FCC Boss Lies Again, Insists Net Neutrality Harms The Sick And Disabled

from the disinformation-nation dept

For a decade now one major ISP talking point against net neutrality is that it hurts the sick and disabled. Verizon, for example, has tried to pretend that net neutrality rules hurt the hearing impaired because it prevents them from getting access to prioritized medical services like video relay or other technologies. Comcast has frequently trotted out this argument as well, as in an FCC filing (pdf) earlier this year claiming that net neutrality rules simply must die because they're preventing the sick and disabled from getting access to advanced telemedicine technologies:

"...the Commission also should bear in mind that a more flexible approach to prioritization may be warranted and may be beneficial to the public. For example, a telepresence service tailored for the hearing impaired requires high-definition video that is of sufficiently reliable quality to permit users “to perceive subtle hand and finger motions” in real time. And paid prioritization may have other compelling applications in telemedicine. Likewise, for autonomous vehicles that may require instantaneous data transmission, black letter prohibitions on paid prioritization may actually stifle innovation instead of encouraging it."

You may be shocked to learn that this isn't, nor has it ever been, true. Both the discarded 2010 rules, and the 2015 rules, carve out mammoth, tractor-trailer-sized exemptions for medical services. In the 2015 rules, the FCC was careful to distinguish between "Broadband Internet Access Services (BIAS)" (generalized internet traffic like browsing and app data) and "Non-BIAS data services," which are often given prioritized, isolated capacity to ensure lower latency, better speed, and greater reliability. VoIP services, pace makers, energy meters and all telemedicine applications fall under this category and are exempt from the rules.

You'll be equally shocked to learn that this has nothing to do with helping the sick -- and everything to do with making more money. ISPs want to eliminate the paid prioritization restrictions so they can sell content and service companies an unfair advantage in the market. Deals that give industry giants prioritization, optimal routing and the lowest latency, while startups, non-profits and educational institutions sit twiddling their thumbs at a notable disadvantage. This goal is precisely why Comcast is already walking back its promises on this front as repeal nears.

You'd think, as FCC Boss so immensely familiar with the rules he's so eager to dismantle, that Ajit Pai would realize that the claim that net neutrality hurts the sick is a dated and grotesque bit of scare mongering. Yet last week, as he tried to defend himself from massive criticism that he was selling out consumers and the health of the internet, Pai gave yet another speech (pdf) during which he doubled down on the idea:

"By ending the outright ban on paid prioritization, we hope to make it easier for consumers to benefit from services that need prioritization -- such as latency-sensitive telemedicine. By replacing an outright ban with a robust transparency requirement and FTC-led consumer protection, we will enable these services to come into being and help seniors."

Again: there is no "outright ban," and the rules clearly already carve out giant holes for this traffic. Not to be outdone, this claim that killing net neutrality magically helps the sick was also included in the FCC's facts-optional fact sheet (pdf) it circulated last week to "set the record straight":

"FACT: Restoring Internet freedom will lead to better, faster, and cheaper broadband for consumers and give startups that need priority access (such as telehealth applications) the chance to offer new services to consumers."

But again, nothing in the rules stopped this from happening already, meaning that Pai once again feels the need to lie about something that can be fact-checked by anybody willing to spend a little time actually reading the 2015 rules (pdf). Of course when you're pushing what's potentially the most despised bit of tech policy kerfuffle since SOPA with little to no support from the actual public, manufactured bogeymen are apparently all that's left to fall back on.


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  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 5:19am

    Only YOU can prevent the deaths of millions...

    Every day in the United states 6,775 people die. That... is a lot of people. Some of those are sick and disabled; and with these nefarious Net Neutrality rules that are in place... more people will die tomorrow. Until you stop Net Neutralitting, people will continue to die. Shame on you for killing people for protecting a few consumers.

    Grand Wizard Ajit Pai has promised us that people will quit dying when these rules are replaced. Do you really want the blood of 6,775 people on your hands? Just give him what he wants! Stop the carnage!

