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SEC Decides Telcos Must Give Shareholders a Vote On Net Neutrality

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the time-for-a-vote dept.

The Internet 107

suraj.sun writes with a link about a SEC decision that telecommunications companies must give shareholders an annual vote on wireless net-neutrality resolutions. "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has told AT&T and other telecommunications companies they must include a resolution supporting wireless net-neutrality in annual shareholder votes. In a letter posted on the SEC website, the agency asserted that net neutrality — the idea that Internet service providers must treat traffic equally — has become a significant policy consideration and can no longer be excluded from shareholder ballots. AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Nextel must now grant shareholder requests for votes this year on resolutions that would support net neutrality. In view of the sustained public debate over the last several years concerning net neutrality and the Internet and the increasing recognition that the issue raises significant policy considerations, we do not believe that AT&T may omit the proposal from its proxy materials, the SEC said in the Feb. 10 letter."

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Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wrong (4, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056341)

Shareholders will vote for what the company tells them will make the most money. This decision should not be left up to them or the telcos.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056353)

Not necessarily. A lot of this hubbub surrounds Mike D of Beastie Boys fame, who's an AT&T shareholder.

http://boingboing.net/2012/02/15/mike-d-for-net-neutrality.html [boingboing.net]

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (4, Insightful)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056427)

Well, that is one out of the top 500 shareholders. Good luck convincing the other 499 Chauvinist pigs of what is the correct way. Almost every single one shareholder in history has voted for short time profits when given the option. That won't change soon; or at all...

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056741)

Oh please. You're watch too many indie "documentaries".

If all the shareholders in public companies were willing to sink the company for short term gains, companies wouldn't stay listed for more than a year. I think you'll find that generally isn't the case.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (3, Informative)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057595)

Oh please. You're watch too many indie "documentaries".

If all the shareholders in public companies were willing to sink the company for short term gains, companies wouldn't stay listed for more than a year. I think you'll find that generally isn't the case.

That's naive. And something went wrong with your short term memory (hint: banking crisis). Shareholder often keep their shares for only (fractions of) seconds - so what's preventing someone from buying lots of them, voting then selling off? Some shareholders even bet against themselves to limit their own risk...

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

furytrader (1512517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057971)

What would the point be to buy shares, vote and then sell them? Why would someone do that? Your understanding of financial markets is weak, to say the least.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058151)

What would the point be to buy shares, vote and then sell them? Why would someone do that?

Because they own stock in a competing company?
Or a nation wanting to destabilize an enemy's markets?
Or someone wanting to drive the price down so they can buy it again, or force the company to accept a buyout/takeover?

The above are just some layman's guesses, I'm sure there are rules in place to prevent this behavior though - otherwise, it's a good thing I'm not a billionaire.
Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if someone would do it for the lulz.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058175)

Well for example, you could buy shares when they're cheap, vote for the company to do something that will generate a short spike in share value, and sell when you think the spike is topped out. Or short the stock and do the opposite.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058285)

What would the point be to buy shares, vote and then sell them? Why would someone do that?

Vote for free. A vote against net neutrality for those who want it. Without any long term interest in the company.

Your understanding of financial markets is weak, to say the least.

The Dunning–Kruger effect begs to differ

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062803)

To make money? Your understanding of how humans work is weak, to say the least.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39059307)

so what's preventing someone from buying lots of them, voting then selling off?

The fact that you have to hold the stock for several days before the vote?

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39065315)

Shareholder often keep their shares for only (fractions of) seconds

The advent of higher and higher speed trading has diluted the word "shareholder" and "stockholder". A person who owns the share for a very short period of time is not really a shareholder, although they meet the dictionary definition. They are a speculator. Someone who holds the share over a long time period is a shareholder. Such persons should want the company making long-term decisions that benefit the company both now and in the future

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

morphage (62416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056701)

Well I hope Mike D shuts them down because we all know that "like Ma 'Bell he's got the Ill Communication". Since you know he can't, and he won't and he don't stop.

I wish I knew what that would really mean...

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056365)

Shareholders will vote for what the company tells them will make the most money. This decision should not be left up to them or the telcos.

We could all buy one share of stock...

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056457)

You're adorable!

