The Worst of the Web?
November 20, 2017 7:14 PM   Subscribe

The end of Net Neutrality to be announced by the FCC as early as this Thanksgiving week. As early as tomorrow, Tuesday, November 21, in the year of our lord 2017, the FCC may announce their intention to dismantle the Obama-era rule that guarantees that all web traffic be created equal. Fast lanes for some websites, blocking competitors' websites for others (let's not forget that Comcast is looking to buy some of Fox while we discuss this).

Karl Bode at Tech Dirt posits a possible dystopian long game: (Twitter link)
Keep in mind this is a two step plan. Pai plays bad cop, then lawmakers play good cop with a net neutrality law written by giant ISPs. One that codifies federal consumer apathy into law while pretending to be a solution to a problem they created.
Meanwhile, what the net world looks like in Portugal (a country without Net Neutrality) (again, Twitter link). Spoiler: In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages.
posted by General Malaise (175 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
If there's anything that will wake voters up, it's screwing with their internet.
posted by Beholder at 7:31 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Well, the rentiers and wealthy win again. Ain't the USA of 2017 great?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:33 PM on November 20 [38 favorites]


Well, shit.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 7:34 PM on November 20 [4 favorites]


I picked the title on the ever-present joke that haunts MetaTalk, but now I wish it were "What's the FS2 (Fox Sports 2) of the Web?"
posted by General Malaise at 7:38 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


If they just keep trying this over and over again eventually they'll win
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:39 PM on November 20 [9 favorites]


BASTARDS!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:46 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


what are the stated arguments against net neutrality? the underlying truth seems to be, "guilded age rent seeking monopolist motherfuckers."

what are the red herrings?
posted by j_curiouser at 7:49 PM on November 20 [8 favorites]


what are the stated arguments against net neutrality? the underlying truth seems to be, "guilded age rent seeking monopolist motherfuckers."

From the usual derp merchants, net neutrality is "Obamacare for the Internet".
posted by dr_dank at 7:54 PM on November 20 [11 favorites]


And here I didn't think my internet could get much worse...thanks for constantly lowering the bar, 2017.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:58 PM on November 20 [5 favorites]


.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:59 PM on November 20 [5 favorites]


Good shut the internet down. It's what we deserve.
posted by bleep at 8:15 PM on November 20 [12 favorites]


The more I see of this modern web, the more I want to permanently sever the network connections and read books.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:17 PM on November 20 [22 favorites]


We had Joy, we had fun
We ran Unix on a Sun,
But the source and the song
Of Solaris have all gone.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:22 PM on November 20 [106 favorites]


google and netflix and amazon aren't going to like this, and should be at least as powerful as the telecoms in terms of lobbying and influence. my guess is they can either (1) side with the people and help fight this or (2) make sweetheart deals with their favorite telecom isp to ensure that at least one isp will give them a fast lane in the most important markets..... sigh.. call me cynical, but somehow i have a bad feeling about which road they will choose.
posted by wibari at 8:22 PM on November 20 [7 favorites]


what are the stated arguments against net neutrality?

The refrain of rentiers always and everywhere: any regulation is unnecessary overregulation that stifles industry innovation and consumer choice.
posted by amery at 8:25 PM on November 20 [16 favorites]


Imagine an internet without fake news, though.

Oh wait it'll still be on Facebook and Twitter.

Booooooooo wait I live in Australia this rule doesn't apply to me

Confused boooooo
posted by Merus at 8:27 PM on November 20 [3 favorites]


Oh wait it'll still be on Facebook and Twitter.

Sorry, I can't see the nonsense you linked to, I'm not subscribed to those internets.
posted by Groundhog Week at 8:37 PM on November 20 [9 favorites]


Well, well.
posted by unliteral at 8:38 PM on November 20 [3 favorites]


.
posted by dragstroke at 8:52 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, what the net world looks like in Portugal (a country without Net Neutrality) (again, Twitter link). Spoiler: In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought I read somewhere that the packages were only for mobile devices. Basically, if you bought a package that would mean you could use the chosen apps over 4g (or whatever) and not worry about getting charged a bunch if you go over your data allotment.
posted by littlesq at 8:54 PM on November 20


I’m so tired you guys
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 PM on November 20 [92 favorites]


I’m so tired you guys

that's part of their plan. rest up, clear your head, take a walk, eat some kale (or whatev). tag-in when you're ready.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:01 PM on November 20 [39 favorites]


Since I feel this is a sad inevitability, what options will exist for us to circumvent those limits? Piracy, VPN, satellite internet, etc.?
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 9:04 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Oh, there will definitely be an extra fee to use a VPN
posted by chrchr at 9:17 PM on November 20 [8 favorites]


It's "funny" how the current administration/republican party wants to devolve The US to a developing country with all the same restrictions and disparities. They're stripping future generations of their capacity to compete with the rest of the world. Why would you not invest in your own people? The internet is essentially a utility like clean water at this point. (Obviously a bit higher on Maslow's hierarchy than water or food, but still.)

I mean even Hayek wrote shit like, "There is no reason why in a society which has reached the general level of wealth which ours has attained the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom. .... [T]here can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. ... Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individual in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision."

Why would you want to completely hollow out America's capacity to grow and evolve and move forward? Jesus Christ people, read the fucking books you propose to worship. There is no coherent ideological justification to not provide healthcare, and the basic necessities. None of these tax proposals, de-regulations, or crony deals make sense even by the most cynical of neo-liberal interpretations.

* I just realized this rant is pretty off topic. It's just the straw that's broken the camel's back.
posted by Telf at 9:27 PM on November 20 [81 favorites]


They love Russia because they want to be Russian oligarchs, and us to be serfs.
posted by Artw at 9:29 PM on November 20 [21 favorites]


Yes, it's the literal Road to Serfdom. Take away all education, information, safety, and stability. Keep the base controlled with occasional pogroms against the other.

Also, I'm sure Trump is just waiting to float some version of prima nocta. Let's see him trial balloon that in a tweet. Would love to see family value conservatives torture that into a virtue.

Sorry, rant over, I promise.
posted by Telf at 9:34 PM on November 20 [12 favorites]


Basically, if you bought a package that would mean you could use the chosen apps over 4g

Yes that's the whole problem. Paying for faster or uncapped access to specific services, rather than paying for internet access and doing whatever the hell you damn well want to with it.
posted by odinsdream at 9:35 PM on November 20 [9 favorites]


Remember that many many people ONLY have access to the Internet through mobile providers. These are primary devices, not extra luxuries.
posted by odinsdream at 9:37 PM on November 20 [35 favorites]


Is there a way to approach this problem locally, at the state or community level? Clearly we cannot rely on the federal government to do its job, but states do have some say over business practices, right? It's why I pay Amazon sales tax in NY, after all.
posted by xyzzy at 9:46 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


anyway, a meteor
posted by poffin boffin at 9:59 PM on November 20 [23 favorites]


the same guy who argues with me on facebook all the time about how he should have his guns because people need to stand up to tyranny just posted lamenting about how net neutrality is dying. he voted third party and if I finish this bottle of wine tonight I might have the drunk courage to tell him "maybe you should take your guns and take back our internets"
posted by numaner at 10:01 PM on November 20 [60 favorites]


I believe in you, numaner!
posted by palomar at 10:10 PM on November 20 [15 favorites]


Hmm we don't have net neutrality here in Australia, in practice it means some streaming services on some mobile providers or isps doesn't count towards your data limit. It's... Not really a big deal,here.

Eg if you want unmetered Netflix on your mobile, you might choose optus, but if you want unmetered fox (our only pay TV station), then you might go with telstra.

Data limits are generous enough that unless you're a heavy user, it wouldn't really influence you. Eg we are Netflix watchers but subscribe to telstra for various reasons. The competitive advantage/disadvantage is not that compelling, and it's a long, long long way from locking the Internet down. I can and do access any website /service I want to without really thinking about it. It's like Google offering free storage with a phone; people are still buying phones that aren't pixels.

This is not to say that the potential for something worse isn't there, but in a country where this has happened, the impact has been really minimal thus far.
posted by smoke at 10:18 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


The only rational decision at this point is to riot and protest. Our government is betraying us!
posted by yueliang at 10:23 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


The situation in Portugal has been wildly misrepresented. All operators have a (usually) 3gb plan with no questions asked. The packages in question are generally something like 20gb extra for an additional €5 or something. MEO, the ones in question, have 10gb on the base plan, and these plans everyone is so concerned about are mostly for heavy users of a platform.

Plus, internet is cheap. You can get something around 20 mbps from less than €30. TV+net+phone packages from €40 (and since competition is fierce, is usually possible to barter - I know people who have paid something like €25 after cutting a bunch of channels like MTV and kids channels). NOS costumers can turn their router into a FON hotspot and get free access to the platform.

Like Smoke mentioned, there's some potential for misuse*, but our "cautionary tale" foreigners are so scared off seems better and cheaper than the stuff I watch on half-times of Premier League and NFL games.

* It's not like we didn't have problems - until 2005 or so, the major networks had capped international traffic. My first cable (a local company that was slowly growing until it was bought out first by a regional company, and that one was bought by one of the big boys) was slow as molasses, but was one of the first to offer uncapped traffic with no IP discrimination.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:29 PM on November 20 [6 favorites]


2017: the year that the skull of plutocracy shone whitely beneath democracy's skin
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:32 PM on November 20 [22 favorites]


Hmm we don't have net neutrality here in Australia, in practice it means some streaming services on some mobile providers or isps doesn't count towards your data limit. It's... Not really a big deal,here.

Here in America, before net neutrality, huge ISPs like Verizon were effectively blocking sites like Netflix by throttling them to below dialup speeds.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:46 PM on November 20 [54 favorites]


> None of these tax proposals, de-regulations, or crony deals make sense even by the most cynical of neo-liberal interpretations.
<neoliberal>I find your lack of cynicism... disturbing.</neoliberal>
posted by runcifex at 10:51 PM on November 20 [4 favorites]


I swear I've already been encountering this on Comcast (Xfinity, San Francisco) from time to time. YouTube would be unwatchably slow, while a speed test would indicate blazing internet speeds. This went on for hours, a couple of days in a row. Maybe they're already testing the tech out?
posted by mantecol at 11:08 PM on November 20 [5 favorites]


Honestly, with respect to google, the telecom companies may have just signed their own death warrants.

Because Google already controls where people go on the internet, just by showing people what they want to see. That's their business model - directing people to what they want and making sure that the advertisers who pay them money are positioned to get the most clicks.

The abolition of net neutrality is an attack on Google's core business model. I don't think they can ignore it. They've already been dabbling their toes in the ISP business with Google Fiber., and if there's anyone who's going to do their darnedest to engineer their way out of a political problem, it's Silicon Valley types.

I see a very real chance that Google's going to find it in their best interests to dive into the ISP end of things, just out of self preservation. And they have a major advantage in public perception over any of the current big telecom companies, who are pretty universally hated. All they need to do is offer a guarantee of net neutrality and halfway decent customer service and they'll eat the telecoms for breakfast in the ISP field. And even if they're not quite breaking even, it may still be worth it for the company as a whole.

