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House Republicans Roll Out Legislation To Overturn New Net Neutrality Rules 550

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and 31 Republican co-sponsors have submitted the Internet Freedom Act (PDF) for consideration in the House. The bill would roll back the recent net neutrality rules made by the FCC. The bill says the rules "shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act." Blackburn claims the FCC's rules will "stifle innovation" and "restrict freedom." The article points out that Blackburn's campaign and leadership PAC has received substantial donations. from Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.
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House Republicans Roll Out Legislation To Overturn New Net Neutrality Rules

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  • How can everyone argue about all this when the FCC has imposed a gag order that prevents the public from seeing the regulations? The gag order and secrecy surrounding the regulation of the internet is the only concern I have at this point.
    • I think he is confusing the FCC and net neutrality with the FTC and the TransPacific Partnership.
    • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:31AM (#49196587)

      There are a lot of issues with it.

      I'd like it if the whole thing were nothing but unicorns and rainbows. But the secrecy is not a good sign and we need to think to the future... the FCC might do something good with this today... but the government has a tendency to push the bounds of their authority.

      They get some power to take the goods away from drug dealers and before you know it they're confiscating the homes of poor people with basically no justification.

      They get the mandate to go after terrorists and a few years later the NSA agents are spying on ex girlfriends using the government terror databases and NSA agents are putting ex wives on no fly lists.

      The internet is a big deal. And I just don't want the FCC to ruin it.

      I hate the big ISPs too. Everyone does. But the solution to them is competition. Not government regulation. Just remove the stupid laws that make it illegal for rival companies to lay cable in their territory.

      Here someone will say those laws don't exist. Both Google and Centurylink were recently complaining about just such laws. So either they do exist or those companies were lying.

      Its a real thing. Possibly the new FCC regulations will settle that issue. Which if that was all they were doing would be fine by me. But I worry about the unintended consequences and the long term power creep. The FCC could be a white knight today... but tomorrow? You don't know.

      The whole thing could be a devil's bargain. You get something you want today... and later... your soul is forfeit.

      You can't say it isn't going to happen... they're keeping the regs secret. That in and of itself is suspicious.

      • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:01PM (#49196949) Journal

        I hate the big ISPs too. Everyone does. But the solution to them is competition. Not government regulation. Just remove the stupid laws that make it illegal for rival companies to lay cable in their territory.

        You are hoplessly naive. In order to compete with incumbent ISPs you have to have massive resources. If you start with small, local deployments, the incumbents will make local price cuts to drive you out of business. Even if you have the resources to make deployments across most population centers in a short time, the result will be lower prices and no profits. If you just built out, your equipment costs will be much greater than incumbents.

        The only way to get competition is to force unbundling of local loops. This means more regulation.

      • by tburkhol ( 121842 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @01:01PM (#49197591)

        I hate the big ISPs too. Everyone does. But the solution to them is competition. Not government regulation. Just remove the stupid laws that make it illegal for rival companies to lay cable in their territory.

        Those laws don't exist in general. The primary thing preventing Time Warner from running cable to my house is the fact that Comcast already has a wire there. Comcast has already spent the millions of dollars required to wire my neighborhood, and the tens of millions required to wire my town. Whatever price Time Warner can offer, Comcast can beat, because they've already sunk costs. Time Warner can, optimistically, hope to get 50% of cable subscribers, meaning at most half the revenue that Comcast projected to pay off their capital. There is no way for a new cable company to compete effectively with one that's already laid out the major capital expenses. The only reason DSL is competitive is it doesn't require laying new copper to every home.

        Likewise, there's no way multiple electric or gas companies could compete with an incumbent who had already wired/plumbed a neighborhood. When cities deregulate gas/electric service, they do so by transferring the wires to one company, and forcing that company to sell transit to all comers at regulated rates. If you want to see competition among ISPs, nationalize the coax, copper and fiber, and let the ISPs rent bandwidth to subscribers' homes and manage their access.

