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FTC Could Gain Enforcement Power Over Internet

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the who-above-all-else-desire-power dept.

The Internet 134

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that under a little-known provision in financial overhaul legislation before Congress the Federal Trade Commission could become a more powerful watchdog for Internet users with the power to to issue rules on a fast track and impose civil penalties on companies that hurt consumers. 'If we had a deterrent, a bigger stick to fine malefactors, that would be helpful,' says FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who has argued in favor of bolstering his agency's enforcement ability. This power would stand in stark contrast to a besieged FCC, whose ability to oversee broadband providers has been cast into doubt after a federal court ruled last month that the agency lacked the ability to punish Comcast for violating open-Internet guidelines. The provision to strengthen the FTC is in the regulatory overhaul legislation passed by the House, and although it is absent from the legislation before the Senate, some observers expect the measure to be included when the House and Senate versions are combined."

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134 comments

Uh... (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020442)

And why can't the FCC do this? Do we need another agency's involvement? Perhaps I am a dolt buried under the bureaucracy.

Re:Uh... (5, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020814)

I'm no scholar on what agency does what, but the article mentions privacy issues, which sounds more like FTC than FCC. I can understand the FCC being concerned about how ISPs handle traffic, but not what the actual content is. It makes perfect sense for the FTC to be concerned about exactly what information is being collected and how it is used. Of course, traffic shaping and net neutrality can be seen as affecting trade and consumers, so that may fall under FTC jurisdiction too. Although I would think it best for the FTC and FCC to collaborate where their interests overlap, overall I think FTC is more relevant with most internet-related issues that get brought up on slashdot.

That said, someone better informed could probably be much more insightful and probably poke a few holes in what I'm saying.

Re:Uh... (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021092)

And what of those ISPs that operate wholly-and-completely within a state (like Mom&Pop Internet of Fargo)? The U.S. government's power does not extend to them. I guess that job will be left to the state.

Re:Uh... (1, Offtopic)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021236)

What's a good 2nd degree to get?

Nursing.

Re:Uh... (1)

settantta (577302) | more than 3 years ago | (#32026170)

What's a good 2nd degree to get?

Nursing.

A good old-fashioned, generalized Bachelor of Arts. You'll be able to apply for many more jobs with that.

Or join the Masons... :)

Re:Uh... (3, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021288)

And what of those ISPs that operate wholly-and-completely within a state (like Mom&Pop Internet of Fargo)? The U.S. government's power does not extend to them. I guess that job will be left to the state.

Their bits compete with the bits of carriers who go out of state. They also have the ability to travel out of state. Therefore it will be deemed within the scope of the Commerce Clause.

Haven't you learned by now that the Federal Government has the authority to regulate anything by virtue of the fact that it chooses to regulate it? Hell, they recently decided that even though they BANNED interstate commerce of an item (Cannabis), if you even look at it funny that somehow manipulates the interstate trade of the item and thus falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government.

In essence what that means: If the Federal government decides to regulate something at ALL, it has the authority to regulate it anywhere.

An abomination of a Supreme Court decision.

Re:Uh... (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021398)

As much as I disagree with ICC being used as it is, this is one of those cases that clearly leaves the state, as it is simply impossible to claim that an ISP operates only within a state, as it is a communications system explicitly with the world.

Re:Uh... (2, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022202)

As much as I disagree with ICC being used as it is, this is one of those cases that clearly leaves the state, as it is simply impossible to claim that an ISP operates only within a state, as it is a communications system explicitly with the world.

What leaves the state though? If Bob and I are in Kansas and Steve is in Pennsylvania are all within a single state, and I hand a package to Bob, at what point did I leave the state?

It's an interesting concept, one in which I think the eventual result will be:

Federal Government to interstate network: You must only deal with businesses that follow these practices.
Interstate ISP to local state ISPs: Hey, if you want your data to get out of Kansas, you must follow these rules.

Either that, or the rules will be enacted in a manner similar to how the 21 yr old drinking age got passed even though it would be unconstitutional to implement one directly.

Re:Uh... (2, Interesting)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022552)

You could say the same thing about any transaction for that single transaction, that doesn't make it globally applicable.

If I hand a package to you, we are clearly in the same state, unless you are standing on the other side of the border, that doesn't mean my business is exclusively intrastate. Being an internet provider, by nature makes an intra-state only argument VERY difficult if not impossible by its very nature, as you are clearly connected to a global communications network, as that is what you are selling to your customers.

Re:Uh... (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 3 years ago | (#32026124)

  Their bits compete with the bits of carriers who go out of state. They also have the ability to travel out of state. Therefore it will be deemed within the scope of the Commerce Clause.

  Those bits also travel outside of the country. For that matter, under certain circumstances those bits may travel offplanet. In extraordinary circumstances, even out of the solar system.

