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AT&T Keeps Pretending It Wants Real Net Neutrality And Privacy Laws. It Doesn't.

from the head-fake dept

You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger enemy of consumer safeguards than the fine folks at AT&T. The company has a history of all manner of anti-competitive behavior, from making its bills harder to understand to help scammers rip off its customers, to routinely ripping off programs designed to help everyone from the hearing impaired to the poor. AT&T also, of course, played a starring role in killing both the FCC's 2010 and 2015 net neutrality rules, and pretty much all meaningful state and federal efforts to protect broadband and wireless user privacy as it builds a creepy new ad empire.

Yet like clockwork, company executives like to pretend that despite this, they really love net neutrality, privacy, and healthy regulatory oversight. Case in point: with the courts refusing to hear an appeal of the FCC's hugely unpopular net neutrality repeal, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson again piped up to insist his company really supports a federal net neutrality law:

This has been Stephenson's shtick for a while now. His company will lobby relentlessly to crush any state or federal rules governing his company, after which he'll insist it's time for new... uh... federal rules. It's something he's repeatedly parroted to an entirely unskeptical press for a few years now:

"AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson joked Monday that Washington may not agree “on the freezing temperature of water,” but he called on a divided Congress to come together pass net neutrality and privacy legislation. The executive called for legislative clarity around the issue of broadband Internet access, saying certain basic principles should be codified into law."

Most of the proxy organizations AT&T finances can also routinely be found making the same claim in various op-eds around the internet:

"Now is the right time to compromise on a bipartisan bill that guarantees no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization – the core net neutrality principles. Bipartisan rules are how we arrived at the beloved internet of our time. The ecosystem flourished under the same light-touch rules during both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Rather than attempting to resuscitate failed policy pushes, what the American people need is a genuine effort to move the ball forward.

But tough federal net neutrality rules is not what AT&T is pushing for here. AT&T had every opportunity to support tough federal and state rules, and instead has tried to undermine such efforts at every conceivable opportunity. What AT&T and its numerous proxy supporters are actually pushing for is flimsy net neutrality and privacy laws that the company's lawyers write. Laws so filled with loopholes that they're effectively useless when it comes to reining in AT&T's worst impulses, but are designed to do one real thing: pre-empt tougher, better, consensus driven state and federal solutions.

What AT&T wants is little to no meaningful oversight of its historically predatory business behaviors. What AT&T wants is a bogus law that gives the illusion of putting these hot button issues of the day (net neutrality, privacy) to bed, but in reality green lights and legalizes all of the company's worst impulses.

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Filed Under: congress, fcc, net neutrality, privacy
Companies: at&t


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  • identicon
    Iggy, 12 Feb 2020 @ 7:20am

    Infuriating to see corporations use this manipulative language to convince people they want free markets when they really want corporate welfare and protectionism.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 7:45am

      Re:

      Everybody hates capitalism, the actual successful capitalists most of all! There's nothing they'd like better than to pull up the ladder of success behind them... or just burn it altogether.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 7:53am

    Simple reasons for this happening

    At&T allows the US government to place physical taps into the backbone of their lines, copying literally every byte of data that goes through it. In return, the government allows AT&T to lie to consumers, overcharge them and then sell their personal habit data to anyone and everyone, with no real punishment. They shield this evil corporation and the American people suffer. This is what happens when the government is more afraid of you, then it is of the consequences of enforcing the laws.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 12 Feb 2020 @ 8:08am

    Fill in the blank

    AT&T keeps pretending ____.

    All for appearances. Love regulatory capture.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 8:45am

    Laws so filled with loopholes that ... are designed to do one real thing: pre-empt tougher, better, consensus driven state and federal solutions.

    I disagree. The laws are also designed to be barriers to entry to the telecommunications market. They're designed to be laws whose loopholes can only be used by entrenched companies while placing unnecessary burdens on new players.

    Unlike the repealed laws, which treat everyone equally.

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

  • icon
    rkhalloran (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:07am

    set rules under business-friendly Congress

    Deathstar-Prime would like to get a set of meaningless NN rules in place (see Blackburn's nonsense) before the election and a potential Democratic trifecta of POTUS/Senate/House push through something with actual teeth.

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:40am

    Most of the proxy organizations AT&T finances can also routinely be found making the same claim in various op-eds around the internet:

    Thanks to that link, I can add IIA to my growing list of "Disinformation-spreading astroturfers."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:01am

    he'll insist it's time for new... uh... federal rules

    No, not federal rules, but federal laws. Because we already had federal rules that were pretty damn clear, and he didn't like that. The only remaining difference with what's he's asking for now is whether it's promulgated by legislators or regulators.

