The Free Market Argument For Net Neutrality

from the market-failure dept

On Thursday of this week, the FCC will vote to undo the 2015 Open Internet Order. While the FCC insists that this will just be bringing back the internet to the regulatory framework it had prior to 2015, that is not true. It will be changing the very basis for how the internet works and doing so in a dangerous way. Starting on Tuesday, a bunch of organizations are teaming up for a massive #BreakTheInternet protest. Please check it out. The post below is designed to answer many of the questions we've received about "free markets" v. "regulations" on net neutrality, and why we believe that the 2015 rules are consistent with the beliefs of those who support free market solutions.

I've already written about some of the reasons why I changed my mind about net neutrality rules, in which I mentioned that my standard position is to be pretty skeptical of government intervention in innovative markets. But many of the people I know who are opposing net neutrality -- including FCC Chair Ajit Pai -- like to couch their opposition in "free market" terms. They talk about the "heavy hand of regulation" and "getting government out" of the internet and stuff like that. But as far as I can tell, this is a twisted, distorted understanding of both the telco world and how free markets operate. So, for those folks, let's dig in a bit and explore the free market argument for net neutrality. And, I should note, this is clearly not the argument that many people supporting net neutrality are making, but this is why I think that even those of us who still believe in free markets helping innovation should still support rules for net neutrality.

To start with, this is also not the anarchist's argument for net neutrality (or the "AnCap's" argument). If you don't believe the government should ever do anything, well, then nothing is going to convince you. However, if you believe that in cases of market failure, the government has a role, then do keep on reading. As the famous (and very "free market") economist Milton Friedman wrote:

The need for government in these respects arises because absolute freedom is impossible. However attractive anarchy may be as a philosophy, it is not feasible in a world of imperfect men. Men's freedoms can conflict, and when they do, one man's freedom must be limited to preserve another's as a Supreme Court Justice once put it, "My freedom to move my fist must be limited by the proximity of your chin."

And here, there's an argument that what the broadband players are attempting to do to the internet, is very much the equivalent of punching everyone in the face -- by being able to effectively block, diminish, silence people and organizations from expressing themselves or taking part in the public communications networks that we all rely on these days. If you believe that being able to participate on the internet is a right that people should have -- and that their abilities to participate and contribute to society are massively limited when the internet is blocked or diminished, then removing net neutrality represents a threat to those rights. That doesn't mean that the internet should be heavily regulated, but as we'll see below, under certain specific conditions, to make sure that freedom and a free market exists, a few light touch rules can absolutely make sense -- and even the staunchest free market supporters have long recognized that to be the case.

Even if you believe that the government should almost always keep out of a market, because the solution is often worse than whatever market failure it's trying to solve -- keep reading, because I'll try to address that argument as well. If we accept that there are cases of market failure, and the government might need to step in, then it's important to recognize what are the characteristics of market failure, and what are the possible remedies that serve to protect a free market, while minimizing the risks associated with government intervention (such as picking winners and losers, regulatory capture, etc.).

Of course, a classic type of market failure is cases where there is what's known as a natural monopoly. This is a case where there are high infrastructure costs and/or related barriers to entry, and where the economies of scale suggest that one giant player will or should dominate. These often (though not always!) lead to public utilities as a solution. The idea here is that it doesn't make sense to have multiple parties building out repetitive infrastructure, as it's costly and limits the economies of scale. So, roads are one example of this. We don't want competing private companies constructing roads, because that's inefficient and would lead to non-compatible systems and under-utilization of the roads of many parties. This is also the case with phone lines. You don't want every company that wants to become a phone company to have to string up redundant wires to every building, as it would overcrowd telephone poles, be extra costly, and diminish the economies of scale. In short: it's wasteful.

Guess what other market has many of the characteristics of a natural monopoly? Broadband internet. The infrastructure costs are quite high, and it is wasteful if every provider has to build out the entire infrastructure to every building, doing the same work as multiple other companies. That, again, would lead to really inefficient results. You would have overbuilt, redundant infrastructure, which would be wasteful, while limiting the economies of scale that would benefit those same providers. This does not mean that we should automatically turn broadband into a public utility, however. Some of us still believe that the solution here should be to build out the infrastructure, but make sure there's widespread competition at the service level. This is not how it's set up now (in most places), but ideally could be done by laying dark fiber, and letting any service provider drop in their own equipment to offer service over that fiber (this beats the "wholesale" model that some places currently use, which still gives too much power to the single dominant provider).

To me, this still seems like the most logical "free market" solution to the problem of the highly concentrated, non-competitive, awful customer service broadband world we live in today. Rather than hope and pray that competition at the infrastructure level will appear like magic, just move things up a notch, and let there be competition at the service layer, while the infrastructure layer is considered (accurately) a natural monopoly.

Unfortunately, there appears to be zero appetite for this solution among policy makers, even though it would target the real problem -- the lack of competition. Given that, the current net neutrality rules represent another approach that at least carefully attempts to solve the market failure problem.

Still not convinced there's a market failure issue? Let's look at a second reason to suggest that there's a serious market failure in the broadband world: crony capitalism. For good reason, believers in free markets are greatly concerned about "crony capitalism," in which government actions pick winners and losers -- and the winners are often those corporate giants most closely connected to the government officials (hey, remember how Ajit Pai just joked about how he, a former Verizon lawyer, was a Verizon shill? That was funny...).

So, now take a quick look at who is worried about the removal of the 2015 rules. Is it the big guys? Nope. AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are positively giddy about the new rules. Facebook and Google have been pretty quiet altogether, making only token statements on the issue. None of them care. They're all well connected enough that this isn't going to bother them. Even Netflix -- who helped lead the fight last time -- has backed off the issue.

Who's actually making noise about this? Well, beyond all of you internet users, it's the smaller companies, who know they'd be in trouble. Github, Pinterest and Patreon have been urging all their users to contact Congress over net neutrality. Reddit has become net neutrality central. Automattic/Wordpress have been vocal on this issue as well. Earlier this year, over 1,000 startups told Ajit Pai not to kill net neutrality.

Take a second and think which solution is likely to help the crony capitalists, and which is likely to help the upstarts, innovators and entrepreneurs. It certainly looks like Ajit Pai's plan is a win for the crony capitalists, and a loss for innovators. So if you believe in a free market in which upstarts are able to come in and innovate, and where crony capitalism doesn't work. it certainly looks like you should support net neutrality and be against Ajit Pai's plan to destroy the rules.

And that's because the Open Internet Order of 2015 -- despite claims to the contrary by Pai and others -- is not about setting up some giant regulatory burden. There are no "compliance" costs. All it does is set some basic rules that prevent predatory practices by the giant companies.

And, believe it or not, some of the biggest supporters of free markets have recognized the need to stop such predatory practices for the sake of the free market. They've long recognized that dominant firms, with the power to discriminate, aren't just creating monopoly rents for themselves, but they are actually set up to block the functioning of a free market. That is the case with the broadband access market.

To see how this works in practice, let's take a look at the views of one of the philosopher kings of the free market: F.A. Hayek. Hayek's many works have, repeatedly, argued against government interference in most areas, quite rightly noting that it often distorts markets in dangerous ways, can limit overall benefits, and (especially) lead to things like regulatory capture. But... he has some exceptions. And many of those exceptions would appear to apply to the net neutrality debate. For example, in Law, Legislation and Liberty, in the midst of a longer discussion on why "big" is not necessarily "bad" (an argument I mostly agree with), in trying to distinguish "big" from "bad" he tries to highlight the kind of "bad" behavior he finds objectionable and worth preventing via government action. And the key to him: when businesses can discriminate and treat different customers differently for the same product -- especially on products on which the customers are dependent:

In modern society it is not the size of the aggregate of resources controlled by an enterprise which gives it power over the conduct of other people, so much as its capacity to withhold services on which people are dependent. As we shall see in the next section, it is therefore also not only simply power over the price of their products but the power to exact different terms from different customers which confers power over conduct. This power, however, is not directly dependent on size and not even an inevitable product of monopoly-although it will be possessed by the monopolist of any essential product, whether he be big or small, so long as he is free to make a sale dependent on terms not exacted from all customers alike. We shall see that it is not only the power of the monopolist to discriminate, together with the influence he may exercise on government possessing similar powers, which is truly harmful and ought to be curbed. But this power, although often associated with large size, is neither a necessary consequence of size nor confined to large organizations. The same problem arises when some small enterprise, or a labour union, which controls an essential service can hold the community to ransom by refusing to supply it.

Later, in discussing how the real evil of monopoly is to crowd out competition, he notes how the power to discriminate can be used in such a fashion:

... the power to discriminate, can in many ways be used to influence the market behaviour of these others, and particularly to deter or otherwise influence potential competitors.

Hayek admits that this is a tricky problem to solve. He admits that some monopolists may, indeed, provide better overall service, but we should be careful where there are situations where they might restrict competition -- and thus, he notes that there may even be cases where "rules of conduct" should be put forth to prevent such discrimination:

... since the power of the monopolist to discriminate can be used to coerce particular individuals or firms, and is likely to be used to restrict competition in an undesirable manner, it clearly ought to be curbed by appropriate rules of conduct.

Specifically, he notes that "aimed discrimination intended to enforce a certain market conduct should clearly be prohibited." This all certainly can be read as recognition that a system like the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order would match. The open internet order was not heavy-handed regulation (contrary to Pai's statements). It merely prevents discriminatory behavior by those services that the public now depends on, where they have little to no choice in alternative providers. And thus, under such conditions, Hayek sees that "rules of conduct" with clear prohibitions can make sense. Admittedly, he does then say that -- unlike the 2015 rules -- he's not convinced making the rules a "punishable offense" would make sense, but rather would prefer a system where breaking such rules would become "the basis of a claim for damages."

But, either way, even Hayek recognizes that while in most cases, government rules are a bad idea, in certain very specific cases, they can make sense. And a key area where that does make sense is where you have companies with the power to discriminate in anti-competitive ways that could distort the market. And while Hayek's suggestion that making the punishment for breaking such rules be civil damages from those injured, I'd argue that this would actually be a less effective situation in the internet access market. Because, if you're in a situation where a giant internet access provider, such as a Comcast, Verizon, or AT&T decides to throttle or discriminate in some way that harms a provider, it's most likely going to be a smaller provider -- such as an internet startup. Such a startup is unlikely to have the means, or the time, to then take the giant broadband provider to court, and fight against that company's well-paid lawyers that such discrimination should lead to damages.

Indeed, this is part of the usefulness of the 2015 rules: they are simple and straightforward, making it easy for broadband providers to follow them (no throttling, no blocking, no paid prioritization) without increasing the transaction costs of protecting the innovative edge providers.