If every man, woman, and child in the United States, and Canada, and the UK, and Germany, and France, and Italy, and Spain, and Poland, and Switzerland, and Norway, and Sweden, and Denmark, and Japan, and South Korea, and Australia, and New Zealand (sorry if I left your country out!), we'd have about a billion shares.

AKA 30% ownership.

AKA less than the combined shares of just the top twenty shareholders. The #1 shareholder alone holds more shares than the adult population of the United States.

Sorry to disillusion you, but people really need to understand just how little power the 99% has.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (5, Funny)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056641)

well, then we all need to buy 2 shares. Then we'd have 60% ownership.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (5, Funny)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056997)

I think you're on to something there! If we each buy 4 shares, we'll have 120% ownership. That way, even if half of us don't support net neutrality, we'll still have a 60% majority in favor!

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

psiclops (1011105) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057911)

ahh but then the other half would also have a 60% majority and i'm just not sure the universe could handle that.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

Jakester2K (612607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062901)

ahh but then the other half would also have a 60% majority and i'm just not sure the universe could handle that.

Wouldn't 10% of each side just annihilate each other? Or, you know... everything?

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058381)

Just make sure to do it on the same day so I can buy 10,000 shares the day before and sell them back to you guys, with 60% of shares being bought I'll have my own island by lunch.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057055)

Incorrect. The political system defines the framework for corporations to work within. We still have one man one vote though the Supreme Court has damaged that with Citizens United. We have to hold the political system to its fiduciary duty to safeguard citizens against exploitation by the economic system.
The FCC is misguided in trying to solve this within the economic system. The political system ought to take its responsibility. However a combination of "free market ideology" (actually either a failure to grasp the relation and checks and balances between the political and the economic system or an an outright grab for power) and the hijacking the political system through bribery is hampering the required regulation.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

SomePoorSchmuck (183775) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062191)

We have to hold the political system to its fiduciary duty to safeguard citizens against exploitation by the economic system.

Where is that duty spelled out?
Define "exploitation".
Describe what are the limits "the political system" is not allowed to cross in its efforts with regard to "the economic system".

Redundant (1)

wye43 (769759) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057151)

Sorry to disillusion you, but people really need to understand just how little power the 99% has.

That's redundant, during the entire history, a very small amount of people had the most power. Only kids(of all ages) and communists dream about equal rights and/or power. They go kill the rich guys, take their money, and take their places as the new rich guys. It happened a milion times in history. Nothing new here.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

global_diffusion (540737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057209)

Sorry to disillusion you, but people really need to understand just how little power the 99% has.

Wait till they get rid of net neutrality. Comments like that will take a loooong time to reach the server.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (2, Insightful)

furytrader (1512517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057975)

Who owns those shares? Penson plans, 401(ks), Endowments, IRAs, etc. It's not all just Scrooge McDuck. I swear, the level of knowledge of some Slashdotters when it comes to dealings in the financial markets is laughable. Stick to flogging Linux.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062165)

And who votes the shares in a 401(k) or any other managed investment? The fund manager, who is obligated to vote in whatever way he thinks will make the most money.

If you're going to accuse me of not knowing what I'm talking about, you really ought to at least know what proxy voting is.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062835)

And who runs those shares? And who takes voting power away from the people who do have Pensions, 401ks, etc?

The manager running the fund. And odds are he doesn't give two shits about Net Neutrality, and only cares about spiking AT&T's stock price.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058017)

The relative power of the output of significantly above average intellects of the world massively dwarfs the monetary assets of the 'one percenters'. Give me the intellectual output of 20 grade students of my choice and I can own the white house and Greece in a decade.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062865)

Except you'd need money to do that, which the 1% controls.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056411)

It's a trial balloon. If the shareholders say "yes" then the government can point to shareholder support for their talking points. If the shareholders say "no" then the government can pull out the standard anti-business talking points.

Either way, it polarizes the issue and gives the politicians another opportunity for a self-serving speech.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056807)

the government can pull out the standard anti-business talking points

Only in right-wing-nutball-land can a policy designed to ensure that all players have equal access to the information infrastructure be called "anti-business." For that matter, the idea that the US government is in any way, shape, or form "anti-business" is also strictly in wingnut territory.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057243)

Yeah, that must be why it'S impossible to open a new factory in America these days - rampant pro-business attitudes among permit-granters. Anyone who disagrees MUST be crazy, as there is only one correct way to think and heretics are not allowed.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058209)

Nobody's stopping you from opening a new factory, just China's ultra-cheap labor and near-lack of environmental regulations will stop it from being relatively profitable. In fact you could say it's *because* the US government is so insanely pro-business that they encouraged outsourcing, gutting their own country for short-term stock gains for the wealthy few.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (3, Insightful)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062913)

Nobody's stopping you from opening your new factory. Many localities would welcome it.

