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If the FCC Had Regulated the Internet From the Start

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the council-of-wise-and-benevolent-men dept.

The Internet 191

In the spirit of (but with a different approach than) last week's post "Is Net Neutrality Really Needed?", an anonymous reader writes with this "counterfactual history of the internet, but one that is all too plausible. Unfortunately, I can see this happening under the new 'Net Neutrality.'"

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Pure Fantasy (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669782)

If the internet had been regulated under Title II in the first place, as it should have, giving ISPs and upstream providers "common carrier" status, we would not have the mess we have now.

Deep packet inspection would be illegal "interception" of content, making tiered or discriminatory service impossible. The government would explicitly need a warrant to snoop. Etc.

It might not be a perfect solution, but it would be a hell of a lot better than what we have now. Sometimes regulation is not evil.

Re:Pure Fantasy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34669844)

It would have also prevented smaller regional ISPs from being able to participate in the market, as the only businesses with the immense legal resources to comply as common carrier were...wait for it...the Telcos.

So you'd have been getting your crappy dialup only from AT&T, BellSouth, PacBell, none of whom care about your internet connection like your ISP did, and all of whom have shown a willingness to collude against the consumer.

Common carrier means a lot more, practically speaking, than you think it does.

As if it knew you were advocating handing an advantage to the telcos, my Captcha word was: "Tyranny"

Re:Pure Fantasy (3, Interesting)

abarrow (117740) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669860)

Yeah, and there's a good chance we would have ended up like some countries that got widespread Internet after the Telcos figured it out, like South Africa. Telekom hired a bunch of consultants from SBC who showed up and told them they had to meter Internet usage.

and so ? (2, Informative)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669988)

since the line sharing agreement (hellooo regulation) ended in 2006, there are no small regional isps left anymore in the first place ? how that has been any different ?

Re:and so ? (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670084)

Because it was the small ISPs that pioneered one price, all-you-eat Internet service. Early offerings from the telcos were metered services, priced per megabyte.

The small ISPs forced the big telcos and cable to offer the pricing structure that's in place today.

soooo ? (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670140)

what relevance does this have ? telcos consolidated because of the all you can eat prices ? they werent going to consolidate, if there wasnt such a model ? youre talking as if consolidation didnt happen in ALL other sectors left without regulation.

let me put bluntly : if you allow it, big dog eats the small dog.

Re:soooo ? (1, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670758)

No, what I'm saying is if it weren't for the small ISPs, you would paying metered prices. Small ISPs had a big effect on the end market.

Re:soooo ? (2, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670834)

I was an early adopter of dial-up internet, and even considered starting my own ISP service. At no time were any internet services in my area priced per byte. It was always unlimited. Slow sometimes, but unlimited.

The whole issue is one gigantic strawman. (4, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669896)

This isn't about regulating the internet, it's about preventing private regulation; if you hate people telling you what you can and cannot do then you should support preventing ISPs from being able to decide how your connection can be used.

As long as people are tied to their service providers then they're at the provider's mercy unless it is illegal to impose such controls. "Regulating the internet" would be telling users what to do; that's exactly what would happen if ISPs could shape traffic and they wouldn't have to release you from your contract.

Regulations... (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669986)

Actually, regulating the Internet could take many forms. For example, you might only be allowed to use certified equipment (or perhaps only certified software) to connect, as is the case with CB radio. Or, more optimistically, ISPs may be required to act as common carriers and not be allowed to turn the Internet into a clone of the cable TV system.

It is not really a question of whether or not the Internet should be regulated, it is a more of a question of which regulations would be best for the American people. The large corporations that currently control our access to the Internet want to turn it into another cable TV system, with "websites" acting as "channels" and "peer to peer" being a forgotten memory; without some sort of regulation, they will go ahead and do that, and we'll need to establish a second Internet to escape.

Re:Regulations... (2, Interesting)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670316)

I think that, perhaps, you are confused by what the "Internet" is.

The Internet is the network of networks. When I connect my network, which, for the record, is under my sole control, and not under any other regulation, to another network, we have a piece of the "Internet".

The Internet is facilitated, but not defined, by the "backbone" -- fiber optic connections (currently). The Internet does not mandate the form of these backbone interconnects. They exist because, simply, there is a need or desire to send that much data between the interconnected systems and networks.

So, what are you proposing should be regulated?

Nothing in the description of the "Internet" mentioned content, or physical interconnection requirements, or physical systems.

Read the article -- the point is brought home when the author mentions "Bob" and "minitel" as being REQUIRED to connect... not to the "Internet" but to regulated information providers.

As an example - my neighbor has a network of around 5 systems, and I have a comparable network. We connect these networks using two different ISPs (a cable provider and a DSL provider). We also occasionally directly connect with 802.11g wireless. The connections are made to exchange data (photos, videos, Linux distributions, it really is none of anyones business). What regulations would you want to put into place, and where?

Because 802.11g, ethernet, etc. are just convenient standards that permit us interoperability. We could come up with our own local protocol if we had to. The ISP provides a higher degree of interoperability (an IPv4 address that allows my network to be reached from other ISPs that co-operate, packet services that allow data to be exchanged, and access to DNS services to provide a convenient naming service). There really isn't any service my ISP offers that I couldn't easily replace, except for access to the high-speed backbone.

In the case of my neighbor, that isn't a problem. But my best friend has his own network; but is located across the country. Data exchange with him would be impaired without my ISP (and, my use of /. would be curtailed).

I thought the article was actually very well thought out. The point is that the "Internet", being a simple connection between systems and networks, only exists because it is beneficial to the connecting parties, and the method of connection is irrelevant.

Now, as soon as enough systems and networks participate, there is a "network effect", and some of the "Internet" may degenerate into a pure producer/consumer relationship. I imagine that this is what you want to regulate. Be careful though, because the end game of regulation is simply that some parties may decide to pack up their dolls and leave. We are not TIED to the infrastructure. We have always had a bit of balkanization in the Internet. Certainly, not all of my content is publicly available. Some is simply not directly addressable, or findable via Google (darknet, an example of this would be my music collection, family photos and videos, which I share to friends but no one else). Some is SSL only, and password controlled (my TV watching schedule, my calendar. And some is only locally available (banking statements, financial records).

In previous years (when high-speed meant 1Mbps down/128kbps up), I shared this data with my distant friends via transport of CD, or hard disk drive. 5 Gbytes of music was a lot to jam down the limited communication pipe I had. So, the mail and airplane system was part of my "Internet". It can be again, if those physical pipes are regulated to the point where the data will be inspected.

In other words

The Internet is dead; Long live the Internet

Re:Regulations... (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670602)

> When I connect my network, which, for the record, is
> under my sole control, and not under any other regulation,
> to another network, we have a piece of the "Internet".

Well you run off the rails pretty much immediately, right here infact. The rest of your rather long rant is just based on this bogus bit of wishful thinking.

You have to get through your ISP in order to get to the outside world. If they are unregulated, then they are free to mess with you as much as they want too. It's like if all of the surface streets leading to your local highway were controlled by Microsoft or McDonalds. They could control what gets to Target or Walmart or your local grocery store or even your own house via UPS or FedEx.

Imagine Walmart or Apple being able to prevent Amazon or Netflix from delivering to you via UPS or the postal service.

