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House Democrats Shelve Net Neutrality Proposal 221

Posted by kdawson
from the neutron-walks-into-a-bar dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "A compromise on net neutrality appears to be as likely as Google and China becoming BFFs. House Democrats have pulled the plug on efforts to work out a compromise among phone, cable, and Internet companies. House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, who shelved the proposal late on Wednesday in the face of Republican opposition, said, 'If Congress can't act, the FCC must,' and called this development 'a loss for consumers.' Internet companies and public interest groups say the new regulations are needed to keep phone and cable companies from playing favorites with traffic, while those companies insist they need flexibility so high-bandwidth applications don't slow down their systems." The net neutrality debate seems to have fallen victim to the extreme polarization evident in the larger political culture.
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House Democrats Shelve Net Neutrality Proposal

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  • by cybrthng (22291) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:41AM (#33757550) Journal

    As some of you know Xbox Live is getting a cool update called ESPN3. The concept of the app & system is pretty amazing, technology has come a long way to make it so. What you probably didn't know is that to get the deal, Microsoft had to get the ISP's to agree to license the content for Internet Users in order to broadcast ESPN3 over the internet. Not all ISP's bought the license, so not everyone will have ESPN3 - even if you're a Xbox live subscriber.

    This is an area where net neutrality should shine. It should protect Microsoft and allow them to license content to distribute and it should protect consumers to not be held hostage to a carrier paying for content as a middleman. I hope this EPSN3 thing can light the fire under the community so they understand how net neutrality can impact them. I know this isn't the "typical case of concern" in regards to p2p or throttling or priority of services, but this just goes to show that Internet Traffic is already beeing bought and sold not just as a commodity itself but something that people have now had to license in order to push specific traffic over that commodity on as a carrier - not just a distributor.

    With that said, the app is freaking amazing and i don't even like much sports. The fact you can watch scores, hedge on who will win and i'm sititng in my living room watching HD games on demand or live is pretty awesome. I admire comcast for building out the network to support stuff and maybe, that is what the license agreed to but damn, these backroom deals are dissapointing for the consumer and only pollute the fairness & equality of having broadband now into having to chose a carrior that has the right license deals, not just the best performance.

    • by rotide (1015173) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:51AM (#33757624)
      As far as I understand it, this ESPN3 issue isn't a choice of MS nor ISPs. This is a choice of Disney/ESPN themselves charging for access to their services. Basically, providers have to pay ESPN for access. If they don't pay ESPN, no ESPN3. This has nothing to do with ISP's deciding what to and not to allow you to see.
      • by j0nb0y (107699) <jonboy300NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:10AM (#33757762) Homepage

        There's a separate fee for ESPN3 (previously known as ESPN360). Almost every provider provides ESPN on basic access, so that's not the issue. The issue is that ESPN is charging a PER SUBSCRIBER FEE for a WEBSITE to ISPs. This means that if your provider has ESPN3, you are paying for it, whether you want it or not. ESPN wants to turn the Internet into cable TV. That is the issue.

        • by j0nb0y (107699) <jonboy300NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:12AM (#33757774) Homepage

          I'll also note that this per subscriber fee is significantly higher for small ISPs. By about a thousand percent... as a result, small ISPs do not carry the service. If you *want* ESPN3, you have to switch to a big carrier, because you cannot buy an individual subscription to the site.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by rotide (1015173)
            Still don't think that's a net neutrality issue. That's just ESPN locking their site/services to those _providers_ willing to pay them. If this was an issue like MLB.tv where end users have to pay, it would be basically the same deal. The way I see it, this is just a different way for Disney/ESPN to bill. It's a crappy setup, but it's not a net neutrality issue.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by cybrthng (22291)

              I think it falls into the gray area of net neutrality because it takes away the choices consumers should have and makes them superficial to actually being on the internet. So broadband isn't broadband if your carrier is responsible for chosing what services you can use on it. I mostly made my statement to get people to think about these "outside of the box" issues.

              • But they aren't choosing, Disney/ESPN is. Why should the ISP make you pay for something you might not even want. ESPN3 is very cool but my mom won't ever watch it. I'd pay money to get the service, but ESPN won't let me. Disney are being douchebags, the ISP are just not letting them fuck you over. I'm in support of the ISP in this case. If ESPN had their way, the phone company would have to pay to let you call ESPNs tech support. I'll say it again, if ESPN allowed me to pay to get the service I would.
                • by rotide (1015173)

                  Exactly how I see it. This is entirely on ESPN. They are simply billing the end user in such a way that removes the end user from the decision making process. Either the ISP antes up on behalf of the end user (and your monthly bill will probably reflect that), and you get the service, or they don't and you're S.O.L.

