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The left’s historic power win: How the long-fought “net neutrality” triumph transformed history -

Stashed in: Teh Internets, History of Tech!, The Internet, John Oliver, @iamjohnoliver

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Net neutrality BARELY won this round. We got lucky.

Also, John Oliver is the new Jon Stewart. 

Net neutrality is a pricing law

It is a law that says that telecommunications carriers may charge a price, but they may not charge discriminatory prices based on who you are. They can charge you for consuming or sending more data over their network, but they can’t charge you for sending the same amount of data over their networks as someone else. It takes at least part of the ability to fix prices out of the hands of private powerful middlemen. Interestingly, when the FCC came out with its decision, telecom stocks popped up, because the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made it clear that ‘rate regulation’, or explicit pricing caps by the government, were not going to be included. I don’t think usage caps are included either. These are both interesting problems, and there are additional possible problems with interconnection charges, which is a related question of sending content over networks. But the basic point remains, millions of people acted to make sure that at least some pricing power would be in the hands of the public rather than in the hands of monopolistic owners of cable and telecommunications networks. That’s a really big deal. And once again, it’s not isolated, you can see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau coming out with rules on payday lenders and credit reporting agencies. These are also pricing laws. And pricing is about power.

Price, or money at least, is, according to the Supreme Court, akin to speech.

That's funny because in the regulated broadcast industry, that's exactly what happens.  So the two datapoints are 1) No regulations, the market decides and benefits consumers, 2) Heavy regulations and the government decides and there is discriminatory pricing.  I think they have their wires crossed.  Solving things efficiently at the edges and through business value will always be a more optimized than a decade lagging regulatory body.

Almost immediately after this long-forgotten controversy disappeared, the net neutrality debate flared up very publicly. The Supreme Court had a few months earlier allowed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deregulate broadband in the Brand X case, which was quickly followed by statements by telecom CEOs that the internet was now theirs. AT&T CEO Ed Whiteacre said this clearly, when he argued that “anybody who expects to use pipes for free is nuts!” He didn’t mean free, what he meant is that if Google wanted to move content through AT&T’s pipes, AT&T would get to determine the price. And if that price happened to be higher that the price charged to a similar competitive product offered by AT&T or by a special favored product by a client of AT&T, well, too bad. Whiteacre wanted to engage in discriminatory pricing, and that was the essence of the net neutrality conflict. This would turn the internet into a cooler version of cable TV, with all content controlled from the center.

Basically we either get the Big Telcos abusing their authority or a chance of FCC abusing their authority.

At least in the current case of powerful FCC we can blow the whistle on them if they do abuse.

When the Big Telcos are powerful, the only option we have besides paying is to not have Internet.

"This would turn the internet into a cooler version of cable TV, with all content controlled from the center."

It is precisely the opposite.  It is saying "You cannot tier the internet"..."You cannot offer the 'Youtube Upgrade' to customers while pulling Youtube from existing customers"."1) No regulations, the market decides and benefits consumers,"

How, exactly, does Comcast double charging for delivering Netflix benefit consumers?  It would be a mechanism for Comcast to instead keep infrastructure upgrades from happening as a way to claim that they *have* to charge Netflix for delivering their traffic.Analogy time:You order your package from, and you pay your $4.99 for shipping and handling with the expectation that it will be there in 3-5 business days.  Now, the Post Office goes to Amazon and says "Wow, your customers sure love your service Amazon!  It'd sure be a shame if we didn't deliver your package for 7 business days, huh?  Sure, we've already been paid for that 'Last Mile' delivery to your customer, but, you better pay us extra, or we'll be slow on your delivery".

It doesn't benefit consumers, and that's why we have the lesser evil of empowering the FCC to regulate. But let's be clear that the FCC is in a position to abuse its power too. 

Give an example of either how you think that could happen, or how the FCC has abused other telco businesses with existing title II regulation.

Hasn't happened yet but even the EFF says we have to be vigilant:

So congratulations, Team Internet. We put the FCC on the right path at last. Reclassification under Title II was a necessary step in order to give the FCC the authority it needed to enact net neutrality rules. But now we face the really hard part: making sure the FCC doesn’t abuse its authority.

For example, the new rules include a “general conduct rule” that will let the FCC take action against ISP practices that don’t count as blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization. As we said last week and last year, vague rules are a problem. The FCC wants to be, in Chairman Wheeler’s words, “a referee on the field” who can stop any ISP action that it thinks “hurts consumers, competition, or innovation.” The problem with a rule this vague is that neither ISPs nor Internet users can know in advance what kinds of practices will run afoul of the rule. Only companies with significant legal staff and expertise may be able to use the rule effectively. And a vague rule gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence. That means our work is not yet done.  We must stay vigilant, and call out FCC overreach.

Thanks, I've been looking for an example of what abuse might look like.  I tend to look toward existing FCC Title II regulations, and see no abuses really occurring there, and thus think we'll be ok.

Saw this on Reddit today:"My 9-year old son spends a lot of time online and recently came to me asking what Net Neutrality meant. I explained it the best I could. I just okay with current political events and he had a lot of questions. Had to actually look up some answers.

I recently overheard him explaining it to one of his friends, much better than I could, like this:

Pretend ice cream stores gave away free milkshakes. But you had to buy a straw to drink them. But that's okay, because you still get free milkshakes. One day you're drinking a free milkshake and you look down and the guy that sold you the straw is pinching it almost shut. You can still get your milkshake, but it's really hard and takes a lot longer.

So you say, "Hey! Stop that!" And the straw guy says, "NO! Not until the ice cream store pays me money." And you say, "But I already paid you money for the straw." And the straw guy says, "I don't care. I just want more money.""

What's hard to explain is the difference between that and other cartels.

Substitute "right to drive" for milkshakes and "gasoline" for straws and you have the oil cartels of today.

Substitute "over the air TV" for milkshakes and "cable TV" for straws and you have cable cartels.


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