 9:49am

    if you want to help protect NN you can support groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU and Free Press who are fighting to keep Net Neutrality.

    https://www.eff.org/

    https://www.aclu.org/

    https://www.freepress.net/

    https://www.fightforth efuture.org/

    https://www.publicknowledge.org/

    https://demandprogress.org/

    also you can set them as your charity on https://smile.amazon.com/

    also write to your House Representative and senators http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senator s_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state

    and the FCC

    https://www.fcc.gov/about/contact

    You can now add a comment to the repeal here

    https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/filings?proceedings_name=17-108&sort=date_disseminated,DESC

    h ere a easier URL you can use thanks to John Oliver

    www.gofccyourself.com

    you can also use this that help you contact your house and congressional reps, its easy to use and cuts down on the transaction costs with writing a letter to your reps.

    https://resistbot.io/

    also check out

    https://democracy.io/#!/

    which was made by the EFF and is a low transaction​cost tool for writing all your reps in one fell swoop and just a reminder that the FCC vote on 18th is to begin the process of rolling back Net Neutrality so there will be a 3 month comment period and the final vote will likely be around the 18th of August at least that what I have read, correct me if am wrong

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

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 26 Jul 2017 @ 10:00am

    The other myth...

    "so that the government’s approach to internet policy doesn’t change depending on which party is in power"

    Since when is law settled, regardless of majority change, once voted in Congress?
    There are examples of laws being repealed or changed over time.

    This talking point is as stupid as the others.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 11:01am

      Re: The other myth...

      What's next? Each party follows their own constitution?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2017 @ 11:15am

        Re: Re: The other myth...

        Don't they already do that in many cases?
        One party, let us call them "the public", follows one constitution.
        Another party, let us call them "The government", follows no constitution.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 26 Jul 2017 @ 3:03pm

      Re: The other myth...

      Congress can, of course, change or repeal laws, but it's harder to change a law in Congress than a regulation at the executive level. To pass a law, you don't just need a simple majority in the House, you also need 60 votes in the Senate (thanks to the automatic filibuster, though its days may be numbered). And that's if the president is willing to sign the bill; if he's not, then Congress needs a 2/3 majority to override a veto.

      It's a lot easier to change an FCC regulation. Though there are safeguards there, too; if Pai does overturn Title II (as looks very likely), he'll be looking at lawsuits, and will be obligated to defend his position with supporting evidence that the market has changed significantly since those regulations were passed.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2017 @ 4:18am

    Best way to protest. Vote with your wallets. Cut yourself from all but the most basic services that you need from these clowns. Let them know why you're doing it.
    Otherwise you're simply confirming to the ISPs that you're ready to bend over as low as they ask you to.

    _"B..but I can't my husband/wife/kid/w.e. likes watching... this or that..."_

    Well, tough luck then buddy. That just means that, in the end, your husband's/wife's/kid's need for some show or website matters more to you than a free internet. At least you know where your priorities lie.

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 27 Jul 2017 @ 5:19am

      Re:

      That's not practical at all since many of the services we need every day are primarily accessible by internet. what's with the so-called "free market" enthusiasts that makes them insist that we take it on the chin when some shyster service provider runs away laughing with our money?

      Don't pretend we can always go to court to get it back, the costs are prohibitive even if tort laws haven't been amended to make it harder to sue corporations.

      A free market pre-supposes equal footing between the demand and supply sides, not the supply-first system being advocated above.

      No, sir, I will not choose between "Bend over and take it" or "do without." As a consumer I demand fair treatment.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 9:02am

      Re:

      Tell you what: You first.

      Go without the internet entirely(both personally and with regards to any business that uses it) for the next month, then come back and tell us how it worked out for you.

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


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