Now, let's go back to Milton Friedman, whom we'd mentioned in the opening. In his Capitalism and Freedom, he discusses "technical monopolies," by which he means natural monopolies as we discussed above. Friedman notes that he believes that these happen very infrequently, and even in some cases it's best to leave such markets unregulated because over time, markets will shift and what may be a natural monopoly today may not be one in the long term. He uses railroads as an example, pointing out that while they initially had a natural monopoly, over time things like airplanes and highways eroded that -- while also noting that the attempt to regulate railroads created terrible regulatory capture. And he's right, that most of the time, it is not necessarily a good idea for the government to get involved. But, he argues that there are times when the situation is such that leaving things alone for a natural monopoly will create too much harm:

The choice between the evils of private monopoly, public monopoly, and public regulation cannot, however, be made once and for all, independently of the factual circumstances. If the technical monopoly is of a service or commodity that is regarded as essential and if its monopoly power is sizable, even the short run effects of private unregulated monopoly may not be tolerable, and either public regulation or ownership may be a lesser evil.

He discusses various examples, but notes that, in the end, you need to weigh the costs and benefits:

Our principles offer no hard and fast line how far it is appropriate to use government to accomplish jointly what it is difficult or impossible for us to accomplish separately through strictly voluntary exchange. In any particular case of proposed intervention, we must make up a balance sheet, listing separately the advantages and disadvantages. Our principles tell us what items to put on the one side and what items on the other and they give us some basis for attaching importance to the different items. In particular, we shall always want to enter on the liability side of any proposed government intervention, its neighborhood effect in threatening freedom, and give this effect considerable weight. Just how much weight to give to it, as to other items, depends upon the circumstances. If, for example, existing government intervention is minor, we shall attach a smaller weight to the negative effects of additional government intervention.

And this brings up the next important point. The actual "intervention" in the 2015 Open Internet Order are, indeed, quite minimal. What has struck me in rereading many different texts, by a variety of free market economists on issues related to natural monopolies, is their almost universal failure to imagine the kind of light touch "regulation" set up by the 2015 order. Indeed, nearly all of them talk about rate setting, taxation or even public ownership as the only viable regulatory options (and then go on to discuss the problems with each). But it's important to note that the 2015 net neutrality rules explicitly block the FCC from engaging in any of these practices.

Instead, the rules are almost surprisingly mild, given the argument that broadband access is a natural monopoly and a market failure. There is no rate setting. There is no taxation. There is no public ownership. There is merely a prohibition on a few activities (blocking, throttling, paid prioritization) that are deemed to do significantly more harm than good in cutting off competition, innovation and freedom of expression.

And that brings us back around to the questions of where and how we want free markets to thrive. There are many different levels of the economy, and if you have strong infrastructure that is built so that anyone has access, then that creates the parameters for strong free market competition for goods and services built on top of that infrastructure. Take the road system, for example. While you may have some extreme folks in the AnCap camp who believe that even roads should be privatized, it does not take a PhD in economics to realize the harm that might cause. Making roads more costly to use would limit usage. The power of some companies to "own" the roads would likely limit the types of businesses and retail operations that could make use of those roads. Shipping would be more expensive. Commuting would be more expensive. The amount of innovation and competition that could be built on top of the infrastructure layer would become more expensive. Thus, while you might have a free market in "roads" you would limit or destroy the free market of every business that relies on roads (which is a significant portion of the economy). And that leaves out the silliness of a having a free market in roads, because who wants competition on different roads?

The same is true of the internet. In giving the big broadband access providers the ability to put up tollbooths on the internet, you significantly limit the free market on the internet. You limit the ability of smaller upstarts to innovate and get online. You make it much more difficult for competition among those edge providers and services. Indeed, such a world only creates more incentives for a few giant internet companies (think: Google, Facebook, Amazon) since those will be the only ones who can go toe-to-toe with the access providers and negotiate deals. The end result is that while you may have a free market in "broadband," you lose it on all of the (more valuable, more important) services built on the internet. And, as with roads, the entire concept is silly. We should have a free and open network, at much faster speeds, such that we can get more experimentation, more competition, and more of a free market among edge providers and services on the internet.

Indeed, when you get competition at layers above the infrastructure layer, you actually make the infrastructure more valuable. The weird conceit of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, in pushing for the policies that they want, is that it is the network itself that is the value, and that the edge providers/internet services that everyone uses are somehow getting a "free ride." But that ignores the reality. It's the various services, whether it's Techdirt or Reddit or Github or Pinterest or Airbnb or YouTube or Snapchat or whatever else you use, that make the network itself valuable. Allowing more of a free market at that level helps make the underlying network itself that much more valuable as well.

The broadband companies take offense to the idea that they're just supplying "dumb pipes," but dumb pipes with a healthy competitive market of services built on those dumb pipes is more valuable for everyone. It's more valuable for the end users. It's more valuable for the edge service providers. And, importantly, it's more valuable for the infrastructure providers themselves, even if they somehow fail to recognize that.

In the end, the free market case for net neutrality rules is that it stops a clear natural monopoly market failure, with very lightweight rules that merely serve to ensure that there's much more robust and widespread free market competition among edge providers, in a manner that makes the entire ecosystem more valuable. Taking away those rules, as Ajit Pai and his friends would like to do, creates a non-free market. It enables crony capitalism, where a few giant corporations effectively control the central infrastructure on which the public is dependent, with almost no oversight and no prevention of discrimination or abuse. That will lead to less innovation, less competition and less value (though, more rent extraction by those giant providers).

So, yes, even if you consider yourself a free market believer, who worries about government intervention, you should still be supportive of the 2015 Open Internet Rules, while quite concerned about Pai's plan to role them back. What he's pitching is not a free market, but a locking down of the market to favor a few corporate cronies.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:25pm

    Yet other times you'll claim that Google and Facebook have First Amendment Right to

    "effectively block, diminish, silence people and organizations from expressing themselves or taking part in the public communications networks that we all rely on these days"!

    Your position on (some) corporations having a Right to control the speech on their "platforms" just simply cannot be squared with what you state here.

    Actually, ALL CORPORATIONS ARE INTRINSICALLY EVIL. Their officers need to fear jail if aren't strictly neutral -- as in the good old days of anti-trust that prevented concentration of ownership, and the Fairness Doctrine.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:32pm

      Re: Yet other times you'll claim that Google and Facebook have First Amendment Right to

      Your position on (some) corporations having a Right to control the speech on their "platforms" just simply cannot be squared with what you state here.

      While the most churches for example do not offer a help line to help people find sexual partners, the phone companies cannot block someone ringing one that does. The ISP's are the phone companies of the Internet, and not the Churches that you can phone.

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    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:27pm

    Oh, and: "FCC will vote to undue" -- HA, HA!

    You desperately need an editor who can sperr.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Oh, and: "FCC will vote to undue" -- HA, HA!

      Nothing wrong with the spelling, but the word choice might leave a little to be desired.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:27pm

    You are overlooking the second reason that the likes of Comcast are so against net neutrality, the did not see the video streaming revolution when the started to offer Internet over cable, and now they find it is eating into their cable business.

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  • identicon
    Robert L, 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:39pm

    When there's no competition...

    When there's no competition, the forces that allow a free market to work are not in place. Since there is no competition, we must have some regulation, or the threat of regulation, to keep the monopoly players in check

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    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:57pm

      Re: When there's no competition...

      Or, better yet, change the rules that prevent competition.

      Of course, to do that you'll have to fight the crony capitalists who like the status quo, which is hard.

      But it's a job that needs doing anyway. Because regulators ultimately get captured by the regulated.

      The only long-term solution is real competition to serve the customers.

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        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:06pm

        Re: Re: When there's no competition...

        "Or, better yet, change the rules that prevent competition."

        Bingo, this is far more important than NN.

        the FCC was created with the understanding that they would regulation the sector as a natural monopoly meaning that it was in lock step with creating/establishing monopolies for these businesses and to regulate them as such.

        "Of course, to do that you'll have to fight the crony capitalists who like the status quo, which is hard."

        The foundation of the FCC itself is pro-monopoly and relying on it to do anything other than to regulate the sector as anything other than a monopoly is ignorance.

        "But it's a job that needs doing anyway. Because regulators ultimately get captured by the regulated."

        The natural and inevitable end of the regulatory/monopoly relationship. Monopolies DRIVE regulations... not because they are needed, but because they serve to help secure monopolies under the guise of being "pro-consumer".

        "The only long-term solution is real competition to serve the customers."

        backed up by eternal vigilance, which is something these fearful pro-regulatory citizens just do not have. I hear them cry eternally for the guiding hand of a politician to regulate them... then they cry our against their ignorance... and then ask for more!

        I don't know how stupid people can be but as Einstein once said.

        "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

        Political Regulation brought this menace... and they STILL ask for more?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: When there's no competition...

          No, political DE-regulation brought about this menace when ISP's were reclassified under Title I instead of Title II like they had been from the beginning.

          Just because something may be more important than something else, doesn't mean you shouldn't shoot at the target when it is available.

          I can't say for sure whether the FCC is pro-monopoly or not, but since it states in it's mandate "For the purpose of regulating interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio so as to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges", that seems to be pretty heavily consumer focused and not monopoly focused. Just saying.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 3:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: When there's no competition...

          Go away Hamilton, no one likes you.

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        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 8:28am

          Re: Re: Re: When there's no competition...

          the FCC was created with the understanding that they would regulation the sector as a natural monopoly meaning that it was in lock step with creating/establishing monopolies for these businesses and to regulate them as such.

          Did you read the article?

          A natural monopoly is neither created nor established; if it were, it would not be natural.

          The mention of "natural monopolies" at the establishment of the FCC is about recognizing that these markets are natural monopolies, whether or not any regulations exist around them.

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    • identicon
      Cyrus, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:31pm

      Re: What's a Free Market ?

      "To start with, this is also not the anarchist's argument for net neutrality (or the "AnCap's" argument). If you don't believe the government should ever do anything, well, then nothing is going to convince you."


      ...quite a heavily biased TD disclaimer. Is the Marxist argument also ruled out here?

      One does need be an Anarcho-Capitalist to oppose government market interventions generally or in the communications markets specifically -- these have been among mainline American conservative viewpoints for many decades. Nor must one oppose government generally to oppose the much narrower concept of government regulation.

      This "AnCap" straw man is prominently pushed by TD to shut down any fundamental argumentation against market regulation -- by depicting it as an extreme fringe viewpoint ... unacceptable to rational discussion.

      TD has a quite faulty understanding of free markets and the practical aspects of regulation.

      "Natural Monopolies" do not and can not exist.

      "Market Failures" do not and can not exist -- this is a notorious leftist political myth.

      Who regulates the "regulators" if ordinary humans can not even be trusted to operate free markets ?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:34pm

        Re: Re: What's a Free Market ?

        ...Please tell me you're not serious and you just really should have put a /s in there somewhere.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:55pm

        Re: Re: What's a Free Market ?

        "Natural Monopolies" do not and can not exist.

        Just how many roads, electric cables, water pipes, gas pipes, phone lines etc will you allow to cross your property? Just how road tolls and phone lines are you prepared to pay for to ensure that you can travel to your desired destination, and ring the people and businesses that you want to?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 3:23pm

        Re: Re: What's a Free Market ?

        You like like a first year college student who just got really high for the first time. That or a Fox news host trying to explain the poutrage de hour to people who are already mostly dead.

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      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 3:32pm

        Re: Re: What's a Free Market ?

        ...quite a heavily biased TD disclaimer. Is the Marxist argument also ruled out here?

