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FCC Vote Marks Effort To Take Greater Control of the Web 323

Posted by timothy
from the why-yes-I-would-like-more-pie dept.
GovTechGuy writes "The FCC voted today to open an inquiry into how the broadband industry is regulated, the first step in a controversial attempt to assert greater regulatory control over Internet service providers. In a 3-2 vote the Democratic members of the Commission voted to move forward with the FCC's proposal to reclassify broadband as a telecom service, increasing the regulation it is subject to. The move also has large implications for net neutrality, which FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski has made a focus under his watch."
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FCC Vote Marks Effort To Take Greater Control of the Web

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  • Take Control? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jornak (1377831) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:32PM (#32606392)

    Yeah, the headline on this one is a bit sensationalist. The FCC is for prevention, not takeover.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jnaujok (804613)
      Because no government program, started with good intentions, has ever led to making it worse.
      • Re:Take Control? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@noSpAM.booksunderreview.com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:35PM (#32606430) Homepage Journal

        And it's not like the current administration has talked about installing kill switches for portions of the Internet.... just to protect the internet right, not to control it...

        • by jgagnon (1663075)

          And even if they did install them (unlikely) they would be sued into oblivion the first time they were used. Especially if it blocked a foreign embassy or other diplomatic presence. Besides, the economic hit would mean political suicide to whomever was responsible for the switch being flipped.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          You need to dins someplce beside /. to get your information.

          Kill switch. please.

        • And it's not like the current administration has talked about installing kill switches for portions of the Internet.... just to protect the internet right, not to control it...

          That's not the "current administration", that's one nutty congresscritter who's been trying to do that for a while now.

          • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Informative)

            by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@noSpAM.booksunderreview.com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:51PM (#32607252) Homepage Journal

            I guess checking Google News for Internet Kill Switch [google.com] is too much trouble.... this reply is at least as much for the person who said to get news from somewhere other than Slashdot, but it's been proposed and talked about by more than one Congressman. There are multiple bills mentioned in the below quote alone [cnet.com]:

            News about the Leiberman Senate bill has been in the mainstream press recently, and they've had hearings on it:

            Philip Reitinger, deputy undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security, agreed that the executive branch "may need to take extraordinary measures" to respond to cyberthreats. But Reitinger said that "we believe it is preferable" to have a single organization--that is, an arm of the DHS--handle physical and Internet infrastructure rather than create a new office.

            In addition, Reitinger said, the 1934 Communications Act already gives the president broad emergency power. "Congress and the administration should work together to identify any needed adjustments to the act, as opposed to developing overlapping legislation," he said.

            Section 706 of that nearly century-old law says if there is a "threat of war," the president may seize control of any "facilities or stations for wire communication"--archaic wording that nevertheless would presumably sweep in broadband providers or Web sites. Anyone who disobeys can be imprisoned for a year.

            The idea of an Internet "kill switch" that the president could flip is not new. A draft Senate proposal that CNET obtained in August allowed the White House to "declare a cybersecurity emergency," and another from Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) would have explicitly given the government the power to "order the disconnection" of certain networks or Web sites.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Some have, most don't.

      • You know, I hear this a lot.

        Name... Five.

        I mean, go ahead and call me a troll, but I just want to know what government programs started with good intentions (besides perhaps, wars) have made things worse.

        I'm sure there are some, I'm just ignorant to what they are.

        • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:47PM (#32606554)

          I don't know about five, but how about the CIA

        • Re:Take Control? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:53PM (#32606626)

          Prohibition
          War on Drugs
          Japanese Internment Camps
          National Security Letters
          Register for Sex offenders

          Hmm, I'm sure someone could object that one or perhaps all of these programs didn't cause any abuse... but that's just from atop of my head, and I'm not even American (as you can no doubt tell from my spelling).

