Just whose Internet is it? New federal rules may answer that

January 31, 2015 byAnne Flaherty
In this Oct. 8, 2014 file photo, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks during new conference in Washington. Whose Internet is it anyway? Wheeler says he's keeping that question in mind as he pitches the biggest regulatory shake-up to the telecommunications industry since 1996, when people still used noisy modems and referred to the "information superhighway" as a fun way to buy books or check the weather. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Whose Internet is it anyway?

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, says he's keeping that question in mind as he pitches the biggest regulatory shake-up to the telecommunications industry since 1996, when people still used noisy modems and referred to the "information superhighway" as a fun way to buy books or check the weather.

Wheeler has not publicly released his plan yet, and might not for a few weeks. But he has suggested that Internet service has become as critical to people in the United States as water, electricity or phone service and should be regulated like any other public utility.

Wheeler told reporters this past week that he wants "yardsticks in place to determine what is in the best interest of consumers as opposed to what is in the best interest of the gatekeepers."

That has the industry sounding the alarms, warning consumers of an inevitable $72 annual tax increase on each U.S. wireless account. But advocates of the approach say that is not likely to happen and that your Internet experience probably will carry on as usual.

A look at what "net neutrality" means and what is likely to happen:

____

THE ISSUE

Net neutrality is the idea that Internet providers should not move some content faster than others or enter into paid agreements with companies such as Netflix to prioritize their data.

Broadband providers have questioned the fairness of this approach. They have invested heavily in a sophisticated infrastructure and question whether the government should be telling them how to run their networks and package services.

But what if the major cable companies that provide much of the nation's broadband had free rein to load some files faster than others? It is easy to imagine scenarios where these providers might favor content produced by their affiliates or start charging "tolls" to move data. Consumers naturally would gravitate toward faster sites and services that pay those fees, while smaller startups or nonprofits get shut out.

____

THE OPTIONS

The FCC had used the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which was intended to encourage competition in the telephone and cable industry, to enforce "open Internet" rules, until recently, when a federal appeals court knocked down that approach.

President Barack Obama and consumer advocates say a better tack would be to apply Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. That law, written with radio, telegraph and phone service in mind, prohibits companies from charging unreasonable rates or threatening access to services that are critical to society.

Industry likens that approach to cracking a nut with a sledgehammer.

____

THE FCC

Wheeler says he will circulate his proposal among the other FCC commissioners before Thursday. He has suggested it probably will apply Title II regulation to all Internet service, including wireless, but with some caveats.

Industry experts expect that Wheeler will say many rules should not apply to broadband, invoking what's called "forbearance."

The commissioners will vote Feb. 26. Wheeler expected to have the support of the other two Democratic commissioners. The two Republican commissioners have made clear that they do not support applying Title II.

Next stop will be the courts. Industry lobbyists and FCC officials say there's no doubt one of the big providers will sue and probably ask the court to suspend enforcement of the new regulation pending appeal. It's possible the issue won't be resolved for several more years, even well into the next president's first term.

___

CONGRESS

Lawmakers could try to resolve the uncertainty, but Congress rarely is that pragmatic. Lawmakers tend to take on issues that fire up their base or bring their states money, and an in-the-weeds compromise on telecommunications law would be a lot of work with little immediate payoff.

So far, Republicans have pitched an idea that would enforce basic open Internet rules but could strip the FCC of its ability to help local municipalities build their own broadband. It's a nonstarter for Obama and congressional Democrats who say poor and rural areas have been left behind in the deployment of high-speed Internet.

Assuming Wheeler's proposal satisfies consumer advocacy groups, Democrats would have little incentive to revisit the issue. While Republicans have the votes to ram though their own anti-regulation legislation without Democratic support, Obama would veto it.

___

CONSUMERS

Most Internet providers, except Sprint, have warned the legal uncertainty will chill future investments. FCC officials point to a recent wireless spectrum auction that has attracted some $44 billion as proof that the telecommunications industry is thriving even amid the current uncertainty.

As for taxes, the Progressive Policy Institute estimated that treating the Internet like phone service would trigger taxes and fees up to $15 billion a year, including $67 for each wired service and $72 for wireless in state and local taxes.

But that report, widely quoted by industry lobbyists, did not take into account the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prohibits state and local governments from imposing new taxes on Internet access, or the FCC's ability to shield consumers against some state and local taxes by claiming the Internet is an "interstate" service.

