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Net Neutrality Vets Join Obama FCC Transition Team

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the setting-the-table dept.

Communications 179

circleid writes "The Obama-Biden transition team on Friday named two long-time net neutrality advocates to head up its Federal Communications Commission Review team. Susan Crawford, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, member of the board of directors of ICANN, and OneWebDay founder, as well as Kevin Werbach, former FCC staffer, organizer of the annual Supernova technology conference, and a Wharton professor, will lead the Obama-Biden transition team's review of the FCC. 'Both are highly-regarded outside-the-Beltway experts in telecom policy, and they've both been pretty harsh critics of the Bush administration's telecom policies in the past year.' The choice of the duo strongly signals an entirely different approach to the incumbent-friendly telecom policy-making that's characterized most of the past eight-years at the FCC." Reuters has a related story about Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who plans to introduce net neutrality legislation in January.

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179 comments

So... (1, Offtopic)

liquidMONKEY (749280) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770135)

...does this mean you'll be able to hear a random "fuck" on free-to-air television in the U.S. now without a hefty fine?

I suppose it still depends on how many people are complaining.

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

Davemania (580154) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770179)

Considering that 90% of all complaints were filed by one religious group (can't remember the exact year and name), I don't think the morale police is at the FCC.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

txoof (553270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770309)

I hope we can find a better way to "regulate" OTA TV and radio. I prefer a more libertarian approach here. If CBS wants to show boobies after a reasonable time, say, 9:00 (the internationally accepted "Boobie Hour), have swear words and show people's heads exploding like a melon, let them. The market will sort things out. People will either watch and support CBS' decision and CBS will show more boobies. If people don't watch, CBS will move away from that type of programing, or go out of business. Little kids that are up at 9:00 watching porn are already suffering from parenting fail [youtube.com] and no amount of FCC nanying is going to save them.

If all the OTA networks paid say .5% (or some other equally made up number) of their advertising revenue into a PBS fund that focused on education, solid news and community events, that could satisfy everybody. Anybody who wants to watch TV at the boobie hour, without seeing boobies still has an option and the rest of us can see our boobies and hear fill of swear words. Problem solved. Next?

Besides, I think that seeing a flaming and charred body fly out of an exploding meth-lab-camper on Bones this week is way more scarring to me and just about any kid than hearing an occasional "fuck".

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770373)

If all the OTA networks paid say .5% (or some other equally made up number) of their advertising revenue into a PBS fund that focused on education, solid news and community events, that could satisfy everybody.

Well, it would satisfy liberals at least. They would get the informational benefits of both public broadcasting and a free media.

But what about conservatives? They want obscene content blocked and have little interest in public broadcasting. They would rally against your plan.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

txoof (553270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770395)

It is true that the morally conservative would rally against smut on TV, but perhaps we can move past the vocal minority and allow the market to sort this one out. When one group is allowed to dictate what is and is not obscene, constitutional rights start to get trampled. My art becomes your porn; your ideas become my dangerous propaganda. Clearly, the slippery slope theory isn't very accurate, and we're not going to slip into a 15th century age of repression, but the idea of a minority advocating for the majority is troublesome.

Perhaps using that logic, and the logic of a free market, we can push past the social conservatives and move on to something a bit more free.

Re:So... (2, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770643)

but perhaps we can move past the vocal minority and allow the market to sort this one out.

Such an interesting phrase, in a discussion of net neutrality.

Note that it applies just as well to net neutrality as it does to smut on TV. Or do you really think the people screaming about net neutrality are anything other than a vocal minority? Hint: most people neither know nor care about net neutrality.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770963)

Hint: most people neither know nor care about net neutrality.

That's not accurate. Take a look at this poll [consumersunion.org] , which finds that 54% not only agree with the principle of net neutrality but think that congress should pass a law upholding it.

Re:So... (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770423)

No, conservatives just wouldn't want private corporations to have to pay for someone else's broadcasting costs.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770711)

"Boobies" are always reasonable. They are quite easy to find on the Internet. The Internet is in most every community. Hence based on the standards of the community in your area, boobies are indeed acceptable.

This being said (with as much tongue in check as possible), just stop telling people what they can broadcast. It's none of your business, even if you did license them the airwaves they're using.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770755)

The biggest problem I have with OTA TV today is the extemely rediculous amount of advertising. More than half of every hour is comercials! How is this "serving the public interest"? How about this...the FCC goes back to limiting the amount of cpomercial time per hour...say 10 minutes per hour.

Also, how about someone bringung back QUALITY CONTENT to the TV shows! What we got now is wall to wall "realoty" shows, and way too many sitcoms that fall into the catagory of "meet the new sitcom, same as ALL THE OTHER sitcoms"

Can you guess why I either buy DVDs of all my favorite TV shows and movies, or rent them from Netflix?

Re:So... (1)

SchrodingersRoot (943800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771045)

Where do you watch TV? The hour long broadcast shows I watch are 40-45 minutes long, sans commercials. More commercials than I'd prefer there to be, but substantially less than "more than half of every hour"

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771527)

You're technically right, but with all the overlays and shit they put right over the shows these days, you could easily find many OTA and cable networks who realistically push over 30 minutes of advertising per hour.

Sounds Good, But Won't Work (5, Insightful)

JoeSixpack00 (1327135) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770955)

I prefer a more libertarian approach here. If CBS wants to show boobies after a reasonable time, say, 9:00 (the internationally accepted "Boobie Hour), have swear words and show people's heads exploding like a melon, let them. The market will sort things out. People will either watch and support CBS' decision and CBS will show more boobies.

