Charter Claims NY Lawsuit Over Crappy Broadband Speeds Just An Evil, Netflix 'Cabal'

from the everybody's-to-blame-but-me dept

Early last year, Charter Spectrum was sued by New York State for selling broadband speeds the company knew it couldn't deliver. According to the original complaint (pdf), Charter routinely advertised broadband speeds executives knew weren't attainable -- while simultaneously refusing to upgrade their network to handle added consumer demand (a problem that only got worse in the wake of its merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks).

Buried in the suit were all manner of interesting allegations, including claims that Charter executives discussed via e-mail how they hoped to manipulate congestion to drive up costs for companies like Netflix (you'll recall this was part of the whole interconnection slowdowns Netflix and companies like Level3 complained about a few years ago). The suit also highlights how Charter gamed the results of a program the FCC has traditionally used to measure real-world broadband speeds using custom-firmware embedded routers in consumer volunteer homes.

Charter has since been trying to tap dance out of the suit by flinging pretty much every legal argument against the wall to see what sticks. Most recently, the company tried to claim that the FCC's recent net neutrality repeal contains language banning states from trying to protect consumers. And while that was certainly the hope of Ajit Pai's FCC, legal experts have argued that the agency's claims don't hold water. More specifically, when the FCC rolled back its Title II authority over ISPs, it also ironically dismantled its legal authority to tell states what to do.

Amusingly, Charter has now shifted its argument to the claim that the entire lawsuiit is somehow part of an unholy cabal orchestrated by Google and Netflix. You might recall that ISPs (and Ajit Pai) have long tried to claim that the entrenched telecom monopolies are innocent daisies, and that net neutrality is simply a conspiracy concocted by Google and Netflix to ruin AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter's livlihood. This narrative has been routinely driven by ISP policy folks despite the fact net neutrality is very much a bipartisan, grassroots consumer welfare issue.

New York State brought in Tim Wu, the Columbia Law Professor who coined the term "net neutrality," to consult on the case. And because Wu had at points talked to both Google and Netflix (who were concerned that Charter was abusing its last-mile monopoly to drive up costs), Charter hopes to use this "unclean hands defense" to try and scuttle the lawsuit by claiming it was a vast conspiracy against Charter:

"Charter's unclean-hands defense is that Plaintiff actively conspired with private parties through Tim Wu (a leading critic of ISP business practices) to investigate and sue Time Warner Cable Inc.," he wrote. "Thus, Plaintiff delegated what should have been an objective law enforcement investigation to third parties whose pecuniary and political interests are adverse to TWC's, and who had preconceived notions of how and why to penalize TWC."

The letter then goes on to talk about documents produced by the other side that allegedly show how Wu and third parties "manufacture[d] fraud claims" and how his "co-conspirators boasted of having orchestrated Mr. Wu's work."

The names of the individuals who allegedly were in cahoots with Wu include Google's Meredith Whittaker, who in a 2015 email to a colleague, discussed having gotten off the phone with Wu about the NY AG consumer protection complaint and how it would frame interconnection as a consumer harm issue."

Of course since interconnection was a consumer harm issue that's not really substantive or damaging. Charter, a company that routinely uses its own funded think tanks to pollute public discourse and erode accountability is also upset that Wu happened to (gasp) talk to a think tank partially funded by Google:

"Charter is taking the notion of a "cabal" seriously, also pointing to communications with several individuals at the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank."

Ironically, both Google and Netflix's interest in standing up for consumers on this subject has waned proportionally with their growing power over the years. Still, Netflix and Google had every right to be concerned about what Charter and other ISPs were up to, since they were effectively trying to use their last-mile broadband monopoly to unfairly jack up costs for consumers, content creators, and transit operators alike. That Wu corresponded with companies with legitimate anti-competitive concerns over what broadband monopolies are up to isn't likely to scuttle the case and has the faint whiff of desperation.