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ayesdi_fdesay
4 / 5 (4) Jan 31, 2015
Net neutrality is just a ploy to give government more control of the internet! If only franchise agreements granting territorial exclusivity were done away with, the free market could solve all of our problems! /SARCASM

Telecommunications is a natural monopoly. High initial capital costs, unavoidable barriers to entry (no, we can't have e.g. each new provider digging up everything up to run their own redundant set of lines), and low operating costs. You either let the gov't control the infrastructure and artificially create a market in which many service providers are forced (kicking and screaming) to compete, or let a single private company own the infrastructure but regulate them heavily, e.g. they cannot simultaneously be in the business of providing service or content, they have to be a dumb pipe, etc etc.

Other nations figured this out ages ago (and are reaping the benefits), but here in the U.S. the entrenched interests have too much control over the gov't and media.
ayesdi_fdesay
5 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2015
And these wireless spectrum auctions are just as insane and for the same reasons.
BSD
5 / 5 (5) Jan 31, 2015
Corporates can't be trusted is as simple as that.
mooster75
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 31, 2015
Net neutrality is just a ploy to give government more control of the internet! If only franchise agreements granting territorial exclusivity were done away with, the free market could solve all of our problems! /SARCASM

Sorry about the downvote, but when you use sarcasm on the internet, you play with fire. The first sentence was so infuriatingly stupid, I'm afraid I had a kneejerk reaction...
aksdad
1 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2015
Telecommunications is a natural monopoly.

Interesting opinion with no bearing on the real world. How many internet service providers are there in your state? Mine is one of the smaller states and there are dozens of providers statewide. Where's the monopoly?

In any free market economy, the natural tendency is for increasing--not decreasing--competition. In other words, monopolies tend to go away all by themselves. Monopolies only exist briefly when someone innovates a new and disruptive technology. Soon others jump into the market.

Remember expensive long distance phone call charges? A thing of the past. The reason is because of deregulation, technological innovation and increased competition in telecommunications.

Internet access becomes cheaper every year per Mbps bandwidth and more people have access to it than ever before--all without any regulation whatsoever. Why do you want to spoil a good thing by putting it in the hands of stupid bureaucrats?
aksdad
1 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2015
Corporates can't be trusted is as simple as that.

And bureaucrats can be?

At least corporations are competing with each other for customers which keeps them innovating and offering better and cheaper services over time. Bureaucrats have no such incentive.
Cave_Man
5 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2015
Corporates can't be trusted is as simple as that.

And bureaucrats can be?

At least corporations are competing with each other for customers which keeps them innovating and offering better and cheaper services over time. Bureaucrats have no such incentive.

When the corporations come up with a scheme to shift their profit base from the people who are buying their service to select content provides thereby creating a tiered internet structure it has nothing to do with what you are talking about. That's what is up for debate here not meaningless facts about the progression of technology.
aksdad
1 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2015
Thanks for the laugh, Doug Huffman. Jonathan Zittrain's writing is another boring example of the prehistoric command-and-control philosophy of modern liberalism. You can sum it up as:

"The (internet/economy/health care system/banking system) is a mess and I can fix it with my new and improved centralized control system."

It should be abundantly obvious from the spectacular failures of communism in the 20th century that centralized control of economies and massive utilities is a terrible idea.

It's difficult for some to understand that freedom works and it works fabulously. Billions of people all working in their own self-interest building stuff that makes up the Internet collaborate and innovate millions of times better than any cadre of self-appointed intelligentsia could even begin to dream of. Adam Smith's "invisible hand" at work. He figured out the genius of free markets over 250 years ago and modern economies continue to prove him right.

Freedom. It's amazing.
aksdad
1 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2015
Cave Man, so what you're saying is that it's fine for the bandwidth hog in my neighborhood to pay the same rate as me when he uses ten times the bandwidth I do and reduces my effective bandwidth at hours I need it most? That's the essence of your argument.

Bandwidth isn't free. It costs money to build all the infrastructure to bring high-bandwidth access to me; the equipment at both ends of the connection and all the hardware in between. You think that the companies who built all that shouldn't charge customers different rates for different amounts of bandwidth? They've been doing it for decades and that model works great, just as it does in every other area of commerce. You use more (gas, electricity, water, etc.), you pay more. Why would you think the internet is any different?
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2015
Telecommunications is a natural monopoly.

Interesting opinion with no bearing on the real world. How many internet service providers are there in your state? Mine is one of the smaller states and there are dozens of providers statewide. Where's the monopoly?

Thus starts a sequence of peculiarly anti-consumer punditry. Dare I use the Jim Jones/Kool-Aid gambit?

