As The FCC Guts Net Neutrality, Comcast Again Falsely Claims You Have Nothing To Worry About

from the you're-not-helping dept

As the Trump administration guts oversight of some of the least liked and least competitive companies in America in one of the most brazen examples of crony capitalism in tech policy history, ISPs like Verizon and Comcast seem intent on insisting that none of this is actually happening. Verizon, you'll recall, went so far as to publish a comical video in which the company used a fake journalist to try and construct an alternate timeline; one in which Verizon hasn't been trying to undermine net neutrality and a healthy, competitive internet for the last fifteen years:

Comcast lobbyists and PR reps have also been having grand old time pretending that this blatant example of regulatory capture isn't real, and that the complete dismantling of telecom sector oversight won't have a decidedly-foul impact on already frustrated end users and the internet. The company has penned blog post after blog post stating that sure, the FCC may be gutting already flimsy oversight of one of the least competitive sectors in America, but users shouldn't worry because the company's tireless love of consumers will somehow carry the day:

With the FCC formally confirming its plan to kill existing net neutrality protections December 15, Comcast is back again insisting that you have absolutely nothing to worry about. In a new blog post, top Comcast lobbyist "Chief Diversity Officer" David Cohen once again claims that net neutrality harmed industry investment (independent analysis and executive statements have repeatedly shown this to be a lie), that Comcast will be able to self-regulate in the absence of real oversight, and that gutting the Title II foundation underpinning the agency's rules just isn't that big of a deal:

"As we have said previously, this proposal is not the end of net neutrality rules. With the FCC transparency requirement and the restoration of the FTC‘s role in overseeing information services, the agencies together will have the authority to take action against any ISP which does not make its open Internet practices clearly known to consumers, and if needed enforce against any anti-competitive or deceptive practices. Comcast has already made net neutrality promises to our customers, and we will continue to follow those standards, regardless of the regulations in place."

That's the same, debunked bullshit Cohen has been peddling for years. While the FCC hasn't released its full rule-killing order as of this writing (it foolishly thought it could hide it behind the Thanksgiving holiday), folks I've spoken to who've seen the order say the remaining transparency requirements on ISPs are so loophole-filled as to be utterly useless. As such, Comcast is stating it will adhere to them happily -- since there won't be much of anything to actually adhere to. Yes, that's really impressive, David.

Meanwhile, reversing the classification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act absolutely destroys the rules. You'll recall that when the FCC tried to impose rather flimsy net neutrality rules in 2010, the courts shot down that effort -- making it clear that for real net neutrality, you needed to return ISPs to their 2002-era classification as "telecommunications services." So that's what it did in 2015. Reverse that classification (again), and you've eroded the FCC's authority to police bad behavior by a sector with a rich history of anti-competitive behavior and predatory pricing.

As we've noted previously, the broadband industry's lobbying plan is to pay lobby the government to dismantle the FCC's ability to protect consumers, then shovel all remaining oversight to an FTC that's ill-equipped to handle it. The FTC lacks the ability to craft new rules as needed, and is so under-funded and over-extended that policing ISP behavior will fall through the cracks. That's something former FCC boss Tom Wheeler explained earlier this year:

"In the Trump administration, people are talking about stripping regulatory power from the FCC, and essentially taking the agency apart (including moving jurisdiction over internet access to the Federal Trade Commission [FTC]). “Modernizing” the FCC is the lingo being used. What’s your thought about that?

It’s a fraud. The FTC doesn’t have rule-making authority. They’ve got enforcement authority and their enforcement authority is whether or not something is unfair or deceptive. And the FTC has to worry about everything from computer chips to bleach labeling. Of course, carriers want [telecom issues] to get lost in that morass. This was the strategy all along.

So it doesn’t surprise me that the Trump transition team — who were with the American Enterprise Institute and basically longtime supporters of this concept — comes in and says, “Oh, we oughta do away with this.” It makes no sense to get rid of an expert agency and to throw these issues to an agency with no rule-making power that has to compete with everything else that’s going on in the economy, and can only deal with unfair or deceptive practices.

And that's not the end of it. AT&T is currently embroiled in a case against the FTC that could erode the FTC's authority even further. AT&T was sued by the FTC after it lied to consumers about throttling their connections in the hopes of driving them to more expensive plans. If AT&T wins that fight, any company with a common carrier component (which extends to everything from parts of Google's business to oil pipelines) could dodge FTC accountability. The FTC warned last year that should this come to pass, companies could buy unrelated common carrier subsidiaries just to dodge regulatory oversight.

So again, the goal here isn't just for "more reasonable regulatory oversight" or "slightly less regulatory oversight," the goal here is almost zero oversight of one of the most predatory and anti-competitive legacy business sectors in America. Any claim to the contrary is utterly disingenuous. And if you believe that letting Comcast run amok with neither competitive pressure nor regulatory oversight ends well for anyone not financially benefiting from it, you've fallen down a very deep, dark rabbit hole and should take a long hard look at history.


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  • identicon
    Ajit Pai, 22 Nov 2017 @ 3:45am

    Finaly I can get my paycheck from my real employer Verizon.I hope Anonyomus doesn't hack my car and force me to drive in the ditch

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 4:29am

    Comcast saying they'll be able to self-regulate themselves in the absence of real oversight is like saying a kid locked in a candy store eat anything.

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

    • identicon
      David, 22 Nov 2017 @ 5:46am

      Re:

      Hey, I worked in a bakery for a while. House rule at least there was that you could eat whatever you wanted unless it was preordered. And you had to finish it.

