Large ISP & Silicon Valley CEOs Were Too Afraid To Publicly Testify On Net Neutrality

from the own-your-words dept

While ISP lobbyists are pushing the government to kill net neutrality protections, they're also pushing hard for a new net neutrality law. Why? With our current historically-dysfunctional and cash-compromised Congress, large ISPs like AT&T and Comcast know that their lawyers and lobbyists will be the ones writing the law -- if it gets passed at all. The end result will be a law ISPs will profess "puts the debate to bed," but which contains so many loopholes as to be effectively meaningless when it comes to protecting consumers and competition.

As a cornerstone of this new push, lawmakers in July sent out invitations to CEOs of major tech companies and major ISPs for a September hearing to be held in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The meeting was, the invitation claimed, an opportunity for stakeholders (only apparently the wealthiest ones) to "rethink the current regulatory model and build new rules from the ground up" in Congress. Again, this is something ISPs have been lobbying for knowing it either won't happen, or if it does will be so loophole-filled as to be worse than useless.

Amusingly, however, none of the invited CEOs from telecoms or Silicon Valley's biggest, wealthiest companies were interested in testifying publicly at the hearing:

"Republican lawmakers had hoped to bring top executives from tech companies and internet providers to testify publicly in a bid to garner support for a deal to set permanent rules on the future of internet access after a more than decade-long fight. No company had publicly committed to testify and many firms were privately reluctant to testify."

The reason for this should be fairly obvious. Large ISPs are perfectly happy to lie about their assault on popular consumer protections in viciously-misleading videos or disengenuous blog posts penned by a rotating crop of lawyers and lobbyists. But no CEO wants to directly own their company's ugly, anti-consumer, anti-innovation, and anti-competitive positions personally in a public hearing, especially given the shady behavior at the FCC and the growing bipartisan public backlash to what Trump's FCC is doing.

Similarly, Google and Facebook don't want to highlight that they stopped supporting net neutrality in any meaningful fashion years ago, and in many parts of the world have repeatedly undermined the concept solely to corner developing nation ad revenues. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings doesn't want to have to explain why the company's support of net neutrality has waned proportionally to the company's growing power, and no major Silicon Valley CEO wants to own the fact their apathy on this subject has left small and mid-sized companies, startups and consumers alone and under-funded as they fight to keep the internet a relatively level playing field.

But worry not! Lawmakers like Greg Walden were quick to make it clear that instead of publicly and transparently owning their inconsistent to downright anti-consumer positions, these large companies will continue to haggle out the details of a new law behind closed doors:

"Zach Hunter, a spokesman for the committee’s chairman, U.S. Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, said the hearing was postponed because of talks over the future rules. “As negotiations progress on a permanent solution for net neutrality that ensures a free and open internet, the committee will postpone the original hearing in order to allow talks between stakeholders to continue,” he said."

So as the FCC works to kill the rules currently on the books, the nation's largest companies and cash-compromised lawmakers will be debating -- without your input -- how to replace these rules with the policy equivalent of wet cardboard. Throughout the fall you're going to see countless ISP-prompted editorials popping up (like this one and this one and this one and this one...) insisting such a law is the best -- or only -- path forward. Be sure to note how these calls ignore what the public wants -- and that the easiest path forward isn't another new law, but to simply leave the existing, popular net neutrality protections alone.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 7:28am

    What are we going to do tonight Brain?

    Well, the same thing we do every night Pinkie ... take over the world.

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

  2. identicon
    Pixelation, 6 Sep 2017 @ 7:29am

    “As negotiations progress on a permanent solution for net neutrality that ensures a free and open internet, the committee will postpone the original hearing in order to allow talks between stakeholders to continue,” ... IN SECRET.

    Anyone trust the outcome will benefit everyone?

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

  3. icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 8:27am

    The ISPs should take a lesson from history, 'permanent' rules don't stay permanent if everyone else hates them.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 8:34am

    Re:

    "Anyone trust the outcome will benefit everyone?"

    ha ha ha haaaa!!!!!!

    Have yet to see it... EVER!

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 9:12am

    "countless ISP-prompted editorials popping up"

    And their shills popping up in various on-line comment sections.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 9:23am

    "Committee’s chairman, U.S. Representative Greg Walden of Oregon"

    Wikipedia: "Gregory Paul Walden is an American politician, the U.S. Representative for OR's 2, first elected to that office in 1998. He is a member of the Republican Party..."