                  This is clearly not a net neutrality issue. The ISP isn't limiting or throttling you. The ISP isn't really deciding if you can or can't have the ESPN3 service. ESPN3 is deciding who can and

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              >>>That's just ESPN locking their site/services to those _providers_ willing to pay them

              It's an issue due to the lack of internet choice. If my provider (Comcast for example) decides to pay ESPN360 plus DisneyConnection plus FXextra plus all those other "paywall" sites, then that means my internet cost will gradually climb higher, just as Comcast TV gradually climbed from $25 to $65 when CATV channels increased their rates from ~25 to ~75 cents per home.

              Unfortunately I have no other choice. I

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cybrthng (22291)

        The deal as it is with Xbox live ESPN3 is entirely with your ISP licensing the content, no choice for consumer. If it was a consumer option I would have opted out of paying for it in liue of the price hikes.

    • by Moryath (553296) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:53AM (#33757634)

      Watch it when you mention "backroom deals." Those things are what got us the 1976 copyright extension act, 1998 Mickey Mouse/Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, DMCA, DMCA2, ACTA (thankfully not ratified yet but just watch them slip it through in the dead of night).

      We can just bet that the real reason this is being "delayed" is that the Senate right now is busy passing the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (aka the "Fuck Consumers In The Ass Act") under a "fast-track" by the corrupt party in power (as opposed to the corrupt party OUT of power).

      They want to have the authority to shut down any website they see fit by accusing it of "piracy." Not only that, they want the ability to order US ISP's to "black out" access to overseas websites they accuse of "piracy."

      How long till this starts to be a tool for political repression? Seems the Democrats have taken a page from their funding backers over in China. [google.com] Maybe in a few years rather than needing Tor to get news out to people inside China, we'll be needing it just to survive the Great Firewall of America...

    • I'm confused as to how net neutrality would protect against consumers being held hostage to a carrier paying for content. Are you saying that net neutrality would make it illegal for ESPN to charge ISPs for allowing the ISPs subscribers to access one of their websites? If your ISP does not pay ESPN a PER SUBSCRIBER fee, ESPN does not allow any of that ISPs subscribers to access ESPN3. That means that I am paying for other people to access ESPN3.
  • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:47AM (#33757602) Homepage

    It would really, really help if we'd explain to my conservative friends just what "Net Neutrality" is. They are convinced that it's some form of Fairness Doctrine for the Web that will limit content.

    (The fact that such a "fairness doctrine" might limit Mother Jones and Salon just as much as it does FrontPageMag and World Net Daily, depending on the party in power, doesn't seem to occur to them, either.)

    I try to explain to them that it simply means that, if I visit YouTube, I don't want my ISP to limit their bandwidth because Microsoft (or someone else) has paid a premium for priority for *their* bandwidth.

    We geeks have several flaws, and one of them is our love of catchphrases and acronyms. We just *assume* that everyone knows what "free software" and "net neutrality" mean. But when you start dealing with the Body Politick At Large(tm), that's not necessarily so. A few minutes to carefully explain just what we're actually talking about will go a long way ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by roman_mir (125474)

      I cannot support this bill, just like I can never support anything government does ever for any reason [slashdot.org].

      I want gov't out of economy completely, only dealing with 2 things really: Justice system, minimum military needed to protect liberties.

      That's it.

      Everything else is a function of the market. Gov't creates monopolies that end up doing whatever they wish and pay gov't to help them stay monopolies. The correct fix for this 'Net Neutrality' issue is an ISP (or a few) that would offer services without any such

      • by geekoid (135745)

        The constitution states that the government will, in fact, be involved with the economy.

        All evidence shows you are wrong. Please study up.

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          Are you trying to teach me about the Article 1 section 8 of Constitution talking about 'welfare' and regulating interstate commerce? So why do you need to be derisive?

          I believe it is the imperfection of the Constitution that needs to be fixed. People are evolving in all aspects, still evolving physically, mentally, socially. There is still time and it will happen, it's not like US will last much longer in its current form. Very soon its very currency will be destroyed and something will have to be change

    • by dpilot (134227) on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:17AM (#33757818) Homepage Journal

      While conservatives may dislike "Net Neutrality" for the reasons you state, I believe they have another reason - an undying faith in "the free market and the ability of players in the free market to come to an optimal solution for all." In other words, "Free market players need to have the maximum flexibility to arrive at market solutions which both maximize profits and deliver optimal solutions." Note that I keep using quotation marks in the prior sentence, and in this case it's not a misuse of "quotation marks," rather it's expressing a position that sounds really neat, but doesn't work that well in practice.

