FCC Likely To Use Thanksgiving Holiday To Hide Its Unpopular Plan To Kill Net Neutrality

from the cranberry-sauce-and-regulatory-capture dept

Consumer groups believe that the FCC is planning to formally unveil its unpopular plan to gut net neutrality the day before Thanksgiving, apparently in the hopes of burying media backlash in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparation. At that time, the FCC is expected to not only unveil the core text of their Orwell-inspired "Restore Internet Freedom" proposal, but schedule a formal date for the inevitable, final vote to kill the rules.

While announcing bad news right before a holiday works in some instances, net neutrality has been such a hot-button topic for so long, the ploy isn't likely to soften criticism of Trump or the FCC in the slightest. These fairly modest consumer protections have broad, bipartisan support, since our collective disdain for uncompetitive giants like Comcast tends to bridge even the starkest partisan divide. Eliminating these rules is, by any measure, little more than a brazen gift to one of the least competitive and least popular industries in America, and anybody telling you otherwise is either financially conflicted or misinformed.

Consumer groups like Fight for the Future seem to believe they can garner enough support in Congress to try and thwart the FCC's looming vote:

Once the FCC announces a vote, it will become much, much harder to stop them from gutting the rules that prevent companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from charging us all extra fees to access sites like reddit, and controlling what we see and do online by throttling, blocking, and censoring websites, apps, games, and streaming services.

The good news is that we are hearing from people who are meeting with Congress that there are key lawmakers who are sympathetic to the cause, and considering stepping in to slow down the FCC. But they need to be getting a lot more phone calls from constituents in order to act.

While calling your lawmaker remains a good idea (for reasons we'll get to later), hoping that Congress will thwart the FCC's looming vote remains a long shot. A better chance at scuttling Ajit Pai's plan comes after that rule-killing vote is cast. Given the numerous procedural gaffes and dubious behavior by this FCC (making up bogus DDoS attacks, ignoring fraud and abuse of the FCC website in order to generate bogus support for the move), inevitable lawsuits may be able to convince a court that the FCC blatantly ignored the public interest and violated procedural norms while trying to give telecom duopolies a giant, sloppy kiss.

But fans of a healthy internet need to understand the telecom industry's plan to kill net neutrality remains a two-act play. The first act involves FCC boss Ajit Pai playing bad cop by blatantly ignoring the public and ramming through a 3-2 partisan party line vote. The second act will involve pushing ISP-loyal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support a new net neutrality law covertly written by AT&T, Verizon and Comcast lobbyists. Said law will be marketed as a "solution" to the fifteen year debate, but will be so filled with loopholes as to be effectively useless. It would, however, prevent the FCC from revisiting the issue down the road.

Expect the FCC's rule-killing vote to come sometime in December, with the lobbying push for a new, ISP-crafted net-neutrality legislative "solution" gaining steam immediately in the new year. You know, for freedom.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 12:12pm

    "Restore Internet Freedom"

    I'm guessing the intent and wording of said bill is the complete opposite of its title.

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

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 23 Oct 2017 @ 12:18pm

      Re:

      No, it's giving us lots of freedom to be screwed by letting ISP's jack up our prices even farther and give us even crappier service!

      Don't you love the freedom to be screwed over by giant corporations that pay Washington to take away those unnecessary 'consumer protections'?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 5:42pm

        Re: Re:

        Yep, anytime someone needs to insist on something being "their right" or "supporting freedom", I immediately know they really mean "It's to further my own greed at your expense".

        Gotta love how everything just degenerates into buzzwords and emotional appeals, it's what keeps the shit train moving.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 3:46pm

      Re:

      The ideal response would be for Pai to collapse, be rendered unfit for duty, and for the vote to not take place <i>on a fucking national holiday</i>.

      It's really clear just how much cowardice is on display here, for this to be pushed through the day before Thanksgiving.

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

      • identicon
        Will B., 23 Oct 2017 @ 3:58pm

        Re: Re:

        It's not cowardice, it's strategy. Let's not let them off the hook here; cowardice can be pitied and empathized with. What they are doing is scheming to get their plans pushed through no matter what; that's not cowardly, just despicable.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 11:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Kick them the fuck out of office for being so stupid as to need scheming to pass things in the first place!

          Just pass something useful for once!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 1:09am

      Re:

      It is all about perspective. Pai is payed and/or was paid by ISPs and from an ISPs view there is an argument that removing net neutrality is restoring some of their freedoms to throttle.

      Usually laws are made for the people, the public good and protection of parties with low leverage otherwise. I think this is one of the first times a government has so blatantly used 1984-esque communication to help strenghten companies on account of the most basic principle of the constitution.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 8:49am

        Re: Re:

        "Usually laws are made for the people, the public good and protection of parties with low leverage otherwise."

        I doubt that. That is what they want you to think but those same laws are eventually twisted into instruments for bludgeoning the general population.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 12:25pm

    > But they need to be getting a lot more phone calls from constituents in order to act.

    Great, so we need another massive outpouring of rage to... what? If one of the loudest demonstrations of discontent ever has had zero measurable effect what can we hope to achieve with a few phone calls?

    How do we manage to keep electing assholes who clearly do not represent their constituents?

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 12:34pm

      Re:

      "How do we manage to keep electing assholes who clearly do not represent their constituents?"

      Seriously?

      Last race was between Trump and Hillary... why bother asking. We have these choices because most Americans are stupid and ignorant.

      The more you expect government to save you, the more you deserve to be screwed by it!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re:

        "most Americans are stupid and ignorant."

        This is wrong and you know it, however Devos is working hard to fix that.

        Deserve - what a strange word to use.

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 1:05pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "This is wrong and you know it,"

          Like I said
          Last race was between Trump and Hillary...
          Standing PROOF! If you need any more than that? Lets just say you don't even understand the problem.

          Deserve, is what you get, when you walk up to the gates of your enemy and ask them to defend and protect you. The price you pay for not doing what you should do for yourself... is what your deserve.

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

          • identicon
            Will B., 23 Oct 2017 @ 1:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So, wait, are you suggesting everyone should be their own ISP?

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

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 1:49pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Nice try, of course not, we are discussing the average intelligence of Americans, and relying on government to handle things they should be handling instead.

              In this case, they need to be able to pick and choose which ISP they can use, not ask government to pick which ones get to offer service by installing them as monopolies.

              Free-Market is the idea that consumers give their money to the businesses they like.

              Regulation works against this, Monopoly works against this, and Capitalism works against this, however Capitalism is required for Free-Market and specific regulations are usually necessary to prevent Monopoly or any of its bastard siblings.

              there are only 3 forms of control over the economy you can have.
              Government - Regulatory Capture
              Business - Monopoly
              Citizen - Free Market

              Unfortunately a Free Market requires that people not be lazy and stupid to work. Guess what we have here? Lazy and Stupid people! Therefore they ask for Regulations to created a monopoly through regulatory capture to save them from... a monopoly. Go figure.

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

              • identicon
                Will B., 23 Oct 2017 @ 3:13pm

                Many Res:

                So... how, precisely, are citizens supposed to enforce a free market?

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 3:15pm

                  Re: Many Res:

                  This poster probably does not know what free market means -being from Russia and all

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

                  • identicon
                    Will B., 23 Oct 2017 @ 3:24pm

                    Re: Re: Many Res:

                    Referring to me, or to the prior poster?
                    If you are referring to me, then I will admit that I do not understand how we keep coming to the conclusion that the free market is the answer to all our problems. Prior poster just admitted that leaving it to the businesses inevitably leads to monopolies; I am curious what he (you? I dunno which AC is which) thinks is the secret technique to let citizens control their free market in perpetuity without having to form a government and regulate it to prevent the natural tendency of business to centralize and monopolize.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 5:50pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Many Res:

                      he prior poster

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 4:19am

                      Re: Re: Re: Many Res:

                      Besides the many, antisemite like hogwash, that AC got one thing right. Companies seek to grow indefinitely, amass as much profit as possible. The logical outcome is monopoly. Like cancer, given enough resources, it also grows indefinitely without regard to its environment.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 5:49pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Your only platform is. “More paint for the paint eaters!”

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 8:23pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                So the person screaming about how doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is insanity, plans on telling us how we're all idiots and there exists only one solution which we are incapable of grasping... by screaming about the same thing over and over, thinking that something is going to change.

                Genius move, asshole.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 3:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            How much are those Russians paying you?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 12:35pm

    being the gutless, industry-led asshole that he is, Pai is going to bring this to fruition as sneakily as possible! anyway he can keep the public from knowing it has happened while giving the telecom industries and ISP the opportunity to get price rises, overage charges and every sort of rip off for the public into place will be done!

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 23 Oct 2017 @ 2:02pm

    ... inevitable lawsuits may be able to convince a court that the FCC blatantly ignored the public interest and violated procedural norms while trying to give telecom duopolies a giant, sloppy kiss.

    The only clearer picture is if Ajit Pai was on his knees in front of David Watson (CEO of Comcast), with his mouth open (I will let you fill in the blanks). If these guys are married, then at least two (most likely more, if not all of them), are cheating on their wives because the FCC and the Telecom companies are clearly in bed with each other.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2017 @ 3:19pm

    Merry Christmas ya filthy animal

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

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 23 Oct 2017 @ 5:12pm

    Materially adverse changes?

    If your ISP or phone data provider take advantage of Pai's plan to make it legal to do anti-neutrality things, having to pay a fee (even if it's applied to the other end of transactions) to access content would be a materially adverse change to those services.

    It might be possible for every person in the world to break their phone and internet contracts without penalty soon.

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

  • identicon
    William Sallosian, 23 Oct 2017 @ 6:02pm

    I live in Tennessee. Calling my lawmakers won't do a damn thing.

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

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 3:20am

    Net Neutrality as it is was not created by law, but rather by agency regulation. The lack of an act of Congress means that the rules can be modified, updated, and even removed by the FCC - the same agency that created them to start with.

    All it takes is a simple vote. It's the same manner that Wheeler created the rules. So if your argument is that Pai should not have the power to roll the rules back, you have to accept that Wheeler didn't have the power to create them.

    The truth is this is that this is an empty fight. Not matter what happens, the rules are likely to either be suspended or ignored and argued in court for the forseeable future. The way to resolve the issue is through congress. What you get from congress will be a compromise that you likely will not want.

    The internet lasted 20 years as a commercial entity without any need for regulation. If there is a need for regulation, let those who write the laws create the framework, and the FCC can then color in between the lines.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 8:55am

      Re:

      "The internet lasted 20 years"

      RIP

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

    • icon
      William Braunfeld (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 10:22am

      Re:

      "So if your argument is that Pai should not have the power to roll the rules back, you have to accept that Wheeler didn't have the power to create them."

      That is not our argument.

      We aren't arguing that Pai doesn't have the *power* to roll back the rules. We are arguing that he doesn't have the *evidence* to support his position, the *justification* to roll back the rules, the *logical arguments* to support his position. The FCC (not Pai, incidentally, but THE FCC) has the power to roll back the rules, but they do still require a reason to do so; hence the constant references to the court battle that will inevitably take place after the rules are rolled back.
      People who suggest that this is an "empty fight" not worth fighting are little more than closet supporters of this rollback trying to demoralize those of us still standing up for net neutrality. It's a pretty common tactic; we're not impressed, and we're not going to shut up.