    We also have some new and very clear state rules. What's AT&T's opinion of those?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 5:04pm

    I'd just like their unlimited 4G to actually deliver 720p videos in all areas where phones report 4G coverage. People say "5G" and I laugh and laugh. Sure, it probably will work near a few office parks and apartment complexes, but telecoms are irresponsible owners of their licenses. They by no means supply blanket coverage of the areas where they are licensed. What else is a scam? It seems everything is a fraud, these days.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 5:09pm

    I've got it, lads! Richard Bennett has a tracheal tube! I can't think of any other explanation of how he manages to gobble Ajit Pai's Reese's pieces without ever coming up for oxygen.

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

  • icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:20pm

    Every Bode post has a lie in it...

    Bode claims AT&T "played a starring role in killing both the FCC's 2010 and 2015 net neutrality rules." This is untrue, as anyone who follows this issue knows well. With the exception of Verizon, the entire broadband industry was OK with the 2010 Open Internet Order. Verizon opposed it because some of its people believed the use of Section 706 for authority to regulate broadband markets would have bad consequences down the road. All of these people were fired within a couple of years of the lawsuit.

    Nearly all of the broadband companies are in fact just fine with clean net neutrality regulations because they've never been in the business of selling fast lanes. The problem the industry had with the 2015 order was the use of Title II, a provision of law that permits the FCC to impose price controls. I keep hoping Bode with write a post that doesn't depend on alternative facts, but so far I've been disappointed.

    As to the NYC plan: it's little more than pie in the sky, an empty political plan with no money behind it. Cities with spotty broadband coverage generally restrict access to RoW in unreasonable ways, so opening it up would be good. The real enemies of the open Internet are Silicon Valley advertising-based businesses and government entities.

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

    • icon
      Richard Bennett (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Every Bode post has a lie in it...

      See Protocol for Bode's take on the NYC deal I mentioned; it doesn't allow comments.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2020 @ 2:51pm

      Re:

      Bode claims AT&T "played a starring role in killing both the FCC's 2010 and 2015 net neutrality rules." This is untrue, as anyone who follows this issue knows well.

      As much as I hate to agree with anything you say, this is correct. AT&T did support the 2010 rules but NOT the 2015 rules.

      Nearly all of the broadband companies are in fact just fine with clean net neutrality regulations

      [Citation very much needed.]

      because they've never been in the business of selling fast lanes

      That doesn't mean they don't want to.

      The problem the industry had with the 2015 order was the use of Title II, a provision of law that permits the FCC to impose price controls.

      Oh Richard, your laughable attempts to twist what Title II is are hilarious. Title II regulates "common carriers" and imposing price controls is only one piece of the different and assorted things in Title II. It's also a piece that the 2015 Order refused to enforce and was explicitly stated that it forebear.

      I keep hoping Bode with write a post that doesn't depend on alternative facts, but so far I've been disappointed.

      And we all keep hoping you'll stop being an industry paid shill and liar but so far we've been disappointed. And despite him getting the one fact wrong about AT&T killing the 2010 order, AT&T has shown a general disdain for real, actual net neutrality rules.

      As to the NYC plan

      Sorry, where did Karl mention this in the article? And how is it relevant?

      The real enemies of the open Internet are Silicon Valley advertising-based businesses

      Do tell exactly how Google (not counting GFiber) or Facebook, et. al could possibly dictate where you, as an individual do or do not go on the internet? Hm? Put another way, if you put www.starwars.com into your address bar, how can any of those "advertising-based businesses" stop your computer/browser from reaching that site and displaying it to you?

      Try again Richard.

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

      • icon
        Richard Bennett (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 3:43pm

        Re: Re:

        Do tell exactly how Google (not counting GFiber) or Facebook, et. al could possibly dictate where you, as an individual do or do not go on the internet? Hm? Put another way, if you put www.starwars.com into your address bar, how can any of those "advertising-based businesses" stop your computer/browser from reaching that site and displaying it to you?

        Not exactly the most insightful comment you're ever going to see on The Dirt. AC has apparently never heard of that DNS thing. Or that CDN thing. Or Cloudflare, the company that threatened to throttle Chairman Pai for doing his job.

        The Dirt has some funny readers; a case study in mental disorders.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2020 @ 8:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not exactly the most insightful comment you're ever going to see on The Dirt.

          We'll see.

          DNS:

          The first sentence of that article you link to destroys your entire argument of DNS being an issue. Namely, there are any number of DNS providers, of which Google is but one. The average internet user is probably not even using Google's DNS since they likely don't even know what DNS is and therefore just use the default DNS their ISP gives them. And as far as I know, Facebook doesn't have a public DNS for people to use. So if Google did decide to screw with their DNS lookups, it wouldn't affect a large portion of the internet base, and to route around the issue, all you have to do is make a ten second change to your DNS. Problem solved.

          CDN:

          CDNs (Content Delivery Network) are basically just cache servers around the world to make internet services more reliable and faster. It reduces the amount of requests and lookups that are made to the master server and provides faster latency because the geographical location is closer to the end user. They are not centrally controlled by any one company or organization. If one CDN goes down, the lookups just redirect to a different server in most cases, and unless the entire service goes down, no one is the wiser. If a CDN operator messes with that configuration, you bet your bottom dollar they are going to be hearing from a bunch of angry service providers and would likely go out of business due to the lawsuits. And again, there is no one CDN that has control over your access to the entire internet, so even if one screwed with lookups to their CDN, that is not likely to impact many people. Certainly not without it being publicly called out almost immediately.