        I wasn't ruling out any argument, just clarifying what it is I'm responding to: the question of when the government should try to step in to correct a market failure.

        One does need be an Anarcho-Capitalist to oppose government market interventions generally or in the communications markets specifically -- these have been among mainline American conservative viewpoints for many decades. Nor must one oppose government generally to oppose the much narrower concept of government regulation.

        Did you even read beyond the line I quoted? I repeatedly explained how opposing government market interventions "generally" is not only a good idea, it's one that I support. What I noted is that there are SOME UNIQUE CONDITIONS under which it makes sense for minimal government intervention to protect the free market. And then I explained what those were, quoting people like Hayek and Friedman to explain why. So what you're stating is a strawman. I of course recognize that in most cases gov't intervention is improper. But not all.

        Did you even read the post?

        This "AnCap" straw man is prominently pushed by TD to shut down any fundamental argumentation against market regulation -- by depicting it as an extreme fringe viewpoint ... unacceptable to rational discussion.

        No, it's not. Again, I explained this pretty clearly. The point of the post was to explain why the NN debate is the exception to the general rule, while noting that if you are an AnCap and you think the gov't should NEVER get involved, then my argument won't convince you. It appears that you fit into this category, so congratulations, you are proving my point.

        TD has a quite faulty understanding of free markets and the practical aspects of regulation.

        You can say that, but I will note that you don't explain how or where.

        "Market Failures" do not and can not exist -- this is a notorious leftist political myth.

        I've long ago learned that anyone who uses "rightwing" or "leftist" as a descriptor is not worth paying attention to because they're tribalists, rather than thinking individuals. And, again, if you actually read the fucking post, you would note that I explained the scenarios which even folks like Hayek and Friedman agreed that some minimal gov't intervention made sense.

        So, congrats, again you are proving my point. You don't believe in natural monopolies, despite the fact that basically all economists -- across the spectrum -- with the notable exception of the ancap folks -- think you're wrong. Or are you calling Friedman and Hayek "leftists" too?

        Anyway, your complaints seem to be based on freaking out of me daring to point out that this argument won't convince ancaps. And you obviously agree with the ancap point of view. So, what did you prove other than that you get so flustered by tribalism that you can't read or comprehend the actual fucking post?

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        • icon
          cattress (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 6:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: What's a Free Market ?

          I'm a libertarian and I support net neutrality. I really appreciate Mike's posts that explain the necessary "evil" of some government regulation.
          I read Reason, FEE, Cato blog, and watch Kennedy daily. I follow people like Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amosh on Twitter. The conservative/Libertarian perspective is similar to ancap in that government intervention is always bad, and that Pai is a free market hero. In nearly every other arena, I agree 100% and these are the minds that I fill my personal bias bubble with. But not on net neutrality, I totally disagree with my peoples because just as Mike explained above, my peoples are ill informed. I wish some of these brilliant minds would take a moment and read Mike's explanation of how he changed his mind, and how net neutrality, if done correctly, is supported by revered economist like Hayek and Friedman.
          The only point I sort of disagree with Mike about is using the phrase "market failure". This term turns us free market believers off. And truthfully, how could it be a market failure, if since internet became a service provided by telecoms and cable companies, it hasn't actually been in a free market, and therefore has not
          actually been tested and thus cannot be deemed a failure. Both telecoms and cable companies have sprung from government regulations put in place at the dawn of their respective technologies, and thus have never been free markets.
          Just a thought about bringing the conservative or libertarians around on this. Maybe net neutrality needs a little re-branding, into something like cronyism policy reform- or "CPR", some sort of catchy acronym and phrase like "pumping the data vital to consumers even when the cronies don't"- but a much better idea than I'm spitballing.

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          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Dec 2017 @ 2:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What's a Free Market ?

            cattress, it's good to see people like you speaking out. You make libertarianism look reasonable and sometimes I do agree with you. This is one of those times. :)

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

          • icon
            the boss (profile), 15 Dec 2017 @ 12:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What's a Free Market ?

            "I'm a libertarian and I support net neutrality."

            Good heavens. . . I thought I was the only one.

            I just stumbled on this website today and registered after also having changed my mind over net neutrality's repeal. Not that it matters so much as I type this, that it has been repealed, all that is left is to wait and see who will be proven right.

            Glancing through the comments, there seems to be a small firestorm over the phrase 'market failure' but it didn't stop me from reading through the rest of the piece and finding a lot that I agree with.

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  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:46pm

    TL:DR

    (Frown Face)

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  • identicon
    Rekrul, 11 Dec 2017 @ 12:58pm

    The free market is supposed to be like a thriving aquarium with many different types of fish all co-existing and going about their business.

    Giving the market free reign to do what it wants is like throwing some piranha into the tank and then sitting back while they eat all the other fish.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 12 Dec 2017 @ 5:55am

      Re:

      That's a great definition of the AnCap faction. I'm with Mike on this; here in the UK government regulation ensures we have tons of competition in the telco/ISP space and my broadband doesn't just run, it gallops.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:20pm

    why not VPN?

    I've been reading techdirt for a very long time and don't understand the 180 on net neutrality. If you're for a minimal regulatory environment to protect competition in the face of a monopoly utility, wouldn't the lightest touch be to single out VPNs as a protected class of service and let competition thrive from there?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 3:50pm

      Re: why not VPN?

      VPN's are flow aggregators. Broad adoption of VPN services will actually make new choke points for content surveillance and filtering. VPN's are a shoestring solution to a 3 ton chain problem.

      The carriers want to push people over to VPN service, but in truth VPN's are less trustworthy than the carriers are IMHO. Some are probably legit, but my expectation is that many are run by state agencies.

      Even TOR has this problem. TOR is 3 hops with 3 layers of cipher. But if a single player owns too much of the capacity, then statistically there are going to be periods where all three hops are processed by switches under the same administration, which mitigates anonymity since the flows become traceable.

      When traffic stops being many diverse flows over many diverse pipes, freedom suffers. Ultimately the solution will cipher 100% of traffic starting immediately above OSI layer 3. This will require reengineering at least TCP, UDP and DNS, and probably parts of the IP layer as well.

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  • icon
    JohnG (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:23pm

    Your flawed criticism of private roads gives me pause regarding your entire argument.

    Making roads more costly to use would limit usage.

    Who says roads would become more costly? Why wouldn't they become less expensive?

    The power of some companies to "own" the roads would likely limit the types of businesses and retail operations that could make use of those roads.

    Who says the company that builds the roads is ultimately the owner of those roads? Why would limiting use of roads inherently be a negative?

    Thus, while you might have a free market in "roads" you would limit or destroy the free market of every business that relies on roads (which is a significant portion of the economy).

    You need to read Walter Block's publication on the privatization of roads.

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    • icon
      Ryunosuke (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:25pm

      Re:

      I think a more apt description would be railroad lines.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:47pm

      Re:

      "Who says the company that builds the roads is ultimately the owner of those roads?"

      The very definition of 'privatizing roads' is that whoever builds the roads subsequently owns them. Otherwise you just have a bunch of companies being unrealistically philanthropic.

      "Why would limiting use of roads inherently be a negative?"

      Why wouldn't this inherently be a negative? Right now anyone can drive on any road they want which means people have as many choices as they have roads to get to their destination. Now take a major city and say that only trucks with a certain permit are allowed to drive on any road other than the main highways. Now you have major traffic jams because people can't take alternate routes to help relieve some of the congestion.

      Or say the company who built the road in front of your house demands a monthly payment for you to drive on it. Do you really think that's a positive thing? Especially if it's not just the road in front of your house but all the roads in your city? Or maybe not even all of them but maybe all the main thoroughfares now have tolls.

      We would go from a state of people and businesses being able to travel where they want, when they want, to some dystopian travel system where you can only go where corporations dictate you can go and when, or you have to pay the right people to get where you want to go. Or how about if two corporations disagree about joining their roads together (maybe one wants the other to build an intersection but the other refuses) you could end up with a situation where a home, business, community, or city ends up completely disconnected from the rest of the U.S., all because of one corporation's stubbornness or greed.

      How is there any benefit to limiting the use of roads?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2017 @ 5:38am

        Re: Re:

        The very definition of 'privatizing roads' is that whoever builds the roads subsequently owns them.

        The quote from the article was "We don't want competing private companies constructing roads", which says nothing about ownership. In fact, many places have competing private companies construct their public roads. We could do the same for internet: publically-owned infrastructure, built out by private companies via a competitive building process, which anyone can pay to run services on.

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

      • icon
        JohnG (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 9:16am

        Re: Re:

        The very definition of 'privatizing roads' is that whoever builds the roads subsequently owns them.

        Not necessarily. Businesses could band together to have a road built to their complex. The businesses would collectively own the road despite someone else having built it.

        Now you have major traffic jams because people can't take alternate routes to help relieve some of the congestion

        Why do you assume that's the only possible outcome?

        Or say the company who built the road in front of your house demands a monthly payment for you to drive on it. Do you really think that's a positive thing?

        If I hire a builder to build me a home does the builder continue to own the home after he's done? Why do you assume that the company that's hired to build the road continues to own it after the road is built? Aside from that you do realize there's such a thing as road maintenance, right? Part of our taxes now go to pay that maintenance. Why would homeowners not pay a company to maintain the road on whatever schedule the parties agree to?

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    • icon
      JMT (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 4:43pm

      Re:

      "Who says roads would become more costly? Why wouldn't they become less expensive?"

      How is a private toll road less expensive to use than a free one?

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:07am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, in a world of dumb statements about this issue, that really does take the prize.

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

      • icon
        OldMugwump (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:32am

        Re: Re: "Who says roads would become more costly? Why wouldn't they become less expensive?"

        I think JohnG's idea is that current roads aren't free either.

        We all pay for them, thru taxes.

        I find it entirely reasonable to think that privately-provided roads might be cheaper, if there's competition to build and run them.

        But now roads are free to use. Of course if you have to pay tolls, that'll reduce demand.

        At rush hour, that'd be a good thing. And perhaps more fair, since free-to-use roads are a subsidy for drivers that makes mass transit less competitive.

        (This ignores the practical issues of the cost and trouble of tolling. I can see tolls on limited-access highways, but tolls on local roads seem impractical.)

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 2:19am

          Re: Re: Re: "Who says roads would become more costly? Why wouldn't they become less expensive?"

          "We all pay for them, thru taxes."

          As you pay for all sorts of infrastructure that's needed for the common welfare and progression of society at large. This is a good thing.

          "I find it entirely reasonable to think that privately-provided roads might be cheaper, if there's competition to build and run them."

          History suggests otherwise. It also suggests that any cheapness might come from collusion, labour exploitation, corner cutting and other things that maximise profit over and above consumer need.

          "Of course if you have to pay tolls, that'll reduce demand."

          Unless you need a particular road to get somewhere, in which case you're forced to pay whatever ransom they demand. If you can't pay, you can't get to where you need to go, and this reduces the options and mobility for entire classes of people.

          This is actually the basic issue. Basic infrastructure needs to be a public commodity, it never really works out for the public good if done otherwise.

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          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 12 Dec 2017 @ 6:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "Who says roads would become more costly? Why wouldn't they become less expensive?"