        • Re:Take Control? (Score:4, Informative)

          by PapayaSF (721268) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:15PM (#32606876) Journal
          1. Prohibition: Meant to improve health and morality, it lead to vastly more organized crime, murder, and health problems from bad liquor.
          2. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the CRA: Meant to help people buys homes, they helped fuel a housing bubble and subsequent crash which caused many foreclosures. The Fannie/Freddie collapse may cost taxpayers up to a $1 trillion.
          3. Urban renewal: the destruction of poorer neighborhoods of single-family homes and small apartment buildings to build giant housing projects, which quickly turned into much worse places to live.
          4. The Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909, meant to give farmers land, led to massive soil erosion and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
          5. The Aswan Dam: To go outside the US, the dam stopped the silt from flowing down the Nile and fertilizing crops. Now much of the electricity produced by the dam goes to making artificial fertilizer now needed by the farmers.
          6. There are many more, but here's a bonus, favorite example: the Trabant. Designed and built by the East German government, this notoriously poor and polluting car holds a special place in economic history. It's not uncommon for business to lose money when the cost of making a product is less than the product is worth. But after the Berlin Wall fell and the books could be examined, something unique was discovered: the value of a Trabant was less than the value of the steel, glass, plastic, rubber, and other raw materials that went into it. AFAIK no other mass-produced product has ever been so "value-subtracted."

          But to get more on-topic, here's my problem with the FCC action: what problem, exactly, are they solving? I've read lots here about net neutrality and all the horrible things it's supposed to prevent, but have any of those horrible things actually, you know, happened? If not, what's the rush? Why not wait to see exactly what the abuses are, so that we can know what problems the government is supposed to be fixing?

          • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:19PM (#32606920) Homepage Journal

            I've read lots here about net neutrality and all the horrible things it's supposed to prevent, but have any of those horrible things actually, you know, happened?

            Comcast has been caught actually dropping certain types of traffic. High-up ISP corporate officers have been publicly claiming that they should have a right to charge the sites that their customers visit.

            • by PapayaSF (721268)
              Your second example is still only talk, so it doesn't count. As for the first, sure, Comcast was throttling BitTorrent (for a while, at least; I don't know the situation now). Still, I think that's pretty thin grounds for the federal government jumping into broadband regulation.
              • Re:Take Control? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:53PM (#32607274)

                Your second example is still only talk, so it doesn't count.

                Yeah, except the talk started soon after the regulations were relaxed in 2005.
                Why should we wait for them to make good on their threats?
                What was the problem with the regulations before 2005?
                What benefit have we seen from those regulations being dropped?

          • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by eiMichael (1526385) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:38PM (#32607756)

            Once the broadband net is no longer neutral, the case to argue about keeping it neutral is already over. Right now the broadband net is theoretically neutral, so it makes sense to treat it like other neutral networks (e.g. telephone).

            Once broadband is not carrying mostly neutral traffic, but paid-partner traffic the argument that is should be treated like a neutral network becomes much harder to argue. That is why the FCC wants to make this move now.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Ixokai (443555)

            Frankly, I'm happy for the FCC to step in. Why? Because business-as-usual isn't cutting it.

            I live in a major metropolitan area, and my broadband access is *abysmal*. I have two basic choices:

            DSL from AT&T (perhaps resold) and cable from Time Warner. Both are horrible. Exactly how horrible depends from year to year.

            Currently, I'm on Time Warner, and my experience is oh... 50% of the time its just fine. 20% of the time, it doesn't even work at all for an hour or two. As for the rest, its slow. These bad t

        • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:16PM (#32606884) Journal
          OK, so the right-wingers on slashdot may consider me a left-wing radical pinko socialist commie bastard... but even I can name five.

          But that's incidental to the real problem... for this industry, are we better off with government regulation, or with service providers self-regulating through market forces? I think you'd have to be heavy on the Austrian side to think that market forces can properly regulate an industry that is dominated by local monopolies.

          IMO, even IF the 'teh gubbermint' can't do anything right, it's still a better bet than having people whose interests are directly opposed to ours in charge of regulating themselves via market forces in an uncompetitive market.
          • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Informative)

            by d3ac0n (715594) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:47PM (#32607204)

            The problem is, how did the market become "uncompetitive" in the first place?

            Oh yeah, Government interference. First by creating and enforcing local monopolies rather than simply selling right of way space to anyone that wanted it, and second by scooping up several billion in taxpayer money and just GIVING it to the big telcos to create and infrastructure.

            If the government had just stayed the hell out, we wouldn't be having this discussion today as the Internet would likely already be far more built-out and with way more players in the market, each of them significantly smaller than the giant megacorps we have involved right now.

            The BEST thing the government can do is to eliminate local monopoly legislation,(along with any other regulation making the barrier to entry so damned high) and demand a full refund of the money we wasted on the megacorps. Then give that money back to the taxpayers.

            And before some "hair on fire" leftist comes along and tries to beat me with the "You don't want ANY regulation!" straw man argument; OF COURSE I want SOME regulation. I want the absolute MINIMUM amount of regulation possible, and ONLY those regulations put in place by elected officials. Unelected bureaucrats should not be allowed to create regulation and any regulation created by them should be summarily deleted from the record. PERIOD.

            • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by bryonak (836632) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:24PM (#32607618)

              If the government had just stayed the hell out, we wouldn't be having this discussion today as the Internet would likely already be far more built-out and with way more players in the market, each of them significantly smaller than the giant megacorps we have involved right now.

              Uhh, history teaches us the opposite... not with earlier internets of course, but with roads, plumbing and all kinds of infrastructure that suffers if forced to pay off quickly. The situation is greatly improved if there is an organisation willing to invest huge sums _for the good of the people_ without monetary return in prospect. This has always been a government in the past.
              Building for profit from ground up doesn't get equal access to everyone, but equal and neutral access is something our society, you and me _extremely_ profit from in hindsight.

              With an internet built on private money only, we'd have a fragmented mess of incompatibility.

              For a somewhat related example, just look at the OS platform market today. The OS is just infrastructure, the applications are what matters.
              Now we might not see the long term benefit of everyone having the "same" OS to run the applications form. But if this happened "magically"*** today, people in twenty years would say how silly we were back then not to realise this obvious improvement.
              Has happened with currency (you know, when each city had it's own coinage), rail track standardisation, trading tolls, etc.

              *** I don't care which OS, just that it enables everyone to run all applications. Obviously this is not realistic anyway because of very practical reasons, i.e. multibillion dollar companies having some objections there.

            • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Floody (153869) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:33PM (#32607710)

              The problem is, how did the market become "uncompetitive" in the first place?

              Oh yeah, Government interference. First by creating and enforcing local monopolies rather than simply selling right of way space to anyone that wanted it, and second by scooping up several billion in taxpayer money and just GIVING it to the big telcos to create and infrastructure.

              Nice attempt at revisionist history. Ma Bell became a regulated monopoly after they were sued under antitrust law in 1913. They were sued because AT&T started buying up all the competition in 1907. They became "uncompetitive" all by themselves by functionally eliminating competition and purchasing as much right-of-way as possible to prevent new competitors from entering the market.

            • by FatSean (18753) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:40PM (#32607764) Homepage Journal

              Without regulation, those with the most wealth have the best chance of making even more wealth. Markets are not necessarily closed systems, but you can't just throw "growth" at the issue of wealth migrating into the hands of a few.

              So your very first statement, which seems to put all blame for 'uncompetitive' markets on government regulation, sounds simplistic and even a bit troll-like.

            • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:42PM (#32607776) Journal

              Oh yeah, Government interference. First by creating and enforcing local monopolies rather than simply selling right of way space to anyone that wanted it

              Why do you insist on repeating this as if it were truth? Do you still not recognize the existence of natural monopolies? Even the Austrians recognize the existence of natural monopolies.

              and second by scooping up several billion in taxpayer money and just GIVING it to the big telcos to create and infrastructure.

              That has little to do with the creation or reason for existence of the telco monopolies. They existed prior to that, and would exist even without it. Massive fixed costs for providing telco service ensure the existence of those monopolies.

              If the government had just stayed the hell out, we wouldn't be having this discussion today as the Internet would likely already be far more built-out and with way more players in the market, each of them significantly smaller than the giant megacorps we have involved right now.

              That is just about the funniest thing I've read today. Market actors consolidate due to economies of scale, in any market where economies of scale exist.

