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What Happens When States Have Their Own Net Neutrality Rules? (bloomberg.com) 179

Last month FCC Chairman Ajit Pai dismantled Obama-era rules on net neutrality. A handful of lawmakers in liberal-leaning U.S. states plan to spend this year building them back up. FCC anticipated the move -- the commission's rules include language forbidding states from doing this, warning against an unwieldy patchwork of regulations. But lawmakers in New York and California aren't aiming to be exceptions to the national rules; they're looking to, in effect, create their own. From a report: In New York, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy introduced a bill that would make it a requirement for internet providers to adhere to the principles of net neutrality as a requirement for landing state contracts. This would mean they couldn't block or slow down certain web traffic, and couldn't offer faster speeds to companies who pay them directly. Fahy said the restrictions on contractors would apply even if the behaviors in question took place outside New York. She acknowledged that the approach could run afoul of limits on states attempting to regulate interstate commerce, but thought the bill could "thread the needle." Even supporters of state legislation on net neutrality think this may go too far. California State Senator Scott Wiener introduced a bill this week that would only apply to behavior within the state, saying any other approach would be too vulnerable to legal challenge.

But this wouldn't be the first time a large state threw around its weight in ways that reverberate beyond its borders. The texbook industry, for instance, has long accommodated the standards of California and Texas. [...] The internet doesn't lend itself cleanly to state lines. It could be difficult for Comcast or Verizon to accept money from services seeking preferential treatment in one state, then make sure that its network didn't reflect those relationships in places where state lawmakers forbade them, said Geoffrey Manne, executive director of the International Center for Law & Economics, a research group.

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What Happens When States Have Their Own Net Neutrality Rules?

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  • States' Rights (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DatbeDank ( 4580343 )

    Good! If the citizens of California and New York feel these rules are necessary and important they should be able to dictate such rules as they see fit.

    That was, once upon a time, the magic of America, applying bottom up legislation allows for what works in specific areas to be applied and for other areas to not be applied.

    It's time to go back to an anti-federalist interpretation of the federal government.

    • Re:States' Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @02:21PM (#55870185)

      Good! If the citizens of California and New York feel these rules are necessary and important they should be able to dictate such rules as they see fit.

      That was, once upon a time, the magic of America, applying bottom up legislation allows for what works in specific areas to be applied and for other areas to not be applied.

      It's time to go back to an anti-federalist interpretation of the federal government.

      You forgot that people are only anti-federalist when the feds do something they don't like, but all for the Feds to exert their power to prevent states form doing something they don't like.

      • You forgot that people are only anti-federalist when the feds do something they don't like, but all for the Feds to exert their power to prevent states form doing something they don't like.

        Is that a problem?

        I was under the impression that the governments (both federal and local) should work for the benefit of the people, and that a big problem with governments as they are now is: that they don't.

        Why is it bad that the people always favor things that they would like?

        (Yes, there are corner cases like slavery and discrimination, but these only get changed when a majority wants them to change. We only gave women the vote in 1920 when a majority thought it was appropriate. Net Neutrality is not on

        • Well, I agree that there should be a MAJOR reform over the way the feds have abused the Interstate Commerce clause to expand their powers where they frankly should not be....

          I think fights against things like the federal prohibition against marijuana and such, for example...should be overturned. I mean, we had to get a constitutional amemdment to prohibit alcohol, and another one to legalize it again....yet, the stroke of a pen created the drug schedule and pot is on the top level?

          How does that work?

          I'd

          • It works because alcohol had always been something akin to a legal right for all classes before tea-totalers came along. Getting high off a plant, on the other hand, was looked down upon by the ruling class and mostly of the domain of the underclass. You don't need the same force of law to forbid that versus something that you know the upper classes partake of.

            • It works because alcohol had always been something akin to a legal right for all classes before tea-totalers came along.

              Well, to be fair....pot was 100% legal up until basically Anslinger went on a rampage to try to make it illegal.

              One of his methods to try to scare people about pot and to give it a bad rap...was associating it with mexicans, and also saying it caused blacks to rape white women. But prior to his antics, I don't believe it was thought upon one way or another.