            Agreed: I've got a choice of routes to use to get to and from work, etc., because I live in an area best described as a transport hub. I've got a choice between bus, taxi, walking or train and the buses are run by different private companies, as are the taxis. Hold that thought.

            Two of the roads I can use to get to and from work are connected by another road, i.e. if the roads were privatised I'd probably have to pay to use one to access the others if they were privatised. If one company owned all the roads between Manchester and Eccles I'd need some kind of season ticket, and it'd have to either cover one route or an entire area. Hold that thought.

            So now, in my hypothetical journey, I'm at the point of entering Manchester itself. Again, there are multiple route options and in a world of privatised roads, there are more tolls to pay. If different companies own the roads there are multiple tolls. Whether I take the bus or train (or walk) sooner or later I've got to get out and walk to my destination, which is, you guessed it, up another road. How in the world could a city like Manchester make road privatisation work?

            Dear lord, the stupidity of the idea!!

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      • icon
        JohnG (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 9:17am

        Re: Re:

        The road wasn't free to build and isn't free to maintain.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:14pm

      Re:

      Who says roads would become more costly? Why wouldn't they become less expensive?

      For the same reason my internet bill hasn't become less expensive.

      When you combine a necessary service with a profit motive and a lack of competition, prices go up.

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

      • icon
        JohnG (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 2:47pm

        Re: Re:

        When you combine a necessary service with a profit motive and a lack of competition, prices go up.

        Why would there be a lack of competition for the building and maintenance of roads?

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

        • identicon
          Thad, 12 Dec 2017 @ 3:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Within urban areas, because of the limited number of places you can put a road.

          Outside of urban areas, because of the tremendous expense of building long stretches of road.

          At the last mile (or, in this case, last block) because your destination is going to be accessible by a limited number of roads (usually 1 or an intersection of 2, though large buildings are sometimes accessible on all 4 sides).

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          • icon
            JohnG (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 12:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Within urban areas, because of the limited number of places you can put a road.

            Which has what to do with road maintenance? A company that can maintain roads is also very likely able to construct roads too... ergo there would not be a lack of competition surrounding the construction and maintenance of roads.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:47pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The question is, would the roads that pass your house let you get to the road that goes past your destination, without excessive charges, long delays, or long detours.

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  • identicon
    kallethen, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:23pm

    Kinda surprised TD hasn't discussed Pai and Verizon at the Chairman dinner cracking lots of jokes (and even a video) about him being a puppet installed by Verizon.

    If that isn't a giant middle finger in our faces, I don't know what is.

    (story on Ars Technica and Gizmodo if you wanna look it up)

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  • identicon
    Vel the Enigmatic, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:35pm

    More surprised you guys haven't covered the bill introducedby Maloney to stop Pai, today.

    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, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:39pm

    "But many of the people I know who are opposing net neutrality -- including FCC Chair Ajit Pai -- like to couch their opposition in "free market" terms."

    Spinning that same old yarn. It's a game and Ajit has your number. Ajit knows he is not actually for free-market, but because you are easily tricked all he needs to do is say that what he is doing is pro-free market and he has you all dancing to his tune.

    Killing NN is not a pro-free market solution and calling it that is what keeps you fooled! That is how Ajit got YOU to change your mind by fooling you.

    "why I changed my mind about net neutrality rules,"

    You, like most of the other scared of their own shadow humans, are so afraid that some corporation is going to gain a monopoly that you can't recognize that the FCC has been blessing and ensuring monopolies this entire time. Sure the FCC is hardly the only folks to blame because local government entities have been bought out all the same, but the FCC could have stopped a lot of it!

    You want REAL net neutrality? Break the Monopolies and stop trying to manage them with easily bought and paid for political toadies!

    If you are not breaking the monopolies and strengthening anti-trust you are WASTING your time. I warned you all a long time ago this was coming, but you didn't and still WON'T listen.

    I hope you enjoy this, because it is what you have been working for whether you believe it or not!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:57pm

      Re:

      You are exactly right, killing NN is not a pro-free market solution, which is exactly why we are against it. It doesn't matter what it is called, what matters is what it does. And what repealing NN does is give massive power to ISP's to block, throttle, or prioritize content on the internet.

      You are also exactly right in that the best solution is to break up the monopolies and encourage true competition. But, in the meantime, NN is a great way to protect us until that happens. And once that does happen, NN rules can stay in place and not harm the competition at all because it's only companies looking to hurt competition that don't want NN.

      Please take some time to actually learn about how the internet works and read what the NN rules actually do, because everyone who does understand both of those (i.e. tech professionals and the creators and inventors of the internet and world wide web) all disagree with you. The real waste of time is continually having to explain all of this to people like you.

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

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      "You want REAL net neutrality? Break the Monopolies and stop trying to manage them with easily bought and paid for political toadies!"

      We wait to hear your brilliant solution for achieving this apparently quick and easy task.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:44pm

    devil's advocate

    As the primary goal should be forcing the monoploly cable companies to allow competing ISPs to tap into their lines (for a fee of course) that (let's not forget) run over public property, perhaps just sitting back and watching broadband providers abuse their power might not be such a bad thing, as it would tend to present a powerful argument toward forced decentralization.

    The old telephone monopoly was forcible broken up into basically two pieces, one that provided local service and one that provided long-distance service. Local service was allowed to maintain its monopoly, but access to this local network was forcibly opened up by government action to allow numerous 'long distance' companies to compete in providing service that had been a Bell monopoly for many decades.

    The same thing needs to be done with broadband providers, and the public should demand nothing less. Perhaps giving these broadband monopolies the power to abuse the public (at least for awhile) might help achieve that goal in the long run, and if so, then it's a bitter pill worth swallowing.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:53pm

      Re: devil's advocate

      disagree, we should not force any business to allow competitors to use their services, it is just a form of legal theft. We need to completely remove private/business ownership of infrastructure and manage it like public property instead. This gets rid of the "natural monopoly" problem. Private ownership of public property should never have been allowed ever!

      The MaBell break up was nothign but a half measure. Designed to give citizens a feel good win and still allow the telco monopoly to thrive, just in a different form.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re: devil's advocate

        You do realize that there isn't much difference in terms of 'theft' between forcing a business to allow a competitor to use their infrastructure that they bought and paid for to install and the government coming in and telling them that they no longer own the infrastructure that they bought and paid for to install. Right?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

          Remember, allowing a business or private ownership of that on public property was the FIRST THEFT that started it all!

          I am OKAY with STEALING IT BACK!

          It was wrong to give it to a business at the expense of the Citizens.
          It was wrong to force them to allow other business to use the stolen goods, again... at the expense of the Citizens.
          It will be RIGHT to take back what they never should have had!

          That "first theft" is the root problem. Solve it to solve the others!

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

            Except that the infrastructure isn't all on public property. Much of it, especially in residential areas, is all on private property.

            And it wasn't built at the expense of the city or citizens. The companies had to pay for the proper permits and building rights to lay that infrastructure.

            By your logic then, all businesses shouldn't be allowed to build any kind of stucture (office building, infrastructure, etc...) within city limits because it's theft of that land.

            I'm not saying that I'm against local loop unbundling, I'm just pointing out that you're being a hypocrite in calling one kind theft of private property but are totally ok with it in another sense.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

              The public can take stuff from private business without stealing it.

              It's called "expropriation". The government pays the value of what's being taken and it's made public again.

              This can be done in multiple ways:
              - If it was a license/concession either you wait for it to end (at that point, it reverts back to the public at no cost, including the infrastructure).
              - If the infrastructure belongs to the company, you pay the cost of it and take it back.

              No, you don't pay for "lost business" or whatever. You're taking it back in the name of public interests, that trump private interests.


              It's the same when they take away land to build a highway, for example.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:53pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

                Except, the government didn't own the fiber/copper in the ground in the first place, it was bought and paid for by the companies. So they aren't "taking it back" it wasn't theirs to begin with.

                Also, the government still owns the land through which the infrastructure runs, they just don't own the infrastructure itself. And as I stated, the government didn't own fiber/copper in the first place.

                This isn't much better than outright theft. Someone is still being forced to give up something that they paid for initially against their will. Regardless of whether proper compensation is being made, it is still akin to theft.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 5:06pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

                  For starters, a government can expropriate private property if there is a public interest reason. Even if they never owned those infrastructures, if it's better for the nation and public interests that the government owns them, they can expropriate them.

                  Public interest means that it will benefit the society as a whole, that usually means, "more people".

                  And whether you like it or not, it isn't theft. That's who it's possible to build roads, dams and other structures that you need to build in the middle of private property?

                  If the government couldn't expropriate, either those structures wouldn't be built or they'd have to be paid at exorbitant prices (meaning that, in the end, you pay for those).

                  In case of roads, it's obvious the public interest to build them. And I bet you sure are happy when you open a tap and water comes out of it, don't you?

                  In case of NN... I think that it itself is pretty much a "public interest" matter.

                  What NN does is making sure that nobody can regulate "your internet".

                  When I say "your internet" is what, in the end you, the consumer, is going to experience. Paying $50 more a month just because your ISP says so it's, pretty much, regulating your internet.

                  Just because it's your ISP doing so instead of the government doesn't make it better.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 5:08pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

                    Fixing this:

                    Paying $50 more a month just because your ISP says so to be able to connect to netflix it's, pretty much, regulating your internet.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 5:57pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

                      Ok, that got misinterpreted quickly.

                      I'm not advocating against NN. On the contrary, I'm arguing for it. However, I am (ironically) playing a bit of devil's advocate as far as property seizure and local loop unbundling goes. I'm all in favor of unbundling but it does essentially still amount to theft. Government authorized theft, but theft nonetheless.

                      And that's the only point I was trying to make, I was merely trying to point out the other AC's hypocrisy in stating that businesses "stole" public property (and that's really bad by his argument) and his solution is essentially to "steal" it back. That's all. And expropriation, by some interpretations, runs counter to the 4th Amendment.

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

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2017 @ 6:29am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

                        Ah, yeah, read that "legal theft" part.

                        Still, that "legal theft" is pretty much the basis for environmental laws: putting conditions on your usage of private property.

                        And expropriation might run counter to 4th Amendment or whatever, but it's the only way of getting roads and dams built without hiking the prices too much.

                        And btw, what's bad for him isn't "stealing", but "stealing public property". In fact, I agree with him that essential infrastructures shouldn't be private properties.

                        And I go even further and I'd like to see government managed services along with private managed ones.

                        That is, to have a "public ISP" to keep the prices and conditions in check, to avoid collusion from private ISPs (allowed to use the infrastructures for a fee).


                        Because, you know, collusion is what you're having right now in the US.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

              "Much of it, especially in residential areas, is all on private property."

              Right, but they didn't have to buy those permits or small amounts of property in a free market. They were allowed to use various forms of eminent domain to force private property owners to allow them to build their infrastructure.

              Imagine if those private property owners were allowed to do what ISP's would be allowed to do should NN rules be removed. Suppose some one owned the land where a main backbone fiber line ran through and initially amicably agreed to rent the small strip of land that Comcast needed. And then once Comcast got really successful, the land owner decided to call up Comcast "Hey, you're doing quite well now. Got a lot of customers in the area I see. It would be a shame if your lease expired and I had to remove your cable from my land and rent the land to some one else. I'm sure you won't mind a 200% increase in the the rent so that it doesn't come to that."

