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Net Neutrality to Win Big on Capitol Hill? 154

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-hope-in-sight dept.
The New York Times has weighed in again on Net Neutrality, this time with a hopeful message of change in the near future due to the shift of power in the House and Senate. The opinion piece takes a look at Ron Wyden in the Senate and Edward Markey in the House who have both promised to lead the charge to pass a net neutrality bill in the coming months. Lessig, on the other hand, has a somewhat more cynical view of the new Congress.
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Net Neutrality to Win Big on Capitol Hill?

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  • by PurifyYourMind (776223) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:07PM (#17451084) Homepage
    ...as less a commercial/military enterprise and more as a public utility that everyone should have a right to access, just like water or electricity.
    • by paranode (671698) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:24PM (#17451288)
      And the phone and cable companies too? Like how the government essentially creates monopolies through subsidies and then 20-30 years later decides that the monopolies are bad and to disband them to create actual capitalistic competition again? Keep the government away, please.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        That doesn't happen in every case. The highway system has not been privatized, for example, as many libertarians would like it to be. Thank god they're not and probably never will be in charge.

        Arguably, the phone network would never have been built if not for the subsidies and government-granted monopoly.

        • by paranode (671698)
          Well this is now off-topic but there are private highways near where I live and they are better-maintained and if you added up how much of your income/state/sales/fuel taxes go to roads and such you might be shocked at your return on investment.

          Although your point about the phone network is possible, there are other ways to subsidize than to create monopolies.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            Well this is now off-topic but there are private highways near where I live and they are better-maintained and if you added up how much of your income/state/sales/fuel taxes go to roads and such you might be shocked at your return on investment.

            The problem, of course, is graft. I live in California which seems to have the worst roads in the nation. This is especially pathetic because most of California doesn't have the extreme weather problems that account for road problems in much of the rest of the US. F

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by DragonWriter (970822)

              The problem, of course, is graft. I live in California which seems to have the worst roads in the nation.

              I'm not sure that's true, but I'd agree that California seems to have a problem here: I expect that, as you note, inadequate "transparency and citizen oversight" plays a role, not because California is structurally worse, in outline, than other states in that regard but simply because that a state level bureaucracy like Caltrans is inherently more opaque and distant than a structurally identical organi

          • by Qzukk (229616)
            Although your point about the phone network is possible, there are other ways to subsidize than to create monopolies.

            What the government should have done is install and maintain conduit, which would have solved the "natural monopoly" problem in the first place by providing ample space for X companies to run N strands of wire/fiber/whatever without the "oh noes, my road is being torn up every three months" syndrome of letting them run the wire themselves.

            But hey, this way they could get megabucks from corpor
          • Well this is now off-topic but there are private highways near where I live and they are better-maintained and if you added up how much of your income/state/sales/fuel taxes go to roads and such you might be shocked at your return on investment.

            Private highways work well in certain cases. The problem is that they want every road in every neighborhood to be privatized. As in, you need to pay a toll to go from your house to the grocery store. A toll back. Basically, since everything would be private prope

            • This actually neatly summarizes the problems with Libertarians in a nutshell. They simplistically assume what's a good idea in one case is applicable to every case (e.g., self-defense is good, therefore, personal nukes must also be good. Low taxes is good, therefore, no taxes must also be good. Etc.)

              The problem is, you're wrong. Libertarians, in general, and as per party platform, support national defense and support minimal taxation. Most probably support local, community roads. They do not support personal nukes.

              As in, you need to pay a toll to go from your house to the grocery store. A toll back.

              You already have to do that. The difference is now, if you don't pay, rather than being unable to use the roads, your home is taken from you and possibly your car too. And even if you don't use the roads, you have to pay.

              I have no problem with public roads, but neighborhood roads could prob

              • by Qzukk (229616)
                by being cooperatively owned by those who live on them.

                This is a double edged weapon as well. I've heard of cases where companies who wanted to raze everything and redevelop the neighborhood into something else managed to buy 51% of the houses in the neighborhood, then used their majority to force the community to repave all the roads. Repeatedly. Until the people who had refused to sell their houses were driven out by hundred thousand dollar bills for the pavement.
            • Private highways work well in certain cases. The problem is that they want every road in every neighborhood to be privatized. As in, you need to pay a toll to go from your house to the grocery store. A toll back. Basically, since everything would be private property, you have would have no right to travel unless you could afford to pay.