Mind you, I'm not trying to cheerlead for the "our corporate tech overlords will save us' position. One company having even more monopolistic control over the internet is a major negative long term. But it's nice to fantasize about having things blow up in these jerkwads' faces.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:23 PM on November 20 [21 favorites]


I finish this bottle of wine tonight I might have the drunk courage to tell him "maybe you should take your guns and take back our internets"

direct action
posted by poffin boffin at 11:57 PM on November 20 [14 favorites]


The abolition of net neutrality is an attack on Google's core business model. I don't think they can ignore it. They've already been dabbling their toes in the ISP business with Google Fiber., and if there's anyone who's going to do their darnedest to engineer their way out of a political problem, it's Silicon Valley types.

I don't know about "Silicon Valley Guy" saving us all, but yeah. Google isn't going to stand for this shit. If AT&T, VZ, Comcast, whatever is going to setup toll booths, Google is likely to offer a National (supposedly ) content-neutral ISP , cheaper than the other guys.
posted by mikelieman at 11:59 PM on November 20


Net Neutrality is the Kryptonite of techno-libertarian bros.

On one hand they believe out of disembodied "first principles" (not out of public interest, mind you) that all packets must be treated equal. On the other hand, out of their disembodied principles, they cheer the bonfire of liberty-killing (not just job-killing, mind you) regulations. You want neutral pipes? You can always start your own ISP. Nobody forces the ISP onto you at gun point. Who is John Galt?

Congratulations to thine inaction, bro.
posted by runcifex at 3:48 AM on November 21 [12 favorites]


Yeah, the scary part about this is that U.S. telecoms are utterly brazen about fucking over their customers if it means they can squeeze a few more dollars a out of them. Comcast has consistently been ranked the most hated company in America but they’ve never really made any effort to fix this because they don’t have to. Their monopoly is secure. They do not care.

There are few companies I would trust less to self-regulate.
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:47 AM on November 21 [41 favorites]


I swear I've already been encountering this on Comcast (Xfinity, San Francisco) from time to time. YouTube would be unwatchably slow, while a speed test would indicate blazing internet speeds.

Same here, in MA. Not just Youtube, either.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:56 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


I don't know about "Silicon Valley Guy" saving us all, but yeah. Google isn't going to stand for this shit. If AT&T, VZ, Comcast, whatever is going to setup toll booths, Google is likely to offer a National (supposedly ) content-neutral ISP , cheaper than the other guys.

Agreed but from where I sit this is also very bad. It gives even more power to Google, a company that already has a lot of it, and potentially positions the telecoms as sucky due to government regulations. If I may be so reductionist, It carries forth the notion that government is bad ("My Comcast used to be so great! Now with these rules it's awful!") and private enterprise is automatically good ("Google doesn't need to follow the rules! It's so fast!"). The end of net neutrality is genuinely very bad, but the end of net neutrality plus making one company have all the real power is even worse.

And yes, Netflix and Google should fight this. But if it becomes law you know that they'll just end up paying whatever fees they need to in order to make sure their stuff works quickly.

What a shitshow.
posted by hijinx at 5:31 AM on November 21 [5 favorites]


Instead of a Twitter link, here is the actual Portuguese ISP link. Sorry.
posted by Martijn at 5:40 AM on November 21 [4 favorites]


I see a very real chance that Google's going to find it in their best interests to dive into the ISP end of things, just out of self preservation.

Didn't Google just effectively give up on further expansion of Google Fiber?
posted by COD at 5:49 AM on November 21 [6 favorites]


Basically, if you bought a package that would mean you could use the chosen apps over 4g

Something like this makes sense for 4G (as I understand it), and I think they do this already in the US. The per-customer bandwidth max times total connected customers completely overwhelms the cellular bandwidth capacity. Everyone can have very fast services that are nearly text {email, social networks, wiki, google}, vector graphics {maps}, compressed audio, and for a small fraction of customers at a time high-bandwidth services like good quality video can work, but everyone can't stream video at the same time.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:04 AM on November 21


Even though it's looking bad, we're all still going to call our Reps and Senators, right?!
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:07 AM on November 21 [8 favorites]


what are the stated arguments against net neutrality? the underlying truth seems to be, "guilded age rent seeking monopolist motherfuckers."

The claims generally are that ISPs are operating in a free market and regulations are unfairly targeting them in ways that other internet businesses are not.

This argument is only convincing if you have no idea what an ISP is and how it works. It's hard to tell whether the low level politicians pushing this argument are lying or just grossly ignorant themselves, but it's probably some of both.

But when I have talked to regular people who didn't support net neutrality, they made that argument just because they had no idea how many public subsidies and protections the ISPs have that make competition impossible or close to it. They all seemed to think that competitors could step in and compete in a free and open market. And I've seen hints of a notion that net neutrality is government censorship somehow as well. (I heard "Fairness Doctrine for the internet" somewhere.)

And it's very unlikely that big companies like Google and Netflix are going to do anything.

Netflix has already said that they don't care about net neutrality anymore, because they're big enough to get the deals they want. I don't know that Google has said as much, but it's true for them too. They're not going to suffer.

Any site big enough that people can't imagine the internet without it is probably not going to be affected much.

And the effects will likely be rolled out slowly, taking long enough and starting out subtly enough that most people will forget this ever happened and it'll just slowly become normal. Because that's the way these things always happen, especially with any kind of tech-related legislation, where people don't have a very solid grasp on the issues because they think it's boring.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:02 AM on November 21 [25 favorites]


very real chance that Google's going to find it in their best interests to dive into the ISP end of things

... And with net neutrality gone, they can play too... Why would they choose to be neutral, if legally they didn't have to...? (That would put them at a competitive disadvantage) And subsequently their service offerings will operate better when using them as an ISP. They are, after all still beholden to their shareholders. Just because the many people access their offered services for free, doesn't mean that they are a public service. Their users are their product.

... Prediction... Most of the major cloud services providers might become ISP's... (Google, Amazon, Microsoft)

What a better way to lock people into their platforms - oops, I mean - "guarantee better service delivery"... Google just got into the game too early (fiber) - they have a tendency to do that (Glass).
posted by jkaczor at 8:12 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


This is why the USPS should be an ISP.
posted by The Gaffer at 8:22 AM on November 21 [24 favorites]


so it seems like we pretty much agree the big sites like netflix, amazon, and google won't be affected because they'll pay for their sweet deals with the isp's (still way cheaper than becoming one), and low data sites probably won't be affected because they don't transmit enough data for caps to matter. so who this will really hurt is independent, high data streaming sites, right? it's sad to say, but even now i'm struggling to think of many.... nerdy stuff like curiosity stream and pbs streaming?
illegal streams of sports thru reddit links?
posted by wibari at 8:28 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


I can't really see many new ISPs starting up. Maybe maybe maybe in relatively wealthy, densely populated cities, someone like Google may be able to pull it off. But the current ISPs are almost all legacy companies that got their access privileges and service agreements in place for other reasons--cable TV and telephone service, mostly--so they're just reusing that infrastructure for internet. If you want to enter the ISP market, you need contiguous access to public and private property so you can dig up streets, go in people's yards, etc., like a utility. And first, you'd have to overcome the legal obstacles that are in place that prohibit competition.

I mean, maybe with wifi, but wifi doesn't approach what most people would consider broadband. (The ISPs were whining hard back in 2015 when Tom Wheeler's FCC reclassified 'broadband' as 25 down, 3 up. Prior to that, it was 4 down, 1 up. Keep that in mind when you see broadband penetration maps.)
posted by ernielundquist at 8:31 AM on November 21 [3 favorites]


I swear I've already been encountering this on Comcast (Xfinity, San Francisco) from time to time. YouTube would be unwatchably slow, while a speed test would indicate blazing internet speeds. This went on for hours, a couple of days in a row. Maybe they're already testing the tech out?

This has been going on for years now, and I'm not sure if this has ever been proven, but scuttlebutt is that they basically whitelist speed test sites and throttle most everything else. Same way that you can get better HD quality through a set of rabbit ears these days, because they downgrade the TV signal.

so who this will really hurt is independent, high data streaming sites, right?

You're assuming shit won't roll downhill to your own ISP or streaming service bills. That's a pretty massive assumption given that we're talking about AT&T and cable providers.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:32 AM on November 21 [7 favorites]


...hurt is independent, high data streaming sites...

How did the big players get to be that way? They were all startups and independents once... They built their digital empire on the back of mostly a neutral internet. (By the time some ISP's started throttling specific services, customers had already had a taste)

... so, where will the next Google/YouTube/Twitch arise from? This will harm innovation.
posted by jkaczor at 8:32 AM on November 21 [16 favorites]


So is anyone organizing a mass action, a la SOPA?
EFF, say?
posted by doctornemo at 8:35 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


They should give the ISPs a choice:
1) Regulation of the offering ala Net Neutrality
2) Consumer choice via third party access to cable.

We have (2) in canada, and the competition provided has greatly improved the offerings. Really that is the answer; actual competition. The US has (2) for DSL but not for cable; this oversight is what is killing the competitiveness and not allowing the 'markets to work'
posted by Bovine Love at 8:40 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


but scuttlebutt is that they basically whitelist speed test sites and throttle most everything else

If you have the worst internet provider on earth, aka Frontier, they tell you to use THEIR speed test web page and dismiss results from other speed test sites.

I'd make a joke about utilities and gaslighting, but meh...
posted by elsietheeel at 8:43 AM on November 21 [8 favorites]


so, where will the next Google/YouTube/Twitch arise from?

Abroad?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:45 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


China, maybe?

The UK is dead so obvs not there.
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on November 21


so, where will the next Google/YouTube/Twitch arise from?

Alibaba's mobile UC Browser is currently more popular than Firefox, Opera, and IE worldwide.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:55 AM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Like so much else, we're basically out of luck until Jan 20, 2021 at the absolute soonest.

We can't stop this. We should try of course, we should call and write and protest, but ultimately the Republicans are going to kill net neutrality and encode it into law.

Which means our only possible hope is to survive, somehow, until the elections, hammer them hard in 2018 and even harder in 2020 so that by Jan 20, 2021 we can have a decent government pass a repeal of the anti-net neutrality law and a strong guarantee of net neutrality and have that signed by a Democratic president.

Then watch net neutrality turn into one of those things, like the global gag rule, that changes every 4 to 8 years, because there is no way, no how, nothing doing, that the Republicans will ever let net neutrality stand unchallenged.
posted by sotonohito at 8:58 AM on November 21 [8 favorites]


The sites you'll miss out on do have less name recognition, some don't exist yet, and many serve niche audiences that you may not be a part of.

Netflix will be fine. Fandor, Filmstruck, and Sundance, probably not. Internet Archive will very likely get throttled to the point you can't stream at all.

Amazon will be fine. Maybe not so much NewEgg, Deal Extreme, Monoprice, Overstock, and all the billion other small retailers online, unless they move to Amazon storefronts or something.

Google will be fine. Maybe not Duck Duck Go, Ixquick, and Gigablast.

And, of course, there are tons of special interest and local sites that serve niche audiences that could be slowed down in favor of national mainstream sites like CNN and other big, generic corporate owned sites.