  An abomination of a Supreme Court decision.

  Agreed. The ironing is also wonderful.

SB

Re:Uh... (2, Informative)

Blink Tag (944716) | more than 3 years ago | (#32023096)

Says you. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a long time ago that the federal government can regulate entire industries, even though portions of them are decidedly local. (Including quotas on grain grown on one's own land that were not trafficked in any way.)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commerce_Clause [wikipedia.org]

IANAL.

Re:Uh... (0, Offtopic)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32023412)

Off-topic (that's your cue, moderator queue) but related to parent's sig:

I can't speak for computer engineering, but I'm a soon-to-be graduating computer science major. The curriculum was a lot of fun, but it's not software engineering - it's math. Until recently, it was just a concentration of our math major.

That means it's a lot of theory - data structures, algorithmic efficiency, set theory, relational algebra, Turing completeness, etc. It doesn't seem immediately applicable, but it's handy to know when (if! you could go into academia!) you start writing "real" code. Your solutions will be simpler and more elegant when you know the difference between a linked list and a stack.

Computer engineering sounds like hardware hacking. That's the opposite of proofs and pure thought-stuff. Good luck.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021888)

Interesting posturing by one agency to take over another's domain. I'm no fan of much of the lack of enforcement the FCC had been doing in recent years. But the internet IS a large part of the COMMUNICATIONS today, and to give that over to an agency whose main concern is TRADE seems unfortunate. (Granted, the FTC probably IS better at enforcement than the FCC, but that could be changed by selective firing of those not doing their job, rewarding those who do, and enacting laws to assist the FCC in more clearly being able to fine those who go against rules, and by providing funding for enforcement, and having better oversight of the agency.) The internet is a lot more than trade. It's also speech and also something used to defend and to attack our country. Giving responsibility to a TRADE agency is perfect if all you are concerned about is who is what violating copyrights on the Internet.

Re:Uh... (2, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021824)

From what I understand, the FCC regulates the use of the channel. They make sure you're putting appropriate material in your allocated slice of the spectrum. That includes a small amount of actual content control to ensure that, for example, you don't have a parade of nipples during a family event, such as the Superb Owl. They'll also make sure that your transmitters are of a certain power, etc.

The FTC makes sure that customers are getting what they paid for. For example, if you're paying $X for a 10MB/s connection and you're only ever getting 3MB/s, then they'll step in and slap the provider around with a haddock. The FCC can't regulate this because it's outside their jurisdiction, nor can they prevent a provider from filtering results or blocking traffic. The FTC will put limits on font sizes so they can't say "actual bandwidth depends on network conditions and by "internet" we mean only HTTP and SMTP" in 3pt on the back of the inside cover of the modem.

Please bear in mind that I'm not from the US so I could just be dead wrong. Also, I didn't read the article or any of the other comments.

It should be the FCC (4, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020458)

The FCC has the jurisdiction, they should be enforcing the rules. But since they don't have the teeth, let the FTC do it, those guys are sharks.

Oh and the summary says FTC when it would say FCC - "FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who has argued in favor of bolstering his agency's enforcement ability. This power would stand in stark contrast to a besieged FTC, whose ability to oversee broadband providers has been cast into doubt after a federal court ruled last month that the agency lacked the ability to punish Comcast for violating open-Internet guidelines."

Re:It should be the FCC (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020876)

The FCC has the jurisdiction, they should be enforcing the rules. But since they don't have the teeth, let the FTC do it, those guys are sharks.

A court has recently rule that the FCC does not have the jurisdiction. I have two problems with theway this is being done. First, this expansion of the power of the FTC over the Internet is being stuck into an omnibus bill that I have heard is yet another 1,000+ page monstrosity. If this is a good idea, this should be a stand alone bill. Second, this does seem more like the sort of thing that belongs in the FCC. A court has ruled that the FCC has, at most, limited authority to regulate the Internet, if Congress believes that they should regulate the Internet more strongly, they should pass a bill for that purpose, not stick a provision in some mega-bill to expand government regulation of the Internet.

Re:It should be the FCC (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020998)

I know, you'd think though with the FCC being what it is and the mandate it has, that it would have the jurisdiction, but the court said nope.

Re:It should be the FCC (2, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022678)

I know, you'd think though with the FCC being what it is and the mandate it has, that it would have the jurisdiction, but the court said nope.

It doesn't matter what you think, it matters what laws Congress has passed. The court said that Congress has not passed any laws giving the FCC jurisdiction. The FCC is part of the Administrative branch, that means they can only regulate those things that Congress has explicitly passed a law giving them the authority to regulate.
Note, the court did not say that some other federal agency had jurisdiction. The court said that the FCC had failed to point to any law giving it jurisdiction.

