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The FCC May Decide Not To Regulate Broadband 279

Posted by kdawson
from the outgunned-and-outmaneuvered dept.
This morning the Washington Post reported that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is leaning toward letting the telecomms have their way — not asserting greater authority to regulate the Internet by reclassifying broadband as a Title II service. The blogs are atwitter (HuffPo, StopTheCap) that not voting to apply Title II regulation to Internet carriers is tantamount to giving up on net neutrality — which has been a centerpiece of the Obama administration's tech policy. The Post paraphrases its sources, who are reading the chairman's mind, that Genachowski believes "the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy." The FCC will say only that the chairman has made no decision yet.
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The FCC May Decide Not To Regulate Broadband

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:59PM (#32079630)

    If carrier neutrality won't be regulated then I want all government/carrier deals to be outlawed. I want to be able to sign up with anyone who is willing to toss me a line.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)

      If carrier neutrality won't be regulated then I want all government/carrier deals to be outlawed. I want to be able to sign up with anyone who is willing to toss me a line.

      and who would that be where "the last mile" costs are high?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arth1 (260657)

        If you are willing to pay a few hundred or thousand to get a line dug down, you should be permitted to hook up whoever you want. Right now, you can't, because the city council has made deals with certain providers, and others aren't allowed access. Even if you offer to pay for the last mile.
        So you have the choice of ONE phone provider and ONE cable company. At five times the price people in less populated countries (like the Scandinavian ones) pay, for a service a tenth the speed.

        I don't think the averag

        • by KibibyteBrain (1455987) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:26PM (#32081166)
          I don't think it makes much sense to allow anyone to dig all the lines they want. To the extreme, it just wouldn't work as it would become an unmanageable mess, and to the norm, it just makes no sense as one or two relatively cheap fibers to every home is all we will need for a decade or two. The current system works, except for the illusion that some company owns the lines connecting your home to the world, which doesn't work and requires oppression by either the provider or the government, neither of which is very desirable.
          It should be a common community asset leased to service providers, much like the airwaves.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Jurily (900488)

            I'd say there is no fundamental difference between power lines and broadband cable, and should be treated almost exactly the same.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Shotgun (30919)

              Agreed. Anything that requires the power of eminent domain to implement should remain in the hands of government. If it is so important that government seize property for the common good, then government should remain in control.

              BTW, this would also solve the problem of cities using eminent domain to seize poor peoples houses and sell them to developers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eravnrekaree (467752)

      This post shows an amazing ignorance to the nature of telecom. It is a natural monopoly, as it is impractical to build so many independant distribution systems into an area. The capital costs are so high. Thats why net neutrality is critical. If government did not regulate these companies with franchises it would be a monopoly anyway with maybe 2 or 3 players at the most. The best way to do things is to set up a non profit company which will operate the physical infrastructure and allow other companies to u

  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:59PM (#32079634)
    Now Comcast gets to decide what websites I can visit and at what speed. Or, alternately, I can go to the one other alternative I have (AT&T) and let THEM decide what websites I can visit and at what speed.
    • Re:Great (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:03PM (#32079680)

      Don't worry, the Invisible Hand(TM) will reach down from Heaven and drop off a brand new ISP that doesn't interfere with your connection. Any minute now.

      • No it looks like Google is still six months out from being productive on this one. thanks tho.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by uncqual (836337)
          It's true that Google will let you go wherever you want...

          Unfortunately they will track everywhere you go and add that info into their galactic databases. Then they will use that info to help sell you crap. But it will be convenient, you won't even have to bother to actually order stuff - Google will just know what you want and order it for you (conveniently debiting your bank account and adding a nominal Google Product Procurement Fee to the charge). Google will even know when you will be home to receiv
      • by Gerzel (240421)

        Or more likely it will join AT&T and ComCast into one and leave you with a single "choice" to pay them x for y service that they dictate including their preferences on what you do online.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Hey, at least it's better than the liberal socialist backyard Kumbaya drum circle! [arstechnica.com] It's about time we told those damn hippies with their "free exchange of information" and "open source" and all that communist bilge where to get off -- only good old fashioned American capitalism can produce successes like Netscape!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ichijo (607641)

      Now Comcast gets to decide what websites I can visit and at what speed. Or, alternately, I can go to the one other alternative I have (AT&T) and let THEM decide what websites I can visit and at what speed.

      Or you could get satellite broadband.

