Legal Issues

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
fcc, net neutrality, supreme court

Companies:
at&t



Hoping The Third Time's The Charm, ISPs Urge Supreme Court To Kill Net Neutrality

from the one-more-time-around dept

We've noted how large ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are covering all their bases in their endless quest to kill popular (some would say necessary) net neutrality protections. They've successfully lobbied FCC boss Ajit Pai to vote to kill the existing rules later this year, despite the massive public opposition to that plan. But they're also lobbying Congress to draft a new net neutrality law they publicly insist will solve everything, while privately hoping you're too stupid to realize will be entirely written by their lawyers and lobbyists -- ensuring it has so many loopholes as to be effectively useless.

In case those first two options don't work, large ISPs are also -- for the third time in as many years -- looking for the Supreme Court's help. ISPs lost their first attempt to overturn the Title II net neutrality order last year when the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia shot down their complaints (which included insisting that net neutrality rules violated their First Amendment rights). ISPs lost again earlier this year when the courts shot down their en banc appeal.

Hoping the third time's the charm, lobbyists for Comcast, AT&T and other ISPs have lobbied the Supreme Court to overturn the rules, hoping to kill net neutrality protections both today and for the foreseeable future. Like previous complaints, AT&T's petition to the court (pdf) trots out a parade of theoretical horribles, doubling down on numerous, previously debunked industry claims (like these modest net neutrality rules somehow utterly devastated sector investment, a claim repeatedly debunked by countless journalists and objective economists).

AT&T's petition is a greatest hits of its previous, false claims, including the claim that zero rating (imposing usage caps then letting a company's own content bypass those caps while still penalizing competitors) is somehow "pro consumer":

"It is clear, however, that such open-ended Title II regulation confers expansive authority on the FCC to regulate virtually anything a broadband ISP does and enables any individual or company to file a complaint alleging that any broadband innovation is in some sense “unfair” or “unreasonable.” Pet. App. 696a-700a (¶ 455). The FCC has said, for example, that it could forbid a broadband provider to “zero-rat[e]” certain content (i.e., exempt it from monthly data allowances) on the theory that doing so is “unfair” to other content providers, id. at 343a-49a (¶¶ 151-153), even though zero-rating is equivalent to bundled discounts and is thus strongly pro-consumer."

As we've noted here quite frequently, that's all bullshit. AT&T, like other ISPs, has abused the lack of competition in the broadband space by imposing arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps. From there, ISPs like Comcast and AT&T have exempted their own services from these caps while penalizing competitors. Even then, the FCC didn't explicitly ban this practice (as is the case in Chile, the Netherlands, India, Canada and elsewhere), instead stating they'd only act on a "case by case basis." The FCC was just preparing to declare some of this behavior anti-competitive when Ajit Pai and Donald Trump arrived on the scene.

The nation's mega ISPs all petitioned the Court to declare that the FCC exceeded its statutory authority by reclassifying broadband as a common carrier service. If the Supreme Court obliges, that would prevent any future FCC Commissioners from revisiting the issue, leaving the whole net neutrality issue up to a cash-compromised and utterly dysfunctional Congress to solve (good luck with that). Of course the Supreme Court may decide Pai's planned assault on the rules makes hearing the case duplicative, dashing ISP dreams of ISP lawyers hoping to kill even the faintest specter of meaningful net neutrality rules, permanently.

Since AT&T lawyers are also busy in court trying to undermine the FTC's oversight of broadband providers as well (or in fact any company with even a modest "common carrier" component), the goal here is pretty straight forward: gutting all meaningful government oversight of one of the least competitive industries in America. Should this multi-pronged, bullshit-laden effort prove successful, the laundry list of problems we've had with companies like Comcast are going to seem arguably quaint in a few years.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 6:44am

    What do you tell someone who is clearly pointing a weapon at their foot?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 6:50am

    The FTC has failed, the FCC has failed, the Government has failed, and regulation is now servicing the ISP's instead of the citizens.

    When the FCC was created, they said lets regulate them as though they are natural monopolies. Why they chose this is like all other reason they choose to do something... because they are corrupt and can get away with it as citizens are exceptionally easy to fool.

    Because they failed to make the poles and buried cable conduits "public property" like we do roads they created this monopoly problem. So here we are again, trying to fixed a problem through government that government created. That is how it works, government first creates the problems and then begins to lobby against them. How does government get the citizens to support this corruption? Simple, tell them that they will protect them from the big bad guys with new laws and regulations and people just drink the cool aid.

    Ajit Pai was confirmed for a 2nd term.

    I said it before, and I say it again. This is what you asked for, I and several others warned you that this would be the outcome, but instead you called everyone names and insulted their intelligence.

    And now as these thing tend to do...
    https://imgur.com/gallery/2jNKM20

    You folks are Calvin, I am in the unfortunate position of being his dad!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:31am

      Re:

      Because they failed to make the poles and buried cable conduits "public property" like we do roads they created this monopoly problem.

      You really do need to listen to yourself. You want the government to get out of regulating ISPs by taking ownership of the infrastructure.

      Hell, I want that to happen, but you're still insane if you think your logic of "too much regulation, put the government in charge of everything" makes any kind of sense at all.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re:

        "You really do need to listen to yourself. You want the government to get out of regulating ISPs by taking ownership of the infrastructure."

        No, just controls/owns of the polls & the buried conduits. The ISP's still own the wires involved, and they PAY for the upgrades and placements. Last mile is owned by property owners. This prevents that natural monopoly problems.