How many of those ISPs can you as an individual choose from? Do you not understand what is meant by 'competition'? Or is it that you would prefer to synthesize your own definition, at odds with the rest of the world? And I shouldn't have to point out that merely using yourself as an example, a single data point, is pretty weak. Well no, it's downright misleading.

Your mention of 'free market' is disingenuous. We don't have a free market. The barriers to entry have been made so high, all competition is quashed. There are no new entrepreneurs, competing to give us better value for lower price.
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2015
It's unlikely a government run service would be as efficient as one offered by an enterprise strongly motivated to reduce costs. We all understand that. That's not the choice offered us by the preeminent ISPs.

Does the United States exist to succor large enterprises, or do suffer our government with the prospect it can make life better for individual citizens?

For-profit entities exist to increase revenue, make more money.

Some do so by getting more customers, by doing a better job of providing good products at more attractive prices than their competition.

When there are no more customers to be had, or there is little or no competition, those companies will seek revenue other ways. They have no choice, as they are, by definition, driven to make profit.

If the intent is to ensure good consumer service, government intervention is the best of all bad choices in such a situation. Your starry-eyed prognostication of some rose-tinted capitalist Shangri-La notwithstanding.
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2015
You use more (gas, electricity, water, etc.), you pay more. Why would you think the internet is any different?

That's not an apt comparison. Not sure if you use it out of ignorance, or if you are being intentionally misleading.

Data bits are intangible. Aside from the outlay to implement layer zero - the wire or whatever that carries the bits, the incremental cost to provide more bandwidth is minimal, not at all linearly proportional to what is consumed. Yet consumers are charged significantly greater rates for only moderate increases in speed. If there were more competitive alternatives to choose from, it would not be such.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
I found a dating service operated to facilitate international marriages with chinese women. In order to be on the site the women are required full background check and passport verification, and they are required to prove their identity to company with live video every 3 weeks.

You have no freaking idea how liberating it is to log onto a website and talk to women who are provably REAL and are not con artists or prostitutes and just have a conversation with them.

These girls are awesome. Business owners, doctors, teachers, middle management...nearly a half million of them and all in excellent condition.

Hoorah for government regulation. You haven't experienced freedom until you experience con-free online communication with a perfect 10 who is practically on the verge of offering to pay your way to come see her, instead of the other way around.

American UNREGULATED dating sites SUCK as they are nothing but a cesspool of cons, pros, and weirdos with extreme fetishes.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
Also, the "Single mother" in China is a bilingual business owner or teacher and perfect 10 too, who owns her own place.

Then 50 of them message you within the first 3 days and have hours long conversation with any one you like and they are intelligent and very well written.

The "Single Mother" in the U.S. dating site is some poor girl who got dumped by her last boyfriend and doesn't own anything, and can't write above a 3rd or 4th grade level, or if she is educated (doctor, teacher, nurse, etc,) she doesn't talk to a guy unless he speaks some secret woman code language and has twice as much income as she has.

I figured out the Chinese are not actually exporting women. They are importing men, as many of these women do not plan to leave China, except on vacation. They just want a western guy for the same reason guys want an eastern woman: natural attraction.

Government regulation literally provides more freedom than non-regulation.

This is obvious.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
It's unlikely a government run service would be as efficient as one offered by an enterprise strongly motivated to reduce costs. We all understand that. That's not the choice offered us by the preeminent ISPs.


I've already listed one.
Well, it's not technically government run, but you are required to prove via government papers your identity, and you are required to continually update your proof.
This makes it impossible to get away with cons.

True freedom is freedom from evil, not American so-called "freedom" for the evil people to mercilessly screw over the good people, only to get a slap on the wrist after the fact.

Girl gets killed/raped from an unregulated dating service?

Where is American law enforcement?

Oh yeah, cleaning up the poor woman's guts after the fact doesn't help anybody.

That is an ABOMINATION of Godless lack of order, and it is PROACTIVELY enabling evil and doing nothing proactive to prevent that evil. absolutely nothing.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
All laws are regulations:

"Thou shalt not kill(murder)".

Hey. We acknowledge that there are evil people. It is not enough for government and law enforcement to simply acknowledge that murderers exist (U.S. government/law enforcement).

If military defense was done the same way domestic law enforcement is done, we wouldn't even have a boot camp and we wouldn't haev technology. We'd just sit around and wait to get attacked, and then decide to go bury the dead after it happens.

That's how domestic "law enforcement" works.

Do nothing, and wait for the next murder or rape or theft, then go try to "fix" the mess afterwards. Flower shop down the street doesn't even donate to the family, but they have to buy the flowers for the funeral CAPITALISM. Screw your neighbor over even in the midst of their tragedy.