Re:It should be the FCC (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020968)

But since they don't have the teeth, let the FTC do it, those guys are sharks.

Absolutely right, Wyatt. The FTC should definitely get involved in the Internet as long as they have consumers' best interest in mind rather than the most powerful companies.

The FCC oversees communications issues, but it's the trade issues that put a free internet at risk.

I'm really afraid that if something is not done to keep the internet open, everything that you and I appreciate most about it will cease to exist. It would be a shame if in just a handful of decades the internet went from being a public square to the Mall of America, where only the biggest companies can rent space and the rest of us become a passive audience, buying tickets for a chance to spend money.

I don't know about you, but I would much rather see the internet in government's hands than in the hands of the big telecoms, cable companies or TimeWarner/Disney. Imperfect as it may be, at least we have some say over what the government does. The biggest corporations have been able to effectively insulate themselves from any consumer influence.

Re:It should be the FCC (4, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021138)

I think the government getting into this is the right choice.

I remember talking to my old boss about this 12 years ago. He is very socially conservative and didn't trust government at all, but he agreed that the Feds should be in control of this after having to deal with GTE and Comcast when it came to E-Rate and how they jerked around the schools, police and governments they were supposed to be offering services to in exchange for a monopoly.

I don't get why the Telcos think they have the right to shape traffic, my friends work for a rural electric co-op and the power company doesn't give three hoots what you do with your electrons. Why can't AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc be the same? Just sell the bandwidth and let us do whatever we want, within legal boundaries.

I can get in trouble for using too much electricity to grow weed, so I could get in trouble for using my bandwidth for terrorism, child pr0n, etc.

Well when the companies cry about it on Capital Hill, we all know why the FTC is getting involved, because the companies farked up an easy thing.

Re:It should be the FCC (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022136)

As long as they don't go too far, and try to impose the old Radio/TV Fairness Doctrine to the net. If I type-in msnbc.com I don't want to have foxnews.com pulled-up at the same time.

Re:It should be the FCC (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022358)

And if I type in jalopnik I don't want leftlanenews to pop up.

Yea, fairness doctrine would suck.

Re:It should be the FCC (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#32023876)

The real mistake is that local governments didn't lay the fiber and then lease the lines to whatever ISP wanted to offer service in the area. At least back in days of dial up, I could use my phone line to connect to whatever ISP I wanted to connect to.

It should NOT EVER be the FCC's authority (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32024328)

No Wyatt Earp it's not in the FCC's original mission statement. Oh by the way have you seen that mission statement lately? No?

The FCC was supposed to regulate POWER and FREQUENCY, not network communications!!!

Look how wonderful they have managed power and frequency....

Nearly ALL the public spectrum is Corporate Owned!

Before you give the FCC the authority to do anything keep in mind their failed mission statement!

Also keep in mind once they gain new authority, they will make things worse, and it will be forever into the future.

Teh FCC will NEVER GIVE UP NEW AUTHORITY!

I'm all for net neutrality, but this will be a fucking nightmare!

Re:It should be the FCC (2, Interesting)

J053 (673094) | more than 3 years ago | (#32024636)

I don't get why the Telcos think they have the right to shape traffic, my friends work for a rural electric co-op and the power company doesn't give three hoots what you do with your electrons. Why can't AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc be the same? Just sell the bandwidth and let us do whatever we want, within legal boundaries.

Well, the problem is that the electric company generates N megawatts of power, more than enough for all its subscribers, most of the time. When demand exceeds capacity, we get brownouts.

By contrast, the telcos/cable operators oversell their capacity by some huge factor. If they had to provide full bandwidth to all their subscribers simultaneously, they'd need much bigger tubes. The model only works when most subscribers rarely use anything close to their nominal bandwidth. When every Joe Sixpack starts watching streaming video, the total bandwidth of the ISP starts getting used up, quickly. To avoid having to increase capacity, they want to throttle services. And, if you're going to do that, you want to throttle competitors' services before your own...

Re:It should be the FCC (2, Informative)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 3 years ago | (#32024608)

B.S. The FCC can't even stick to it's original mission statement, they have squandered the "public spectrum" to be nearly completely "corporate owned."

Managing power and frequency from a fascist point of view as opposed to an engineering point of view in the public interest.

The FCC can't even realize and stick to it's original (now missing) mission statement.

And you want to give the FCC more Authority.

It's a fascism death wish.
And remember if they are given this authority, it will NEVER GO AWAY! It will incrementally piss people off and eventually destroy what we have.

FIX NET NEUTRALITY ANOTHER WAY,
NOT WITH GOVERNMENT REGULATION!

Half you stupid fuckers don't get it, but if you served in the military you would understand, how this shit only gets worse.