That's what your local unregulated ISP can do to you.

Re:Regulations... (0, Troll)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670360)

Actually, regulating the Internet could take many forms. For example, you might only be allowed to use certified equipment (or perhaps only certified software) to connect, as is the case with CB radio.

CB radio is not the internet.
It is a frequency in the public spectrum and the FCC has every right to limit/specify its usage.

Re:The whole issue is one gigantic strawman. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670510)

This is exactly it. If the FCC does not step in, we will get a regulated Internet.

By the monopolies. The regional providers are all but extinct due to the line sharing regs expiring. So, you have a few companies with no oversight in charge here. Even worse, they have zero interest in improving their infrastructure; their sole interest is improving their fee structure.

We are already seeing the "regulations" coming to pass. Closed handsets. eFuses to keep people from having control of their devices. Proposals to make it free to go to one site, but yet charge for another so companies are forced to bid, bow, and scrape for ISP's favor. Ads injected via Phorm-like mechanisms. Indefinite storage of private user data.

Net neutrality is a buzzword. Instead of that, we need another buzzword to keep the ISPs from using their monopolistic advantage and only letting the people who pay them the most have non-throttled connections. We need to keep ad-injectors off our private connections, as ISPs have no business actively modifying data in transit. And we need connection sharing agreements back, so smaller ISPs have a change of competing.

Re:The whole issue is one gigantic strawman. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670582)

This may not be about regulating the Internet to you, but it is to the FCC and other government agents.

Re:Pure Fantasy (4, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669958)

They have the power to do common carrier NOW. Notice that that is not what they are doing.

The FCC does not want to make the Internet common carrier.

They are violating a court decision doing regulation the way they are doing it.

It is very telling as to what the FCC is more interested in based on how they are going about this.

I think "fairness" is a big motivator for them, but they're not concerned about packet fairness, I think they're more concerned about content fairness. Thats a path I don't want to see them take.

Re:Pure Fantasy (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670022)

I think "fairness" is a big motivator for them, but they're not concerned about packet fairness, I think they're more concerned about content fairness.

The fact that everyone is so focused on "content" shows that the suits still do not really understand the Internet, or perhaps they do understand it but they do not like what it means. This is not about "content;" the Internet is not just another broadcasting system. Websites are not just "channels" that you use a web browser to "tune in" to.

Unfortunately, as you pointed out, the FCC does not see things this way...

Re:Pure Fantasy (3, Insightful)

scalarscience (961494) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670364)

Every time I've seen the 'suits' attempt to create 'channels' in an attempt to market something on top of a layer of tech, the technology underneath it moves so quickly that any attempt at a static, controlled form of it winds up being obsolesced rather quickly. Remember having screensavers with feeds pre-rss as if we'd all been waiting for CNN to enter every idle second we had? And apps you could run at the top of your screen (which were early forms of spyware in some cases, logging basic user metrics before anyone care about such things.)

Re:Pure Fantasy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670392)

I think "fairness" is a big motivator for them, but they're not concerned about packet fairness, I think they're more concerned about content fairness.

The fact that everyone is so focused on "content" shows that the suits still do not really understand the Internet, or perhaps they do understand it but they do not like what it means. This is not about "content;" the Internet is not just another broadcasting system. Websites are not just "channels" that you use a web browser to "tune in" to.

Unfortunately, as you pointed out, the FCC does not see things this way...

Bingo.

"Net neutrality" is an attempt at turning the internet into just that: web sites being channels you tune in to. Because the content providers don't like a free-for-all - they want barriers to entry into the content-providing market. The internet has - up until now - dramatically reduced the barriers to entry into the content market. Movie studios, record labels, old-school newspapers - they've all had their apple cart upset by the internet.

Oh, yeah, and the AD AGENCIES that make billions and billions of dollars off those industries - even on the internet. ESPECIALLY on the internet (gee, I wonder who THAT could be?)

But the world's best barriers to entry into any market are thousands of pages of government regulations - most of them written by lobbyists and lawyers from large corporations already in the market. The "net neutrality" rules have been written by the content providers, with a little help from the ISPs. Oh yeah, that's a combination with the best interests of the consumer at heart.

And guess which political party the content providers overwhelmingly donate to?

And guess who they are? They include RIAA and MPAA.

Who are the useful idiots on the "net neutrality" debate, now?

Re:Pure Fantasy (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670976)

There's a lot more money in content than in just moving packets around.

Re:Pure Fantasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670008)

"Sometimes regulation is not evil."

LOL, good luck proving *that* claim! :-p

Re:Pure Fantasy (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670462)

I'm a free marketer, but yes, sometimes regulation is not evil. Proof? Easy. Child labor laws and its sibling, compulsory education. We could also talk about paying poor miners in scrip and forcing them to buy goods at inflated pricing at Company Stores [wikipedia.org] .

Easy as pie (1)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670942)

So you're saying there should be no regulation of any kind in the (quite substantial) market demand for hit men?

Re:Pure Fantasy (0)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670034)

On the other hand we would probably all be paying license fees for our websites.

Re:Pure Fantasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670132)

if we new then, what we know now.
now its a mess. then it was liberation.

but

was controlled by geeks with IT ethics. now everybody just launches a spam server

Re:Pure Fantasy (2)

michael_cain (66650) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670352)

Absolutely correct. The debate is not about whether internet access service should be regulated, but how to regulate it. For various reasons, the FCC decided initially that it would be regulated as an "information service" rather than as a "communication service." I was involved in the industry at the time, and while I understood the reasons why the FCC made that choice, I argued that this would be a serious mistake in the long term.

When I had the opportunity to discuss matters with senior management, I advised them that they should act as if there were basic internet access and separate information services, even though they were not required to. I argued that their choice was to behave as if basic internet access (here's your IP address, and everyone gets honest best-effort packet delivery service) were a communication service, or someday they would have that behavior imposed on them by the government. And if they waited until the behavior was imposed from the outside, it would be much more painful than doing it from the beginning. I wasn't making a statement about whether biased traffic shaping was good or bad; I was simply predicting what would happen.

For a lot of years the big ISPs behaved in a manner that kept the basic communication service intact. Only in the last few years have they become egregious about traffic shaping and blocking. And sure enough, here comes the regulation. And it's going to be painful, and it's going to be ugly, but it is inevitable that the big ISPs will be required to behave as if internet access is a basic communication service.

Re:Pure Fantasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670572)

THERE IS NO GREATER POWER in the world today than that wielded by the manipulators of public opinion in America. No king or pope of old, no conquering general or high priest ever disposed of a power even remotely approach- ing that of the few dozen men who control America’s mass media of news and entertainment.Their power is not distant and impersonal; it reaches into every home in America, and it works its will during nearly every waking hour. It is the power that shapes and molds the mind of virtually every citizen, young or old, rich or poor, simple or sophisticated.

The mass media form for us our image of the world and then tell us what to think about that image. Essentially ev- erything we know—or think we know—about events out- side our own neighborhood or circle of acquaintances comes to us via our daily newspaper, our weekly news magazine, our radio, or our television.

It is not just the heavy-handed suppression of certain news stories from our newspapers or the blatant propagan- dizing of history-distorting TV “docudramas” that charac- terizes the opinion-manipulating techniques of the media masters. They exercise both subtlety and thoroughness in their management of the news and the entertainment that they present to us.

For example, the way in which the news is covered: which items are emphasized and which are played down; the reporter’s choice of words, tone of voice, and facial ex- pressions; the wording of headlines; the choice of illustra- tions—all of these things subliminally and yet profoundly affect the way in which we interpret what we see or hear.

On top of this, of course, the columnists and editors remove any remaining doubt from our minds as to just what we are to think about it all. Employing carefully developed psychological techniques, they guide our thought and opinion so that we can be in tune with the “in” crowd, the “beautiful people,” the “smart money.” They let us know exactly what our attitudes should be toward various types of people and behavior by placing those people or that behavior in the context of a TV drama or situation comedy and having the other TV characters react in the Politically Correct way.

Read more [natvan.com]

Re:Pure Fantasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670694)

The FCC has done an excellent job of regulating the airwaves, and I'm sure they will do just as well with the internet. There may be a little mote advertising, and it may cost a bit more for a high speed connection, but you get what you pay for.

I've been a ham radio operator for over thirty years and the FCC has allowed us more freedom than any other industrialized country. Of course you must get a license and announce you identity - that just makes common sense.

If you cry babies have a better idea, let's hear it. Just remember that now we live in a free country, a country that loves to eviscerate bad ideas. For example, just watch what happens to health care in 2011.

oooooooooo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34669792)

fp?

Not so realistic (3, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669794)

Ok, its an interesting read, but not every realistic. As draconian and fascist as the US govt has become over the last 10 years, many of the ideas in the article simply wouldn't fly. Not everyone in the US is a sheeple. Again, interesting, but there is no way in hell that it could have happened remotely as they stated in the article.

Re:Not so realistic (5, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669804)

Ok, its an interesting read

Then you're giving it more credit then I would. I didn't find it the slightest bit interesting. As I read it, I was thinking how unrealistic it was, until I got to the section about the FCC not approving the internet because it's beta software, etc. At that point I said 'this is stupid", read a couple more paragraphs, got to the first mention of Microsoft Bob, and promptly closed the page. The level of absurdity in the article is so high, it sounds like it was FUD written by Comcast to rally people against net neutrality.

Re:Not so realistic (5, Insightful)

Goody (23843) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669836)

And what's worse is the conservative media and blogosphere will cite this article and quote it and their viewers will eat it up and be regurgitating it everywhere. It's quite unrealistic and is really just a lame attempt at comedy. TCP/IP and the Internet were in use in other countries before 1993 when the article's timeline starts. If the FCC would had done any kind of blatantly bad regulation, the Internet would have merely evolved outside of the US. The fact is the FCC didn't regulate it, and net neutrality (however currently defective/insufficient) doesn't come close to any sort of heavy-handed regulation. But that doesn't support the right wing narrative of an out of control fascist state.

Re:Not so realistic (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670032)

I closed it in 10seconds when I realized it's not a bullet list of the form
o <date>: "real event" would have been "something else"

Re:Not so realistic (2)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670548)

got to the first mention of Microsoft Bob, and promptly closed the page. The level of absurdity in the article is so high,

Oh, yeah. Ridiculous noob mistakes like this undermine the credibility of the article. The service was actually called The Microsoft Network [wikipedia.org] (MSN). Urrrgh. (Yes, I actually remember one prominent Microsoft supporter hyping how much better MSN was compared to the Internet and how it was not at all a mistake for Microsoft to put Internet connection tools to Windows 95, because obviously everyone would be using MSN, the technically superior network built right into Windows.)

Re:Not so realistic (3, Informative)

runningduck (810975) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670950)

Oddly enough the government did regulate the Internet in the early years. It wasn't until the early '90s that commercial activity was allowed on the Internet. Prior to that only academic and research entities were allowed. It could be argued that the early restrictive regulations of the Internet created an incubation environment that allowed the Internet to mature and surpass the offerings by commercial providers such as CompuServe and AOL.

Re:Not so realistic (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669966)

Ok, its an interesting read, but not every realistic.

What, a fictional scare story submitted by an anonymous guy which just happens to align with the interests of some Big Corporations is unrealistic? How can that be?!?

Re:Not so realistic (1)

scalarscience (961494) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670460)

Not only that but it equates things like interfering with the Comcast+NBC merger to stopping someone sitting in their bedroom with the 'next big idea'. I'm not sure the author intended for that level of poetic irony...

I remember when most Comcast networks were ATTBI, and ATTBI decided 'not to renew' their @home contract, subsequently putting @home out of business. 3 months later AT&T was authorized to buy said network?? And kept most of the network @home built out (for the future) dark while letting people stay on the constricted backbone they erected for that 3 month duration for years in some areas? Ah yes good for the consumer & investor that was (of course Excite played a role there too...)

And when hulu was a relatively 'new' thing I remember how sluggish it sometimes was on comcast, even though a trace showed that there weren't an ungodly number of hops things would still get somehow 'congested' (not visible to a trace) and hulu would sit there rebuffering...and at the time I still paid for *all* of comcast's channels (including HD) and still preferred to sit online where I could choose what I wanted when I wanted without having to navigate a menu structure that was intentionally slowed down over the stock code to improve 'ad impressions' for their own services (which is what comcast has done with each UI i've seen...) Netflix had buffering issues as well, and with 6-7 machines here to test general connectivity there didn't seem to be *any* other issues. I sat there with their techs (and with some clearchannel techs in relation to an audio program I was having issues with that I subscribe to) and the routing itself seemed fine.

Then came the news about sandvine routers affecting p2p, but there was little talk about the issues with sustained streaming content (3-4 hour movies or continuous audio/video streams were often stalled just the same as p2p apps.) I have in fact upgraded my net to the top tiers available at every step of my comcast contract for the last decade, and while I can generally find ways to 'steer around' issues with open source & p2p software, fixing issues with endpoint services like netflix & premiereradio networks proved to be more difficult (because the lack of acknowledgement on the part of Comcast made it impossible for the responsible party to fix things!) Of course once the p2p throttling came out and comcast 'promised' to stop throttling those issues went away as well (curious that, though I still can't "prove" anything.)

I don't usually have issues with netflix now either (even though comcast is apparently doing 'network management' again), but Hulu--as my wife has observed a few times over the last few years without knowing 'why' she 'likes it now'--seems to work better than ever in terms of speed. Part of this of course is flash gaining video accelleration during the intervening time (so the UI feels 'better' to her and video can do HD with ease) but we don't get the rebuffering we used to either. So I explained to my wife the day Hulu was bought why we should still support netflix too, and I wondered what backdoor relation NBC & the other investors had with Comcast to magically get such good service (did they change to better edge hosting perhaps like netflix did with akamai back then or something simple on a technical level--a reasonable explanation?) Low & behold more time passes and now Comcast & NBC are merging...

Meanwhile my choices since 2002 have dwindled to Comcast & high speed or DSL with Qwest on an MSN backbone that still gives 768kbit as an entry level pricepoint, and 7MBit if I want to spend the same amount I'm spending for the 30mbit tier on comcast. In any case anecdotal evidence doesn't = data (oft repeated here) and I'm sure tl;dnr; in terms of a post length but I don't have high hopes for allowing companies to have 'managed services' and 'managed mergers' of monopolistic dimensions is going to benefit me much at all. I certainly fail to see how it's going to enable the next garage business to turn into a multimillion/billion dollar affair as the article seems to imply.

Re:Not so realistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670738)

could somebody translate this wall of text into coherent English?

Re:Not so realistic (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670650)

Article not realistic at all. The FCC do not want to regulate the Internet, they only want to regulate the service providers.

Re:Not so realistic (2)

diamondmagic (877411) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670684)

Perhaps you've missed out on the federal takeover of student loans, much of the banking sector (by force!), the TSA, the auto industry, health insurance. Sure we've seen the protests (alright maybe not against obscure things like student loans though that was in Obamacare so I guess it counts), but that didn't change anything. Have you read any of the writings of the FCC chair? The FCC will grab whatever powers it doesn't have and use them for whatever purpose it likes, sheeple or not. The only thing really stopping them at this point is the threat of congressional review, and getting dragged in front of angry committee chairs, next term.

There was another option that failed (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669816)

There was another option that also failed but parts still live on with the decedents of X.400 and X.500.

That works both ways Slate... (4, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669818)

"In late 2010 the last act of the democratic congress was to pass a massive legislative coup giving the FCC all the authority it required to enforce Net Neutrality and a mandate to bring america's infrastructure up to par with the rest of the first world.

Over the next two years the FCC rolled out a series of reforms which led to the end of the stagnation and abuses of the monopolies and duopolies in charge of access to the internet in america, began a campaign to run fiber straight to the home in all major american cities creating a massive number of public works jobs, and singlehandedly raised speeds, lowered prices, and improved the quality of american internet connectivity."

See? I can play the "lets make up a fantasy scenario that perfectly supports my position" game too.

Re:That works both ways Slate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34669922)

I'm sorry that future belongs to us http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Broadband_Network

The article veers into TLDR land, (5, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669822)

but basically it's a fairy tale about if the FCC had started regulating interstate electronic communications in 1993, and how it would have mandated Minitel [wikipedia.org] compatibility for electronic devices.

It's amazing how many people have gotten taken in with the misconception that the FCC is "taking over" the Internet. The simplest analogy is toll roads: they're built by private companies, but the government doesn't allow the operators to favor or ban traffic of competing contractors (or anyone else, for that matter).

Re:The article veers into TLDR land, (4, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669848)

You must not have gotten the memo. Anytime that a government agency does something which might theoretically affect a business in some indirect, but negative, way, it's an unwarranted abuse of government power and an example of Nazism, Fascism and probably Socialism.

Not to mention that it makes Jesus cry, kills puppies and forces ceiling cat to urinate from on high.

Re:The article veers into TLDR land, (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670016)

You must not have gotten the memo. Anytime that a government agency does something which might theoretically affect a business in some indirect, but negative, way, it's an unwarranted abuse of government power and an example of Nazism, Fascism and probably Socialism.

Of course, the scaremongers are helped quite a bit by the fact that the theory is so often true in practice. For "exhibit A" consider the security apparatus. Because they could, the Department of Homeland Security took over airport security in the US and has everyone who flies on a commercial plane doing all sorts of humiliating things. For "exhibit B" consider the Commerce Clause [wikipedia.org] in the US Constitution and how it's been used over the past century or so to justify any regulation of any commerce (be it interstate commerce or not). A couple good examples of how this clause has been abused are the War on Drugs and the recent banning of the incandescent lightbulb (I believe the law takes effect in 2012). For "exhibit C", the Social Security number was explicitly promised not to be a national ID, but things turned out otherwise. For "exhibit D", consider the intelligence and law enforcement agencies over the past 90 or so years and the many illegal things that they've done.

Even when the intent is to be business-friendly, there are frequently unintended consequences. Sure the original story was hysterical and unrealistic, but there is precedent for government action being more harmful than expected.

Re:The article veers into TLDR land, (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670204)

Your point is very valid, but you're missing something. All of your exhibits of regulatory over-reach or worse have one thing in common: some corporation/cartel/sociopaths profit big time by each of them--the War on Drugs in particular, but also the whole mess with the TSA which of course relieved airlines of three things: the cost of security implementation (another tax giveaway), the negative publicity from the crap the TSA always pulls, and the responsibility when something actually goes wrong. Great deal--if you're an airline.

Net Neutrality, done correctly and in the fashion that it's meant as opposed to the scaremongering going on here, would probably hurt the profits of the big telcos and that's why of all those things it's in the crosshairs. It also provides the best hope for small businesses to actually compete in the world, which of course is another negative for the big monopolies and duopolies. Come to think of it, they're always trotting out small businesses as the big job creators when it's time to argue for tax cuts for the rich, but they totally ignore them or even hurt them when it suits their purpose. Funny how that works...

Regulation by itself is not always bad, but regulation where the regulators are in bed with those being regulated, which is pretty much what we have in the US now, is almost always bad. The only thing worse is usually no regulation at all, which of course is the next logical argument spewing forth from those in the bed and the useful idiots who work against their own interests by following them.

Re:The article veers into TLDR land, (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670250)

Regulation by itself is not always bad, but regulation where the regulators are in bed with those being regulated, which is pretty much what we have in the US now, is almost always bad. The only thing worse is usually no regulation at all

That does not follow. In the former case, it is easy to create rent-seekers.

Regulatory capture (1)

inca34 (954872) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670496)

Regulatory capture [wikipedia.org] is the relevant mechanism.

To which I humbly ask, for an organization which result is easier to achieve: success or failure?

Now, given the fact that we tend to elect as representatives those who openly subvert the intentions of the standing institutions of government, then as they twist the already plunged keys-of-good-faith from our nation like a dagger in the side, proceed to sell short public opinion in the very organization they swore to uphold, all the while riding the 24/7 rating-making-machine straight into their next election like a prophetic hero, how reasonably can we expect success?

Re:The article veers into TLDR land, (0)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670342)

>there is precedent for government action being more harmful than expected.

True that. Examples include the Food "Safety" Bill, the student loan takeover, probably Obamacare, and some others.

That's what makes it so easy to view the NN as the same.

Also, the propensity for the government to mess up regulation (see farm policy) makes you think you're between a rock and a hard place with NetN.

Re:The article veers into TLDR land, (2)

sstamps (39313) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670568)

There is also precedent for private action being much more harmful than expected.

1) Standard Oil cartel price-fixing
2) Ma Bell before the breakup (pretty much a government-backed, yet *private* monopoly -- very similar to many ISPs in the US right now).
3) The entire broadband industry in the 90s, taking hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money, mandated to deliver state-of-the-art broadband across the US, but instead giving us ISDN and DSL.
4) Microsoft monopoly. Whether you consider the merits of the "browser wars" worthy, the fact is that they have abused their position with control of the OS to drive competing application producers out of the market.

The question boils down to which is the lesser of two evils. At least with the government, there is someone charged with caring about the consumer. In industry, there are no consumer advocates.

Re:The article veers into TLDR land, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34669936)

That's the price a company need pay for a gov. Assisted monopoly

Surprised it *DIDN'T* Happen (4, Insightful)

krygny (473134) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669828)

While I don't agree with some of the scenarios in the article (a bit simplistic), I have always been astonished at the laissez-faire approach the Federal Government has always had toward the internet and the WWW. I can only explain it by their ineptitude. Not their libertarian philosophy. As a whole, the Government really never "got it" nor understood the potential until it was too late. Now that it's too late, their hoping that it's not too late. Typical.

Re:Surprised it *DIDN'T* Happen (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670042)

It's not too late, it just has more momentum that will take longer to reverse and let the government transform the internet in whatever they want.

Re:Surprised it *DIDN'T* Happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670160)

> I have always been astonished at the laissez-faire approach ...

It's also an amazing existence proof that the laissez-faire approach works astonishingly well. We've had no regulation of internet content AT ALL, and it's turned into arguably the most amazing thing to ever happen to human communication.

Of course, that doesn't fit in with some people's authoritarian tendencies, so they will cheerfully ignore reality in favor of their fantasy that government regulation will somehow end up being a good thing, in spite of the fact that the internet is over 40 years old and hasn't needed it so far.

Re:Surprised it *DIDN'T* Happen (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670626)

Anarchy only works until the anarchy has effectively ended.

In the case of the Internet, that has already happened. Now we have the inevitable Robber Barons in place that come after anarchy. We can either choose to be under the thumb of Robber Barons or allow government to reduce their power.

However, the whole laissez-faire thing is over. Trusts are in place and we can choose a corporate overlord or an elected one.

The idea that the old state of anarchy still exists is just wishful thinking.

Re:Surprised it *DIDN'T* Happen (2)

rokkaku (127052) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670260)

If you by "laissez-faire approach", you mean, "created it from scratch with millions in DARPA, and then NSF, funding," then, yeah. And, if you'll remember, there were pretty strict content restrictions on the NSFnet. Thank goodness some small part of the government "got it" and fostered the Internet, or the scenario outlined in the (really crappy) Slate article might've been more likely.

We're Lucky It Exists At All ... (5, Insightful)

stevesh6 (1018130) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669864)

And if someone in a position to do so had gone before Congress in 1990 and testified that in ten years or less, every 12-year-old in the country could have a box in his bedroom which would provide him with 24/7 access to unlimited, free hard-core pornography, the Internet would have been smothered in its crib. Politicians aren't the people to be making these decisions.

Only in america (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670026)

The internet is a worldwide network. If one country banned or censored it, it would make almost no difference to everyone else - expect that the amount of spam might be down a little.

Re:Only in america (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670064)

The internet is a worldwide network. If one country banned or censored it, it would make almost no difference to everyone else - expect that the amount of spam might be down a little.

Now it is. What about in its infancy? Without the US, would Finland house the ICANN lookalike?

Re:Only in america (2)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670630)

The internet is a worldwide network. If one country banned or censored it, it would make almost no difference to everyone else - expect that the amount of spam might be down a little.

Now it is. What about in its infancy? Without the US, would Finland house the ICANN lookalike?

Literal answer to a rhetorical question: Finland has had a very good electronics industry with curious innovations, there's been interest in computer science in academia for a long time, the businesses have been very enthusiastic about applied computing, and politicians have been fairly supportive of technological advances. So hell yes. ICANN was founded in 1998, and by then, Finnish internet infrastructure was already pretty good. (Remember the Penet remailer? Fucking with Scientology since nineteen frigging ninety three?)

Re:Only in america (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670858)

The internet is a worldwide network. If one country banned or censored it, it would make almost no difference to everyone else - expect that the amount of spam might be down a little.

Now it is. What about in its infancy? Without the US, would Finland house the ICANN lookalike?

Most likely, yes (well, maybe not Finland precisely, but not impossible). The need to network computers is real (or as real as any IT related thing can be). As an example of technology rising to meet this need was FidoNet [wikipedia.org] . Universities would have networked, drawing in technology companies, drawing in regular people and other kinds of companies, and being linked to hobbyist systems (like that fidonet). HTML/Web-type hypertext-based information sharing system would also have risen naturally as soon as home and office computers became able to display decent graphics. There might have been a protocol war, but most likely one protocol family would have triumphed, or possibly the difference would have become transparent, so that computers could access data in all public networks using some kind of transparent proxies. Latter is more probable if a strong ICANN-like thing would have been formed, able to coordinate interfacing different networks.

There might have been more closed, proprietary networks, but their ultimate fate would have been the same as fate of AOL/Compuserve: they would have turned into public "internet" providers with very limited special services.

Re:We're Lucky It Exists At All ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670224)

Politicians aren't the people to be making these decisions.

  Oh? So corporate officers and their lawyers ARE?

Re:We're Lucky It Exists At All ... (2)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670418)

And if someone in a position to do so had gone before Congress in 1990 and testified that in ten years or less, every 12-year-old in the country could have a box in his bedroom which would provide him with 24/7 access to unlimited, free hard-core pornography, the Internet would have been smothered in its crib.

They failed trying to do just that twice in the 90s. What finally was passed as constitutional was that if you got federal funds in the form of E-Rate discounts (for schools and libraries), you had to install filtering software. The fact that commercial interests in the internet started in 1992 but the CDA didn't pass until 1996 (under a Republican controlled Congress and a moderate Democrat President) makes it a bit unclear just what would have happened. One thing to note is that during the 90s, most children didn't have access to computers except through schools and libraries. Those who did could have potentially connected to hardcore porn BBSs since the 80s, so it's not like there wasn't at least some room to consider the lack of federal legislation on BBSs as a sign of something.

Politicians aren't the people to be making these decisions.

Or voters for that matter, apparently. It's apparently only through judges that the sanity of the Constitution was upheld. So, the FCC can't do unconstitutional things (like, say, banning all AOL chats) no matter how much people wish they do otherwise (but enough people and politicians could change the Constitution to make it legal), so the whole fear of the FCC trying to club the pre-internet to death is very much a moot point. Obsessive prudes using children as an excuse in the past simply hasn't worked nearly that sucessfully.

EFF CEE CEE !!! WHO-RAH !!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34669870)

Who owns the internet !!

WE DO !!

WE DO !!

And you know it !!

Who-rah !!

Change (for the worse) happens by degrees (2, Insightful)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669910)

Most people don't realize that draconian rules and totalitarian environments don't happen overnight. They happen over several years of incremental changes that fly below the radar until there comes a point when people wake up and cry "How the hell did this happen?!?!" What's worse is that these incremental measures are instituted "for our own good" and those who place a higher value on emotional reasons for doing things rather than the practicality of the measures and blindly accept these measures. They rarely see the unintended consequences of a policy. Net Neutrality sounds like a good idea: Cool, all traffic will be equal! My ISP won't be allowed to filter my torrent downloads!! WOOT!! Yeah, um, no. Your ISP is going to scale back or cancel any rollout of faster service or they will lower everyone's speeds or they will charge everyone more money. The targets of government regulation never bend over and take it up the ass. They always pass on the ass-f*cking to someone lower in the food chain.

Re:Change (for the worse) happens by degrees (1)

hercubus (755805) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670186)

Your ISP is going to scale back or cancel any rollout of faster service or they will lower everyone's speeds or they will charge everyone more money.

