Skip to comments.FCC rules mean the beginning of the end of internet freedom
Posted on 12/22/2010 12:40:46 PM PST by JoeA
The Obama administration continues its relentless march toward a fully regulated and controlled economy, slowly but inexorably erasing the freedoms Americans have long held, piece by piece. The latest assault on our freedom comes in the form of internet regulations approved by the Federal Communications Commission, designed, they claim, to ensure net neutrality. As we stand here now, the freedom and openness of the Internet are unprotected ... That will change once we vote to approve this strong and balanced order. So intoned FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, posturing like a gallant knight riding to the defense of a fair maiden in distress. However, no damsel was available to be rescued, as none was threatened. The freedom and openness of the internet exists precisely because of the lack of federal control. But protecting the world wide web is not the intent of the FCCs regulation, it is control that they seek. Much to the consternation of Genachowski and his ilk, the unregulated internet is one of the finest examples of free market capitalism at work. With no government control or guidance, the unprotected internet satisfies the demands of hundreds of millions of users every minute of every day. The flow of goods and services continues unabated, without the help of bureaucrats in Washington. As does the flow of ideas, and the power of free speech. And that is what this administration cannot have. The power of web sites like Freerepublic, Redstate, Drudge, and Pajamasmedia must be reigned in, for in the marketplace of ideas that populates the internet, this administration and its neo-fascist actions take a beating on a regular basis. To silence their critics the administration seeks to ration all content, to ensure, they claim, equal distribution. In their way of thinking, you must choose both chocolate and vanilla, for that is what fairness is about. You may not decide which you prefer, but will instead be served both. The FCCs Fairness Doctrine was a previous attempt to ensure equal distribution of content, and it was nothing more than an albatross around the necks of broadcasting executives. By burdening radio and TV with the notion that all ideas must be equally represented, radio and television were largely empty of meaningful political content. An explosion of broadcasting ensued with the cancellation of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, saving the once languishing AM radio band, as hundreds of politically oriented talk radio shows sprang up across the nation. Now the Obama administration has decided to march back in time, to those glorious days of plain vanilla content, and regulate a flourishing medium, to protect the freedom and openness of the internet. Or so says the Ministry of Truth.
This anti-net neutrality campaign here on FR must be one of the stupidest robotic uninformed useful libertarian idiot campaigns I have seen.
This anti-net neutrality campaign here on FR must be one of the stupidest robotic uninformed useful libertarian idiot campaigns I have seen.”
Quite a statement. What does it mean? In what way? Is there more thought behind that or is that you “feeling” about it?
These rules won’t last 1 month. The new Congress will kill this.
I actually made a game of trying to get them to complete eachothers sentences.
Thats when I discovered, at the age of eight, that networks colluded to produce a uniform product. We call that product, propaganda.
Now the FCC wants to return us to this time.
This is not our first time around the block. We know that everything the government touches, “for the common good”, eventually turns to S—t.
1) The way they did this was extraconstitutional and consists of a power grab, against the express wishes of Congress and the decrees of a US Federal Court of Appeals.
2) This particular crew, Obama's crew, have not once done something that is pro-freedom.
This administration is going to do as they please because we have let them do as they please.
This won’t be the last freedom we will lose in the next two years or more.
I am fed up with it.
It just seems like no one knows what net neutrality means. I know commenters do, but the article above equates a content regulation like the fairness doctrine with net neutrality, which is about, more or less, ISPs getting to charge content providers on the basis of the traffic.
The problem is that there are very few access points to the internet - consumers get to choose one or two DSL companies and a cable company. Satellite may be an option for some, but it isn’t at all cost effective and no one will pick it.
So the ISPs have a lot of market power - not monopolies, usually, but duopolies, and can abuse that market power to shake down individual content providers - youtube, freerepublic, ESPN, whatever, for more money. Without net neutrality, if a particular ISP doesn’t like your content or thinks they can wring more money out of you, they can threaten to block or slow your content compared to everybody else.
That’s the surest way to stifle internet innovation. It gives an incumbent advantage to existing high-traffic content providers like YouTube because they can negotiate as a large institutional player and receive discounts - competitors to youtube not so much.
It’s best to think of ISPs as a public utility like the power company. It’s hard to have true competition - like with cable TV companies, municipalities can choose who runs their monopoly for a fixed period of time, but you can’t have two robust internet access infrastructures existing side-by-side, competing for business - nobody will pay to lay an entirely different set of pipe and fiber optic parallel to what we have currently. So, better to not let the gatekeeper ISPs into the content management game and let them collect a profit from their customers who can freely choose content rather than let them impose a tax on content providers, which warps the content market.