    • by stox ( 131684 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:07PM (#49197015) Homepage

      There is no gag order. The Republicans on the FCC committee have refused to file the correct paperwork to allow this go forward. Pretty sleazy, but the Republicans have become pros at that.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:32PM (#49197269)

        This a thousand times. Everybody needs to understand that it is not the FCC that is hiding the rules, but REPUBLICANS, because they know if you saw the rules you wouldn't be likely to think they need to be repealed. And of course, like Marsha Blackburn, the Republicans responsible are bought and paid for by Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:18AM (#49196475)

    They know it can't get past the president's veto, and probably not past a fillibuster, but if they keep this up they PAC will keep lining their coffers.

    • I don't know, if the outrage over the regulations get's bad enough and they get this attached to some other bill that the president cannot help but sign, they could pass it or override the veto.

      However, such would require a bit of backbone which seems missing from congress right now as we really still have a divided senate even if we've done some office shuffling of late. And growing a backbone seems to be an unlikely option for the Senate leadership in all this, unless you had near riots in the streets.

    • by drakaan ( 688386 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:20PM (#49197135) Homepage Journal

      ...which is why I emailed Rep. Latta (co-sponsor) and Rep Joyce (my rep from Ohio) and let them know that I vote, I elected one of them, and I don't support any action to reverse the FCC's recent reclassification.

      I know I don't represent big bags of money, but I do directly represent a ballot. I let both of them know that I am a US Army veteran, a long-time IT professional, and a proponent of net neutrality and classifying internet service under Title II.

  • by duck_rifted ( 3480715 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:22AM (#49196501)
    They could write legislation about anything and expect us to like it because it has a word in it like "freedom" or "patriot". Imagine: The Hero's Freedom Act. Sounds good, right? It could also potentially describe a bill that calls some group heroes while empowering them to take the freedom of others. That would be a hero's freedom act, technically.

    Actually, that has more to do with freedom than this does. What they meant to call it is the "Internet Just Give Us Your Wallets And Shut Up Act".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:33AM (#49196609)

      The fact that putting "Freedom" or "Patriot" on shit laws helps them just shows me how gullible and irresponsible the electorate is and why they do not deserve to live in a free country.

      We have an electorate that is easily swayed and think they are informed while they parrot talking points they see and hear in the media.

      • I think you got downmodded because you include all of us in that summary. Really, we have different subcultures, and as distasteful as some are at some times, there are other times when they're the people who actually do make the best decisions. Human civilization works specifically because different types of people each benefit society in their own way.

        In this case, there are two things that we can call "the American public". If you watch a lot of television then you see hints of what I call the Beav
        • Unfortunately, the main function of the Republican Party is to provide an outlet for people who aren't Democrats to feel like they have a voice without seriously impeding things the Democratic leadership wants to do. As an added bonus, the Democratic leadership can use them to explain to their wackier constituents why it was that they just weren't able to get said constituency's pet policy (that the Democratic leadership doesn't want to pass) through Congress. And I say that as someone who is more sympathe
      • The "freedom" is for the ISPs - the only things, I mean, corporations, I mean, *people* (thanks Citizen's United) that Republicans care about.

    • by Stripe7 ( 571267 )
      This is not the danger, it will be killed quickly. The danger is when she attaches this to the an infrastructure bill, maybe the defense appropriations bill or some other essential but completely unrelated bill.
      • This is not the danger, it will be killed quickly. The danger is when she attaches this to the an infrastructure bill, maybe the defense appropriations bill or some other essential but completely unrelated bill.

        That's why it's up to us to repeatedly tell our congressmen what's up. I email mine almost weekly (Kenny Marchant) and while he does a great many things I despise I do have yet to see him sign on as a cosponsor to one of these internet restriction acts. If our congressmen begin to believe they will have to pay a political price, they'll won't want to be the first one to come out in favor of an internet restriction act. If everyone is afraid to be first, then no one will be.

    • They could write legislation about anything and expect us to like it because it has a word in it like "freedom" or "patriot".

