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The FCC May Decide Not To Regulate Broadband

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the outgunned-and-outmaneuvered dept.

Communications 279

This morning the Washington Post reported that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is leaning toward letting the telecomms have their way — not asserting greater authority to regulate the Internet by reclassifying broadband as a Title II service. The blogs are atwitter (HuffPo, StopTheCap) that not voting to apply Title II regulation to Internet carriers is tantamount to giving up on net neutrality — which has been a centerpiece of the Obama administration's tech policy. The Post paraphrases its sources, who are reading the chairman's mind, that Genachowski believes "the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy." The FCC will say only that the chairman has made no decision yet.

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279 comments

Regulation requires upkeep (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32079630)

If carrier neutrality won't be regulated then I want all government/carrier deals to be outlawed. I want to be able to sign up with anyone who is willing to toss me a line.

Re:Regulation requires upkeep (2, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080522)

If carrier neutrality won't be regulated then I want all government/carrier deals to be outlawed. I want to be able to sign up with anyone who is willing to toss me a line.

and who would that be where "the last mile" costs are high?

Great (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079634)

Now Comcast gets to decide what websites I can visit and at what speed. Or, alternately, I can go to the one other alternative I have (AT&T) and let THEM decide what websites I can visit and at what speed.

Re:Great (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32079680)

Don't worry, the Invisible Hand(TM) will reach down from Heaven and drop off a brand new ISP that doesn't interfere with your connection. Any minute now.

Re:Invisible Hand(TM) from the heavens (1, Flamebait)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080276)

No it looks like Google is still six months out from being productive on this one. thanks tho.

Re:Great (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080394)

Or more likely it will join AT&T and ComCast into one and leave you with a single "choice" to pay them x for y service that they dictate including their preferences on what you do online.

Re:Great (2, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079694)

Hey, at least it's better than the liberal socialist backyard Kumbaya drum circle! [arstechnica.com] It's about time we told those damn hippies with their "free exchange of information" and "open source" and all that communist bilge where to get off -- only good old fashioned American capitalism can produce successes like Netscape!

Re:Great (1)

dutchdabomb (248104) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079796)

Or you could go with a 3G connection from Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080014)

and let THEM decide what websites you can visit and at what speed.

Re:Great (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080124)

How about you buy a connection from all 3 and a router with 3 WAN interfaces.

Write a script to measure the latency and throughput you get to each website across all 3 links. Send all your traffic for any particular website over the link with the best performance characteristics.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080346)

And weight it by monthly usage, so if you've used up most of your x GB cap on one carrier, it only uses it when it's [i]way[/i] faster.

Seriously, I've thought about doing this sort of thing -- if you need more than one account anyway to circumvent the 5GB limit, may as well mix and match for best results. But the only context I know of that makes this logical is RVing, and I can't afford one, much less an RV, gas, and 3 or 4 wireless accounts.

Re:Great (2, Funny)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080158)

Now Comcast gets to decide what websites I can visit and at what speed. Or, alternately, I can go to the one other alternative I have (AT&T) and let THEM decide what websites I can visit and at what speed.

Or you could get satellite broadband.

Or wireless.

Or form a neighborhood Internet co-op.

Or get your own leased line.

Or VPN past your ISP's traffic shaping.

Re:Great (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080304)

Remarkably the last three all still suffer the same problem. Somewhere sometime there is going to be a big brother or other provider who will stop you just the same as the local neighborhood ISP. Shame tho. Would be nice to setup a neighborhood co-op and bypass those regs.

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080338)

Or form a neighborhood Internet co-op.

You mean let my local municipal government build a last mile connection to my house. This has been tried [newrules.org] . The regulated profits of the regulated monopolies provide the incumbents with the ability to write off litigation costs -- regardless of the source of those litigation costs. Those of us who would prefer a municipal network are instead forced to pay the legal expenses which prevent municipal networks.

Re:Great (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080458)

Satilite - blocked by these things called trees and buildings in many areas also many places such as apartments have no were to install the dish.
Wireless - See trees and buildings and clogging up the radio spectrum
Neighborhood Internet Co-Op ...soon to be illegal and "unfair competition" in a state near you! Also it has to exist in your neighborhood.
Leased Line - Ha Ha ha ha ha good joke.
VPN - Yeah that can be blocked too. Don't think they won't charge extra for it.

Finally all of these mean jack and shit with jack on a holiday when you are trying to use the internet for most business purposes and are trying to sell something online. Selling things means you have to be able to get people to come to your site and if the big players are squeezing your site out of their regular customers' view then it doesn't matter how YOU personally can get around the ISPs.

try to scare the politicos to do the right thing.. (5, Insightful)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079688)

Here is a good direct opinion piece to point to your congress critter: "Comcast Can Censor This Blog Post ... With FCC's Permission?" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marvin-ammori/ten-things-comcast-will-b_b_560897.html [huffingtonpost.com] Try to impress on them the notion of what if Comcast should decide not to be supportive of your their reelection webpage?

Re:try to scare the politicos to do the right thin (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080510)

Try to impress on them the notion of what if Comcast should decide not to be supportive of your their reelection webpage?

Unlikely, my politician is already in Comcast's pocket. Why would comcast censor their own politician? :(

Bad news for democracy (3, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079696)

People vote based on what they read, see, or hear on the news. The FCC has already abdicated its responsibility regarding broadcast media, no more fairness doctrine and nothing to replace it. Now they want to do the same with the internet. What this means is that the United States will move very solidly toward being even more of a plutocracy than it is today.