Charter's other legal efforts to derail the case haven't gone well so far, and it's unclear whether this latest gambit will work. But it's abundantly clear that Charter is particularly worried about the ramifications of this case, given they appear to have been caught on e-mail routinely lying to the public and regulators. As we've been noting, uncompetitive monopolies like Charter are working together to demolish FTC, FCC, and state authority over their businesses, and they're using every trick in the book to do so.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 6:17am

    I pretty sure there is a Google/Netflix cabal that is against Charter communications. Unfortunately for them the cabal is their customers who would like use Google and Netflix.

    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, 29 May 2018 @ 8:42am

      Re:

      So Techdirt ?
      You been corrupted also into Silence about the
      arrest of Tommy Robertson like the rest of the big media conglomerates ?
      Welcome to Big time ..................

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 8:49am

        Re: Re:

        You're right, it's all a conspiracy. There's can't possibly any reason why the exact global story you want to read isn't covered on a site that doesn't generally handle more than around 10 global stories a day and is not a primary news source. Certainly no reason why it isn't the story you think it is, if you look at all the facts.

        Though that level of logic thought and knowledge does handily represent Tommy's fanbase, from what I can see.

        /s possibly, but you really, really can never tell at the minute.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 9:44am

        Re: Re:

        Just so you know, there is a submit a story link. Also, I am not even sure why you would even think TechDirt would report on that. A shady reporter who did something illegal in the UK. And he has done other illegal things as well. Now he is going to jail because he broke the terms of his suspension. Sure it was a freedom of speech issue but they don't have that in the UK. I could see it being more of an uproar if he was in the US and this happened. But he probably would still be serving his 100 year prison sentence for mortgage fraud.

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

        • icon
          JMT (profile), 30 May 2018 @ 3:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Sure it was a freedom of speech issue but they don't have that in the UK."

          Um, yeah they do. It may be different to the US, but it's silly to say they just "don't have that".

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re:

        What is so special about the guy being arrested for violating standard court rules around filming court proceedings? Apparently after being given leniency and told to knock if off several times over several months. Sounds like a local issue I might have read on the guardian, but I don't see why its so big a US outlet would care. Its a pretty low-traction story outside of the locality it occurred.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 30 May 2018 @ 1:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "What is so special about the guy being arrested for violating standard court rules around filming court proceedings? "

          He was specifically trying to attack Muslims, which makes him a hero of the right-wing gutter press and the type of fool who believe what they read there...

          In reality, he was found in contempt of court and given a suspended sentence, and is now being told to serve time for violating that sentence. He's also previously been charged for violent football hooliganism, common assault, passport fraud and other things. He's simply been convicted of actual thing he did, no conspiracy required.

          But, he hates Muslims, which make him a poor innocent martyred hero for the weak of mind, and not a violent thug who happens to have struck a chord with similar knuckle draggers.

          "ts a pretty low-traction story outside of the locality it occurred."

          It's something to be aware of, but not necessarily on a tech-focussed site that occasionally covers stories regarding the law. Fun fact: these guys similarly complain when the site *does* cover non-tech and non-US stories.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:54pm

        Re: Re:

        You should start a blog to let everyone know about it or shut the fuck up.

        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, 29 May 2018 @ 6:25am

    Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

    I'm waiting for you Richard.

    Going to make another sad attempt at lying that I can disprove with some direct quotes and hard facts that you can't dispute, then run away and ignore everyone?

    Go ahead, try again Richard.

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

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 7:01am

      Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

      This isn't just troll-feeding; it's active troll-baiting.

      Respond to him when he shows up if you must, but this sort of comment just makes things worse.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 7:24am

        Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

        It's an experiment.

        I know if I don't comment, he will show up for sure. Recent history has proven this.

        But what if I call him out ahead of time? Will he still show up even though he knows someone is actively waiting to give him a beat down? Or will he not comment in the hope of throwing me off and catching me off guard on a future comment?