          Cloudflare:
          Basically all the same arguments that apply to DNS and CDNs apply to Cloudflare. Cloudflare is also not the only game in town, so if they are ever found to be screwing with end user requests to the sites they serve, the backlash would swift, severe, and likely irrevocably damaging. And as stated, they aren't the only game in town so again, they could only affect a portion of the internet, namely only any site that has service with them.

          As for that Tweet you referenced, really? That's all you've got? He didn't even threaten to do it (so you lied, big surprise there). He said he had the capability to do that (which see reasons above why that wouldn't be 100% effective) and (if he wasn't joking, which let's be honest, he probably was) that he was checking to see if he could do it in a way that wouldn't violate the law. In other words, he was not about to break the law to do it. Straws man, straws.

          The Dirt has some funny readers; a case study in mental disorders.

          TD also has some sociopathic liars and industry shills who barely even understand the technology they claim to comment on.

          Try again Richard.

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

          • icon
            Richard Bennett (profile), 14 Feb 2020 @ 10:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You're moving the goalposts.

            The question is how Google and Facebook could redirect users to sites other than the ones they want to visit, not whether they do redirect or if there are ways to circumvent such redirection. The NN argument has always been about what could happen.

            I showed that Google has the power, as a DNS provider, to redirect the 15% of the global Internet that use its DNS if it wants. The market share argument is a red herring, because AT&T's share of the wireline ISP market in the US is about 15%, which is 0.3% of the global market. And changing DNS providers is subject to the whims of the browser now that DoH is a thing.

            Google can also redirect website visits through its Chrome browser, which controls 70% of the global browser market, most of which is way beyond AT&T's reach. Browsers are the first link in the chain from the search/address bar and the web.

            Similarly, Google can redirect website visits through its Android operating system, reaching 85% of the global market. Android stands between TCP/IP and the Internet.

            Most importantly, Google controls 90% of the global market for search, the actual gateway to the web. If you can't find a site in search, you're probably not going to want to visit it. And guess which sites come up first? The ones that paid Google for an ad in the top spot. Can people switch? Sure; but do they? Nope.

            So here we are worrying about the potential anti-consumer conduct of a company that has never redirected a single Internet user and which has 0.3% of the worldwide Internet market while giving a free pass to a genuinely dominant firm that has a documented history of abusive behavior. So even if we switch the discussion from what could happen to what does happen, there's no rational reason for beating up on ISPs while giving Google and Facebook a pass.

            Unless, that is, you have no understanding of technology, technology markets, policy, politics, and facts in general.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2020 @ 12:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You're moving the goalposts.

              Not really, you're just quibbling over semantics. See below.

              The question is how Google and Facebook could redirect users to sites other than the ones they want to visit, not whether they do redirect or if there are ways to circumvent such redirection.

              Yes and no. But you're taking my statements out of context of the thread.
              Let's back up.

              My comment was in reply to your assertion that the real enemies of NN are Silicon Valley companies, not ISPs. The implication there being that those Silicon Valley companies have more control over what users do and do not see and can or cannot access on the internet. In order for them to have said amount of control, they would have to be able to unilaterally control what websites all users can get to with near impunity. That doesn't even remotely describe the ability of any Silicon Valley company, even Google. The only ones with that level of control are ISPs. The only one moving goalposts here is you.

              The NN argument has always been about what could happen.

              Still sticking your head in the sand about all those times ISPs throttled or blocked torrents, Skype, Netflix, firefighters, etc... I see.

              I showed that Google has the power, as a DNS provider, to redirect the 15% of the global Internet that use its DNS if it wants.

              Which I showed is inconsequential to the fact that ISPs can redirect the traffic of ALL of their customer base and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Meanwhile, Google screwing with lookups to their DNS is a relatively minor inconvenience in comparison.

              The market share argument is a red herring, because AT&T's share of the wireline ISP market in the US is about 15%, which is 0.3% of the global market.

              Not when one company has vastly more control over your ability to do things online than the other. Again, people can route around Google. You can't route around your ISP if they decide to screw with your access.

              And changing DNS providers is subject to the whims of the browser now that DoH is a thing.

              No, it's not. Where do you even come up with this crap? Most browsers still default to whatever DNS your computer uses. CHROME is looking at doing some automatic stuff but it's still optional and you can turn it on and off as you choose.

              Google can also redirect website visits through its Chrome browser,

              And if your ISP decides to redirect that redirect, guess which one is trumped. And again, it's pretty trivial to switch browsers. ISPs, not so much.

              which controls 70% of the global browser market

              Weren't you just saying that the market share argument is a red-herring? Seems to me it's only a red-herring if it doesn't support your argument.