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 3:08pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

                Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of NN. I'm just pointing out that the other AC is using hypocritical arguments and double standards to support his argument against NN.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 3:13pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

              "Except that the infrastructure isn't all on public property. Much of it, especially in residential areas, is all on private property."

              Not exactly. Many homeowners mistaken believe that the entirely of their yard is their own personal property, but that's not generally the case. Normally, a strip of land next to the road, and/or sometimes at the back of the lot, is technically city property. Called a utility easement, it grants the utility companies free access to this land in order to dig ditches, run pipes and cables, or basically whatever else they want to do (and usually leave a mess when they're finished).

              The unfortunate flip side is that while the utilities get all the benefits of using this land, it is the homeowner who is responsible for maintaining the land at his own expense.

              I learned this when I got a visit from city inspectors ordering me to cut the long grass and weeds that I'd allowed to grow on this utility easement at the back of my yard.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 2:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: devil's advocate

            I don't think it's strictly a "private property" issue when a broadband provider is allowed to freely use public land.

            Why do people argue that no rules of any kind can be placed on this private business in return for that immense privilege?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2017 @ 5:42am

      Re: devil's advocate

      As the primary goal should be forcing the monoploly cable companies to allow competing ISPs to tap into their lines (for a fee of course)

      Be careful, and learn from the UK and Canada: don't make companies lease lines from an incumbent company that also provides internet service. They'll always give their own internet service some kind of privilege while the third parties have to beg the regulator for the same. E.g., right now the fibre tariffs for third-party ISPs in Canada are above $100/month, but Bell sells their own fibre internet service for less than that. Functional separation--i.e., wires and internet provided by different companies--should be a requirement.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 1:46pm

    Good cause, but undercut by its own sponsors

    Once again, I see that the spammers at Fight for the Future are involved. Pity. Because of their many years of abuse, a lot of their traffic is blacklisted and won't reach the people who could or would support net neutrality. Apparently they never learned the lesson that it's not okay to abuse the Internet in order to save it.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 4:27pm

    "ROGER STONE: Time For Real Net Neutrality"

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/12/08/roger-stone-time-for-real-net-neutrality/

    "The singular reason why this-so called "Net Neutrality" came to the forefront is because then President Barack Obama ordered it. And who was prodding Obama to do so? Google. Microsoft. Facebook. Twitter. Amazon.

    The Tech Left, funded largely by George Soros, had decided to champion under the banner of a benign-sounding "Net Neutrality" campaign and seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grab the moral high ground in their determination to allow the giant edge providers to censor the Internet to suit their ideological preferences - ridding the Internet of conservative and libertarian content."

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      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 4:30pm

      Re: "ROGER STONE: Time For Real Net Neutrality"

      **I'm for "Real Net Neutrality". -- That'd be taxing corporations to verge of collapse, and tossing the executives into jail simply for the corporations becoming too large, as used to be done in the good old days.

      In other words, I want the gov't on MY side.

      But what we get is simply warfare between corporations. -- Pai favors one bunch, and Masnick favors another bunch.** (Where "favors" can be read "is paid by".)

      Corporations don't have rights: they're machines to be controlled for the public good. -- Masnick explicitly believes otherwise: that corporations have First Amendment Rights: clearly not a Constitution view.

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      Toom1275 (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 4:56pm

      Re: "ROGER STONE: Time For Real Net Neutrality"

      https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/daily-caller/

      Next time, try a reputable source for your cite. Or a unicorn, whichever you come across first.

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      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 4:57pm

      Re: "ROGER STONE: Time For Real Net Neutrality"

      Watch out the deep state doesn’t like it when you bring up the fact that Soros funds the largest and richest companies in the world. Better dunk your phone in a bucket of water to make sure THEY can’t hear you.

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    MyNameHere (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 4:40pm

    It's a good post, but...

    As others (including OldMugWump) has mentioned, it is a bit of a deck chairs on the Titanic issue.

    The real problem is a lack of last mile competition. Your concerns entirely are focused on the idea that, if you only have one ISP choice, and that ISP decides to block something, then you have no access.

    So is the problem blocking, or is the real probably a lack of choice? Moreover, when you fast forward 10 years from now, will that lack of choice still be an issue?

    NN in it's own way cements in that lack of choice. It makes it so that the way ISPs can obtain maximum profits isn't to offer addtional or over the top services, but instead to bribe officials and launch lawsuits to keep others out of there territories, where they can charge monopoly rents for internet service.

    If you had choice (say 3 to 5 ISPs) blocking would not be an issue. Any ISP stupid enough to block anything would lose customers quickly.

    So the real problem is a lack of last mile competition. Limiting what the current ISPs can do (including their own music, video, and other services) in the name of a free market is to entirely miss the real problem and actually discourages innovation.

    Imagine if you put all of this effort into pushing to have one touch make ready mandated nationwide. Imagine if local governments were mandated to install fiber in every home, and offer shared switch locations for all ISPs to operate from, giving those consumers a near endless choice of services?

    Innovation is never found in restrictive regulations.

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      JMT (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 4:50pm

      Re: It's a good post, but...

      Thank you Captain Obvious. Why don't you try telling us something that isn't clearly understood by any regular reader here and anyone else with a passing interest in the topic.

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        MyNameHere (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 5:29pm

        Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

        Wow, talk about "adding" to the discussion.

        The things are well know, I agree. But dealing with one like the end of the world (even if we didn't have it for the first 20 years of the internet, and things went mostly fine), and not really pushing for any action on the other seems, well, stupid.

        NN is a band aid for a major wound. You may be able to make it stop bleeding a bit, but the overall problem remains. Get as upset and agressive about the real problem and you might find the band aid isn't needed at all

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          Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 5:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

          Half your posts are bitching about PaulT, and even half of those aren't even against PaulT, just anonymous posters you imagine are in your delusional paranoia.

          Funny how your "end of the world" scenarios don't deal with copyright law abuse or police shooting unarmed citizens, now why is that?

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            PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

            Lol, really? I thought he'd calmed down and stopped being such a twat as I haven't seen him argue pointlessly against me recently. Has he been arguing on threads I've not even been reading?

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          JMT (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 9:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

          "Wow, talk about "adding" to the discussion."

          Says the person who just wrote a few hundred words that added nothing new to the discussion.

          "NN is a band aid for a major wound. You may be able to make it stop bleeding a bit, but the overall problem remains. Get as upset and agressive about the real problem and you might find the band aid isn't needed at all"

          Again, no shit Sherlock. But the current NN regs are much better than nothing, are popular with literally everyone who's not a major ISP, and should be left the hell alone so people can get all upset and aggressive about the real problem. Nothing you've said is a reason to not protest like hell about what's about to happen.

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      That One Guy (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 5:01pm

      Re: It's a good post, but...

      So is the problem blocking, or is the real probably a lack of choice?

      Both. The former is the immediate problem, the latter means you can't effectively do anything about it by voting with your wallet, because there is no other alternative(either literally or in effectively).

      NN in it's own way cements in that lack of choice. It makes it so that the way ISPs can obtain maximum profits isn't to offer addtional or over the top services, but instead to bribe officials and launch lawsuits to keep others out of there territories, where they can charge monopoly rents for internet service.

      Which has absolutely squat to do with network neutrality rules. Bribing/buying politicians to keep out competition has nothing to do with network neutrality, enabling or preventing it, what it is aimed at is keeping the ISP's from pulling blatant shenanigans against their customers and online services that they might want to shake down for some extra cash.

      So the real problem is a lack of last mile competition. Limiting what the current ISPs can do (including their own music, video, and other services) in the name of a free market is to entirely miss the real problem and actually discourages innovation.

      [Citation Needed]. 'Don't screw over your customers' only hampers 'innovation' that should be limited, namely coming up with new and innovative ways to squeeze out another buck for less service by using their position to present a 'get service from us on our terms or don't get it, period' 'deal'.

      Imagine if you put all of this effort into pushing to have one touch make ready mandated nationwide. Imagine if local governments were mandated to install fiber in every home, and offer shared switch locations for all ISPs to operate from, giving those consumers a near endless choice of services?

      Imagine if you spent even half of the time and energy you currently allocate to disagreeing with everything TD posts into fixing the problems you seem to think they are ignoring because they are writing about what's going on now, the immediate patches that are planned for removal rather than the long-term fixes to the underlying problem.

      Those sorts of changes would help the underlying problem of no real competition, but they are long-term goals that aren't going to happen soon. In the short-term meanwhile the goal is to keep the current players in check with simple rules to curb some of the more blatant excesses.

      Innovation is never found in restrictive regulations.

      As noted above the 'innovations' these (not so) 'restrictive regulations' were designed to keep in check were ones that deserved to be stifled.

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        MyNameHere (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 5:40pm

        Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

        "[Citation Needed]."

        The ISP market is maturing. With the vast majority of American homes having some sort of internet connection, we are now into the next phase, which is improving the network and offering new services. Telling an ISP that they cannot offer a music service internally on their own network that zero rates discourages them from trying. Innovative products that could be offered by the ISP are lost.

        In discouraging the ISP from having their own "value added" or "market differentiation" services, you also take away some of the desire to improve their network to prove such services. Instead, you get Comcast's X1 project, which basically will hijack much of the bandwidth from the current IP network to provide cable service that isn't subject to NN.

        "they are long-term goals that aren't going to happen soon"

        They are long term goals because nobody is working on them. When you spend all your time fighting whatever current distraction is in front of you, you don't have energy left to fight the bigger fight.

        With increased competition, the NN fight would be less important. You guys go on and on about how Google is dropping fiber because it's hard to install (legal issues). Well, fix that, and Google would probably roll out in every major city in short order. Other companies would likely do the same, if your assertions about local blocking is true.

        "the goal is to keep the current players in check with simple rules to curb some of the more blatant excesses."

        There were no real excesses to curb. The truth is for 20 plus years, the internet expanded rapidly without issue. Some of the best internet services exist in places with the least regulation. The ones with the most (like Australia) have the worst.

        Moreover, and this is key: What excesses were happening that couldn't be handled by the FTC? What excesses were happening that couldn't be fixed with congress passing laws to address them?

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          That One Guy (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 8:58pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

          Telling an ISP that they cannot offer a music service internally on their own network that zero rates discourages them from trying. Innovative products that could be offered by the ISP are lost.

          So, your example is one in which they can't give their own service an unfair advantage by allowing it to bypass the 'problem' they created? Yes, how terrible that such 'innovation' should be prohibited...

          They are long term goals because nobody is working on them. When you spend all your time fighting whatever current distraction is in front of you, you don't have energy left to fight the bigger fight.

          When a doctor is dealing with a stab wound would you complain that they're wasting all their time staunching the bleeding when the real concern is the cancer that will kill the patient a few years down the line? It is quite possible to protest killing basic rules which are meant to deal with some of the more blatant problems now, while also bringing attention to the underlying problem that necessitated the patch at the same time.