              The BEST thing the government can do is to eliminate local monopoly legislation,(along with any other regulation making the barrier to entry so damned high)

              The elephant in the middle of the room you so clumsily step around is that the massive capital required to achieve economies of scale in the telco world is a bigger barrier to market for would-be entrants than anything the government adds. Without the guaranty of monopoly, there wouldn't *be* a telco provider in a lot of areas. No one wants to sink millions in up-front costs when they can't be sure of having customers.

              Unelected bureaucrats should not be allowed to create regulation and any regulation created by them should be summarily deleted from the record. PERIOD.

              That's a recipe for disaster. The people writing the regs would have even less understanding of the industries they are regulating. So we'd have even MORE regulations written by lobbyists for the industries that are supposed to be regulated.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ganjadude (952775)
          CIA DEA homeland security FCC FDA.. I could go on
      • Re:Take Control? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:03PM (#32606750) Homepage

        Because letting corporations run completely amok has never caused grave economic consequences.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Skuld-Chan (302449)

        Like the internet itself?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nine-times (778537)

        Yeah, this is a terrible argument. I'm sorry, but it just doesn't make sense. Essentially you're implying that the government should do nothing because *some* government programs have had problems. It's not really any smarter than suggesting that we should outlaw all profit-generating companies because some of them have caused economic damage.

    • by cowscows (103644)

      Also it's not about the web specifically, it's about the infrastructure that brings the entire internet (including the web) to the american people.

  • In before... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Itchyeyes (908311)

    In before the right wingers start ranting about how net neutrality violates the principles of the free market. (FYI, it doesn't)

    • Re:In before... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Miseph (979059) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:40PM (#32606490) Journal

      Don't be silly, of course it does. And so do prohibitions on human slavery. The Free Market just isn't nearly so great as people make it out to be.

      • Re:In before... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Itchyeyes (908311) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:51PM (#32606590) Homepage

        Ok, well first off I have to apologize. My OP was a little flame-baitish because I didn't really know how to get started on my point. :-)

        The point that I want to make is that the free market, to the extent that we think of it, has limits, or at least limits to where it's beneficial to society, something a lot of people fail to recognize. Note that I didn't say net neutrality doesn't violate the free market, only that it doesn't violate the principles of the free market, which are that free and open trade between parties produces a net benefit.

        The reason it doesn't violate those principles is because the current state US broadband exhibits one of the primary market failures, which is a lack of adequate competition to keep producers from gouging their customers.

        • Re:In before... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by selven (1556643) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:23PM (#32606966)

          An even bigger reason is because all the ISPs they're trying to regulate only managed to get so powerful because the government gave them public money and allowed them to put wires up all over the place ignoring property rights, thus effectively setting them up as monopolies. Of course companies that use public funds and get special privileges from the government should be regulated.

        • Re:In before... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nschubach (922175) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:28PM (#32607026) Journal

          You do know that it's government keeping only a few Cable providers available don't you? (ie: I can't start up my own cable company tomorrow and offer service to my neighborhood without going through my local government.) They also sign deals with cable companies to have exclusive rights to areas for certain periods of time (effectively granting a monopoly to said company.)

          You want government to fix a government problem by adding more government?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by d34thm0nk3y (653414)
            You do know that it's government keeping only a few Cable providers available don't you? (ie: I can't start up my own cable company tomorrow and offer service to my neighborhood without going through my local government.) They also sign deals with cable companies to have exclusive rights to areas for certain periods of time (effectively granting a monopoly to said company.)

            You want government to fix a government problem by adding more government?

            How else do you propose cable companies secure the righ
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by StikyPad (445176)

            Yes.

            What you seem to be asserting is that the source of the problem cannot be the source of the solution, which is not only ridiculous, it's backwards. I create problems every day that I have to solve. I lose my keys. I piss somebody off. In many cases, nobody else will fix the problem; in others, nobody *can*. The source of the problem is the first and best source of the solution. It's only when the source cannot or will not fix itself, and those problems are harming self or others, that external inf

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mellon (7048)

            This is a bit unfair, since the reason this situation exists is that the cable and telco operators lobbied for it. It's illegal in many states for a municipality to start an ISP in competition with any commercial operator. And it's not illegal for you to start your own ISP, contrary to your assertion. It's just expensive, and you may not be able to use the public rights of way to do it. Why? It's expensive because you have to dig up every street in a city to put in your cables. And digging up al

          • Re:In before... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:42PM (#32609584) Homepage Journal

            You do know that it's government keeping only a few Cable providers available don't you? (ie: I can't start up my own cable company tomorrow and offer service to my neighborhood without going through my local government.) They also sign deals with cable companies to have exclusive rights to areas for certain periods of time (effectively granting a monopoly to said company.)

            You want government to fix a government problem by adding more government?

            Municipal government != state government != federal government. While in general, governments at the lower levels are better at serving the interests of their citizens, it's not a hard-and-fast rule. As an example, "fix[ing] a (municipal and state) government problem by adding more (federal) government" was exactly how we got rid of Jim Crow laws. The monopoly status of cable providers, and the power it gives them over the internet in the age of broadband, is a problem which clearly is not going to be resolved at the municipal or state level, nor is the free market going to invisible-hand it away. If you've got a better alternative than the proposed very mild federal intervention, feel free to present it.

      • by spikenerd (642677)

        Don't be silly, of course it does. And so do prohibitions on human slavery. The Free Market just isn't nearly so great as people make it out to be.

        You have a funny definition of free market. Giving one person the freedom to walk all over other peoples' freedoms is less free, not more. A system that maximizes freedom must necessarily regulate bullies, monopolies, tyrants, and the likes of Comcast. ...and I think that's easily as great as people make it out to be.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mr_matticus (928346)

          You have a funny definition of free market. Giving one person the freedom to walk all over other peoples' freedoms is less free, not more. A system that maximizes freedom must necessarily regulate bullies, monopolies, tyrants, and the likes of Comcast.

          No, you're the one with a funny definition.

          "A system that maximizes freedom" by forced redistribution of power or wealth isn't a free market. It may be a "fair" or "equitable" or "egalitarian" or an "open" market, but any system that imposes restrictions on the actions of some or all parties is inherently less free than one imposing fewer or no restrictions. The perfectly free market, in other words, must by definition be totally unregulated. But unlimited freedom is not a virtue unto itself.

          Orderly free

      • Well it depends on what you mean by a "free market". Is a "free market" simply one that has not government control or regulation? Or is it one where the people buying/selling/trading on that market have free and open choice between many alternatives? I think a lot of people intend the former when they say "free market", but the theoretical economic benefits that people talk about (e.g. the "invisible hand") come from the latter.

        In the latter sense, the idea of having a "free market" is incompatible with

    • Re:In before... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:58PM (#32606698) Journal

      But Comcast (or Cox or Cablevision or.....) isn't a free market. It's government-created monopoly and therefore the government needs to regulate the monopoly to ensure it doesn't abuse its power. Just the same way electric monopolies or natural gas monopolies are regulated.

      I'm a right winger and I support Net Neutrality as necessary.

      And yes I approve this message.

      • by Itchyeyes (908311)

        Well if you're just going to make my argument for me it's no fun.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          You could add that internet providers should be regulated the same as phone companies.

          I wonder if these pseudo-conservatives are old enough to remember Ma Bell.

        • Okay well here's something you'll probably disagree with:

          - I think the existence of modern technology (fiber) means there's no longer a need for a monopoly. Let the government run 100 fibers under the street, and lease each one to a different company (comcast, cox, apple, google, time-warner, etc).

          Then let each homeowner decide which fiber he wants to tap into. True competition.

          • Re:In before... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by SydShamino (547793) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:52PM (#32607264)

            But but... that means the government has a monopoly on pulling cable!

            Seriously I agree with you, but the typical pro-business free-market thinker will tell you that you are a big-government liberal who wants to take over or put out of business the local cable and telephone companies by assuming government ownership of last-mile fiber.

            Instead we should let each and every company with a few billion dollars to spend come along and tear up every street to lay their own fiber. (And no, we can't pull another line in the same conduit. Either the company that owns the conduit shouldn't be forced to host their competition, or the conduit itself is a government monopoly that must be abolished!)