And you know what will happen? Ratings will skyrocket, resulting in 3 dozen copycat stations - and virtually none for those people who don't want to see nudity and violence all the time (like the reality show trend). Market numbers will always look good for that type of trash, because a large percentage of people who don't like smut 24/7 have already given up on TV anyways (prime example: the book readers). So realistically, you would have to bring those people back to TV to even know what audience you're missing. It's similar to the American Idol effect: ratings went through he roof, because people you didn't even know existed tuned in because it wasn't tabloid TV.

I'm 26 years old, I don't have any kids, I'm not a very religious person, and I don't have a college degree. I don't belong in any of the groups that would typically go for this sort of thing - yet I feel TV is complete garbage. Entirely too much shock value, and not enough substance.

Look, I'm a "Full Blooded American", but I'm honest enough to know that American citizens are neither smart enough or responsible enough to decide what's good for TV. We'd sell our souls and our youth for good entertainment, and we'd do it without hesitation. We're prisoners of the moment, and we never understand - or even care about - the big picture.

Re:Sounds Good, But Won't Work (4, Funny)

ImOnlySleeping (1135393) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771229)

I don't think the idea is to turn tv into porno central. Up north in Canada, stations are allowed to show nudity at certain hours. What it allows is for stations to chose to not censor tv shows or movies from the creators original vision. I can only think of two stations (showcase & citytv) in my area that show any sort of blue movies and that's usually one day a week. It allows us to watch the sopranos as it was filmed. It also goes for the radio as well. I remember listing in the car while I was driving my mom somewhere and Closer by NIN came on. Awkward.

Re:So... (4, Informative)

kipin (981566) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770949)

I think you're looking for the Parents Television Council [wikipedia.org] and some would place the number closer to 99% of all complaints.

This is the same organization that had form letter email campaigns that encouraged people who didn't even watch the damn shoes to report them as "indecent".

I guess you could say they figured out how to DDoS the FCC with complaints.

Re:So... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771021)

encouraged people who didn't even watch the damn shoes to report them as "indecent".

Yeah, Reeboks "Nipple Pump" basketball shoes have just gone too far!

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771291)

Net Neutrality and OTA content monitoring are two VERY different issues.

How many religious groups are complaining about a tiered internet, or "kill packets", or throttled torrents?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771565)

Ah, the Parents Television Council [parentstv.org] , a bastion of free speech for the good old USA.
This ridiculous group's website basically consists of a "Type exactly what we tell you to type, regardless of whether or not you actually saw and/or were offended by it" webform to send complaints directly to the FCC.
Most of the time, the forms are even already filled in (for convenience of course) and just need you to type your name and click "Send".

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771609)

Bad form to reply to one's self (but how do you know I'm the same AC?) but here are some of those pre-filled FCC complaints:
..."The two men's bare torsos can be seen, and Tom is seen loosening the straps of her halter dress, exposing her bare back to TV viewers."...
..."It is implied that all three are naked in bed together covered only by a bedsheet."...
..."Randy: "Get your boobs off my brother!""...
..."Paris Hilton stands in the background and says "That's hot." "...
..."She is shown on screen posing in the nude at length with her breasts, crotch, and buttocks exposed but partially pixilated or barely obscured by a bed sheet or her arm."...

These were all pre-typed, add-your-name-and-send webforms to make "formal" complaints with the FCC - all that the website wants to know is if you live in the particular area that these shows may have been broadcast in - not whether you actually saw, or were offended by, the scenes in question.

This is why there is nothing good on TV anymore.

Re:So... (1)

kayditty (641006) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771771)

uh, yes, they are. we allow them to dictate what can and can't be done over private communications. the police police are the police, but they don't pass laws.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770181)

...does this mean you'll be able to hear a random "fuck" on free-to-air television in the U.S. now without a hefty fine?

I suppose it still depends on how many people are complaining.

yea I got little kids that don't need to be hearing certain things. Its called adult responsibility. It's bad enough some of the shows in certain time blocks are letting in certain topics. Let kids be kids while they are kids. For fucks sake !

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

txoof (553270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770371)

yea I got little kids that don't need to be hearing certain things. Its called adult responsibility.

Exactly! It's your adult responsibility to make sure your kids are not watching smut. If you leave your 5 year-old unattended in front of the TV with the remote, then that's your parenting fail. If you can't trust your 12 year-old to not watch smut when you're not around, then again, that's your [NSFW] parenting fail [failblog.org] . Expecting the government to instill and uphold morality in your family is ridiculous. That is your job.

There has always been opportunity for kids to make poor moral choices and be exposed to media and events that were outside the parents' moral-comfort zone. If you lived in 18th century Paris, you had the choice to go to the guillotine, or you could keep your kids home. It has and always will be up to the parents. If you let your kids run wild and don't take the time to set expectations, they're going to do wrong. Expecting some hand in the sky, or white-house, or capital hill to come in and do it for you is just plain crazy.

Spend time with your kids. Talk to them. Explain why you make choices and how you feel about their choices. No amount of legislation will substitute that.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770505)

yea I got little kids that don't need to be hearing certain things. Its called adult responsibility.

Exactly! It's your adult responsibility to make sure your kids are not watching smut. If you leave your 5 year-old unattended in front of the TV with the remote, then that's your parenting fail. If you can't trust your 12 year-old to not watch smut when you're not around, then again, that's your [NSFW] parenting fail [failblog.org] . Expecting the government to instill and uphold morality in your family is ridiculous. That is your job.

