Blackburn Doubles Down On A Decade Of Lies As She Pushes Fake Net Neutrality Law

from the disingenuous-dreck dept

So we've repeatedly noted how the FCC's assault on popular net neutrality protections sits on pretty shaky legal ground. The agency not only ignored the public in trashing the rules, it ignored the nation's startups, the people who built the internet, and any and all objective data. They also ignored the rampant comment fraud that occurred during the public comment period of the proceeding, a ham-fisted attempt by "somebody" to downplay the massive public opposition to the plan. For good measure the agency also blocked a law enforcement investigation into said fraud and even made up a DDOS attack.

ISP lawyers and lobbyists know their victory could be short lived if looming lawsuits are able to convince a court that the FCC rushed to pass an "arbitrary and capricious order" while disregarding the public and violating FCC procedure. That's why they've begun pushing hard for new net neutrality legislation they're claiming will put the debate to bed, but has one real purpose: to pass flimsy, loophole-filled rules now to prevent the FCC (or a future, less cash-compromised Congress) from passing tougher, better rules down the road.

Just days after Comcast began pushing harder for such legislation, the telecom industry's most loyal ally in the House, Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn, began pushing a law that perfectly mirrors everything Comcast asked for. Namely, it makes everything but the most ham-fisted abuses (like outright blocking of websites) legal, effectively codifying federal apathy on net neutrality into law. The law doesn't ban paid prioritization, zero rating, interconnection shenanigans, or any of the areas the modern net neutrality debate currently resides.

To push her fake Comcast and AT&T-written law, Blackburn keeps pushing violently misleading editorials like this one (warning: autoplay video), where she doubles down on a decade of net neutrality falsehoods pushed by the telecom sector. That includes all of your favorite AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast talking points on the subject, ranging from the false canard that the FCC's fairly modest rules destroyed sector investment, to the idea that the real villain here are Silicon Valley tech giants:

"The heavy-handed regulations imposed in 2015 have hurt innovation and decreased broadband investment, and only served to bolster the Big Tech special interests that pose a threat to online free speech."

Again: SEC filings, ISP earnings reports, and countless statements by nearly a dozen ISP CEOs contradicts the claim that the rules hurt broadband investment, but that doesn't stop Blackburn:

"With strong, permanent consumer protections and fewer burdensome federal regulations, internet service providers (ISPs) will again be able to innovate and invest. This will stand in stark contrast to the past two years, when network investment decreased by billions of dollars. We absolutely must reverse that trend, and we will do it with an approach that fits the new, and dynamic digital economy."

But again, the broadband industry is lobbying for changes that go well beyond just killing net neutrality. They're (quite successfully) convincing the government to simultaneously gut FTC, FCC and state authority over broadband providers almost entirely, creating a massive accountability vacuum for companies that were already some of the least ethical, and least competitive in America. But they're worried that none of this can happen if the courts overturn the FCC's recent vote to repeal the rules, which is where loyal foot soldiers like Blackburn come in.

Like Ajit Pai recently did, Blackburn goes out of her way to malign internet companies like Twitter, throwing a little red meat to a partisan base still upset by the platform's completely-unrelated efforts to rein in the nation's neo-nazi flare up. It's not the massive telecom duopolies with a decade of anti-competitive behavior to their names you should worry about, notes Blackburn, it's Twitter:

"These companies, with market caps that are two to four times that of service providers like Verizon or AT&T, go unregulated when it comes to neutrality – yet they spend millions advocating for heavy-handed regulations to be imposed on the ISPs that actually connect millions of Americans to the internet. This is not simply disingenuous, but it also has the potential to harm consumers."

While Silicon Valley giants have problems of their own (though it's worth clarifying that Google doesn't truly support net neutrality and hasn't for the better part of this decade), Blackburn once again ignores the fact that net neutrality is just a symptom of a lack of competition in broadband.

Users angry with Google (with some exceptions, like advertising) can simply switch to another search engine or e-mail platform. Users don't have to use Twitter. But most users only have access to one or two broadband ISPs, which is where this entire problem originates. Net neutrality violations are just a symptom of a lack of competition in broadband, a problem Blackburn has repeatedly made worse by supporting ISP-written state laws hamstringing competition. Blaming a problem she actively, repeatedly makes worse by pandering to AT&T and Comcast, then blaming Twitter for it is simply obnoxious.

Blackburn, whose blind fealty to giant ISPs helped land her a role as chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, proceeds to insist that anybody that tries to block her fake net neutrality law is the real enemy:

"You’ll know who the real bad actors are when they try to block or throttle this important legislative effort in 2018."