      That's akin to the "kid locked in a candy store" scenario. The main losses occur the first time.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    ponk, 22 Nov 2017 @ 4:50am

    donk

    ponks are donks right there, ftc is the crusader for nothing with no powers. chineese are coming for you and you cant stop them now. towel heads are the others but the most worst are the rag heads. they are the worst of the worst, towel headed ragged headed fascist gorilla like mosque dwelling lepers.

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 5:50am

    Comcast users, you have nothing to worry about

    Seriously. You have nothing to worry about. Do you actually think Comcast service could get any worse?

    Okay, maybe it can. Always look on the bright side. No matter how bad your internet service, it can always get worse.

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 5:55am

    No, no, no, Comcast. Way too wordy. You should have kept it to the standard lie: 'The elimination of net neutrality rules will allow us to serve you betterI ."

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

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 6:04am

    George Carlin

    ... explained it best in his routine about how business "services" the customer. And his explanation is spot-on for what is coming.

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

  • identicon
    Data Caps, 22 Nov 2017 @ 6:35am

    Data Caps

    Data Caps

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:03am

    What we have to worry about:

    In the 90's the market was rewarding growth with little consideration for fundamentals. Telecoms were growing fast, and employees were very often working at 65% of typical market pay because they were being awarded stock options.

    Then Bernie Ebbers came along, committed fraud, and all of those options were worthless, essentially stealing many millions of dollars worth of sweat equity from employees in just about every telecom on earth. Ebbers wasn't the only one committing fraud at the time, he was just the one that got caught. The way you know that, is that all of the telecoms trying to kill NN, all submitted revised quarterly reports adjusting their numbers after Ebbers got locked up.

    In 2008, when the banks were making bad mortgage loans with no concern for long term equity ratios, they eventually became unstable. To solve this problem almost all of them externalized all of their risk into one insurance company: AIG. They then instructed brokers who worked for them to dump as much of AIG as possible into consumers mutual-funds, and then shorted AIG. Crashing the market, and robbing almost every single middle class person in the country of thousands of dollars EACH.

    This is reflected in what we are seeing here today in the following way:

    The massive content diversification brought on by the Internet has substantially diluted the valuation of intellectual property portfolios of major media companies. As the telecoms got so large they could no longer find other telecoms to buy, they pivoted and bought out those media companies. It was a bad investment. And they are discovering that now. And having no other big companies they can buy to show growth, they are compelled to actually make their financial models work. Which is difficult since they're executives are stock fraudsters and never actually wanted to RUN a company.

    They know that killing NN is not going to save them. This is mostly about externalizing litigation risk. Killing NN is a prelude to a period of state mandated market stagnation. Since they can't grow, they want to insure that no one else can either.

    Of course it isn't going to work. Ajit Pai is right about one thing: killing NN will create new markets. Black markets. Other than that what your looking at it, is a bunch of banker run telecoms, looking at how to best profit on the destruction of the industry they have been buying up over the past few decades. They are bankers. They invent book value, not intrinsic value.

    My expectation is that all of them are instructing the brokers managing their company managed retirement funds to get heavy in telecom stocks. Like what happened with stock options before worldcom tanked, and the mortgage insurance securities before AIG tanked. The reason is to temporarily bolster stock valuation before they reveal the massive fraud that is about to happen. Essentially this is premeditated burglary of their own employees assets.

    Really anyone with any sense is dumping telecom stocks like mad, vesting their stock options, and moving their company retirement portfolios into private ones that carry zero telecom stock.

    Because we know what is coming. We've seen it before. All the indicators are there.

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

  • icon
    HegemonicDistortion (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:31am

    Hmmm, if nothing's going to really change, why did they spend $millions to change the rules?

    It's almost like they're bullshitting us.

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

    • identicon
      David, 23 Nov 2017 @ 3:35am

      Re:

      That's disrespectful. Go stand in the corner wearing the data cap.

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

    • identicon
      Scar, 23 Nov 2017 @ 11:22pm

      Re:

      The FCC is fining Comcast and other ISPs for implementing data caps. Removing Title II classification will stop those fines. It's as simple as that...

      (Notice the fines aren't stopping data caps.)

      By the way, Thomas Wheeler killed true net neutrality when his FCC redefined it to only apply within the last mile. That redefinition is what opened the door for Comcast to throttle Netflix at the ISP interconnection points.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:34am

    I got my popcorn...

    do you have yours?

    Here I sit watching two groups getting all of it wrong and no matter which side wins everyone gets screwed anyways.

    All this human effort for nothing other than politics.

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 8:27am

    from the you're-not-helping dept

    In their minds, as long as they're helping themselves, they're helping.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 9:05am

    "net neutrality harmed industry investment"
    LMFTFY
    "net neutrality harmed industry profits"

    There is no reason to invest into newer better things because consumers have no where else to go. A couple players own the whole playing field. We know we are upsetting some consumers so we need net neutrality dead so we can squeeze consumers a little bit more & websites if they want to have their site seen in a reasonable amount of time.

    The FCC is a joke.
    The free market is a joke.
    Our political leadership does not lead, they do what they are paid to do... keep a few corps making obscene profits & finding ways to help them fleece more suckers.

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

  • icon
    ThatDevilTech (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 11:05am

    Business as usual....

    Nothing to see here. But WHAT will it take for this $hit to stop? Seriously? What will have to be done to right the ship? Although, I'm afraid nothing can right the ship. We need some Standard Oil busting type legislation. Bust up "Ma Bell" again and put measures in place that say you can NOT buy up another competitor that puts you up over X # of subscribers or ends up limiting market options for customers. That and you can't own content AND delivery, even under a "parent" company with a different name. They can't be linked, period. But, we all know that isn't going to happen. So few are making so much while every peon below them suffers for it.

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

  • identicon
    Suzy Denim, 24 Nov 2017 @ 8:37am

    Best summary I've read: http://igeek.com/w/Net_Neutrality

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


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