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Internal FCC Report Shows Republican Net Neutrality Narrative Is False (vice.com) 363

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A core Republican talking point during the net neutrality battle was that, in 2015, President Obama led a government takeover of the internet, and Obama illegally bullied the independent Federal Communications Commission into adopting the rules. In this version of the story, Ajit Pai's rollback of those rules Thursday is a return to the good old days, before the FCC was forced to adopt rules it never wanted in the first place. But internal FCC documents obtained by Motherboard using a Freedom of Information Act request show that the independent, nonpartisan FCC Office of Inspector General -- acting on orders from Congressional Republicans -- investigated the claim that Obama interfered with the FCC's net neutrality process and found it was nonsense. This Republican narrative of net neutrality as an Obama-led takeover of the internet, then, was wholly refuted by an independent investigation and its findings were not made public prior to Thursday's vote.

Using a Freedom of Information Act request, Motherboard obtained a summary of the Inspector General's report, which has not been released publicly and is marked "Official Use Only, Law Enforcement Sensitive Information." After reviewing more than 600,000 emails, the independent office found that there was no collusion between the White House and the FCC: "We found no evidence of secret deals, promises, or threats from anyone outside the Commission, nor any evidence of any other improper use of power to influence the FCC decision-making process." [...] Since 2014, Republicans have pointed to net neutrality as an idea primarily promoted by President Obama, and have made it another in a long line of regulations and laws that they have sought to repeal now that Donald Trump is president. Prior to this false narrative, though, net neutrality was a bipartisan issue; the first net neutrality rules were put in place under President George W. Bush, and many Republicans worked on the 2015 rules that were just dismantled. What happened, then, is that Republicans sold the public a narrative that wasn't true, then used that narrative to repeal the regulations that protect the internet.

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Internal FCC Report Shows Republican Net Neutrality Narrative Is False

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  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:06AM (#55767731)

    You must be joking! That is unpossible!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:14AM (#55767757)

      Facing a corrupt political system with cynical acceptance will change nothing.

      When politicians lie, we have to call them out, shout about it and try not to elect them. Resigned acceptance of lying politicians as a fact of life will only make things worse.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        We need to grow some balls. When politicians lie, they need to be tried, convicted, and locked up for a very, very long time. I know, I know, that means all our current people are probably going to jail. That's fine. We need a new bunch anyway. The problem is that there is absolutely no accountability or repercussions for lying. The lies either get them whatever they were looking for, or they get caught and simply deny or worst-case walk away. There needs to be criminal and financial penalties for ly
        • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:24AM (#55767791)

          The problem is what is a lie, far righters will claim that Obama lied when he said you can keep your doctor, the rest of us point out that he was telling the truth in the context he was speaking. The problem is that you need to get into the mind of the accused to prove he had intent to lie, and that is damn near impossible.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The problem is what is a lie, far righters will claim that Obama lied when he said you can keep your doctor, the rest of us point out that he was telling the truth in the context he was speaking. The problem is that you need to get into the mind of the accused to prove he had intent to lie, and that is damn near impossible.

            The problem is you can't keep up with all the lies. The ones that sound plausible enough are likely to sneak though. Heck even if Obama did push hard for NN, then that would be within the bounds of his job and not really a bad thing, but republicans make it out to be a bad thing.

            Obama's one major lie was that you can keep your doctor stuff. Most likely he knew when he was saying it, that if he said, "If you like your insurance then you can keep your insurance as is, if your insurance meets the new minimu

            • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:54AM (#55767943)

              Except it wasn't a lie. There was nothing in the bill to prevent the insurance companies from keeping the old plans or just adding new features, and there was nothing in the bill to do anything with doctors at all. He did not lie, its only when you expand the context to absurdity that you can think of it as a lie.

              • He did not lie, its only when you expand the context to absurdity that you can think of it as a lie.