Non profits will be throttled too, unless they're super sleazy, as will any small or community run political action groups, cultural resources, etc.

None of these things have the mass audience that the really big internet properties have, but collectively, those sites are important, and most people probably have at least a few small sites or resources they use that they'd really miss if they went away. And throttling access to those sites could very easily kill them.

People who only ever go out to eat at Applebees, Olive Garden, and McDonalds probably wouldn't notice your local pho place, taqueria, or little family diner going out of business, but a lot of people would, and losing that diversity and those choices is a bad thing for our culture as a whole. And it eliminates the potential for those local businesses to become the next big corporate chain that everyone scoffs at.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:59 AM on November 21 [49 favorites]


So, is it possible that this somehow encourages people and organizations to bring webpage sizes (and ad sizes) down to a reasonable level?

*searches desperately for silver lining*
posted by ODiV at 9:03 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


What options are there at a state or local level to either enforce state level net neutrality laws or create alternative public utility internet access?
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:06 AM on November 21


Municipal broadband is probably the only way out, but it would only work right now for municipalities that can pull it off, both financially and politically.

There are legal hurdles that vary from state to state, of course, so it's tougher in some places than others, but IMO, if enough communities did it, it could have a ripple effect, providing models for deployment and raising awareness that it's an option.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:10 AM on November 21 [5 favorites]


@catvalente: With Net Neutrality gone, the flow of information will be controlled on a level people just aren’t thinking about yet.

Imagine the lowest priced net service including only Breitbart, RT, Infowars, TrumpTV, Fox News, basic email & Facebook.

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:14 AM on November 21 [16 favorites]


The sites you'll miss out on do have less name recognition, some don't exist yet, and many serve niche audiences that you may not be a part of.

Is it worth their time to throttle the small stuff? Isn't this traffic essentially zero? I thought a big part of the reason for this was to be able to squeeze the big movers e.g. Netflix for some of their subscription money to keep the taps open.

Or is the idea that they'll just throttle every fucking thing they can get away with and see who pays up?
posted by ODiV at 9:14 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


The US has (2) for DSL but not for cable; this oversight is what is killing the competitiveness and not allowing the 'markets to work'

It's no oversight. It was intentional action of the Bush FCC, pushed by at&t and Verizon lobbyists to ensure their FTTN VDSL and FTTP projects were exempted from unbundling rules. They also canceled the implementation of unbundling for cable companies that was due to take place in 2001. (That aborted rule is why for several years you could choose ISPs in markets served by Brighthouse, they went ahead and did the work prior to the deadline)

The 1996 Telecom Act requires unbundling for all telecommunications service. The FCC decided the clear intent of the statute need not be bothered with, and nobody has standing to sue but the government itself, so we continue to be fucked.
posted by wierdo at 9:15 AM on November 21 [10 favorites]


Oh, and let's not forget they're making noise about dropping all regulation on business internet access, which is something a small ISP requires unless there's dark fiber to a regional exchange they can lease on the cheap. (Usually it takes a while to build up the necessary funds)

Without the enforcement of common carrier rules on those bigger pipes, the only possible way around the incumbents requires much larger scale.
posted by wierdo at 9:22 AM on November 21


Is it worth their time to throttle the small stuff?
throttle *
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Is it worth their time to throttle the small stuff? Isn't this traffic essentially zero? I thought a big part of the reason for this was to be able to squeeze the big movers e.g. Netflix for some of their subscription money to keep the taps open.

Yeah, I guess we really don't know what it's going to look like, but my speculation was that they'd move to a model where you buy a generic bucket of data to use on whatever you like, and then pay a premium for different packages to zero-rate and/or unthrottle, say, a hand picked selection of video services or messaging apps or Google properties or whatever, similar to the way you order different cable packages. Sort of like in that example that Martijn posted from the Portugese provider.

Then everything else gets throttled. Maybe they'll offer unthrottled access in tiers, though, so you can buy x amount of data to use on whatever you like, and the preferred services get bargain prices for access. That would be really insidious, too, though. People aren't going to use those smaller, non-preferred services if they're more expensive than their bigger competitors, so all the innovation is likely to be the bad kind.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:33 AM on November 21 [7 favorites]


in response to those asking about state action contradicting the fcc: this
posted by wibari at 9:38 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Oh funtimes.

You kniow, you can complain about them being up there with the Monsantos and the arms manufacturers, but they really earn the hatred, it isn't just handed to them on a plate.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Even though it's looking bad, we're all still going to call our Reps and Senators, right?!

Absolutely. I used Battle for the Net's call-in service - 217-441-2582 - to reach a slew of congresscritters in addition to my own senator and rep (whom I've contacted periodically on the topic). When I spoke to staffers, I got some satisfaction from noting how their suggestions to leave a message on their office web sites implied they understood the Internet serves as a utility and therefor should be defined as a common carrier—which is the very Obama-era policy Pai and his cronies are trying to dismantle in the name of the "free market".

Now that Pai's just unveiled his "light-touch market-based" regulatory nonsense, I'm going to be faxing the FCC directly - 1-866-418-0232 - and cc'ing my senators. (I may or may not call them at their toll free number 1-888-225-5322.) Their web page for comments, however, does not inspire confidence, since not only was it hammered by anti-Net Neutrality bots over the summer, but Pai wants to keep the complaints under wraps as well.

For those who prefer email to demand Pai preserve Net Neutrality, he can be reached at Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:45 AM on November 21 [18 favorites]


Are there any companies who could be successfully boycotted in protest? I see a lot of talk about protesting at Verizon... but i'm guessing all telecom is into this?
posted by condour75 at 10:09 AM on November 21


The FCC website has posted Pai's anti-Net Neutrality statement, under the double-think title "Chairman Pai Proposes to Restore Internet Freedom". Because, just as ignorance is strength in the Trump Era, Internet Freedom is Internet Slavery.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel responds:
Today the FCC circulated its sweeping roll back of our net neutrality rules. Following actions earlier this year to erase consumer privacy protections, the Commission now wants to wipe out court-tested rules and a decade’s work in order to favor cable and telephone companies. This is ridiculous and offensive to the millions of Americans who use the Internet every day.

Our Internet economy is the envy of the world because it is open to all. This proposal tears at the foundation of that openness. It hands broadband providers the power to decide what voices to amplify, which sites we can visit, what connections we can make, and what communities we create. It throttles access, stalls opportunity, and censors content. It would be a big blunder for a slim majority of the FCC to approve these rules and saddle every Internet user with the cruel consequences.

I’ve called for public hearings before any change is made to these rules, just as Republican and Democratic Commissions have done in the past. We should go directly to the American public to find out what they think about this proposal before any vote is taken to harm net neutrality.
And her colleague Mignon Clyburn adds:
This most unwelcome #ThanksgivingFail is simply a giveaway to the nation’s largest communications companies, at the expense of consumers and innovation. It is not only bad public policy but is legally suspect. I hope my colleagues will see the light, and put these drafts where they belong: in the trash heap.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:26 AM on November 21 [16 favorites]


I haven't seen this asked yet. How is net neutrality going away good for bitcoin?
posted by ODiV at 10:39 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Is it worth their time to throttle the small stuff? Isn't this traffic essentially zero?

This has *never* been about some precious bandwidth resource needing to be used carefully. The big ISPs make enormous amounts of money above and beyond what's required to maintain their networks, much less pay for moving bits around on backbones. The move to kill the open internet has always been about controlling information available to consumers, and extorting services that pass over their lines. The amount of bandwidth consumed by services is a total red herring.
posted by odinsdream at 10:44 AM on November 21 [24 favorites]


Right, I just meant if it's using effectively no resources and no one is going to pay extra for it, then what's the use in throttling it. But if they're just throttling as default and seeing who will pay, then yeah, that makes sense. It'll be interesting to see what tricks will be developed to conceal the purpose/origin of certain traffic.
posted by ODiV at 10:49 AM on November 21


and seeing who will pay...

Or even just to drive people to their services like Bell was here in Canada.
posted by ODiV at 10:51 AM on November 21


Basically get ready for the internet to look like a shitty Smart TV or cable set-top box.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on November 21 [6 favorites]


I'm starting to rekindle the idea of going back to analog for entertainment, news, everything, despite how ridiculous and inefficient it seems in comparison.
posted by hexaflexagon at 11:11 AM on November 21 [7 favorites]


Zines. Fire up the photocopiers.
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on November 21 [7 favorites]


and then pay a premium for different packages to zero-rate and/or unthrottle, say, a hand picked selection of video services or messaging apps or Google properties or whatever

I think zero-rating is what this looks like, so that the ISPs can get a piece of the streaming game in a good-cop/bad-cop fashion. T-Mobile sort of kinda of does this in a way that is vaguely consumer friendly-ish, in that you have a data cap, but they zero-rate Netflix and Spotify if you opt-in to lower bitrates.

I can see ISPs enforcing data caps*, handwaved as technical infrastructure limitations, but Good Cop Comcast will cut you a deal and not count Netflix or Hulu if you pay an extra $10/month.

*Caps would slowly appear over time: Spectrum, nee Time Warner Cable and Charter, agreed to not have a cap as part of the merger terms. Right now data caps are sold as a customer-blaming "not really affecting the average person" thing, but I can easily see ISPs with current caps not raising them as 4K streaming becomes more mainstream.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:13 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


I just meant if it's using effectively no resources and no one is going to pay extra for it, then what's the use in throttling it

On "day one - or launch day", when Google, Gmail or YouTube went live, they were using effectively no resources.

If they had to factor in the cost of paying in advance, they may never have decided to launch.

If public roadways and the interstate highway system never existed, fast food empires may never have been able to become homogeneous.
posted by jkaczor at 11:36 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Or think of it in exactly the way the ISPs have put it in the past. They're putting their preferred traffic in the "fast lane," which puts everyone else in the "slow lane."

The part they don't want people to understand is that the "fast lane" isn't some new technical development that actually makes things go faster. The "fast lane" is just the speeds their infrastructure is capable of, and they're prioritizing their preferred traffic.

And just the added step of sorting and prioritizing traffic would probably slow everything down some, making the whole scheme an unequivocal anti-feature.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:17 PM on November 21 [5 favorites]


It's just wild to me that they think they'll get people used to having all this entertainment available on demand and that they can just shut it off. It's so stupid and short-sighted.
posted by asteria at 12:30 PM on November 21


What options are there at a state or local level to either enforce state level net neutrality laws or create alternative public utility internet access?

GOOD QUESTION. I do this stuff for my day job, and FCC, Congress, and state legislatures are slowly throttling local (and state) governments' hands to enact and enforce consumer protections. States are being encouraged through groups like ALEC to preempt local governments and stop them from exercising any kind of oversight or control over telecoms, and the FCC and Congress are starting to follow suit. "Preemption" is the policy term you want if you'd like to learn more.

Keep an eye on this issue as it plays out in the wireless policy arena. Wireless carriers are behind all of this recent push by Pai to downgrade the definition of broadband to 10/1, and behind pushes to completely preempt state and/or local governments from enforcing the minimal controls they've had over, for example, cable companies when it comes to wireless providers.