That sounds an awful lot like the Net we already have.
What will it be like after regulation? I'll have to let some federal bureaucrat touch my junk so I can be cleared to download torrentz of people touching each other's junk. Sounds kinky. I'm down with it, right down on it. W00t!

Re:Change (for the worse) happens by degrees (2)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670220)

Your ISP is going to scale back or cancel any rollout of faster service or they will lower everyone's speeds or they will charge everyone more money.

So be it. Because they would do all those things anyway out of "responsibility to the shareholders", unless there is more regulation dictating speed and price. Which is distasteful, but how else can you respond to monopolies?

Re:Change (for the worse) happens by degrees (0)

slyborg (524607) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670254)

>Your ISP is going to scale back or cancel any rollout of faster service or they will lower everyone's speeds or they will charge everyone more money.
Hahahahahah...they do this NOW - this will just give them an actual excuse.
The fact is that a whole generation was brainwashed into the notion that government = bad, which I think ultimately dovetails with the prevailing general social philosophy of "it's all about ME." Anyone or anything that tries to put any kind of rules on me is bad because it might interfere with what I want to do. These same retarded arguments that "any rules = destruction of the industry" were pushed by the auto industry originally when speed limits were imposed, and when safety laws were passed. I remember how the industry fought air bags to the bitter end...it now is typically a selling point in automobiles, and created a whole industry for the manufacture of the devices. What destroyed the American auto industry wasn't government regulation, it was the greed and stupidity of their management (and union management, it must be said.)

Any system can impose ridiculous bad laws and destroy innovation. It can also impose good laws that foster improvements. This argument that "any laws inevitably will result in NAZIS TAKING OVER AND FINDING THE ARK OF THE COVENANT" is worse than kindergarten logic.

They're already benefactors of regulation (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670900)

Your cable and telephone companies have guaranteed monopolies in most municipalities. They can set prices wherever they want because it is actually illegal to compete with them.

Make it illegal to give a company a local monopoly and you will solve some of this problem.

Something's not quite right here... (5, Insightful)

Trinn (523103) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669938)

What's up with the anti-NN articles lately? Smells of astroturf if you ask me, to be honest, though I'm wondering how it got past firehose stuff. This article is just the usual FUD approach, I thought slashdot was a bit more capable of recognizing such. The article boils down to some simple appeals to partisanship, fear of being on the "losing side" (when we all are unless you happen to be one of the F500 CEOs or something else equally silly), fear of oppressive government control / fear of the government 'breaking' the internet (the Order and Report is actually very specific and focuses merely on anti-competitive cartel/monopoly tactics)...

Re:Something's not quite right here... (1, Flamebait)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670948)

It's pure FUD. It hits all the hallmarks of the current fearmongering deployed by right-wing conservatives and wanna-be vertical monopolies like Comcast: putting any regulation on the Internet will lower innovation, increase costs, reduce offerings, reduce service and turn the US into a communist concentration camp run by liberals.

Here's why I actually like reading them: only if you know your enemy will you know how to defeat them. I hear these arguments repeated quite often at work (ironically, a web development shop), and it's nice that I know ahead of time why these arguments are wrong and what the counter-arguments are. It's much easier to be convincing if you have the data available from the top of your head about why they're wrong, rather than have to say "I'll send you the link later".

The cycle of regulation (4, Insightful)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669942)

On Slashdot it's mostly imagined that regulation is a wholly good thing, at least in principle: the government siding with the people against the corporations.

Any reminder of the problems that can be caused by regulation is therefore worthwhile.

This is not to say that regulation is a wholly bad thing, either. But it can easily make things worse, by closing out competition, for example.

Wherever you see corporations colluding against the public, you may be tempted to suggest regulation as the solution. If so, don't be surprised to discover that their industry is already heavily regulated, and (perversely) regulation is exactly what is enabling the collusion.

And what is the inevitable solution to that collusion? Why, more regulation, of course. The existing regulation must be inadequate, so we need more of it.

In other words, we have only a hammer, so every problem must be a nail. There is a cycle here, and it's not the virtuous sort.

So, if you wish to call for regulation, you should consider the regulation that's already in place. Why is it inadequate? And how is your proposal immunised against the same problems? Because you will not be the first person to suggest regulation - those who came before you had similar ideals, and despite their good intentions, they created the current mess.

Re:The cycle of regulation (1)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669968)

There's a bit about regulation that really bothers me...

Back in the 90's, we worked out a deal with the local telco (GTE at the time) for extra iforgetwhattheyrecalledbitletusforwardmorecallsperline.

A few months later we get a call from GTE telling us we can no longer do that, since it was not covered by FCC rules or somesuch. Since there was no rule for it, they couldn't do it.

Right now I pay Comcast $30 and $39 for two seperate 50+ Mbs lines (I get 63/14 mbs from each) in my home, I made a deal with them. If the FCC was controlling pricing I couldn't have made that deal.

http://www.speedtest.net/result/1068127921.png [speedtest.net]

That's just one of the two, $30 a month.

Re:The cycle of regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670428)

Right now I pay Comcast $30 and $39 for two seperate 50+ Mbs lines (I get 63/14 mbs from each) in my home, I made a deal with them. If the FCC was controlling pricing I couldn't have made that deal.

http://www.speedtest.net/result/1068127921.png [speedtest.net]

That's just one of the two, $30 a month.

Um... How?! Where? I would do volunteered prostitution for that connection!

Re:The cycle of regulation (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670476)

Since there was no rule for it, they couldn't do it.

You mean "they couldn't be bothered to do it". This is what really bothers me about people against regulation: regulations are hurdles that companies must jump. Yes, some companies can't jump the hurdles and go out of business. The rest jump just barely high enough to clear the hurdle, and not a hair higher.

When the hurdles are taken away, who still expects the companies to jump? If "there was no rule for it" is an excuse now, what happens when there's no rules for anything?

Re:The cycle of regulation (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669982)

I consider the calls for patent and copyright reform to be against regulation, or least arguments for regulation that primarily benefits people - not corporate interests. However, yes - regulation is like law. Any law or regulation should present a benefit to the general public that demonstrably out-weigh the consequences of a reduction in liberties. There must also be accountability. Not always easy to gauge - and I sure as hell don't trust state bodies to be intrinsically benevolent or in any way competent.

The article itself is pretty unrealistic. I was expecting at some point to see Xenu returning from his space prison to require all email to authenticated and digitally signed.

Re:The cycle of regulation (3, Insightful)

hercubus (755805) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670252)

So, if you wish to call for regulation, you should consider the regulation that's already in place. Why is it inadequate? And how is your proposal immunised against the same problems? Because you will not be the first person to suggest regulation - those who came before you had similar ideals, and despite their good intentions, they created the current mess.

What regulation? What can my carrier currently do or not do with my content? Is traffic shaping okay? Can this or that ISP throttle and or choke my Netflix streaming? When they start doing it who do I call to complain?

Ever flip on a light switch? I do it all the time and it works pretty good. There's a highly regulated monopoly that works okay. How did regulation of old school utilities turn out okay despite the involvement of government? Can we look at that success and apply it to the ISPs? When the power company wants more money they have to present to a board that checks the numbers. Not perfect, but what is? When my ISP wants more money they just change their name and say we now have an X in our name and your bill is going to go up X dollars! Isn't that GREAT!!!

