The Battle for Net Neutrality
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9152) 3 years ago
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9152) 3 years ago
GOP, tech industry mostly out of step over net neutrality issue

The intensifying debate over how to keep the Internet open and ripe for innovation has heightened tensions between Republican congressional leaders and tech entrepreneurs they have been trying to woo.

As tech firms and cable companies prepare for a fight that each says will shape the future of the Internet, Silicon Valley executives and activists are growing increasingly irritated by the feeling that the GOP is not on their side.

Republican leaders have struggled to explain to their nascent allies in the Bay Area why they are working so hard to undermine a plan endorsed by the Obama administration to keep a level playing field in Internet innovation, enforcing what the administration and its allies call "net neutrality."

Arguments from the GOP that the plan amounts to a government takeover of the Web — "Obamacare for the Internet," as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called it — are falling flat with many tech innovators.

"This is one of the most prominent moments in Internet freedom," said Julie Samuels, executive director of Engine, a nonpartisan advocacy group that brings policymakers together with tech start-ups. "I don't think any party can afford to be on the wrong side of this conversation."

But Republicans, she said, are on the wrong side.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote this month to adopt the net neutrality plan proposed last week by the panel's chairman, Tom Wheeler. The plan would regulate Internet service providers, such as Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc., as public utilities and would ban them from offering high-speed lanes to companies that pay more.

Republicans have promised to push legislation to overturn any such move, but most high-tech companies support it.

The fight comes at a time when Republicans had been making gains in Silicon Valley, a constituency of well-heeled donors and coveted millennial-generation voters who have generally been loyal to Democrats.

Prominent Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), have taken members of Congress on listening tours of tech companies. Tech money has begun flowing into GOP campaign accounts. Presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have made an aggressive case that the GOP better understands the values of privacy and freedom in the digital world.

GOP leaders had hoped to build on those gains at an event in Washington called RebootCongress, which started Wednesday evening, where top Republican lawmakers plan to join Silicon Valley business leaders to discuss the future of the Internet.

Republicans have hoped to seize on recent Democratic policy moves that riled tech companies, including a push for strict anti-piracy rules and the Obama administration's continued backing of National Security Agency surveillance of Internet users.

But the hot issue in Silicon Valley now is net neutrality. And on that issue, the GOP and the tech industry are mostly out of step.

Republicans argue that intervention by a big government agency is the wrong approach to leveling the playing field for companies that depend on the Internet. That's especially true now, as conservatives accuse Obama of a broad pattern of regulatory overreach in healthcare, the environment and immigration.

"As is often the case in Washington, those who want more power create the specter of a false threat that is not occurring in the marketplace today," Cruz said in an interview in which he warned that new regulations could lead to new taxes and put a chill on innovation. "The power of regulation is like a camel's nose under the tent," he said.

In Congress, GOP lawmakers are unified in opposition to the administration approach.

That includes tech-savvy California Republicans such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who warns that the administration approach "will result in over-regulation and years of fruitless litigation." McCarthy joined his House leadership colleagues in warning regulators that imposing net neutrality rules would "deter investment and stifle one of the brightest spots in our economy."

Many Internet entrepreneurs disagree.

"The argument is a red herring," said Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights alongside GOP lawmakers on privacy and surveillance issues but is helping lead the attack against them on net neutrality.

"Nobody is talking about wanting the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the Internet. That would be terrible," McSherry said. "All they would be doing is putting in rules of the road for broadband providers."

Republicans, she said, are essentially helping big corporations squeeze out innovation. "Politically, this is a real mistake," she said.

It is unclear to what extent the issue will overshadow other Silicon Valley priorities. But it is certainly making the GOP a tougher sell.

"It is close to a litmus test," said Paul Sieminski, a Republican who is the general counsel to Automattic, the company that operates Web-making tool WordPress.com.

"It's such a fundamental issue for the Internet," said Sieminski, who has been active in fighting for net neutrality. "I guess it is a proxy on where a candidate may stand on a lot of issues related to the Internet."