            Were I a land developer, and if the local government didn't force me to let the local cable and telcos run lines to every house in my new subdivision, I'd tell them both to GTFO, pull my own fibers from each new house to my own CO (fibers owned and managed by the HOA or each homeowner), and then encourage any and every company wanting to service my neighborhood to run a trunk to my CO.

            Someone would do it - heck I bet Google would do it - and then the local cable and telephone companies would scramble to do it, too.

  • The implications of this for net neutrality are important so I'm wondering how this effects the recent court ruling that stated the FCC didn't have the power to regulate them http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_15160454 [mercurynews.com] Does this coming out of committee start the process that will allow a new law which will make the court ruling moot? If so, then hooray!

    • The law gives the FCC several categories to put things in, and gives them different powers over each category. That ruling said they were trying to use powers from category A on ISPs while ISPs were in category B. So now they're trying to move ISPs into category A.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

        The law gives the FCC several categories to put things in, and gives them different powers over each category. That ruling said they were trying to use powers from category A on ISPs while ISPs were in category B. So now they're trying to move ISPs into category A.

        More to the point - in the early 2000s the FCC moved ISPs from Category A to Category B, now they are trying to move them back to where they were originally.

        The first (erroneous IMNHO) move to category B (aka 'information service providers') was finalized by the NCTA v Brand X [wikipedia.org] scotus ruling that said the FCC has the authority to determine which category an ISP falls into.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yeah, hooray, as an Administration that has several high ranking members who are on record as saying that freedom of speech is over rated moves to give itself regulatory authority over the one place that it receives criticism.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:43PM (#32606522)

    1 out of 10 government systems fail, and of course they will. The government puts out a lot of ideas per year. Medicaid was the one that worked. Social Security was one of the ones that didn't.

    I find it amazing that corporations are overstepping their bounds and people complain that net neutrality with negate the ability for companies to regulate your internet. In short, they want to take away your freedom unless you give them more money.

    Why is it people think the government doing absolutely anything is infringing upon rights but when a corporation does it then it's okay?

  • by bmo (77928) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:53PM (#32606620)

    With the FCC being smacked down with regards to "lol you can't regulate us" the first step has been done to regulate the industry, not because of some wild-eyed's bureaucrat's fantasy, but because it needs to be done.

    The days of the mom-and-pop ISP are over and done with. The lack of regulation let these thrive, but the large telecoms and cable companies have gobbled up every single one of these since the dot-bomb. They are gone, never to be seen again.

    Now everyone is left with either a local monopoly or at best a duopoly of broadband providers, who are increasingly out to screw the customer, like Comcast has been shown to do. Comcast wanted to play hardball. Well, here it is, guys, the big-time. Don't say we didn't warn you.

    --
    BMO

    • Just curious - What do you think of recent comments from Obama's employee Cass Sunnstein, that the FCC should mandate equal representation? i.e. If democrats.org has a posting about some political event, then they must also insert a popup window that links to republicans.org. Like a Fairness Doctrine for the web?

      • I'm pretty sure there's nothing that would give them the power to do that; you don't need a FCC license to run a website like you do to run a radio/TV transmitter or a phone/cable company.
    • Now everyone is left with either a local monopoly or at best a duopoly of broadband providers

      One of the proposals that always sounded good to me: Forbid the company that provides the physical infrastructure from offering any service. So for example, if Verizon builds the FIOS network, then they can sell access to ISPs (and voice/television providers) but they cannot act as provider themselves. Further, make it so that they cannot negotiate special/exclusive deals with anyone, but have to offer the same terms/prices to all comers.

  • by bipbop (1144919) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:55PM (#32606658)
    In general media it's forgivable, but can't we make an effort at technical accuracy on Slashdot? I didn't see anything in the summary or in the article itself about "the Web".
    • by ALeavitt (636946)
      The Web is a subset of the Internet. Exercising greater control of the Internet implies exercising greater control of things that fall under the heading of the Internet.
  • by Tobor the Eighth Man (13061) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:57PM (#32606676)

    This headline and summary blow and are almost exactly contrary to the facts. The FCC's position, as outlined here [broadband.gov] is that the FCC is identifying *only* the transmission component of broadband as a telecom service. In practical terms, this means precisely that they will *not* pursue net neutrality-based oversight at this time, and will ignore content-related matters in favor of simple access and transmission oversight.