We're looking at a world where most people in cities will have expensive, inconsistent wireless coverage as their main broadband option unless they luck into a rich neighborhood that already has fiber to the premises, and poor and rural people get hosed entirely.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 12:32 PM on November 21 [13 favorites]


Zines. Fire up the photocopiers.

or the dial up community boards - or an alternative network based on wifi - it doesn't have to be based on the software that runs the net

what happens to the so called dark.net?

what happens if they end up driving the real internet underground?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:34 PM on November 21 [3 favorites]


It's just wild to me that they think they'll get people used to having all this entertainment available on demand and that they can just shut it off.

but... i mean... they can. there's nothing to stop them. with no alternatives, people will pay. many people no longer own physical media or devices to play physical media; places to rent physical media are gone, and public libraries struggle for funding. their options will be to pay their ISPs, or to pay for cable. the money will go to the same people, whatever they choose.

it's essentially the same business model used by the mythical drug dealers who tell people the first one is free. there's no reason to think it won't be effective.
posted by halation at 12:36 PM on November 21 [4 favorites]


How would this affect non-website internet traffic? I'm worried about what this will do to the whole Linux ecosystem where so much stuff is reliant on package management systems pulling down data from remote servers. Or just any package systems in general, like is the ability to do a
rm -rf node_modules && npm install
all the time going to be a luxury in the future?
posted by Television Name at 12:50 PM on November 21 [4 favorites]


2017: the year that the skull of plutocracy shone whitely beneath democracy's skin.

The skin is also white.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:51 PM on November 21 [7 favorites]


but... i mean... they can. there's nothing to stop them. with no alternatives, people will pay.

Will they? If it gets too expensive, I won't and I'm on the internet pretty much every waking moment. I'll pay for my phone but goodbye to my home service. I'll use the Internet at work and read more books.

It won't be easy to do any of this but as I am not made of money and I truly believe Trump will get us into a recession by the end of 2018, I know I'll have to do it.
posted by asteria at 12:58 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


what happens to the so called dark.net?
what happens if they end up driving the real internet underground?


Mesh networking - run by "cranks" and "hardcore" nerds, ending up available only to people who put in some serious effort... like: AMPRNet.

Initially - then, if it proves to be popular - and useful, those homebrew point-to-point mesh routers will be commercialized and a truly distributed internet may arise... (One can hope)
posted by jkaczor at 12:59 PM on November 21 [5 favorites]


... Prediction... Most of the major cloud services providers might become ISP's... (Google, Amazon, Microsoft)

And will be all-but-completely dependent on the wires currently operated by Comcast and others (who enjoy exclusive deals with cities). Gee...I wonder how that will work out?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:59 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Will they? If it gets too expensive, I won't

i'm sure they will lose some customers. as the economy gets worse and worse, they will likely lose more. but not everyone has a job which provides internet access, and increasingly access is necessary for basic daily activities like bill paying and jobhunting and keeping in touch with family. if amazon continues its successes, even shopping may become difficult with no internet access. even if it just means a bare-bones package, people will keep paying well after they've cut out other 'luxuries' and even some necessities.
posted by halation at 1:03 PM on November 21 [6 favorites]


... even if it just means a bare-bones package, people will keep paying well after they've cut out other 'luxuries' and even some necessities.

September 2013: Cellphones are now essentials for the poor [USA Today]:

Though money is tight, Brown makes sure she stays on top of her monthly cellphone bill for a $35 prepaid plan from Boost Mobile, which provides her with unlimited minutes and texts. Sometimes she cuts back on buying a cup of coffee or extra food, to ensure she can pay her cellphone bill.

With both her employment and living situation in flux, Brown needs her mobile phone. She uses it to follow up on job and housing leads, and to keep in touch with public assistance agencies, which sometimes follow up with phone calls instead of asking applicants to come into an office. Having a cellphone also helps Brown stay in touch with her family and friends.

posted by ryanshepard at 1:28 PM on November 21 [13 favorites]


Initially - then, if it proves to be popular - and useful, those homebrew point-to-point mesh routers will be commercialized

Commercializing is what got us here, though. Public-ized might work. "Made illegal" seems likely.
posted by clew at 1:35 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Multiplayer games are going to be... interesting. There are twitchy FPS's that will be absolutely unplayable. Things will need to revert back to whatever made twitchy games function on a <2mb/s connection in the late 90's and early 2000's.

And that crowd was MAGAHAT heavy. So bringing up a "How's the latency on your Battlefield 1 connection?" in mid to late 2018 could move some votes. Not remotely joking either, people (and I'm still one) get pissy when a good play is cut short because of a technical hiccup.

In the meantime, here's hoping games that were resilient on shittier connections previously (EVE) will be found to not have added too much connection dependent bloat since the early 2000's.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:37 PM on November 21 [4 favorites]


I'm frustrated, scared, and worried about this nearly to the point of nausea.

I'm disabled, chronically ill, and spend most of my time at home. The internet is my lifeline. Now, could we pay more for internet? Yes. But we already pay over $100 a month for Comcrap.

Then there's the fact that my ONLY form of income/job/hobby is an Etsy store. So, what happens with that? Is Etsy big enough to be okay? Are they not on the radar enough to be ignored and not targeted?

And the fact is, the only way I can foresee making any money any time soon is doing something online. Not to mention the fact that my husband is a programmer.

I feel paralyzed, worried, tired. I just don't even know what to do. I'm in UT so our senators are awful. Just, the possibility of how awful this could be is terrifying. It's not just about entertainment like Netflix - even though I use that a lot - it's about livelihood, schooling, business, information, etc.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:47 PM on November 21 [14 favorites]


"Made illegal" seems likely.

Legally illegal - practically so, doubtful. Just like piracy is currently illegal - so it has stopped. "You wouldn't pirate a car" is now no longer a joke, thanks to 3d-printers. Gun ownership is regulated - but you can 3d-print something dangerous.

The technology is "out-of-the-bag" - we have consumer routers that can have their firmware replaced. It isn't hard to take something like a raspberry pi and run mesh software on it.

If the laws only serve the oligarchy, at what point do we need to get new laws, or ignore them entirely?
posted by jkaczor at 1:49 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


I feel paralyzed, worried, tired. I just don't even know what to do.

There will be lot's of options and many clever ways to elude the gateways. When in security meetings my favorite slide was huge impenetrable brick wall, no one was getting through that firewall, sitting in a field with the cows just meandering past the edge, let alone tunnels and a kite. The internet routes around obstructions.
posted by sammyo at 2:00 PM on November 21


clever ways to elude the gateways

One hopes... But, preventing "deep packet inspection" typically means using a VPN, and as others here have pointed out, that will likely be an "enhanced service offering tier", costing extra.

Maybe time to dust off the whole, VPN over DNS Tunnel idea again (but DPI could still prevent this).
posted by jkaczor at 2:29 PM on November 21


Hopeful line from the Washington Post coverage: Congressional Democrats have resisted working with Republicans on a net neutrality bill, saying that Pai's proposal is unlikely to survive an expected court challenge from supporters of the 2015 rules. A Democratic aide said Tuesday that "there might be room for [a] conversation" if Republicans were willing to enshrine the current rules into legislation, but that position is likely to be a nonstarter for GOP critics, who argued that the rules imposed unreasonable costs on businesses.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:23 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


The internet is not going to just shut down. It'll be like that dumb frog in boiling water metaphor, and most people probably won't really understand or consciously notice the changes in their daily use. They will affect everyone, just not so that they're aware of it.

Most internet traffic currently coming from mobile devices, and most of those probably on mobile networks, which are exempt from net neutrality rules already. But people use them anyway. And really, they suck for internet use. They really do. There are a few obvious physical limitations, like their small screens and limited input options, but there are other built in limitations that really hobble their functions. Most smartphones are pretty powerful computers, but they're still a pain in the ass to use to do anything outside a fairly narrow set of prescribed tasks, because they're walled gardens. The OSes are controlled by big corporations--mostly Google and Apple, but also your mobile provider and device manufacturer--and it can be difficult and risky to try to regain control over them.

Seriously, think for a second about how awesome mobile devices would be if they were as flexible and as easy to tweak and control as a regular computer. Your smart phone has the hardware necessary to access websites and services without installing some creepy little app for every single thing you do. It has most of the capabilities a regular desktop computer has, but it's been locked down to make it difficult for you to use it for anything beside a narrow set of preapproved tasks controlled by those who profit from them, and from you personally.

But people got used to that, and accepted it, and use them all the time. And they'll do the same with their corporate controlled internet access, while the crackpots who take the time to install alternate ROMs on their mobile devices now will figure out ways around the corporate controls of the internet too. It'll just be another new pain in the ass. But most people won't even realize how fucked they are and how much better things could and SHOULD be, just like they already don't.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:49 PM on November 21 [25 favorites]


The FCC’s craven net neutrality vote announcement makes no mention of the 22 million comments filed
For someone who claims to be working for the American people, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai sure doesn’t seem to care what they have to say. In his announcement today that the Commission would vote whether to roll back net neutrality rules on December 15, he made no mention of the inconvenient and embarrassing fact that his proposal had attracted historic attention, garnering over 22 million comments — the majority of which opposed it.
posted by homunculus at 4:13 PM on November 21 [14 favorites]


The internet routes around obstructions.

I really wish this phrase would fucking die. It makes people think the internet is somehow unrelated to regulation activities when that's the farthest from the truth. The US, specifically, has deep control over the structure of the systems that make the internet useful, and a very small handful of corporations, which aren't at all transparent in their operation, control a huge portion of the infrastructure itself.

*No one* is arguing that there won't be methods of getting packets from place to place if you really wanted to and knew what you're doing. But, this type of regulatory activity is designed to destroy the internet as people commonly experience it today, to make it into something else that is under the control of far fewer people, and highly responsive to the mortality and motives of the extremely powerful and wealthy.
posted by odinsdream at 4:51 PM on November 21 [24 favorites]


Practically every item on the front page of Reddit right now is a call to arms for net neutrality. Apparently messing with peoples' access to Netflix and Overwatch is a good way to piss everybody off.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:05 PM on November 21


Netflix's official tweet on the matter:
Netflix supports strong #NetNeutrality.
We oppose the FCC's proposal to roll back these core protections.

posted by Telf at 7:13 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


So they are doing this under the guise of "the government shouldn't be micromanaging the Internet."

...but the government SHOULD be micromanaging my uterus? Got it.

In what parallel universe does that make sense?!

You guts, I'm so worried. What about job applications? Working remotely? How will this affect the Internet of Things? What about online classes and degrees?

The Internet is a utility, not just an entertainment means.

This is bad.
posted by floweredfish at 7:21 PM on November 21 [10 favorites]


Here in America, before net neutrality, huge ISPs like Verizon were effectively blocking sites like Netflix by throttling them to below dialup speeds.

This needs a citation I'd say.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:47 PM on November 21


I haven't kept up with this, but I'm interested in understanding the basic reasons/debate between the Title I and Title II classifications, and what academics are saying about net neutrality; after all, the term was coined nearly 15 years ago and surely their understanding must have evolved as well, from political, economic, and computer science perspectives, etc.
posted by polymodus at 7:48 PM on November 21


> The internet routes around obstructions.
Obstructions treat the Internet as damage and work around it.
posted by runcifex at 8:12 PM on November 21 [6 favorites]


Smoke, I've used Australian internet quite a lot, and I feel that I should remind you that no matter which of the, like, three providers you use, it's always very slow and has data caps much, much too low for the average American or European to handle without turning into a something resembling a bundle of vibrating beet(root).

I say this because if you haven't experienced actual high-speed internet, you might not realize how far the technology has come in the last five or six years.

And now we're looking at rolling back.
posted by rokusan at 9:42 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


> Is there a way to approach this problem locally, at the state or community level? Clearly we cannot rely on the federal government to do its job, but states do have some say over business practices, right? It's why I pay Amazon sales tax in NY, after all.
From ArsTechnica: FCC will also order states to scrap plans for their own net neutrality laws
In addition to ditching its own net neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission also plans to tell state and local governments that they cannot impose local laws regulating broadband service.

This detail was revealed by senior FCC officials in a phone briefing with reporters today, and it is a victory for broadband providers that asked for widespread preemption of state laws. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposed order finds that state and local laws must be preempted if they conflict with the US government's policy of deregulating broadband Internet service, FCC officials said. The FCC will vote on the order at its December 14 meeting.

[...]

The arguments made by Pai's staff echoed those made previously by Internet service providers. Comcast, Verizon, and mobile industry lobby group CTIA had all urged the FCC to preempt state laws in the weeks leading up to today's announcement by Pai.
Will the tenthers please rise up?
posted by runcifex at 12:13 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


This needs a citation I'd say.

Google "sandvine." Maybe tack Verizon on there for good measure so you can see how they specifically used DPI boxes to throttle certain protocols even when their network wasn't near capacity before the (very weak) existing NN rules were enacted by Wheeler/Obama. By definition and design, no active management is needed nor even helpful for IP networks with reasonably low latency that are below about 85% of their existing capacity. In reality, no major ISP allows a link to consistently exceed 50% for long periods. Congestion is almost without fail only found (aside from transient situations) at interconnections where the two parties involved are arguing about how the cost of the physical connection should be allocated between them and thus has failed to grow with increasing traffic.

Suffice it to say that arguments against title II are stupid. The Internet grew fine in the 90s before the Bush FCC originally reclassified broadband as a Title I information service. Title II allows, but does not require, the application of full common carrier rules to such services. It also allows for price regulation, among other things. But again, the current FCC is under no obligation to require anything of ISPs even without reclassifying broadband service under Title I again. They need only change whatever specific rule is bugging them. For better or worse, the Supreme Court has found that under current law the FCC can do basically whatever it likes in this area, even to the point of ignoring legislative requirements like local loop unbundling.
posted by wierdo at 12:54 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


As long as I've got wishful thinking going... Out of curiosity, is there anything the FCC could do if, say, California decided to straight up declare eminent domain on the network infrastructure and run it as a public service?

Would it be possible to do such thing via ballot initiative?
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:18 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Congress can put a stop to this.

Call your senators and reps, especially people who live in red states.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 3:45 AM on November 22


Suspiciously 😲, my browser irretrievably crashed last night when I tried to post this "previously" re: alternatives to a functioning internet:
El Paquete Semanal

The Cuban CDN El Paquete is a weekly service where someone (typically found through word of mouth) comes to your home with a disk (usually a 1TB external USB drive) containing a weekly download of the most recent films, soap operas, documentaries, sport, music, mobile apps, magazines, and even web sites.

Vox: This is Cuba's Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify – all without the internet
posted by XMLicious at 4:02 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]


disclaimer: was nudged here by a friend who saw my tweetstorm

I've been watching this go down from two perspectives. The first is from my American friends, on Tumblr, where resistbots and pledges are going up multiple times a day, plus here of course; and the second, as a foreigner far away in Finland.

While many have already pointed out the impact of this on "innovation", has anyone given a thought to American standing globally vis a vis being the internet innovator, home of bootstrapped unicorns emerging from garages, and general all around tech progress?

Or is it a means to create a barrier of inequality for the poors unable to pay for access and thus never emerging as competition for the rich ensconced in their Valley?

Has anyone given a thought to the rise of startups and solutions emerging from places where broadband is neither regulated nor bandwidth metered?

The landscape of the internet will indeed change. iirc India won their battle with zero rated FaceBook, and mobile first Africa is pushing for more and more affordable access as a documented means of boosting GDP growth and youth employment.

Is corporate profit maximization more important than making America great again?
posted by infini at 5:00 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


huge ISPs like Verizon were effectively blocking sites like Netflix by throttling them to below dialup speeds.
This needs a citation I'd say.
I believe most of those claims were misattribution – although some ISPs have tried throttling experiments those weren’t that widespread. What was widespread was failing to have sufficient capacity at peering points with Netflix’s network partners. At one point, one of those companies (Cogent) publicly stated that they’d even offered to pay for the hardware but Verizon had turned them down. That’s basically like having two huge highways connected by one toll gate and the city which owns it is demanding that a neighboring city should pay them a special fine before they’ll hire a second toll collector.

Beyond the observation that having sufficient network capacity is exactly what those high monthly ISP charges are supposed to pay for, the only reason why those ISPs are seeing such high traffic is that they refuse to participate in Netflix’s Open Connect CDN program where Netflix gives them free servers to host popular content on their network so every person watching the new season of House of Cards, etc. doesn’t fetch a full copy over the internet. My ISP (RCN) uses that and Netflix service has never had problems, no matter the time of day, and using fast.com to test delivery performance from the Netflix delivery system is rate-limited by my WiFi device to 140Mbps.
posted by adamsc at 5:19 AM on November 22


For an instructive contrast to the FCC, Ars Technica reports, As Us Prepares To Gut Net Neutrality Rules, Canada Strengthens Them "Canada cracks down on zero-rating while FCC allows paid data cap exemptions."

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is an implacable regulator, going after infractions on a case-by-case basis but going after them hard. This is, of course, precisely what US telecom fears from the FCC if Net Neutrality remains policy. Pai's proposed runaround is to punt industry-established "voluntary" requirements to the Federal Trade Commission. And we know how well this kind of self-regulation works from what happened with the banking industry.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:59 AM on November 22 [10 favorites]


I'm worried about this as well but I have to admit I'm not very comfortable with the comparisons to other countries in which it makes them seem like backwards places and whoa, we wouldn't want America to be like those countries, now would we? I know this is not what people mean at all, but it just seems to feed into the US exceptionalism problem.
posted by Kitteh at 7:10 AM on November 22


read in hamburger font, all will be well
posted by infini at 8:36 AM on November 22


Is corporate profit maximization more important than making America great again?

There's a false yet pervasive myth that a head of GM once said “What’s Good for General Motors Is Good for America”. Some would say that "maximizing profit" is actually the definition of making America great again.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:08 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Which reminds me of the most recent Financial Times column by Martin Wolf

In all, then, this is a determined effort to shift resources from the bottom, middle and even upper middle of the US income distribution towards the very top, combined with big increases in economic insecurity for the great majority.

How, one must ask, has a party with such objectives successfully gained power? In all, we can see three mutually supportive answers to this question.

posted by infini at 9:26 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has released an absolutely blistering open letter to Pai, calling out the FCC's refusal of multiple requests from his office to cooperate with the investigation into fraudulent anti-Net Neutrality comments on the FCC's website.
In April 2017, the FCC announced that it would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning repeal of its existing net neutrality rules. Federal law requires the FCC and all federal agencies to take public comments on proposed rules into account [... .]

In May 2017, researchers and reporters discovered that the FCC’s public comment process was being corrupted by the submission of enormous numbers of fake comments concerning the possible repeal of net neutrality rules. In doing so, the perpetrator or perpetrators attacked what is supposed to be an open public process by attempting to drown out and negate the views of the real people, businesses, and others who honestly commented on this important issue. Worse, while some of these fake comments used made up names and addresses, many misused the real names and addresses of actual people as part of the effort to undermine the integrity of the comment process. That’s akin to identity theft, and it happened on a massive scale.

[I]n June 2017, we contacted the FCC to request certain records related to its public comment system that were necessary to investigate which bad actor or actors were behind the misconduct. We made our request for logs and other records at least 9 times over 5 months: in June, July, August, September, October (three times), and November.[...]

Yet we have received no substantive response to our investigative requests. None.
Doesn't Pai care that the dead have risen and are commenting on the FCC's website?
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:46 AM on November 22 [11 favorites]


Why would you not invest in your own people?

We aren't their people.
posted by lkc at 9:48 AM on November 22 [9 favorites]


Municipal broadband

Just want to highlight this again as a possible way to fight back. San Bruno Cable is one example in the Bay Area; I used it for a few years and it worked as well as Comcast or any other ISP. A user on Mastodon also pointed out Longmont, CO.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:17 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Municipal broadband helps nothing in areas where it is overly expensive to bypass the incumbents entirely. That's what deregulation of BIA earlier this year was about. Longmont will be fine; they can get access relatively easily to any carrier in Denver.

Someone in Oklahoma or Arkansas or even west Texas may literally only have the phone company's wires available for backhaul, and now that they need not meet common carrier rules, the telcos are perfectly free to apply whatever restrictions they like to those lines as well.
posted by wierdo at 11:32 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Also, state level regulation used to make the FCC's changes to telecom policy less important than they are now used to be. Now that most PUCs have decided the entities they regulate are competitive (despite not being so for the most part outside a few zip codes) that there is no need to continue rate regulations and tariff filings and whatnot. What most don't realize is that the changes allow the companies to entirely refuse service to whomever they see fit. No tariff, no requirement to deal with all customers on equal terms.

So no, states in general are not going to save us. They have, in the main, been about where Pai's FCC is, only for the past 15 years, not just the last 12 months.
posted by wierdo at 11:38 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Has anyone talked about how this will affect international web traffic? I know that the actual, physical connections to the internet for more than a few countries pass directly through the US before connecting to the rest of the world. Will this lead to throttling on those connections as well, or does the internet backbone fall under different oversight?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:26 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]




My two cents, when AT&T and Comcast profit, we all lose.
posted by Oyéah at 7:20 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


I didn't realize until now that it was fucking Obama who originally put Pai on the FCC.
posted by great_radio at 7:20 PM on November 22


PC Mag: How a Retired Nurse Provides Her Small Vt. Town With Internet
In a small town near the Vermont-Canadian border, the latest skirmish in the fight for affordable internet access is being waged by a 65-year-old woman pushing a laptop around in a baby stroller.

Diane Peel, a retired nurse, is the lead organizer of a wireless mesh network in Newport, Vermont. Peel and her cohorts completed a two-year pilot project in February with less than a dozen housholds. This summer, they plan to offer high-speed internet access at a fraction of what the commercial ISPs charge.

"In this day and age if you can't stay connected, then you're just going to lose out," said Peel. "There are kids growing up in families where the only access to the internet they ever see is their parents scrolling up and down Facebook on a smartphone. That is not preparing them to be adults in the society we have."
Maybe guerilla mesh networks are the wave of the future.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:21 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]




Someone in Oklahoma or Arkansas or even west Texas may literally only have the phone company's wires available for backhaul, and now that they need not meet common carrier rules, the telcos are perfectly free to apply whatever restrictions they like to those lines as well.