    But of course he is.

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

  7. icon
    crade (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    Take a lesson from more recent history. Corruption is much worse than before and the public having the ability to overcome laws that everyone hates is a thing long long gone.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re:

    take a lesson from all history.

    People don't give a shit. We are still going to vote in terrible presidents, while ignoring congress and play politics.

    Corruption is not just welcome in politics, it is desired! Remember that the next time you approve of a politician doing something you agree with, but not following the law to accomplish it when getting it done!

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

  9. identicon
    Thad, 6 Sep 2017 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re:

    Nah. Things are bad, but not as bad as all that. Public pressure defeated SOPA and the TPP. We're also seeing major reform to marijuana policy. Even with a DoJ that's champing at the bit to crack down on legal-in-the-states marijuana use, we've got a Congress that's tied its hands and refused to fund that kind of enforcement.

    It's not all doom and gloom. Public opinion still matters, even if not as much as it should.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    They lie like others breathe.


    "permanent solution"
    - Heh, nothing is permanent and claiming it is shows a bit about who is talking.


    "ensures a free and open internet"
    - Yeah, like I will believe that.


    "allow talks between stakeholders "
    - I doubt the average person is included as a stakeholder. I appears they have been intentionally excluded.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Have you and others overlooked the possibility that the elections have been bought and paid for? Yeah, keep blaming the victims because that is what they want you to do.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for people to do nothing. Government tyranny and corruption is due to "citizens" doing NOTHING!

    You bet they are bought and paid for, you just don't realize that you are the sucker in the exchange. You sold your vote to the politician who sold it to the industry. Next election, you will making the "exact same mistake" along with the majority of others.

    Enjoy!

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Minor successes, they just asked for too much at one time.

    They will ask for less and less each time until something catches hold, and when it does... the rest will follow shortly after.

    Neither of the 2 parties reflect their voters much, which is why they keep flip flopping in exchange of power. That flip flopping is going to result in a despotism anyways.

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

  14. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    Any law drafted behind closed doors will benefit only the people who drafted it.

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

  15. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 11:17am

    "allow talks between stakeholders"

    Are these like the talks we have about copyright where no one shows up for the largest stakeholder, the public?

    We're supposed to get benefits, not a corporation terrified a cartoon mouse might be copied and somehow manage to destroy their entire corporation.

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for people to do nothing"

    I'm so glad that at least someone (you) is doing something .... because even victim blaming is doing something - right?

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    going to?

    sheesh

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

  18. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 3:36pm

    Re:

    Funny how 'the public' is never considered a 'stakeholder' in talks like those/these.

    It makes sense I suppose, I mean it's not like the general public will be impacted by yet more retroactive changes to copyright law, or regulations/laws impacting the internet via the burdens(or lack thereof) they impose on the companies providing access.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Flip-flopping can also be a result of actually using the brain-fruit and accepting that you may just have been wrong. As long as you are infallible, alternative facts will keep on piling up left and right untill you are a complete joke...

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This coming from the asshole who relies on his friends to keep himself from needing to finish school and be an all-round dick, so he can lecture people over the Internet. Right, you're so qualified.

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

  21. icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 7 Sep 2017 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re:

    The public is always a stakeholder, but they are proxied through various groups, including the FCC itself.

    Since you can never actually have the entire public in any discussion, they will always be there by proxy. Even a "group representing users" would like be made up people from the 1.5% who posted comments to the FCC, which would not in any way represent the large population.

    IMHO, the FCC is beyond their bounds in trying to impose net neutrality rules without the specific backing of the legislative branch. The rules of the FCC are suppose to be working interpretations of the laws on the books, the "how to" for what has been passed into law. There is no net neutrality law that I can find.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2017 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So the FCC represents me and all others as a proxy stakeholder during these discussions of "what are we allowed to do" ... ummm ok.

    And then you claim the FCC is going beyond their jurisdiction in their proxy stakeholder representation of everyone else.

    Interesting. So I guess what you are claiming is that myself and everyone else do not deserve any representation in this matter because congress is unable to pull their heads out of their collective asses?

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

  23. icon
    crade (profile), 11 Sep 2017 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    except they won't ask for less and less they will just hide it more and more each time and the attach it to different things until it slides through.. Actually it's more likely to get worse each time than better in my experience

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

  24. icon
    crade (profile), 11 Sep 2017 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey don't blame me I voted for Kodos!

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


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