      Or wireless.

      Or form a neighborhood Internet co-op.

      Or get your own leased line.

      Or VPN past your ISP's traffic shaping.

      • Remarkably the last three all still suffer the same problem. Somewhere sometime there is going to be a big brother or other provider who will stop you just the same as the local neighborhood ISP. Shame tho. Would be nice to setup a neighborhood co-op and bypass those regs.

      • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GaryOlson (737642) <slashdot@garyol s o n . o rg> on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:19PM (#32080338) Journal

        Or form a neighborhood Internet co-op.

        You mean let my local municipal government build a last mile connection to my house. This has been tried [newrules.org]. The regulated profits of the regulated monopolies provide the incumbents with the ability to write off litigation costs -- regardless of the source of those litigation costs. Those of us who would prefer a municipal network are instead forced to pay the legal expenses which prevent municipal networks.

        • by Ichijo (607641)

          Or form a neighborhood Internet co-op.

          You mean let my local municipal government build a last mile connection to my house.

          No, not a municipal government. A cooperative, a business organization.

        • How is it even conceivable that a corporation, which exists at the whim of democratic government, can sue a democratic government that wants to build its own infrastructure. That's like GM or Caterpillar suing the municipal government for having its own works department to build and fix roads.

          Utter insanity. Yes Virginia, democracy IS a sham in our current corporate oligarchy.

      • by Gerzel (240421)

        Satilite - blocked by these things called trees and buildings in many areas also many places such as apartments have no were to install the dish.
        Wireless - See trees and buildings and clogging up the radio spectrum
        Neighborhood Internet Co-Op ...soon to be illegal and "unfair competition" in a state near you! Also it has to exist in your neighborhood.
        Leased Line - Ha Ha ha ha ha good joke.
        VPN - Yeah that can be blocked too. Don't think they won't charge extra for it.

        Finally all of these mean jack and shit

  • by smoothnorman (1670542) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:05PM (#32079688)
    Here is a good direct opinion piece to point to your congress critter: "Comcast Can Censor This Blog Post ... With FCC's Permission?" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marvin-ammori/ten-things-comcast-will-b_b_560897.html [huffingtonpost.com] Try to impress on them the notion of what if Comcast should decide not to be supportive of your their reelection webpage?
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:05PM (#32079696) Homepage Journal

    People vote based on what they read, see, or hear on the news. The FCC has already abdicated its responsibility regarding broadcast media, no more fairness doctrine and nothing to replace it. Now they want to do the same with the internet. What this means is that the United States will move very solidly toward being even more of a plutocracy than it is today.

    I can't say what bad news this is for democracy.

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:10PM (#32079756) Homepage Journal

      The fairness doctrine is dead as a doornail, and as much as I'd like to see more balance in mainstream media, that's probably a good thing; it's not the government's place to decide how the news is reported. Meanwhile, advocates of net neutrality do themselves no favors by comparing the two. It is the mainly the enemies of net neutrality who keep bringing up the fairness doctrine, because they want to discredit net neutrality, a technical matter, by mixing it up in people's minds with the fairness doctrine, a political matter. Please don't fall into their trap.

      • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:24PM (#32079870) Homepage Journal

        Technical net neutrality is a desirable goal in itself, but not a sufficient one. Just look at the current polarization in congress, which follows the polarization of the electorate, which follows the polarization of news reporting, and tell me that the current way the news is reported is good for the political health of the United States.

        Good legislation for fair news reporting has suffered so far because it's confused with freedom of the press. But the constitution doesn't give you the freedom to deliberately lie to the electorate about news they will vote upon - whether you're a news medium or an elected official. We're not going to have a healthy democracy if we can't come up with any way to prosecute that.

        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:36PM (#32079980) Homepage Journal

          tell me that the current way the news is reported is good for the political health of the United States

          Of course it's not. But that does not mean that for the government to decide what news can be reported, and how it will be reported, is better.

          the constitution doesn't give you the freedom to deliberately lie to the electorate about news they will vote upon

          Of course it does. The First Amendment doesn't say, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of true speech, or of the press except when they're lying." You have the right to say what you want to say, I have the right to say what I want to say, and Fox News and CNN have the right to say what they want to say even when it's apparent to you and me and a lot of other people that what they're saying is bilge. The solution to speech we don't like is, always, more speech. There is never a good alternative.

