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The FCC is ready to get sued over Net Neutrality

The FCC is ready to get sued over Net Neutrality

FCC wants to be “thoughtful”–somebody call a lawyer QUICK!

Net Neutrality has existed for a long time in the nerd-niche of the policy world, but now that Obama has asked the FCC to impose strict new regulations on internet service providers, the issue has jumped out of the shadows and into the forefront of public debate.

“Net Neutrality” provisions—new regulations that would use the authority of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 to prevent internet service providers from granting preferential treatment to different types of online content—are controversial, and have already spurred lawsuits from companies like Verizon who are loathe to cede control of their services to the government, and the FCC is preparing for another onslaught.

Via Ars Technica:

“We are going to be sued,” he said in a Q&A after the FCC’s monthly meeting. “That’s the history. Every time in this whole discussion any time the commission has moved to do something, one of the big dogs has gone to sue… We don’t want to ignore history. We want to come out with good rules that accomplish what we need to accomplish, an open Internet, no blocking, no throttling, no fast lanes, no discrimination, and we want those rules to be in place after a court decision. So we want to be sure we’re thoughtful in the way in which we structure them and we’re thoughtful in the way we present what will ultimately be presented to a court.”

Verizon sued to block rules passed under Wheeler’s predecessor, Julius Genachowski, and has already threatened to sue the FCC over new rules under consideration. AT&T has threatened to sue as well.

Those who support Net Neutrality worry that not having a clear line in the sand will allow large corporations to throttle content from smaller content providers (read: content providers who don’t have piles of money to offer up) and create an unequal playing field for the kinds of free speech the internet is so famous for. But as the great people over at Tech Freedom have explained, this desire for a bright line rule ignores the reality and nature of online content:

…such a broad-sweeping rule against discrimination would do great harm, because it fails to account for a key facet of the Internet: some bit traffic is qualitatively different than others, because some is bursty (like web-browsing) and some requires sustained bit streams (like VoIP calls). Thus, while “neutrality” of treatment would perhaps be warranted when comparing like services (i.e., apples to apples), when comparing unlike services (i.e., apples to oranges), mandating neutral or equal treatment could do significant harm to both. In recognition of the fundamental differences between different forms of bit traffic, Internet engineers developed, among other tools, the Differentiated Services (DiffServ) set of protocols, which were designed to enable differential treatment of bit traffic in real-time. And by allowing ISPs and transit providers the capability to treat some bits differently than others, the Internet itself can work smarter, faster, and better for all parties in the online ecosystem.

The reality of the situation is that the FCC doesn’t have to do what the President says; then again, this fight isn’t new, and the FCC has been trying to impose new regulations on ISPs for years. They understand that certain types of content prioritization can be beneficial to consumers, but are also under enormous pressure from activists and the White House to “end discrimination on the internet” and reach the long arm of government into the workspace of service providers.

And when you start throwing words like “discrimination” into the mix, you can bet that any agency that works closely with the Obama Administration is going to have no choice but to spit out new restrictions on providers. Lawsuits are much easier to deal with than the boycotts of an angry mob—whose members also know quite a bit about what makes the internet go…and how to stop it.

Featured Image via CGP Grey

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Comments

People really like “free” stuff, don’t they. The biggest beneficiaries of “net neutrality” are both public and private. The government has a compelling interest to capture or regulate private capital and private companies (e.g. Netflix) are desperate to discover a means that will sustain their business model. This is the way that they manage to reconcile conflicting or divergent interests. Fascism is merely a pit stop on the path to Marxism (i.e. minority rule through force).

The bright side to this is that anytime the government gets involved, everybody wins. /sarc

Does “no throttling, no fast lanes, no discrimination” mean that I get 45 Mb/s (like my neighbor down the street who pays several times what I pay) instead of the 3 Mb/s that I get now, without an increase in price?

Or, more likely, does it mean that we will both get 6 Mb/s at the unaffordable (for me) price that he now pays?