There has always been opportunity for kids to make poor moral choices and be exposed to media and events that were outside the parents' moral-comfort zone. If you lived in 18th century Paris, you had the choice to go to the guillotine, or you could keep your kids home. It has and always will be up to the parents. If you let your kids run wild and don't take the time to set expectations, they're going to do wrong. Expecting some hand in the sky, or white-house, or capital hill to come in and do it for you is just plain crazy.

Spend time with your kids. Talk to them. Explain why you make choices and how you feel about their choices. No amount of legislation will substitute that.

no kidding. But it takes a village to raise an idiot. As a society we have a responsibility to take care of our offspring whether its our child or our neighbor's that will grow up to be the next rapist, thief etc. Parents can't be everywhere all the time.

Not swearing out in public in front of children is common adult decency. Public TV that gets piped in. Ya know not too long ago I remember being able to watch certain action shows with my dad. They were tailored quite well for age appropriate things. Now, The same time slots I can't watch the action shows with my sons because they throw in some things that at their age they should not be exposed to.

And generally speaking if you start swearing in front of a father's children, you might get politely asked to stop. If you keep on being rude, the father might get a little rude back, along with all the other parents nearby. Maybe even call the cops.

I have 4 of the best behaved kids. Ya know the kind that parents want their kids to play with because they are so well behaved while not around their parents. And they don't live with their heads in the sand. I have a beautiful 16 year old daughter, that is STILL daddy's girl even as she grabs her independence. She still has chosen to stay away from the guys, and she has the choice. And like I said she if beautiful. Grades? Oh don't even get my started on how wonderful in all areas my children are. So I know about, parent responsibility.

It takes a village to raise an idiot. We all have a responsibility to teach the young ones proper behavior. We all should respect other's children. Do you like hearing little kids swear?

Re:So... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770583)

I think nobody else gives a flying fuck anymore, grandpa.

Re:So... (0, Flamebait)

Jerry Beasters (783525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770685)

What bullshit. I have no responsibility to anyone's kid. And yes, in fact, I do seriously like hearing little kids swear. It's hilarious and as an adult I see nothing wrong with it. Take your morality elsewhere. And if I'm cursing near someone's kids and the father calls the cops I would hope he gets arrested for wasting police time. I have every right to curse in public, we have a thing called freedom of speech. We don't run the world for fucking children. We are the adults, we rule, not them.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770749)

While I believe cursing and harsh language aren't protected under the First Amendment (I'm told, though maybe it's just cursing AT people that isn't), I grew up in a household where everyone dropped F-bombs constantly. I, however, did not. It was explained to me by my family . . .

*YES. FAMILIES CAN EXPLAIN THINGS TO CHILDREN.*

. . . that these aren't things little children should say. So I didn't.

I also was basically raised by television, and instead of turning into a violent psychopath, I LEARNED THINGS. So I mean, call me crazy, but I think if you teach your children on your own time right from wrong, in whatever terms you see fit, you can expose them to whatever and they'll understand what you do and don't want them to do.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770927)

If it takes a village, stop telling us about how great your children are and tell us how great your neighbors' children are because of your stellar parenting.

Re:So... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770841)

The question is if kids really gets corrupted of seeing sex? And why that would be so?

I think a harsh stressful world with to little time for the kids is much worse than a TV showing porn when they is asleep anyway.

Re:So... (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771459)

I learned about war, rape, and murder from the evening news. The real world is just as bad as any fictional one, no sense in trying to keep children blind.

Why do "net neutrality" advocates (4, Insightful)

GreedyCapitalist (559534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770177)

Why do "net neutrality" advocates ridicule politicians for comparing the Internet to a "series of tubes," and then trust them to regulate it?

Better than the alternative. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770193)

Because trusting the phone companies to regulate it has worked even less for us in the past ten years.

Regulation is bad mmm'kay (5, Funny)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770211)

Deregulating Wall Street has done wonders for the US economy, unleashing the creative powers of the investor class unto the world. Deregulating the telecom industry is working just as well!

Re:Regulation is bad mmm'kay (2, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770625)

When and how was the telecom industry de-regulated?

In every state I am familiar with, there is one company that has a government granted monopoly to maintain the phone lines and to provide service over them. That's not deregulation to me.

I know that some states have laws that force that company to lease the lines to other providers, but it usually doesn't work since they aren't required to lease them at a fair price, and nobody can compete with the company that maintains the lines any way.

Re:Regulation is bad mmm'kay (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770885)

Over here in Sweden the telephone system was made by the government of course, social democratic as we are. In the 90:s it was sold out however and since quite a few years it has been a free market for the providers.

The lines does obviously still belong to a single owner, I don't know who sets the price but usually you pay one fee for subscription and then you pay another one for the calls you actually make. Same for electricity where you pay one net fee and one power fee.

There is various companies to select from when it comes to the phone call fee but they are quite similar but I don't think the original company has an advantage when it comes to the price for the phone calls.

Also if you get ADSL I think you can pay for ADSL + phone (don't know if it's SIP or old analogue) and get around the regular land based phone line cost.

Personally I wish the government had decided to dig down fibre to everyone five years ago and killed the old telephone network and never built the DVB-T bullshit and just delivered Internet, phone and TV over IP instead.

(And then the fibre would, once again, be owned by the government but any company would be free to put end to end equipment and try to get costumers for whatever price.)

Some people probably think it's stupid to dig such things down to people who live in areas where it cost a lot and that one should let the market handle it and people pay for themself. But I guess scale of economics kicks in somewhat and eventually makes somewhat cheaper to do it for everyone to (more expensive to dig your own one for 2 km than if your four neighbours will get it at the same time to.)