Since this was already ruled to be illegal by the courts, I find the FCC action to be stupid, along with those that support it.
Shermy, this is not part of a “campaign,” merely one man’s opinion.
Then why do so many politicians see this as way to shut down conservative talk radio? I have heard quotes from several Congresscritters that are convinced that net neutrality is the key to getting rid of conservative talk radio.
Imagine if the Feds decided that, in the interest of fairness to tire manufacturers and other parts suppliers, that DC decided to regulate the Big 3 auto companies in the 50s. Since they comprised over 90 per cent of the market, limiting access points, and where akin to a utility, since everyone needed a car, they could decide which companies' products they would distribute.
Thankfully, that scenario didn't play out.
“This wont be the last freedom we will lose in the next two years or more.”
Undeniable truth - we are under siege by a shadow government that is unfortunately executing a bloodless coup d’etat and we are watching it happen in front of us. 2012 may well be too late, but if we don not do something to keep their hands out of our pockets and their “camels noses” from under our tents, we will be completely finished as a Democracy, let alone re-establishing a Republic.
For those who say resistance is fruitless ... go to hell. You and your children will be living one here soon.
This is just another power grab by the unelected, unregulated shadow government that is going to take us over if we do not resist at the grass roots.
All “content” is not created equal.
Different types of services have vastly different bandwidth and latency requirements. Streaming high quality video, for example, is far more intense than text email.
Data pipes are not infinitely large and neither are ISP infrastructure budgets. Regulation of some sort has to occur. Right now, the ISPs - the people who have the most granular knowledge of the situation and who are closest to both the end users and to the providers - are doing the regulating, and by all accounts, it is minimal and done in a manner that shifts the costs to those who are most likely to be causing the problems.
I have not seen any evidence that the situation is out of control, and certainly not to the point that government oversight is required.
Even if some oversight would be necessary, I have sincere doubts that the FCC is capable of either understanding the problems, or promoting workable solutions. Certainly their track record doesn’t give reason for hope.
We have plenty of options in my metropolitain area for ISPs. I haven’t checked recently, but I’d guess it’s close to a dozen (not counting cable, which has essentially a monopoly). I guess I have to agree with Rush - this is a solution in search of a problem.
The most likely solution, IMHO, is that competition will be eliminated because any possible differentiation between providers will be legislated out of existance. That will mean that those who can provide the fattest pipes - generally the largest players - will over time, completely own their markets, pushing the smaller players out. We’ll basically have the same situation we have now with cable (which, by most accounts, sucks), but accomplished without the direct legislation of the resulting monopolies.
Other possible solutions, based on the corruption, inefficiency and activism inherent in most federal agencies, are far worse and all too likely.
One only has to look at the state of healthcare a few decades ago, when government first started mucking around with it, to see where this will lead - higher costs, fewer providers, worse service, and reams of regulations with consumers trapped in government-sponsored incompetence.
Yep, you said it well. We are up against a monumental challenge to retake our freedom from the tyrants.
“Regulation of some sort has to occur.”
Let the free market decide. You are right that different services have different bandwith requirements. The answer, has been to spread costs equally among all users, while offering ‘stepped’ access.
I’ve seen, just in the last 5 years, my access going from 5/hrs a week to having it on demand. All for the same charge.
There is nothing stopping ISPs from doing what they already do, and limit access. Limit the amount that can be transferred and downloaded. Paying per the amount that you use.
Regulation is entirely unnecessary.
I am not close to the data on any of these issues, so you may well be right and I defer to you. Technology tends to move fast enough that it gets out from under the FCC. I do worry about Comcast’s move into cable mucking things up, as well as what google/verizon means in the long term.
I think our posts cover all of the live issues, which are about cost/revenue allocation and incentives to provide infrastructure + content. I just don’t get how people see it as a content control issue. The FCC regulates the radio spectrum. Scarcity/spectrum arguments were used to uphold the fairness doctrine, and yet in the absence of the fairness doctrine we have efficient spectrum allocation by the FCC, often by market-based auction models. I just don’t buy the slippery slope from net neutrality to speech content.
If we want to fight government creep over speech on the internet, we should be up in arms over COICA, not net neutrality.
Perhaps it's nearing the time to turn things from a bloodless coup d'etat to a bloody reaquisition of our God-given rights as enumerated in the Constitution. I ain't going to start it, but if a shooting war breaks out, I sure as he** won't be siding with the government - I'll be siding with the people.
“If we want to fight government creep over speech on the internet, we should be up in arms over COICA, not net neutrality.”
this government will use either vehicle to arrive at the same destination. They will ignore our votes and our wishes and plunge forward.