        So yes, it's active troll-baiting, but he will show up regardless of whether I reply to him before or after.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 7:28am

        Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

        Sometimes that windmill looms so large that one just has to poke it with a lance.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 7:42am

          Re: Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

          Potentially, but there is the immense satisfaction that comes from knowing that I have so infuriated an ISP shill (who has managed to get on a board of advisers to the FCC, seriously big bonus on stirring that pot) that he has mistakenly assumed me to be an author of articles here at TD and has basically lost his cool and his arguments have gotten easier and easier to disprove.

          So if he shows up, I get to infuriate him even more, showing him to be even more of a shill and potentially distracting him from actually doing a good job of shilling. (Not to mention directly countering all of his lies with hard facts) If he doesn't show up, then nobody has to listen to his idiotic lies. Either way, I win.

          And yes, if you're reading this Richard, congratulations, you've been playing right into my hand this whole time.

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

          • identicon
            I.T. Guy, 29 May 2018 @ 8:44am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

            Sorry to burst your little happy bubble but he could give 2 shits. I doubt you Infuriated anything as he is a troll and doesn't care either way about the topics at hand, just that he takes the argumentative perspective.


            Lastly, picking on the retarded kid just makes you look bad. :)

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 8:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

              Given his responses to me before finally declaring that he "doesn't engage with anonymous commenters" I'd say I REALLY infuriated him. ;)

              That and he's now using my tag line I always poke him with against Karl because he thinks Karl is me.

              The fact he thinks I'm Karl proves I at least got under his skin a little.

              He's not actually a troll in the traditional sense. He runs his own garbage blog that is nothing but lies and misleading statements that blatantly shills for ISPs. Add to that the fact that he is on the board of advisers to the FCC on broadband policy.

              He isn't trying to troll anyone (in the traditional sense), he either genuinely believes what he is saying or is being paid money to spout this stuff off in an attempt to discredit anyone who doesn't breathlessly support ISP shenanigans. When I post with hard facts directly contradicting him, he loses with egg on his face and I win.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 9:44am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

                AND you go on and on bragging and puffing yourself up! Really, pick a name and make an account, YOU are a prime 'dirter!

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 10:05am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

                  I brag because it annoys the shills and trolls, not because I actually think I'm hot stuff.

                  Ok, I have to know because this has been bugging me for a while, what is with the hate against anonymous commenters?

                  Why do some people start foaming at the mouth whenever an AC posts a comment and demand they create an account? I literally do not understand and it does not make me more inclined to create one.

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

                  • icon
                    That One Guy (profile), 30 May 2018 @ 12:24am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

                    Why do some people start foaming at the mouth whenever an AC posts a comment and demand they create an account? I literally do not understand and it does not make me more inclined to create one.

                    Given the tell it contained the comment you responded to was almost certainly from Blue, a raging hypocrite who happens to have an obsession with tracking comments by people(which requires them to have an account) to see if someone else is as obsessive as them about TD I guess.

                    Other than that afraid I don't recall offhand seeing any AC hate elsewhere. Various hallucinations about TD staff commenting as AC's yes, AC hate not so much.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 30 May 2018 @ 6:06am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

                      I've come across it a few times, not frequently but not rarely either. Usually the only ones I see ranting about it are posters like blue and Richard Bennett. Bennett seems to have developed a grudge against all ACs since he has declared he will no longer engage with them.

                      And usually it comes up once the thread is a few comments deep and they are getting pounded. So I figure it has to do with tracking or revenge or something but I just can't understand how that would help them at all either.

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

                      • icon
                        That One Guy (profile), 30 May 2018 @ 2:02pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

                        Ah, in that case my guess would be it's simply an attempt to discredit the AC handing out said pounding. If they can't refute what's being said then they attack the one saying it, in that case by trying to imply that no AC could possibly have something important to say.