Though I don't think electricity become cheaper by opening up the market, I don't know about telephone but there is no warranty I guess ..

First thing the Bush admin did (5, Informative)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771223)

The Clinton FCC had forced phone companies and cable companies to lease their lines to competitors at fair prices.
One of the first things the Bush FCC did was to undo this.
(The exact opposite happened in France around the same time; the EU forced phone line unbundling to the former state monopoly. Result? Cheap, abundant broadband)

Re:Regulation is bad mmm'kay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771253)

I know that some states have laws that force that company to lease the lines to other providers, but it usually doesn't work since they aren't required to lease them at a fair price, and nobody can compete with the company that maintains the lines any way.

That turns out not to be quite the case...
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 required ILECs to lease access to pretty much anything ("unbundled network elements")to CLECs at wholesale prices, to encourage competition. There's been some changes over the past few years in this area--I believe ILECs are no longer required to lease things like local switching, for example--which I haven't completely kept up with, but AFAIK, requirement for leasing colo and local loop stuff (at least for copper) is still solid. In any case, point is, while the merged RBOCs are still the dominant carriers, the theory is that they don't have a monopoly. But you are correct--there're regulations six ways from Sunday.

Oh yeah that was brilliant. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770687)

Worked absolute wonders, I agree. Deregulated us right into the Second Great Depression.

Re:Regulation is bad mmm'kay (1, Troll)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771671)

I am really getting sick of people propagating the myth that Wall Street was deregulated. The US Government intervenes every single day in the financial markets. The Federal Reserve sets the cost of capital in a committed effort to manipulate the cost/benefit analysis of businesses deciding how and when to grow. The government has a very heavy hand on the financial markets, especially when it comes to encouraging individuals and companies to spend when they wouldn't otherwise spend, and yet when a bubble (which by definition is unnatural valuation) bursts and companies fail because they have inadequate savings (since they spent too much), no one asks whether the existing government regulation was to blame for any of it?

(Well, that is not entirely true. There are actually a few individuals in Congress who are asking these questions. But most of the public is not asking them, because they do not understand the market.)

Re:Better than the alternative. (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770243)

Considering that instances of true net neutrality issues have been extremely far and few between (basically, nonexistant)... hmmm.

Re:Better than the alternative. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770981)

What problems are there with the phone companies and "regulating" the Internet (IP transit)?

Bitching about last mile issues is one thing (cable DSL, etc.) but that isn't the "Internet" these folks are looking to "regulate".

Re:Why do "net neutrality" advocates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770197)

Well, Al Gore did invent the thing, so obviously not all politicians are clueless...

But seriously, why would anyone want the government involved in regulating the Internet? As another post mentioned, the government got involved in regulating the airwaves, and now you can't say "fuck" on TV. I'd hate to see the same rules applied to the Internet.

WHAAAAAARGAABBBL (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770201)

What does this have to do with that?
And I'm not aware of politicianS doing this stupid comparison; only of one, who has just been convicted of corruption and lost his bid for reelection.

Re:Why do "net neutrality" advocates (1)

LuxMaker (996734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770349)

Well the government is akin to prune juice. Do you trust prune juice to regulate your series of tubes when needed?

Serious question? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770485)

Why do Linux advocates ridicule operating systems for being closed-source and bloated, and then trust an operating system to run their computers?

Why do vegetarians ridicule food for being immoral and unhealthy, but still eat food?

Why do voters criticize candidates for holding positions they don't like, and then vote for a candidate?

Re:Serious question? (5, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770587)

exactly. the gp's question is just silly (or poorly thought out).

if people want to call America a free and democratic nation, then we need to start acting like one. stop thinking of the government as this separate ruling entity that you have no power or influence over. yes, it's convenient to disassociate yourself from the policy makers of our nation as that makes it easier to wash your hands of the government's actions and their consequences (like war, encroachment of civil liberties, corruption, etc.). but if that's the attitude you're gonna take then what is the point of having a democratic republic?

if you don't trust a small group of political elite to regulate the internet and other public infrastructure, then why would you trust a small group of corporate elite to do so. at least the public has a say in government policies, thus we have the right to demand changes to the government regulates the internet if we're unhappy with it. however, the public has no say in corporate policies and have no right to dictate how a private corporation operates.

being a natural monopoly and a vital service with inelastic demand, communications networks like telecoms/ISPs cannot be boycotted effectively by consumers. so even if you believe in having the invisible hand of the Free Market make everything alright, that will not work in this case. but the social apparatus constituting a democratic government exists precisely for situations like these where it provides the only mechanism for carrying out the will of the people in protecting public interest.

Re:Why do "net neutrality" advocates (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770635)

The article is not about Obama choosing Ted Stevens, so I'm not quite onboard with your analysis here....

Re:Why do "net neutrality" advocates (0, Flamebait)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770917)

More importantly, why do we mark as "Insightful" dishonest (or perhaps just inept) attempts to make others think that the ignorance of some Republican politicians proves that all politicians are idiots? One might also point out that the smart, qualified people, from outside Washington, being tapped to re-examine policy are NOT politicians, but experts on the subject.

Re:Why do "net neutrality" advocates (1)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770977)

Because we are not talking about the same "politicians"?
Comparing the names mentioned in TFA to fuckwit (and convicted felon) Ted Stevens is more than a bit of a stretch, don't you think?