      And don't forget the old advertising chestnut of "new and improved". Oh, waitaminute...they already have a word for that in Congress: "reform". Ever wonder why the tax code needs to be "reformed" every few years? - because it's "new and improved"!

      For fun, the next time you go into a sit-down chain restaurant, read the menu carefully and look for adjectives such as "garden fresh" or "hand selected". Maybe we could apply some of those same adjectives to legislation, e.g. "The Garden Fresh Internet Freedom

    • Sell your greatest weakness like it's your greatest strength. I'm not in marketing, but I see this all time.

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:16PM (#49197101) Journal
      If you see any bill with "freedom", "family", "patriot" or "protection" on it, your first inclination should be to think that there's something evil hidden in the bill. And more often than not you'd be right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by houghi ( 78078 )

        Hello, I would like to show you "The Freedom to Protect the Patrictotic Families against Terorism". Basically it means "All your base are belong to us."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    LOL! Freedom for the carriers and big business to make more money.

  • by dugancent ( 2616577 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:23AM (#49196517)

    It won't make it to the floor for a vote, let alone past the president.

    • Re:DOA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:37AM (#49196657) Homepage

      I agree it likely wouldn't make it out of Congress let alone past the President, but how do you figure it won't make it to the floor of at least the House?

    • Re:DOA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:45AM (#49196765) Journal

      The House doesn't operate under rules that prevent singular persons from bringing things to the floor like the Senate does. A bill gets written by a member, and gets referred to the proper committee. If the committee votes in favor, it goes before the full House for debate and voting.

      There is no filibuster, nor super-majority cloture vote as in the Senate. House rules go back to Thomas Jefferson, and have been changed very little. The Senate was modeled after Parliamentary procedure, thus has some odd things such as cloture votes to end debate, which is the primary mechanic used for obstruction - you need 60 votes to close debate so that you can see if there are 51 votes to pass the bill.

      Either way, the second part of your statement is absolutely correct. Even if this thing comes out of the house, and by some oddity of politics or monied influence gets through a cloture vote and passes the Senate, it's highly unlikely that the President would put his name to this piece of trash on parchment. Don't know if he's straight-up veto though - he'd probably want a piece of the monetary influence after he's out of office too. Maybe a pocket veto.

    • I don't know, I hear NETFLIX is backpeddling on their support of it now... You mess with people's flix and you can bet somebody will get angry about it. Have you see how much trouble people cause when Netflix has an outage? Yikes...
  • by neghvar1 ( 1705616 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:24AM (#49196537)
    I'd like to see multiple ISP block all content and websites associated with those politicians and their political party. Especially during an election to give them a dose of their own medicine. See this is what can potentially happen to you if net neutrality is prevented. Eventually become as censored as China.
  • Congress (Score:4, Funny)

    by Translation Error ( 1176675 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:34AM (#49196633)
    The best government money can buy.
  • Sheesh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:34AM (#49196637)

    I'm rather Libertarian about most things in life, but I applauded the FCC's decision to attempt to "stifle innovation." That is, of course, only if you consider "innovation" to be new forms of rent-seeking.

    Seriously, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. Stop trying to wring money out of both content providers and customers. This shit is getting so old.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:37AM (#49196653)

    They're stripping away Comcast's freedom to shake-down content providers for more money and screw over their customers! What is this, the Soviet Union??

    • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:56AM (#49196887)

      No, more like 1930s America. It's almost-legalised protection rackets. "Hey netflix, it would be a shame if something happened to your shop windows, wouldn't it. We'll take cash to help make sure that doesn't happen."

    • Have you seen the rules? I'm told there is a lot of stuff in there and what you think they say might not be what they actually say.

      You've heard that Netflix now doesn't like the rules right? They just used the concept of what the rule's title suggests previously, but now that they are being forced by the FCC, they are backing away. They where just arm twisting the ISP's over money and not looking out for your best interest.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:40AM (#49196707)

    I can't believe the bullshit I see from some of the "conservatives" I know who treat this like some kind of commie takeover of the Internet.