                        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, 29 May 2018 @ 9:42am

            @ fanatic "AC" who probably IS a Techdirt administrator, based

            on evidence of persistent egregious stupidity and aggressive braggadocio:

            WHY, OH WHY, should "Richard Bennett" even bother commenting when YOU just showed 'dirters are fools, and that ad hom ranting is all anyone reasonable will ever get here?

            Netwit.

            [You know, I used to think that mention would reduce, but no one has ever reduced the sheer stupid baiting, in advance of any remarks, and other mention of those they deem "trolls", done by TD fanboys. The only conclusion possible -- from 9 years of watching in horror these drooling idiots -- is that TD and its fanboys want and need targets for ad hom.]

            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, 29 May 2018 @ 9:42am

              Re: @ fanatic "AC" who probably IS a Techdirt administrator, based

              2nd point: WHY, OH WHY, are these off-topic, ad hom, sheerly baiting comments not censored? -- I can answer that: because a Techdirt fanboy, their comments are NEVER censored.

              I'll use this as evidence in future. -- Just in case this nags the sneaks and causes it to be "hidden", as they euphemize censoring here at TD, it's NOT now at: 09:42 Pacific.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 9:52am

              Re: @ fanatic "AC" who probably IS a Techdirt administrator, based

              Hi Richard. :)

              Oooo braggadocio, I like it. That's my new word of the day.

              Regarding everything else, I called him a shill because all of his posts do nothing BUT shill for ISPs. He even blatantly lies in their favor. If that's not being a shill, then please explain what is.

              Also not an admin but keep thinking that, it makes me laugh.

              As for stupidity, please, do tell.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 7:22pm

                Re: Re: @ fanatic "AC" who probably IS a Techdirt administrator, based

                Funny as it might be, that's not Dick. out_of_the_blue, having realized that MyNameHere is not coming back, has now found a new boyfriend to fawn over.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 1:00pm

              Nitwit*

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 9:19am

        Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

        Says you. Frankly, I'm very interested in finishing this bucket of popcorn. Now if only Dick can detach himself from Ajit making a "Pai" in his oven...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 May 2018 @ 8:38am

      Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

      In the words of average_joe, "why was this truth censored"?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 May 2018 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re: Do ya feel lucky Bennett?

        Admittedly I was troll-baiting and I could see that being flag worthy, depending on your point of view. I'm not technically adding to the conversation of the article.

        Ironically though, this should be clearcut evidence to disprove all the troll claims that TD is "censoring" their comments. If they were right, then my post shouldn't have been hidden, yet it was.

        Also of note, Richard did not show up in the comments at all. Unless you count the one AC, though there is debate on whether it was blue or Richard. Interesting data for the future.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 7:02am

    I can only roll my eyes so hard before they fall out of my head.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 7:07am

    Professor who coined the term "net neutrality,"

    It used to be called "network neutrality" .... when did that ever change?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 8:28am

      Re: Professor who coined the term "net neutrality,"

      "Internetwork" has been abbreviated "internet" for at least 30 years, and "net" for "network" was common since the 1970s or earlier.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 7:58am

    Charter Claims its present and potential customers are just an Evil, Netflix 'Cabal'

    Film at eleven.

    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, 29 May 2018 @ 9:40am

    Oh, like Netflix DOESN'T use up major bandwidth!

    Buried in the suit were all manner of interesting allegations, including claims that Charter executives discussed via e-mail how they hoped to manipulate congestion to drive up costs for companies like Netflix

    Evidently New York State, the home base of liberals and corporatists (which used to be political opposites but are now merged into "neo-liberal" as here at TD!), just FLUNG IN every charge could imagine. YOU then smear: "Charter has since been trying to tap dance out of the suit by flinging pretty much every legal argument against the wall to see what sticks." -- Isn't that what you'd do in a lawsuit against "allegations", "claims"?

    "companies like Netflix" use MOST of the bandwidth and so SHOULD be charged proportionately. Wouldn't that actually be "neutral"? Direct ratio, rather than customers who check email subsidizing a giant corporation? HMM?