              Browsers are the first link in the chain from the search/address bar and the web.

              The first link, yes. But nowhere near the most powerful one. If I want to ping, say 8.8.8.8 from my computer, I don't even bother with a browser, but my ISP can redirect that wherever they feel like it, and I've got absolutely no say in the matter.

              Similarly, Google can redirect website visits through its Android operating system, reaching 85% of the global market.

              And so can Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc... You can buy a new phone, one that isn't Android (which, by the way, isn't completely controlled by Google so there are limits as to what they can do with it) for $1000 or less. It's massively more expensive and infinitely harder to switch your ISP when most people really only have one viable option.

              Android stands between TCP/IP and the Internet.

              Except when it doesn't. As is the case for anyone who uses an operating system OTHER than Android. And, once again, even Google wants you to go to www.xyz.com, if your ISP says "nope, not allowed", you're screwed.

              Most importantly, Google controls 90% of the global market for search, the actual gateway to the web.

              No, they have it. They don't control it. That 90% could turn to 0% in an instant if everyone woke up tomorrow morning and decided to never use google.com for search ever again and used Bing instead. Google.com is not a gateway to anything. It's a useful tool in finding what you want on the web but it doesn't prevent you from getting there if you know where you are going, and it's hardly the only search engine out there.

              If you can't find a site in search, you're probably not going to want to visit it.

              Really Richard? Really? That's not likely to make people not want to visit a particular site. Indeed, they may really, REALLY want to visit the IRS site to get updated tax information. Not finding it in a search engine isn't going to reduce that want, it's just going to make it harder to find and get to if they don't know the exact URL.

              And guess which sites come up first? The ones that paid Google for an ad in the top spot.

              That isn't even remotely true. Ads are not search results. This is also irrelevant because you wouldn't even be able to get to google.com if your ISP didn't want you to. Stop moving the goal posts.

              Can people switch? Sure; but do they? Nope.

              Actually, yes. I know several people who refuse to use Google search on principle. That said, the reason why most people don't is because Google is the best at returning the search results people WANT. If they stopped doing that, yeah, people would switch off Google in a heartbeat. Bing isn't nearly as good, but it's not terrible either. But again, nobody is getting to ANY search engine if your ISP says "no".

              So here we are worrying about the potential anti-consumer conduct of a company that has never redirected a single Internet user

              Except, you know, when they have or have blocked it outright. Redirects aren't the only ISPs can do to your traffic and I have not excluded that in my discussion. Funny you should focus on only that one thing.

              and which has 0.3% of the worldwide Internet market

              And somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% or 40% of US market share, depending on if you're looking at hardwire or mobile. And which is nearly impossible to switch to a different viable ISP if you are talking hardwire.

              while giving a free pass to a genuinely dominant firm

              No one's giving anyone a free pass. Google has their issues, no one is denying that. Controlling what someone can or cannot see or access on the internet isn't one of them. Nobody had their P2P file transfers blocked because of Google, nor did they block Skype, or downgrade the quality of a Netflix stream.

              that has a documented history of abusive behavior.

              When did they maliciously block or throttle anyone's entire internet access or usage? Please provide a link to reports of said occurrence.

              So even if we switch the discussion from what could happen to what does happen

              Google still is nowhere near as powerful as ISPs in that regard.

              there's no rational reason for beating up on ISPs

              I think there's a pretty rational reason for ISPs being pretty dang close to the bottom of ratings for industries in America.

              while giving Google and Facebook a pass.

              As stated, no one is giving them a free pass. We're just not blaming them for something that really doesn't make sense to blame them for.

              Unless, that is, you have no understanding of technology, technology markets, policy, politics, and facts in general.

              Says the guy who doesn't understand the difference between controlling the entirety of a user's internet access with almost zero recourse and a relatively minor inconvenience of having to switch browsers and maybe buy a new phone.

              Try again Richard.

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

              • icon
                Richard Bennett (profile), 14 Feb 2020 @ 1:41pm

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

                You made the claim that ISPs can do things to interfere with the user experience of the Internet that Google can't do. I've showed several things that Google can do that ISPs can't in search, browsers, applications, and operating systems. I've also shown that Google has the power to affect an audience three orders of magnitude larger than the audience of any one ISP. And many of the abuses you claim ISPs can commit are impossible on encrypted HTTPS and DoH streams.

                Rather than admitting that my claims are true, you resort to name-calling and goalpost shifting about the costs of switching to alternative service providers. This is quite rich given that the cost of switching from an Android phone to an iPhone is higher than switching from AT&T to Comcast or T-Mobile. TM will pay you to switch. Switching from a Mac to a PC is much more dear, yet people do it every day.

                But the key fact about ISP switching is that we all do it several times day: when we go to work, when we use our mobile devices, and when we connect in public spaces. Very, very few people are locked into one ISP all the time.