I see that list of names and think, "My god. For the first time since the Internet has been a genuine public utility, the FCC just might get some talent that understands that utility and can apply the knowledgeable leadership that has been so sorely lacking at that level."
Or maybe you haven't noticed how far behind some other parts of the world we are when it comes to affordable broadband technology. Then again, you probably still think that the U.S. has a first rate health care system too.

Because there's no other choice. (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771095)

> Why do "net neutrality" advocates ridicule politicians for comparing the Internet to a "series of tubes," and then trust them to regulate it?

A) Ted "Tubes" Stevens [youtube.com] is a convicted felon who won't be in the Senate much longer [fivethirtyeight.com] (even if that count goes the other way, he'll get expelled by the Republicans [washingtonmonthly.com] and replaced by Gov. Sarah Palin).

B) There's no true competition among ISPs. If a backbone provider does this, we're screwed. Period. Full stop. You can't just stop using the backbones. That's why they're backbones. The only way we can force them to listen is with regulation.

So it's not like we want regulation per se, it's more like regulation is the only way to keep them honest. Unless you know of some other way to control the behavior of natural monopolies that doesn't require duplicating billions of dollars of infrastructure when we've already paid for it once?

But you're right. Regulation is a responsibility. We can't just let the rules grow into a huge morass. We have to be careful to come up with clear, simple restrictions like "You cannot throttle traffic based on its destination unless it's part of a DoS attack." Let customers do their own QoS. They know better than the ISP what they want to prioritize, anyhow.

Re:Because there's no other choice. (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771713)

(even if that count goes the other way, he'll get expelled by the Republicans [washingtonmonthly.com] and replaced by Gov. Sarah Palin)

A correction: if Ted Stevens wins the election and subsequently vacates the office, Palin will not appoint his replacement.

After former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski appointed his daughter to a vacant US Senate seat, the Alaska state law was changed. A special election will be held to fill the position.

Re:Why do "net neutrality" advocates (1)

Gruff1002 (717818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771351)

Why do "net neutrality" advocates ridicule politicians for comparing the Internet to a "series of tubes," and then trust them to regulate it?

That is exactly the point. We don't trust senators like Stevens who make stupid comparisons and show entire lack of knowledge about any technological issues to make decisions regarding usage of the internet. Why would you trust somebody that has their house essentially rebuilt, doesn't know how it happened or who did it or how it was paid for?

Re:Why do "net neutrality" advocates (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771753)

Because the set of politicians who believe that the Internet is a series of tubes and the set of politicians who are competent to regulate the Internet are disjoint.

So, what was the MAIN criteria? (1, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770191)

So, what was the main criteria for choosing them?

Both are highly-regarded outside-the-Beltway experts in telecom policy

or

they've both been pretty harsh critics of the Bush administration's telecom policies in the past year.'

?

Re:So, what was the MAIN criteria? (2, Insightful)

dachshund (300733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770317)

So, what was the main criteria for choosing them? Both are highly-regarded outside-the-Beltway experts in telecom policy or they've both been pretty harsh critics of the Bush administration's telecom policies in the past year.'

You act like these are two distinct, unrelated issues--- when in fact, they're deeply interdependent.

Re:So, what was the MAIN criteria? (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770351)

Nice point except that here on Slashdot we do not *act* at all, we just witter.

Re:So, what was the MAIN criteria? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770433)

I voted. There's really nothing else you can do to effect who winds up on an FCC review team.

Re:So, what was the MAIN criteria? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771655)

here on Slashdot we do not *act* at all

I not only voted for the opposition candidate who's views on telecommunications were diametrically opposed to that of the current administration, I donated to his campaign. If that's not acting, I don't know what is.

Re:So, what was the MAIN criteria? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770773)

when in fact, they're deeply interdependent.

Then listing both would've been "deeply" redundant, wouldn't it?

Re:So, what was the MAIN criteria? (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770775)

Are there any outside-the-Beltway experts who _aren't_ harsh critics of the Bush administration's telecom policies?

Re:So, what was the MAIN criteria? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771005)

Are there any outside-the-Beltway experts who _aren't_ harsh critics of the Bush administration's telecom policies?

Of course, there are. None of the major telecommunication companies have headquarters inside the Beltway... And, surprise-surprise, a real expert is more likely to work in their field, than be a college professor (in the field). And not all of them hate Bush with Academia's passion.

Re:So, what was the MAIN criteria? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771727)

a real expert is more likely to work in their field, than be a college professor

True enough. But, of course, then they're not as likely to be able to make an unbiased decision either.

For example, many of the Bush administration appointees to various regulatory agencies were experts who worked in the fields they were expected to regulate and the results were often less than satisfactory to anyone outside those particular industries.

Refreshing (5, Interesting)

txoof (553270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770199)

It is refreshing to see that Obama is pulling from academia and groups such as ICANN, rather than just from industry to populate his cabinet. I believe that those that have served in industry can offer some of the best insight into policy, but choosing a significant number of executives definitely skews policy in the wrong direction. For that matter, having too many of any one group leads to problems.

I hope that Obama can see beyond what his party wants, and make decisions based on advice from all sides. Lincoln and Kennedy were both known for filling their cabinets with diverse members from a wide political and social background. After the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs [wikipedia.org] Kennedy sought to limit group think [answers.com] - where all dissenting opinions are squashed by excessive group homogeneity - Kennedy specifically divided up similar advisors and brought in outside experts to help successfully diffuse the Cuban Missile Crisis. He had the political savvy to understand that difficult decisions have no right answer, just answers that are more or less positive for everyone.