The fight goes beyond wealthy entrepreneurs making or seeking their fortunes in start-up companies. Silicon Valley is adept at mobilizing consumers eager to protect what they see as a core value of the digital age.

The FCC received nearly 4 million comments on the net neutrality rules — most urging them to enforce stricter regulations — before Wheeler announced his proposal last week.

Groups such as Fight for the Future, whose donors include technology companies, said they have helped initiate tens of thousands of calls from their members to regulators and lawmakers using technology that bypasses switchboards.

Polls also showed overwhelming support for the concept that big carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast should not be allowed to charge more to companies that want a fast lane.

That may have propelled a shift among some Republicans, who once questioned the need for any new regulations.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is proposing a bill that would let Congress, rather than regulators, set the terms for net neutrality. In establishing the concept, however, the measure also would take away the FCC's authority to make any new regulations in the fast-changing broadband marketplace.

Thune and others frame their disagreement with Obama and federal regulators as one over process, asserting that Congress would better protect openness on the Internet yet avoid burdensome regulations.

"I worry that online innovators will be subject to the Mother-may-I system in which startups have to hire regulatory lawyers before they hire engineers," Thune said Wednesday night as the Reboot conference began at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington.

Silicon Valley activists are unimpressed. They don't trust the GOP-controlled Congress on this issue.

"They're cynical attempts," Evan Greer, campaign manager for Fight for the Future, said of the legislative proposals, "last-ditch efforts by cable lobbyists who know they've been beat in the court of public opinion."

http://www.latimes.com/bu...story.html
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9152) 3 years ago
FCC votes for net neutrality

The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It is simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field. Think about it. The Internet has replaced the functions of the telephone and the post office. The Internet has redefined commerce, and as the outpouring from four million Americans has demonstrated, the Internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.

This proposal has been described by one opponent as, quote, a secret plan to regulate the Internet. Nonsense. This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concepts: openness, expression, and an absence of gate keepers telling people what they can do, where they can go, and what they can think.

http://arstechnica.com/bu...-title-ii/
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+9337) 3 years ago
Think of the 'tubes' of the internet as sewer pipes. Is it fair to let rich people have their pipes bigger and more efficient, taking away their sewage faster, while poor people have to let it build up in their basement and leak away at little at a time.

Of course if you are rich, this is a great idea. If you are like the rest of us, you want equal drainage.

Is the internet a public utility? Should everyone be treated the same or should the rich get special treatment for their excrement?

I like my sewage drainage and my internet access neutral.
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Posted by Hannah Nash (+2457) 3 years ago
I enjoyed The Oatmeal's explanation of Net Neutrality:

http://theoatmeal.com/blo...neutrality
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+9337) 3 years ago
I LOVE The Oatmeal and I want both versions of "Exploding Kittens."
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Posted by Hannah Nash (+2457) 3 years ago
Amorette-- we bought both versions of Exploding Kittens during the Kickstarter (the regular and the NSFW edition). If you ever want to borrow them, let us know!
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9152) 3 years ago
It's more like this.

The "Internet" is a series of interconnected "Networks".

You pay for Internet access through your local ISPs "Network". If you want a faster speed for your access, you pay more money to them.

When you access a site, that site is paying their own ISP for hosting on their "Network". If that site becomes popular, it serves more traffic, and the site owner pays more money to their ISP.

That's the way it is supposed to work. That's the way it has worked.

Until recently.

When a computer on one network (say your computer) contacts a computer on another network (some site, such as Netflix) ... the data passed back and forth may go through one or more intermediate networks to get from point A to point B.

The concept of "Net Neutrality" is that those networks in the middle, which are basically "backbone" networks, run by mega corporations -- they are not supposed to poke their nose in the data. They're supposed to treat it all the same. And just pass stuff back and forth.