    In other words, the "web" itself is exactly the thing they are not trying to take greater control of.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Knara (9377)
      You don't understand. It has something to do with the Obama administration, and therefore its a naked power grab moving us closer to socialism and the end of The American Way of Life.
      • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnu. o r g> on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:13AM (#32611258) Homepage

        moving us closer to socialism and the end of The American Way of Life.

        Yeah, I know! That would be so horrible!

        Instead, you'd have socialism, where your ability to get a good education and a good job doesn't depend on how much money your parents have but how skilled you are at what you do. When you get sick, you get cured instead of gouged. When you buy a cell phone, you get serviced by well-regulated telephone companies---you don't get gouged*.

        (* seriously---you're on the hook for 2 years?? I'm on the hook for 6 months, paying 10$/mo. for internet on my N900. My operator doesn't care whether I tether, use skype, or run my landline through asterisk on my laptop via the internet onto my cell; they just give me 1 gig / mo. and 0.10$/minute; and once I'm off the expensive contract, I'm back to getting 50 free minutes and 50 texts per month. That's *free*, zero charge).

        I'm not really sure why it works, but Danes are the happiest people on earth (or were in 2007): http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=4086092&page=1 [go.com]

  • I suspect that a large part of this was due to their desire to go after and shut down providers that peddle spam, child porn, warez, and other services that aren't legal. I'm all for that. To be honest, the net has been a little too free and "wild west" like - to the point where the bandits and claim-jumpers have all but taken over.

    And it's not like they don't scan and know everything already that you or I do online anyways. This just gives them the means to regulate the service providers and force them t

  • The FCC is trying to move broadband providers from class a to class b. They don't want regulatory control over all aspects, just want to make sure that every website gets "equal bandwidth opportunity". Think of the internet as a series of tubes...
  • This means things like common carrier rules and such will start to play.
  • Verizon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VGR (467274) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:41PM (#32607158)

    Reading the article, I see that Verizon is against this, so I'm probably for it.

    I especially grimaced when I read this part:

    [Verizon's top lobbyist said] "Rather than attempting to make the new world of broadband fit into the regulatory scheme of the old telephone world, the FCC should acknowledge that this is an issue Congress should address."

    That's more transparent than usual, isn't it? In case it's not, I'll translate: "How are we supposed to have free reign to let America's infrastructure steadily decay, if regulation comes from someone other than the politicians we bought?"

  • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @05:58PM (#32607314)

    Seriously, regulating telecoms does not equal controlling the web.

    The reason we want net neutrality is so that network carriers do not control the web, just offer their service without unreasonably interfering in the way a customer uses the network. Reasonable limits could be throttling heavy users WHEN there is high demand in order to more reasonably share network traffic, or when a user is using the network in a criminal way.

    For example, without neutral networks, we could have a far-fetched hypothetical situation where an ISP limits the availability or performance of services from competitors, and gives preferential treatment to their own services.

    I know that the web becoming more of a high-bandwidth place tossing around videos is pretty far-fetched. I know that it would be pretty crazy for ISP's to start competing with video on demand and telephone providers. I know that it would be ludicrous to expect some cable monopoly, such as Comcast, to manage to come along and snatch up some media outlet, say NBC, around the same time that they push for bandwidth caps and tiered pricing. Certainly they would never do something like make those limits apply to other media outlets, but not apply those limits to their own content.

    Furthermore, nobody could imagine that they could manage to produce astroturf movements to gain sympathy from the average Joe so that not only can they get away with it, people will be begging the big bad government to stop interfering with their plans.

    It would never even get this far, so we don't even have to worry about the unthinkable future possibilities, such as ISPs giving network priority and affect the actual network performance of their own content, compared to their competitors. We won't have to worry about ISPs extorting money from websites in order to give them enhanced performance (at the expense of the non-paying sites). We don't have to worry about them rerouting traffic, or trying to limit criticism by controlling the web.

    Really, they couldn't even get halfway there without a lot of protest, right?

    It's not like they were allowed to become a monopoly through the help of our government anyway.

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler

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