                I think you mean "reality". Politicians tell lots of different kinds of lies. Sure, sometimes they lie about things they have no intent whatsoever of doing, like draining the swamp or giving a tax cut to the middle class. Sometimes they lie about things they don't really care about, like closing Gitmo. And sometimes they lie about things they can't actually accomplish because they have no control over them, like letting you keep your doctor. All of these things are lies, and when you do any of those things

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Yes it was. There was a whole class of catastrophic insurance plans which are very popular among those of us who are generally healthy. Those didn't meet his minimum insurance standards, thus they were effectively made illegal. I figured out during that whole time that a lot of people cannot understand the appeal of a catastrophic insurance plan because of the number of people that said losing those was of no issue because they didn't cover anything. I'm sorry, but I'm one of those people who uses those

                • This.

                  I hardly ever go to the doctor, I have a healthy lifestyle and make my own health decisions. I have some manageable chronic ailments but I don't like pharmaceuticals so I use diet and exercise and supplements for the most part. But I want to be protected if I have a trauma or serious illness that needs long-term treatment. Those plans did that. Yes, I pay more for doctor visits and any drugs, so I shop around. You would be amazed at the number of 3rd party pharmaceutical discounts available if you loo

        • Mentally unstable (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:31AM (#55767835)
        • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )
          Even just 'immediately fired' would be good.
          When any other person at any other job gets caught doing something similar, they are fired on the spot and told the leave the premises.
          In politics it's "well maybe we just won't vote for you in X months/years, if we even remember this action, though if you run unopposed you get off Scott-free"
        • A problem with that is often positions of people in power change when they get in power and exposed to the complexities of the actual situation. It is easy to say that you are going to be tough on crime, but then you realize a lot of the criminals are also victims. Or say that we are going stop using Fossil Fuels, however it is still the most energy dense, relativity save, and portable energy source, where it still has its place.

          Broad Statements will make you a lair, Complex objective statements makes you

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 )

        I would like to agree, but watching the senate race in Alabama. The question to me becomes how bad does a person have to be to cause people to vote against their aligned party? While Doug Jones won, he won by less then 1% against a convicted pedophile? With church ministers standing up for this lowlife. How many traditional values is the population willing to give up, just for their party to win?

        Now this will happen in Democratic states too, if a popular politician gets in trouble doing something, there i

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:12AM (#55768037)

          Moore was not convicted of anything

          • You are right...
            I meant "accused". I apologize.

            • by kqs ( 1038910 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @10:41AM (#55768647)

              Indeed. And this leads to an important point: How much do we believe women?

              Eight women accused him of misconduct. He said he did not do it. The only people who would know for sure would be Moore and the 8 accusers.

              So we find that for many folks in Alabama, one man is more believable than eight women. So women are, at most, about 12% as believable as men!

              This sadly explains a lot about us as a culture.

              • This sadly explains a lot about us as a culture.

                No, it doesn't, because you've ignored numerous other factors that likely play a bigger role.

                Our first tendency as humans is to reject anything that runs contrary to what we believe. As engineers and scientists, many of us (like to think that we) are less susceptible to that tendency than most, but if a normal person has bought into a carefully crafted public persona that a person has maintained for years, whether it's a celebrity, a politician, a journalist, or even just the church-going high school quarte

            • Close enough to get barred from entering a mall because he was found to be such a damned pervert.
          • Lock him up.... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @10:57AM (#55768731)

            Moore was not convicted of anything

            That is true but then neither was Hillary Clinton but that has not stopped conservative pundits from dragging her into every conversation about the incompetence, hypocrisy and corruption of their leaders and confidently asserting that she is guilty of a long list of crimes as established fact. So you can think of Roy Moore as the liberal's Hillary Clinton, except while Hillary is merely corrupt Roy Moore is also way, way, way more creepy than she could ever hope to be.

        • by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:50AM (#55768283)

          I would like to agree, but watching the senate race in Alabama. The question to me becomes how bad does a person have to be to cause people to vote against their aligned party? While Doug Jones won, he won by less then 1% against a convicted pedophile? With church ministers standing up for this lowlife. How many traditional values is the population willing to give up, just for their party to win?

          Now this will happen in Democratic states too, if a popular politician gets in trouble doing something, there is a huge support network trying to protect him, vilify the accusers and the messengers.

          We as a nation can deal with people in power with positions that we don't agree with, however we have lost the feeling that these people are working for their constituents and their prosperity. They are in it for their own personal Ego trip Like President Trump, or for the Party Line like many of the Democratic and GOP Congressmen. This is the real tragedy of our nation. We have moved from debating policy to likability of the person, to general party alliance. So now the people in charge are just playing games with our nation to keep their power, by gerrymandering to keep their power, entertaining media show them that they are indeed pure conservative or pure liberal enough for their base, taking advantage of strongly held minority views to win elections...

          I agree with the overall point you are making. Politics and governing should be more than a team sport. But I would also point out that the two parties are not equal here. The Democrats drummed out Al Franken while the Republicans rallied around and defended Moore. Heck, some of them said they believed Moore's accusers, but would vote for him anyway.

          I am registered Independent. But from where I sit the Republicans seem much more willing to overlook wrongdoing to gain or maintain power. Donald Trump could never get the Democratic nomination and if he did, the Democrats would not be so negligent in their responsibilities to hold him accountable. The Democrats have their problems and faults, no doubt. But I think the Trump era has really put on full display the fact that the Republicans really only care about power. Literally everything else is secondary.

          • by sjbe ( 173966 )

            But I think the Trump era has really put on full display the fact that the Republicans really only care about power. Literally everything else is secondary.

            I would say they only care about power and money. Kind of hard to argue that republicans aren't profit motivated. But to your basic point I agree.

          • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

            The odd thing is that Doug Jones won in this reddest of states despite being portrayed as a tool of the dreaded Nancy Peolosi. Trump's pitch was "you need to elect Moore so we can achieve our agenda". I.e., pass the hideous tax 'reform' bill that nobody - presumably even in Alabama - thought was a good piece of legislation, much less a boon for the working class.

            So the tragedy to me is that Jones didn't make his campaign about "Okay, Moore is a creep, and you shouldn't vote for him. But beyond that, thin

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by unixcorn ( 120825 )

          Moore was tried in the court of public opinion with the media as his prosecutor. There was no proof of anything nefarious save for the words of someone about something that happened decades ago. Moore's only real transgression is that he is a Republican and that makes him a target. We are going to have to stop listening to sensationalist media if we want our country to survive.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

            There was no proof of anything nefarious save for the words of someone about something that happened decades ago.

            And the fact that he was banned from a shopping mall for macking on little girls. And his autograph on little girls' high school yearbook.

            If you're in your thirties and signing a high school girl's yearbook, you better be her teacher and not some pervy lawyer who's into lollies.

        • So true, we have become a nation of party over country. I am center left, but wanted our DA (left) to resign after she got caught with a very bad DUI. It was incomprehensible to me that she did not, even knowing the right governor (Perry) would have gotten to choose her replacement. She was not just drunk but belligerent with the officers and kept saying "Do you know who I am?". Video went nationwide. I've wondered if part of this is due to sports, where "my team" must win at all costs even if "my team" con

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      All politicians lie, because all *people* lie. But that doesn't make everyone equally honest. Nor are politicians equally dishonest.

      The highest degree of honesty consistent with success as a politician is what I call the prosecutorial standard. At a trial a prosecutor is actually expected to omit facts that might weaken his case (lies of omission). He is expected to present facts in an unfairly damning light (lies by equivocation).But he's not allowed to outright fabricate evidence. That would be a crim

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        In the UK a defense barrister must excuse themselves from the case if they know the party they are defending to be guilty.

      • That's a lot of words for saying "scientists want to have truth, everyone else just wants to be right".

        • That's a lot of words for saying "scientists want to have truth, everyone else just wants to be right".

          You forgot the air quotes around "right".

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Scientists don't deal with truth, they deal with evidence. If you don't understand that, you don't understand science.

          • True, true...

            • by hey! ( 33014 )

              Experience has shown, actually.

              I've worked with many scientists, helping them prepare proposals and in some cases even draft responses to peer reviews. Never do they invoke anything like the concept of truth.

              In science closest thing to "truth" you have "consensus", but it functions very differently in reasoning. Contradicting the truth means you're wrong, end of story. Contradicting consensus means you carry a burden of proof.

  • by OffTheLip ( 636691 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:08AM (#55767739)
    Repubs playbook in the tl;dr edition.
    • You can play the political fill-in-the-blank game, too.

      Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton in the Presidential election virtually guaranteed Obama would remain the partisan figurehead of revulsion for the right, but she would've sufficed just as well had she been a little more electable.

      In the same breath, Teddy Cruz would be just as repulsive to the left. Without some incentive to come toward the middle of the road by the vast majority who make up the duopoly, it's amazingly simple to disarm the democracy.

  • by Kokuyo ( 549451 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:09AM (#55767743) Journal

    I am unsure what rattles me more... that a politician would lie or that a republican would lie about the Obama administration...

  • This is daft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davide marney ( 231845 ) <[gro.aidemten] [ta] [yenram.edivad]> on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:15AM (#55767763) Journal

    No, you're not going to find evidence of "collusion" between the White House and the FCC, and no, that does not contradict the claim that the Obama administration got the FCC to pass net neutrality. Net neutrality was a huge goal of the Obama administration and a very big political win for them. It IS possible, you know, for like-minded people to work independently towards a common goal. I've heard that happens from time to time.

    And, by the way, can we save everyone a huge amount of time and wasted expense and just assume that we won't find any evidence of "collusion" between this White House and the hacking of the DNC email servers or the purchase of Facebook advertisements? And, can we also just admit that like-minded people can be working independently towards a common goal in THIS instance, too?

    • No, you're not going to find evidence of "collusion" between the White House and the FCC, and no, that does not contradict the claim that the Obama administration got the FCC to pass net neutrality. Net neutrality was a huge goal of the Obama administration and a very big political win for them. It IS possible, you know, for like-minded people to work independently towards a common goal. I've heard that happens from time to time.

      And, by the way, can we save everyone a huge amount of time and wasted expense and just assume that we won't find any evidence of "collusion" between this White House and the hacking of the DNC email servers or the purchase of Facebook advertisements? And, can we also just admit that like-minded people can be working independently towards a common goal in THIS instance, too?

      Politics are 90% theatrics and 10% actual work.

    • Re:This is daft (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:47AM (#55767915)

      those two narratives are completely unrelated. In one instance you have an ex president saying that he thinks the FCC should protect net neutrality, but that it was ultimately their decision. No emails or personal communications found to exist, just that comment.

      On the other hand we have a current president who calls the FBI director in to talk to him personally and suggests "maybe you could just let it go" referring to the investigation into Flynn

      Those two things are as far apart ethically as any political situation I can imagine

    • And, by the way, can we save everyone a huge amount of time and wasted expense and just assume that we won't find any evidence of "collusion" between this White House and the hacking of the DNC email servers or the purchase of Facebook advertisements?

      No. Not until we stop finding more evidence of collusion with Russia in the Trump administration will we be able to stop suspecting that we will find still more after that.

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:16AM (#55767765) Journal
    Plausibly because it's easier than researching carefully to arrive at one's own opinion, siding with the opinion of the partisan tribe has become the default position of the masses.

    Both major US parties use the same siren song. On the right: "That's what Obama wanted!" On the left: That's what Trump is doing!"

    The power brokers now have the ability to galvanize a large portion of the population with a few key buzzwords. It's a lot more work to remain undecided.