The Internet is a giant graph of Networks, so the middle man changes depending upon the connection. In one case, a provider might be point A. In another case, the provider might be point B. In another case, the provider might be in the middle.

Someone pays at point A. Someone else pays at point B. And the middle is supposed to be an agreement between everyone to just pass the data along.

What happened with Netflix, is someone in the middle (Comcast) stuck their nose in, and said -- hey look -- Netflix has a bunch of traffic going back and forth. So they contact Netflix and tell them they want One Zillion Dollars or they are going to slow down the stuff they are passing back and forth. Netflix balked. Comcast poked their nose in and slowed down the data they were passing back and forth to Netflix. Because of this, Netflix became unusably slow to many of its customers, so they caved in and paid.

What happened after that? Another company showed up wanting the same thing from Netflix. And then another. And another.

Mind you, these ARE NOT companies that necessarily have anything to do with Netflix or the hosting fees it already pays. They're either networks in the middle, or networks at the receiving end. Basically, what they were doing was extortion (when they were in the middle) or double dipping (when they were the end-point - since they were already charging the receiving customer [you] for the same data).

That whole issue with Netflix created a dangerous precedent and perilous situation -- one where any greedy mega corporation could basically extort any popular web site on the entire Internet for whatever they wanted. And if they didn't pay up, they could intentionally slow them down - or even block them all together.

So that's the reason Net Neutrality is necessary (which already was the way everything worked before the above started happening) -- and needs to stay as the rule.
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Posted by Bridgier (+8118) 3 years ago
I've enjoyed watching the republicans try to convince their rubes that net neutrality is a bad thing. I don't think it's working, yet...
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+12007) 3 years ago
What I want to know is, why are Republicans wrong on just about everything? And why do people vote for them?
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Posted by Lorin Dixson (+595) 3 years ago
Gunnar if you ever find the answer to your question please share it with me
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9152) 3 years ago
Verizon issued a childish response to the FCC ruling today, one written in Morse code, backdated to 1934.

http://arstechnica.com/bu...ated-1934/

For those who have not been following all of this... "Net Neutrality" has always been the norm in one way or another. First informally, then formally through an FCC ruling years ago.

A while back, Verizon sued the FCC to get Net Neutrality struck down -- so they could tinker with the data being delivered to your home and charge extra for whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted (up or down). They won.

This created an unjust situation of corporate cable companies and broadband providers being able to set their own rules for the Internet -- which made it necessary for the FCC to act in response by reclassifying broadband as a "Utility" -- in order to get around the court ruling and enforce the same rules that have essentially always been around.

The response from Verizon, IMO, is rather odd, pathetic and immature for such a large corporation. They must be really pissed they can't impose their own will upon everyone else.
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Posted by Hannah Nash (+2457) 3 years ago
Another comic explanation (using the roadway analogy):

https://web.archive.org/w...eutrality/

I prefer to communicate my thoughts and feelings via comics, apparently.
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9152) 3 years ago
Republicans’ “Internet Freedom Act” would wipe out net neutrality

US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) this week filed legislation she calls the "Internet Freedom Act" to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's new network neutrality rules.

The FCC's neutrality rules prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling Internet traffic, prohibit prioritization of traffic in exchange for payment, and require the ISPs to disclose network management practices.

These rules "shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act," the Internet Freedom Act states.

The legislation has 31 Republican cosponsors.

...

In the latest election cycle, Blackburn received $25,000 from an AT&T political action committee (PAC), $20,000 from a Comcast PAC, $20,000 from a cable industry association PAC, and $15,000 from a Verizon PAC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

...

Read More: http://arstechnica.com/bu...eutrality/
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Posted by Bridgier (+8118) 3 years ago
"The freedom to be owned by corporate interests is the greatest freedom of all"

- oddjob
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Posted by Kelly (+2557) 3 years ago
Bridger:
You made me spray soda pop out my nose!
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Posted by atomicg (+936) 3 years ago
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