NO FCC, NO FTC Neither agency can do their EXISTING JOB correctly to this very date!!!!!!!!

NO NO NO NO NO!!

God damn it NO!
 

Re:It should be the FCC (1)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020994)

The impression the article gives me is that they're giving the FTC more powers to enforce some things with the internet. The article specifically mentions user information and advertising; to me, customer data protection does fit under something the FTC would deal with, not the FCC. It just happens to be happening on the internet like so many things today.

I believe the FCC should have a broad jurisdiction on things with the internet itself, where the FTC would have a more narrow jurisdiction on some business matters.

Re:It should be the FCC (0, Troll)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021140)

Since the FCC spent a long time shirking any of their duties that didn't include punishing the odd dirty word or errant nipple on the public airwaves or sifting through the small mountain of automated emails from nutty parents groups it may be a while before they are up to doing any meaningful work.

Power Over Internet ? (4, Funny)

psergiu (67614) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020486)

What are the improvements vs. IEEE 802.3af Power Over Ethernet [wikipedia.org] ?
Will the old devices be compatible ?

Re:Power Over Internet ? (2, Funny)

psergiu (67614) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020550)

And FTC "Gaining Enforcement Power Over Internet" means that all their offices will be forcibly re-wired with this new standard ? :-)

Re:Power Over Internet ? (1)

migglelon (1692138) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020758)

What are the improvements vs. IEEE 802.3af Power Over Ethernet [wikipedia.org] ? Will the old devices be compatible ?

What does your question have anything to do with the article? Completely non sequitur.

"Power over Ethernet" does not in any way mean "Power over Internet" as your title implies. It's a way to provider power to your devices through your Ethernet cable, but that power comes from a local power source from within the same building, not from some remote source on the Internet. For example if your ethernet switch is PoE capable, it can power your devices, and the power comes from that local switch.

Re:Power Over Internet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020890)

WOOSH!

Re:Power Over Internet ? (1)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020892)

But why have separate networks for power and data? All I'm saying is, we have fiber and we have solar.

Re:Power Over Internet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020898)

Asperger'd!

Re:Power Over Internet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020902)

Then the FCC should stop advertising Power Over Internet, lest humor-deficient individuals not get the joke.

Re:Power Over Internet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020954)

What are the improvements vs. IEEE 802.3af Power Over Ethernet [wikipedia.org] ?
Will the old devices be compatible ?

Well, the new 802.3at standard adds more power per port, and is backwards compatable with all existing devices. So I'd say its a win win.

Oh wait, you were trying to be funny.

We need it fast (2, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020564)

and with we, i mean all internet users around the world. if the comcast bastardiness stands, more american companies will imitate it first, then the international companies in other countries will start to demand the same rights to rule over their users' traffic.

if this tide is stemmed there, that wont take off.

Re:We need it fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020768)

Most other countries didn't fuck up and make corporations legally equivalent to real, living human beings.

Be Careful What You Wish For (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020842)

You guys are all gonna be crying a river when the FCC mandates all packets get cryptographically labelled with an asserted certificate before transit is allowed.

Most all of the real problems with Internet companies that can hurt users are already covered under fraud laws - no new powers are required. So, ask yourself why it is they want these new powers.

Re:Be Careful What You Wish For (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021194)

I'll worry about forced crypto labels right after we manage upgrading to v6, which has only taken 20 years so far.

Re:Be Careful What You Wish For (4, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021294)

Most all of the real problems with Internet companies that can hurt users are already covered under fraud laws - no new powers are required. So, ask yourself why it is they want these new powers.

Because when the only tool you have is more regulation every problem appears to be solvable by more regulation.

Re:Be Careful What You Wish For (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021504)

You guys are all gonna be crying a river when the FCC mandates all packets get cryptographically labelled with an asserted certificate before transit is allowed.

Most all of the real problems with Internet companies that can hurt users are already covered under fraud laws - no new powers are required. So, ask yourself why it is they want these new powers.

Why?

That's easy.

Taxation. Sales tax, per packets, bandwidth, you name it. That day will come.

Re:Be Careful What You Wish For (1)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 3 years ago | (#32024750)

The FCC want's the new authority so they can manage it like the wonderful job they have done regulating power and frequency from a fascist standpoint instead of an engineering standpoint in the public interest.

The only thing this will do is cost more (Comcast will SHIFT the cost) while simultaneously eating away at public interest, by constantly tightening the regulation screws.

I'm not going to be crying about it; I am SCREAMING about it NOW.

DENY THE FCC any new authority, they can't even follow their own mission statement to this very day!!!

Re:Be Careful What You Wish For (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32025446)

So what about network neutrality? If both providers disclose they charge transit fees to third parties, how does fraud apply?