          And this is why net neutrality is so damned important: as long as we have the mechanism by which we can speak out -- and I think you'll agree that the internet is one of the greatest such mechanisms in history -- we have a chance to counter all the crap that gets shoveled at us by politicians and massive corporate media. Lose that mechanism, and we lose the best hope we have. By mixing up net neutrality with the fairness doctrine, we increase the chance of losing it all.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bruce Perens (3872)

            tell me that the current way the news is reported is good for the political health of the United States

            Of course it's not. But that does not mean that for the government to decide what news can be reported, and how it will be reported, is better.

            I think we've established that lassez-faire capitalism isn't the answer. But you seem to be saying that the long tail is the answer, and yet the long tail is mostly disproven.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Eh, not exactly. The "long tail" is a phrase that usually comes up in discussions of financial matters, and I agree that (unfortunately) it hasn't panned out the way we were hoping it would. But ideas are not measurable in dollars. I would argue that the active, constant, and often very healthy (as well as yes, often polarized and idiotic) political debate that takes place across the internet is in fact a success: more people have access to a greater range of facts and opinions than ever before, and mor

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Bruce Perens (3872)

                But this is all assuming that the voter is willing to change the channel and explore new opinions, rather than stay on the channel that causes the least anxiety because it is closest to the voter's current opinions.

                I submit that this is not fulfilling the responsibility of the voter to be sufficiently informed, and if that's all they are willing to do I am not sanguine about their having the right to vote at all. But I don't see how we get to having responsible voters by cultivating irresponsible media.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  You can't make people learn. Before the days of cable channels carefully crafted to appeal to specific political groups, TV news viewers would simply turn off the TV, or change the channel to a sitcom, when a reporter they didn't like came on the air. If a debate show came on, they'd do the same -- or watch for the purpose of cheering "their guy" and booing "the other guy" like they were watching a football game. Newspaper readers glance at the headlines before deciding which stories to read, and flip pa

                • by Alex Belits (437) *

                  By redefining "free speech" as to exclude blatant overwhelming streams of commercial speech and propaganda.

                  If you (Americans) can't do that, I am afraid, you will have to abandon "free speech" or accept that the whole role of speech -- be it political or otherwise is hopelessly subverted.

                • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                  by slick7 (1703596)
                  The bad news is that the FIX is in, the bought dogs of avarice voted their conscience ($$$$).
                  Politicians should serve three terms, 2 in office and 1 life sentence in prison.
                  Another reason for the separation of Business and State.
          • by Kirijini (214824) <kirijini@y a h o o . com> on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:12PM (#32080700)

            The solution to speech we don't like is, always, more speech. There is never a good alternative.

            The fairness doctrine promotes more speech. More accurately, it promotes availability of more viewpoints.

            The fairness doctrine doesn't suppress speech - its a mechanism for forcing people/corporations with a megaphone to hand the megaphone over to to the people they talk about. Since the megaphone is government sponsored, this is entirely reasonable.

            In a world where people's voices are equally strong, you can't just ignore what your enemies say. You have to actually engage them if you want to win an argument. In this world, broadcasters can just say whatever they want and ignore the response. Nobody (or at least, very few people) hears the response, so broadcasters don't have to engage it. This is not healthy for democracy.

            • by ffreeloader (1105115) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:09PM (#32081032) Journal

              And just how does it do that? It says who can broadcast. Say there are 10 conservative talk radio shows and 1 liberal talk radio show. How are the 10 conservative talk radio shows hurting the 1 liberal show? If the same market was there for liberal talk radio that's there for conservative talk radio don't you think it would exist already? There have been a lot of efforts at liberal talk radio and they have all failed. None of them had enough listeners to make the money needed to stay on the air. Whose fault is that? Conservatives? Don't make me laugh.

              Same with TV. It's the number of viewers who decide what the most popular talking head shows are. If the liberal news shows were the most popular then they would have the most viewers.

              What's been shown over and over again is that the conservative talk radio shows and conservative news/opinion channels make the most money because they have the largest audience. The vast majority of people like them better.

              How is the fairness doctrine going to change that? Run the conservative shows off the air because the liberal ones don't have a large enough audience? Try to force people to watch/listen-to shows they have no interest in? Yeah, like that's fair or will work. That's limiting political speech under the guise of "fairness". If the liberal/progressive viewpoint was actually the majority opinion progressive talk radio and tv talking-head shows would dominate the airwaves. They don't.

