Broadband Industry Formally Tries, Once Again, To Kill Net Neutrality

from the when-at-first-you-don't-succeed,-cry-some-more dept

If at first you don't succeed, try to waste everybody's time in perpetuity. That's apparently the plan of the broadband industry, which has formally unveiled its latest attempt to kill U.S. net neutrality rules and the FCC's reclassification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Telecom Act. As leaks had suggested, multiple broadband providers and trade organizations have requested an en banc review from the full 9-member DC Circuit Court of Appeals in the hopes of overturning last June's massive FCC legal win.

Given the en banc request process limits the core argument to fifteen pages, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA, pdf), the American Cable Association (ACA), the CTIA—The Wireless Association (pdf), and the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom, pdf) all filed slightly different, predominately flimsy legal arguments. Cable providers argued the FCC didn't properly justify the need for new rules; wireless providers tried to argue the FCC can't technically apply such rules to wireless; the telcos tried to argue Congress never intended to give the FCC Title II authority over broadband.

All of these claims have been thoroughly debunked in some fashion over the last ten years. For example, Alamo Broadband, filed its own request (pdf) trying to claim that net neutrality rules violate an ISPs' free speech rights, a claim that has all but been laughed out of court previously. In a new blog post, the cable industry tries to argue they had no choice but to keep wasting everybody's time:
"We don’t celebrate this petition, but we believe this action is necessary to correct unlawful action by the FCC. We aren’t challenging the specific net neutrality protections – as we’ve explained repeatedly, we have long supported the net neutrality principles embodied in the FCC’s 2010 order that could be enforceable under the Commission’s traditional light touch approach to internet regulation.
Those would be the same 2010 rules that had so many loopholes as to be useless, and didn't cover wireless. The NCTA then trots out the old, stale canard that the rules are hurting network investment, something the facts (at least those outside the halls of conflicted, for-hire think tanks) have never supported:
"Because the FCC Order was such a monumental departure from the FCC’s successful tenure of overseeing broadband internet networks that have seen tremendous investment, expansion and innovation, we seek rehearing of these critical issues."
In other words, we liked it a lot better when the FCC only pretended to do its job, leaving us alone to take predatory advantage of the near total market failure in countless broadband markets. The real concern for cable, phone and wireless companies now is the FCC's plan to use its restored Title II authority to pass some relatively basic privacy protections for broadband service. While the industry and some press outlets will tell you these rules are an incredible over-reach by the FCC, all they really require is that ISPs are transparent about what's collected, and provide consumers with working opt out tools.

As we noted last week, the chance of an expanded appeal being granted is slim, but the en banc approach is seen as slightly less futile than an appeal to the under-staffed Supreme Court. Still, the best option for ISPs looking to gut net neutrality? Elect a President that will stock the FCC with the kind of revolving door regulators who simply won't bother to enforce the rules. That's more likely under Trump, but with AT&T's top lobbyist supporting Clinton, real net neutrality protection shouldn't be seen as a given under her watch, either. Especially if dingo-esque Tom Wheeler gets replaced.

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  • identicon
    TrumpGuy2016, 2 Aug 2016 @ 6:43am

    It should be clear to everyone that Congress only intended the FCC to regulate telegraph transmissions. This type of regulatory over reach is what is killing this country!

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Aug 2016 @ 7:51am

    When your broadband is more expensive and slower than 'developing' nations something is wrong. People are starting to understand it so they'll keep trying more desperate measures to retain their power to screw people up to the time politicians will stop doing what they want because it will become toxic. Or so we hope.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 2 Aug 2016 @ 7:51am

    Screw you America

    If the Broadband industry spent as much money and effort on infrastructure and customer service as they do on lobbying and pushing for anti-consumer rules/laws, we would have some of the best Broadband in the world. It's a seriously screwed up business model when you are working so hard to screw your customers. Brain boogering.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2016 @ 8:03am

      Re: Screw you America

      Where your ISP is also a cable TV supplier, it is not in their interest to implement a world class broadband, because it cuts into their cable TV revenue by allowing people to switch to streaming video sources.

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

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 2 Aug 2016 @ 10:37am

      $17 on the dollar...

      is what they get investing in lobbyists and bribes to officials. (It might be $27. My memory is shady.)

      Really nothing they can do has better returns than just defending their oligopoly.

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

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 2 Aug 2016 @ 11:33am

      Re: Screw you America

      Not actually correct, though.

      It's because the lobbying is so much cheaper and so much more effective per dollar spent that it never ceases.

      One of the good arguments that libertarians make is that we're so large as a nation, and that large governed groups mean that money spent lobbying and controlling government will sap away money that should have been directly invested in production.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 2 Aug 2016 @ 11:53am

    I often wonder why filings like these aren't just thrown out the way other ridiculous lawsuits can be. Hell, they should be labeled as vexatious litigants.

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

  • identicon
    Gemma, 2 Aug 2016 @ 12:20pm

    " we have long supported the net neutrality principles"

    As long as they were optional.

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

  • icon
    CrazySte (profile), 2 Aug 2016 @ 7:19pm

    NET-NEUTRALITY existed since 1996

    To those that complain NET-NEUTRALITY is a new government overreach, i want to remind them this:

    The NET-NEUTRALITY regulations were put in place when the Internet was introduced to the public in 1996, and they have been applied until 2014.

    In 2014 the NET-NEUTRALITY regulations were cancelled thank's to a law suit started by Verizon.

    Without NET-NEUTRALITY the ISPs can start selling Internet access in packages; it recently happened in India: they lost NET-NEUTRALITY and now they have to buy internet acces by selecting "Social Media Sites +$10 a month" and then "News Sites +$5 a month" and then "Video Streamins Sites +$20 a month" and so on.

    In case you don't understand it, this is what Cable Providers want to be able to do to disencourage people from subscribing to Video Services like NETFLIX and AMAZON VIDEO that allow People to cancel they Cable TV subscription.

    When the NET-NEUTRALITY regulations got cancelled, Comcast started slowing down the Internet connection to Customers accessing NETFLIX, to the point Movies kept getting paused for buffering... Eventually Comcast made Netflix pay an undisclosed amount of money to re-allow Customers to see Netflix at full speed... And 2 months later the Monthly fee of Netflix went up by $2.

    This means Customers have to pay TWICE for the same connection: first they buy a connection speed from Comcast, then they have to pay Netflix to have the right to use such speed they already paid for.

    Thankfully NET-NEUTRALITY prohibits these types of practice... If you don't understand it, do some searches OnLine before posting comments against what is actually THE 1st AMENDMENT.

    Regards

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

  • identicon
    Net Neutrality Advocate, 3 Aug 2016 @ 11:18am

    It is just strategy

    You have to understand this is just strategy. With one member missing from the Supreme Court, the ISP's are just trying to delay having to appeal to the Supreme Court. By asking for an en banc panel, they are hoping to get enough time for another justice on the court that may be friendly to their cause. Once they lose the en banc review, then they will move it up to the Supreme Court with hopefully nine members.

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

  • identicon
    CharlieBrown, 3 Aug 2016 @ 11:49pm

    Fifteen pages

    If my argument was limited to fifteen pages, the first thing I would do is use 6 point font.

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


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