A good thing, democratically speaking... (2, Interesting)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020852)

As it stands now, an ISP whose CEO is in favor of political party "A" can have all traffic - to include "grass roots" campaign donations - flowing to or from any organization representing political party "B" "shaped" right into the e-toilet...

Not A good thing, democratically speaking... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021034)

Giving governments power of the internet has -never- turned out well for the countries who have it. Or perhaps you want internet like Australia where citizen journalism is prohibited (they removed a video of Neda Agha-Soltan being shot and dying during Iran protests), satire is prohibited (they blocked a page of Encyclopedia Dramatica), and blocking video games which are 'objectionable'.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Australia [wikipedia.org] and think if you -really- want to give the government power over the internet.

Re:Not A good thing, democratically speaking... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021126)

So you're saying that you don't mind if a corporation that wants to build a nuclear waste dump in your backyard buys your ISP and shapes any disagreement with their plans into non-existence? It is not like that is anything other than a trivial task given the rapidly evolving state of deep packet inspection...

Re:Not A good thing, democratically speaking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021268)

Good thing this isn't a proposal for censorship, isn't it?

Re:A good thing, democratically speaking... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021062)

There is absolutely nothing democratic about the FTC regulating anything. All executive agencies are autocratic in nature. They follow the directives of the President, and if they over step their bounds they are struck down by the court system (which sometimes is, sometimes isn't democratic).

The democratic functions of the government are well above their level, and only serve to increase or decrease their power or jurisdiction. There is nothing about the agency itself or who runs it that is in any way democratic, nor is there anything democratic about their day to day operations. The same is true for all executive functions after the initial democratic election of the president (excluding functions that directly involve the Congress, like cabinet appointments, SC justice nominations, and the government's yearly budget).

Re:A good thing, democratically speaking... (1)

Ocyris (1742966) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022254)

Pretty sure electronic fraud law cover that, as well as RICO. Once you start directly interfering with commerce you're done. That not even taking into account the fallout in PR.

Re:A good thing, democratically speaking... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022722)

Thing is, whoever should choose to do such a thing wouldn't do it - if they were wise - until the crucial final four months before a Presidential election.

If implemented well, the ability to shape traffic added to the Supreme Court's designation of corporations as super-citizens would get you that one critical election; there simply would not be time to run any objections through America's courts - particularly in light of the fact that "interested parties" might simply shove the case to the Supreme Court, where outcomes are somewhat...predictable.

Once you have the White House, the House, and the Senate, you can just make whatever you did legal - and salt the Department of Justice so as to ensure that no cases were brought under any inconvenient predecessor statutes.

I do believe precedence - political, if not judicial - exists for the latter steps.

The FTC is less of a threat than the FCC (5, Insightful)

voss (52565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020856)

The FTC doesnt give a crap about censoring content only regulating anti-fraud and commercial transactions. The FTC could go after internet companies
under anti-trust and anti-competitive practices laws.

Re:The FTC is less of a threat than the FCC (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021232)

I'm glad someone pointed this out. The FTC is also tied closely to ACTA, is it not? I think actually that this is the worst possible thing that could happen for consumers. Watch them try to implement the internet death penalty on Google for stealing Rupert Murdoch's precious news.

Re:The FTC is less of a threat than the FCC (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022598)

It would seem to me that if Fox really wanted to keep Google off their website, all they would have to do is ask or use robots.txt. They don't want Google off their network, they want to charge people to use their "obviously better news website".

1. Blame Google
2. ?????
3. Profit!

For once, this meme actually applies to the topic.

Re:The FTC is less of a threat than the FCC (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021868)

The FTC doesnt give a crap about censoring content only regulating anti-fraud and commercial transactions. The FTC could go after internet companies
under anti-trust and anti-competitive practices laws.

Until congress(new legislation) or the president(executive directive) asks them to. The FTC only cares about anti-fraud and commercial transactions because that is what they were told to focus on.

Re:The FTC is less of a threat than the FCC (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022548)

With all the obvious fraud going on, I would argue that over the last 10 years, the FTC hasn't been doing the job with the powers it already has. It shouldn't matter whether the company advertises via newspaper, internet, tv, etc., nor should it matter if they sell by mail order, internet, or phone, the FTC is _supposed_ to insure that the playing field is level for consumers and businesses. Perhaps they should work on enforcing EXISTING laws with their EXISTING powers, which would already include internet companies.

Re:The FTC is less of a threat than the FCC (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022986)

No regulatory agency really did. That's because Bush II was all about deregulating, and that which he could not explicitly deregulate, he simply put someone who didn't care in charge of the relevant regulatory agency.

Re:The FTC is less of a threat than the FCC (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#32023804)

The FTC wasn't much different under Clinton. It isn't a Democrat/Republican thing, it's a bureaucratic thing. OSHA is also less effective than two decades ago.