Hopefully Obama will balance his cabinet appointments in a similar way. Drawing from universities is a good start, but some industry experts mixed into the bunch is an excellent step in the right direction as well. As L. B. Johnson said of Hoover, "I'd rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in." It's better to have dissenting opinions inside helping you make positive choices, rather than showering you from outside and making your life more difficult.

Re:Refreshing (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770343)

They are part of his transition team. Nobody said anything about cabinet appointments yet.

Diffuse Missiles? (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770359)

"successfully diffuse the Cuban Missile Crisis"? I think you mean "defuse". In the context of missiles, diffuse has pretty much exactly the opposite meaning.

Re:Diffuse Missiles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770975)

The correct word is always defuse [englishplus.com] . Although I agree the mistake is more amusing in the context of something like missiles which have literal fuses. The problem is that many people pronounce defuse and diffuse the same way, which leads to confusion.

Re:Refreshing (3, Insightful)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770571)

Look, I was all out supporting Obama, especially considering the alternatives. But can we PLEASE stop comparing him to Kennedy and Lincoln before he has even started?

Re:Refreshing (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771495)

The funny thing is that both are very beloved presidents who made some very questionable choices in office and ended up dead. If I were Obama I'd be first in line to tell people not to draw those comparisons.

Re:Refreshing (1)

psyberman (136416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770585)

It is refreshing to see that Obama is pulling from academia and groups such as ICANN ....

I'd feel better if the people from ICANN were left out - what with their recent and ongoing attempts to ruin the internet.

In brief, their plan to allow unlimited top level domains is a horrible idea ie there could/would be ".microsoft", ".help", ".newyork", etc.

Secondly they seem to be getting ready to allow tiered pricing on .coms (gTLDs) - you can imagine how it would feel to have the price of the renewal fee for your domain to be set at 25,000 (or whatever) per year if they feel like it.

Some info concerning that last can be found at Domain Name Journal [dnjournal.com] .

I'm not sure exactly what Susan Crawford (from ICANN) thinks about it but I don't think that ICANN is looking out for the public too much - they seem to want to be rich and powerful instead.

AT&T's flawed reasoning... (5, Insightful)

Pollux (102520) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770205)

The public would not pay for its Internet services if AT&T discriminated against content, [Jim Cicconi, AT&T executive vice president for regulatory affairs] added. "We'd be shooting ourselves in the foot."

But, if the public only had a choice between DSL w/ AT&T, cable w/ Comcast, or no internet at all, and both companies throttled content, then the public is really left without a choice. It used to be that consumers had a choice between their internet provider. Nowadays, many major cities and municipalities only have one or two choices, usually both of them major players. And when regional monopolies exist, regulation has to exist to ensure that the monopolies aren't abused.

Re:AT&T's flawed reasoning... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770307)

RE:"regulation has to exist to ensure that the monopolies aren't abused."

you got that backwards, it is the monopolies that do the abusing

Re:AT&T's flawed reasoning... (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770407)

It's a phrase that works both ways. A monopoly can be both the monopoly itself, and the company that holds it. The OP's sentence is correct.

Re:AT&T's flawed reasoning... (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770787)

Exactly. Where I live, my choices are Comcast, or satellite. And we all know how bad satellite is. It would probably be cheaper to rent out a tiny house somewhere where I could get un-filtered access, and then buy Comcast and route everything through a VPN to there or something. Seriously. Satellite costs twice as much as Comcast and the service is _horrible_. I actually know people that have switched _back to dial-up_ because satellite was so bad.

Re:AT&T's flawed reasoning... (1)

pashdown (124942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771497)

The key to the monopoly problem is municipal fiber for transport, allowing large and small data providers to compete on a level playing field for customers.

Define Net Neutrality first (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771847)

But, if the public only had a choice between DSL w/ AT&T, cable w/ Comcast, or no internet at all, and both companies throttled content, then the public is really left without a choice.

Most complaints about throttling are not net neutrality issues. Net neutrality is about making sure ISPs don't try to extort money from websites like Google and Yahoo to deliver their content without throttling, redirects, or other shenanigans.

Net neutrality is not about making sure you are allowed to use 98% of the bandwidth on your block using bittorrent while others who share the same line suffer the consequences of your actions. If you are using a significant portion of the ISP's resources, as a subscriber you should expect to pay more than others. If you have a beef with being sold 'unlimited' internet and then being throttled/capped, that is a false advertising claim. That is not a net neutrality issue.

I don't know if it's too late, BUT (-1, Troll)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770231)

I have the story on Mr. Barack Hussein Obama that will finish his pursuit of the presidency. A good friend of mine emailed me and he has good reason to believe that Mr. Barack Hussein Obama is somehow affiliated with Kevin Mitnick (the well known internet terrorist.) The two men were seen in the back of a limo in Chicago whereby Mr. Hussein Obama participated in a game of Doom (and had his ass handed to him.) They were also spotted in an EFnet chatroom (#wA3x__) in 1999.. this is where Mr. Hussein Obama launched his political career with the blessing of Kevin Mitnick.

If my source is correct in telling me these truths then you can expect Mr. Obama to socialize the internet in a radical way that only hard-core leftists like him can dream of. Be aware of the shenanigans Mr. Barack is up to!

Re:I don't know if it's too late, BUT (0, Troll)

txoof (553270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770265)

You just made my day! I was wondering when the faithful 1999 game of Doom would come to light. We probably need to start impeachment hearings before Obama is even sworn into office due to his affiliation with such a dangerous person as Kevin Mitnick.