In reality, the "bad actors" are the ones supporting a ham-fisted repeal of incredibly popular rules that completely ignored the public interest. Blackburn won't be the last lawmaker to push such flimsy legislation. Expect a flurry of similar legislation proposals with tractor-trailer sized loopholes as ISP executives grow increasingly nervous that the looming FCC court battle may not go their way.


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  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 6:37am

    Well, she is right about one thing...

    ..."You’ll know who the real bad actors are when they try to block or throttle"

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:28am

      Re: Well, she is right about one thing...

      Like what Ajit Pai did with this whole FCC debacle (block legitimate participation and throttle meaningful auditing on shady stuff going on?
      )?

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

    • identicon
      Iggy, 16 Jan 2018 @ 9:28am

      Re: Well, she is right about one thing...

      Interesting choice of words. I've never heard of anyone "throttling" legislation. Maybe this is the veil coming off of newspeak where you take your opponents words and mirror it back?

      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, 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:12am

    TD on Social Media Giants:

    They're private companies, they CAN ban, demonetize, and restrict anyone they like. They DON'T NEED to be regulated by the government.

    TD on ISP Giants.

    They're private companies, they CAN'T throttle and blacklist anyone they like. They NEED to be regulated by the government.

    This kind of hypocrisy is the reason why TD is quickly becoming irrelevant.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:17am

      I have an important question for you.

      How is Twitter the same thing as an ISP?

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:19am

      Re:

      There's a farmer looking for his scarecrow, can you give it back, please?

      You can choose from a range of social media companies, e.g. Gab. In many places there is no choice between ISP providers.

      Besides, the social media giants are already regulated by government as detailed in a range of posts right here on TD.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:22am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 16th, 2018 @ 7:12am

      Apparently the article is tl;dr.

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

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:23am

      Re:

      News flash, there's competition among private Internet companies. There's not competition among the ISP industry.

      Also read up on the DMCA and other Internet laws, private social media giants DO have to remove certain content to obey laws.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:27am

      Re:

      So you will have no complaints if your electric, water and phone companies deny you any service then?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 2:39pm

        Re: Re:

        Hey, you can just switch to another water line and another electric cable! Free market ruuulezes. Just because they say it belongs to the neighbor is no reason to jail me... That is real freedom, freedom of responsibility!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:54am

      Re:

      "TD on Social Media Giants:

      They're private companies, they CAN ban, demonetize, and restrict anyone they like. They DON'T NEED to be regulated by the government."

      I'd be interested to see an example of an article where TechDirt says what you claim they say. Because having actually read their discussions on various social media outlets, I can tell you that this is a gross misrepresentation and oversimplification of TechDirt's reporting.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:01am

        Re: Re:

        It's the usual game of misrepresentation. At a guess, he's referring to the oft-stated fact that the First Amendment doesn't apply to private platforms policing their own platforms. Which is both true and absolutely nothing like what he is claiming was said.

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

      • identicon
        NotAMoronLikeYou, 17 Jan 2018 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re:

        Do you even understand net neutrality or are you just a telecom shill?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:57am

      Re:

      Again, look at the difference between utilities and platforms. Repeating the same fallacies won't gain you any traction. You might be shocked at how much you're talking out of your arse.

      Well, probably not since lying about what other people say on this site is SOP for the ACs, but I can dream of intellectual honesty, can't I?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:58am

      Re:

      Oh, and if this site is so irrelevant, why are you so obsessed with it?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:01am

      Re:

      Techdirt has apparently been irrelevant since Limewire, since SOPA, since Megaupload, since Prenda... and yet you chucklefuck trolls keep coming back for more. Even the ones who admit to hating the site with every fiber of your being.

      If Techdirt was as irrelevant as you so fervently believe why the hell do you bother?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:02am

      Re:

      This kind of hypocrisy is the reason why TD is quickly becoming irrelevant.

      And yet, here you are.

      Again.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 10:59am

      Re:

      It’s just you and 27 Bangladeshis here.

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

  • icon
    HegemonicDistortion (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:23am

    Marsha has overplayed her hand this time, though. She's running for Corker's Senate seat against a popular Democrat who was two-term governor and mayor of Nashville.

    The net neutrality and ISP privacy regs negations make her look worse (that she's a near-Palinesque moron already makes her look bad). People in TN are particularly angry about their internet and cable bill (and all manner of Blackburn style Internet f*ckery), seeing Chattanooga's amazing municipal broadband deployment; Nashvillians are doubly so, given the way AT&T and Comcast have stymied Google Fiber.