              Making a law just to enforce your own political viewpoints to have "equal time", as in equal audience, is anti-American at best. We are free to choose to listen to what we want to. You limit the number of conservative shows and all that will happen is that the audience for the remaining shows will grow tremendously. Conservatives aren't going to listen to progressive political commentary. They disagree with it and aren't going to support it. That's their right as Americans. You might disagree with them and not like their political philosophy, but so what? They disagree with you and don't like your political philosophy. Seems fair enough to me.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by jwhitener (198343)

                "What's been shown over and over again is that the conservative talk radio shows and conservative news/opinion channels make the most money because they have the largest audience. The vast majority of people like them better."

                It might also have something to do media ownership being increasingly concentrated into the hands of a few large corporations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by joocemann (1273720)

        Yeah... and the world is perfect.

        Get your head out of your free market ass and wake up.

        Get real: Very few people cooperate to control very many people. Acting like this isn't real is your own problem; and I'm sorry you may be too naive to see it.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:22PM (#32079842)
      The 'fairness' doctrine is complete BS. It leads to straw man-type arguments and too much liability for broadcasters.

      And net neutrality is -completely- different than the fairness doctrine. All net neutrality does it make sure that broadband providers can't give preferential treatment or throttle connections.

      What needs to happen is taxpayers must rise against ISPs taking public land without giving the public what it wants. Want to throttle? Don't use public land. If you don't use public land, you don't have to follow what the public wants. But most if not all ISPs do use public land and so the public needs to have a say on what goes on there.
      • One problem with technical net neutrality is that it is decoupled from the very reasons that make neutrality politically desirable. Not that you have the freedom to run high bandwidth peer-to-peer applications on a connection that isn't really right for them, but that you are presented with a wealth of differing political views, and you should not have to change the channel to hear them.

        • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:38PM (#32079998)
          Net Neutrality should be politically desirable because of several reasons.

          A) It is fraud to offer 'internet' access and cut off or slow down access to the internet you are paying for.

          B) Taxpayers have a fundamental right to be able to control what happens on public land. If it is your own private land you should have the freedom to do whatever the heck you want so long as it doesn't violate the rights of others, but on public land it is every taxpayer's land.

          C) Most ISPs have received large tax payer 'donations' to 'modernize' America. And taxpayers have a fundamental right to use their tax dollars, net neutrality allows taxpayers to receive the services they pay for.

          As for your point, whenever you confuse it with the 'fairness' doctrine you lose people because many people are smart enough to realize that the fairness doctrine is damaging. Net neutrality is an issue because the ISPs have been messing with public land and public funds and the public has the right to use those funds/land the way they choose.
          • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:58PM (#32080152) Homepage Journal

            A) It is fraud to offer 'internet' access and cut off or slow down access to the internet you are paying for.

            Only for your private definition of internet service. Now, I might actually like that definition, but there isn't a similar definition in U.S. law where it counts, or this would not be nearly so much of an issue.

            B) Taxpayers have a fundamental right to be able to control what happens on public land. If it is your own private land you should have the freedom to do whatever the heck you want so long as it doesn't violate the rights of others, but on public land it is every taxpayer's land.

            So, you're talking about the pole plant, and the radio airwaves. But this applies to 1) how the right to build a pole plant or operate on a radio frequency is granted and 2) what right you have to operate a channel on a partially publicly supported pole plant before we get to 3) how a particular private network - and if there's more than one of them they will tend to be treated as private - is operated. I think you might better direct your efforts to 1 and 2.

            C) Most ISPs have received large tax payer 'donations' to 'modernize' America. And taxpayers have a fundamental right to use their tax dollars, net neutrality allows taxpayers to receive the services they pay for.

            I can't imagine how many trillions of dollars GM has had in subsidies through the construction of the interstate highway system, etc. (Although one of you might be able to come up with an estimate.) And we get to say precious little about GM's operation, even now that we own it temporarily. Although it would be very desirable to see fairness in many things that you spend tax dollars on - private patents driven by public research dollars is another case worthy of reform - you are not going to win any of these arguments while using a plutocratic channel to communicate with the electorate.

            As for your point, whenever you confuse it with the 'fairness' doctrine you lose people because many people are smart enough to realize that the fairness doctrine is damaging. Net neutrality is an issue because the ISPs have been messing with public land and public funds and the public has the right to use those funds/land the way they choose.