I can't say what bad news this is for democracy.

Re:Bad news for democracy (3, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079756)

The fairness doctrine is dead as a doornail, and as much as I'd like to see more balance in mainstream media, that's probably a good thing; it's not the government's place to decide how the news is reported. Meanwhile, advocates of net neutrality do themselves no favors by comparing the two. It is the mainly the enemies of net neutrality who keep bringing up the fairness doctrine, because they want to discredit net neutrality, a technical matter, by mixing it up in people's minds with the fairness doctrine, a political matter. Please don't fall into their trap.

Re:Bad news for democracy (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079870)

Technical net neutrality is a desirable goal in itself, but not a sufficient one. Just look at the current polarization in congress, which follows the polarization of the electorate, which follows the polarization of news reporting, and tell me that the current way the news is reported is good for the political health of the United States.

Good legislation for fair news reporting has suffered so far because it's confused with freedom of the press. But the constitution doesn't give you the freedom to deliberately lie to the electorate about news they will vote upon - whether you're a news medium or an elected official. We're not going to have a healthy democracy if we can't come up with any way to prosecute that.

Re:Bad news for democracy (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079980)

tell me that the current way the news is reported is good for the political health of the United States

Of course it's not. But that does not mean that for the government to decide what news can be reported, and how it will be reported, is better.

the constitution doesn't give you the freedom to deliberately lie to the electorate about news they will vote upon

Of course it does. The First Amendment doesn't say, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of true speech, or of the press except when they're lying." You have the right to say what you want to say, I have the right to say what I want to say, and Fox News and CNN have the right to say what they want to say even when it's apparent to you and me and a lot of other people that what they're saying is bilge. The solution to speech we don't like is, always, more speech. There is never a good alternative.

And this is why net neutrality is so damned important: as long as we have the mechanism by which we can speak out -- and I think you'll agree that the internet is one of the greatest such mechanisms in history -- we have a chance to counter all the crap that gets shoveled at us by politicians and massive corporate media. Lose that mechanism, and we lose the best hope we have. By mixing up net neutrality with the fairness doctrine, we increase the chance of losing it all.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080028)

tell me that the current way the news is reported is good for the political health of the United States

Of course it's not. But that does not mean that for the government to decide what news can be reported, and how it will be reported, is better.

I think we've established that lassez-faire capitalism isn't the answer. But you seem to be saying that the long tail is the answer, and yet the long tail is mostly disproven.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080108)

Eh, not exactly. The "long tail" is a phrase that usually comes up in discussions of financial matters, and I agree that (unfortunately) it hasn't panned out the way we were hoping it would. But ideas are not measurable in dollars. I would argue that the active, constant, and often very healthy (as well as yes, often polarized and idiotic) political debate that takes place across the internet is in fact a success: more people have access to a greater range of facts and opinions than ever before, and more ways to speak out. There is just about nothing said in print or broadcast media that isn't immediately dissected in every possible way, all in public view. It doesn't work perfectly, but it works better than just about anything we've tried before.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080288)

But this is all assuming that the voter is willing to change the channel and explore new opinions, rather than stay on the channel that causes the least anxiety because it is closest to the voter's current opinions.

I submit that this is not fulfilling the responsibility of the voter to be sufficiently informed, and if that's all they are willing to do I am not sanguine about their having the right to vote at all. But I don't see how we get to having responsible voters by cultivating irresponsible media.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080406)

You can't make people learn. Before the days of cable channels carefully crafted to appeal to specific political groups, TV news viewers would simply turn off the TV, or change the channel to a sitcom, when a reporter they didn't like came on the air. If a debate show came on, they'd do the same -- or watch for the purpose of cheering "their guy" and booing "the other guy" like they were watching a football game. Newspaper readers glance at the headlines before deciding which stories to read, and flip past editorial columnists with whom they disagree. Unless we go with some Orwellian TV-watching-you requirement that people sit down and watch their daily ration of government-mandated news, there's nothing we can do about this ... and the consequences of instituting such a requirement would be much, much worse than any amount of cable "news" propaganda or echo-chamber blogging is ever likely to be.

Do you really think that people were better informed in the days of the fairness doctrine? Remember, it was Reagan who got rid of it -- and in order to do that, he had to get elected in the first place, which says to me that it didn't really do a whole lot of good.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080800)

By redefining "free speech" as to exclude blatant overwhelming streams of commercial speech and propaganda.

If you (Americans) can't do that, I am afraid, you will have to abandon "free speech" or accept that the whole role of speech -- be it political or otherwise is hopelessly subverted.

Re:Bad news for democracy (3, Insightful)

Kirijini (214824) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080700)

The solution to speech we don't like is, always, more speech. There is never a good alternative.

The fairness doctrine promotes more speech. More accurately, it promotes availability of more viewpoints.

The fairness doctrine doesn't suppress speech - its a mechanism for forcing people/corporations with a megaphone to hand the megaphone over to to the people they talk about. Since the megaphone is government sponsored, this is entirely reasonable.

In a world where people's voices are equally strong, you can't just ignore what your enemies say. You have to actually engage them if you want to win an argument. In this world, broadcasters can just say whatever they want and ignore the response. Nobody (or at least, very few people) hears the response, so broadcasters don't have to engage it. This is not healthy for democracy.

Re:Bad news for democracy (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079842)

The 'fairness' doctrine is complete BS. It leads to straw man-type arguments and too much liability for broadcasters.

And net neutrality is -completely- different than the fairness doctrine. All net neutrality does it make sure that broadband providers can't give preferential treatment or throttle connections.

What needs to happen is taxpayers must rise against ISPs taking public land without giving the public what it wants. Want to throttle? Don't use public land. If you don't use public land, you don't have to follow what the public wants. But most if not all ISPs do use public land and so the public needs to have a say on what goes on there.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079908)

One problem with technical net neutrality is that it is decoupled from the very reasons that make neutrality politically desirable. Not that you have the freedom to run high bandwidth peer-to-peer applications on a connection that isn't really right for them, but that you are presented with a wealth of differing political views, and you should not have to change the channel to hear them.

Re:Bad news for democracy (4, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079998)

Net Neutrality should be politically desirable because of several reasons.

A) It is fraud to offer 'internet' access and cut off or slow down access to the internet you are paying for.

B) Taxpayers have a fundamental right to be able to control what happens on public land. If it is your own private land you should have the freedom to do whatever the heck you want so long as it doesn't violate the rights of others, but on public land it is every taxpayer's land.

C) Most ISPs have received large tax payer 'donations' to 'modernize' America. And taxpayers have a fundamental right to use their tax dollars, net neutrality allows taxpayers to receive the services they pay for.

As for your point, whenever you confuse it with the 'fairness' doctrine you lose people because many people are smart enough to realize that the fairness doctrine is damaging. Net neutrality is an issue because the ISPs have been messing with public land and public funds and the public has the right to use those funds/land the way they choose.

Re:Bad news for democracy (4, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080152)

A) It is fraud to offer 'internet' access and cut off or slow down access to the internet you are paying for.

Only for your private definition of internet service. Now, I might actually like that definition, but there isn't a similar definition in U.S. law where it counts, or this would not be nearly so much of an issue.

B) Taxpayers have a fundamental right to be able to control what happens on public land. If it is your own private land you should have the freedom to do whatever the heck you want so long as it doesn't violate the rights of others, but on public land it is every taxpayer's land.

So, you're talking about the pole plant, and the radio airwaves. But this applies to 1) how the right to build a pole plant or operate on a radio frequency is granted and 2) what right you have to operate a channel on a partially publicly supported pole plant before we get to 3) how a particular private network - and if there's more than one of them they will tend to be treated as private - is operated. I think you might better direct your efforts to 1 and 2.

C) Most ISPs have received large tax payer 'donations' to 'modernize' America. And taxpayers have a fundamental right to use their tax dollars, net neutrality allows taxpayers to receive the services they pay for.

I can't imagine how many trillions of dollars GM has had in subsidies through the construction of the interstate highway system, etc. (Although one of you might be able to come up with an estimate.) And we get to say precious little about GM's operation, even now that we own it temporarily. Although it would be very desirable to see fairness in many things that you spend tax dollars on - private patents driven by public research dollars is another case worthy of reform - you are not going to win any of these arguments while using a plutocratic channel to communicate with the electorate.

As for your point, whenever you confuse it with the 'fairness' doctrine you lose people because many people are smart enough to realize that the fairness doctrine is damaging. Net neutrality is an issue because the ISPs have been messing with public land and public funds and the public has the right to use those funds/land the way they choose.

I just happen to think that how you get information that you will vote upon is a lot more important than your right to distribute an illegitimate copy of American Idiot.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080454)

Only for your private definition of internet service. Now, I might actually like that definition, but there isn't a similar definition in U.S. law where it counts, or this would not be nearly so much of an issue.

True, however, since fraud is the misrepresentation of services, one needs to use the commonly accepted definition since I don't think that the US provides a specific definition (however, I'm not a lawyer)

So, you're talking about the pole plant, and the radio airwaves. But this applies to 1) how the right to build a pole plant or operate on a radio frequency is granted and 2) what right you have to operate a channel on a partially publicly supported pole plant before we get to 3) how a particular private network - and if there's more than one of them they will tend to be treated as private - is operated. I think you might better direct your efforts to 1 and 2.

I'm a bit confused about your use of pole plant, all Google comes up with is references to skiing...

However, my basic stance is that if you use public funds, you are accountable to the public. If you use solely private funds you are accountable simply to not to violate the rights of others. While it is true that we have a limited amount of frequencies, we have a large enough selection of them for use of all different forms of data use that it shouldn't be a huge problem who has what just as long as the FCC does its primary (and should be only) job of making sure signals don't interfere with others.

If there are too many people wanting a specific frequency that hasn't been leased by the FCC yet, the different companies or individuals would just bid and the highest bidder would win.

However, if frequencies are very limited, the FCC should allow for reasonable caps of frequencies aquired. If they want to exceed the number of frequencies they must submit to the public will in regards to what they use it for.

I can't imagine how many trillions of dollars GM has had in subsidies through the construction of the interstate highway system, etc.

The answer to that would be $0 from the highway system (unless GM was one of the contractors...) because GM along with any other car manufacturer can use them. If the government gives $500 million to AT&T, only AT&T can make use of that. If the government spends $500 million on roads it benefits GM, Ford, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Dodge, Harley-Davidson, UPS, Fed-Ex, you and me.

And we get to say precious little about GM's operation, even now that we own it temporarily.

True, and I believe that we should be able to control GM's operation because of the bail-out until they pay it back. (not that I agree with the bail-outs...)

you are not going to win any of these arguments while using a plutocratic channel to communicate with the electorate.

The problem isn't really the communication with the electorate it is the fact we have a lack of competition in US politics and few parties of principle who win seats. And until we have party-list proportional representation, that is not going to change no matter if we have net neutrality or not.

I just happen to think that how you get information that you will vote upon is a lot more important than your right to distribute an illegitimate copy of American Idiot.

Yes, and that is a valid opinion. However, it confuses the two issues so much the tech-illiterate public will not be able to tell the difference and will think it is the fairness doctrine and be against it. Just look at Rush Limbaugh who confused the two and mislead the public. Separating the two issues let people see that net neutrality is a -good thing- even if they opposed the fairness doctrine.

Re:Bad news for democracy (3, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080760)

I'm a bit confused about your use of pole plant, all Google comes up with is references to skiing...

The poles, trenches and other means of passing a wire from place to place, and the system of wiring built upon them. Although it's generally the case that one "utility" predominantly owns the poles and trenches - even though they are on public land - and may lease them to the others, the wiring and/or optical fiber and its infrastructure are a separate property for power, telephone, cable, etc.

However, my basic stance is that if you use public funds, you are accountable to the public.

Go tell Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker, and every such business since. Yes, it should have been the law that the railroad right-of-way remained the public property, and they didn't get incredibly large grants of land and mining rights as well. And so on for pole plants, etc. Great thing to achieve but you have to start working on the politics now, because today it isn't the case.

Regarding GM and the public highway, consider that it has been a much larger give-away than the train folks got, and it didn't benefit the trains, and you and I lost the viable mass transit network of the time.

IMO you don't get more parties and a parliamentary system without a fair media voice.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079926)

Why should we have Net Neutrality, when we can't even have Tax Neutrality?

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079996)

Flat taxation is just one of very many things that you'll have a hard time selling politically while the channels of communication to the electorate are controlled by giant corporations that take advantage of special taxation.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080050)

Flat taxation is just one of the very many things that will never happen in America because we have a political system that restricts political views. We have two parties who are parties of money, not parties of principle. Can you -really- define a true party-wide stance of the Republicans and Democrats? No. Their stances change based on money. They are not parties of principle. Until we have a true democratic system such as Proportional Representation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation [wikipedia.org] ) such things will be useless unless someone has enough money to buy congress which won't happen because flat taxation among many other issues help the working class and the poor and will help the rich too but they see the loss of special tax breaks, etc. as a net loss when in reality it would be a net gain.

Can you show me just one major example of a (US) ISP restricting political views based solely on political viewpoint without having a simi-valid 'legal' reason?

And whenever you have governmental control over communication (such as the BBC) smaller viewpoints get left out even more than with our current system. Look at the debates that were publicly funded and left out major parties such as the Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Camru.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080220)

It's Plaid Cymru as represented for English-language writers :-)

I am sorry that the Beeb did that, but I bet it's nothing next to what happens on Fox every day. What we are discussing here is that ISPs are about to get the right to act like Fox.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080260)

Except it doesn't. Flat tax RAPES the poor. It's the most regressive system of modern years and it basically give a tax break to rich people that the poor people have to pick up. Flat tax takes someone just about breaking even (income= necessity expenditure) and adds to their tax burden, and someone with lots of money (income necessity expenditure) and reduces their burden. It ignores the basic cost of living, it makes a mockery of any sense of fairness. Flat tax is pushed by loonies as some kind of panacea, but in reality it would cripple those who really have to work for a living.

Re:Bad news for democracy (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080390)

I agree that in a strictly linear tax system there would have to be a subsidy for the poor to offset the discriminatory effect of the taxation. And anyway I find nonlinear taxation to be fair as long as it increases for the rich rather than the opposite. But taxation with thousands of exceptions doesn't seem fair to anyone.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080518)

Flat tax RAPES the poor.

No it doesn't. If you look at how much government people use, it is the poor who end up sapping the most. It only makes sense for people to pay for what they use. A flat tax does that in a fair way because the poor still get to have taxpayer funded breaks and the rich don't have to pay for people who make stupid decisions. Why are the poor in poverty? Most of the time they made bad decisions (when the economy is relativity healthy, today a lot of the poor are victims of bad luck, but once the economy improves they will get jobs).

it makes a mockery of any sense of fairness.

Fair is paying what you use. The only fair form of government is that which you pay a small fee for the maintenance of the army per household (after all, in this day and age if you have a household of 1 or 10 the same ICBM or drone will protect you), you pay a fee for the police, fire service, etc. If you have school age kids in public schooling you pay a fee for schools, pay a fee when you get your drivers license for road use, etc. Such things are fair.

If you look at the rich, they generally use less government, so why are they paying more? It is the poor that drain our tax dollars not the rich (individuals that is, corporations are different story...)

Re:Bad news for democracy (5, Insightful)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080856)

No it doesn't. If you look at how much government people use, it is the poor who end up sapping the most.

Are you kidding me. 95% of the benefits that government provide is so that rich can make more money.

* Law & Order/Military - protect the resources of the rich
* Social Security - proactive law & order
* Infrastructure - pooling resources on infrastructure so those with property (the rich) can make more money.
* Education - create low level employees that can make money for the rich.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080936)

Law & Order/Military - protect the resources of the rich

...No, they protect everyone. Our country is pretty much safe from attack. Any major threat would affect -everyone- rich and poor. As for law and order, they again protect everyone. However, generally you've screwed something up in your life if you need to use lots and lots of police force.

Social Security - proactive law & order

How does social security benefit the rich at all? They don't use the money. Heck, I don't think many of them can get the money they just pay it and it goes into oblivion. The rich have better plans than crappy government sponsorships.

Infrastructure - pooling resources on infrastructure so those with property (the rich) can make more money.

No, infrastructure helps the poor far more often than the rich. The rich can afford their own infrastructure and generally do. It is the poor and middle class that need public infrastructure.

Education - create low level employees that can make money for the rich.

Our current education helps no one and harms everyone. Because GEDs mean nothing, public education is not a qualification and thus someone reasonably bright graduates with the same qualifications as a complete moron. Which means that university-level degrees are the only thing that matters.

Our education system needs to flunk out those not bright enough so a high school education counts. This will help the poor because they get free paperwork for a decent job if they are qualified.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080378)

Regarding your first paragraph - We should have proportional private taxation along with proportional representation. Breaks and refunds can be dependent on, well, dependents. Tax breaks based on marriages are obsolete. If corporations want tax breaks and other incentives, they should be held to certain requirements such as a ratio of their employees(including contractors and consultants) being U.S. citizens paid a prevailing wage. While I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony.

Can you show me just one major example of a (US) ISP restricting political views based solely on political viewpoint without having a simi-valid 'legal' reason?

Not yet, but soon...
1) If you want internet, you gotta agree to the EULA.
2) Post in favor of unpopular candidate in a forum, have your internet disconnected for "abusive" posting where "abusive" is defined loosely or not at all. And they will find something to use against you.
3) Pay your early termination fee.
4) (ISP) Profits!!!

And whenever you have governmental control over communication (such as the BBC) smaller viewpoints get left out even more than with our current system. Look at the debates that were publicly funded and left out major parties such as the Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Camru.

No difference there. The FCC is basically admitting that they're powerless against the one-two punch of corporate lobbying and litigation. American "debates" have been a joke for a long time.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080142)

What needs to happen is taxpayers must rise against ISPs taking public land

Now that telecoms can spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns, and Americans only find out about national candidates via the media and online, what are the chances that anything like net neutrality will ever be implemented?

The last election cycle will have been the last one in the History of the United States where voters even had a slim chance of making a difference.

From here on out, corporations are the government, and citizens are just customers locked in to long, long contracts..

And it's all thanks to the "conservatives" on the supreme court, who are supposed to be "just calling balls and strikes". They turned out to be the biggest activist judges in our nation's history, literally selling out the entire American experiment for good.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080974)

I agree with the first half of your comment but your approach has a slight problem that everybody uses public land. Say if you have a business would you like the government to control who you can sell your products to because you deliver them using public roads? At least cables are underground.

Re:Bad news for democracy (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080230)

US is not a democracy. I'm not sure what it is -- people run for election to represent the people, they make certain promises, and express what their position is on various issues to appeal to the masses.

They get elected, and then they vote in a manner that is diametrical opposite to the sales pitch they gave to get elected.

Because they have a multi-year term, there's absolutely nothing the people they represent can do to revoke or cancel the benefits of having won the election based on their unfulfilled contract with their constitutents, when they start to go wrong.

Or they 'sell' the choice of how they'll represent their people to the highest bidder. So in exchange for personal favor X, they falsely represent that the people want Y, in order to secure that favor, and they do it on every single vote.

I compare it to a corporate board of directors hiring a candidate with a 2 year non-revokable contract to be CEO, so the new employee can't be removed, limited, or rendered powerless, as long as they don't do anything actually illegal, and very high salary, based on a 5 minute interview, with very limited background information being available (other than their claimed positions on certain governance issues).

Of course the moment the deal is done, they can do whatever they want, including managing the company very badly.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080690)

Because they have a multi-year term, there's absolutely nothing the people they represent can do to revoke or cancel the benefits of having won the election based on their unfulfilled contract with their constitutents, when they start to go wrong.

Actually, such a revocation exists; it's called a recall election. Unfortunately, they're available only by constitutional amendment, exist in only a handful of states, and the last time we tried one the incumbent got Terminated.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080818)

Actually, such a revocation exists; it's called a recall election. Unfortunately, they're available only by constitutional amendment, exist in only a handful of states, and the last time we tried one the incumbent got Terminated.

That is OK for state officials maybe; the burden in terms of number of voters wanting a recall for anything to happen is way too high, much more than 51%.

Like it's in a representatitve's interests to vote for a bill to allow themselves to be recalled anyways?

It also won't work for federal government officials.

For example, you won't be recalling the vice president or members of US congress, no matter what horrible things they might do.

Re:Bad news for democracy (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080282)

Sure, the electorate is polarized now. But you seem to be assuming that without the fairness doctrine that won't change, or that forcing "balance" or something like that would help fix that. Why? For the record, I'm an adamant supporter of net neutrality, but I don't see the two being related.

Re:Bad news for democracy (2, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080334)

I think there's a direct causal link between good information and good voting. And I place this at a higher priority than technical net neutrality, which doesn't by itself achieve good information, it just achieves a lot of little media yapping at the big media but unable to change their behavior.

Re:Bad news for democracy (3, Insightful)

s1ashd0twh0r3 (936321) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080672)

For most people:

Good information == information that supports their views

&&

Good voting == voting with an outcome they favor

That's why the "fairness doctrine" is so Orwellian. By definition, it requires some person or entity to decide what is a fair mix of opinion and what is good information.

"Experts" usually love that sort of arrangement, usually because they envision themselves to be the arbiter.

Would you favor it, though, if someone you disagreed with politically had the power to make such determinations?

Who do I call? (2, Insightful)

boondaburrah (1748490) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079714)

I'm wondering who I have to write to in hopes of keeping Net Neutrality (or something like it) afloat.

A friend of mine lives in an area that is entirely served by Charter Cable. If they get to do whatever they want, it's not like he can drop them and move somewhere else if they start messing with his internet.

Well, I suppose there's dialup (shudder).

Oh Yeah Lets Go (1)

Will Call Again (1521597) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079724)

Lets deregulate everything.....that way we can all get taken for a ride....You'd think they would learn after the power and telephone...they deregulate...the price goes up and they do what they want....Hmmm...Let me see...Now my comcast speed will just go to 10 kbps just so they can add 3D TV with their Hi Def... Yeah...I'm happy now!!

Re:Oh Yeah Lets Go (1)

Agarax (864558) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079984)

True deregulation combined with the wonder of fiber would be that anyone with enough capital could start laying down lines and start their own ISP.

Sadly, most places have a government encouraged monopoly.

Re:Oh Yeah Lets Go (1)

orthicviper (1800010) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080608)

True deregulation combined with the wonder of fiber would be that anyone with enough capital could start laying down lines and start their own ISP.

Sadly, most places have a government encouraged monopoly.

sounds like a good idea to me

Re:Oh Yeah Lets Go (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080564)

Yeah, I absolutely hate my cell phone, and miss renting my forty pound land-line handset in their choice of three "stylish" colors...

So? (5, Insightful)

Chunky Kibbles (530549) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079758)

"the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy."

And... so?

"Something's good for consumers but unpopular with service providers; because the service providers might be bitchy let's not do it."

What? The *point* of the FCC is *exactly* to suffer being that middle man.

Gary (-;

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32079884)

The legal system has told FCC that is no rights be there.

Why would it use all it's budget in a lost battle?

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079952)

Tell Congress to change the laws. What I mean is write a REAL paper letter to your Congress person, and not email them.

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079990)

The FCC shouldn't have the right to make laws and enforce them too, that is why comcast won and will continue to win. So instead of trying to pass regulation the legal way the current administration has decided to give up or start taking donations from telecoms.

Re:So? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080188)

"the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy."

And... so?

Speaking as an extremely annoyed liberal, the point would be obvious if you were an elected democrat. It's a fight...WE SURRENDER OH GOOD GOD WE SURRENDER DON'T HURT MEEEEE!!!!!!!!

be careful what you wish for (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32079786)

I'm probably going to get modded down for this, but think of the taxes and fees on your phone bills, would you really want that on your internet bill too? Also to the people that constantly bitch about Comcast so much, grow a pair and cancel your service if it's really that bad.

Can't wait... (5, Insightful)

rennerik (1256370) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079832)

This is disastrous. I don't even know where to begin...

While there will undoubtedly be some competition by way of cable companies vs. DSL/fiber providers (pushing video/television and what-not), on both sides there will be hefty opposition against bandwidth sinks like like Hulu and Youtube. I can see it now: "Comcast Cable is now offering unlimited bandwidth! Experience our 6mbps* high-speed Internet for a low fee of only $45.00/month! Some restrictions apply! *Certain content may not be available at full speed, such as YouTube, Hulu, and non-Comcast partners. YouTube is available at full-speed for an additional fee of $1.99/month; Hulu is available for $3.49/month; non-Comcast partners are available for a low monthly fee per site. Please see full price list for details. Comcast partners include sports sites such as NHL.com and NFL.com, as well as networks such as Comedy Central and Syfy. Switch to Comcast today to see these sites at full-speed! (Television network sites are available for $1.99/month)"

And really, nothing can stop them from doing that. They can throttle BitTorrent traffic, slow down competitors' sites, or even detect streaming media and throttle it down.

Plus, micropayments via web games such as Farmville and MMOs have proven to be a good source of income. Maybe they'll offer to unthrottle BitTorrent traffic for a "low low price of $1.99/week".

Yeah, net neutrality is a bunch of bull. If you want fast sites, you need to *pay* for fast sites, you communist. Don't expect handouts like "unlimited internet"; hell, even roads have tolls!

Re:Can't wait... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080100)

Thats been going on for a while already. If you can access ESPN.com, your paying for this kinda BS. But with them, it's paid mostly to ESPN.com. If your ISP doesn't pay them, you don't get access. I wanna know personally how I can OPT OUT of that so I can stop subsidizing my hick neighbors ability to watch stupid crap.