Oh wait, you want to pay the people next to nothing, not give a damn about their safety inside the factory, and be free to belch your toxic shit all over the environment. Yeah, no. You can't do that. But to have the laughable notion that these things are somehow "anti-business" shows that you shouldn't even be managing the night shift at a Denny's.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39060593)

The US is pro business the same way the Mafia is pro business.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39061671)

Next time you're overseas, especially in a competitive area, check out what the U.S. embassies are doing. They spend a lot of time and money pushing U.S. business. And if you think about why, say, the U.S. Navy has ships all over the world, making the seas safe for U.S. business is explicitly part of the reason. Taxpayers spend billions promoting U.S. business, which is why the idea of a flat tax is so laughable. People who own businesses (or shares) benefit more from the actions of government than the rest of us do. But you won't see many people bringing up that point.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

SomePoorSchmuck (183775) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062253)

Those businesses and their goods/services don't exist in a vacuum. Are you suggesting that nobody except the super-rich elite class benefits from cheap, secure, and reliable freight/shipping/transportation?

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062785)

The super-rich elite are the ones making a profit because of that cheap, secure and reliable transport.

All the while whining about wanting the government that makes it possible to get off the backs of business.

Kinda like the "Keep your government hands off of my Medicare" "Morans".

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

SomePoorSchmuck (183775) | more than 2 years ago | (#39063129)

"Profit" is just the special term we apply to the leftover revenue when a seller receives more money than was spent to produce something. "Savings" or "discount" or "bargain" is the special term we apply to the leftover disposable income when a buyer spends less capacity (money) than the value required to produce something themselves. But they are flip sides of the same thing -- getting more out of a transaction than you would have in a strictly equalized interaction.

Do you not feel that it is possible for both the "super-rich elite" to realize a benefit in the form of profit from selling you something, while at the same time you realize a benefit in the form of savings when you purchase that thing?

That is, the company realizes a savings because they had to spend less of their capacity (money) to produce something and bring it to market, and you the buyer realizes a profit because you sold the company an amount of dollars and received something that you value more than the total of that dollar amount.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062929)

Are you suggesting that the super-rich are not the primary beneficiaries of such shenanigans?

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056813)

It's a trial balloon. If the shareholders say "yes" then the government can point to shareholder support for their talking points. If the shareholders say "no" then the government can pull out the standard anti-business talking points.

Either way, it polarizes the issue and gives the politicians another opportunity for a self-serving speech.

Its pretty clear that the Telco's can word it in such a way that Tim Berners-Lee would vote the wrong way 8 times out of ten. I've seen many such proposals forced onto shareholders ballots which were worded in such a way that the reader was certain only Satan himself would vote for the proposal.

Besides that, given the hijacking of the term "net neutrality" over the last couple years its not safe to say you support Net Neutrality without a clarifying definition, because some companies have managed to twist the definition to the point that it means exactly the opposite of what you think.

Even Google [blogspot.com] fell off the bandwagon when they said this in the space of two sentences:

There is widespread agreement among all parties that outright blocking, impairing, or degrading Internet traffic should not be tolerated. Beyond that, we also believe that broadband carriers should have the flexibility to engage in a whole host of activities, including:

...

Prioritizing all applications of a certain general type, such as streaming video;

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

twotailakitsune (1229480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056881)

prioritizing is not "blocking, impairing, or degrading Internet traffic". If I have VOIP service I want it giving higher priority then smtp.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056901)

If I rely on smtp, I want higher priority than your voip.

You really can't have it both ways.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39064615)

Thanks for playing, but this isn't subjective. There's three kinds of Internet traffic - high-bandwidth high-latency, low-bandwidth low-latency, and somewhere in the middle. Examples would be VoIP, FTP, and SMTP respectively. Your SMTP traffic delayed by a couple dozen milliseconds is objectively less bad than having the VoIP traffic delayed. Same with file-sharing - the low-bandwidth queue (which might be limited to a few hundred kbps) is objectively worse than waiting multiple hundreds of ms for each packet but at a high rate.

The problem with net neutrality is when this is done improperly, specifically for non-technical reasons. Prioritizing one's own VoIP or streaming video service is the problem, not prioritizing VoIP over streaming video over BitTorrent.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057763)

Well that us the problem bless the queues are empty at every interface you can't prioritize anything without degrading something else. What we really need to talk about is classification without regard to source. Ie you treat everyone's smtp the same and everyone's VoIP the same, etc. If you prioritize VoIP traffic for your service then you do it for google voice and vonage as well.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062945)

Then you can do so at your router. But why should any of your traffic get higher priority than mine?

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39059465)

If the shareholders say "no" then the government can pull out the standard anti-business talking points.

The problems of capitalism arise when there aren't enough capitalists.

Consolidation and concentration restrict competition and destroy market dynamics where there are plenty of buyers and sellers. Net neutrality levels the playing field and helps raise competition.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (2)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056673)

>Shareholders will vote for what the company tells them will make the most money. This decision should not be left up to them or the telcos
My first thought is: Just change ISPs once this happens.

My second thought is: Most of us don't have another option than one broadband provider.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057285)

Net neutrality should be decided by the people it affects, not shareholders of companies the lack of it will benefit ...

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057525)

Not necessarily as there are a lot of tech stock owners that might be of a different mind than a profit oriented CEO / board.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057827)

If at least one will adopt net neutrality, then the users will have a choice. Prioritising internet traffic is not necessarily bad, giving services that require low lag, such as voip priority over, for example downloads is a useful that can save costs and enhance user experience, until the infrastructure is built up properly. The problem is when, intead of prioritisation, some ISPs simply throttle or ban some type of traffic, or even worse use their infrastructure to provide unfair advantage to other services they offer. Having an alternative ISP will ensure that the others won't abuse their powers, because in that case they would risk losing their userbase. Of course, this requires at least one company to become neutral, which is not guaranteed.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39059643)

If at least one will adopt net neutrality, then the users will have a choice.

I wish it worked that way, but there are two problems: firstly in many places there are only one or two available ISPs, and secondly most people will not care unless their Netflix starts cutting out all the time. Sometimes free market ideals just do not work.

Re:Shareholder interest is in profits not right/wr (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062039)

firstly in many places there are only one or two available ISPs

I guess this is the problem. Here in Europe there is little need for a net neutrality legislation, because there are enough ISPs to choose from, some of them being neutral. Also, it helps a lot that any throttling has to be done transparently, so you know what you sign up for.

The SEC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056351)

Strictly enforcing the Constitution.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056357)

Shareholders have a ... vote, and on .. Net Neutrality???? How preposterous! Where does the SEC get things like this ? ... in the USSR? Its like saying that USA citizens have an equal vote for President of the USA, which they most definitely do not!. What is this country coming to.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057109)

The basic principle of allowing shareholder ballots is better than nothing, yet it does seem like allowing shareholders to determine the legality of corporations deciding to avoid hiring hispanics. Net neutrality should be a legal requirement - not an optional policy.

This is a TERRIBLE idea (5, Insightful)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056447)

Yes, shareholders should have a say in the policy of companies they own, but net neutrality should most certainly not be left to shareholders. If shareholders were allowed to set the minimum wage a company will pay, they have a financial interest in voting for $0.

In a democracy, the government should work to ensure that the interests of the people are served. Net neutrality should be enforced by legislation.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056475)

In a democracy, the government should...

Good thing the US is a constitutional republic.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (0)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056537)

Fair point, but it's more or less a non sequitur. The US is, or at least claims and appears to be a democratic society.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (4, Insightful)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056603)

It's not a non sequitur because the US's republicanism (as opposed to direct democracy) at the federal level is exactly what contributes to things like this.

Lobbying, revolving door politics, corruption, etc. all happen because it's easy for big corporations to persuade/bribe/donate to/promise to hire/etc. a few essential elected representatives. It's much easier to focus your resources on a few people in power than 300,000,000.

If instead the issue were brought to a direct vote to the general public, it's likely that net neutrality would have been passed long ago, music piracy would be legal and probably state-subsidized, etc.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056623)

I agree completely and would mod you up if I hadn't already posted here.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057949)

If instead the issue were brought to a direct vote to the general public, it's likely that net neutrality would have been passed long ago, music piracy would be legal and probably state-subsidized, etc.

Yes, but it's also less likely that unpopular but necessary laws relating to things like civil rights wouldn't have passed for many years.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058497)

Tyranny of the majority can occur in any democratic system, despite republicanism, despite a constitution, etc.

If we're going to be screwed either way, I'd rather it be from the majority of my countrymen and not a rich, manipulative 10%.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39060227)

the US's republicanism

It's called a representative democracy. Republicanism just means that the head of state is not an inherited position.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071883)

I looked up a few definitions and it seems that "republicanism" can fit both meanings, depending on definition source and usage context.

Nonetheless, given that "representative democracy" is a less ambiguous term, I'll try to remember to use that in the future. Thank you.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062993)

Look what happened when Gay Marriage was brought before the voters of California. This is exactly why you DON'T want direct democracy, and do want a republic.

In a direct democracy, the majority can decide what rights the minority should have.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057217)

If shareholders were allowed to set the minimum wage a company will pay, they have a financial interest in voting for $0.

Your faith in the American people is seriously lacking.
Companies frequently fight off shareholder initiatives that are socially responsible and would slightly lower profits.

The first organization I recall is The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
It is comprised of churchs and religious organizations that use their investments to push socially responsible corporate governance.
I only know of them because it grew out of an (eventually successful) effort to force American companies to stop doing business with/in apartheid South Africa.

Of course, these days socially responsible shareholders have to go up against hedgefunds and other Wal Street financial firms that are managing deep pools of money and chasing short term profits instead of social and corporate responsibility.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (4, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057615)

Here's a little share holder game. Company A has very socially responsible share holders, the require the company to pay top wages and only charge 10% profits. The income generated by the company defines it share price. Now along come a bunch of dicks led by Ritt Momney and the company he runs Cain Bapital. Now they see how well the company is run and how great it's reputation is and, they know they can really capitalise on this.

So they offer say 50% more per share than the company is worth and naturally enough buy the company. They now shift the debt, the money the borrowed to buy the company on to the company, fire all the workers and only rehire say 75% of the ones who will accept a 75% pay and demand they increase their productivity by 25%, otherwise the company will go broke trying to repay the debt Ritt Momney and Cain Bapital dumped on the company.

They also decide to screw the customers, basically running down service, support and quality of product to practically nothing. They then on sell the company to gullible investors highlighting the low labour costs and high profit margins (based on about to disappear customers due to appalling service, support and quality) and obfuscating the debt by focusing on return on capital (value of all the assets of the company less debt, you might think that is crazy but that is the way finances work). They sell the company at a huge profit and run away before it all blows up due to, appalling service, support and quality, disappearing customers as the companies reputation goes up in flames, an unhappy experienced labour force all looking to get another job and quit, and massive debt with reduced sales coming home to roost.

Basically if it ain't legislated psychopath executives will screw it up every single time (consider the about tactic would be executed with full and complete foreknowledge of the outcome, company bankrupt, all the workers fired and the gullible investors loose pretty much everything, hell, Ritt and Bain will even make financial bets that the company will go belly up, they did after all set it up that way).

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062119)

So they offer say 50% more per share than the failing company is worth and naturally enough buy the company.

FIFY

fire all the workers and only rehire say 75% of the ones who will accept a 75% pay

As opposed to let them all get laid off when the company goes bankrupt and everybody gets pennies on the dollar for their retirement funds?

Are they supposed to just maintain the status quo when a failing company is hemorrhaging money?

Go poop on a cop car.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39063045)

I'm sorry, are you trying to argue that pay cuts are a good thing? You need your head examined.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39063411)

Are pay cuts better then getting fired? Things are relative. There is no one answer to that question. Depends on the workers circumstance.

Re:This is a TERRIBLE idea (2)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057875)

net neutrality should most certainly not be left to shareholders.

And it's not. All the SEC is saying that the Telcos must consult shareholders on the position they are taking regarding net neutrality. So if the shareholders vote for net neutrality, then the *Telcos* may not pursue an anti-net neutrality position. If the shareholders allow them to pursue an anti-net neutrality position, the decision is still in the political sphere. Just like now - no change.

Representative democracy and corporate democracy (3, Insightful)

gsiarny (1831256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056473)

Regular old representative democracy has had a hard time enshrining network neutrality in law. It will be telling if shareholders manage to secure it through "corporate democracy".

Whether a push for network neutrality through shareholder activism succeeds or fails, however, this appeal to shareholders on such a basic social issue is just a symptom of the creeping corporatization of American politics. The surrender to corporations of the right to make decisions on matters of fundamental social importance is frightening, but hey - corporations are people, right, and AT&T's just this guy who means well, you know?

Has everyone bought into this argument? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056481)

The problem isn't treating everything the same.
The problem is that the ISPs want to charge twice for the same traffic.
They want to charge the subscriber for the traffic, and the party they're communicating with.
Basically, they set up there pricing structure before video over the net really took off, and now they're looking for some way to raise prices while not scaring away the customers.

Money and Communications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056541)

Telcos have to be ripping their guts out over Skype and items like Magic Jack. They want more money for every bit of communications and newer technologies are offering them no money at all.
          We have as much business supporting telcos as we do backing buggy whip and musket factories. The telephone will go the way of the typewriter rather quickly.

Laugh (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056719)

Seriously? This sounds like something the telco's would have lobbied for.

Terrible (1)

ThisIsNotMyHandel (1013943) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056773)

Terrible decision. Network neutrality (or lack there of) is a technical decision. Don't need people who don't understand the technical details and the impact of such a policy make those decisions. This is nothing more than lobbying and politics being played with the SEC which is a body that should remain politic free.

Re:Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057963)

Terrible decision. Network neutrality (or lack there of) is a technical decision. Don't need people who don't understand the technical details and the impact of such a policy make those decisions. This is nothing more than lobbying and politics being played with the SEC which is a body that should remain politic free.

Yup. Carrier grade networks are extremely complex, it's not really a "series of tubes" which everything get crammed into. But that's how these asshats are treating it.
It's more like a series of layers stacked upon additional layers, all of which fulfill different requirements and needs.

To use the "road" analogy, a carrier grade network will have some lanes reserved for some traffic types, some reserved for customers paying for dedicated circuits, and then a big fat lane called "Internet" traffic which is where most people's traffic gets to drive.
It's all fine and dandy to say "you have to treat all the traffic in the Internet lane equally", but existing standards and protocols already demand that applications do this on their own. Some applications such as torrent don't always play by the informal rules defined by the standards, and will find ways to "game" the system to "hog" all the bandwidth in the Internet lane to themselves. Notice I say applications and not users.

As an engineer, "net neutrality" means that we don't tamper with the traffic inside the "Internet" lane or route some of the Internet lane over a shitty dirt road with the intention of punishing users or giving someone a competitive advantage over others. But there are plenty of cases where we will send the traffic over the crappy road because that's the best way to do things. Perfect example is email; if we have a high-latency but low-cost (in terms of dollars) circuit we'll send email over that link while the "live" protocols like VOIP will be preferred onto the low-latency but higher dollar cost circuits.

But to complicate things, if somebody wants to pay to setup a dedicated circuit between their mail server and ours, we'll sell them one. We don't simply prioritize their email or send it over the "good" circuits... we build another lane for their traffic instead of sending it over the general "internet" lane.

In reality, we already have laws which we have to adhere to in terms of Unfair Business Practices- being a dick about one company's traffic for competitive reasons is a blatant violation of existing laws. Like the shit going on up in Canada for example- if we fucked around with the traffic inside a customer's dedicated circuit not only would we be breaking our contract with them, we'd be outright breaking the law.
Consumer internet is (usually) sold as an "all you can eat buffet" which means on Sunday at Noon you're going to stand around in line for a while. A dedicated circuit is like a private table or booth with your own personal waiter... and you pay a lot more for it. What the politicians are trying to do, is force the Diner to allow people from the buffet line who paid $5 to sit next to you in your private booth which you paid $1,000 to reserve. And that's bullshit. Yes, many carriers need to open up a couple more buffet tables so the lines aren't as long. But most people would also be ok if there was a sign at the buffet which said "You may only take 5 full plates worth of food each trip through the line" so that the Disgusting Fatbody in front of you doesn't fuck over everybody else.

Re:Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058137)

The way technology is used afects all. Reiteratively. Expansively. Chain-reaction. Feedback.

That is a social question. Society must decide. Information is essential. Every little tribal group will skew views to their own immediate minor "interests". Including the different technical clans. Debate and arbitration are essesntial. A lot of it. More. With full access. Equal access. Even for the loons. Let the general acclaim be an indication.

Or it will be a society of the few, for the few, by the even fewer.

SEC? (0)

Lazarian (906722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057159)

Since when does the SEC decide whether or not to relegate decisions regarding net neutrality to anyone? That should fall under the domain of the FCC, not a bunch of dipshit shareholders who's only interest is the next quarter return. Fuck them.

Re:SEC? (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058353)

Well, it falls to the SEC now because the FCC tried, and got bitchslapped by Congress.

If the proper way doesn't work, use the half-assed back door. That's the way of the United States Government.

Oh yes "self regulation" worked so well ... (3, Interesting)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057265)

One definition of madness is doing again and again and again what failed first and hoping that the results will be different "this time"
One definition of evil is doing something, seeing that it is bad for people, and doing it again and again and again...

Having a "public authority" asking the shareholder to vote on what would be in effect an element of "self regulation" is either mad or evil, probably both.

It is worth while to read: ( http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/reviews/2010/12/ars-book-review-the-master-switch-by-tim-wu.ars [arstechnica.com] ) The master switch
to learn about how again, and again the government supported the creation of private monopolies, and stronger business control on public expression and opinion.

The only justification for this would be if there would be some way to make the shareholder liable for the crimes of the management.
If the SEC would seriously think that the FCC might for a nationalisation or a breakup of the operators if they do not garanty network neutrality, then asking the Shareholder about their opinion would be somehow justified.
By the way this should not be an issue since the operators are supposedly liable for defaulting on their "common carrier" responsibilities, so asking the shareholder is basically: do you want us to comit a crime to make a lot of cash for you ? or would you prefer us to be honest.
(not that the PR agency would let them ask the question that way of course...)

Foreign entities... (1)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057507)

Since when should foreign stakeholders get a vote as to how laws are built in the U.S.? Another problem with the SEC overstepping their bounds.

Re:Foreign entities... (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058397)

Like they don't already? Sure, there's a 1970s law on the books, but that only stops direct lobbying.

Re:Foreign entities... (2)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39059731)

Since when should foreign stakeholders get a vote as to how laws are built in the U.S.? Another problem with the SEC overstepping their bounds.

As soon as you guys force your government to stop interfering with the passing of laws in the rest of the world then I will cede you the moral high ground.

Why can't they get net neutrality right? (2, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057553)

the idea that Internet service providers must treat traffic equally

The trouble is that when people treat QoS the sme as Net Neutrality they then believe invalid arguments like bittorrent will swamp VOIP or somesuch nonsense.

Net neutrality is not about treating all traffic equally.

Net neutrality is about not discriminating based on source/destination.

Entirely different. In fact, being all IP, 4G networks will make heavy use of QoS ( http://4gwirelessjobs.com/articles/article-detail.php?QOS-over-4G-networks&Arid=MTU2&Auid=MTIy [4gwirelessjobs.com] ) to prioritise voice. That doesn't mean that htey nobble google because they haven't been given a huge kickback.

If it's done properly, you could do P2P transfers over VOIP QoS, though it would be eye-wateringly expensive.

Re:Why can't they get net neutrality right? (2)

will_die (586523) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058135)

You are using an very old definition of net neutrality.
Net neutrality is about if your ISP can block certain web sites, certain protocols or provide different levels of service to different sites or types of info. Read the current examples and they keep on using that your ISP could slowdown access to Google since the ISP is getting funding from Bing, or other names of search provides.
Even the creator of BitTorrent worries that if net neutrality passes ISP will have not beable to block spam messages from your mailbox.

Re:Why can't they get net neutrality right? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061043)

Net neutrality is about if your ISP can block certain web sites,

That certainly comes under "regardless of the destination".

certain protocols

I missed that one.

different levels of service to different sites or types of info.

Again, that's discriminating based on the destination.

Even the creator of BitTorrent worries that if net neutrality passes ISP will have not beable to block spam messages from your mailbox.