    /s

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:17am

      Re: Only YOU can prevent the deaths of millions...

      "Just give him what he wants! Stop the carnage!"

      That is pretty much how the Great Depression happened. So it's not really far off.

      The banks all wanted a Federal Reserve and they made everyone suffer until they got one. Pai is in a position to cause more than enough trouble until he gets his way too. The ISP's as well.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:49am

        Re: Re: Only YOU can prevent the deaths of millions...

        IIRC, there were some previously rich folk who jumped out of buildings as a result of the economic collapse. Wallstreet should have more windows that open.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 6:10am

    Ah, Pai lied again. In another news, the sky is blue.

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:02am

      Re:

      He just doesn't have the honesty or sense of reality of the rest of the administration.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Gianni, 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:04am

        Re: Karma

        Yeah, American progressive leftists have a real problem here. They love the regulatory state & powerful government regulators, overall -- but now they are stuck with a key regulator (Ajit Pai) and chief regulator (Trump) that they really hate.

        Leftists never realize the dangers of big government until it's used directly against THEM. Now they are semi-hysterical here over the relatively minor issue of net neutrality. Karma?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:10am

          Re: Re: Karma

          The long term impacts of net neutrality are much greater than you think.

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

          • icon
            DiscontentedMajority (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:44am

            Re: Re: Re: Karma

            Net Neutrality Is important, but it's relatively minor when held up to concerns like "what do we do if NK launches a nuke at us", which is also under the purview of the executive branch.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 8 Dec 2017 @ 2:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Karma

              Yeah, that's the trick they use. They get you to worry about the highly unlikely event of an NK nuclear attack, so that they can sell your daily life off to corporations unopposed. You're so concerned about what will probably not happen, you're allowing what will absolutely negatively affect your life to happen.

              Oh, and if you are genuinely worried about the possibility of an NK attack, it's actually the orange muppet in the executive branch who's most likely to trigger it in the current climate. Think about that.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:21am

          Re: Re: Karma

          If you think it's bad now, wait till you see how you're treated by the corporate monopolies your tribe wants to ensure are permanently installed!

          It is funny watching you guys destroy your own welfare because someone convinced you to play politics as a team sport, though.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Karma

          >relatively minor

          Are you a goldfish? Do you not remember just a few short years ago that ISPs were pulling mob tactics and making Netflix pay the "make sure we actually do our job" tax? That's why normal functional people on every point of the spectrum are apoplectic over partisan hack's such as Pai or your attempts to downplay how much of a Big Deal it is to roll these protections back.

          Because when you have a problem with wolves, the clear answer is removing the fences or something.

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

        • icon
          Roger Strong (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:34am

          Re: Re: Karma

          You're very confused. What Pai is doing isn't regulation. It's abandoning regulation.

          If the FDA were to abandon all safety standards and let people go back to selling tobacco as a cure for asthma or radioactive materials as a beauty cream, that's not "powerful regulation." It's just the opposite.

          As BernardoVerda wrote in another topic:

          Chess or Poker, Baseball or Basketball, the Justice system or the Economy... Without rules (a.k.a. "regulations") and effective enforcement, what you're left with just doesn't work.

          (Hell -- eventually we figured out that even full out War is worse for everyone, without some regulation. )

          Conservatives on the RIGHT recognize this. You're just being a partisan little weasel when you declare it a left-wing thing.

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

          • identicon
            Gianni, 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:59am

            Re: Karma

            ...so there's an "objective" definition of government "regulation", without any arbitrary components (?) -- that's complete nonsense. You're just making my case of leftists' blind love of regulation.

            (and "conservatives" are just as misguided/wrong as you folks on the left)

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

            • icon
              Roger Strong (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:16am

              Re: Re: Karma

              OK, so you see leftists AND conservatives as misguided and wrong. You declare anyone on the right - but not alt-right - to be "leftists." That doesn't make you appear any less confused.