      First off, the "free market" really isn't so free, it's loaded with large players. There have been studies indicating that when 4 or 5 major players have captured something like 80% of the market, it no longer acts like a "free market." According to those studies, even without overt collusion, a market dominated by a few large players starts to act as if there is price-fixing and market restriction happing, just by normal corporate behavior.

      Second, the "free market" never developed anything like the internet, and they had over a decade of failure at it. CompuServe, Prodigy, AOL, The Source, etc are all ashes of the market failure. The only reason AOL has anything like survived is because of the proprietary players it best embraced the internet. The normal corporate behavior these days is to "own the pie" rather than work with others to create a much bigger pie. Oddly enough, they continue to do that even when the cooperative pie is so much bigger that their share is bigger than their full ownership of a private pie.

      Finally, I don't think conservatives understand that sometimes we do better if our actions are limited. They have complete distrust of the limiting agency - ie, the government, and do understand that sometimes their own decisions can be bad, but fail to see that sometimes, the "free market" will fail to correct them, and they fail to appreciate the damage done, while waiting for the marketplace to correct things.

      • by radarsat1 (786772) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:46AM (#33758856) Homepage

        I would argue that even from the most hard-right libertarian point of view, the only job of the government is to ensure that markets stay free. This includes preventing the purchase of monopolies, so that small businesses have a chance to provide equal or better service than the big players. Net neutrality should be in the interests of anyone who believes in the free market.

        The idea that the right has gotten into its head that government regulation should stay out of the market is wrong, not because regulation is some kind of socialist mindset, but because in the hard-right view of things, the only role of the government is to play "cop", to catch cheaters and make sure the market always runs smoothly and is an even playing field for all.

        • by gangien (151940)

          Well you'd be wrong. The hard libertarian point of view is simple, that people should be free to do what they want (form groups/companies/organizations), so long as they don't force anyone else to do anything. The government's job is therefore not to determine whether a market is free enough, because by definition it is, since no one can force anyone else to do anything.

          To me it's rather funny, how well the free market has worked, and yet everyone fears it so heavily. But don't worry, you and most of /.

          • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday October 01, 2010 @03:49PM (#33764082) Homepage

            To me it's rather funny, how well the free market has worked...

            Funny, didn't we *just* have an article about the dangers of antibiotic resistance in factory farming? Ahh, but I suppose that doesn't count as a failure for some reason, 'cuz otherwise your little absurd pet theory might not be correct... pesky cognitive dissonance.

        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday October 01, 2010 @02:56PM (#33763398) Homepage Journal

          I would argue that even from the most hard-right libertarian point of view, the only job of the government is to ensure that markets stay free.

          And I would argue that the only job the government has concerning the market at all is to defend the powerless from the powerful. Cops are there to attempt to keep you (and bankers) from being robbed. The FDA is there to make sure that your drugs are the right strength and your food isn't poisoned (protecting you from the drugmakers and food warehousers). The EPA is there to make sure you can breathe (protecting you from the likes of Monsanto). Regulations on monopolies ensure that your electric company that has no competetion doen't screw you over.

          The Libertarians, unfortunately, want government out of their hair so they CAN screw you over.

    • by pmontra (738736) on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:19AM (#33757832) Homepage
      Show your friends this picture http://dvice.com/assets_c/2009/10/net-neutrality-thumb-550xauto-27419.jpg [dvice.com] This is what Net Neutrality protects them from.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      They prefer to let the free market decide. You know, like it did with the big banks.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Any person that believes banking is a "free market" has no understanding of the concept of fractional reserve banking.

        Fractional reserve banking increases the money supply through lending, literally creating money from thin air. In order to maintain the money supply and keep inflation from spiraling out of control, the Central Bank must both manipulate the currency through the prime rate, and regulate the banks through reserve requirements. So, core to the concept of banking under fractional reserve is the

      • by gangien (151940)

        Great point, because there wasn't a shit ton of regulations and other protections in place.

        Oh wait..

        • by geekoid (135745)

          And it happened bacause of the regulation they removed. from about 2000, to 2008 the federal policy towards bank so to go to a more libertarian model. The process of doing so allowed people who control both ends to make money from failure.

          I've seen unregulated banks in other countries. It's a fucking mess.

          • by gangien (151940)

            the federal reserve pumped in gobs of money trying to reinflate the dot com bubble and congress put pressure on banks to give out more housing loans. If that doesn't sound like a bubble waiting to happen..