And before we talk about stifled innovation, I'll consider real innovation and not some imagined future innovation. The rest of the world has innovation, we don't, and we're currently ever so not regulated...

Re:The cycle of regulation (2)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670344)

Ever flip on a light switch? I do it all the time and it works pretty good. There's a highly regulated monopoly that works okay. How did regulation of old school utilities turn out okay despite the involvement of government?

Of course it works! You expect me to argue about that?? The argument is not, and has never been, that regulation prevents everything from working. (Although this has happened in particularly severe cases outside of the USA.)

No, what I am saying is that it could be even better. There was a discussion yesterday [slashdot.org] in which a large proportion of the posts were complaining about mis-regulation of energy companies, and how it benefits the incumbent oil, coal and gas industries with subsidies. This is exactly what I am talking about: the regulation benefits the incumbent.

You also seem to think that the telco sector is completely unregulated. I don't know where you got this from. There are plenty of laws preventing you setting up a competing ISP that won't block your Netflix. The established telcos are enjoying the benefits of their situation: the regulation benefits the incumbent.

What you say is "we need more laws". But people have said that before. Laws have been brought in by well-meaning people to redress problems like the ones you say, and each time, the result has been the same: the regulation benefits the incumbent.

An Anti-Regulatory Fantasy (2)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669954)

This shows not just an obvious hatred for regulation, but a lack of knowledge about the beginnings of the Web beyond a few names and dates. While showing that any high level of regulation would be used to the advantage of the big companies like Microsoft, it ignores the fact that companies like Microsoft would use their market share to try to create their own standards and to try to force out their competition through incompatibility -- just like they did in the real 1990s with IE.

Nice Red Herring (2)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#34669962)

Wish I had some cream and onions to go with that tasty red herring.

The fact that one can envision scenarios in which FCC regulation would be bad is no more convincing than scenarios in which the monopoly and n-opoly service providers hamper innovation -- except to the extent that we have evidence of one or the other actually happening. As it happens, we do have such evidence with the service providers. Evidence that they will engage in anti-competitive content restriction which inhibits new business models. The broad and rich exploration of new business models is absolutely critical to being a dominant economy during the advent of sea-change new technology.

If the FCC were inhibiting new approaches to communication by the citizens, consumers, and entrepreneurs (as suggested by the fantasy editorial), we would be well advised to spank them. They are not. If the n-opolies are inhibiting such new concepts, we are equally well advised to prevent that behavior. Government exists, in the business world, to ensure that we as a nation can compete and ideally dominate. In new technology fields, that ability is fundamentally premised on exploring unproven business models. Leaving the governance of the Internet exclusively in the hands of existing profit-maximizing corporations is a perfect formula for optimizing existing business models.

Established corporations are very proficient at analyzing what already exists, and making such things more efficient. That is an important component of our economy. New technology demands the more experimental path trod by entrepreneurs in an unrestricted market exploration space. The FCC's role in this new realm of economic opportunity is to ensure that the market remains unrestricted to those entrepreneurs.

Re:Nice Red Herring (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670060)

The fact that one can envision scenarios in which FCC regulation would be bad

Lets be honest here. We can just point to existing FCC regulations in other industries for all the examples of "bad" that we need.

You want Net Neutrality? Great. So do I. Do you honestly believe that the FCC gives a fuck about Net Neutrality? I do not.

I know for sure that the FCC doesnt give a fuck about Net Neutrality. As has been pointed out time and again, the ISP's could be rolled up into Common Carrier status by the FCC today.. but thats not happening.

The FCC doesnt want your packets to be treated like a land-line phone call. They want to eventually regulate the content of those packets.

You people that want Net Neutrality so badly that you support the FCC are the fucking problem. You are setting us up for the loss of free speech, DOUCHE BAGS.

Re:Nice Red Herring (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670192)

We can just point to existing FCC regulations in other industries for all the examples of "bad" that we need.

We can also point to existing FCC regulations in other industries for examples of "good" that we need. You mention common carrier as the ideal solution to this problem. I agree. Common carrier is an FCC regulation. Clearly the FCC is capable of doing both good and bad, just as corporations with sufficient power to bias the market are capable of doing good and bad. Perhaps it is unfortunate that this leaves us without the ability to hang the boogeyman tag on one or the other in all cases. It requires us as citizen defenders of liberty and the free market to consider the actual evidence of which potential abuser is a greater threat in context. To maintain our constant vigilance to defend our nation from its government and those who would be oligarchs. That is a hard task that requires deeper analysis than facile painting of one side as the eternal bad guy.

Do you honestly believe that the FCC gives a fuck about Net Neutrality?

Rather than discussing our amorphous beliefs, let's see if the FCC grasps the concept by considering the order itself:

"For a number of reasons, including those discussed above in Part II.B, a commercial arrangement between a broadband provider and a third party to directly or indirectly favor some traffic over other traffic in the broadband Internet access service connection to a subscriber of the broadband provider (i.e., "pay for priority") would raise significant cause for concern.229 First, pay for priority would represent a significant departure from historical and current practice. Since the beginning of the Internet, Internet access providers have typically not charged particular content or application providers fees to reach the providers' retail service end users or struck pay-for-priority deals, and the record does not contain evidence that U.S. broadband providers currently engage in such arrangements. Second this departure from longstanding norms could cause great harm to innovation and investment in and on the Internet. As discussed above, pay-for-priority arrangements could raise barriers to entry on the Internet by requiring fees from edge providers, as well as transaction costs arising from the need to reach agreements with one or more broadband providers to access a critical mass of potential end users.230 Fees imposed on edge providers may be excessive because few edge providers have the ability to bargain for lesser fees, and because no broadband provider internalizes the full costs of reduced innovation and the exit of edge providers from the market.231 Third, pay-for-priority arrangements may particularly harm non-commercial end users, including individual bloggers, libraries, schools, advocacy organizations, and other speakers,232 especially those who communicate through video or other content sensitive to network congestion. Even open Internet skeptics acknowledge that pay for priority may disadvantage non-commercial uses of the network, which are typically less able to pay for priority, and for which the Internet is a uniquely important platform.233 Fourth, broadband providers that sought to offer pay-for-priority services would have an incentive to limit the quality of service provided to non-prioritized traffic.234 In light of each of these concerns, as a general matter, it is unlikely that pay for priority would satisfy the "no unreasonable discrimination" standard."

That looks like a pretty well-reasoned defense of packet neutrality. Certainly they at least understand the principles involved, which is far more than I can say for anything I have heard from AT&T, Comcast, or their kin.

[The FCC wants] to eventually regulate the content of those packets.

I do not doubt you are correct. Certainly many people in government want to regulate speech on the Internet. When they try, we should stop them. By any means necessary, starting with the least harmful means.

Also of note: The ISPs are regulating the content of those packets now, and are not operating in a sufficiently competitive environment (admittedly, for good reasons) for the free market to protect free expression and ensure the unfettered exploration of new business models. And even to the extent that a competitive free market is an excellent tool for protecting the exploration of new business models, it is far less capable of protecting free expression. Free expression typically has only secondary market-oriented forces. Free expression has always been enforced by citizen governance -- and always at jeopardy to both governments and corporations which become unresponsive to the will of the people.