    One guy I used to work with was trying to run an SMB network off his cable modem service from home and did nothing but complain for weeks about the runaround he got trying to get multiple static IPs due to ridiculous cable vendor policies (solved with some MAC spoofing/VLAN hackery in his firewall) and the pathetic bandwidth allocations he was able to get in addition to the general lack of alternatives in his area.

    Yet this same numbskull is parroting this ridiculous "Obama takeover of the Internet" bullshit against net neutrality.

    I just don't see how "conservatives" are willing to go totally rabid when it comes to government meddling yet so many (but not all) see outrageous monopoly manipulation and rent-seeking as just the good-old free market working like it's supposed to. I can't make this dichotomy make any sense.

    • by genka ( 148122 )
      Can you explain how exactly passing that bill will help to solve his problems?
    • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:01PM (#49196951)

      The conservative bias is "don't regulate what you don't have to," and House Republicans are trying to argue that the regs are unnecessary, first because they ban practices not actually in practice, second that when they do come in practice (Netflix vs Comcast, for instance), they are resolved between the actors in the existing legal framework with no deleterious effects to the consumer.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:11PM (#49197049)

        There's prima facie evidence of consumer harm.

        Comcast willfully interfered with a business relationship they weren't a party to further their own enrichment, Comcast willfully degraded the service provided to their customers as a means to pressure a competitor of video services, and consumers will likely see price increases as Netflix's costs rise to accommodate payments to Comcast.

        If UPS were to erect roadblocks in front of Fedex terminals and refuse to remove them unless Fedex paid them off, we'd rightly call that extortion, regardless of whether they resolved it "within the existing legal framework".

      • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @02:16PM (#49198465) Homepage

        The conservative bias is "don't regulate what you don't have to,"

        s/what you don't have to/at all/

        Republicans know that if government doesn't do regulation, the monopoly or cartel that owns the market sure will (and such regulation is optimized to maximize profits, not the health of the market, much less *customer* health).

        And thats where the congresscritters get their campaign funding. Sounds pretty clear to me what their goal is - just like their funders, it's to line their pockets.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Most conservatives see monopoly manipulation for what it is, a product of government regulation. Comcast does not have a near monopoly position because of market forces. It has a near monopoly because of government actions which GAVE it that near monopoly.
    • I can't believe the bullshit I see from some of the "conservatives" I know who treat this like some kind of commie takeover of the Internet.

      The foundational problem we're dealing with here is that the majority of the public doesn't understand how the internet works. The Slashdot crowd has long since learned to deal with that at a micro level. However, we hear different things than the rest of society. Net Neutrality to us means "the bandwidth and throughput of internet traffic won't be artificially limited based on its source or destination." To them, it means "The government will tell me what I can and can't post on my Tumblr blog". With no concept of IP routing, peering, or the Comcast vs. Netflix case that brought Net Neutrality into common vernacular.

      Whether this is because "understanding how the internet works and what net neutrality does and doesn't impact" is a genuinely complicated topic, or because the Kardashians have killed far too many American neurons, is a separate topic entirely. To be fair though, if the government was indeed regulating what we could and couldn't post, could and couldn't say, or how we were allowed to say it...we'd be up in arms, too.

    • I'm not going to defend Republicans because a lot of them are morons (or worse, politicians), but even the EFF is ambivalent about this change, mainly because the vagueness of the rules leaves it open for abuse. It might be fine for the next two years, but within a decade you can be sure a 'regulator' will come along who has industry ties, and then these rules give him the chance to favor his friends. Here's what the EFF says [eff.org]:

      The problem with a rule this vague is that neither ISPs nor Internet users can know in advance what kinds of practices will run afoul of the rule. Only companies with significant legal staff and expertise may be able to use the rule effectively. And a vague rule gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence.

  • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:41AM (#49196713)

    And how many of these cosponsors have taken large donations from ISPs, telecoms, etc. in their last reelection campaigns or recently to their PAC? It's seems that they aren't even trying to hide the corruption anymore.

  • I would like to see how much money was given to, donated to or trips paid for by Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to Blackburn and these 31 Republicans over the past 10 years. I'm sure we'll get our answer as to why they are pushing this afterwards.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:46AM (#49196789)
    Campaign Donations Appreciation Act
    Corporate Fascism Reinforcement Act
    Fuck the People Act
  • Go to house.gov (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:49AM (#49196815) Journal

    Get off your butts. Instead of whining on a forum spend the next 2 minutes of your life emailing your representative for the American slashdotter.

    Remember these legislators only hear and get their information from lobbyists and pacs.

    Tell them it is not acceptable to have a monopoly cut off your Netflix. If your representative has an R tell him or her that there is no free market and it harms innovation and our economy as a result. If he or she has a D explain monopolistic powers and pacs are writing rules.

    Yes they check with their staff all day. If they get a surge of angry citizens they will notice. Remember the law to ban opensource and force drm? I posted that link and the bill died. We can change this if we act together. Religious right did this and won. It's time geeks do the same

    • Re:Go to house.gov (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:00PM (#49196937)

      Get off your butts. Instead of whining on a forum spend the next 2 minutes of your life emailing your representative for the American slashdotter.

      Unless that email is accompanied by a tens of thousands of dollars donation to their campaign and/or PAC you can rest assured it illbe ignored.

      Remember these legislators only hear and get their information from lobbyists and pacs.

      Oh they get information from other people. They just only listen to the people giving them money. Good luck trying to outspend AT&T, Verizon and Comcast for your congresscritter's attention.

    • I wish I believed it'd make a difference, but I'm in a deep red congressional district represented by a teabagger.

  • Figures (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Holi ( 250190 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:55AM (#49196883)
    Straight up bribery.

    So now a small number of companies has more sway with this "politician" then the record breaking response the FCC received on this issue. Less then 1% of the FCC's response were against Net Neutrality, but because this Congressman's PAC received $81,000 AT&T, Comcast, the NCTA and Verizon, he feels that this is what the American people want?


    Straight up bribery, and nothing will ever be done about it.
  • by RivenAleem ( 1590553 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:56AM (#49196893)

    Guys, much like 1984, House of Cards is not an instruction manual...

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @11:58AM (#49196921)

    Other than for the media companies, I can't see a downside to treating broadband access like a utility, especially since the FCC has waived the right to regulate prices. A broadband service routes packets into and out of your house, just like a water, electric or gas utility. AT&T's packets should not be any different than Verizon's packets, or Comcast's packets...it's the equivalent of the local loop from a CLEC.

    It seems to me that shaking up the incumbents in some markets would be a good thing. It would probably operate the same way "competitive" gas service does now -- if someone hates their provider enough or finds a cheaper price for the exact same service, they can sign up to have another company provide it. This would be a good model to keep decent providers running, but put some limits on the Comcasts and Time Warner Cables of the world. Also, forcing some kind of universal service would mean that rural customers would get better network access. Carriers only upgrade networks when forced, and only like to operate in places where it's easy to operate...other than profits, this is probably one thing they're worried about. That, and Comcast is probably worried that Joe's Cable Shack is going to take all the business from people who don't need TV with their Internet service.

    I'm also not really buying the "innovation" angle. At the core, networks are plumbing. DSL, DOCSIS, and of course Ethernet are pretty mature standards. Occasionally materials and computing advances allow for faster data rates, but these are open standards that every carrier would have access to.

  • by SlovakWakko ( 1025878 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @12:04PM (#49196987)
    I say it's the highest time for another antitrust breakup.
  • by Agares ( 1890982 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @01:37PM (#49198011) Journal
    seems like a lose lose situation to me. Either we have an over bearing government running the show, or companies that want to gouge people and not give the service they should be providing. Either way I think that the Internet is going to suffer greatly after it is all said and done.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak