Obama, just like he campaigned on a promise to end Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, also promised America net-neutrality. Today, the FCC and Julius Genachowski will hold a vote on their FCC’s proposed “Net Neutrality” rules and it is expected to pass. When it does, Obama will more than likely claim that he has protected the internet for everyone and fulfilled his campaign promise.
And if this is indeed his claim, Obama will be entirely full of shit, again.
The FCC’s proposal does not protect the open internet. Their proposal is a gift to the Telecom Industry and is what Senator Al Franken, among others, calls the end of the internet as we know it.
The internet, under the FCC’s new rules will turn what was once free into cable television where you pay for what you get and the internet providers are free to charge you what they will for each tier of service.
We pay more and they will profit, immensely. And on wireless internet, like on Ipads, or cell-phones? Providers like AT&T and Verizon can restrict what websites they offer on their systems. Want Netflix, want Youtube? No longer up to you, it will be up to them.
This is not Net-Neutrality.
This is bullshit.
This is Obama selling out the public for the benefit of wealth and corporations, again.
Ed. Note: Today (Sep 30th) this legislation was tabled…so for now, never mind. It’s back in the FCC’s court.
Legislative text put forward by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) under the banner of mandating network neutrality would instead prevent the government from requiring broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic equally.
Waxman, who has vowed that he would support the so-called ‘Net Neutrality’ policy proposals favored by most Democrats and progressives, has instead put forward an as-yet-unsettled legislative framework that explicitly prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from regulating broadband Internet under Title II of the Communications Act: a caveat key to implementation of what’s been called the Internet’s First Amendment.
I recently read an article claiming there is no political right or left anymore, that now there is only pro-corporation or pro-public with both Republicans and Democrats entrenched on the side of corporate power. Personally, I have long argued this case while at the same time recognizing Democrats will at least, on occasion, first shake the hand of people they stab in the back while the Republicans will just unapologetically knife away. Articles such as this one about Mr. Waxman’s recent sea-change on internet freedom only confirm these beliefs.
When it comes to the internet, Democrats have long been the party who has stood on the side of net-neutrality while Republicans predominantly claim free market and push in favor of the Telecoms, consequences to the free exchange of information on the internet be damned.
The argument in a nutshell:
Net-neutrality is good for consumers: it gives them freedom of choice in providers and content, and keeps consumer costs lower by preventing companies from charging for certain aspects of internet use.
Net-Neutrality is bad for corporations: it prevents them from controlling competition by slowing down traffic to competing websites. It prevents them from restricting access or charging more for accessing certain types of web traffic like file sharing, gaming…etc.
Waxman has long gone on record in favor of net-neutrality…over and over, yet now he introduces the framework for legislation that would crush the very idea he champions with language that is bad for consumers, but great for corporations and my concern is because people will recognize Waxman as a Democrat, consumers will not read the fine print of his bill and just assume it’s a good thing, when in fact it is not.
Any way you cut it, Waxman just did Google and Verizon a big favor, and made things tougher for the FCC to keep your internet free and open.
Any way you cut it, the Democrats are trying to screw you again in favor of big business.
And on a side note: What the hell makes the Obama Administration think that after Democrats had to eat it for eight years with Bush in office, they would be in any mood to stomach their argument of – Hey, you better support us, otherwise you get Republicans? If Obama wants support from Democrats, perhaps he should stop making excuses for every time he caves on issues to the party not in power. Perhaps, he should spend more time talking tough to those on the other side of the aisle, instead of his own “base.”
Two days ago, Verizon and Google went public with their vision of the “free and open” internet, but as people are quickly learning, free and open is the last way to describe their ideas. They propose zero net-neutrality on wireless networks – what many people understand to be the future of the internet – and a standard for “non-discrimination” so empty discrimination will most certainly occur. Their proposal also reduces consumer power, instead handing it over to corporations to decide which applications will get the best quality of service, while at the same time establishing a tiered system, splitting the internet in two where when paying extra, consumers will get all the bells and whistles of new applications and new content while for free, consumers only get slow speeds, poor quality, and yesterdays news. Last, but certainly, not least, Google and Verizon’s vision turns the FCC into a non-player on net-neutrality, codifying into regulation their empty threats and weak spine, giving them no power to enforce any rules, instead acceding to a third-party arbitrator to decide what’s right and wrong, one that will more than likely be controlled by the industry it is meant to referee.
Well, that sucks.
It’s time for the FCC to stop trying to play nice here and do what it should have done as soon as Obama got into office, re-classify broadband as a “common carrier” and “telecommunications service,” re-assert their authority, take charge and protect net-neutrality once and for all.
This moment has been building for quite some time.
Let’s take a quick look back and see how we got here:
In 2002, GW Bush got it into his head to change the way the internet had been classified since its inception. Previous to his FCC’s decision, the internet had been governed by the Telecommunications Act of 1934 which many years later gave the FCC legal power over the internet. Bush reclassified the internet from a “telecommunications service” to an “information service,” which effectively stripped the FCC of any bonding legal control to regulate. Their basis for this decision was the internet provided other services besides internet connection, services like e-mail and web-hosting.
In 2008, users of the file sharing program BitTorrent noticed something strange, their traffic was slowing down. They then accused Comcast of deliberately slowing P-to-P traffic which Comcast of course denied, all the way up until they admitted it, declaring they had a right to do so on their network because BitTorrent users were slowing down traffic for everybody else and besides, they were only doing it during hours of peak use. This turned out to be false as a study from the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems showed. The FCC ruled that Comcast had no right to slow traffic, with FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin saying, “Would you be okay with the Post Office opening your mail, deciding they didn’t want to bother delivering it, and hiding that fact by sending it back to you stamped ‘address unknown-return to sender?'”
Comcast, not caring for someone telling it how to manage its traffic, sued.
On April 6th, 2010, a US appeals court ruled that the FCC didn’t have the authority to order Comcast to stop throttling traffic. The FCC released a statement at the time, correctly saying the US appeals court did not “disagree with the importance of preserving a free and open internet.” The ruling simply said that the FCC didn’t have the authority as things legally stand now, “Nor did (the court) close the door for other methods for achieving this important end.” Since this ruling, the FCC got together with all the big Internet Service Providers behind closed doors to try to hammer out a deal to preserve net-neutrality on the internet. The closed doors outraged many consumer advocacy groups and this meeting was ongoing until Google and Verizon announced their “proposal,” then the talks thankfully fell apart.
So what happens now?
Google and Verizon are hitting the op-ed pages to try to sway public opinion in favor of their profits, leaving out many of the details on how the consumer will get screwed by their proposal. They say that their plan is not something that Google and Verizon will put into effect. It is a plan they hope a member of congress or the FCC might adopt in the form of a bill or rule-making process, “Consumers should be able to choose any lawful content, services or applications they want. Our proposed policy presumes that prioritization of Internet traffic…is harmful.” They then go on to say the wireless industry has “unique technical and operational challenges, demanding different considerations than wireline networks.”
Yes, different consideration…such as the negation of net-neutrality, of giving wireless providers the ability to block content, apply different speeds to different applications and relegate voices to the fringe as they see fit. Not to mention how they will directly benefit from their proposal as Google is behind the new Android mobile operating system that is featured on many phones running on the Verizon network. Course, this was not mentioned in their Op-eds.
In response, the FCC finally released a statement as well, written by Commissioner Michael J. Copps, “Some will claim this announcement (Google-Verizon) moves the discussion forward. That’s one of its many problems. It is time to move a decision forward – a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband communications, to guarantee and open Internet now and forever, and to put the consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations.”
Well, this statement is a good first step. Now the FCC has to back it up and I would recommend a two-fold approach, reclassify broadband as a “telecommunications service,” re-asserting the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet, something they have the power to do as Michigan Law Professor Susan Crawford argues: the reason for reclassification is obvious, people buy internet services based on speed and price, and not because of extra services some high-speed providers offer (such as e-mail). This of course will bring lawsuits by all the ISP’s. Fine. Screw ’em because in these courts their lawsuit won’t come to arguments for another couple of years.
And in the meantime the FCC should take their own proposal to members of congress. They will most certainly have to find their spine to do so as the Telecoms got themselves a lot of Congress types in their pocket. The FCC, with the support of Obama and the American people will have to hammer the legislative body with everything they got. They’ll have to get pro-active, get mean, push some people around, you know…get Republican all over everybody, and put net-neutrality into law, once and for all.
Remember when you were just a little internet start-up? Imagine trying to enter into the Internet world if corporations controlled it. How far do you think you would have gotten if the ISP’s could have slowed traffic to your site while speeding it up to those who already dominated the very marketplace you were trying to break into? How do you think you would have fared then, superior programming or not?
Or maybe that’s the point, two more bullshit corporations trying to codify their power into law.
I don’t want corporations to choose what applications I use, what content I receive and how I receive it. The Internet should be consumer driven, the way it always has been. Consumers must be free to access the Internet on the same playing field as everybody else, choose the content, applications and start-ups they like. We should determine who succeeds, not corporations.
They have enough control over information already.
Oh Google, methinks you doth protest too much. When insiders leaked information regarding your proposed deal last week, the internet went crazy, myself included; we believed that Google and Verizon were joining forces in a deal that would destroy net-neutrality and in turn, destroy the internet as we know it. As the backlash grew, the CEO’s of Verizon and Google quickly issued statements saying they had no desire to wreck net-neutrality, the piece in the New York Times was 100% wrong. They wouldn’t dream of such a thing and how could we, such a gullible republic ever, ever accuse them of anything untoward.
Okay…so you didn’t come up with a deal between the two of you, no, what you did was come up with a proposal for the whole internet, one that kills net-neutrality…um, that’s better?
Yeah, if you haven’t heard it yet Mr. Schmidt, CEO of Google and Mr. Seidenberg of Verizon, allow me to be the first…Google and Verizon? Bite me two times, one each.
Today they released their seven point plan to allow a free and open internet and yes, it’s as bad as everyone suspected.
First, their plan makes a distinction between wired and wireless networks.
On the wired networks, which will become what is known as the public internet, everything that we know now, stays the same and the FCC gets new powers to enforce transparency and openness to all consumers.
Hey, well, that sounds pretty good.
Course, the key language here is the “as we know now” aspect of things.
The internet has long been driven by experimentation and innovation and if there’s one thing we know about computers it is how quickly things get outdated, how much we need to upgrade. Well, the proposal by Verizon and Google, while it doesn’t allow people to speed up certain content as it is now, it does have the power to make the way that content is delivered irrelevant. As new technology comes to the fore, maybe a new way to read internet news, some kind of new platform that is quicker, better and easier. Or new gaming technology, or as they mention, the smartgrid…well, that’s different, that’s progress, that can be differentiated, that can be sped up, that you’ll have to pay extra for. The deal does require transparency, but so what? As Adam Smith writes, with transparency you’ll be free to watch “your access to the free and open public internet go away.” So yes, what this proposal does is create the first tiered system on the internet. Sure you can get ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX for free, but if you want to watch any of the good stuff on television you gotta pay extra for that and besides, if you pay extra, we’ll give you True Blood faster and it’s far more entertaining than that free, slow, boring NPR now, isn’t it?
Doesn’t sound too free and open to me.
Second, and perhaps most important…how about those wireless networks? You know, the future of the internet? The method those tech guys say most people will be using to access the internet in five to ten years? Watching movies, television, downloading programs, files, watching sports? Yeah…besides transparency, there will be no rules on wireless. The deal allows Google, Verizon and every other big provider that comes along to do pretty much as they please…charge more, speed this, deny that…whatever…FCC, stay out. Business knows best. Business knows innovation, and profit.
And the FCC?
From Craig Aaron, “The pact proposes to turn the Federal Communications Commission into a toothless watchdog, left fruitlessly chasing consumer complaints but unable to make rules of its own. Instead, it would leave it up to unaccountable (and almost surely industry-controlled) third parties to decide what the rules should be.”
End result…consumers pay.
Hey, but don’t take my word for it…
From Wired magazine: “If Google’s and Verizon’s proposal goes through, we really would have two internets — one free, where Google pledges to stay, another paid, where services such as 3D television, remote medical procedures, and bandwidth-intensive games appear — for a price.”
From Salon’s Dan Gimore: “Throughout the conference call, we kept hearing references to the “public Internet” — an expression that leads inescapably to something else,” concluding, “the game is on to create a parallel Internet.”
From Law Professor Susan Crawford who argues “there are two major loopholes in their proposal. First, the failure to spell out net neutrality for wireless networks is “a huge hole, given the growing popularity of wireless services and the recent suggestion by the Commission that we may not have a competitive wireless marketplace.” Second, Crawford writes that exempting “managed services” from regulation is a “giant, enormous, science-fiction-quality loophole” and “prioritization using another label.”
From Media Access Project’s Andrew Jay Schwatrzman: “The plan raises as many questions as it answers. For example, it does not disclose the standard to be used in resolving consumer complaints. One question that the plan does definitively answer is that the non-discrimination proposal would never apply to wireless. That alone makes this arrangement a non-starter.”
From MSNBC: “We would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless,” says the proposal, “except for the transparency requirement.” Meaning that wireless carriers — including Verizon’s No. 1 ranked mobile subsidary — would be at liberty to provide preferential access to certain services, block others, and charge customers extra if they saw fit. “Our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services” that they could in fact charge extra for, and offer with limited access or with the requirement of specified equipment. The examples provided are vast: “Health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options.”
So there you have it…Yet another company, Google, that purports to come up with a plan to save something, in fact kills it and while they’re reaping the financial benefits…you’ll be stuck with higher bills for less content and censorship. Your voice, my voice…all voices become expendable, especially if they don’t fall in line with status-quo corporate.
Okay FCC, you’re up…what you got you spineless bastards?
Imagine a group of paid lobbyists behind closed doors engaged in secret negotiations regarding the internet, your internet. Sure, you may not own it, more than likely you haven’t personally purchased any of the wires or organized any of the companies that have created the structure and framework that allows the internet to function, speeding information to your computer, but it is your internet. It has become the marketplace of ideas; it has become so pervasive in how we communicate, learn, share information and organize that it could certainly be argued the internet is now in the public domain. So when the doors close in a faraway government office and lobbyists hired by Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Google, and any other large corporation with a stake, trying to negotiate a compromise with the government about the way the internet will function, specifically about rules for net-neutrality, why is it these meetings aren’t open to the public? Why doesn’t the public get their say? The internet has gone beyond a simple profit-making exercise for a handful of corporations. The internet is now one of the key purveyors of free speech in this country and worldwide.
From an article in the Wall Street Journal:
At stake is how far the government can go to dictate the way Internet providers manage traffic on networks they have spent billions of dollars rolling out. The FCC has proposed so-called net neutrality rules that would ensure carriers treat all content equally, and not slow or block access to websites.
Net-neutrality be good for the citizens, but the Telecoms want control.
“The potential deal between two broadband behemoths underscores the need for the FCC to act quickly to protect the free and open Internet,” said Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “In the absence of such action, it’s increasingly clear that cozy cooperation between communications colossi will reign on the Internet.”
So, what halted the meeting?
The news yesterday of a probable deal between Google and Verizon which threw the whole get-together into chaos. Nobody likes it when two of the major players in a negotiation suddenly try to change the rules behind everyone’s backs. Google and Verizon have since denied their efforts to circumvent net-neutrality, though they admit they are working together on a deal, the fine details of which, they refuse to release.
Barack Obama ran on a campaign platform of net-neutrality and openness in government, these closed door meetings are a slap in the face to both.
The meetings should be open.
Upon news of the failed negotiations, Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:
“We welcome the FCC’s decision to end its backroom meetings. Phones have been ringing off the hook and e-mail inboxes overflowing at the FCC, as an outraged public learned about the closed-door deal-making and saw the biggest players trying to carve up the Internet for themselves. We’re relieved to see that the FCC apparently now finds dangerous side deals from companies like Verizon and Google to be distasteful and unproductive.
“Now the FCC must match the chairman’s words with decisive actions. We need our leaders in Washington to make the tough decisions and take on the difficult task of standing up to entrenched interests and pushing forward strong rules that will protect Internet users everywhere. Today, Julius Genachowski and the FCC took a big step back from the brink and gave everyone who cares about the free and open Internet reason to be hopeful that they still might do the right thing.”