You say you do not trust the FCC. So suggest an alternative. What path do you suggest? Common carrier? I love that answer. How do we get there? Congress has made it very clear that they will legislate down common carrier. Of course, I think the FCC should do it anyway, to force congress's hand. Again, how can we make it happen?

I am not saying the current order is the right end. I think it is only a step in the right direction. Regarding content regulation, it does mention "legal content", but only in the context of allowing ISPs to restrict illegal content. While that content regulation permission may be bad, they are not yet dictating content regulation. The ISPs are already engaging in it.

This conflict is not over. It is barely begun. This one battle went our way. The way of the free market and liberty, uninhibited by government or oligarch except where monopolies and n-opolies threaten -- as observed by their actions -- the greater freedom of the market.

Next up! (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670006)

"If the Government had regulated the roads from the start!"

Meh, what a poorly written and scaremongering article.

What BS (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670018)

Sorry, this is tiresome idealogical Bullshit. It's not close enough to a plausible alternate reality to be interesting.

Article was fairly asinine (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670038)

It is interesting that the private companies killed off the walled garden without intervention. It's an example where companies didn't think long term and went for short term advantage that *happened* to luck out for the consumers. If they had thought long term business, they would've emphasized exclusive content and explicitly not granted internet connectivity (maybe allowed email, but no routable IP address to the home), making it hard to move from one service to another. We are very fortunate things didn't go that way.

In terms of the article, I don't see FCC mandating full stack to the point of mandating a portal UI (absolutely no precedent of that). If they would have hypothetically stood in the way of service providers offering internet on top of their other services, it would not have been due to instability, but obscenity. Even then they would probably have just required parental controls to access the internet at all. I do see them not moving to shift the open/closed status quo one way or another (if the general market is open, they do endeavor to preserve openness, but if the market is closed, they don't seem too eager to open it up excessively much, e.g. cable television).

The only entities that would have stopped the internet are private companies.

Competition, now and then (3, Insightful)

DCheesi (150068) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670074)

In the early days, internet service did not require regulation because there was plenty of competition. The barriers to entry were low; anyone could set up a modem bank and T1 service and start serving dial-up customers. My provider was a local one-man operation, with service just as good as (and cheaper than) the big names.

But with the transition to broadband, the incumbent phone and cable providers gained immense power. Their existing physical infrastructure gave them a largely insurmountable advantage over potential new entrants. This created an effective duopoly, one that still persists today in many markets. In such a situation, the free market cannot function, and government regulation is required to prevent abuses.

Re:Competition, now and then (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670164)

exactly!!

Re:Competition, now and then (4, Insightful)

hercubus (755805) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670330)

... created an effective duopoly, one that still persists today in many markets. In such a situation, the free market cannot function, and government regulation is required to prevent abuses.

This is the part that the Libertarian loudmouths ignore. There is no market. Their magical invisible hand that solves all problems just turns into a choking fist when you have too few competitors.

The only sane solutions are government owned pipes (think water/sewer) or highly regulated privately owned pipes (think electricity/gas).

I like my local city utility monopoly. I like my power and gas monopolies. I despise all two of my choices from the Net duopoly camp.

Every city knows they have to "do" sewer/water/trash. Every state knows they have to "do" power and gas - even if it's just to set up a framework for local co-ops. Wish some state was willing and able to "do" Internet and fight off the corporate douchebags. Maybe next generation...

Re:Competition, now and then (1)

QuantumPion (805098) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670750)

You're right that there is no free market. The solution is not to take away even more freedom to fix the problems caused by government intervention in the first place. One more chain will not set you free.

What a load of hooey... (4, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670114)

The scenario described in TFA is but one of millions and millions that could have transpired. Yet that one was chosen because it fits into the author's agenda.

.
GMAFB

We already had it. Called X.25 (3, Interesting)

shoppa (464619) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670188)

We already had "the internet" regulated, tarriffed, and adopted by the suits.

It was called X.25.

In retrospect it was the best possible scenario. All the standards writers, and the big business suits, and the government, and the telcos, were chasing X.25. Giving hackers the freedom to do TCP/IP and SMTP and FTP and the web etc.

BEST POSSIBLE SCENARIO!

Re:We already had it. Called X.25 (1)

grandpa-geek (981017) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670480)

The government was moving to require the OSI stack. The standards were called Government OSI Profile (GOSIP) and the Industry/Government Open System Specification (IGOSS). The standards would have cost thousands of dollars, not be freely downloadable as the IETF standards are. X.25 was a possible part of it, although there were OSI standards for the network layers as well. One additional problem was that there was no guarantee that after adoption the standards would work. The IETF, at least formally, requires that the standards be demonstrated to work and be interoperable in different implementations before they can be adopted. There were three OSI Implementers' Workshops in different parts of the world (one of which met at NIST) that surfaced implementation problems, adopted implementers' agreements, and recommended changes in the standards to make them work.

The difference was -- yes -- Al Gore. He was Clinton's Vice President and had years of association with the leaders of the IETF and had been following the technology of the Internet Protocol Suite (a.k.a. TCP/IP). When the Clinton Administration came in, they killed GOSIP and IGOSS, eliminated funding for the NIST OIW, and encouraged use of TCP/IP. The Internet took off, and the rest is history.

The FCC .. (0)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670276)

is supposed to regulate the wireless spectrum but all they've done is turn the free airwaves into the most expensive communication system ever by selling the best parts of the spectrum to an oligopoly of highest bidders whose business model is to nickel and dime the consumer for everything.

Why not set aside some of the spectrum for mobile IP addresses that consumers can use for voice, email, text or whatever they want with any device they want without having to follow the dictates of Verizon and AT&T.

"until FCC approves it"??? (3, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670288)

In late 1993, AOL and Delphi become the first online services to offer the Internet. The FCC orders both to drop the feature until the FCC's labs approve it.

Where does this come from? Current sizzling fresh regulation does not say anything about that as far as I know.

And what happened to the BBS (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670374)

So, the Bulletin Board Systems just up and disappeared?

I find it near impossible for the FCC to gain the authority to regulate a computer running in someone's basement, even under this unrealistic scenario.

Sorry, Usenet still evolves under this scenario, it's just more like FidoNet.

Author of the Slate article = textbook libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670470)

Slate buys The Onion? (3, Insightful)

sstamps (39313) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670584)

Seriously, I had to check which site I was on when I started reading that article.

If the FCC was as evil as it is painted in that article, BBSs would never have come into existence. Instead, FCC regulation ENABLED BBSs to exist, and at a level that could be afforded by most anyone.

FCC... IMO about right (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 2 years ago | (#34670760)

I have been sending emails sence 1984, pre-DNS with email servers identified by IP.

My first email address was like ohabcdef@IPv4.

The referenced article is a fictional spin that would be reasonably probable with a FCC regulated Internet.

The wild-wild-west is always best for innovation.

Corporate-Draconia/Welfare will always support oppression of competition, in favor of sustaining customer-hostages, with little or no innovation.

and (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34670820)

If the founders of this country had had the foresight, they could have put a clause in the constitution about the internet. They should also have clarified what was included in 'arms' under the 2nd amendment.

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