Bad Idea... (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020868)

While this might stop Comcast, regulation is -never- the answer when it comes to the economy. If you can mandate net neutrality over all the net* who is to say that the government can't force ISPs to block certain sites? Track 'piracy', etc.

*I believe that the way to regulate ISPs is that if the ISP has lines running through public property, the public has a say on their policies. If they don't use public land, they are free to do whatever.

Regulation usually cuts off one head of the hydra only to replace it with 2, 3 or 4 more problems. Mix this with the fact you can't vote these people out of office and they are accountable to essentially no one and you have a system ripe for abuse.

Let the citizens choose what their public land is used for. If an ISP wants to use that land to lay cable, they should be accountable to the citizens because their land is being used.

Re:Bad Idea... (2, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020936)

What we wanted was a law that said that ISPs couldn't kneecap my packets if I didn't pay their protection fees.

What we'll get is a huge fuckup.

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020972)

The big ISPs can do what Qwest did, use the railroad right of ways to run data along private routes. You could get a packet from Miami to Anchorage using right of ways and submarine cables or privately owned satellites.

And they can happily shape the traffic however they want. Anyone beyond port 80? You get to pay extra for that.

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021120)

And, so? They should be able to do that when they aren't using public funds/land. If they do that, I don't buy internet access from them and tell others not to. Generally it is when they use public lands is when they are granted monopolies and screw their customers because they have no other place to turn to. If they continue to screw customers, they lose money and go out of business. The majority of ISPs who screw their customers end up getting monopolies because they use public land.

Re:Bad Idea... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021090)

I'm going to go ahead and point out the flaw here. In most conversations, net neutrality specifically means blocking certain sites is bad. So your slippery slope is pretty poor, imo.

Your argument boils down to "if we let the government do 1 specific thing X, then they'll be able to do anyyything, oh noez, it's terriblez".

It's a pretty weak argument, really. History has shown that regulation can help and that without that regulation things can go poorly - I point to current recession and repeal of glass steagal.

Re:Bad Idea... (0, Flamebait)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021246)

I'm going to go ahead and point out the flaw here. In most conversations, net neutrality specifically means blocking certain sites is bad. So your slippery slope is pretty poor, imo.

But its the government. They can/will break net neutrality to get their way. Neither republicans nor democrats are parties of principle, they are parties who change their politics to fit whoever gives them the most money. Someone donates $5 million and owns a 'green' company, that party is going to want tax breaks and government contracts for that company. Someone gives campaign funds and is a record executive? We get things like the DMCA.

history has shown that regulation can help and that without that regulation things can go poorly

Really, then how do you explain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_australia [wikipedia.org] ?

As for the Glass-Stegal Act, if we had less regulation, less government pressure to give loans to 'minorities' for homes (who can't pay for them) and if we had a policy of not bailing out companies, I'd imagine we wouldn't have the banking collapse. A -lot- of it was from when Clinton wanted -everyone- to own a home, even if they couldn't pay for it. So banks would not only give out loans for the home but let them take out more than they could pay back. When the people defaulted on their loans the banks acted surprised. Regulation breeds monopolies and big businesses that are 'too big to fail'. Lack of regulation leads to smaller companies who don't do things correctly failing early and harming fewer people.

Show me a single instance of government regulation of the internet -ever- increasing freedom and having a truly positive end.

OH NO REGULATIONS (2, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021944)

Show me a single instance of government regulation of the internet -ever- increasing freedom and having a truly positive end.

Since the government sort of took the initiative in creating the thing in the first place, I'm not sure how to comment to that. I can tell you an example where deregulation had the opposite effect, where telling carriers that they didn't have to lease their lines to competing companies set up local monopolies and discouraged further development beyond high-rent urban areas. It's also sort of funny that we're discussing giving the FTC power to restrict throttling on certain content, and you're trying to tell us that this is what leads to... the FTC censoring certain content. That's a bit like telling me I need to go South to get to Canada from Houston, because eventually I'll swing all the way around the globe.

Regulation breeds monopolies and big businesses that are 'too big to fail'.

It's just the opposite, unless you don't consider antitrust laws to be regulation. We have large investment banks in control of much of our trading sector because we stopped deciding at some point that too-big-to-fail entities were in violation of monopoly laws. You should see how we used to break up large companies, even if they didn't control 100% of the market. It's sort of amazing that after a heavy downturn in the market that came about largely because of commodities being traded unregulated in a sort of a shadow market that people somehow believe that government regulation NEVER improves the market.