              You also had the Hearst in

        • On the surface they're complaining about the method or process, but what they really mean is that they don't like the result.

          Not really hard to understand.

        • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday January 05, 2018 @04:18PM (#55871029) Homepage

          Why is it bad that the people always favor things that they would like?

          I think the point that "Registered Coward" was trying to make is that you have a bunch of "anti-federalists" who claim to object to actions by the Federal government on principle, but who will then happily endorse Federal action when it's in favor of their own pet politics. Basically, he's accusing people of hypocrisy.

          Like you have people who are pro-gun, who don't like the idea of the Federal government doing any gun control because it's "Federal overreach". They want gun regulations, if there are any, to be set by the state. They argue that it makes more sense because the culture around guns and the need for a gun in Wyoming may be very different than in Washington D.C., so the people in Washington shouldn't make rules for Wyoming. Ok. Fair enough. I wouldn't necessarily say that's the end of the discussion, but it's a valid point.

          But then those same people will propose a Federal law mandating that a gun permit from any state should be honored in all states. Basically, if Wyoming allows any random idiot without training to carry a concealed weapon, they want the Federal government to intervene and tell every other state to allow those same idiots to carry a concealed weapon. It's still the Federal government trying to override the state's decisions on gun control, but when the Federal government is overriding the states in a way they like, they're fine with it. Ergo, the objection to "Federal overreach" is not based on any principle. It's really just that they don't like what the federal government is doing, so they're making up fake "principles" for rhetorical purposes.

          Not that there aren't genuine libertarians and anti-federalists, but a lot of the "libertarians" aren't libertarians, and the "anti-federalists" aren't opposed to federal action. A lot of them are a bunch of crybabies who are making up nonsense because they aren't getting their way.

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        It has never been an issue for a state to issue more restrictive regulations than the feds do. It's only an issue when it is the other way around. So it need not be anti-federalist.

        • Re:States' Rights (Score:4, Informative)

          by michael_cain ( 66650 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @03:32PM (#55870691) Journal
          The preemption doctrine has been around for a long time, and has been consistently upheld by the Supreme Court: once the feds decide to regulate, states may also regulate only to the extent and in ways that Congress specifies. With the default case being, if Congress doesn't specify, the states can't regulate.

          For example, the Clean Air Act explicitly gives California authority to set tougher-than-federal emission standards for some things (cars in particular) -- it's right there in the statute. Other states are given authority to choose between the federal standard or the California standard where they are different, but no other state can make up its own standard.
      • Perhaps we should just let it go to extremes and allow for some states that have vastly different rules and let people vote with their feet. Donâ(TM)t like the socialist state of Delaware? Move to the unfettered free market state of Kansas. Sure you likely end up with some horrible idiocy like religious or ethnicity-based states (i.e., no whites or no blacks or Mormons only) but that population would be self-selecting and then you wouldnâ(TM)t need to have those crazies as neighbors as they would
        • Perhaps we should just let it go to extremes and allow for some states that have vastly different rules and let people vote with their feet. Don't like the socialist state of Delaware? Move to the unfettered free market state of Kansas.

          Those most likely to be on the wrong end of those extremes are least likely to have the resources to move.

    • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @02:25PM (#55870201) Homepage Journal

      Republicans are for states rights, unless the states pass laws they don't like.

      Democrats are for states rights, unless the states pass laws they don't like.

    • Being each State has a different set of demographics and needs, for the most part there should be more state rights. While this doesn't exclude federal powers that should be over reaching. A lot of these federal powers would probably be better served, if they took the money from a lot of the federal taxes and applied it back to the states based on some combination of land area and population for the amount for them to do with as they please. Because some states wouldn't have enough tax revenue for them t

    • That was, once upon a time, the magic of America, applying bottom up legislation allows for what works in specific areas to be applied and for other areas to not be applied.

      Yeah, I seem to remember that approach didn't work out so well in the 1860s.

    • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @02:43PM (#55870359) Homepage Journal
      Big business has shoved these changes through, despite the wishes of the end users. Now as a result, they aren't going to have to deal with one set of regulations, they will have to deal with 50 sets of differing regulations and the resulting lawsuits when they screw up.

      It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.
    • That would tear the country apart. It didn't work with the Articles of Confederation. It didn't work pre-Civil War. It won't work now.

      The real problem isn't states right or a need for a new interpretation. It's the money and corruption flowing into Washington, and the Citizens United SCOTUS decision that allowed it to happen. That needs to be overturned with Congressional action, ASAP. Of course, that's asking the paid off men to cut off their own bread and butter, so...

    • how in the fuck would that work with NN? "we won't interfere with your packets until they cross state lines"?

      • I would guess you could have two separate companies a ( in state network) and and out of state network owned by different companies one that follows the rules and one that doesn't. as the state laws can't have any influence on companies that don't do business in the state.

        Both companies could of coarse be owned by the same parent. Something like what happens with the insurance companies in Florida, after the state passed laws regulating what they could charge. So there is no 'state farm' insurance of Flo

        • great, you'd get a few ms of reprieve until the fuckering happens!

          if CA/NY implemented these rules all that would happen is that data centers would get moved out of state.

      • Something along the lines of: Businesses who choose to violate net neutrality will not be granted license to do business in the state of California. Want to do business there? Follow the rules they have.
    • Yeah, Jim Crow laws worked great in some states but not in others, so it should be up to each state to decide which US citizens deserve to be treated like citizens and which do not.

      So how would any state and its citizenry be better served by allowing ISPs to block/snarl competitive services or charge said competitors extortion fees for access to their users?
      =Smidge=

    • I disagree strongly. States making-up stupid and different rules just to be different is a huge barrier to entry, and it really helps the large companies like AT&T and Comcast prevent competition. The states are killing competition.

    • Good! If the citizens of California and New York feel these rules are necessary and important they should be able to dictate such rules as they see fit.

      That's nice in theory, and it may be what needs to happen if the Federal government abdicates its responsibilities. BUT there's also a problem with this setup: Instead of having one Federal law to abide by, any company whose operations cross state lines will need to juggle different regulations for each state. They need to parse the laws in each state, change their rules and processes in each state, and possibly contend with different lawsuits/penalties in each state.

      That sort of thing costs a bunch of m

  • Part of the repeal, was that they forbade states from making their own rules.
    • Part of the repeal, was that they forbade states from making their own rules.

      But are they really legally allowed to do that? This wording sounds like only congress could put into law. Just on this wording alone I can see states suing the FCC.

      • by tsqr ( 808554 )

        Part of the repeal, was that they forbade states from making their own rules.

        But are they really legally allowed to do that? This wording sounds like only congress could put into law. Just on this wording alone I can see states suing the FCC.

        The principal of Federal law taking precedence over State law applies to, well, laws. Does it apply to Federal regulations as well? Should make for some interesting litigation.

      • by Kenja ( 541830 )
        That's up to the courts, which are currently stacked towards "yes they can".
      • It may end up a Constitutional issue. The Constitution gives the Federal Gov't power over "interstate commerce", but not intra-state commerce. If there's a reasonable way to determine the boundaries, such as physical address of ISP subscriber, then in theory the states can enforce state-wide net-neutrality and privacy laws.

        But the Supreme Court leans Republican, meaning they may kiss up to corporations out of dogma and/or their pocketbook.

        • by sabri ( 584428 )

          It may end up a Constitutional issue.

          It is a constitutional issue. The 4th amendment protects against unreasonable seizures. Net Neutrality rules effectively seize operational control of privately owned computer networks. The government did not pay for the capex and does not pay for the opex, thus shall not have any voice in dictating how these networks shall be operated.

          • It is a constitutional issue. The 4th amendment protects against unreasonable seizures. Net Neutrality rules effectively seize operational control of privately owned computer networks.

            Can you cite any court precedent that ruled that government regulations violate the Fourth Amendment? If that were true, the courts would have disbanded nearly every federal agency.

          • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

            The 4th amendment protects against unreasonable seizures. Net Neutrality rules effectively seize operational control of privately owned computer networks.

            Corporations were not people and didn't have people's rights UNTIL Republicans and the like got their fingers into the law. Corporate-personhood is STILL not in the Constitution, and is only a (right-influenced) interpretation of it.

            Plus there are anti-trust issues if a consumer can only choose from say 2 ISP's: consumers are then pretty much stuck with fo

            • by sabri ( 584428 )

              Plus there are anti-trust issues if a consumer can only choose from say 2 ISP's: consumers are then pretty much stuck with forced bundling and other typical oligopoly evils.

              If there were say 7 or more actual choices, then the issues surrounding NN would probably take care of themselves via market forces. But the "last mile" problem mucks up entry into the field. It's economically and environmentally wasteful to have 7 different duplicate networks in each town.

              One solution would be to have a gov't or public utility wire "the last mile", and ANY provider could then hook up into the regional "nodes", and point your single connection to their network. That way providers don't need to lay gillion wires to get into the ISP and content business.

              On this, we totally and unanimously agree, just check my other posts regarding NN here on /., where I effectively advocate the same.

              My point is: NN is bad, competition is good.

    • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @03:02PM (#55870505)

      The ability of the states to implement taxes is not abridged, though.

      Notwithstanding anything recorded in the Federal Registry, any person, collection of persons, or legal entity providing internet protocol communication services within the borders of Californian shall be taxed yearly for the market value of any equipment the the Attorney General determines is being used to throttle packet rates based upon the packets origin.

    • Bring it on (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @03:05PM (#55870523)

      States and cities make decisions about which businesses get to run cables on property owned by those states and cities. There are many requirements that businesses must meet to run such cables. Why not make net neutrality such a requirement? The city or state is not regulating that business. That business is free to choose not to run their cable in the right-of-way and shit on net neutrality. But, if they want that contract, they have to meet the standards of the property owners.

      Stick that in your FCC.

    • Thanks for regurgitating the information that was already in TFS
  • Well, Mr. Washington State Regulator, as you see by these logs, we have not traffic restrictions within the State of Washington. That is the extent of your jurisdiction? Yes, it is. Oh, you want to know what happens once it crosses your State line? That is no matter of yours. Oh, you want to sue us? We'll see you in court, you have no right to tell us how the signal flows once it exits your State.
    • Well, Mr. Washington State Regulator, as you see by these logs, we have not traffic restrictions within the State of Washington. That is the extent of your jurisdiction? Yes, it is. Oh, you want to know what happens once it crosses your State line? That is no matter of yours. Oh, you want to sue us?

      "Nope, we don't want to sue you. Contract bid rejected."

  • "This would mean they couldn't block or slow down certain web traffic"

    If we're really talking about Net Neutrality, why the word certain instead of having the phrase cover all web traffic?

    I'lll tell you why, it's because "certain other" websites would be REQUIRED to be blocked.

    That is simply the inevitable result of government regulations of internet content (see: Germany).

    Enjoy your censored internet, brought to you in the name of "net neutrality".

    • "Certain web traffic" because the concern - well founded by historical behavior, I might add - is that ISPs will selectively slow or block access to services in order to either extort more money or to put up barriers to competition.

      For example, your startup video streaming service competes with Verizon's video on demand? Well your traffic will count towards Verizon's data caps while their own traffic does not (letting them charge more from their customers) and *your* traffic in particular will be throttled

      • For example, your startup video streaming service competes with Verizon's video on demand?

        You are paying for Verizon's VOD as part of your Verizon bill. You aren't paying for Netflix data as part of your Verizon bill. That service requires bandwidth, and thus to provide the service you have paid Verizon for, they can't count that bandwidth against you. You aren't paying Verizon for the Netflix service, so the data that happens does count against your data service cap.

        and *your* traffic in particular will be throttled or interrupted unless you pay extra.

        Sorry, but a data cap doesn't automatically mean your data is interrupted. Only after you reach the cap. But you got all the data

        • You are paying for Verizon's VOD as part of your Verizon bill.