    • by iserlohn ( 49556 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:06AM (#55767997) Homepage

      This 'both sides' argument is getting to be a bit of a tired trope.

      It's obvious which party is on the side of big telecom and which is on the side of the consumers here.

      • Maybe so, but here's the sordid truth: people vote these politicians in because they are not Hillary, or, not Trump... not for their position on Net Neutrality.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Go look at how the two parties actually vote in different questions.

      The parties aren't the same and one of them is consistently trying to screw over the people.
      (I'm not telling you which one, go and see how they vote instead of looking at what they say.)

  • A more core point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:27AM (#55767805)

    A more common point that I see is that we didn't have net neutrality until 2015. Not only was the net effectively neutral (most of the time) prior to that, the dial-up internet of the dotcom era was regulated similarly, and even had leasing requirements that meant multiple options and some real semblance of competition. The change from that regime happened with cable and DSL, which were less regulated, but still neutral, until the actions from ISPs that prompted the 2015 rules out of necessity.

    So, the actual timeline was: Neutral internet->Deregulated broadband->Dickish ISP behavior->Fixing dickish ISP behavior by re-regulating->Re-deregulating broadband.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:44AM (#55767893)

      This feels like the lead up to the financial collapse too...

      dickish behavior by banks->economic collapse because of it-> regulation of banks to prevent dickish behavior-> de-regulation of banks -> dickish behavior by banks -> economic collapse.... wash rinse repeat...

      Though our next economic collapse is because of dickship behavior on the part of congress.... (I'd blame the president for signing the bill into law, but we all know he can't be expected to read or understand a bill put on his desk to sign, congress should know that doubly well.)

    • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @08:57AM (#55767961)

      Good points. It was really the whole shakedown of content providers like Netflix and others for daring to make money selling content to Verizon and Comcast customers that was the impetus... as-if those customers that were paying Verizon, Comcast and Netflix somehow needed to be protected by the ISPs from accessing the content they paid for without paying for bandwidth twice.

    • So, the actual timeline was: Neutral internet->2005 Net Neutrality Regulation->Verizon lawsuit (successful in 2014)->Deregulated broadband->Dickish ISP behavior->Fixing dickish ISP behavior by re-regulating->Re-deregulating broadband.

      FTFY. The time span of deregulated broadband was actually less than 2 years.

  • by Idou ( 572394 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:09AM (#55768017) Journal
    In the comments section of his FCC blog post about giving thanks [fcc.gov].
  • by billrp ( 1530055 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:16AM (#55768063)
    please correct
  • by volkris ( 694 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @11:44AM (#55769065)

    But absence of proof is not proof of absence.

    The OIG report didn't debunk the suspicion that Obama had undue influence on the FCC's processes. They simply didn't come across any proof of it in the email records kept by the FCC. They did, though, restate that Wheeler and the president had had conversations about topics like this.

    So it still leaves unexplained the FCC's decision to make such a sudden break with longstanding, bipartisan, and legal consensus that the Internet shouldn't be regulated like this.

    • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @11:59AM (#55769183)

      So it still leaves unexplained the FCC's decision to make such a sudden break with longstanding, bipartisan, and legal consensus that the Internet shouldn't be regulated like this.

      No, it doesn't. First, there was no longstanding consensus that the internet shouldn't be regulated like this.

      But, if you've been following this from the time before the FCC decision, you'll see that there is no mystery here at all. Here's the synopsis for you, but I encourage you to actually research the history of all of this.

      1) ISPs began to abuse their position by unfairly interfering with internet traffic.

      2) The FCC stepped in to try to stop it.

      3) ISPs took it to court.

      4) The court said the FCC didn't have the authority to stop the abuse because ISPs weren't categorized as common carriers by the FCC.

      5) The FCC changed how they categorized ISPs so that they could put a stop to future abuse.

      There's zero mystery here.

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