Daniel Gross does a decent job of highlighting the Chicken Little effect of regulation on Wall Street here. [slate.com] But of course, this was a discussion about the internet, not Wall Street. In order to believe that further regulation will hurt the development of the internet, you sort of have to believe that there's already healthy competition in the American broadband market, that local monopolies don't exist, that customer service isn't getting worse as the ISPs get lazy on lack of competition, and that the rest of the world isn't slowly smoking us on improving network speeds. But obviously if we'd just get out of Comcast's way, then the internet will be just fine, right?

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 3 years ago | (#32024890)

If you have a past history of a failed (and MISSING) mission statement, and you manage power and frequency from a fascist standpoint instead of from an engineering standpoint in the public interest, and then you give them more authority, you deserve to have your just fruits.

In this case it will be a crackdown on freedom as the FCC tightens the screws, ISP's will simply shift the cost! Furthermore if the FCC get's authority, they will never let it go. You will live with this crap forever into the future.

Your argument is the one that's weak, mostly because you didn't take into consideration the PAST HISTORY of the FCC and FTC.

Neither agency can do their CURRENT JOB correctly.

The monetary system failure is because of the Senate both D and R's PERIOD. They removed Glass-Stegal! They allowed and indeed encouraged FRAUD!

WAKE THE HELL UP!

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021632)

While this might stop Comcast, regulation is -never- the answer when it comes to the economy. If you can mandate net neutrality over all the net* who is to say that the government can't force ISPs to block certain sites? Track 'piracy', etc.

That's flawed logic. If you can mandate that people do not kill each other, that does not mean you have the power to force people to kill each other.

Re:Bad Idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32024492)

Is it flawed logic?

Why don't you go look up the FCC's original mission statement and compare how they've managed power and frequency so well for the "public spectrum" to be almost completely "corporate owned."

Then lets get back to your flawed logic assertion of how the FCC regulating networks will be some good thing.

I'm all for net neutrality, but the FCC is NOT THE ANSWER it will end up being a CURSE!

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021908)

With citizens so busy these days they should form a counsel to promote the public interest when public lands or other resources are used. Since those cables cross state lines for the purposes of trade we should make it federal. This idea of yours to make a Counsel of Federal Trade is a grand idea indeed.

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022064)

... regulation is -never- the answer when it comes to the economy.

Because we should allow the economy to give us unfettered access to hit men. Yeah. That works well.

Hey idiot Libertarians - there is no such thing as a "free" market - even your idiot philosophy stops when it comes to things like fraud, theft, and direct harm to individuals. Of course, you like to play intellectually dishonest games like saying that the "free" market doesn't allow that - by what logical principal should you disengage the guileful and the naive, the cruel and the kind, the strong and the weak? That's not freedom. That's why I can respect anarchists more than you fools. Either you set rules or you don't. After you agree to that, it's just a question of where you set them.

It reminds me of the old story: A man says to a woman, "Would you sleep with me for ten million dollars?" The woman thinks for a couple moments and says, "Yeah, I guess so." The man says, "How about for quarter?" The woman shrieks, "What? What kind of woman do you think I am?" The man said, "We've already established that. Now we're just haggling over the price." And that's what Libertarians are, the intellectual whores of anarchists.

Re:Bad Idea... (2, Insightful)

aonic (878715) | more than 3 years ago | (#32024402)

Let the citizens choose what their public land is used for. If an ISP wants to use that land to lay cable, they should be accountable to the citizens because their land is being used.

People tend to forget that the citizens are the government. It's not "you vs. them." If you don't like something "the government" (aka "the people we elected") is doing, get involved and fix it. Whining about "tyrrany" and mailing teabags doesn't count.

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 3 years ago | (#32025252)

All I'm sayin' is that ISPs should be a dumb pipe. ANY traffic going FROM anywhere TO anywhere should be routed, and that's it, PERIOD.

Route my traffic. Absolutely minimal QoS, no scanning, filtering, inspecting, or responsibility for what is passing through your network.

Great (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020886)

Laws that allow the finding and punishment of crooks are good for all of us. Let's hope that the agencies involved get enough manpower to really get the job done.

Yeah for Government Censorship of the Internet (1)

spoon00 (25994) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020920)

Yeah every packet is treated the same, so we don't have to worry about innovation in delivery anymore. Plus we won't have to worry about that pesky content getting delivered that ${current luddites in power} don't like, so more bandwidth available for approved content.

Fai7z0rs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021214)

by simple fucking would mar BSD's Creek, abysmal the fruitless First, you have to interestm in having faster, cheaper, OpenBSD wanker Theo a fact: FreeBSD

Sorry I'm posting as AC (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021284)

I used to work in an industry where I once heard the following (from a scumbag who ripped off many people):

"The first time you get a call from the FTC you shit your pants"
"The second time you get a call from the FTC you piss your pants"
"The third time you get a call from the FTC you call your lawyer and ask, 'How much will it cost me this time?'"