          That's one way to look at it, I suppose. Another way to look at it is Verizon is giving their own service a free ride. FiOS does not (currently) have data caps or throttling that I've encountered, so there is no argument to be made here that they're trying to save costs on bandwidth or justifying offering free VoD to FiOS customers because it's part of a package. There is no distinction between traffic used to stream video from Verizon's service or Netflix's service, other than Verizon could increase their

          • That's one way to look at it, I suppose.

            That's the way it is, so that's a reasonable way to look at it. You're buying a service. Just like buying a bus ticket to Las Vegas is buying a service, and you expect the bus to go all the way to the destination. A data cap on the Verizon VoD service would be like a bus ticket that includes only a limited amount of gas for the bus. The gas required to get there is part of the service you bought from the bus company.

            Contrast that with buying a hypothetical "bus pass" that includes a set number of miles but

  • The problem isn't random parts of the internet being slowed down, it's your local ISP slowing you down. Regulation on intrastate traffic is sufficient to get basic net neutrality. ISPs would really have to go out of their way to screw you over which is just asking for trouble.

    • it's your local ISP slowing you down. Regulation on intrastate traffic is sufficient to get basic net neutrality.

      I just did a traceroute on netflix.com. Packets travel from a network in my state to a network in a neighboring state before icmp is blocked. If the network in my neighboring state decides to throttle netflix packets, then yes, indeed, they will be throttled in my state too, even if my "local ISP" isn't doing anything to cause it.

      ISPs would really have to go out of their way to screw you over which is just asking for trouble.

      If by "going out of their way" you mean "operate the border gateway in a state with lax NN laws", I agree. Maybe throw in the already existing "corporate structuring so that your l

  • Granted you just need 51% to be leaning. But New York has about 1/3 of its representatives as Republican, and it is nearly 50/50 split for the Local government elected officials. Outside of the City there is a good red streak in upstate. California isn't that much different.

    • he shifted the Dems right to forge an alliance that let him win the presidency. In order to maintain a separate brand the Republicans shifted right. The Dems followed suit with with candidates resulting in a country that's been moving hard right for 30 years. Roy Moore and Donald Trump are kind of the apex of all that, but Moore's sex scandal might have the kibosh on things. Here's hoping. I'd really like to join the rest of the civilized world in Single Payer health care, college and ending the wars (Drug
  • by TFlan91 ( 2615727 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @02:36PM (#55870295)

    "The internet doesn't lend itself cleanly to state lines. It could be difficult for Comcast or Verizon to accept money from services seeking preferential treatment in one state, then make sure that its network didn't reflect those relationships in places where state lawmakers forbade them, said Geoffrey Manne, executive director of the International Center for Law & Economics, a research group."

    No. It's not "difficult" for Comcast, Verizon, etc to know where their property is and under what jurisdiction it is. It's not "difficult" at all.

    You can't have your cake (we don't know what going on on our networks) and eat it too (we know exactly who is using our networks, pay up).

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      This all depends on the precise wording of the laws...plural.

      OTOH, the Supreme Court, IIRC, once decided that a farmer growing marijuana on his own land for personal use came under the interstate commerce clause.

    • No. It's not "difficult" for Comcast, Verizon, etc to know where their property is and under what jurisdiction it is. It's not "difficult" at all.

      When the "property" being regulated is internet packets, yes, it is certainly hard to know what jurisdiction they fall under. I can be standing in the middle of Kansas and have an IP address from Mexico, for example. Are my outgoing packets subject to Kansas law regarding NN, and how do you tell just by looking at them? If I am providing a service you pay for and the ISP in Mexico throttles them, how do you tell the difference between the throttling being done in Mexico or by your local ISP? And how do your

  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @02:42PM (#55870357) Journal
    I am 100% in favor of Net Neutrality, the Paris Accord, Common Core and a $15 Minimum Wage in New York & California. Let them lead the nation, and we'll see how well those policies work out. That's the idea behind federalism, where the states can be labs for democracy.
    • Common Core is pretty terrible. I don't really think the Paris Accord ever meant much beyond nations stroking each other's egos and making feel-good promises they won't deliver on. Definitely not a fan of "min. wage" legislation, on the whole. (Just eliminate ALL laws trying to dictate what someone wants to offer for a particular job or task and let the chips fall where they may. If, indeed, it turns out like the naysayers sometimes warn, where everybody is reduced to earning 10 cents per hour? Ok -- that m

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Why wait? Just look at Europe.