    There's always a chance for a double-digit IQ conservative candidate in this state, but she will be in for a hell of a fight and may well lose. No doubt Comcast has a chair all warmed up for her.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:41am

      Re:

      It sounds like her opponent can run ads pointing out her stance on internet related stuff and win in a landslide. She has licked the corporate boot once too many times and now has to answer for why her tongue is stained as black as her soul.

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

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:38am

    Another counter to ISP talking points...

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

  • identicon
    Iggy, 16 Jan 2018 @ 7:43am

    Identifying the bad actors

    The bad actors: 75% of Republicans, 86% of Democrats, and 99% of anyone with anything to say on the subject

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:06am

    "..heavy-handed regulations imposed in 2015..pose a threat to online free speech"

    Marsha Blackburn you are a douche. You should have demanded more for your corporate loyalty because hopefully you wont be returning as a rep.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:22am

    Truth in advertising

    Someone needs to put up a sign with her taking money from AT&T and Comcast while kneeling at their feet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:28am

    The grifters do not even try to hide it anymore, they gleefully parade their greed and stupidity in front of all proclaiming their greatness.

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:29am

    Something stinks here

    "...the FCC rushed to pass an "arbitrary and capricious order"..."

    I read this as arbitrary and capricious odor, rather than order, three times before I got it.

    Well maybe both are right.

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

    • icon
      An Onymous Coward (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 8:58am

      Re: Something stinks here

      "Rushed" clearly means "worked with the ISP, legal and public communities for several years to craft a fair but underpowered set of rules and recommendations as a first step".

      Any odor present is Marsha herself. Someone should pull the flush handle.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 9:34am

      Re: Something stinks here

      Thanks for the laugh!

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Slaughter The Left, 16 Jan 2018 @ 9:03am

    Considering the radio silence here from you libtard morons on the Twitter/Facebook/Google etc censoring of conservatives, I see no reason at all why every point you cited above is not complete and total bullshit. Hypocrisy much?

    So I would express my full support for Rep. Blackburn, on the grounds that anything opposed by double-standard promoting leftists is most likely in fact a good thing.

    Of course, censoring anyone on the political right is no doubt fine by everyone here, which is yet another reason for why my hatred of everyone on the left lke you is infinity, cubed. As you sow, so shall ye reap. RIP Silicon Valley.

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

    • icon
      CrushU (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 9:09am

      Re:

      And this is why we can't have nice things. :(

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 9:16am

      Re:

      I'll assume that you're just playing a dumb joke, because nobody can be that stupid and capable of typing coherent sentences. Stop it, you're really not helping.

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

    • icon
      OA (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 9:35am

      Re:

      Your username is offensive and "flag for abuse" worthy.

      ...libtard morons...

      Do you care to have your comment taken seriously, or is this just pure malice?

      ...Twitter/Facebook/Google etc censoring of conservatives...

      I'm not familiar, but are you saying that these platforms used "conservative" users (not even comments, but users) as the sole criteria for removing comments? If not, what criteria was used?

      ...<seething>...

      There are way too many people, it seems, who are actively AT WAR with something or other. Every objection results in 'war responses' like a sponge soaked in violent thinking in all its forms.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 10:05am

      Re:

      So then, by your logic, if leftists started opposing abortion, gun control, and gay marriage, you would support them because they must be good if those "double-standard promoting leftists" oppose them.

      As someone who has typically voted Republican (save for this last election), you don't get it. Simply supporting something because someone else opposes it is moronic. Learn about the issue and form your own opinions based on facts, not whether someone else does or doesn't support it.

      The rest of your post is obviously totally clueless about everything TD writes about.

      Finally, I don't hate you, I doubt even the people replying to your comment hate you, regardless of how strongly they disagree with you. Hate breeds more hate, not understanding and cooperation. I suggest you lose the hate, it helps nothing. If you really think people like those here at TD are wrong, present your facts and logic to support why politely. Insulting people and spreading hate is 100% guaranteed to ensure no one listens to a word you say.

      Ironically enough, a few years ago that is what the right accused the left of, spewing nothing but hate and supporting something just because the right opposes it. Shoe on the other foot?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 11:00am

      Re:

      You done fucked up again scooter. Next time try keeping it in the family like you’re supposed too.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 11:05am

      Re:

      anything opposed by double-standard promoting leftists is most likely in fact a good thing

      “Why do you oppose Net Neutrality?”

      “To own the libs.”

      “…that’s it?”

      “Ain’t that enough?”

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      Of course, censoring anyone on the political right is no doubt fine by everyone here

      Exactly! Because you guys tend to be stupid as all fuck.

      If this response bothers you, then you might want to reconsider including the phrase libtard morons in your first sentence next time, shitbag.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 1:21pm

        Re: Re:

        "Exactly! Because you guys tend to be stupid as all fuck."