                Antitrust regulators are no longer impressed by the switching cost argument. Leaving Google search has severe consequences for users because the ability to provide search is governed in part by the number of users the search service has. Each user helps Google refine its algorithms by choosing which results they will follow and how much time they'll spend on them. Duck Duck Go can't overcome this advantage.

                The entire argument for NN is about what the service providers can do. Your mistaken suppositions about how users might react to these imaginary abuses don't conform to the observed behavior of real people interacting with genuinely biased services such as Google and Facebook.

                Bode needs to admit he made false claims in his post, and you should simply consider what I've shown you without trying to weasel your way out of your errors.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2020 @ 2:40pm

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

                  You made the claim that ISPs can do things to interfere with the user experience of the Internet that Google can't do.

                  Yes I did. Because they can.

                  I've showed several things that Google can do that ISPs can't in search, browsers, applications, and operating systems.

                  All of which is irrelevant because if your ISP blocks/redirects/throttles at the network level, there is precious little you can do about it. Not only that, but because the ISP controls the network level, they can affect ALL your traffic, not just web browsing but games, streaming, P2P, DNS, email, EVERYTHING. Google can only plausibly do that if you are using their OS. And that's only Google because they happen to own and distribute an OS that a large number of people use on their mobile device. That doesn't explain how Facebook, Twitter, and every other Silicon Valley company could do the same thing or how Google could possibly do that to Windows users using a browser other than Chrome.

                  You are being dishonest and blatantly moving the goal posts.

                  I've also shown that Google has the power to affect an audience three orders of magnitude larger than the audience of any one ISP.

                  See above. Literally irrelevant when every ISP has the power to control 100% of every user's internet experience should they so choose. And again, what you claim is only possible by Google. How do you pin that same argument on Twitter? Pinterest? Reddit?

                  And many of the abuses you claim ISPs can commit are impossible on encrypted HTTPS and DoH streams.

                  HTTPS and DoH streams still have to let your ISP know what IP address they are going to. If your ISP blocks the IP addresses or redirects traffic sent to those HTTPS and DoH DNS servers, you're still out of luck. Come on man, this isn't hard.

                  Rather than admitting that my claims are true

                  Because you are twisting facts and ignoring others just to support your narrative. Everything you have said, to date, is irrelevant because none of it matters when your ISP can control the entirety of your internet connection.

                  you resort to name-calling

                  Stop lying then and I'll stop calling you a liar.

                  and goalpost shifting about the costs of switching to alternative service providers.

                  That's not goal post shifting. That's been part of my argument since the beginning. That's literally a big part of why NN should apply to ISPs, because you generally don't have another viable option of ISPs. Everything else you generally do.

                  This is quite rich given that the cost of switching from an Android phone to an iPhone is higher than switching from AT&T to Comcast or T-Mobile.

                  Not if they don't provide service in your area it isn't. Which is generally the case for hardwire broadband, as mentioned previously and you conveniently ignore. And if AT&T, Verizon, Sprint-T-Mobile decide to block/throttle/redirect your mobile experience, what are you going to do then? There's a lot less mobile providers than there are of web services like search engines or social media platforms.

                  But the key fact about ISP switching is that we all do it several times day:

                  This should be good...

                  when we go to work, when we use our mobile devices, and when we connect in public spaces.

                  And we are off the rails! Nobody is referring to that and you know it. Nor is that even relevant to the conversation. Speaking of moving goal posts.

                  Antitrust regulators are no longer impressed by the switching cost argument.

                  And this is relevant why?

                  Leaving Google search has severe consequences for users

                  And yet people do it all the time. I don't see anyone suffering any kind of severe consequences.

                  because the ability to provide search is governed in part by the number of users the search service has.

                  And the other part is just better design. More users helps, but it's not the whole story. But again, so?

                  Each user helps Google refine its algorithms by choosing which results they will follow and how much time they'll spend on them.

                  Yes. That kind of holds true for ANY service. The more users and data you have, the better service you can provide. This is not something that violates any kind of antitrust laws or harms consumers.

                  Duck Duck Go can't overcome this advantage.

                  So what? If Google starts providing bad search results, then the users WILL switch and DDG WILL have more users to tweak their search algorithms on. But again, that's only part of the story. Google won the search engine wars almost as soon as they released, before they had hardly any users. They just have a better system.

                  The entire argument for NN is about what the service providers can do.

                  Yeah, which is control the entirety of your online experience if they want. None of the Silicon Valley companies you have mentioned can do that, save for the possible exception of Google because they happen to make an OS. But if you REALLY want to open up that door then we also have to talk about Microsoft Windows, Apple, and every single flavor of Linux out there. But even so, if an OS maker starts doing that, you can just switch to a different device/OS. Yes there is some cost and pain but you have a plethora of options for both, but after which you are once again free from interference. Most people only have one viable choice of ISP. Trying to switch from that is nearly insurmountable in comparison.