          You know, like TD's been doing basically the entire time in noting that network neutrality rules are meant to address the symptoms of the problem(abuse of monopoly positions) while the core cause(monopolies) are dealt with in the longer-term.

          With increased competition, the NN fight would be less important. You guys go on and on about how Google is dropping fiber because it's hard to install (legal issues). Well, fix that, and Google would probably roll out in every major city in short order. Other companies would likely do the same, if your assertions about local blocking is true.

          Why yes, if you do something about the current companies buying laws to keep out the competition and do something about the paid stooges they've got trying to convince people that you don't really need more options, and hey, they're just trying to protect the taxpayers from themselves in stopping local options from being explored, it's entirely possible that more companies would be willing to step in.

          Again though, that has squat to do with the current rules, which are intended to keep the current troublemakers from going overboard while the core issue of competition is addressed.

          Moreover, and this is key: What excesses were happening that couldn't be handled by the FTC? What excesses were happening that couldn't be fixed with congress passing laws to address them?

          What excesses indeed?

          The FTC that noted back in april that if the job is dumped in their laps don't hold your breath because they lack the resources to handle things and can only really hand out fines post-abuse?

          The congress who is so awash in bribes/'donations' from the ISP's in question that they were caught using talking points straight from a major telecom lobbying group? Where one of the ISP's pet congresscritters tried to kill the Title II reclassification a few years back by introducing a laughably, loophole ridden bill to 'protect the open internet', something that is likely on the burner when the next stage of this particular play comes?

          A well written bill by congress would be a better option, but between rules that are generally good(even if they don't go far enough in some place) and a law that might as well be if not is written by the ISP's I know which one I'd prefer.

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            MyNameHere (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 10:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

            "So, your example is one in which they can't give their own service an unfair advantage by allowing it to bypass the 'problem' they created? Yes, how terrible that such 'innovation' should be prohibited..."

            Except the problem isn't something they have created themselves. Operating within their own network, they are not subject to the costs of peering and obtaining connectivity. Why should they be blocked?

            By your mentality, AOL should never of existed, because the bastards use to offer services are part of your membership / access and then limit your internet! Total f--kers! :)

            "When a doctor is dealing with a stab wound would you complain that they're wasting all their time staunching the bleeding when the real concern is the cancer that will kill the patient a few years down the line?"

            if the stab wound exists only because you are trying to cut the cancer out yourself manually...

            "The FTC that noted back in april that if the job is dumped in their laps don't hold your breath because they lack the resources to handle things and can only really hand out fines post-abuse?"

            Pointing to one of Karl's yappy dog pieces isn't helping your stand. The FTC much more recently than this pointed out that they are more than willing to take up the charge, especially in the areas where NN is most obvious, such as blocking of competing services. In Karl's story they are talking about personal information, which is something mostly regulated at the state level.

            "A well written bill by congress would be a better option"

            That is the only option.

            However, laws that deal with only NN without dealing with larger issue (the cancer you mentioned earlier) would just be a step backwards. The US is rapidly falling behind much of the world in internet speeds.

            Remember too: When I talk about congress and laws, it's what would come if ISPs suddenly started wholesale blocking competitors or charging extra to "access facebook". The ISPs know that they are standing on an island here, and any move off the island feeds them to the sharks. They aren't lining up and being stupid about things.

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              Ninja (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 5:27am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

              "Except the problem isn't something they have created themselves. Operating within their own network, they are not subject to the costs of peering and obtaining connectivity. Why should they be blocked?"

              Because I'm not paying for them to access their own services. Because if they were forced to adhere to NN rules either via regulation or because there is competition I would be able to freely choose among several services (remember most offerings from these ISPs are pure crap). They should be 100% blocked from this type of bullshit. Of course if you like being screwed in the ass you can already find one or two ISPs to satisfy your fetishes. One or two because there's no competition at all.

              "By your mentality, AOL should never of existed, because the bastards use to offer services are part of your membership / access and then limit your internet! Total f--kers! :)"

              You weren't forced to use AOL. The ISPs shared the copper lines and there was no limitations. Go learn history before spewing bullshit. Makes you look less ridiculous.

              "if the stab wound exists only because you are trying to cut the cancer out yourself manually..."

              I thought I should just put it here to contemplate how much of a moron you are.

              "Pointing to one of Karl's yappy dog pieces isn't helping your stand."

              Because you are either ignorant (willfully or not) or you have vested interests in not understanding. I vote the former.

              "That is the only option. "

              It's not. It is the one that would be more 'permanent' though. The solution is already there and Pai is trying to repeal it.

              "They aren't lining up and being stupid about things."

              No, they are very smart. They won't block anything. This would make them be regulated at light speed. They are very smart. They are just testing waters with small steps like data caps, zero rating, confusing/misleading fees etc. You know, shady but not blatantly illegal behavior. And you love taking it all up in your ass.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2017 @ 5:45am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

                You weren't forced to use AOL. The ISPs shared the copper lines and there was no limitations. Go learn history before spewing bullshit. Makes you look less ridiculous.

                The phone companies weren't happy about people making 700-hour-long phone calls to their ISPs, but they were public utilities and couldn't legally do anything about it. We need the same for DOCSIS/DSL. Some areas had tens or hundreds of competing ISPs as a result.

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                  PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 6:05am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

                  I'd add one little fact to this as well - a major part of the reason why the internet took off in the US was actually due to this fact (at least to my understanding and recollection, which follows).

                  For various reasons, the US phone system had grown around free local calls and more expensive charges for long distance & international calls. Elsewhere, people tended to enjoy cheaper calls for longer distances, but had to pay small charges for local calls as well. For standard phone conversations, this was fine.

                  What this meant is that US users of services like AOL only had to pay for the service to the ISP itself, while people outside the US had to pay double - once to the ISP and once to the phone company. This obviously had a skewing effect, where these services became popular much more quickly in the US than outside. I personally remember being rather jealous of Americans until Freeserve came along and revolutionised the UK internet industry by making revenue by simply taking cut of the phone charge rather than a separate bill. Until then, I simply couldn't afford the cost of being online for any length of time.

                  If, as you state, the reason why companies serviced these calls is because they had no choice, try to imagine how different the internet would be today if the US couldn't have had the competitive advantage online, because the phone company demanded higher profits and less work on infrastructure.

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                PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 5:51am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

                "You weren't forced to use AOL. The ISPs shared the copper lines and there was no limitations. Go learn history before spewing bullshit. Makes you look less ridiculous."

                I doubt it. Anyone who uses "never of" instead of "never have" will always look silly, even if they do somehow remember that anyone trying to access the internet had a choice of ISP in the dial-up days, and that they did so because the lines were not owned by the ISP.

                Perhaps his usual lack of factual information has made him confuse content with access again, or at least doesn't understand the massive differences between a walled garden for AOL's own content vs the current argument about controlling access to content hosted elsewhere?

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      PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:10am

      Re: It's a good post, but...

      "So is the problem blocking, or is the real probably a lack of choice?"

      The problem is that they're able to block *because* there's no choice. We don't have that problem in Europe where there's real competition *because* they incumbents have been forced to share.

      Really, if you weren't so busy making shit up to attack the site based on fantasies, you'd have worked this out long ago.

      "Innovation is never found in restrictive regulations."

      Nor is it found in private monopolies. So, why do you constantly support them?

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        MyNameHere (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:41am

        Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

        Paul, with due respect, I ask the question because I already know the answer, but apparently Mike and some of the others around here don't.

        Forcing incumbents to share wires isn't always the best way. They have done that in Canada with Bell and other DSL providers, and while it seems better on the surface, the reality is that things are worse for the consumer. Line problem? You call your ISP, who blames Bell. They submit a ticket, Bell gets to it a week or two later, just in time to tell you it's not them, it's your ISP - and they won't send someone out to check it until you unhook all the non-Bell equipment from the line so they can show their line is fine.

        Real competition comes when you separate out the final mile from the ISP. Make the copper or preferably fiber into your home into a muni service. Then let all the ISPs in the world compete for the right to light it up and provide service. In a very short time, the US would have huge amounts of competition.

        "Nor is it found in private monopolies. So, why do you constantly support them?"

        I don't support them. They are an inevitable result of an open market, basically. Even Mike knows that. My point is that after having made the investment in their private networks (that connect users to the internet) it seems odd that a government agency can tell them that they cannot profit from their own service.

        I am all for competition, and not monopolies. But trying to fix things by making life more miserable for the monopoly players and easier for services doesn't really address the true issues of a lack of competition.

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          PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 2:36am

          Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

          "Paul, with due respect, I ask the question because I already know the answer, but apparently Mike and some of the others around here don't."

          Or, they know the answer but it's not the one you randomly decided upon in your own head, and you're too dishonest to actually debate with them. That's your problem, you won't listen to the actual opinions of others, only address whatever you'd prefer them to be saying.

          "Forcing incumbents to share wires isn't always the best way."

          It's worked out very well in lots of other countries, even if you managed to find an example where it doesn't work. Sounds to me like it's not been well implemented in one instance, or that you've cherry picked some extreme examples of problems that support your preconceived agenda, of course. That doesn't alter the fundamental benefits.

          "Real competition comes when you separate out the final mile from the ISP."

          Here, we agree.

          "Make the copper or preferably fiber into your home into a muni service"

          The same municipal services that American ISPs are pushing to be made illegal, with some success in certain areas?

          "My point is that after having made the investment in their private networks (that connect users to the internet) it seems odd that a government agency can tell them that they cannot profit from their own service."

          This is what I mean. NOBODY is telling them that. They are saying that they cannot do it by negatively affecting competition or by unfair practice. That they cannot do it by screwing the marketplace and the consumer. If they can't make a profit on their investment without this (even after taking money from the government to install infrastructure that they never bothered to install), that's their business at fault.

          In short - STOP MAKING THINGS UP. Address the actual opinions that people are actually writing.

          "But trying to fix things by making life more miserable for the monopoly players and easier for services doesn't really address the true issues of a lack of competition."

          Neither does removing NN and handing everything over to those monopolies.

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            MyNameHere (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 4:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

            "Or, they know the answer but it's not the one you randomly decided upon in your own head, and you're too dishonest to actually debate with them. That's your problem, you won't listen to the actual opinions of others, only address whatever you'd prefer them to be saying."

            Stop trolling and answer the question. A whole paragraph of nothing but insult.

            "The same municipal services that American ISPs are pushing to be made illegal, with some success in certain areas?"

            No. Muni broadband with very different. Muni broadband is government competing with private industry, having control of all the levers and being able to do things that private companies cannot do. That isn't a positive type of competition.

            No, my idea is that the muni actually installs a connection to every taxpayer household, and runs those lines back to common termination points ("sheds") where all ISPs run to. They you choose ISP 1, and muni gives them access to it to make your final mile connection (and collects a fee to maintain it).

            So now, as many ISPs as can run network to the shed can offer service to your house. That could be 1, 2, or 10. Who knows? All they need is to get their network that far, and the muni has done the rest.

            The muni isn't a competitor, it provides a service, nothing more and nothing less. Further, they could even mandate that the poles or underground routes to the sheds from the various central offices are subject to one touch ready, so that there are no delays in adding new ISPs and lots of connectivity.