        Not all of them. But, it is telling when people are censoring racists, misogynists, anti-semites, *actual Nazis*, and people like this identify more with them than the people doing the censoring. Not to say that censorship is actually correct, but if the argument is "I stand with the Nazis" rather than "censorship is wrong no matter where you are on the political spectrum", one has made their statement...

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

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Jan 2018 @ 2:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You've got to love how the sweet little darlings on the alt-right are calling actual Nazis "conservatives." Don't let them get away with it.

          The worst part of it is that they call everyone who doesn't toe their party line "leftists."

          The only way to win the partisan politics game is to call out crap like this when you see it.

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

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 11:50am

      Re:

      "So I would express my full support for Rep. Blackburn, on the grounds that anything opposed by double-standard promoting leftists is most likely in fact a good thing."

      In other words you're just too damn stupid to consider the facts for yourself and come up with an opinion on your own, so you'll blindly follow a bought-and-paid-for politician who is actively working against your best interests. Of do you actually want your internet service to be even slower and more expensive? Is that some weird new conservative life goal?

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 16 Jan 2018 @ 12:05pm

      Re:

      In other words, you can't actually produce any argument against what the article said, so you're going to rant that Techdirt isn't covering whatever James O'Keefe's latest selectively-edited video told you to be angry about this morning.

      I'm having trouble keeping track; is this the one where he wears a pimp suit, or the one where the lady gets found out thirty seconds in because she posted about her undercover sting operation on social media?

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

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 9:46am

    Marsha never lets anything she gets from AT&T, Comcast, or Verizon dribble down her chin. It all goes to feed her insatiable desire to f**k over everyone else.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 10:24am

    Even if broadband investment had decreased at all, it would have only been the ISPs "taking their ball and going home". They are 20 years behind in their investment anyway, and just pocket all the subsidies.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 11:55am

    Infrastructure has been laid..

    A large old candy store has gotten bought out..
    It has allot of older equipment and is a very sturdy building.
    Everything works to Start making candy.

    The TV/CABLE/SAT/PHONE/CELL system is the same way.
    ITS ALL pre-built.
    Lots of Old telephone poles, Underground installations, remote Towers..
    WHY fix it, while its making money?
    Why upgrade it? Why make it better?
    They dont have to do anything except TAKE the money.

    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, 16 Jan 2018 @ 1:04pm

    would you guys like some cheese with all that whine?

    I told you this was coming, but didn't believe me. And even sitting here with an "I told you so" you are still not going to listen, making you deserving of this trouble.

    The tools you build today to protect yourselves through regulation becomes the weapons your political opponents will bludgeon you with tomorrow!

    No wonder you folks are so full of piss and vinegar, I would be pissed off too if I was attacked with a weapon I helped create.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 1:14pm

      Re:

      I'm still yet to have your explanation as to why this is such a uniquely American problem, and how the effective regulation you claim is impossible is a reality in many other nations. Somehow, the fact that people on a web forum are pointing reality out to you isn't the main cause, but you'll mock the people trying to prevent the descent you cheer on.

      But, you're the dickhead who thinks I somehow deserve Pai's nomination despite being thousands of miles away in a country with opposing rules and regulations that work, so you're not that sharp.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 1:40pm

      Re:

      It looks like you might find out what lack of regulation of ISPs is actually like. Just don't try to use the remnants of the Internet to correct the result, as they won't let you use it to criticize their service.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2018 @ 2:06pm

      Re:

      You mean those tools such as a 'government that can pass laws'? Because what's going on with the FCC NN rules couldn't possibly happen if Congress passed a law. Oh wait, it IS!

      What do you think the law Blackburn is trying to push through is? And what do you think will happen come the next election when Democrats once again have a majority in Congress? They'll repeal it! Just like what Trump is doing with the ACA.

      It doesn't matter if the rules were passed by the FCC or Congress. Republican politicians are sold out to big ISP's and will oppose them no matter where they get passed.

      Given that, I'd rather have it done by the FCC where it's at least possible we'll get tech savvy people in charge to make sensible regulations, and there are protections in place to prevent them from arbitrarily changing the rules willy nilly every time the administration changes. If Congress passes a law and votes to repeal it to years later, there is nothing to stop them.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Jan 2018 @ 3:52pm

    "and decreased broadband investment"

    Really? Didn't you shovel through a law that kept underserved areas from making their own? Didn't we give them a bunch of money to hook up these underserved areas that are still underserved?

    Maybe it wasn't the mean ole FCC laws that kept them from investing, but the simple fact they don't have to compete & you ensured that there would still be no competition, screwing residents of your state who wanted better.

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


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