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

    • identicon
      bdcrazy, 29 May 2018 @ 10:14am

      Re: Oh, like Netflix DOESN'T use up major bandwidth!

      Netflix uses NO BANDWIDTH. Subscribers who request netflix streams do. You know, the ones who are paying charter for the ability to do this? Oh, but the subscribers don't want to pay more is not really a good excuse to go after netflix.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 10:52am

      Re: Oh, like Netflix DOESN'T use up major bandwidth!

      Not this nonsense again, p[lease take your bullshit down the hall - k?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 11:48am

      Re: Oh, like Netflix DOESN'T use up major bandwidth!

      As bdcrazy pointed out, Netflix doesn't use ANY bandwidth until the user requests a stream. In fact, most internet sites work the exact same way. It's not like radio or tv where they are constantly pumping out over the airwaves and users passively pick up the signals. It's actually the reverse, they are passively sitting there, not outputting anything until a user requests the data. Only then is a stream activated and bandwidth consumed.

      So what you're really saying is you want ISPs to be able to charge different rates to customers based on what type of content they use their connection for, thereby introducing paid fast and slow lanes for web content, locking down the internet behind high prices, all while lining their own greedy pockets with arbitrary and discriminatory pricing packages.

      No thanks. I pay for a dumb pipe and that's all it should ever be. As soon as it isn't, that's when the open internet dies.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 11:52am

      Re: Oh, like Netflix DOESN'T use up major bandwidth!

      ""companies like Netflix" use MOST of the bandwidth and so SHOULD be charged proportionately."

      They use bandwidth I paid for and asked them to deliver their content through. Your point?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Re: Oh, like Netflix DOESN'T use up major bandwidth!

        Also, they pay for the bandwidth and content delivery networks that delivered the streams to the ISP's at a fairly local level.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:59pm

      Re: Oh, like Netflix DOESN'T use up major bandwidth!

      You done fucked up. Best you man up and apologise for wasting everyone time and then piss off.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 10:18pm

      Re:

      You know, blue, there's honestly not shame in admitting that your best (read: only) method of fighting piracy is to fuck over all the customers that use legal services that they paid for. It's how you do things. CDs that ruin your computers, the RIAA calling up kindergartens to intimidate random children.

      Isn't that what you'd do in a lawsuit against "allegations", "claims"?

      Which you pissed and moaned about it when Techdirt was fighting off your hero Shiva. Sucks, don't it?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 May 2018 @ 1:10am

      Re: Oh, like Netflix DOESN'T use up major bandwidth!

      ""companies like Netflix" use MOST of the bandwidth and so SHOULD be charged proportionately"

      They are already charged proportionately, as are the customers who use their services. Both sides are charged according agreed limits to their respective ISP contracts. Your heroes are just trying to get the bandwidth paid for a 3rd time, along with demanding extra payment to export money from businesses who wish to compete with their own internal services.

      It's funny isn't it, how people like you to try and use words like "fair" to describe blackmail and extortion?, and how you desperately try to change the definition of neutrality to pretend you're not on the side of the con artists.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 12:14pm

    Entertaining

    AND this is the First salvo..

    If this goes one way or another..It will influence Every case in every state from here.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 12:18pm

    'Look, a distraction!'

    I find it telling that they seem to have completely abandoned defending what they did and are instead trying to put all the focus on what the people going after them did(or at least what Charter claims they did).

    Almost as though they know that they are guilty of what they're being accused of, and therefore cannot defend their actions, and are trying to shift the focus away from them so they won't have to.

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

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 29 May 2018 @ 8:34pm

    In America, There Is No Such Thing As “Bipartisan”

    Republicans who aren’t cronies of Big Business are clearly just another loathsome lot of lily-livered liberals* in league with the Democrats.

    *Try saying that quickly.

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


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