If it’s the latter, that version of “no discrimination” would be the ultimate discrimination in that it would take me off the internet, effectively censoring the news I can get (hmmm, maybe that is the real goal — controlling the information/propaganda available to us common folks!).

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to donb. | November 24, 2014 at 12:10 am

    “Fast lanes” refers to latency not bandwidth.
    Let me put it this way,on the information highway you have speed limits ( latency ) which basically is how fast you go from exit(entrance) A to exit B and you have the speed that things can move through a particular exit (bandwidth).

    Let us take a particular example, you connect to site A and download 450Mb of data. At first blush it takes your neighbor 10s to download that and you 150s. The reality is that both of those times are just the speed it takes to get the data from your “offramp”,

    In reality it takes 10s+latency and 150s+latency for you guys to get your data. Latency is the time it takes to get from site A to your offramp.

    “No fast lanes” means that everyones latency is the same.

      Right. From a publisher perspective, consider that if Big ISP doesn’t like your content – because you didn’t pay them danegeld, or they politically disagree with you – they can crank up the latency and your audience will vanish.

      From a viewer perspective, why should you have to pay Big ISP twice to see content that you’ve already paid for? (Service fee, content fee, and low latency fee)

      Conservatives should support Net Neutrality and not get caught up in Obama Derangement Syndrome. A stopped clock – Obama – is right once or twice a day, after all (depending on whether it’s a 12 hour or 24 hour clock).

        “Obama Derangement Syndrome” is exactly what’s going on. People are out there making wild statements (just look at the unbridled nonsense in the main comment right under yours!) and they clearly do not understand the situation.

          Radegunda in reply to RKae. | November 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm

          When an administration openly expresses hostility to media outlets that don’t always flatter it, and when it colludes with friendly media execs to stop a reporter from investigating it (and hacks her computer), and when the prez tells citizens to stop listening to voices that don’t spin things his way, and when the administration uses the IRS to muffle opposing voices, and when its supporters keep trying to revive the so-called “fairness doctrine” as a way to control political speech on the airwaves, etc. …. it really isn’t “Obama Derangement Syndrome” to suspect that Obama’s plans for regulating the internet involve aiming to suppress dissent.

          Ragspierre in reply to RKae. | November 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm

          Yup. ^^^Das rat^^^

          RKae in reply to RKae. | November 24, 2014 at 7:20 pm

          Radegunda:

          Net Neutrality is NOT about controlling content.

          When you go off like that you merely sound like an old duffer who’s confused by these newfangled computer things.

          Ragspierre in reply to RKae. | November 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

          RKae, when you go off like that, you just seem like a assholier-than-thou techie who isn’t clued into the FACTS about regulatory creep and the dangers of government.

      What Conservatives should support is the abolition of the FCC, not its expansion into MORE regulation of MORE information infrastructure.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to donb. | November 24, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Radegunda, you said it best I think.

    RE:

    Radegunda | November 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    When an administration openly expresses hostility to media outlets that don’t always flatter it, and when it colludes with friendly media execs to stop a reporter from investigating it (and hacks her computer), and when the prez tells citizens to stop listening to voices that don’t spin things his way, and when the administration uses the IRS to muffle opposing voices, and when its supporters keep trying to revive the so-called “fairness doctrine” as a way to control political speech on the airwaves, etc. …. it really isn’t “Obama Derangement Syndrome” to suspect that Obama’s plans for regulating the internet involve aiming to suppress dissent.

Great…Teh Won wants to turn the internet into the digital equivalent of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Us knaves may not have seen the artistic value of “Piss Christ”, but that didn’t stop us from paying for it.

Same thing here, just because 5 people might inadvertently click onto something on the internet and be interested in it (e.g., that Kardasian wench’s big ass) is apparently reason enough to enforce digital equality with something that 3.2 quintillion people inexplicably find interesting (e.g., when that Kardasian wench turned around).

    That remark is so far off-base it isn’t funny.

    You clearly have no understanding of the net neutrality argument. For God’s sake, go read up on it. Get educated.

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