People in the spam/telemarketing/shady business/etc. industry think of the FTC as a joke. Their settlements are just a cost of doing business for them. Anything that strengthens their enforcement power gets a big thumbs-up from me, even though I'm usually opposed to big government.

Comcast interfering with competition (1)

ITJC68 (1370229) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021438)

The FCC should be able to do something. As a Comcast subscriber my Vonage telephone service stopped working reasonably well when they took over the cable internet in my area. When I was with my local cable system before they were bought up I never once had a problem making calls. Miraculously shortly after they took over and starting offering their own service Vonage was no longer useful. This kind of BS needs to stop. They can run out any competition by limiting or putting their service on a higher priority should be justification alone for a class action suit. Of course Vonage is in enough trouble and was of no help in getting it resolved so I discontinued their service and went cell phone only.

Re:Comcast interfering with competition (1)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 3 years ago | (#32024964)

The FCC should be able to do something.

If they get the authority, they'll do something alright.

But the reality is they can't even stick to their original mission statement. I'll tell you how well the FCC has managed power and frequency. Ask the ARRL hams , ask about BPL. Or simply look at the "public spectrum" it's nearly completely "corporate owned!" Do you not see this? Do you not see the past history and fascist abuse of this FAILED AGENCY!?

Your problems bud are with Comcast and Vonage.
Don't invoke big brother to solve your crappy service problems, you'll make service for everyone crappy.

I'll bet you didn't serve in the military, which explains why you can't understand the forces in play here.

where is the money? (2, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021516)

Any new regulations, be it financial, health insurance, fcc, cdc, whatever, has to be paid for somehow, doesn't it?

In the past 10 years the Federal budget in US has grown by a factor of 2, that probably means that the Government is twice as big now as it was then.

Show of hands who here makes 2 times the money now as they made 10 years ago? I know I don't.

What about the Economy, is it twice as big, twice as strong, produced twice as many goods, created twice as many jobs, anything at all that doubled beside unemployment?

Didn't think so.

The US Government at this point is living on borrowed time, so does the US Dollar and the entire country. Question is, what is going to happen when the time runs out? I dread to think of the possibilities, wars, dictatorships, hunger, sickness, mass exodus.

Bright side? It also could be fun shooting.

Re:where is the money? (2, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022604)

Certainly our little excursions into Afghanistan and Iraq haven't helped the Federal Budget, but these are considered anomalies, not continuous spending. I think you really need to look at is Federal Spending as a percentage of GDP. Currently, it appears to be at about 45%, a level it hasn't been at since WWII. I think we need a constitutional amendment capping spending as a percentage of GDP, with an exception for war-time spending. But what percentage is reasonable limit? 10%? 25%? 50%? I'd like to see a maximum of 10% of GDP, but it hasn't been that low in a very long time [usgovernmentspending.com].

Re:where is the money? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32024662)

Show of hands who here makes 2 times the money now as they made 10 years ago?

Actually, I do.

Then again, I do work for the government...

FCC needs power stop comcast from NBC CSN Philly (0, Offtopic)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021992)

FCC needs power to stop comcast from makeing NBC like CSN Philly and makeing it cable only and lock out dish and directv.

Also why can't CSN Philly be like CSN CHICAGO and be on all systems?

an easier way? (1)

Dale512 (1073668) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022042)

or we could just declare ISPs to be telecoms like they are and be able to enforce against them the same as we do for the other companies

Power to do what? (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022100)

'If we had a deterrent, a bigger stick to fine malefactors, that would be helpful,' says FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz,

So what are these cases where your bigger stick (schwartz?) would have been helpful? What would have turned out better? This is nothing but a power grab.

Huh?!? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022222)

The Internet is just a glorified digital telephone line. If the FTC takes over regulation of the 'net, it should also take over regulation of phone and cable TV. Which sort of makes sense -- the FCC should only be regulating information transmitted via RF in free air, including WiFi, Bluetooth, citizen's band, broadcast TV, HAM, wireless handsets, mobile phones, radiation from all electronic devices... uh, since the FCC regulates practically everything having to do with computers, why don't they just regulate the internet too?

If state and local government did their jobs (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 3 years ago | (#32022962)

If state and local government did their fucking jobs, there would be real competition between ISPs and the shitty ISPs would die off or change.

censorship coming ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32024198)

With FTC regulating the internet, does that mean that they get the power to impose standards for non-offensive content the way they do with broadcast TV ?

FTC is the wrong agency (1)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 3 years ago | (#32024230)

the FCC should regulate the internet in america. the internet is a lot more than commerce, and that's why the FTC is the wrong organization to put in charge of our wires & wireless

Firts item on FTC agenda: (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#32025104)

Make the ISPs beg for the FCC to take over regulatory responsibility over the Internet.
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