              And you ignore the right's blind love of regulation. (On drugs, who can marry, bathroom usage, enforced ISP monopolies, religious restrictions on those entering the country, Sunday shopping laws, morality restrictions on music and TV and of course indefinite extensions to copyright terms. No doubt I'm missing a few areas.)

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

              • identicon
                Gianni, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:30am

                RE: Karma

                ... the libertarian viewpoint has been around a long time -- google it so that you may target your criticisms more directly

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:50am

                  Re: RE: Karma

                  Just more frustrated millionaires

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

                • icon
                  Roger Strong (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:55am

                  Re: RE: Karma

                  You should take your own advice. You're the one declaring the abandoning of regulation to the fault of those on the left and those who favor regulation.

                  Like I said, you're very confused.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:59am

                  Re: RE: Karma

                  You're not a libertarian, you're an anarcho-capitalist. Libertarians generally understand the need for certain regulations.

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

            • icon
              An Onymous Coward (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:19am

              Re: Re: Karma

              You assume everyone in favor of Net Neutrality is a leftist which is objectively incorrect. It has nothing to do with regulation and everything to do with not wanting to live in a world controlled by corporate overlords, eating whatever they care to spoon feed us to maximize their profits.

              You right wingers are amusing though. Please, keep posting.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:07am

          Re: Re: Karma

          It never ceases to amaze how little people like you actually know about how the Internet works. Here is a small clue for you:

          It has ALWAYS been regulated by the government.

          All that's changed is who's doing the regulating and what the rules are.

          Back in the late 70's, DARPA set the rules. And thankfully, they crafted them to do the most good for the most people. That's why it prospered: without rules it would have never gotten anywhere.

          In the 80's, other networks arose and were connected to the ARPAnet and then gradually subsumed by it. There's a reason it worked out that way and not the other way around: regulation. Effective, useful regulation.

          And so on. Regulation hasn't been perfect (I've been sharply critical from time to time) but it has largely succeeded in shepherding the Internet from a rather exclusive club to a national asset, a major driver of commerce, an educational treasure, a boon for culture, and a civic engagement platform.

          Pai proposes to light this on fire. And Verizon/Comcast/et.al. are standing by to pour gasoline on the flames. Whether you are left or right doesn't matter, you should be able to recognize this as an act of wanton vandalism.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:14am

          Re: Re: Karma

          I don't think you understand the potency for using the lack of NN:

          Contagion of malpractice (When one ISP does something and makes sufficient money from it, whatever good intentions go to hell as the companies aren't there for consumers and it is illegal to go against stockholder interests. It will thus be termed "innovation" therefrom).

          The regime of all you can eat is over. From now on, you will have to pay to raise your data-allowance, maybe with exceptions included in your deal (basically any "all you can eat" will be impossible to uphold. And you will further have to pay for the data through advertisement, data about you and money as opposed to basically only money today!).

          The fundamental changes made to the combination of advertisement and NN will open the door for "Free Basics". If "Free Basics" takes off globally, we are left with the walled garden nightmare most of the inventors of the internet have fought against forever and very easy targets for government censorship. (Roslyn Layton, Trumps transition advisor, has directly said: "I want Free Basics for the USA...").

          If you understand how the global trends are among ISPs, you would not see NN as a small issue, as repealing it is a mile in direction of far easier SOPA-, surveillance- and censorship-regulations. Thus, this deregulation approach is creating more opportunities for real oppressive government tools rather than what "big government", whatever that is, does.

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

        • identicon
          Chip, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:50am

          Re: Re: Karma

          Yea!! I "told "you So1

          Removing "regulations" is Exaztly the Same as "creating" regulations. "Leftists" have a Problem with thisIdea. I think it because they do not eat "paint Chips" like us, because they think the Government should bbe able to "tell" them that they "shouldn't eat Lead Paint.