                  Your mistaken suppositions

                  Your opinion.

                  about how users might react to these imaginary abuses

                  Considering I'm basing them off ISP abuses that have already happened and how users reacted to them, I'd say you're the one who is a little off base here.

                  don't conform to the observed behavior of real people interacting with genuinely biased services such as Google and Facebook.

                  Because the two are not the same thing. Doesn't matter how many ways you try to spin it, the fact of the matter is ISPs can control your entire internet experience. Google, Facebook, et. al can't even come close. And the pain and cost involved in trying to switch off an ISP that is screwing with your internet access is infinitely more painful and expensive.

                  Bode needs to admit he made false claims in his post

                  I agree and have stated such.

                  and you should simply consider what I've shown you without trying to weasel your way out of your errors.

                  I have. You have yet to overcome the obstacle that ISPs have the ability to completely control an end user's entire internet experience, regardless of OS, device, browser or search engine. Meanwhile, some of what you claim Google can do is ONLY possible for Google. To say nothing of other Silicon Valley companies.

                  There is an argument to be made for things Google and other Silicon Valley companies have done wrong and/or abused their power with. Being able to control and block/throttle/redirect an end user's entire internet connection, regardless of OS/device/browser is NOT one of them.

                  Try again Richard.

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

                  • icon
                    Richard Bennett (profile), 14 Feb 2020 @ 4:00pm

                    The concept of proof seems to escape this one...

                    Let's rewind to the first principle of argument. When you make a claim, you're obligated to provide evidence that your claim is true. Simply repeating the claim and asserting "it's true because I say so" doesn't cut it. Repeating the claim several times without evidence doesn't cut it. Saying the truth of the claim is "is irrelevant [because switching]" also doesn't cut it

                    The ISP's ultimate power is to cut you off. Short of that, any attempt by an ISP to redirect, modify, or shape your user experience is limited for several reasons:

                    • Every interference can be circumvented through various kinds of encryption, up to and including VPNs.

                    • Every interference can be circumvented through various alternate providers of DNS and other services.

                    • Any such attempt is limited by the fact that no ISP can operate without paying customers.

                    • Any such attempt is limited by the fact that our ultimate power is to refuse to use the Internet at home.

                    • Any such attempt is limited by truth-in-adversing statutes enforced by the FTC, the DOJ, and state laws.

                    The efficacy of these protections is proved by the fact that no ISP has ever redirected an Internet user to an alternate destination, an outcome you posit as realistic in the absence of Title II net neutrality.

                    I see that you're not technical enough to appreciate the information I've shared with you, so let me offer an analysis that you should be able to understand: if ISPs can do the things you're worried about, why haven't they? If this were a serious discussion, you would be able to cite specific examples, and such examples would be fairly widespread.

                    Free Press has tried to show examples of ISP misbehavior that includes Madison River and a number of things that either didn't happen or which had nothing to do with an ISP, such as Apple blocking certain dodgy apps from its app store or Netflix contracting with a transit provider that lacked the capacity to carry its traffic.

                    That's all I've got for you, so feel free to go on saying "this is true because I say so" a dozen or more times. So I'll just sit back and giggle.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2020 @ 4:01pm

                      Re:

                      When you make a claim, you're obligated to provide evidence that your claim is true.

                      I have. You have not. Not only that but I have debunked all your counter arguments with logical reasoning and hard facts. I don't see the issue here, other than that you're lying again.

                      Simply repeating the claim and asserting "it's true because I say so" doesn't cut it

                      Which I have not done, as is plainly evident in the comments I have made.

                      Repeating the claim several times without evidence doesn't cut it.

                      I have repeated the claim several times because you either A) still don't understand it, or B) are being deliberately obtuse and lying about it. And again, I have provided much evidence to back up said claim. Including a rather basic explanation of how computers, networking and internet access work that really should not be necessary to someone who claims to have "helped create various networking technology standards".

                      Saying the truth of the claim is "is irrelevant [because switching]" also doesn't cut it

                      Well actually it does. When it is trivially easy to switch to a different browser or search engine, then your arguments kind of fall apart. This also ignores that Google is the only one of these companies that you are complaining about that actually makes a browser or search engine, so trying to apply the rules and logic to all the others is just ridiculous.

                      The ISP's ultimate power is to cut you off.

                      And manipulate your traffic pretty much however they want.

                      Short of that, any attempt by an ISP to redirect, modify, or shape your user experience is limited for several reasons:

                      I'm going to enjoy poking holes in all these.

                      Every interference can be circumvented through various kinds of encryption, up to and including VPNs.

                      Only to a point. If they block the VPN connection points, well, you're still screwed. And yes, they can do that. I run my internet through a VPN and one day I could get absolutely nowhere for no apparent reason. A multi-hour phone call to my ISP and I finally discovered that they redirected ALL my web traffic, including my VPN connection, to a TOS agreement page. Nevermind the fact that I had already accepted their TOS when I signed up for service years ago. I'm also a network administrator for the company I work for. We block all VPN traffic, sites, clients, and connections except for the VPN we have specifically configured for our remote workers. Before you try supporting your argument with blatant lies, it might be best not to do it when the person you are lying to has extensive knowledge and experience with that exact subject.