  • Well exactly what I expected would happen. Net Neutrality was a relativity simple set of rules to follow, but the ISP lobbied to get rid of them so they can make a ton of money charging fees for premium packets. However this benefit is now hampered because the ISP will need to follow different rules for each state, making it difficult for them to follow one set of rules, so it will rise their cost of business.

  • Federal law -> state law -> local law For example, this is why North Carolina passed its infamous "bathroom bill". Charlotte passed a non-discrimination law the state government didn't like, so the way to overcome that local law is to pass a state law. State net neutrality laws will only work if there is no overriding federal law on the subject. Someone pointed out that the FCC ruling stated that states can't pass their own net neutrality laws to get around new federal policy. It may take a cour
    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      Federal law -> state law -> local law

      Yes, but only if the higher level of government has the legal authority to enact such laws over the lower level, and while the FCC is a federal agency, it does not have specific legal authority to overturn state laws. This lack of authority was unanimously upheld in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in August of 2016.

      At that time Tom Wheeler was chair and was trying to block states and municipalities from enacting local laws that prevented the growth of

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Nobody is being told that they _have_ to comply with anything. It's just a precondition for receiving a contract from the state.

  • pass a law to override their laws. They're already working on it. They'll get a few of the 'blue dog' Democrats like Chuck Schumer & that Pelosi... thing... to sign on to it.

    If we want change, first, stop voting Republican. Time and again they've come out in favor of anti-consumer, pro-corporate policies like these. And we shouldn't even be surprised. The biggest part of their party platform is low taxes and little or no regulations. Next, go vote in the Dems primaries and kick the right wing Dems o
    • I'm going to define democracy as a means of people peacefully removing a group from power. In the USA you have only two groups and you have absolutely no way of removing both of them. New parties can't form and take power. Most of your house seats safe. Senate and presidential campaigns require an insane amount of money, organization and legal work and that's just to get a name on every ballot. The Dems and the Republicans have a complete strangle hold on probably 85% of the elected positions in the en
      • vote in your primary. Almost nobody does. Next step is to allow primary voting across party lines. After that make sure every election has vote by mail. Finally make voting mandatory and decouple it from jury duty. Kill gerrymandering and switch to a parliamentary system if you want a cherry on your cake. Problem solved.
  • I think that the abolishing of the Net Neutrality has essentially caused the FCC to get a hard time trying to control the states trying to enforce the Net Neutrality by state.

    The end result may be that the FCC loses control completely and that the networks ends up being under state legislation instead.

  • Lets just have CalExit and get it over with. Brown and crew would love nothing more than to be able to determine every facet of how Californians live without the pesky Feds.
  • They get taken to court by ISPs for attempting to regulate interstate commerce. The ISPS would probably win, too.

  • The Empire State that is. ;)
  • Then those states won't be able to use the major ISPs to connect to the internet and will have to either have their own connection or forego internet access.
  • Let's be frank: the patchwork of inapplicable neutrality rules over fifty different states is intrinsically NO DIFFERENT to the problems we face today of American congressmen or EU courts "insisting" on some Universalist application of a local law to the interwebs generally.

    Our jurisprudence and legislation do not yet comprehend the internet paradigm, not even close. This will be nothing new, and may in fact hasten recognition and contemplation of the problem.

  • Somehow, somewhere, some government agency has a plan to tax people based on this. They're certainly not going to let an opportunity to cover their financial asses go to waste. One could argue that the price of net neutrality was eventually going to be a national sales tax. If the government controls it, the government can tax it.

  • But this wouldn't be the first time a large state threw around its weight in ways that reverberate beyond its borders.

    Coming from an American, complaining about the actions of other Americans!

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