          All Regulations are Bad!

          Every Nation eats the paint Chips it Deserves!

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 10:07am

          Re: Re: Karma

          Comrade, our marching orders are to protest our exclusion in the olympics. Not waste time on there capitalist dogs!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 6:29am

    Now all Republican Pai Ajit needs to do is claim net neutrality harms LBGTQ persons to complete the sweep of groups he's concerned net neutrality will harm that the party at large doesn't care about.

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

  • icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 6:58am

    Next week: Vote against Net Neutrality or the kitten gets it!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:21am

    "You'll be equally shocked to learn that this has nothing to do with helping the sick -- and everything to do with making more money. ISPs want to eliminate the paid prioritization restrictions so they can sell content and service companies an unfair advantage in the market. Deals that give industry giants prioritization, optimal routing and the lowest latency, while startups, non-profits and educational institutions sit twiddling their thumbs at a notable disadvantage."

    They already are at a disadvantage with or without NN thanks to regulations, removing NN just makes it worse. The REAL problem is that regulations are what created this problem to begin with and now you look to them to save you. Well, you know what they say about making deals with the devil.

    Politicians, first create problems and then campaign against them. No wonder they treat you all like the blithering idiots you are. So easy to fool.

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

    • icon
      Rapnel (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      Don't you think it has slightly more to do with network access being controlled by far too few? Wherein the natural progression is to introduce a false scarcity for something that is not scarce? It's light and sound so ... caps and fast lanes.. naturally. ffs.

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

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:27am

    OK, I think it has become more than clear that this guy is just a fucking tool that deserves his ass handed to him on a rusty ice pick.

    Public servant my baby-soft ass.

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

  • icon
    hij (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:27am

    You might need more than 200 pages?

    If he really cared about protecting certain groups then he might need a set of standards that encompass, oh - 400 pages or so? Not sure if 200 pages will insure all these people he is concerned about get the consideration due to them.

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

  • icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:44am

    The REAL problem is that regulations are what created this problem to begin with and now you look to them to save you.

    Really? Which regulations are these? You've obviously never looked at the history of the communications industry. Every one of these "unbearable" regulations was initially created in response to a form of abuse of the natural monopoly powers the telcom industry. The regulations that the telecom industry likes are all much later additions. These regulations are the ones sponsored by the telecom industry to either let them eliminate competition or else let them create new ways to charge us for the same services.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:35am

      Re:

      Actually you can easily argue that the problem is a lack of enforcement of anti-trust when cable companies got in the game. With a clearer separation of content industry, internet services and infrastructure, things would have been a lot easier to separate and thus regulate targeted.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:52am

    What else do you expect from the habitual liar Ajit Pai? What is the term for that?

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

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:53am

    Know what else hurts the sick and disabled? Taking away their healthcare.

    Just saying.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:56am

      Re:

      It does. And last night, while we were all distracted, the President cut a $480M program for homeless veterans.

      "Respect the flag! Respect the military! Respect the anthem! And oh by the way, let them freeze to death on the streets."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:06am

    I'm waiting for the tried-and-true "protect children" and "fight terrorism" arguments to be dusted off, polished up, and slapped down.

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

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 7 Dec 2017 @ 8:25am

    Not prioritization but DEprioritization

    >>flexible approach to prioritization
    >>may be warranted and may be beneficial to the public.

    Net Neutrality guarantees equal priority to all data. What the telcos want is not the ability to prioritize, but to slow down transfers, which would allow for extorting money in exchange for less interference.

    This process of letting ISP's dictate legislation harms the sick, the underprivileged. Internet access is like sugar, the US citizen pays more per unit than most of the rest of the world's population. We may not be a third world country, yet, but we already have the government for it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:49am

      Re: Not prioritization but DEprioritization

      Net Neutrality guarantees equal priority to all data.