            Suddenly, multiple gigabit internet offers exist, maybe even multiple cable and entertainment options as well.

            "They are saying that they cannot do it by negatively affecting competition or by unfair practice. "

            What they do inside their networks (services provided without passing through an internet gateway) should not be subject to NN. NN should apply only to outside services, and to how they treat incoming INTERNET traffic.

            "STOP MAKING THINGS UP. Address the actual opinions that people are actually writing."

            Physician, heal thyself.

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              PaulT (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

              "No, my idea is..."

              Thanks for the demonstration. You don't argue what words actually mean or what everyone else is saying, you make shit up on the fly then whine that people aren't addressing the fantasy that only exists in your head.

              "What they do inside their networks (services provided without passing through an internet gateway) should not be subject to NN. NN should apply only to outside services, and to how they treat incoming INTERNET traffic."

              Again, you made up a different definition, and are whining that other people have addressed the one that exists in reality.

              You should probably stop doing this. Address the world that everyone else occupies for a change, please.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

              NN should apply only to outside services, and to how they treat incoming INTERNET traffic.

              It does, the service where the companies get to choose what to carry is called cable TV.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2017 @ 6:14am

          Re: Re: Re: It's a good post, but...

          A cable TV service is the provider offering packages of content, and they can decide what content they offer. An Internet connection on the other hand is an ISP is someone offering general access to whatever exists on the Internet, and that should not involve the ISP deciding where on the Internet their customers can go.

          If you understand that difference, you would understand why net neutrality is important.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 5:25pm

    Still, aren't we messing around in this argument?

    Supporting Net Neutrality isn't a matter of more competitive markets, better internet or whatever.

    It's a matter of human rights. Article 19 of UDHR is pretty clear:

    "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

    And what has NN have to do with this?

    There are what are called "effective rights". Those usually mean that sure, on paper you might have the right to freedom of religion, for example, but because of circumstances, you can't exercise it properly.


    In case of "freedom of information", what Net Neutrality helps is to making it effective. Or at least, to remove one of the barriers.

    Freedom of Information isn't real if:
    - You can't access to such information unless you have to pay.
    - You can't access to it because there are hurdles that make it impractical.

    See that having to pay a fee to use Facebook could make it non-accessible to people who couldn't afford that.

    On the other hand, we all know what a pain in the ass is changing ISPs if they don't offer access to the information we want.

    And that's if there is one that has access to all kind of information at an affordable price, that knowing the ISPs, that wouldn't happen.


    We talk about Facebook and Netflix, but it could also be applied to news services, blogs, search engines...


    I've seen a lot of talks about competitive markets, free markets, but not enough about Net Neutrality being a fucking fight for your Human Rights.


    And if we have to trample over free market, competitive markets and ISPs, so be it. Human rights trump all those.

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

    • icon
      JohnG (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 9:26am

      Re:

      • You can't access to such information unless you have to pay.
      • You can't access to it because there are hurdles that make it impractical.

      This is why the UDHR is a nonsensical document... because you can't reconcile it against reality. There is no right to the internet or healthcare or food or housing because those are goods/services to be bought and sold. Making them "human rights" turns the concept of "rights" on its head and in effect supports theft and/or slavery, which violates other sections of the UDHR.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Actually, it takes into account reality more than what you think. But well, I guess that you're from the US, where "universal healthcare", for example, is some sort of commie anathema.

        But that's a right in many countries. The same as housing, food or over welfare related rights.

        Also, the UN pretty much disagrees with you regarding the internet. Google it up, if you feel like it. Of course, we are talking about "access" here, not about the Gov having to pay your internet.


        And btw, those rights you're talking about: housing, healthcare, food exist and were added there for a reason.

        Making them "human rights" enables you being able to exercise your other rights.

        In fact, those rights are what turn "human rights" into "effective human rights".

        You exercise your right to freedom of speech, for example, if you are properly fed, healthy and under a roof. You're not going to worry about let's say, your 1st Amendment rights, if you have to worry about your next meal.

        In fact, equality and the fight against poverty are the basis for other concepts, like Sustainable Development.

        And the part about theft or slavery... I guess you're one of those people that considers taxes theft, aren't you? Because those rights are usually enabled via taxes.


        It would surprise how protected you are by the UDHR. Of course, it won't be turned into reality by tomorrow or anything. Maybe never. I agree with you that nowadays, it sounds pretty much like an utopia. Of course, the same was said about women having voting rights or university degrees 1-2 centuries ago...

        But you see, I'd rather point out towards that utopia than towards the dystopia our world is turning into.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Btw, as a note, enshrining Net Neutrality as a human right it's something pretty much reconciled with reality.

          In fact, it's been part of the reality of the internet since it's beginning, and it's what has enabled it to grow and prosper.

          It's not that people are claiming to enable Net Neutrality as a right, but rather, to not take it away.

          ISPs, infrastructures and others are raking in money even with NN. Just that they want even more, sometimes even forcing others to pay again for something that was paid.

          They want customers pay for the bandwidth. Providers pay for it, plus an extra because people like that service. Even if there is no real justification apart that people like it, so they want their share of the cake too, even if all bandwidth costs (that includes infrastructure costs) are paid.

          And then you talk about human rights enabling "theft and slavery".

          Theft is what's going to happen without Net Neutrality. That is, if you can still come to TD to tell us.

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

        • icon
          JohnG (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 2:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Making them "human rights" enables you being able to exercise your other rights.

          How can you enforce a "right" to healthcare? I'll answer it for you -- by forcing someone else to either act directly (force a doctor to care for someone) or indirectly (force someone else to pay for the doctor). That's either slavery or theft, both of which violate the UDHR.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:00am

        Re: Re:

        How much of a sociopath do you have to be to demand that food and medicine are not right, because you think they represent theft and slavery if supplied without someone making a profit?

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

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Dec 2017 @ 2:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I was going to say "A Libertarian" but I read that insightful post from cattress and changed my mind. It's the extremists that make them look bad, they're not all like that.

          I do believe there's a free market case for universal, tax-funded healthcare, i.e. that it's a utility, a basic necessity that benefits all of us whether we directly access it or not. As one insightful commenter at TD wrote, "We won't have a free market in healthcare till we can choose which diseases and accidents we have."

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 2:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Exactly, there can never be a free market in medicine because you can never fully control your own risk. Accidents happen, unexpected health issues happen, and when they happen you're not in a condition to shop around and check out competitors. Even if you manage your own risk, bad things happen all the time and most people cannot absorb the cost alone when they do.

            I tend to find that the "libertarian" approach tends to disappear the moment one of those people is personally affected, at which point they're all for other people helping to cover the treatment their insurance fails to pay for. Strange, that.

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

            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Dec 2017 @ 5:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yeah, I've noticed that. It's all about the principle till the wet fish of reality smacks them into the canal of "Oh, yeeeeaaaahhhh. Now I get it."

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

            • icon
              cattress (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 11:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              To be honest, I don't think healthcare could ever become a fully free market system because government has been intervening and thus distorting the system for too long. I think libertarians tend to forget the population demographics have changed over the past century; namely people are living much longer and we have a population of seniors to care for.
              But, is healthcare a right? Certainly it is a necessity for human survival, like food and shelter; and it's not okay in the minds of libertarians that people go without any of those things simply because they cannot afford it. Is healthcare a right in the same sense as one's freedom of conscience or to go about our lives without government intrusion, or to act in self defense? Not exactly. No one has the right to walk into a pharmacy and demand a cancer drug or asthma medication be handed over at no cost, no different than one could expect to walk out of the grocery store with a bag of free food, or get a free motel room for the night. Taking these things would be considered theft and trespass, right? You could walk into a hospital in an emergency and expect to get life saving care (which you will likely be billed for, but not necessarily) not because of a natural right or because the government says so; hospitals would provide care because doctors swore an oath for their profession and they are fundamentally good people. Libertarians rely on the goodness of others and spontaneous cooperation instead of government force, and it's not as naive as some might think (think Cajun Navy, crowdfunding success, and all the good or polite things you do not because it is the law, but because it's just who you are)
              We are usually quite compassionate people, we just disagree with others on the best way to help our neighbors. I was actually in favor of Obamacare, and I still feel it was an ambitious, though flawed, attempt to fix major problems. For now I think it's better to fix it than repeal it because repealing it does nothing to address the all the prior legislation that drove up the cost of healthcare. But I'm against medicare for all because I think the government has shown that it is irresponsible with our tax dollars, has zero understanding of how a budget actually works, will pay politics with spending- from how much eat state gets based on the party in power and the party of that state's reps, to what type of care it will or will not pay for (medical marijuana, birth control, methadone), priorities for who gets care and who waits. Just think about the VA- no thanks.
              We think it's better for people to create their own contracts with each other than for the government to dictate one size fits all rules. Net Neutrality is different because the ISP are government sanctioned monopolies which the rules are limiting the powers of (like the way the Constitution is supposed to limit federal government power) Consumers have few to no alternative ISP to negotiate a contract that fits their needs and therefore are powerless against ISP abuse.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 14 Dec 2017 @ 12:40am

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

                "To be honest, I don't think healthcare could ever become a fully free market system because government has been intervening and thus distorting the system for too long."

                People need to stop with the anti-government crap if they want to be taken seriously, and start addressing reality rather than their ideology.

                Healthcare can never become a fully free market system, because the consumer can never have control over consumption. When you are in desperate need of healthcare, you cannot forego it, and you cannot shop around or negotiate. That's the opposite of a free market system, by nature. Government HAS to be involved, because otherwise those who cannot pay suffer, become unable to participate in society and/or die. Insurance companies have shown themselves very willing to let people rot and die if they're not profitable enough. Sociopathic libertarians might find this acceptable (until they're personally at threat, of course), but normal human being do not.

                "Certainly it is a necessity for human survival, like food and shelter; and it's not okay in the minds of libertarians that people go without any of those things simply because they cannot afford it"

                If they need to have it for survival, then by definition it's a right. If even libertarians don't think they should go without, why are you arguing?

                "No one has the right to walk into a pharmacy and demand a cancer drug or asthma medication be handed over at no cost"

                ...and who is arguing that they should? The argument is that all other first world countries manage to get those paid for without handing everything over the private insurance companies, and the vendors very much get paid. So, why not the US? What makes you so uniquely bad at everything that you cannot possibly implement systems that are generally working across the rest of the planet?

                "Consumers have few to no alternative ISP to negotiate a contract that fits their needs and therefore are powerless against ISP abuse."

                Ditto healthcare. So, again, why are you arguing?

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

                • identicon
                  Wendy Cockcroft, 14 Dec 2017 @ 2:17am

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

                  Ah, cattress, this is where we disagree. As PaulT says,

                  **People need to stop with the anti-government crap if they want to be taken seriously, and start addressing reality rather than their ideology.**

                  Please go on a crowdfunding site and see who begs for money to pay for medical care — and doesn't get funded. Crowdfunding is a popularity contest: whoever begs most effectively gets funded while the others don't. I'd hate to have to rely on generous voluntary donations from people who play judge, jury, and by default, executioner, which is what the power to say no actually is in these cases.