Sounds like FUD to me. Net neutrality means that they have to let everything through to your machine regardless of the source if you want. It doesn't mean that they can't block stuff for you if you ask them (e.g. spam filtering).

The thing is, noone would ever ask the ISP to have (e.g.) google search degraded.

It's even entirely reasonable (and neutral) for the ISP to have tiered service where QoS levels are charged at different amounts and you can opt to have certain protocols QoS'd at different levels.

It's not neutral if the ISPs own brand VOIP gets high QoS for free whereas you have to pay extra for generic VOIP.

Re:Why can't they get net neutrality right? (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062551)

It's even entirely reasonable (and neutral) for the ISP to have tiered service where QoS levels are charged at different amounts and you can opt to have certain protocols QoS'd at different levels.

That would be awesome. 10 GB/month of high priority transfer and unlimited bulk transfer would be much more useful than 250 GB of best-effort for everybody. Alas, nobody does it.

It's not neutral if the ISPs own brand VOIP gets high QoS for free whereas you have to pay extra for generic VOIP.

What if the ISP provides a non-IP video-on-demand service and gives it a dedicated channel, while lumping IP streaming video (Netflix) and torrents into best-effort and capping transfer at some restrictive value, say 250 GB/month? This is actaully happening right now.

Re:Why can't they get net neutrality right? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39064287)

What if the ISP provides a non-IP video-on-demand service

Well, it's pretty much not the internet at that point. It's also not being sold as internet access. The problem I have with non net neutrality is that the ISPs are not giving you what you have paid for.

What happened to GoDaddy (1)

jbrohan (1102957) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057693)

Power to the People

(plus one InformatIve) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057861)

Pontius Pilate mode... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057983)

washing their hands of the decision so they can blame the shareholders for the choices they make...

Like The GM Shareholders Did? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057997)

In the late-Apartheid era, in South Africa, activists bought (barely, if I remember correctly) enough GM stock to get into meetings and vote. And propose votes. They got a vote on equal working conditions for 'whites' and 'nie-blankes'.

  GM shareholders voted overwhelmingly in mainting apartheid in the office, factories and - mainly - on factory floors. The difference between corporate shareholders in general and nazi slaveholders is well nigh nonexistent. Not bait, not trolll. Truth. Verified. Verifiable. Consistent. Reincident. Generalized.

The same goes for cluster-bombs, mines, poison-gas ... the works.

doesn't matter because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058453)

because fund managers vote the shares in the funds they run

as Carly Fiorino proved at HP, all you have to do is lean on a handful of fund managers and you get the votes for whatever bad idea you have

It's time to Party?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058505)

What, no shout out to Mike D of the BEastie Boys pushing this through the SEC?!? For shame...

SEC has no say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39058631)

First, the SEC has some limited governing control over publically traded corporations, but not those that are not.

Second, SEC has control over securities, but not over communications which would be directly impacted by this.

Finally, Law makers have determined that it is the FCC that will decide on net neutrality, not the SEC.

Sorry SEC, but you have no say in the matter.

How about this.... (2)

3seas (184403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058753)

Have Individual Taxpayers instruct government as to where their taxes are to be spent?
Of course if you don't trust the tax payers then rig the elections... Right!?

Maybe the same can apply to the telcos and with reduced traffic.... how will the investors respond.... Oh I know, raise prices and drive more away... yeah that will work.

There is also another telcos issue of the past.... they participated in violating the privacy rights of americans and were taken t0 cort byt those who hired them to do so (the government) let them off. Perhaps the share holders can vote on spying issues too?

And so it begins (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39059837)

I see this as a brazen shift from public policy matters being handled by the elected government of the people, to policy being determined by corporate entities, and therefore only by the propertied owner.

Which would finally return us to the grand old system of the landed property owner exclusively having a vote.

But this is worse. In a stockholder scenario, those with more property have a proportionally greater vote, rather than an equal vote like the landed property owner model.

So, what we are telling people is re: net neutrality, your government representation vote does not matter. You must buy stock to have a vote on the matter, and your vote is proportional to the amount you can spend on the stock, and the company's stock-issuance policies, for that matter.

This is a bad precedent. Governmental policy decisions should never be handed over to a stockholder vote. Ever. You can forget about American democracy if they are. If this is the result of obstruction in Congress, the obstructionists have won.

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