      The current rules don't—the article notes several exemptions (which shouldn't actually be needed in a decent network). And Net Neutrality in general is still compatible with user-configured prioritization.

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

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:33pm

        Re: Re: Not prioritization but DEprioritization

        It really doesn't matter if the user prioritizes something if the network itself cannot support it.

        One of the things that NN doesn't address is things like connection ratios. Most ISPs use anywhere from 10 to 1 to 200 to 1 or more as a ratio between your connection speed and the rest of their upstream network. So as an example, they may run 100 meg to your neighborhood, and then sell 100 20 meg connections on it. That would be a 20 to 1 ratio. Most of the time and for most normal "web surfing" activity, 20 to 1 is not too horrible, especially at 20 meg per connection.

        But then they may also do that again further up the ladder, taking 100 of their 100 meg connections and having them share a 1 gig connection. That is another 10 to 1 step, making your original connection now a 200 to 1 shot. Starting to get bad.

        Then they peer. Well, if you happen to be heading where a lot of people are heading, and that peer is overused, then you may also see slow downs. So you are 20 to 1 times 10 to 1 times who knows what.

        All of that is perfectly acceptable under Net Neutrality. As long as the ISP isn't specifically block sites, content, or protocols, they have not violated the letter of the rules (not law, it's only rules!).

        So you could set your medical monitor to be your top priority on your router. It could get 100% of the bandwidth when it needs it, but it would still have to suffer the 20 to 1, 10 to 1, unknown congestion issues that all the other traffic has to face.

        For what it's worth, NN makes it so that ISPs have little in the way of motivation to fix this. Comcast is spending a bundle to upgrade their network to support their X1 cable box, which will run "outside" of the internet in reserved space, without having to deal with congestion. It's not a violation of NN because it's not internet traffic and won't be part of your internet service.

        Otherwise, they have little reason to upgrade their networks unless they can find a way to charge you significantly more for it.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 Dec 2017 @ 2:10am

          Re: Re: Re: Not prioritization but DEprioritization

          I do love the fact that you type so much to explain things people already know and what is irrelevant to the discussion. It means that you spend much less time on the random bullshit you spout in other threads that some people might actually be fooled by.

          Contention ratios have nothing to do with NN one way or the other.

          "For what it's worth, NN makes it so that ISPs have little in the way of motivation to fix this"

          No, it doesn't make that happen. It's a way to stop them from screwing you even further, but it's not something that will fix the way they're ripping you off now.

          But, it's a far better starting point to getting the things that will motivate them - real competition and consumer pressure - than removing NN will ever do.

          "As long as the ISP isn't specifically block sites, content, or protocols, they have not violated the letter of the rules"

          Still don't know what net neutrality actually is, huh? If that is indeed what the current rules say, then they need to be fixed, not deleted. But, given your usual grasp of facts and reality, they probably don't allow that at all.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2017 @ 9:12am

          Re: Re: Re: Not prioritization but DEprioritization

          "Comcast is spending a bundle to upgrade their network to support their X1 cable box, which will run "outside" of the internet in reserved space, without having to deal with congestion. It's not a violation of NN because it's not internet traffic and won't be part of your internet service."


          LOL - pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

          How does Comcast deliver their "TV" today?
          Spending a bundle on a STB? - that's too funny

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2017 @ 1:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not prioritization but DEprioritization

            "Comcast is spending a bundle to upgrade their network to support their X1 cable box, which will run "outside" of the internet in reserved space, without having to deal with congestion. It's not a violation of NN because it's not internet traffic and won't be part of your internet service."

            But is the reason that they will violate net neutrality, and throttle video streams, and/or apply lower data caps.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:20am

    yeah, and i'm pretty sure that net neutrality is messing up the ability of whales to communicate and causing whales to beach themselves. so good of the new fcc boy to think of the whales. true prince of whales he is.

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

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 7 Dec 2017 @ 10:35am

    If the mans lips are moving, he's lying.

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


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