Re:Can't wait... (1)

Captivated (1803538) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080200)

It's more than companies just offering undesirable services; customers have to accept and pay for those services. If they're willing to pay, why not offer it to them?

Can't we just ban bogus billing? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080402)

This isn't unique to cable or any other industry (although telecomm has long had a corner on it), but can't we ban the annoying billing/advertising technique of advertising some good or service for $19.99 and then running it up another $20 in tack-ons, even if half of them are for government taxes and fees?

Can't we require a service/good provider to advertise the service/goods AT THE PRICE THEY WOULD ACTUALLY COST instead of some fake low number that you can't actually pay?

Because lack of regulation is ALWAYS good. (5, Insightful)

Infirmo (449121) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079850)

I mean, just look at the banks.

(Or forestry in the 1980s. Or the savings and loan arena in the 1980s. Or AT&T in the 19th Century...)

Re:Because lack of regulation is ALWAYS good. (1, Insightful)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080042)

Most people won't argue that the lines the telecoms use were purchased by the taxpayers and should be open. what many do object to is a government entity that can write and enforce it's own laws side stepping checks an balances. If net-neutrality is going to happen a law must be written by congress passed in both the house and senate then approved by the president, not the FCC declaring that it can regulate the telecoms and then imposing new rules and fining any company that breaks them. So contact the democrats and ask them why they have chosen not to pass this law they have a majority in both house and senate and should easily find votes from republicans in the senate to stop a filibuster as long as that is all that is in the law.

Re:Because lack of regulation is ALWAYS good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080618)

Except, the FCC has the legal power to change the telecom's "classification", and can regulate "Class 2" services. So this "the FCC should step aside" line of thought has been dealt with by Congress and the President, already.

Great. (4, Informative)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079856)

Now isps will be able to screw americans using the lines they built on public land with government subsidies, saying 'our network'.

only in america. no really, only in america. there is no other example of this being let happen in any place around the world. this includes turkey. when the isps here tried to bullshit by saying 'these networks are ours', regulatory agency bitchslapped them into submission.

Re:Great. (2, Interesting)

anarche (1525323) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079958)

Bullshit!

Telstra in Australia still screws Aussies with "their" network they built while being a Government company 100 years ago! They refuse to sell "their" network back to the Government cheap enough that we can get round to building decent broadband infrastructure, despite said network being installed - and for all bar the past 10 years maintained - by the taxpayer!

Re:Great. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080422)

Australia: The Godwin for any discussion on internet access.

Great ! (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079872)

FCC "Let us do nothing and the market will regulate itself, and we won't be sued !" (what market ? The local monopoly ? The same telecom which tooks billion and gave nothing back ?) and really what is the frigging mandate from the FCC if it is not to regulate telecommunication "interstate communication" (wire cable etc...) ? And what's up with the fear of being sued ?

Analogy:
EPA "Let us do nothing and the market will regulate itself, we won't be sued by people dumping dioxine in the river"


Oh well, it is not my country, why the fuck I should care if it goes to the drain.

Deregulation, a good thing? (1)

portnux (630256) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079876)

You don't suppose this is all part of a plot to provide Google with the perfect opportunity to enter the ISP market and take it over?

Roll over? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#32079954)

The Post paraphrases their sources, who are reading the Chairman's mind, that Genachowski believes "the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy."

So if they're right, the federal govt. can basically be badgered into not doing it's job? Awesome.

Re:Roll over? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080262)

So if they're right, the federal govt. can basically be badgered into not doing it's job? Awesome.

Wow, where have you been living?

Yay for the rule of law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080048)

What? Do you REALLY want government bureaucrats making up what's legal and what's not in a legal vacuum?

REALLY!?!?!?!

This is Good News (4, Interesting)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080082)

Seriously. It's better to have an open, above-board policy that says "We do not regulate this," than an agency that supposedly regulates it but doesn't.

We haven't had effective government regulation of anything since Ronald Reagan. As I sit here, Exxon has yet to pay for or clean up [wikipedia.org] the Valdez oil spill, and BP just destroyed the Gulf of Mexico from Houston to Pensacola [cnn.com] because a standard emergency valve was "too expensive."

I'd just as soon drop the pretense. There's no such thing as "government regulation" any more.

Re:This is Good News (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080306)

We haven't had effective government regulation of anything since Ronald Reagan.

[can't resist]

The fact that we had it before a republican president to me indicates that it works in principle, we just need to figure out how the republican broke it.

[/can't resist]

Sorry for that. In seriousness, I'm not going to argue in general that government regulation is good, since obviously that's not true. In this area though, I think there are plenty of obvious harms and bad scenarios where regulation -would- be a good thing and in fact essential. Even a minimalist regulatory authority against the evil telecoms is better than nothing. Sure, we won't get an FCC or any government agency that actually effectively promotes competition in this area, but a "No, you can't block access to all news sites but 'comcastnews.com'" is more than we'd get without any government oversight.

May I introduce you to the bucket of crazy... (1, Informative)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080484)

...that was James Gaius Watt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Ronald Reagan?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Watt [wikipedia.org]

"He suggested that all 80 million acres (320,000 km) of undeveloped land in the United States be opened for drilling and mining in the year 2000.[6] The area leased to coal mining companies quintupled during his term as Secretary of the Interior.[6] Watt proudly boasted that he leased "a billion acres" (4 million km) of U.S. coastal waters, even though only a small portion of that area would ever be drilled.[6] Watt once stated, "We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber."[7]

Watt periodically mentioned his Christian faith when discussing his approach to environmental management. Speaking before Congress, he once said, "I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns, whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations."[8]"

Now, I am a Christian -- God loves you, Jesus died for your sins, believe and be saved -- but to suggest that the impending Rapture will eliminate the need for environmental protection is ... a big burlap sack of insanity.