              This actually neatly summarizes the problems with Libertarians in a nutshell. They simplistically assume what's a good idea in one case is applicable to every case (e.g.,

              • I don't know where this comes from, I have never heard a Libertarian say all roads should privatized. Can you provide a link, or is this smoke?

                Right from the Party Platform [lp.org]:

                All public lands and resources, as well as claims thereto, except as explicitly allowed by the Constitution, shall be returned to private ownership, with the proceeds of sale going to retire public liabilities. Resource rights shall be defined as property rights, including riparian rights. All publicly owned infrastructures includi

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by falconwolf (725481)

                  I don't know where this comes from, I have never heard a Libertarian say all roads should privatized. Can you provide a link, or is this smoke?

                  Right from the Party Platform [lp.org]:
                  ...

                  Ah, neither on the snippet you provided nor on the actual page of the link you provided appears either "highway" or "road". I went ahead and searched the LP website using "road" and "privitize" [lp.org] and all I found was a post in a forum wherein a poster writes:

                  But [lp.org], many of our critics like to accuse us of not living i

                  • Ah, neither on the snippet you provided nor on the actual page of the link you provided appears either "highway" or "road".

                    What the platform said was, "ALL public lands and resources, as well as claims thereto, except as explicitly allowed by the Constitution..." The one thing you can say about Libertarians is that they like applying their beliefs in a psychopathically consistent way. The only mention of public roads in the constitution is for postal roads. If they say "all public lands", they mean ALL

        • That doesn't happen in every case. The highway system has not been privatized, for example, as many libertarians would like it to be. Thank god they're not and probably never will be in charge.

          Not all Libertarians want to privatize the highways, I am one of them. Libertarians want the government to follow the Constitution of the USA and it specifically gives the federal government the authority to run the highway system. There's at least two places it gives the authority, one where it says the governm

      • Ordo policy is what is needed, not laissez-faire.
    • Oh, yeah, because I'd really rather get my Internet service from PEPCO [blogspot.com] instead of Comcast. No, thanks. First you subsidize the hell out of the service and grant it a monopoly, until it's the only game in town. Then you ratchet up the rates -- and why not? It's not like people are going to go somewhere else.

      At least now I can maybe choose who I get screwed by: the phone company or the cable company; that's more of a choice than I have about my water or gas.

      The solution to a dearth of competition is not to el
    • a public utility that everyone should have a right to access, just like water or electricity.

      Read up on Enron, and you really wouldn't want the net manipulated in the same way that they screwed with the west coast power access.
      • by eln (21727)
        Sure, but that was made possible as a direct result of the privatization of the electrical grid in California, so I don't know if you're agreeing or disagreeing with the OP. The tone of his point seems to indicate he is not in favor of that sort of privatization, for exactly the sort of reason you mentioned.
  • Nobody knows/cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by packeteer (566398) <packeteer&subdimension,com> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:08PM (#17451094)
    It is sad but true that most people dont even know what net nuetrality is or they dont care if they do know. There are a ton of people that all they know is that there are gays out there, somewhere, in some city, and they dont like them getting married. This is a topic that will effect MANY people who are mostly oblivious to the topic.

    There is a lot of money AGAINT net nuetrality and not enough for it. On an issue that the average person doesn't care about few senator's are going to give up their potential re-election money just for a few informed techies. I am pessemistic about this like Lawrence Lessig, very fews things change in congress.
    • When it comes to technical issues most people assume, "Eh, those who know about it will figure it out." Actually that's probably true for most topics. It's simply assumed that those who are knowledgeable will be involved and make the right decisions. Too bad they're often wrong.
    • The cablecos/telcos are still running that incredibly deceptive anti-neutrality ad, too.
    • There is a lot of money AGAINT net nuetrality and not enough for it.

      I agree 100%. I have already made my 2007 donation to EFF [eff.org]. Have you?

  • Vetos (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frequency Domain (601421) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:09PM (#17451104)
    This president has used the veto less than any other president in history. I suspect that's about to change, now that Congress isn't his lap dog but the loyal opposition doesn't have veto-proof majorities. Don't get your hopes too high for massive changes. If anything, the biggest changes are likely to be in Congressional hearings - we might actually see some committees try to hold some of the "deciders" accountable for their decisions.
    • by BitterAndDrunk (799378) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:19PM (#17451232) Homepage Journal
      He doesn't have to veto, as he uses signing statements as a pseudo-line-item veto.