            I just happen to think that how you get information that you will vote upon is a lot more important than your right to distribute an illegitimate copy of American Idiot.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Darkness404 (1287218)

              Only for your private definition of internet service. Now, I might actually like that definition, but there isn't a similar definition in U.S. law where it counts, or this would not be nearly so much of an issue.

              True, however, since fraud is the misrepresentation of services, one needs to use the commonly accepted definition since I don't think that the US provides a specific definition (however, I'm not a lawyer)

              So, you're talking about the pole plant, and the radio airwaves. But this applies to 1) how the right to build a pole plant or operate on a radio frequency is granted and 2) what right you have to operate a channel on a partially publicly supported pole plant before we get to 3) how a particular private network - and if there's more than one of them they will tend to be treated as private - is operated. I think you might better direct your efforts to 1 and 2.

              I'm a bit confused about your use of pole plant, all Google comes up with is references to skiing...

              However, my basic stance is that if you use public funds, you are accountable to the public. If you use solely private funds you are accountable simply to not to violate the rights of others. While i

              • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:23PM (#32080760) Homepage Journal

                I'm a bit confused about your use of pole plant, all Google comes up with is references to skiing...

                The poles, trenches and other means of passing a wire from place to place, and the system of wiring built upon them. Although it's generally the case that one "utility" predominantly owns the poles and trenches - even though they are on public land - and may lease them to the others, the wiring and/or optical fiber and its infrastructure are a separate property for power, telephone, cable, etc.

                However, my basic stance is that if you use public funds, you are accountable to the public.

                Go tell Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker, and every such business since. Yes, it should have been the law that the railroad right-of-way remained the public property, and they didn't get incredibly large grants of land and mining rights as well. And so on for pole plants, etc. Great thing to achieve but you have to start working on the politics now, because today it isn't the case.

                Regarding GM and the public highway, consider that it has been a much larger give-away than the train folks got, and it didn't benefit the trains, and you and I lost the viable mass transit network of the time.

                IMO you don't get more parties and a parliamentary system without a fair media voice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zippthorne (748122)

        Why should we have Net Neutrality, when we can't even have Tax Neutrality?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bruce Perens (3872)
          Flat taxation is just one of very many things that you'll have a hard time selling politically while the channels of communication to the electorate are controlled by giant corporations that take advantage of special taxation.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Darkness404 (1287218)
            Flat taxation is just one of the very many things that will never happen in America because we have a political system that restricts political views. We have two parties who are parties of money, not parties of principle. Can you -really- define a true party-wide stance of the Republicans and Democrats? No. Their stances change based on money. They are not parties of principle. Until we have a true democratic system such as Proportional Representation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representat [wikipedia.org]
            • It's Plaid Cymru as represented for English-language writers :-)

              I am sorry that the Beeb did that, but I bet it's nothing next to what happens on Fox every day. What we are discussing here is that ISPs are about to get the right to act like Fox.

              • Apart from the fact that Fox is not funded by the government imposed license fees like BBC is, that's a poor analogy. You don't like Fox, push a button on your remote. If it was that easy to change your ISP there wouldn't be a problem.

                What we are discussing here is that ISPs are about to get the right to act like Fox.

                ISPs already have that right and they generally didn't abuse it so far. What we are discussing here is whether it should be taken away from them.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Except it doesn't. Flat tax RAPES the poor. It's the most regressive system of modern years and it basically give a tax break to rich people that the poor people have to pick up. Flat tax takes someone just about breaking even (income= necessity expenditure) and adds to their tax burden, and someone with lots of money (income necessity expenditure) and reduces their burden. It ignores the basic cost of living, it makes a mockery of any sense of fairness. Flat tax is pushed by loonies as some kind of panace

              • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:25PM (#32080390) Homepage Journal
                I agree that in a strictly linear tax system there would have to be a subsidy for the poor to offset the discriminatory effect of the taxation. And anyway I find nonlinear taxation to be fair as long as it increases for the rich rather than the opposite. But taxation with thousands of exceptions doesn't seem fair to anyone.
                • by arth1 (260657)

                  But taxation with thousands of exceptions doesn't seem fair to anyone.

                  Except tax lawyers.

                  When a state or country has more than 10% of the workforce employed in the legal "industry", you know something is fundamentally wrong. The answer then is to look at the fundament, and not to argue over minuscule bits and pieces that can be turned into even more lawyer food.
                  I'd say we're due for a revolution, but that would be seditious, and I haven't paid my registration fee to Oklahoma, so I can't say that.