After all, we no longer need to FREE KEVIN because KEVIN FREE [200ok.com.au] . He is free to point out security holes and run his security consulting firm. What ever are we going to do?

Hehe, I had an old Subaru that had a FREE KEVIN sticker on it. People used to pull up along side me on city streets, parking lots, stop lights, even the highway and ask, "WHO'S KEVIN!?". It was a special challenge to explain that at a 60 second stop light, or 75 mph.

Re:I don't know if it's too late, BUT (1)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770345)

What are you babbling about and what does this have to do with net neutrality? Please, wipe the drool off your chin and go back to quietly reminiscing how cool you used to be.

On topic now, it's good to see that net neutrality is getting some serious consideration. Like the GP said, when you only have 1-2 choices and they are both behaving the same way, well, you have no choice. I will say, however, that there has never really been much choice for broadband outside of bit metro areas. When there was choice for Internet access, that was mostly dial-up. It was/is cheaper to terminate a butt-load of phone lines to a modem than roll out your own cable infrastructure.

Re:I don't know if it's too late, BUT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770609)

You appear to have responded to the wrong thread. Now apologize for your unkind comment about txoof!

(Yeah, this thread is really off-topic, but it's funny so what the hey.)

Net Neutrality is the least of our concerns. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770291)

My fellow Americans, let me be the last to retail slanderous rumors. I have great respect for Mr. Obama and his family. But when our nation and our GOD-given rights are at risk, no patriot can remain silent. It has coem to my attention that our worst fears have been confirmed. "Barack Obama," whose real name is Giuseppe Franconi, is an agent of the sinister Italian power! Americans, imagine the not-so-far future: government agents violating the sanctity of our TV-rooms, our base ball parks, and our children's schools and churches, confiscating our GOD-given hot dogs and replacing them with salamies! Is this the "change" you believe in? Is this your "hope" for the future? I for one will not remain silent as nefarious Italian agents use the cover of the freedoms that we love to spirit their nefarious ices into our Democratic sanctuary.

Now let me say I have nothing against the Italian people, who are a peace-loving people with a noble and historic culture. Their language, Mexican, is shared by many proud, upstanding hispanic citizens of this great land. But the hot-dog conspiracy is war, by a small secret cabal of Italians who hate freedom and our GOD-given meat products, and our freedom to eat hot dogs in our tv rooms must be defended. As long as I am the president, this administration will take the fight to the enemy and defeat the Italian menace. Thank you and GOD BLESS AMERICA.

How it should be done (5, Insightful)

dachshund (300733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770427)

I've said this before, but why not say it again :)

The basic issue with Net Neutrality is not how the service should be offered, or anything to do with the technology. It's fundamentally just an issue of who pays. Telecoms would like to collect subscriber revenue from their customers, then turn around and collect more revenue from content providers as well.

The important thing to understand here is that as bad as the current ISP situation is, under the current model a customer theoretically has the option to respond to price signals by changing their service options, e.g., switching to another provider, or --- if none is available --- simply reducing their consumption. That keeps costs under control to some extent.

Under the proposed model, it's the content provider who pays. Since a content provider is not a direct "customer" of the ISP, they have very little leverage with the ISP. If, say, Google wants to reach a given class of customers (e.g., the tens millions of customers served by Comcast), they have no choice but to deal with Comcast on whatever terms it chooses--- or give up a huge percentage of the market.

Now on the surface this seems like a fine deal to Comcast's customers, since they get enhanced network services without any additional service charges. But this leads to a problem: without any price signals, there's no strong incentive on Comcast to moderate their prices. Anything they charge will ultimately be passed along to the customers by the content providers, in the form of higher service charges, reduced quality, and/or dramatically increased advertising. But customers won't see this directly and link it to the ISP, so there will be very little incentive to control costs (no doubt Comcast will mandate that content providers distribute these costs equally, and not single out their customers for additional surcharges). It imposes a huge tax on a very dynamic and growing part of our economy, and it's certainly one we don't need now.

(Larger providers, incidentally, will have some leverage in this model--- since who wants to be the ISP to cut off iTunes service? But their leverage will come at the cost of squeezing smaller providers for more revenue, dramatically increasing barriers to entering the market. Goodbye new ideas.)

There are various solutions to this problem, all of which require the ISP to bill their enhanced services to the customer. In the end this gives the same set of enhanced services, but also allows customers to make a decision as to whether they want to pay the ISP, cut down on service, or switch to another provider. Done correctly this should encourage ISPs to open up their networks to many providers, since their revenue will be driven by customer interest and not self-interest.

Re:How it should be done (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770645)

Under the proposed model, it's the content provider who pays.

Link please? That's not mentioned in the reuters article [reuters.com] about the bill. If that is what this law says, then it has nothing to do with net neutrality. Net neutrality is not about who pays. It is about the pipes that deliver the content being neutral to what the content is. The pricing model should stay the way it is.

Re:How it should be done (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770811)

No, because the content providers already pay. They already pay quite a bit actually. What the issue is is an attempt to charge them again - many, many times. They pay for their connection already. Why should they now have to pay extra so that they can actually use it? Why should they have to pay every ISP separately to carry their content?

Re:How it should be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770823)

If, say, Google wants to reach a given class of customers (e.g., the tens millions of customers served by Comcast), they have no choice but to deal with Comcast on whatever terms it chooses--- or give up a huge percentage of the market.

Now on the surface this seems like a fine deal to Comcast's customers, since they get enhanced network services without any additional service charges.

That in no way seems like a fine deal for customers. Under this logic, Comcast's mafia division can deny their customers access to any web site they can't extort for protection money.