                      Every interference can be circumvented through various alternate providers of DNS and other services.

                      No, it can't, for the same reasons as why a VPN is not a sure fire circumvention method. If they block all your requests to other DNS servers, well, you're screwed. And yes, this is possible. I do this at home and at work for web filtering purposes. You can't hit any DNS server other than the one I've designated. Any DNS requests get automatically re-routed to my internal DNS server, which then filters the requests and blocks requests to certain sites. It's like you have no idea what you're talking about.

                      Any such attempt is limited by the fact that no ISP can operate without paying customers.

                      And if you are the only viable ISP in town, you can do pretty much whatever you want without fear of losing too many customers. This is one of the main reasons why antitrust laws exist.

                      Any such attempt is limited by the fact that our ultimate power is to refuse to use the Internet at home.

                      Oh yes, the one place where everyone really needs and wants to use it. Many people, including myself, are required to have internet access at home for their jobs. It's also not feasible for many people to use public internet access for everything they need. Nor is it a good idea since public internet access points have notoriously bad security.

                      Any such attempt is limited by truth-in-adversing statutes enforced by the FTC, the DOJ, and state laws.

                      And if your ISP says it's going to block/throttle/redirect your traffic, then what? They are telling the truth and there are no laws or rules that say they can't do that. Thanks to you and Pai.

                      The efficacy of these protections is proved by the fact that no ISP has ever redirected an Internet user to an alternate destination

                      Except when they have. A quick google search for "isp redirect" suggests that you are once again lying.

                      an outcome you posit as realistic in the absence of Title II net neutrality.

                      I mean, it's happened, there are plenty of instances and examples out there of it happening. That's kind of why people want NN rules, not just because of what ISPs might do, but also because of what they HAVE ALREADY done.

                      I see that you're not technical enough to appreciate the information I've shared with you,

                      Nice try, but no cigar. This coming from the guy who claims that merely switching your DNS is enough to route around traffic rules of a company who controls whether you can actually hit any other DNS server other than their own.

                      so let me offer an analysis that you should be able to understand: if ISPs can do the things you're worried about, why haven't they?

                      Better question, why do you continue to insist they haven't when there is readily available examples of them actually doing said things?

                      If this were a serious discussion, you would be able to cite specific examples,

                      I already have. The fact that you chose to ignore them is not my problem. In fact, you didn't even address them when I brought them up.

                      and such examples would be fairly widespread.

                      Something bad doesn't have to be widespread to prove its existence or show that it's a problem that should be dealt with. As an analogy, murder is not widespread. That doesn't mean we don't have laws against it.

                      examples of ISP misbehavior that includes Madison River

                      Um, thanks for proving my point?

                      and a number of things that either didn't happen

                      Kind of hard to claim that when MR paid out a $15,000 fine to the FCC for blocking VoIP calls.

                      or which had nothing to do with an ISP, such as Apple blocking certain dodgy apps from its app store

                      No, that doesn't, relevance?

                      or Netflix contracting with a transit provider that lacked the capacity to carry its traffic.

                      Are you saying Verizon and Comcast didn't have the capacity to carry Netflix traffic? Or are you saying that they deliberately didn't open the up capacity that was sitting unused? The lies just keep coming.

                      That's all I've got for you

                      And once again all you've got are nothing but twisted facts and lies. So nothing.

                      so feel free to go on saying "this is true because I say so" a dozen or more times.

                      It doesn't matter how many times you lie that that's what I've said it won't change the fact that I never said anything remotely like that and instead provided factual evidence as to exactly why I'm right, up to and including explaining to you how networking works.

                      So I'll just sit back and giggle.

                      Try again Richard.

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

  • identicon
    Jim Cicconi, 13 Feb 2020 @ 4:01pm

    This blog

    Karl, to say we sabotaged the 2010 net neutrality rule is completely false. we supported it. I was, in fact a Democratic witness in the Congressional hearing supporting the 2010 rule. Check out the YouTube videos of my testimony if you don't believe me. I realize you have a point of view here but it doesn't justify bulldozing facts. My company supports, and has always supported, the original net neutrality principles. We'd support writing them into law today. In fact, we feel they ought to apply not just to us but to the dominant tech platforms like Google as well. What we don't support is trying to shoehorn in other things net neutrality was never meant to cover. We're happy to have a dialogue on this. But it's hard to do that when you rearrange real facts to support a bias, esp when there's ample evidence online to refute what you say. With respect,
    Jim Cicconi
    Senior Executive Vice President, AT&T

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

    • icon
      Richard Bennett (profile), 13 Feb 2020 @ 7:50pm

      Re: This blog

      Here's the YouTube of the testimony Jim Cicconi and others gave on H. J. Res. 37 on March 9, 2011.