I didn't think this was going to affect the ILECs' common carrier status.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:33 AM on November 23


It isn't. That rule change was made earlier this year. Theoretically you can still get a private point to point link to a carrier hotel/IX/PoP-in-a-hut rather than using at&t as your ISP, but they have long liked to claim there are no available facilities for a point to point circuit, never mind that they're perfectly happy to light up a strand of fiber to each location and give you commercial Internet access and an MPLS VPN over it.

The point being that even before the regulations were gutted the telcos were already playing games to try to monopolize the business. Now with even fewer rules at the Federal level and the states basically eliminating the regulations they used to have that would have at least gotten you anywhere in your state to connect to a competitive ISP, there is little doubt that it will become even more difficult to get connections to ISPs that don't have a physical presence at your location.
posted by wierdo at 7:48 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Check it out. Comcast sez they totally won't block or throttle. What's everyone so worried about?
posted by great_radio at 8:11 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Maybe a story would help, keeping in mind this one is from back when there was much more regulation and they were much more afraid of it.

One of my clients bought a business in a small town out in the foothills of the Rockies way back when. It was my job to get network connectivity to this location. At the time CenturyTel didn't offer any sort of Internet access and this was before they borged Qwest and the others, so my options were pretty limited. Either find a local ISP and become a very early adopter of IPSEC or pay for a 1,100 mile backhaul to our processing center (or get a shorter backhaul and use a national carrier's frame relay network for slightly less exorbitant money).

Anyway, the alternatives were run up the chain and it comes back that we'll do the cheap thing. Sounds good to me, so I call up the one ISP in town and coordinate the installation of a circuit over to their PoP. Shouldn't be a big deal. Well, CenturyTel comes back and says there are no pairs available for that, but if we'd like backhaul to Denver they can arrange that for only $x,xxx a month.

Happily, while the business office was full of chuckleheads the technical staff actually gave a shit. We ended up finding an existing pair to our building that was decent enough to support SDSL that happened to be used for something else at the time, cancelled that line, ordered a dry loop (a copper pair physically cross connected between the two buildings at the CO, but with no electronics on it whatsoever), and used our own damn gear to connect to the ISP. Note this only worked because CenturyTel still published a tariff for alarm circuits at the time. Most don't any more, so you are not only stuck with their wires, but their equipment and whatever limitations they claim it is subject to.

So in the end it worked out cheaper than paying CenturyTel for a T1, but the simple fact that they could get away with saying no back then is proof enough that we're completely fucked with even less regulation.
posted by wierdo at 8:14 AM on November 23 [6 favorites]


For an instructive contrast to the FCC, Ars Technica reports, As Us Prepares To Gut Net Neutrality Rules, Canada Strengthens Them "Canada cracks down on zero-rating while FCC allows paid data cap exemptions."

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is an implacable regulator, going after infractions on a case-by-case basis but going after them hard. This is, of course, precisely what US telecom fears from the FCC if Net Neutrality remains policy.


Holy shit, the comment under the article. One reason the CRTC is so strong on Net Neutrality was an incident from 2005 when one of the largest national ISPs, Telus, had a labour dispute. The striking workers set up a protest website, and Telus blocked their subscribers from accessing it. That's why net neutrality is important.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:16 AM on November 23 [14 favorites]


wierdo: Can you give me some links? I totally missed that rule change.

And just to be clear, I'm not doubting you or anything. I'm just out of the loop and can't find it myself right now, and dang, that's huge. Not that they ever really complied or took it seriously. They'd just pay the fines and send some low level schmucks for 'retraining' when they got busted, but at least there were rules there for them to ignore.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:45 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


I'll try and dig up links when I'm not on my phone. It was related to the recent business internet access rulemaking that was spoken of as primarily eliminating the remaining price regulation. Sadly, the obvious terms aren't proving useful since it mostly turns up people trying to sell Internet service.
posted by wierdo at 3:11 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]




eliminating the remaining price regulation

What price regulation? How much are Americans willing if not able to pay per month for cell, WiFi, and line telecom delivery? That story's been creeping through the high triple digits for decades apart from spend on innovative devices to receive chitchat and download GB of "entertainment".

Look: differential utility rate-payer pricing, delivery, and equipment has existed in the USA since go. The most obvious categories are (i) residential (ii) business, and each of these may be further subdivide into rate-payer classes by location and consumption capacity by the firm supplying the "service" and utility to a specific operating area --be that gas, electricity, water, or telecommunications (analogue or internet protocol or SMS or WiFi, telegraph, telephony, television or VoIP).

"Net Neutrality" agitators' demand for maximum and, possibly, reliable, continuous supply (Mps ?!) never even approached antitrust issues --arising in general from deregulation of the PHUCA-- that enforce fundamental, discrimination of consumer "access" to the utility by price, willingness and ability to pay simply to enter. US gov sanctions concentration of monopoly market power of a handful of telecom owner/operators, here referred to disingenuously as "ISPs". Internet Service Provider is not defined by the Telecommunications Act. Information Service Provider is. And that distinction separates the business of communication transmission a/k/a common carriers eg. Comcast cable, NBC, and the several Bell bastids from publishers eg. Google, Facebook, Netflix, and your favorite game show hosts, respectively.

Ergo, FCC interpretation of scope of its authority to regulate owner/operators of any and all methods of telecommunication provided by the act, inter alia. Amendments to the act in 2015 did NOT alter definition of common carrier. 47 U.S.C. 153 . Every amendment of the act in 2015 BUT those attending "Title II" (spluged by the press) pertains to FCC suddenly asserting an interest in "Net Neutrality" or "Open Net", Title VII--Miscellaneous Provisions (47 U.S.C. 1302) in particular directs the FCC to remove barriers to "advanced communications services" (defined in original by 47 U.S.C. 153) and promote competition. Specifying rules of common carrier capacity is one such "barrier" FCC asserted. Construction of FCC authorities to interpret capacity as barrier to receiving "advanced communication services" so was litigated, affirmed, and reported in Protecting and Promoting Open Internet (400 pp).

There are no guarantee therein of FCC price regulation either of telecommunication services or "information" services benefiting consumers. The "Net Neutrality" spear did nothing for me in the 18 months since FCC had its say.
posted by marycatherine at 3:29 PM on November 25


It’s been nice knowing y’all MeFites. I’m guessing MeFi will be bundled in the Super Premium Comcast Internet tier that nobody can buy at $200/month, while Breitbart and Fox News will be free with the Basic You Are Required to Buy tier.
posted by SakuraK at 10:13 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]


marycatherine, I wasn't talking about regulations on consumer Internet access, which until a few years ago the FCC declined to regulate at all, really. And they weren't even wrong to take that light touch approach for a long time, when there was little consolidation and much competition thanks to local loop unbundling (which wasn't really about Internet, but still encouraged competition), quickly ending any anti-consumer tactics.

What they did regulate, in addition to interstate long distance voice rates back in the deep mists of time, was the provision of private circuits of the sort an ISP would use to connect to one or more of their own upstream providers, and relatedly, how LECs can market (bundle/tie) their own commercial ISP to the circuits they sell. In the past, it would be at least theoretically possible, given reasonable funding, to start a competitive ISP just about anywhere if the existing providers are complete shit. This is part of why WISPs are a thing in so many places.

Without the protection of those rules, the LEC can make it difficult or impossible to get a circuit to a carrier other than themselves or a related party of their choice and restrict what you do with it, including blocking or throttling whatever they like once the NN regulations are gone.

Pai killed the BIA rules by saying they didn't matter thanks to NN and now killing NN could easily lead to many areas not having even the chance of competition.

If I'm a city or an electric coop looking to start an ISP, I've got to connect to the rest of the Internet somehow. If the LEC has the only fiber out of town and they choose to put onerous conditions on its use or even refuse to sell me anything but their own access product, chances are that project isn't going anywhere unless I can find millions more dollars and there happens to be space in a public right of way to somewhere useful within the distance those millions can bury fiber.
posted by wierdo at 11:50 PM on November 25 [2 favorites]


Sarah Kendzior, Globe and Mail: Gutting net neutrality is a death knell for the resistance
Consider this scenario for 2018: The repeal of net neutrality will stem the flow of information, making voter suppression harder to document. The packing of the courts will make the voter suppression that is documented harder to challenge. And the long-standing solution to purveyors of unpopular policies – vote them out – will be, by definition, impossible, since the election is rigged and the rigging uncontestable. This carefully constructed web of repression is how democracy dies.

Gutting net neutrality is one of the most unpopular proposals the Republicans have made this year, along with Trumpcare and the proposed tax hike for all but the wealthiest Americans. Normally, there would be risk in proposing such widely loathed policies, but the GOP appears unconcerned with public approval – a strong indicator to me that the elections are indeed a fait accompli.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:39 PM on November 26 [6 favorites]


The only rational decision at this point is to riot and protest.

Now you COULD read your state laws about identity theft. Then, go read the reporting about how faked IDs may have been used in the FCC comment process. Decide if a law has been broken and if so, go read the parts of your state law about what is needed to file a criminal complaint. (Don't be shocked if the filing of a complaint goes no where. But if you can get a ham sandwich and you are in a state where grand juries allow the public to appear before them who knows?)

Another rational decision is to look at the history of a nation of immigrants who decided "it will be better elsewhere" and then make the move elsewhere.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:36 AM on November 27 [1 favorite]


What options are there at a state or local level to either enforce state level net neutrality laws or create alternative public utility internet access?

I know of one state that has a couple of statutes that are supposed to help co-op's get access to physical infrastructure. But without someone with a bar card in your back pocket - no way to affordably walk the paperwork though the court system.

I've YET to see people make the connection of the FCC demands/decisions on allowing the abandonment of copper POTS and non telco VOIP home service. Normally bringing up Granny and her desire to use not-ma-bell voice service and the fear of her elderly voice being silenced would be political gold. But we are in the era of granny-punching Paul Ryan.....

posted by rough ashlar at 1:55 AM on November 27 [1 favorite]


Nobody's talking about the quiet switch to VoIP because nobody non-technical notices the difference until the power is out or the network falls over. My landlord was convinced that at&t was selling her the standard voice like she asked for, but no, it's a Uverse voice bundle. Never mind that it's perfectly possible for them to sell Uverse (the FTTN kind, not the FTTP variety) and analog voice, you just have to nearly break their arm to get them to put the order in that way because they don't get as large of a commission if you don't buy the bundle with VoIP.

The VDSL hardware chooses not to use voice frequencies anyway the vast majority of the time due to noise, but it costs an extra 50 cents for a filter and an extra 5 minutes of tech time to make the cross connect at the VDSL cabinet so not only do the sales people want to push customers to VoIP, but the bean counters encourage everyone else in the organization to find some way to say it can't be done.

Thankfully, in my region the voice installers are all union so they give zero shits about management's quiet directives, only the ones that they're willing to commit to paper. It's ridiculous that you have to know how to work the system to get the service you actually want, though.
posted by wierdo at 10:11 AM on November 27 [1 favorite]


Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal -- Comcast still won't block or throttle—but paid prioritization may be on the way. (Jon Brodkin for Ars Technica, Nov. 27, 2017)

It's not what they say, it's what they don't say that matters:
In May 2014, Comcast Senior Executive VP David Cohen wrote the following:
To be clear, Comcast has never offered paid prioritization, we are not offering it today, and we're not considering entering into any paid prioritization creating fast lane deals with content owners.
Six months later, Comcast made the promise again, saying, "We don't prioritize Internet traffic or have paid fast lanes, and have no plans to do so."

The circumstances in 2014 were different than they are today. Back then, the FCC clearly intended to impose at least some restrictions on paid prioritization, and ISPs were trying to avoid the Title II classification. Comcast had also agreed to some limitations (PDF) on paid prioritization as a condition on its 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal.

But the NBCUniversal conditions expire in September 2018 (PDF), and Pai's proposal would undo the Title II classification and get rid of the net neutrality rules entirely. Both legally and politically, Comcast now has an opening to retreat at least partially from its net neutrality promises.

Comcast's change in strategy was evident in July of this year when Comcast urged the FCC to overturn the Title II order.

"[W]e do not and will not block, slow down, or discriminate against lawful content," Comcast wrote at the time, omitting its previous promise to avoid paid prioritization.

The FCC, Comcast said, could remove the Title II classification while still having "clearly defined net neutrality principles—no blocking, no throttling, no anti-competitive paid prioritization, and full transparency."

As it turned out, Pai's final plan that will be voted on December 14 doesn't even ban blocking or throttling. Comcast could thus pull back even further from its net neutrality promises, but as of last week (Comcast tweet) it was still promising that it won't block or throttle lawful Internet traffic.

The cable lobby group NCTA similarly promised (NCTA tweet) this year that its members will not "block, throttle or otherwise impair your online activity," but it made no promises about paid prioritization. In 2014, the NCTA said that "no ISPs offer" paid prioritization.
...
Comcast's promise not to "discriminate" suggests that its paid prioritization would be available to anyone who wants it and can afford it. Offering paid fast lanes to anyone at similar rates could help prevent the Federal Trade Commission from stepping in to block unfair trade practices.

Comcast's July 2017 filing with the FCC offers some hints (PDF) on how the ISP will implement paid prioritization:
[T]he Commission also should bear in mind that a more flexible approach to prioritization may be warranted and may be beneficial to the public. For example, a telepresence service tailored for the hearing impaired requires high-definition video that is of sufficiently reliable quality to permit users "to perceive subtle hand and finger motions" in real time. And paid prioritization may have other compelling applications in telemedicine. Likewise, for autonomous vehicles that may require instantaneous data transmission, black letter prohibitions on paid prioritization may actually stifle innovation instead of encouraging it. Commercial arrangements that entail prioritizing such traffic could ensure the low latency levels needed to achieve the high level of data quality necessary for such services to thrive.
Comcast stood by its 2014 statement in support of a rebuttable presumption against "exclusive [paid prioritization] arrangements and arrangements that prioritize a broadband provider's own affiliated content vis-à-vis unaffiliated content."

Though Comcast says paid prioritization would benefit telemedicine applications, the existing rules already allow ISPs to provide isolated network capacity for telemedicine*, as we've previously written. VoIP phone offerings, heart monitors, and energy consumption sensors are also allowed under this exception to the net neutrality rules.
* That prior article is titled "Net neutrality hurts health care and helps porn, Republican senator claims" and is subtitled "Does the senator's argument make any sense? Let's look at the facts." Jon Brodkin rebuts some comments from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and breaks down net neutrality regulations as they stand (or if you're reading this from a darker future, stood).

Similarly, from back in 2014: AT&T claims to embrace net neutrality but could still offer “fast lanes” -- AT&T's proposed DirecTV merger comes with a vague net neutrality commitment. (Jon Brodkin again)

One final article from Jon Brodkin: FCC explains why public support for net neutrality won’t stop repeal -- Americans who support net neutrality find that their voices don’t count for much. (Ars Technica, Nov. 22, 2017)
Public opinion helped push the FCC to adopt rules that prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling Internet content and from charging websites or other online services for priority treatment on the network.

Public opinion hasn't changed much in the two-plus years that the rules have been on the books. The cable lobby surveyed registered voters this year and found that most of them continue to support bans on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Multiple polls have found that net neutrality rules are popular with both Democratic and Republican voters (PDF).

It was thus no surprise to see a huge backlash to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to eliminate the rules. While most of the 22 million public comments on the plan were spam and form letters, a study funded by the broadband industry found that 98.5 percent of unique comments supported the current rules. Net neutrality supporters organized an "Internet-wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality" in July and plan more protests in the coming days [Dec. 7, 2017 -- ed.] as a final vote draws near.

But net neutrality rules have some vocal and influential opponents. The most prominent are Republican politicians and regulators, conservative think tanks, and the Internet service providers that have to follow the rules. Those are the voices that counted most in Pai's decision to eliminate popular consumer protection regulations.
Pai, like so many Republicans, seems to have a bad case of selective hearing.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:59 PM on November 27 [5 favorites]


Ian Bogost, Atlantic: Network Neutrality Can't Fix the Internet
In a new video advocating for network neutrality—a name for regulating internet providers like public utilities—the American Civil Liberties Union declares that “giant internet companies shouldn’t have the power to mess with what we read, watch, and explore online.” The ACLU is referring to broadband and wireless carriers like Comcast and AT&T, who would have the power to throttle, charge for, or even block access to services, websites, or other online resources if the Obama-era rules are rolled back.

Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai announced the agency’s plans to do precisely that. The plan will likely pass along party lines at the next FCC meeting December 14.

It makes sense to construe broadband and wireless providers as common carriers, like telephone companies and utilities. And a majority of Americans, no matter their affiliation, support regulating internet providers in this manner. But advocates must also acknowledge that the internet is hardly a healthy environment for competition, consumer protection, and equity of use even with net-neutrality guidelines in place.
He argues that net neutrality won't stop tech giants like Facebook and Google from continuing to damage the "free and open" internet.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:50 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone argues that NN alone will solve all of our Internet related problems. It does prevent the most egregious monopoly abuses and preserves the possibility of new competitors arising to challenge Facebook and Google (and Comcast, at&t, et al), however.

It's worth the fight, but it is correct that this one battle is not the entire war.
posted by wierdo at 2:18 AM on November 29 [6 favorites]


Pew Research Center: Public Comments to the Federal Communications Commission About Net Neutrality Contain Many Inaccuracies and Duplicates. Highlights from their findings include:
Many submissions seemed to include false or misleading personal information. Some 57% of the comments utilized either duplicate email addresses or temporary email addresses created with the intention of being used for a short period of time and then discarded. In addition, many individual names appeared thousands of times in the submissions. As a result, it is often difficult to determine if any given comment came from a specific citizen or from an unknown person (or entity) submitting multiple comments using unverified names and email addresses.

There is clear evidence of organized campaigns to flood the comments with repeated messages. Of the 21.7 million comments posted, 6% were unique. The other 94% were submitted multiple times – in some cases, hundreds of thousands of times. In fact, the seven most-submitted comments (six of which argued against net neutrality regulations) comprise 38% of all the submissions over the four-month comment period.
In addition, Bloomberg reports, FCC Got 444,938 Net-Neutrality Comments From Russian Email Addresses.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:33 PM on November 29 [3 favorites]


Comcast deleted net neutrality pledge the same day FCC announced repeal -- Three-year-old "no paid prioritization" pledge was suddenly removed. (Jon Brodkin for Ars Technica)
We wrote earlier this week about how Comcast has changed its promises to uphold net neutrality by pulling back from previous statements that it won't charge websites or other online applications for fast lanes.

Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice has been claiming (tweet) that we got the story wrong. But a further examination of how Comcast's net neutrality promises have changed over time reveals another interesting tidbit—Comcast deleted a "no paid prioritization" pledge from its net neutrality webpage on the very same day that the Federal Communications Commission announced its initial plan to repeal net neutrality rules.

Starting in 2014, the webpage, corporate.comcast.com/openinternet/open-net-neutrality, contained this statement: "Comcast doesn't prioritize Internet traffic or create paid fast lanes."
And then FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans to eliminate Net Neutrality on April 26, 2017. The Wayback Machine caught Comcast's page before and after that date, and yup, they changed their statements.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:29 AM on November 30 [3 favorites]


Ajit Pai's Shell Game (Susan Crawford for Wired, Nov. 29, 2017)
I’ve got bad news for everyone who is working overtime to protest Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai’s campaign to eliminate net neutrality: You are being tricked. Pai is running a kind of shell game, overreaching (“go ahead and run all the paid prioritization services you want, Comcast!”) so that we will focus our energies on the hard-to-pin-down concept of net neutrality—the principle of internet access fairness that he has vowed to eliminate.

Pai is hoping to use outrage over net neutrality to drive everyone into the mosh pit of special interests that is lobbying on Capitol Hill. There will be strident calls from every side for reworking the existing Telecommunications Act to ensure that net neutrality continues. Just watch: The incumbents will piously say, “We like net neutrality too! We just need a different statute.” That’s a trap. We have a perfectly good statute already, and the Obama-era FCC’s interpretation of that statute so as to ensure an open internet—including its labeling of these giant companies as common carriers, which was necessary in order for open internet rules to be enforceable—has already been found reasonable. On the Hill, the public will be out-lobbied at every turn by the essentially unlimited resources of Comcast, Charter, CenturyLink, Verizon, and AT&T.

The real problem is a complete absence of leadership and policy aimed at making sure that low-priced, ubiquitous, world-class fiber optic services reach every home and business. Left to their own devices, the giant US companies Pai is determined to protect have every incentive to divide markets, avoid capital investments in upgrades to fiber that reach everyone, charge as much as they can get away with, and leave out poorer and rural people. That is in fact what has happened here.
This has already happened to a degree, starting with an effort to lower US broadband standard from 25 to 10Mbps, which would mean that current cell phone data plans are sufficient to count as "internet access" and "solve" the United States' broadband accessibility problems. Crawford goes on:
I’ve spent the last few months visiting scrappy cities all over America that are charting their own destinies. They’re planning for economic growth and social justice; they’re looking hard at the challenges they face, including workforce development and affordable housing; and no one I talk to mentions Donald Trump. What these cities have in common is that they treat fiber optic internet access as a utility, like water, electricity, sewer service, and their street grid: available to all, without discrimination, at a reasonable cost. That’s completely at odds with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plans for the country. And the tension between these two views is shaping up to be an explosive issue for the next presidential election.
I'm not sure if I buy it that net neutrality and access in general will be "an explosive issue," but here's hoping.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:31 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Damn, flt, that is some depressing shit right there.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:44 PM on November 30


But wait, there's more!

FCC Wants to Kill Net Neutrality. Congress Will Pay the Price (Ryan Signel for Wired, Dec. 3, 2017)
For years, those broadband providers have used lawsuits and agency filings to fight FCC oversight and overturn its authority to prevent net neutrality abuses. But never in those companies’ most feverish dreams did they expect an FCC chair would propose to demolish all net neutrality protections and allow ISPs to extract tolls from every business in the country.

Even industry analysts who expected the reclassification of broadband providers from Title II common carriers to Title I information services were stunned. Following Pai’s announcement, independent cable analyst Craig Moffett sent out an email to investors entitled "Shock and Awe and Net Neutrality," writing, “We've known since the election that the FCC would reverse Title II. But we never expected this. Yesterday’s FCC Draft Order on Net Neutrality went much further than we ever could've imagined in not only reversing Title II, but in dismantling virtually all of the important tenets of net neutrality itself.”

If Congress allows Pai’s plan to pass, all that will be left of FCC oversight of broadband providers is a weak disclosure requirement: If Verizon, for example, wants to block content, charge sites to be viewable on its network, or create paid fast lanes, the company will simply have to tell its subscribers in their contract’s fine print. (Broadband providers won’t have to disclose, and the FCC won’t have control over, the sneakier ways they’ve found to mess with the internet.)

Enforcement will be left to the Federal Trade Commission, an agency that’s never enforced open internet rules and has no ability to formulate its own. The FTC won’t even be able to protect consumers against most net neutrality violations after the fact, and nor will it be able to protect consumers against greedy broadband providers.

And violations will come if Pai’s plan passes.

AT&T's Ed Whitacre summarized broadband providers’ true motivations best back in 2005: “Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?," he said. "The internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts.”

Verizon echoed that sentiment in 2013 when it sued to challenge the 2010 open internet rules. It told a federal court (YouTube) that as an “information service” it had the right to charge online services like Yelp access fees simply to work on its network and should be able block those sites from Verizon subscribers if Yelp didn’t pay. (Verizon won that case, leading to the 2015 order and the reclassification of broadband providers as “common carriers”.)
...
Since the order was released, they’ve flooded Congress with more than half a million calls, and that’s only counting calls placed through the site BattleForTheNet.com.

The citizen outrage crosses party lines; net neutrality is more popular than both parties combined. A poll this summer found that 77 percent of Americans support the current protections, including 73 percent of Republicans.

This is not surprising. History has shown that internet freedom is the new third rail of US politics.

In 2012, a bipartisan majority of Congress was dead set on passing SOPA, a law ostensibly intended to stop online copyright infringement but which would have threatened huge swaths of the internet. All conventional wisdom said it was a done deal. Then, freedom-loving people of the internet melted representatives' phone lines after a day of online action in January 2012. Even SOPA’s biggest supporters had to concede the internet killed SOPA.
As I previously cited, Pai likes public opinion—but only when it agrees with him. The rest of the time he'll write it off and cite the duplicate text and repeated use of online forms to submit comments as justification that the public isn't really commenting.

But he's not in an elected position, so it'll all come back on Congress when websites are charged to access the internet and startups and small businesses can't compete with Amazon or Walmart to pay for their online presence.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:29 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


If Pai ignores online pleas, maybe he'll pay attention when protesters take to the streets, specifically in front of Verizon stores on Dec. 7 (Pai was associate general counsel at the telecom giant from 2001 to 2003, and Verizon is mum on its stance here, but takes the opportunity to remind everyone that they have bigger dreams than being a telecom, envisioning a future where it's sensors are part of so-called "smart cities," embedded in things like asphalt, food containers, clothes as well as placing cameras on lampposts). If you want to join a crowd in front of a Verizon store on Dec. 7, Battle for the Net has locations of protest rallies across the U.S.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:39 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


Protesting in front of Verizon stores is a brilliant move. I guess Comcast lacks that vulnerability.
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on December 4


And if you do go out on Dec. 7, you may have plenty of company, as net neutrality activists took over reddit with protest posts, raising the visibility of net neutrality significantly. Meanwhile, AT&T wants you to forget that it blocked FaceTime over cellular in 2012, now stating "none of those predictions [that AT&T was going to block your access to third-party applications and to require you to use its own preferred applications] ever came true then and they won’t come true after the FCC acts here either" despite the fact that AT&T blocked the use of FaceTime in 2012, unless you had certain data plans, and helpfully reminding folks that FaceTime still worked via WiFi. Where you're not using AT&T's network.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:55 AM on December 4 [3 favorites]


A trio of articles from Jon Brodkin on Ars Technica from yesterday:

* Democrat asks why FCC is hiding ISPs’ answers to net neutrality complaints -- Records request for net neutrality complaints and resolutions still unfulfilled.
With a vote to eliminate net neutrality rules scheduled for December 14, the Federal Communications Commission apparently still hasn't released thousands of documents containing the responses ISPs made to net neutrality complaints.
Which feels like they're just running down the clock, as Pai said he won't delay the vote (despite a pending court case), at which time such complaints are old news.

Pai says FTC will protect consumers—but FTC could lose its regulatory authority.
The Federal Communications Commission will move ahead with its vote to kill net neutrality rules next week despite an unresolved court case that could strip away even more consumer protections.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that net neutrality rules aren't needed because the Federal Trade Commission can protect consumers from broadband providers. But a pending court case involving AT&T could strip the FTC of its regulatory authority over AT&T and similar ISPs.

A few dozen consumer advocacy groups and the City of New York urged Pai to delay the net neutrality-killing vote in a letter today (PDF). If the FCC eliminates its rules and the court case goes AT&T's way, there would be a "'regulatory gap' that would leave consumers utterly unprotected," the letter said.

When contacted by Ars, Pai's office issued this statement in response to the letter:
This is just evidence that supporters of heavy-handed Internet regulations are becoming more desperate by the day as their effort to defeat Chairman Pai's plan to restore Internet freedom has stalled. The vote will proceed as scheduled on December 14.
Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge is not satisfied by Pai's response.

"Forty organizations ask the Federal Communications Commission why, if they are relying on the FTC to protect consumers, they do not do the prudent thing and wait until the cloud over FTC jurisdiction is resolved," Public Knowledge Senior VP Harold Feld told Ars. "The FCC's official response is name calling. This tells anyone interested who is 'fear mongering' and who really has the interests of consumers at heart."
That response from Pai's office is the stuff of 2017, when "public" representatives gleefully brush aside public concerns as the new norm, thanks to the dunce in the White House.

Meanwhile, Charter brags about big speed boost—after saying Title II stalled investment -- Charter told investors that net neutrality regs "didn't really hurt us."
The amazing thing is that Charter is [Increasing Flagship Broadband Speeds; Giving Customers More For Less] despite the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules and related Title II regulation of ISPs as common carriers. In July, Charter told the FCC (PDF) that the "broad and vague prohibitions" in the rules "have caused broadband providers to reconsider innovations and investments out of concern that regulators could squelch, or force significant modifications to, those ventures after funds had been expended."
Thank you for saving the internet, Mr. Pai! *spits*
posted by filthy light thief at 8:43 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]




Crossfiled to the "NY Times is a garbage heap" file:
Why Concerns About Net Neutrality Are Overblown
It's embarrassingly stupid, the gist is that telecom companies rarely violate net neutrality laws, and when they do they get caught, so therefore those laws aren't really necessary.

Then a byline so anodyne that it virtually screams that something is being left out:
Ken Engelhart, a lawyer specializing in communications law, is a senior adviser for StrategyCorp, an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and a senior fellow at the C. D. Howe Institute.

And lo, 5 seconds of Googling reveals that he was Senior Vice President of Rogers Communications.

Along with copious articles featuring him getting personally slapped around by regulators for violating net neutrality laws.
posted by bjrubble at 12:01 AM on December 6 [10 favorites]


bjrubble, that's pretty awful.

“Face reality! We need net neutrality!” Crowds chant across the country -- Protests led by various activist groups manage to turn out crowds large and small. (filed under This Is What Democracy Looks Like; written by Beth Mole, Timothy B. Lee, Cyrus Farivar, and John Timmer for Ars Technica, Dec. 8, 2017)
Protestors across the nation rallied in support for network neutrality on Thursday, a week before the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to take a historic vote rolling back network neutrality regulations. Protestors say those regulations, which were enacted by the Obama FCC in 2015, are crucial for protecting an open Internet.

Organizers chose to hold most of the protests outside of Verizon cell phone stores. Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman who is leading the agency's charge to repeal network neutrality, is a former Verizon lawyer, and Verizon has been a critic of the Obama network neutrality rules.

Ars visited protests in Washington DC, New York, and San Francisco.

The protest that got the most attention from FCC decision makers took place on Thursday evening in Washington DC. The FCC was holding a dinner event at the Hilton on Connecticut Avenue, just north of the city's Dupont Circle area. Protestors gathered on the street corner outside the hotel, waving pro-net neutrality posters to traffic, blaring chants, projecting pro-net neutrality messages on a building across the street, and telling personal stories about what net neutrality meant to them via a megaphone.

The FCC's two Democratic commissioners also joined the demonstration, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel. They both gave brief speeches to the protestors, rallying for the cause and discussing the importance of a neutral Internet. You can watch their brief speeches below. In a brief interview with Ars afterward, Clyburn said she was optimistic about the future of net neutrality, though she added "It may not happen overnight."
Not huge turn-outs, but not nothing. Also fooking awesome to hear that the two Dem commissioners joined the demonstration.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:59 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel

I'll give the writers this, they're coming up with some first-rate character names this season.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:35 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


And for anyone feeling particularly masochistic, I was at the FCCBA dinner ("telecom prom") and you can watch most of Pai's speech here. I can't take credit for shooting that, but I'm glad that someone did. Telecom prom is a bit like the White House Correspondent's Association dinner ("nerd prom") in that it's a scholarship fundraiser traditional for the chair to tell a bunch of jokes of varying quality, but this year felt unusually mean-spirited.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 11:07 PM on December 8 [2 favorites]


From PCGamer's writeup, (but really watch the Gizmodo video.):
But the jokes didn't end there. Later on in his speech, Pai plays a video skit of a time when he was still employed by Verizon in 2003. In the video, Verizon senior VP and deputy general counsel Kathy Grillo, sits down with Pai to discuss "capturing" the FCC.

"We want to brainwash and groom a Verizon puppet to install as FCC chairman," Grillo says to Pai.

Pai responds by saying "that sounds awesome."

Grillo then says that the process would take 14 years, which lands us directly into 2017—where Pai is actually in the process of dismantling net neutrality.

"We need to find someone, smart, young, ambitious but dorky enough to throw the scent off," Grillo tells Pai.

"Hello," Pai responds, suggesting he's the obvious candidate.

Grillo then tells Pai that Verizon needs to find another puppet that's a Republican and can win the presidency in 2016. Both sit back and think about the situation while a video of Donald Trump plays in the background.
posted by Catblack at 10:56 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Ron Swanson not impressed with Ajit Pai: "I'm flattered that my pyramid of greatness has inspired you. I will remind you that the top category is Honor. Sadly, based on your duplicitous handling of the net neutrality issue, and the way you are willfully ignoring the public you claim to serve, I feel you may need that term defined. Which means, of course, that you don't have it."
posted by elsietheeel at 10:57 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


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