The last thing in the world we need to happen is for the internet to become a ‘public utility.’ The Marxists wanted that for radio in the twenties, but were thwarted by commercial interests who wanted to advertise. If the Marxists had their way, we would today be listening to nothing but NPR and watching nothing but PBS.
What comes with being a public utility is a legal term called “Universal Service”
With universal service comes the accompanying regulations.
And since when did internet access become a civil right?
If information is that precious, why weren’t newspaper subscriptions and TV sets handed out along with the welfare check?
By “regulation of some sort” I was referring to the throttling that ISPs do in the course of their business to ensure the maximum service for the maximum amount of users, and related agreements with larger content providers and end users.
I guess that’s the old-school definition of “regulation”, not the new one that infers only government can do it.
“I ain’t going to start it, but if a shooting war breaks out, I sure as he** won’t be siding with the government - I’ll be siding with the people.”
If the DADT Repeal and START ratifications are any evidence, the military could be in trouble if they don’t start waking up. I would hate to speculate what would happen if this coup turns nasty. But we are in one, no question. People of my acquaintance hate it when I say it, but I believe it as sure as I sit here.
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/12/red-tape-under-the-tree-fcc-plans-internet-regulation-for-christmas#_ftn7 _________________ From avove link: “While the FCC plan would not bar all discrimination, it would vest vast discretion in the FCC to determine what is allowed and what is not. Critical decisions as to what is permitted and what is not would be left to the political whims of five FCC members. At best, that will create an unpredictable atmosphere, with firms left unsure whether their activities will be deemed acceptable. At worst, it will lead to abuse and political game-playing.
Case in point: Earlier this month, communications provider Level 3 got into a business spat with Comcast over how much it will pay, if anything, Comcast to handle traffic from Level 3s network. Such negotiations are common among networks, and the longstanding system of private interconnection agreements has worked quite well. Yet Level 3 claimed that Comcasts request for payment to carry Level 3s traffic violates net neutrality rules. The claim caused a political stir that promises to help Level 3 in its ongoing negotiations. The incident is likely a harbinger of rent-seeking to come under a net neutrality regime, as firmsas well as political advocates of all stripesuse vague neutrality rules to advance their interests. http://www.multichannel.com/blog/BIT_RATE/31830-Level_3_Plays_Politics_In_Internet_Peering_Spat_With_Comcast.php
The overall result would be bad news not just for Web surfers but also for the economy as a whole. Investment in broadband today is one of the few bright spots of the economy, with providers expected to invest some $30 billion per year in private capital into their networks annually for the next five years, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Neutrality rules would threaten that investment and those jobs by hindering efficient network management and creating uncertainty.
Charles M. Davidson and Brett T. Swanson, Net Neutrality, Investment and Jobs: Assessing the Potential Impacts of the FCCs Proposed Net Neutrality Rules on the Broadband Ecosystem, Advanced Communications Law and Policy Institute, June 2010, at http://www.nyls.edu/user_files/1/3/4/30/83/Davidson%20&%20Swanson%20-%20NN%20Economic%20Impact%20Paper%20-%20FINAL.pdf (December 17, 2010).
Talking about utilities does bring in some fun things. I’m not talking about universal service, as that’s not related to net neutrality.
I’m talking about common carrier. Right now the telephone company is not responsible for anything you do over its lines. You can commit wire fraud, send death threats or commit any number of crimes over the phones, and the phone company cannot be touched because it is a common carrier. The key to this is that they don’t know what you’re doing on the phone. They can’t responsible if they don’t know, but they also can’t interfere if they don’t know. If they want to interfere, then they have to know, and that means they can be held responsible because they allowed it to happen.
This directly applies to the ISPs. Do they want to be common carriers or not? If Comcast can degrade certain streaming video or P2P, then they can know when various illegal acts are being committed, which makes them accomplices. So I say go ahead, let them interfere with the Internet all they want. After the first few CEOs go to jail, they’ll be begging for common carrier certification.
But are they doing that now? I mean to a measurable degree? I don't think so. They only throttle when excessive bandwidth usage (for whatever reason, P2P, hulu, etc) is present.
And yes, I agree that universal service is not exactly the same as net neutrality. But the logic is similar in that there is an 'entitlement' component.
The best example of universal service the US Postal Service. People who live out in the boondocks are 'entitled' to the same postage rates as folks who live in town, yet you know the costs are nowhere near comparable.
And that's where the net neutrality supporters are headed. Internet access will become a "civil right," with all the government oversight such a designation brings.
I don’t see how you can believe in more government regulation as a good thing.
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