        "Hell, I want that to happen, but you're still insane if you think your logic of "too much regulation, put the government in charge of everything" makes any kind of sense at all."

        I think you do not understand what the definition of insane is. The more you regulate, the more you can control, regulation = control, this is not a mystery.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 10:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          you don't know what last mile means

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 11:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I know what it means, and there is a reason for it to be owned by the customer and NOT the ISP. Regulation should be only focused against things that harm free market principles and monopolies harm the free market.

            There is no reason for multiple ISP's in the area to own multiple last mile runs to everything in the area, it is just a waste of wire. Instead ISP's should be more able to just plunk down a network center and offer their services where customers just opt to connect their lines. This could also make the case that periphery infrastructure becomes managed by regulatory agencies as well, but it sure as fuck beats the monopolies the FCC has been establishing for the past several decades and getting on near a century now!

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2017 @ 6:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I do not own the DSLAM,
              who owns the DSLAM?

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

            • icon
              orbitalinsertion (profile), 4 Oct 2017 @ 7:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The CO to your door is that last mile. We only need consumer ISPs at all because of the last mile. Unfortunately, those awesome anti-monopoly laws never stopped ISPs from buying up the long haul networks either.

              Sure, it's better if the ISPs (or whomever, because lol ISPs are the last companies to use the poles and conduits) don't own the rights-of-way ... but you know what? They don't always own them. And it has made zero difference.

              Look. I understand where you want to move your regulation, and then not call it regulation. Hey, you have good ideas. But they are not going to solve the problems you imagine they will solve, and are just as susceptible to corporate capture as anything else.

              State utility boards control more-or-less natural monopolies. The FCC was supposed to be a layer on top in the communications area, among other things. The FCC didn't make any pole-ownership monopolies out of thin air (or at all, whatsoever) so i have no idea what you are on about here. That has fuck-all to do with the FCC.

              But go ahead and keep starting every conversation by telling us how stupid we all are and how amazingly brilliant you are, it really furthers the conversation. Don't act surprised when people engage with you on the childish behavior half of your information output. That anyone engages with you on your ideas, when you bother to express any, only goes to display the quality of much of the commentariat here. (Excepting myself, i'm just some dork.)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      You say all this as though it is recent, it's always been this way.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:58am

      Re:

      "This is what you asked for"

      Why did you ask for this?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re:

        Because he's got a bunch of friends willing to put up with him being an asshole and calling all of them idiots.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 11:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I warned you this was going to happen. Saw it coming years and miles away.

          I know it is hard to admit when you are wrong, but as long as you can't, you deserve everything that happens to you when you are in denial.

          Regulation has been around for a while, the monopolies are only growing, they even grew under Obama and mega mergers still happened. Unlike you folks, I can clearly tell when two folks are about to gang up on me.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 12:43pm

      Re:

      How is Somolia this time of year?

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

    • identicon
      Andy, 4 Oct 2017 @ 5:57am

      Re:

      Best way to resolve this would be for Amazon and google and microsoft and apple and all the other massive entities that are way more wealthy than the isps to lobby with billions more than the isps lobby, when someone bribes politicians then it must be up to the industry that are going to lose the most from the loss of net neutrality to bribe them more for congress to pass laws that ensure isps cannot continue as they would like, ban usage caps and ensure everyone has free open internet use, with the ability to visit any website and not have any traffic slowed down or blocked completely by isps unless they have a valid court order to do so.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:11am

    Spreading the Word

    "But they're also lobbying Congress to draft a new net neutrality law they publicly insist will solve everything, while privately hoping you're too stupid to realize will be entirely written by their lawyers and lobbyists -- ensuring it has so many loopholes as to be effectively useless."

    We need to absolutely make sure that such proposed legislation is publicly known as **"The Internet Slow Lane Bill"**. For a quick, simple, and accurate understanding of it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 9:54am

      Re: Spreading the Word

      Typically, bills are named the complete opposite of what the intent of the bill actually is.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 4:49pm

        Re: Re: Spreading the Word

        Exactly why the official name needs to be thought of second to an honest nickname. **The Internet Slow Lane Bill**

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:10am

    'They've successfully lobbied FCC boss Ajit Pai to vote to kill the existing rules'

    funny, i though he lobbied the ISPs to let him do what he wants, giving them the right to screw everyone in the USA who uses the Internet, into the ground and even worse, continue to let the USA be almost at the bottom of the Internet access and speed ladders! if that's progress, i wonder what it would be like without it?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2017 @ 7:18am

      Re:

      That's also my impression: Ajit Pai just being the biggest asshole he could come up with. When you are dead he will dance on your grave.

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

    • identicon
      David, 4 Oct 2017 @ 8:55am

      Re:

      'They've successfully lobbied FCC boss Ajit Pai to vote to kill the existing rules'

      To me that sounds like successfully lobbying a handgrenade to explode. There's really nothing to it. The challenge is getting it in place.

      There has never been any indication or even non-farcical pretense that Ajit Pai was planning to serve the people.

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

  • identicon
    Ketty Mitchels, 7 Oct 2017 @ 3:56am

    Net Neutrality in US

    After president Trump and his team decided to repeal the Net Neutrality Law in the US, the internet users in America was in huge rage and anger that how a federal department can support such unethical digital practice, like Net Neutrality law. Several online privacy advocated raised their voice against and now it is John Oliver vs FCC. Now John Oliver is asking people to give their feedback about it so that FCC can reverse the decision it has made.

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


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