      More signing statements in history than any other president, including gems such as (paraphrased) "I'm signing this bill into law but I don't like it so it won't be enforced"

      I'm probably way off on grammar as the statement shouldn't be in quotes as it's not exact. . . but the gist is there.

      • by monoqlith (610041)
        I'm probably way off on grammar

        Nope, that sounds like something our president would write.
    • Re:Vetos (Score:5, Informative)

      by almeida (98786) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:26PM (#17451334)
      This president has used the veto less than any other president in history.


      Wikipedia says you're wrong [wikipedia.org].
      • Maybe the grandparent poster meant "approximately less". If somebody told me that one was approximately less than zero, I'd approximately believe them.

        More or less.

      • Wikipedia says you're wrong.

        Gee... assuming that article is up-to-date GWB has got exactly one veto to his name so far. I'm not a GWB fan by any stretch of the imagination but this is hairsplitting. GWB may not be everybody's idea of a good president but he has a looooooong way to go before he tops Franklin D. Roosevelt's grand total of 635 vetoes. GWB will have to veto at the rate of almost one bill per day if he want's to beat good old FDR before the 4-11-2008 presidential election and god help the USA and for that matter the whole

        • by linguae (763922)

          It would be very tough to beat FDR's record, however. FDR was president for four terms, from 1933 to his death in 1945. That's over twelve years. The US Constitution now limits the president to two terms. 635 vetoes in 8 years is very difficult to achieve.

          • by Nimey (114278)
            Actually three terms plus a tiny sliver of a fourth before he died.
          • The consitution has always limited a president to two terms. The US just made an exception in FDR's case because of his popularity.
      • by vertinox (846076)
        Wikipedia says you're wrong.

        The is quite interesting if you look at the history. Most of the early vetos were made on constitutional grounds or to protect the constitution.

        Now vetos are just for politicking.
    • by kwerle (39371)
      This president has used the veto less than any other president in history...
      (that you know of, anyway)

      A little research:
      Some Presidents who never vetoed a bill (in months):
      Thomas Jefferson: 96
      George W. Bush: 62
      John Adams: 48
      John Quincy Adams: 48
      Millard Filmore: 31
      • by pthisis (27352)
        Some Presidents who never vetoed a bill (in months): ...
        George W. Bush: 62


        No longer true as of July 2006:
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/5193998. stm [bbc.co.uk]
        "US President George W Bush has vetoed a controversial bill which would have lifted a ban on federal funding for new embryonic stem cell research."

        Add Taylor, Harrison, and Garfield to the "no vetoes" list.
    • I suspect that the Republicans will "play nice" with the Democrats now that they have subpeona power. More important than selling out to a lobbyist, is keeping their own prescious rears out of prison -- that is a powerful bit of persuasion. It all depends upon if the Democrats are serious about their real job; Restoring Democracy, Honor, and Sanity. Or they sell out indictments for pork. We shall see.

      I'm hoping for a lot of arrests, myself.
      • by jmorris42 (1458) *
        > It all depends upon if the Democrats are serious about their real job; Restoring Democracy, Honor, and Sanity.

        I don't know whether to laugh in your face or pat you on the head and send you on your way, as one would a child who still believes in Santa Claus.... at the age of fifteen.

        The Democrats will be doing their "Real Job" with gusto, consolidating and keeping POWER. For Democrats it means creating more dependency on government, enlarging the set of people who 'vote for a living', threatening the c
      • It all depends upon if the Democrats are serious about their real job; Restoring Democracy, Honor, and Sanity. Or they sell out indictments for pork.

        Barf! I don't expect the Democrats to do anything that's not in their own self interests. Republicans didn't and now Democrats won't.