Freedom in America is not freed from sin or evil, it's literally freedom to do evil, and it is bondage for good and decent people.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
The whole thing needs to be bought out by the Government, as the Commerce Clause gives the Government precedence and control over travel and communication across state borders and most bodies of water anyway.

An unregulated internet is literally like that movie "The Purge" (I didn't watch that) but the notion of no laws for a day...

That's the internet. almost no laws. Do what you want. Cheat who you want, as long as yo don't get caught, and most of the time since they can't be tracked, you can't catch them anyway, all you can do is ban an account.

Like me, I might get banned for controversial views, but I don't rob, cheat, steal, rape, or kill people.

A woman using a dating service in the U.S. is literally the same as if she got out of her car in a dark alley in a strange city and walked blindly to go meet someone who's identity can't be verified. So it's no wonder they don't work, even the respected ones.

In good cases they probably re-meet an old friend
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
The thing about some governments hacking U.S. companies?

Well guess what?

U.S. patent laws are contrary to nature. They proclaim a monopoly to all knowledge and technology, including almost to the point of "flat, smooth rectangular device with curved corners".

"First come first served" regarding knowledge and technology is literally a violation of the "inalienable rights" of pursuit of happiness and liberty, because a patent gives a company the power to hold everyone else in bondage...which is also a violation of the 14th amendment (in spirit even if not directly).

There are two chip makers in the U.S. and nobody competes with them because they own everything, including the knowledge itself. In some cases they own fundamental reality concepts.

That is slavery.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
The reason this is a "democratic republic" and not an "absolute democracy" is because sometimes the majority is simply wrong. Absolute democracy is anarchy.

Anarchy is the U.S. internet.
Anarchy is a serial killer getting away with 20 consecutive murders before someone finally catches the bastard.

Anarchy is a football player druging and raping two girls in the middle of a bar and nobody noticing it or giving a damn while he takes them to a back room, or the hotel down the street, and rapes both of them.

They get away with it 10 or 20 times when they should have been caught the first time.

They get away with it a few times when they never should have had the opportunity in the first place in the modern world.

Law enforcement doesn't actually protect anybody. It just cleans up dead bodies after the fact, and the murderer gets out of jail on some technicality, or they arrest the wrong person and it takes 20 years to prove that person innocent. Cameras solve that.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
Our entertainment is literally the personal evisceration of other people in slasher movies and horror movies, or watching boxing or UFC (hey I've done it but it gets old fast when you think about the moral ramifications), or "rastling"...

Let's entertain ourselves by watching some people beat the hell out of one another, then wonder why we have nothing but violence and unrest.

Domestic violence.
murder
rape

Almost every major movie in the U.S. is based on people killing one another, and in some cases you are literally made to root for the bad guy and made to find it comical.

This stuff is detrimental to normal people, so it has to be bad for people who already have screwed up tendancies. One of the more recent mass shooters was literally dressed as the Joker from Batman. You don't think that movie had an impact on his decisions? Why was he emulating the character if not?

I watched the movie and was horrified by the fact people laughed at the hospital scene.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
The movie is inappropriate or all audiences, and demonstrates the viciousness, ease, and method of several urban, guerrilla warfare/terrorist tactics, and it plays on basic television almost completely unedited.

I can't even discuss some things I figured out about how this works, because I don't want to give the bastards ideas, but Hollywood has no end of writers and directors giving the purely evil people and the unstable people a laundry list of ideas of how to execute rape, pillage and murder...

I cringed at it when it was on television. I watched a scene of it and I was like, "this is too much". I was horrified when I saw it at the theatre, because I don't watch movies very much any more, and when I do watch them I am horrified at the sheer amount of murder I used to watch when I was watching movies.

Internet is the same way, except worse. You log on and talk to someone and they can be anybody at all, and you can't prove it.
Humbled1
not rated yet Feb 01, 2015
Now I'll tell you where I live, for example, but my information is not going to all be displayed simultaneously publicly.

I live in Louisiana, but because of the way our financial system works regarding loans and such, I am not giving my address publically, because a person can take out a loan in my name just by having my name and address, and don't need any proof that they are me.

Some loan companies literally send un-solicited "blank checks" in the mail with 2500 to 3k credit limit and your info on it which they somehow got without permission, and any person along the way could have swiped it and used it without you even knowing it happened.

I want that crap stopped.

I want "fax you an unsolicited ad on your machine and your ink" stopped. It's theft and harassment.

I want "unidentified person from God only knows where pretends to be a girl on the U.S. dating site and is really a con artist and two days later they ask for money..." STOPPED.

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