                  Government intrusion is where they spy on your comms so they can find an excuse to put you in a private prison with a 98% occupation requirement. Healthcare is a service and is not forced on anyone. It's also a blind service: they're not allowed to pick and choose winners or losers the way the market would. That's what the market does.

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

                • icon
                  cattress (profile), 19 Dec 2017 @ 12:12am

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

                  I think you might have mistaken what I was saying as be adversarial or argumentative, and may have missed the points I was trying to make.
                  I see "rights" differently than "necessities". I am free to exercise my rights to the degree that it does not infringe on other's rights; it does not take any participation, whether voluntary or coerced, of any other persons to exercise my rights. For necessities, I can freely go about my business, as in working for income, to provide for my own needs in a series of voluntary transactions with grocers, landlords, and physicians. If I am unable to procure, as in afford, any of those necessities, I am at the mercy of the goodwill of others. I might find charity, I might sleep on the streets. If we have the "right" to have our necessities met, there would be no homelessness. Libertarians believe in voluntary efforts of good will and charity, as opposed to government programs- which are rife with corruption and cronyism. We also are against all of the laws and regulations that prevent people from taking care of themselves (like job licensing, home business regulations that make lemonade stands illegal) or prevent people from taking care of others (like local codes that fine people for feeding the homeless, or seize tiny homes given to the homeless). The government has not demonstrated moral superiority, that it acts with benevolence, or that is has any of the non-connected individuals best interest in mind.
                  When I talk about government intervention and distortion into the healthcare market, I'm not railing against Medicare and Medicaid- I'm on Medicaid. While the creation of these two programs did distort the pricing mechanism, the real problem was the government (at the urging of the AMA) placing arbitrary caps on the number of students allowed to enter residency programs and the number of medical licenses issued. The government increased demand while reducing the supply, driving up the price. And local governments have placed more artificial restriction on medical care by writing "certificate of need" laws that just like local ISP, hospitals use CON laws to prevent competing providers and hospitals from coming to town. And similar to the lack of competition in ISP in that there are laws that have been in place for a really long time, with thoroughly entrenched lobbyist that control politicians, there is no chance that cronies are going to relinquish power for the good of the people. We are actually lucky that Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter haven't succeeded with the same level of regulatory capture over the FCC that the drug companies have over the FDA- though they are getting closer. And it is because of this crony power and regulatory capture, which do not exist- at least not to the same extent- in other nations with fairly successful universal healthcare that I think precludes the possibility of replicating such a system in the US. (Also, as much as I don't want to give any kind of pass to insurance companies, the ACA actually put 10% and 15% caps on how much insurance companies could profit from premiums, the rest must be spent on care. Premiums and out of pocket costs aren't rising to make them rich, it's to pay the rising costs of healthcare).
                  I think the hostility towards capitalism comes from the pervasive cronyism that is falsely called capitalism. The problem isn't that businesses operate to turn a profit, the problem is when businesses use the government to control consumers and/or competitors. That's cronyism and it drives up costs, drives down quality and variety.
                  Also, before you call libertarians "sociopaths", you should look up the definition of sociopath, as well as the history of progressives. My belief system is based on freedom and inherent goodness of mankind. Progressives, well I don't think you will find words like freedom and inherent goodness. I think you will find some disturbing and disgusting motivations behind policies that progressives still stand for today; while those motives do not represent progressives of today, does a different motive change the outcome of the same idea? Good intentions pave the way to hell and all....

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

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 19 Dec 2017 @ 2:07am

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

                    First off, I don't like being a grammar Nazi, but if you used some kind of spacing and paragraphs here it would be a lot easier to see your points. It's very hard to read as is. But, to answer a couple of points I've noticed:

                    "For necessities, I can freely go about my business, as in working for income, to provide for my own needs in a series of voluntary transactions with grocers, landlords, and physicians. If I am unable to procure, as in afford, any of those necessities, I am at the mercy of the goodwill of others. I might find charity, I might sleep on the streets. If we have the "right" to have our necessities met, there would be no homelessness."

                    Well, first of all - exactly. The richest nation on Earth should not have a portion of its population living on the streets, and a much higher percentage living in poverty. It is absolutely disgusting that a handful of people can hoard so much of the wealth, while other people are unable to guarantee themselves a meal or shelter on any given day. When you have access to so many of the world's resources, you should be better than that. Sure, no nation's perfect in that regard, but a country that tells everyone how much better they are to live in should be setting a higher standard.

                    Charity's a fine, noble aim, but it doesn't work like that. Sometimes, people have to be coerced into looking after their fellow man. Even with charity, if you get the wrong kind of person administering it, the money doesn't reach those who need it. Even with religious motivations, things get redirected and rubbish like the prosperity gospel tell people not to bother with those who they believe are beneath them. People need nudging in the right direction, sadly.

                    So, since there's already systems in place to provide infrastructure and services for the population, why not use it to provide basic needs as well? You're right that the current systems are poorly managed and corrupt to some degree (and they cost far more than fully socialised systems), but that doesn't preclude from the concept. It just means your current implementation desperately needs to be fixed.

                    I don't see why this shouldn't still be in the remit of government. Healthcare is not a free market, and can never be one, for various reasons. It makes sense on numerous levels, even taxation, to provide for basic needs - if a person is in good health, they are more likely to be a productive taxpayer, if they have food and shelter they will be less likely to turn to crime, and so on.

                    There's no easy solution, but I can absolutely guarantee that "give them nothing and hope charity does something" is not a viable solution. Especially if you see the people who fall through the cracks as human beings rather than numbers.

                    "Also, before you call libertarians "sociopaths", you should look up the definition of sociopath"

                    There's numerous definitions of the term, but the one I generally believe is true is that of a person who lacks empathy with other human beings. If you place the profit of a corporation over and above the ability for a person to access food, shelter and healthcare, you fit that definition. Since libertarians will generally oppose government programs to provide these things, and are generally against taxes to pay for anything that might go to something other than their own personal needs, the definition fits.

                    My apologies if I have misinterpreted something, but in my mind the terms are apt. Bear in mind that I'm never saying "government should do everything" or "companies should not make a profit" or "companies should give everything away for free". Only that placing profit over basic human needs is an evil that should not exist in a reasonable society.

                    "as well as the history of progressive"

                    Define "progressives". The definition seems to change depending on which boogeyman the right wing gutter press want to pretend are the root of all evil this week. In fact, I never herd the term used until propaganda outlets successfully poisoned liberal and other terms, and they do seem rather successful at getting people to react to positive terms as some kind of negative epithet rather than addressing what people they apply that label to actually believe.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 6:35pm

    flagging orgies

    "As others (including OldMugWump) has mentioned, it is a bit of a deck chairs on the Titanic issue.<br /><br />The real problem is a lack of last mile competition. Your concerns entirely are focused on the idea that, if you only have one ISP choice, and that ISP decides to block something, then you have no access.<br /><br />So is the problem blocking, or is the real probably a lack of choice? Moreover, when you fast forward 10 years from now, will that lack of choice still be an issue?<br /><br />NN in it's own way cements in that lack of choice. It makes it so that the way ISPs can obtain maximum profits isn't to offer addtional or over the top services, but instead to bribe officials and launch lawsuits to keep others out of there territories, where they can charge monopoly rents for internet service.<br /><br />If you had choice (say 3 to 5 ISPs) blocking would not be an issue. Any ISP stupid enough to block anything would lose customers quickly.<br /><br />So the real problem is a lack of last mile competition. Limiting what the current ISPs can do (including their own music, video, and other services) in the name of a free market is to entirely miss the real problem and actually discourages innovation.<br /><br />Imagine if you put all of this effort into pushing to have one touch make ready mandated nationwide. Imagine if local governments were mandated to install fiber in every home, and offer shared switch locations for all ISPs to operate from, giving those consumers a near endless choice of services?<br /><br />Innovation is never found in restrictive regulations"

    I'm trying to understand why the above comment was judged to be "abusive/trolling/spam" and therefore removed from the page, or even that it might have been judged as being an unwelcome minority viewpoint.

    Is Techdirt set up, as several prominent mega-sites are reputed, to automatically take punitive action anytime a post gets mass-flagged?

    It just seems that more and more here on Techdirt, people here might be 'gaming the system' to show their disapproval and spite to an unpopular but well-reasoned opinion that no (human) moderator would ever judge as unfit to print.

    It's almost as if the comment flagging system is simply broken, when commercial spam that I've reported has remained up while valid comments get removed (but can still be seen in the page code) at an alarming rate.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 9:44pm

      Re: flagging orgies

      I believe it was flagged because of who posted it and that individuals years-long reputation as a troll.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2017 @ 7:40pm

    "Crony Capitalism"

    You say that like there's something wrong with it.

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

  • icon
    Drew_Wilson (profile), 11 Dec 2017 @ 9:31pm

    Fun Argument

    One of the arguments for repealing network neutrality I've heard is that because Twitter took down hate comments, they cannot speak about network neutrality because they are hypocrites on the subject. It's as if to say that taking down comments that violate website policy is somehow the same as wiping out entire websites off the face of the Internet because an ISP thought they could increase their profits is somehow the same things. Not exactly the same issue as far as I'm concerned.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 1:15am

      Re: Fun Argument

      The people who are stupid enough to support their rights being taken away by removing NN are the same people who are stupid enough to believe that NN has to do with the content on websites.

      OK, that's slightly unfair, they're not all stupid, they've just been lied to by sources who will benefit from the removal of their freedoms, but if someone doesn't research a subject they're passionate about independently, they're pretty much the same as someone who is just dumb.

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

  • identicon
    KW England, 12 Dec 2017 @ 6:56am

    There is only one free thing in a free market

    We won't get anywhere in this country until people understand what is free about the free market. The only thing that is free is the freedom of the buyer and seller to find each other and strike a deal at a price they choose. Everything else has to be regulated: free roads, enforcement of contracts, anti-collusion, anti-trust, blocking of competitors, cartels, ... The list is endless.

    Without rules, the freedom of the market is lost. You can argue that government should stay out, but then you are responsible for describing to us what institution will make the rules for the market. There is no "free-market" as a singular thing. There are markets and then there are markets with rules that make them free in the sense I described above: buyers and sellers freedom to deal.

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 12 Dec 2017 @ 7:19am

      Re: There is only one free thing in a free market

      ^This. So much this! Pay attention, AnCaps.

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

    • icon
      JohnG (profile), 12 Dec 2017 @ 10:30am

      Re: There is only one free thing in a free market

      Everything else has to be regulated: free roads, enforcement of contracts, anti-collusion, anti-trust, blocking of competitors, cartels, ... The list is endless.

      Why do you assume some central authority must be the one to regulate those things?

      but then you are responsible for describing to us what institution will make the rules for the market.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kPyrq6SEL0

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:17am

        Re: Re: There is only one free thing in a free market

        "Why do you assume some central authority must be the one to regulate those things?"

        Because history have shown the mess it gets into when multiple competing players are left to their own devices?

        As for your YouTube video, do you wish to provide and details or context, or are you one of those sheep who can't speak for themselves so can only link to someone else telling them what to think? (No, I don't click random links if someone refuses to tell me what they contain).

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


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