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

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 1:35pm

        Re: Re:

        "We are arguing that he doesn't have the *evidence* to support his position"

        There is no need - as there is no particular evidence on the other side either. In fact, as would be standard on Techdirt, we look at the previous 20 years that the internet ran on without NN rules, and say "gee, that grew up fast!".

        NN is essentially the "netflix" rule. Writing the rules to satisfy one big player isn't any better than rolling them back for another.

        Ask your critters to get to work, that is of course if they aren't tied up writing DOA 702 amendments!

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

        • icon
          William Braunfeld (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 8:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          ...if you're going to stand here and say there's "no evidence" after all the evidence that has been noted in practically every Techdirt article on the subject, then I'm afraid I'm going to have to accuse you of debating in very, very bad faith.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 11:18pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            MyNameHere is invested in Ajit Pai tearing down net neutrality - as many copyright advocates do, since they see net neutrality as an obstacle to unfettered, unquestioned copyright enforcement. It's not a surprise.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2017 @ 2:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          >NN is essentially the "netflix" rule.

          You are inverted as to net neutrality, because it destruction is an anti Netflix rule. The ISPs do not like the fact that Netflix, Hulu and even YoutTube are eating into their cable TV subscriptions.

          Allowing the ISPs to decide what network traffic is allowed on their networks is like allowing the phone companies to decide what businesses you can ring on your phone.

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

  • icon
    Oblate (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 5:33am

    Seems appropriate actually...

    Thanksgiving is typically the holiday where we bring out some overstuffed turkey, which is then shoved down people's throats. Pai is just so used to hearing analogies between his policy and turkeys that he's forgotten there's an actual bird with that name.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 10:14am

    I don't know what I think of this. Were talking about doing away with a toothless, haphazard, politically dependent concept that the corporations basically ignore anyway. We used regulation to create monopolies, now were using more regulation to try to patchwork manage the resulting damage. I'm not anti regulation. I love clean air and clean water, but those things are easily defined and understood.

    The Internet is different. It's seems to be a partisan playground where depending on who's in office, it gets the regulation flavor of the party at the time. Even during it's creation it was voted down by the two Republican members. Basically it was crammed down the Republican party's throat. Little surprise that now that they are in charge, they are destroying it.

    It was born partisan by vote, and now it's going to die partisan by vote. Almost seems fitting in a sad kind of way.

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

  • icon
    Curtis (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 4:44pm

    Fix the FCC.

    http://fixthefcc.com

    The "web" was recognized as a Title II common carrier on February 26, 2015 while facing me in federal litigation begun in the Western District Court of Arkansas.

    I say "recognized" only because regardless of what Chairman Pai and his cohorts do with 17-108; Regardless of when this is done, this gives me standing in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the FCC. The "web" was ALWAYS simply wire communications on a common carrier of interconnected wires when developed.

    The FCC spent a great deal of time/$ and GOOG and MSFT spent around a million in legal fees alone.
    GOOG offered 5 million to drop the case.

    Free copies of the dockets and all legal filings are linked from the following website.
    See http://fixthefcc.com
    Almost a thousand pages.

    There was NEVER a *"wholly unique new medium of worldwide human communications"* ...! NEVER
    The "web" was always simply a new use of archaic medium(s) and merging these wire communications with radio.
    See https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/153#59

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

  • icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 25 Oct 2017 @ 8:27am

    Blah blah blah blah blah

    Net neutrality is a scam that cannot guarantee the things it promises: free speech, unrestricted piracy, Internet privacy, and fast & cheap broadband. Consumers are much less worried about ISPs these days than we are about the big surveillance companies that helped put Putin's candidate in White House.

    The time has come to stop fighting imaginary demons and refocus your efforts on real ones.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2017 @ 11:18pm

      Re: Blah blah blah blah blah

      Piracy wasn't the issue, but thanks for verifying the magical bogeyman you were hoping would convince people against NN, all the while insisting that repealing NN wasn't going to be the magic bullet against piracy you wanted it to be.

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


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