        Falcon
  • by Warbringer87 (969664) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:15PM (#17451194)
    2 tiers is a step backward, not a step forward. Internet companies didn't create this content, in fact the content is the reason people pay them, to be able to access it. If you couldn't access the net for the stuff that you want, why bother with it? Companies that do this run the risk of users migrating to companies that don't, but not everyone has an alternative(ie, the whole wikipedia/qatar thing recently)

    From TFA
    The cable and telephone companies have fought net neutrality with a lavishly financed and misleading lobbying campaign
    A good reminder that every politician is in someone's pocket, regardless of political affiliation.
  • Edward Markey (Score:4, Informative)

    by sporkme (983186) * on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:27PM (#17451342) Homepage
    Certainly not that Edward Markey [iu.edu]
    The FBI raided Soghoian's Bloomington apartment and seized computers, equipment and papers Oct. 28, a day after Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., called for him to be arrested for creating a Web site that let people create fake airline boarding passes. Markey later withdrew the request.
  • It's far too hard to explain to the voting public exactly what's good about network neutralily without making overbroad statements that the telecoms can (appear to) counter. In fact, I very much doubt that most folks in Congress have any idea what it's about except in rhetorical terms: as a matter of profession, politicians have a fine sense of how "net neutrality" plays versus "dumb pipes" or whathaveyou, while explaining source-based throttling or whatever would probably leave them shrugging.

    So if they d
  • by the Gray Mouser (1013773) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:32PM (#17451412)
    All that is required for Net Neutrality to remain is for Congress to do nothing.

    They are remarkably good at that, especially with the divided government we have now: remember, it takes 60 senators to pass legislation, and the dems only have 51.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, things in the Senate aren't as partisan as all that. It still only takes 50+1 votes (possibly including the VP's) to pass legislation in the Senate. You only need 60 senators to stop a filibuster by a "lunatic fringe" minority of one or more (which can vary depending on the issue), and often times some of the same senators who vote to end debate don't vote for the bill in question. They just don't believe it's an issue worth filibustering over.

      I'm sure you'll see plenty of legislation passing t
    • All that is required for Net Neutrality to remain is for Congress to do nothing.

      They are remarkably good at that, especially with the divided government we have now: remember, it takes 60 senators to pass legislation, and the dems only have 51.

      That's what I like about the Democrats having taken over congress. Maybe now nothing will get done. I hope we have a lot of gridlocks, and get government out of our hair.

      Falcon
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:50PM (#17451622) Journal
    Net Neutrality is a solution to a hypothetical problem that could exist. Not one that does exist. And it's not even the right solution to it. The right solution is to increase competition. On the other hand, any legislation will risk unintended consequences.

    I am never going to approve of stopping people from doing what we want them to do just to stop them from doing what they're not going to do.
    • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:19PM (#17451890) Homepage Journal
      Actually, you've got it backwards. Net neutrality is the "state of nature" for Internet services. Non-net neutrality is the hypothetical solution. The problem is imposing your choices on users so you can lock them into your proprietary services.

      If you want to see how a non-neutral net works, look no further than your cell phone. Chances are it has a camera, and for many users the camera can only be used with your network provider's lame "picture mail" service. You may even access your own email service from your phone, but it still doesn't matter. You have to use their picture mail service to ship the picture to your regular email, then use your regular email to forward it to where you want it to go.

      Try getting basic information on how to use your phone to give your laptop network access. Sure, it's on the feature bullet list, but if you call tech support to find out how, you'll get an earful of bad attitude. Seriously, I had to go through several levels of technical support to find out the number to dial to access network service, and the guy I got literally screamed at me as soon as the world "Bluetooth" was out of my mouth. Now at the time I worked for a company that resold this vendor's service, so I called a manager we worked with to report a serious breach of professionalism. As soon as he found out what it was about, his attitude was anybody to tried to access Internet services other than his company's was on their own, even though Internet data access was a listed feature of their cell service.

      This shows you what the network provider's natural attitude is towards interoperability, when they start to get into the content business. They want to lock you into their inferior proprietary services, and put road blocks up to your accessing the services you want, then grudgingly allow you to use the services you paid for if you can beat the basic information you need out of them.

      A non-neutral net is the beginning of the end of competition in Internet content services. It will soon become like broadcast radio: a wasteland of redundant "formats".
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:04PM (#17451768)
    The idea of losing net neutrality is nothing compared to the threat we face from Howard Berman's rise to power as chair of the IP subcommittee. He is fully in the pocket of the content cabal, and I suspect that that subcommittee will see a whirlwind tour of every draconian fair-use-revoking freedom-hating DRM-infested idea ever put to paper.

    And to think we were so close to having Berman promote himself to where he wouldn't be able to do any damage by chairing whatever foreign relations committee it was he was looking at. We would have had Rick Boucher chairing this committee, which would have been a serious victory for fair use advocates worldwide.

    I wonder how much the content cabal paid Berman not to take the better job.