    • by Nimey (114278)

      It's an uphill battle - it'll be really hard to out-shout Faux News and company, and they've got the ear of conservatives /already/.

    • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:25AM (#33757894)

      ...I don't want my ISP to limit their bandwidth because Microsoft (or someone else) has paid a premium for priority for *their* bandwidth.

      You think that's a better explanation to a conservative?

      Dude. This is how you put it:

      Net Neutrality allows for FREEDOM and it allows for your non-profit CHRISTIAN website to have as much bandwidth as those atheist-secular ones. It allows for your GOD FEARING content to have the same bandwidth as those abortion promoting god-less family planning websites! It will also allow you to track what the GOVERNMENT is doing because voting against NET NEUTRALITY is falling right into the government's hands.

      Hit the streets now! It's in the CONSTITUTION and the Founding Fathers said that we have the right to equal access! It's true! It's in the exact same part where it says we're a CHRISTIAN Nation!

      God Bless America!

      That'll get Net Newtrality[sic]!!

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      We geeks have several flaws, and one of them is our love of catchphrases and acronyms. We just *assume* that everyone knows what "free software" and "net neutrality" mean. But when you start dealing with the Body Politick At Large(tm), that's not necessarily so. A few minutes to carefully explain just what we're actually talking about will go a long way ...

      Alas, these days not everyone at slashdot is a nerd. Witness the many comments we often get in threads about jailbrealing like "use it for what it was de

  • Good news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shivetya (243324) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:50AM (#33757620) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, any legislation crammed through in the last few days of a session is bound to be crap. Which apparently this one was, as it excluded wireless providers from the rules applied to wired providers. I guess one group pays better than the other.

    We are already seeing the pull back in wireless, we are losing uncapped plans. I do not doubt that if we had the ham fisted regulation we normally get out of the Fed we would soon see that popping back up on wired plans. If abusers cannot be managed away then everyone will simply get clamped down to limits.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      ...crap. Which apparently this one was, as it excluded wireless providers from the rules applied to wired providers.

      The difference is that wired providers are generally monopolies. ALL monopolies need to be heavily regulated. OTOH, competetion in wireless pretty much negates the need for much regulation there.

      If my wired monopoly ISP throttles Google and gives Bing free reign, my choices are put up with it or do without wired internet. If my cell phone provider screws me over like that he's stupid; I'll go

      • by Nimey (114278)

        It'd be Really Nice if one standard cellular protocol and frequency band(s) were agreed upon (I'd rather not legislate technical specifications), so that I could in fact take my old Sprint phone and use it on Verizon's network if I so chose, or vice versa.

        Then there really wouldn't be a monopoly in wireless.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:51AM (#33757622) Homepage

    "pulled the plug on efforts to work out a compromise among phone, cable, and Internet companies"

    That right there is a perfect example of what's wrong with Washington. This debate, like so many others, doesn't consider the interests of the public, but simply the interests of the industry players directly affected by the new law.

    There is absolutely no legitimate reason why the US government should be negotiating with AT&T (or Time Warner, or Comcast, etc). None. If the US government wants AT&T to do something, they can pass a law and/or issue a regulation that says AT&T has to do it. No negotiation required - if AT&T doesn't do it, the US government can then bring them to court. That's what makes the government different from a corporate partner of AT&T, and AT&T is subject to the government of the US as long as it's operating in the US.

    However, there's an illegitimate reason why the US government negotiates with AT&T: AT&T is in the running at least for largest campaign contributor [opensecrets.org] in the country.

    • by khallow (566160)

      There is absolutely no legitimate reason why the US government should be negotiating with AT&T (or Time Warner, or Comcast, etc). None.

      Sure there is. The US is a democratic republic.

      • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:38AM (#33758012)

        There is absolutely no legitimate reason why the US government should be negotiating with AT&T (or Time Warner, or Comcast, etc). None.

        Sure there is. The US is a democratic republic.

        Yes, but corporations don't have suffrage.

        • There is absolutely no legitimate reason why the US government should be negotiating with AT&T (or Time Warner, or Comcast, etc). None.

          Sure there is. The US is a democratic republic.

          Yes, but corporations don't have suffrage.

          Yes, but corporations donate money to campaigns and most voters are easily swayed by slick ads.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Yes, but corporations don't have suffrage.

          Their owners, employees, and customers do. Passing law without consulting the target of the law is inherently undemocratic.

          • Yes, but corporations don't have suffrage.

            Their owners, employees, and customers do. Passing law without consulting the target of the law is inherently undemocratic.