      The resolution was an attempt by Republicans to vacate the 2010 Open Internet Order using the Congressional Review Act. Cicconi urged the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology to reject the resolution in order to keep the OIO intact. As you can see, he characterized the OIO a reasonable compromise.

      Ultimately, the House did pass the resolution but it died in the Senate without a hearing.

      TechDirt should correct the article as it has been proved to make a false claim.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2020 @ 8:53am

        Re: Re:

        I'll agree that claim should be corrected.

        You pointing it out and screaming about after all the deliberately false claims and lies you've slapped on this site over the years is just pathetic. Pot, meet kettle.

        Try again Richard.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2020 @ 9:09am

      Re:

      I wasn't originally going to reply to your comment since I've already made a few comments on the incorrect statement, but I do want to address some statements in your comment.

      In fact, we feel they ought to apply not just to us but to the dominant tech platforms like Google as well.

      Why? With the exception of Google Fiber, the services that Google provides and the services that AT&T provides are completely and totally different (this goes for practically any other website/service on the internet as well). AT&T provides a connection to the internet as a whole. Google provides services to end users AFTER they connect to the internet. They are related only in a similar way that a door in a house allows you to be able to get into the house to make use of the toaster or microwave.

      If end users don't want to use Google's services they are free to. There are many other search engines, email providers, streaming sites, etc... people can switch to if they are that unhappy with Google. That's pretty hard to do for an internet connection when most people only have one viable option available to them.

      What we don't support is trying to shoehorn in other things net neutrality was never meant to cover.

      Such as? Could you please describe specifically what you think net neutrality is meant to cover and contrast that to what specifically is attempting to be "shoehorned" in?

      But it's hard to do that when you rearrange real facts to support a bias

      I'll agree with that, and Karl should absolutely correct the article on that point. That said, AT&T is not even close to above reproach on "rearranging real facts to support a bias".

      We're happy to have a dialogue on this.

      I look forward to your reply.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2020 @ 8:21am

    Much as I don't want to defend the US ISP monopolies here, this article stinks because you haven't offered any facts in support of your argument, Karl.
    I know you try and dazzle with a bewildering array of the same old links to the same old ancient Techdirt articles in every single story, but in this one, you haven't even bothered with that much.

    So much so that the resident ISP shill/bootlicker got his boss to come in and call you on your bullshit. That's a pretty hefty fuck-up, Karl.

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

  • icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 26 Feb 2020 @ 12:12pm

    Where's the correction?

    When is The Dirt going to admit that Brode's claim that AT&T "played a starring role in killing both the FCC's 2010 and 2015 net neutrality rules" is false?

    Anyone can make a mistake, especially when they're expressing opinions on issues they don't understand. But it's cowardly not to admit to errors and correct them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2020 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      So when can we expect you to post a correction to your own blog about all the things you were wrong about?

      Try again Richard.

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

      • icon
        Richard Bennett (profile), 27 Feb 2020 @ 7:38am

        Re: Re:

        You're welcome to leave comments on my blog regarding any information you believe to be incorrect. I give such criticism due weight and routinely correct any errors I may make.

        My point is that Techdirt would do well to uphold the high standards of journalistic integrity we practice at High Tech Forum.

        Is that too much to ask?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2020 @ 8:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I sincerely doubt you would give any of my comments the time of day. You certainly don't here.

          I note you still haven't corrected your post about the FCC comments going down after the John Oliver piece. This despite the fact that media widely reported the findings that Bray straight up lied and Pai was either complicit or incompetent and gullible enough to believe him. I shouldn't need to comment on your blog regarding something that is public knowledge and around a year old at this point.

          TD should absolutely correct this story, but your point is not to help TD maintain journalistic integrity. It is to try and smear a blog that happens to be better than yours by pointing out their occasional mistakes and hoping everyone will miss the gaping holes in logic and lies on yours. You claiming that your blog is somehow a higher standard of journalism is just laughable in the extreme.

          Try again Richard.

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

          • icon
            Richard Bennett (profile), 27 Feb 2020 @ 8:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            This is not the appropriate venue for discussing any issues you or anyone else may have regarding other blogs. My invitation stands to discuss HTF on HTF.

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

            • icon
              Richard Bennett (profile), 27 Feb 2020 @ 9:00am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I will note that HTF does not accept anonymous comments.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2020 @ 9:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It is totally an appropriate venue. You made a statement about TD's journalistic integrity in their comments section. I am merely replying and pointing out your hypocrisy with one specific example. Which, I note, you haven't denied.

              Try again Richard.

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

              • icon
                Richard Bennett (profile), 27 Feb 2020 @ 9:36am

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

                I stand by my statement, regardless of how many times you insist that I try again.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2020 @ 9:53am

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

                  Then you basically admit to blatantly ignoring facts.

                  Try again Richard.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:34am

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

                  Let's see... AT&T gave the FCC false broadband-coverage data.

                  Go ahead and stand by your statements, Dick, worked out so well for John Steele and Paul Hansmeier!

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


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