  • Good luck. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by /dev/trash (182850) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:36PM (#17452050) Homepage Journal
    Pelosi says it'll be a 100 hours of legislation to get the country back on track. What every one forgets is that a) the President can still veto 2) even if the veto is overriden, who will enforce it?
    • by MobyDisk (75490)
      who will enforce it?
      You, me, and our lawyers. If Verizon starts sticking banner ads on my web site, or slowing my downloads, or crippling my VOIP, then I will take the fight to them.
  • Until we rein in big business we will never get anywhere. I have advocated, for many years, a cap to the size of businesses in the US (and anywhere else for that matter). Too much power consolidated down to any one business is just asking for trouble because it is the nature of business people to do the same things that Microsoft, AT&T, and other businesses do - which is to drive your competition out of business so you have a monopoly and once you've established yourself as a monopoly to mistreat anyo
    • I don't know where to start. Well, I guess I do:

      Our government is supposed to be absolutely, positively, without remorse, without regard to anyone - against allowing monopolies to exist. They are NEVER supposed to exist unless they are government run monopolies (like the US Mail originally was).

      Not true. There are certain business practices that are illegal if employed by a company with monopoly power.

      The idea is - if a company makes X number of dollars a year, then it must split up into two companies to

      • by Audacious (611811)

        Not true. There are certain business practices that are illegal if employed by a company with monopoly power.

        Isn't that what I said? If you don't think so maybe you should read my message again.

        So you're basically against economies of scale? Pro work-duplication? I suppose this would be great for middle managers, but for everyone else it would suck. It would actually hobble competition because it would remove the incentive to grow.

        Never said that. Either the economies of scale nor the Pro work-duplication

        • Our government is supposed to be absolutely, positively, without remorse, without regard to anyone - against allowing monopolies to exist. They are NEVER supposed to exist unless they are government run monopolies (like the US Mail originally was).

          Not true. There are certain business practices that are illegal if employed by a company with monopoly power.

          Isn't that what I said? If you don't think so maybe you should read my message again.

          When I said that "There are certain business practices that are ille

          • by Audacious (611811)
            I can most readily agree that it would be badly administered. But then - that is a part of the problem as well. And you may not like the methods I suggest - but doing nothing is worse than doing something. Which is what is happening presently. Slaps on hands are not what are needed. We need laws in the same vein as those which were passed after the last great depression. When companies then, as now, ran amuck, did as they pleased, and caused great hardship for the people of America.

            Also, I would not sa
    • by RLiegh (247921) *
      How do you propose to "rein in" big business?

      Yeah...that's what I thought.

      Didn't read past your first sentence...it was tantamount to saying "Until we all win the lottery, we'll always" or "Until we all ${other ridiculous analogy}". There's no practical way to rein in the government or big business. It seriously, literally is not possible to do; not in any meaningful way at any rate.
      • by Audacious (611811)

        Didn't read past your first sentence....


        Yes, I can see by your answer that you didn't. Too bad really, but then - that is your decision - not mine.

        And yes, we can rein in both our government and big business.
    • (Ignoring some of the other silliness above)

      The reason the tax system isn't as simple as just taking a percentage of earnings is because anytime someone suggests such a thing it is met with howls of how it is "regressive" and what is needed is a "progressive" tax system. What that means, most people don't have a clue but it sounds nice.

      The folks complaining about simplified tax systems are concerned because they think rich people should support poor people and people with high incomes can afford higher tax
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 75th Trombone (581309)

        Congress just needs to say "Everyone has to pay X amount of what they make each year."

        Wrong. [fairtax.org]

      • by Audacious (611811)
        You are very correct in what you are saying about our tax system. However, there is one thing which I would add to your last statement and that is "so long as no one cares." Because that is the basis of many problems with our country presently. The "I don't care," attitude which I hear from many different people. Young, old, or even in between. As if whatever our government decides to do no one has any control over.
    • That's tough. Our corporate laws explicitly state that pursuit of profit is the ONLY thing a corporation should do. Anything less will invite criminal prosecution by stock holders against the CEO or Directors.
      This has help up many times in courts.
      That is why while BP CEO implemented Kyoto himself, he still refuses to renounce claims to dig up Alaskan frontier.
      Profits from Alaska trump the savings from a image makeover.
      If you state Profit is the only motive permitted, then expect the corporations to behave t

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