            So then you need a general referendum, to make sure that the owners, employees, customers of the corporation, as well as everyone else that could be affected, all get a say. Consulting with the corporation is even less democratic than congress alone doing it. At least we've voted them to represent us. The only people who voted on the members of the board for those corporations are the ones who own stock in them.

    • The way the government sees it, they are the public, representatively, so when they negotiate with Big Content, they're really negotiating for me and you. Of course, that's not the way the public sees it. Only 11% of the people trust Congress. They see Big Govt more as an adversary, like Big Content.

      It would be better if the government simply set rules that apply to everyone equally, and for the benefit of everyone, equally. Anything less, and you are picking winners and losers. To do that, they don
    • This is AT&Ts (et al) reward for breaking the wiretapping laws on behalf of the NSA.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      It's a bi-product of the 'choke the beast' policy neocons have been forcing on us since Reagan.

  • by jabberwock (10206) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:57AM (#33757668) Homepage
    ... As a wacko leftist libertarian crypto-anarcho peacenik Commie, the oldest son of a right-wing fringe element religo millennialist rapturizing nut job, I have to tell you: Net Neutrality is the one thing dad and I can safely talk about, and agree on. That, and maybe there are some foods we both like.
  • We have asshole Republicans who only care about trying to keep their grip on power, and then we have spineless Democrats who can't even achieve their agenda while maintaining a majority and the White House.

    Awesome.

    • Not like the Republicans can even do anything with their grip on power either.

      I don't think we've gotten any oil out of Iraq yet.

  • Mismatched debate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:03AM (#33757712) Journal

    A large part of the problem about Net Neutrality is that there is a complete mismatch of knowledge between those for and those against. People who are generally for Net Neutrality generally are more knowledgeable (although not always true) about why Net Neutrality is an important issue. Those who are against it (at least the lay people and not the businesses involved) generally don't know what Net Neutrality stands for and so they believe it's some sort of shadowy government censorship of free speech or governmental takeover or interference with business or socialism or whatever. Both sides are talking past each other and there is no common grounds of agreement. As long as that's true, Net Neutrality is dead.

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      Each sides is trying to "frame the debate," but unlike other issues where people frame the debate, such as abortion, guns, immigration, etc, there isn't enough common knowledge to allow people in the middle to have an independent basis for deciding who's frame is more like a bucket of bullshit. This is in contrast to something like guns, where at least there is the second amendment, which while subject to interpretation, is only one sentence long, unlike most of the laws that form the "rational" basis for

    • by GigsVT (208848)

      The people who support Net Neutrality usually have no fucking clue what it's about.

      They often think it's going to give them some option other than their DSL or cable oligopoly.

      They don't know what a "tier-1" carrier means. They don't know about settlement-free peering.

      They have no idea what sort of consequences would happen to a tier-1 that decided to go rogue and start violating their transit-free agreements by doing content based blocking.

      If they did, they wouldn't support this congressional power grab.

      • The main problem scenario that I see is the big ISPs introducing their own video service and giving it priority over Youtube traffic. Or introducing their own videoconferencing software and giving it priority over skype.

        The issue for me is not content-based blocking, but rather ISPs wanting to extort more money for services---"gee, nice app you've got there, it'd be a shame if it got slowed down. You know, for a bit of money we can make sure that doesn't happen..."

    • by TheSync (5291)

      A large part of the problem about Net Neutrality is that there is a complete mismatch of knowledge between those for and those against.

      A large part of the problem about Net Neutrality is that THERE IS NO PROBLEM YET.

      Abortions happen. People get shot with guns. Poisonous chemicals get dumped into rivers. CO2 is released into the atmosphere. This actually happens, and a rational discussion could be had about regulation.

      But no one is actually violating "Net Neutrality" right now. We might as well be regu

  • Dear Congress (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:08AM (#33757744)

    Okay, everyone in Congress NOT owned by corporations and rich interest groups please step forward. ...Whoa, not so fast Democrats

  • No surprise at all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:47AM (#33758070)
    Big business runs our government, and beginning with the upcoming election, it will largely define our government with the huge piles of cash they're pouring into the campaigns of those who will promise to do their bidding. Influence peddling is nothing new, of course, but we are about to witness a sea change the concentration of political power the scale of which is chilling. Not surprisingly, the telecom industry, by some measures, the most powerful lobby (e.g. "buyer of influence") in Washington, is going to get everything they want. We are screwed.
  • Title misleading? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kgwilliam (998911)

    What's up with the title of this post? "Politics: House Democrats Shelve Net Neutrality" sure make it sound like the poster is trying to imply that Democrats were at fault for this bill failing. But the summary and TFA indicate that it was Republicans who blocked efforts to move this bill forward.

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