It is not and should not ever be up to Comcast or any other ISP to decide which web sites their customers can use. Comcast gets their money when the customer, who probably has no other options for service, pays their monthly fee. Google is not a Comcast customer and they are not trying to reach people who are. The customers themselves are trying to reach Google and have already paid for access to the internet to do it.

Re:How it should be done (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771949)

The important thing to understand here is that as bad as the current ISP situation is, under the current model a customer theoretically has the option to respond to price signals by changing their service options, e.g., switching to another provider, or --- if none is available --- simply reducing their consumption. That keeps costs under control to some extent.

So, if Comcast partners with Google and Verizon does so with MSN (these are the only two service providers in my neighborhood) and I want to use Yahoo!, I'm screwed. Either provider is free to block non-partner services (not likely) or tack on a surcharge (like the ex-CEO of AT&T stated he has the right to do). The latter will make the use of services that compete with my telecommunications provider partners group uneconomical.

And what if I'd like to start my own competing search engine. I've got to cut a telecommunications provider in on my business or I'm screwed. If there are eight competing search engines, we are going to need eight telecoms serving my neighborhood. And if one day, I'd like to switch search engines (there are things that Yahoo does better than Google), I've either got to pay the extra service fee or switch broadband providers. Not likely with their lock-in contracts. Pretty soon, we'll be back to the days of Compuserve, AOL, MSN and other private networks. Or worse yet, the way trucking companies used to operate with the mob. While it may be possible to interoperate between the systems, the 'out of partner network' fees will essentially prohibit that. Goodbye Internet. Hello organized crime.

We need to separate telecommonications services (the people who run the routers and the fiber) from the information services (the people who run the SMTP, web, NNTP, etc. services) and regulate telecommunications as common carriers.

Bizarro World (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770465)

The new President is appointing knowledgeable experts to important government posts instead of industry cronies? Pinch me.

Re:Bizarro World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25771193)

What crazy mod flamebaited this? It's insightful.

Vets? (1)

nih (411096) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770497)

at last we can stop worrying about the welfare of the creatures that live in the tubes.

friTst p5ot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770519)

We'll be able to lube or we 5eel least of which is create, manufacture and sling or table Of progress.

Finally, someone thinking of the kids! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770523)

I'm glad ISP's will be stopped from blocking content. I am a busy parent and often don't have time to breakdown the intimacies of tea bagging, doggie, 96 (what used to be 69 before inflation, wow its getting expensive to eat out), and so forth. So if the wonderful responsible people on the internet put together some fine videos for my kid's education, great. I don't need some ISP preventing my child's learning, in the safety of my home, the finer points with self-help videos. I don't want them going out unprepared and potentially having their self esteem damaged from being laughed at by mistakes from experiments gone wrong. Finally, someone thinking of the kids!

Net Neutrality Vets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770791)

Vets?

As in Veterinarians ? (I guess they are losing business, since people are going to 1-800-PETMEDS and saving a trip to the Vet's office.)

Or as in Veterans - (former) members of the military services, that have served overseas, usually in some war or a peacekeeping role.

because of AT&T CEO opened his mouth w/o think (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770851)

All this noise about net neutrality, supporters and against'sers would not have come at all had AT&T CEO kept his trap shut that fateful day.
By showing his greed for double-dipping and charging websites AND ISP consumers for directing traffic, he showed the face of corporate greed prematurely. This resulted in congress and Obama forcing ISPs to agree to neutrality.
AT&T CEO must be cursing himself for opening his mouth that day...

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25770865)

AntiHero says: Net Nuetrality?! Really? They are smart and freedom-loving enough to take net nuetrality seriously and ensure that it happens and appoint people at the head of stuff that are nuetral and stuff?! Could it be?! Awesome! Hope!

Yes we can! Yes We Can! Go Obama

Apples and oranges (0, Troll)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25770951)

I'd just like to point out that the OP is subtly conflating two issues here: warrantless wiretapping and network neutrality. The headline claims that Obama's supposed genius is in nominating advocates of network neutrality, but then goes on to say how they're reputed as outspoken opponents of Bush's telecom policy.

The thing is, network neutrality hasn't become a ripe enough issue for the current administration to need to take a stance on it. Bush's telecom policy has really just revolved around warrantless wiretapping and immunity to lawsuits brought concerning said wiretapping.

On a side note, the OP's attitude toward Obama's supposed genius is just another example of why Congress hasn't done something concerning network neutrality yet. Far-left groups like MoveOn.org picked up network neutrality for some bizarre reason, making the concept untouchable by conservatives, even those who understand that the regional Internet duopolies need at least a few rules to keep them from abusing the consumer. OP obviously subscribes to the MoveOn.org school of thought, as evidenced by linking election rhetoric buzzwords like "past eight years" to the FCC, even though the commissioners serve five-year terms, and the Commission can have no more than three of its five members from the same political party.

On another side note, Obama's early interest in the FCC suggests that the Fairness Doctrine might rear its head again with his support.

Deregulate the spectrum! (1)

stevejsmith (614145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25771785)

Net neutrality would be an irrelevant issue if we'd just deregulate the spectrum, giving people access to a plethora of competitive wireless carriers (as opposed to now, where we auction off what in reality is infinitely divisible). As it is now people worry about what companies will do without net neutrality laws because our telecom regulation regime is such that it creates a few big heavyweights and doesn't allow much competition. But all you have to do is open the spectrum to use by anyone, and pretty soon Comcast and Verizon will lose their awesome market power.
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