And it got worse:

"During a March 1991 dinner event organized by the Green River Cattlemen's Association in Wyoming, Watt said, "If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used."[25][26]"

And finally got indicted:

"In 1995, Watt was indicted on 25 counts of felony perjury and obstruction of justice by a federal grand jury.[23] The indictments were due to false statements made to a grand jury investigating influence peddling at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which he had lobbied in the mid to late 1980s."

Of course, Watt was just echoing his boss's views:

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do." -- Ronald Reagan, 1981.

And Bush just dusted off the old ideas:

"In a 2001 interview, Watt applauded the Bush administration energy strategy and said its prioritization of oil drilling and coal mining above conservation is just what he recommended in the early 1980s.[27] "Everything Cheney's saying, everything the president's saying - they're saying exactly what we were saying 20 years ago, precisely ... Twenty years later, it sounds like they've just dusted off the old work."[27"

Hmm. Have you noticed any issues with our coal mining and off-shore drilling lately?

Re:This is Good News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080526)

"Government doesn't work, elect us and we'll prove it!"

Re:This is Good News (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080430)

At least this convinced the Governator that offshore drilling was not a good way to shore up California's state budget deficit.

Re:This is Good News (1)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080506)

Yeah, Schwarzenegger's a lot of things, but outright stupid was never one of them. :-)

Re:This is Good News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080476)

Mod parent up!

That's some serious insight right there.

Re:This is Good News (5, Insightful)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080706)

I'm sorry, but that's just flat out incorrect. And worse, it's counterproductive.

Do our regulatory structures need serious reform? Are there areas we are extremely ineffective at regulating? Do companies often find ways to wiggle around stringent regulations? Have politicians gutted good regulations for ideological or fund-raising reasons? Yes yes yes and yes. But to argue that there is "no such thing" as government regulation anymore is to deny evidence all around us. Look at our environment, specifically air and drinking water quality. Look at workplace safety, medical procedures and drugs, automobiles, construction, fishery management, etc etc etc. Now compare them to countries that really don't have any enforced regulations or periods in history where the US didn't; the difference is profound. If you want to see what "no regulations" looks like, go live in Africa or southeast Asia for a while. Then come back and we'll talk.

To say that regulation is dead is to just give up on the idea that we can improve our regulatory systems. It's the same cynical bullshit we see all the time on slashdot. If there's one reason we don't have perfect regulation, it's that people sat around moaning about how it's impossible.

Re:This is Good News (2, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080840)

You can't be serious.

This is sort of like saying that since some country doesn't really have democracy, we should drop the pretense of democracy and be a straight dictatorship.

Dictatorship of the rich is exactly what a plutocracy is.

government "regulation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080094)

It's government regulation that caused the mess of the current state of broadband.

Monopolies can only exist when government regulates who can and can't offer services.

Today, the FCC ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080102)

... tommorow, the IRS!

Re:Today, the FCC ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32080958)

... tommorow, the IRS!ga erg aergarfrvgaer gaergear gaerg aergaer g

NEXT THE AUSTRALIAN PIRATE PARTY!

Disillusioned (5, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080278)

"...not voting to apply Title II regulation to Internet carriers is tantamount to giving up on net neutrality -- which has been a centerpiece of the Obama administration's tech policy."

As one who bought the hype and strongly advocated for Obama, let me say I think this sentence is under-broad. From Gitmo to torture to open government to bringing everyone to the table on health care, the story has been the same.

The author mentions giving up on netneut, a centerpiece of tech policy. I think giving up on things has been a centerpiece all Obama policy.

Re:Disillusioned (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080650)

Giving up would be okay. Politicians don't give up; they do the opposite of what they promise.

Re:Disillusioned (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080946)

Sounds like the Same situation we are in over here in Australia. Kevin Rudd, promising much, delivering very little.

Can't the FCC give us ala carte pricing at least? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080464)

REAL ala carte pricing, where I can pick and choose the channels I want? I know there's some lame version of it available now, if you call your cable company between 4:30 and 4:35 and get that one girl who smokes a lot and actually knows they can do this even though it's like $29.99 per channel when purchased ala carte?

I know there's some bullshit reason they don't do this, something along the lines of the way they "buy" channels from the networks/content producers who insist they take 10 really lame channels to get one good one, and wouldn't you know, they pass the fruits of that bad deal right on down to the viewer.

If the 1st Internet goes to shit (2, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32080836)

we'll have to figure out a way to make a second one that retains net neutrality.

Maybe this can be done both bottom up, through open-standards organizations,
and ad-hoc technical committees,
and top-down, with funding and support from the likes of Google and legions
of other would-be information exchangers on the Internet.

We will need a giant "route around the problem" type of solution, involving
new fiber backbones, with different ownership arrangements than presently,
and high-speed wireless for the last mile.

If the telcos start filtering the pipes, we need to render them irrelevant through
collective will to build a better net with more geodesic rather than hub spoke topology.

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