      • I agree with the first half of your comment but your approach has a slight problem that everybody uses public land. Say if you have a business would you like the government to control who you can sell your products to because you deliver them using public roads? At least cables are underground.
    • by mysidia (191772) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:07PM (#32080230)

      US is not a democracy. I'm not sure what it is -- people run for election to represent the people, they make certain promises, and express what their position is on various issues to appeal to the masses.

      They get elected, and then they vote in a manner that is diametrical opposite to the sales pitch they gave to get elected.

      Because they have a multi-year term, there's absolutely nothing the people they represent can do to revoke or cancel the benefits of having won the election based on their unfulfilled contract with their constitutents, when they start to go wrong.

      Or they 'sell' the choice of how they'll represent their people to the highest bidder. So in exchange for personal favor X, they falsely represent that the people want Y, in order to secure that favor, and they do it on every single vote.

      I compare it to a corporate board of directors hiring a candidate with a 2 year non-revokable contract to be CEO, so the new employee can't be removed, limited, or rendered powerless, as long as they don't do anything actually illegal, and very high salary, based on a 5 minute interview, with very limited background information being available (other than their claimed positions on certain governance issues).

      Of course the moment the deal is done, they can do whatever they want, including managing the company very badly.

      • Because they have a multi-year term, there's absolutely nothing the people they represent can do to revoke or cancel the benefits of having won the election based on their unfulfilled contract with their constitutents, when they start to go wrong.

        Actually, such a revocation exists; it's called a recall election. Unfortunately, they're available only by constitutional amendment, exist in only a handful of states, and the last time we tried one the incumbent got Terminated.
    • Sure, the electorate is polarized now. But you seem to be assuming that without the fairness doctrine that won't change, or that forcing "balance" or something like that would help fix that. Why? For the record, I'm an adamant supporter of net neutrality, but I don't see the two being related.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens (3872)

        I think there's a direct causal link between good information and good voting. And I place this at a higher priority than technical net neutrality, which doesn't by itself achieve good information, it just achieves a lot of little media yapping at the big media but unable to change their behavior.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by s1ashd0twh0r3 (936321)
          For most people:

          Good information == information that supports their views

          &&

          Good voting == voting with an outcome they favor

          That's why the "fairness doctrine" is so Orwellian. By definition, it requires some person or entity to decide what is a fair mix of opinion and what is good information.

          "Experts" usually love that sort of arrangement, usually because they envision themselves to be the arbiter.

          Would you favor it, though, if someone you disagreed with politically had the power to make

  • Who do I call? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by boondaburrah (1748490)
    I'm wondering who I have to write to in hopes of keeping Net Neutrality (or something like it) afloat.

    A friend of mine lives in an area that is entirely served by Charter Cable. If they get to do whatever they want, it's not like he can drop them and move somewhere else if they start messing with his internet.

    Well, I suppose there's dialup (shudder).
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chunky Kibbles (530549) <chunky@icculus.org> on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:12PM (#32079758) Homepage

    "the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy."

    And... so?

    "Something's good for consumers but unpopular with service providers; because the service providers might be bitchy let's not do it."

    What? The *point* of the FCC is *exactly* to suffer being that middle man.

    Gary (-;

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimbolauski (882977)
      The FCC shouldn't have the right to make laws and enforce them too, that is why comcast won and will continue to win. So instead of trying to pass regulation the legal way the current administration has decided to give up or start taking donations from telecoms.
    • "the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy."

      And... so?

      Speaking as an extremely annoyed liberal, the point would be obvious if you were an elected democrat. It's a fight...WE SURRENDER OH GOOD GOD WE SURRENDER DON'T HURT MEEEEE!!!!!!!!

  • Can't wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rennerik (1256370) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:20PM (#32079832)
    This is disastrous. I don't even know where to begin...

    While there will undoubtedly be some competition by way of cable companies vs. DSL/fiber providers (pushing video/television and what-not), on both sides there will be hefty opposition against bandwidth sinks like like Hulu and Youtube. I can see it now: "Comcast Cable is now offering unlimited bandwidth! Experience our 6mbps* high-speed Internet for a low fee of only $45.00/month! Some restrictions apply! *Certain content may not be available at full speed, such as YouTube, Hulu, and non-Comcast partners. YouTube is available at full-speed for an additional fee of $1.99/month; Hulu is available for $3.49/month; non-Comcast partners are available for a low monthly fee per site. Please see full price list for details. Comcast partners include sports sites such as NHL.com and NFL.com, as well as networks such as Comedy Central and Syfy. Switch to Comcast today to see these sites at full-speed! (Television network sites are available for $1.99/month)"

    And really, nothing can stop them from doing that. They can throttle BitTorrent traffic, slow down competitors' sites, or even detect streaming media and throttle it down.

    Plus, micropayments via web games such as Farmville and MMOs have proven to be a good source of income. Maybe they'll offer to unthrottle BitTorrent traffic for a "low low price of $1.99/week".

    Yeah, net neutrality is a bunch of bull. If you want fast sites, you need to *pay* for fast sites, you communist. Don't expect handouts like "unlimited internet"; hell, even roads have tolls!
    • This isn't unique to cable or any other industry (although telecomm has long had a corner on it), but can't we ban the annoying billing/advertising technique of advertising some good or service for $19.99 and then running it up another $20 in tack-ons, even if half of them are for government taxes and fees?

      Can't we require a service/good provider to advertise the service/goods AT THE PRICE THEY WOULD ACTUALLY COST instead of some fake low number that you can't actually pay?

  • by Infirmo (449121) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:22PM (#32079850)

    I mean, just look at the banks.

    (Or forestry in the 1980s. Or the savings and loan arena in the 1980s. Or AT&T in the 19th Century...)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jimbolauski (882977)
      Most people won't argue that the lines the telecoms use were purchased by the taxpayers and should be open. what many do object to is a government entity that can write and enforce it's own laws side stepping checks an balances. If net-neutrality is going to happen a law must be written by congress passed in both the house and senate then approved by the president, not the FCC declaring that it can regulate the telecoms and then imposing new rules and fining any company that breaks them. So contact the de
  • Great. (Score:5, Informative)

    by unity100 (970058) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:23PM (#32079856) Homepage Journal
    Now isps will be able to screw americans using the lines they built on public land with government subsidies, saying 'our network'.

    only in america. no really, only in america. there is no other example of this being let happen in any place around the world. this includes turkey. when the isps here tried to bullshit by saying 'these networks are ours', regulatory agency bitchslapped them into submission.
    • we will continue to pay the most and get the least. [gizmodo.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by anarche (1525323)

      Bullshit!

      Telstra in Australia still screws Aussies with "their" network they built while being a Government company 100 years ago! They refuse to sell "their" network back to the Government cheap enough that we can get round to building decent broadband infrastructure, despite said network being installed - and for all bar the past 10 years maintained - by the taxpayer!

  • FCC "Let us do nothing and the market will regulate itself, and we won't be sued !" (what market ? The local monopoly ? The same telecom which tooks billion and gave nothing back ?) and really what is the frigging mandate from the FCC if it is not to regulate telecommunication "interstate communication" (wire cable etc...) ? And what's up with the fear of being sued ?

    Analogy:
    EPA "Let us do nothing and the market will regulate itself, we won't be sued by people dumping dioxine in the river"


    Oh well, it
  • The Post paraphrases their sources, who are reading the Chairman's mind, that Genachowski believes "the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy."

    So if they're right, the federal govt. can basically be badgered into not doing it's job? Awesome.

    • So if they're right, the federal govt. can basically be badgered into not doing it's job? Awesome.

      Wow, where have you been living?

  • This is Good News (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jeko (179919) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:49PM (#32080082)

    Seriously. It's better to have an open, above-board policy that says "We do not regulate this," than an agency that supposedly regulates it but doesn't.

    We haven't had effective government regulation of anything since Ronald Reagan. As I sit here, Exxon has yet to pay for or clean up [wikipedia.org] the Valdez oil spill, and BP just destroyed the Gulf of Mexico from Houston to Pensacola [cnn.com] because a standard emergency valve was "too expensive."

    I'd just as soon drop the pretense. There's no such thing as "government regulation" any more.

    • We haven't had effective government regulation of anything since Ronald Reagan.

      [can't resist]

      The fact that we had it before a republican president to me indicates that it works in principle, we just need to figure out how the republican broke it.

      [/can't resist]

      Sorry for that. In seriousness, I'm not going to argue in general that government regulation is good, since obviously that's not true. In this area though, I think there are plenty of obvious harms and bad scenarios where regulation -would- be a good thing and in fact essential. Even a minimalist regulatory authority against

      • ...that was James Gaius Watt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Ronald Reagan?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Watt [wikipedia.org]

        "He suggested that all 80 million acres (320,000 km) of undeveloped land in the United States be opened for drilling and mining in the year 2000.[6] The area leased to coal mining companies quintupled during his term as Secretary of the Interior.[6] Watt proudly boasted that he leased "a billion acres" (4 million km) of U.S. coastal waters, even though only a small portion of

    • At least this convinced the Governator that offshore drilling was not a good way to shore up California's state budget deficit.

      • by jeko (179919)

        Yeah, Schwarzenegger's a lot of things, but outright stupid was never one of them. :-)

    • by ratnerstar (609443) on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:13PM (#32080706) Homepage

      I'm sorry, but that's just flat out incorrect. And worse, it's counterproductive.

      Do our regulatory structures need serious reform? Are there areas we are extremely ineffective at regulating? Do companies often find ways to wiggle around stringent regulations? Have politicians gutted good regulations for ideological or fund-raising reasons? Yes yes yes and yes. But to argue that there is "no such thing" as government regulation anymore is to deny evidence all around us. Look at our environment, specifically air and drinking water quality. Look at workplace safety, medical procedures and drugs, automobiles, construction, fishery management, etc etc etc. Now compare them to countries that really don't have any enforced regulations or periods in history where the US didn't; the difference is profound. If you want to see what "no regulations" looks like, go live in Africa or southeast Asia for a while. Then come back and we'll talk.

      To say that regulation is dead is to just give up on the idea that we can improve our regulatory systems. It's the same cynical bullshit we see all the time on slashdot. If there's one reason we don't have perfect regulation, it's that people sat around moaning about how it's impossible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bruce Perens (3872)
      You can't be serious.

      This is sort of like saying that since some country doesn't really have democracy, we should drop the pretense of democracy and be a straight dictatorship.

      Dictatorship of the rich is exactly what a plutocracy is.

      • by jeko (179919) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:30PM (#32081204)

        Hyperbole [wikipedia.org]

        Irony [wikipedia.org]

        No, I'm not serious.

        *BEGIN EMOTIONAL AND FRUSTRATED RANT*

        No, scratch that, I think I actually am. If admitting you have a problem is the first step, then let's go ahead and just admit that the FCC is utterly useless. I've got a few dozen dead miners' ghosts who'd like to talk about the uselessness of OSHA, and the line of people who would like to talk about the toothlessness of the EPA begins in Galveston and is expected to run through Pensacola.

        The plutocracy we currently have is exactly a dictatorship of the rich. I've been fighting the good fight since before Reagan and it has been a flood of crap from James Watt through Glenn Beck. It has been one long slide down and back.

        The Bill of Rights stands in tatters. We measure our national debt in trillions. We're so deeply in bed with various murderous dictators around the world I can't even say the words "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave" with a straight face any more. We're torturing prisoners. Our cops are shooting unarmed, handcuffed, face-down pleading men in the back. Texas has disappeared Thomas Jefferson from their civics curriculum. We're so afraid of terrorists we think strip-searching everyone is a good idea. I routinely, day in and day out, hear my fellow citizens argue that women with terminal breast cancer should be left to die in the street, and that only children who can afford it should have access to health care.

        Land of the Free, Home of the Brave? I don't even recognize my country any more. We've become a small, cowardly people with no heart, and the justifiable laughingstock of the civilized world.

        So in my darker moments, Bruce, yeah, every so often I'm tempted to say "Frack it. Give 'em what they want." America didn't quit smoking until pretty much everyone knew at least one close friend or family member who died hacking up bloody bits of lung cancer in the 70s. Maybe that's what it's gonna take for us to learn. Maybe when someone in every family has been left to die of a curable disease in the gutter, maybe when real unemployment hits 50 percent and stays there, maybe when we go back to the bad old days of Dickens' worst dream, maybe then we'll wake up and start to deal with these issues.

        And then I see my kids, and I see their future, and I ease off the "Lethal Weapon" Martin Riggs crazy throttle.

        *END RANT*

        No, Bruce, I'm not serious. Yes, Bruce, I would dearly love to see the FCC rediscover their mandate and begin fighting the good fight. But if the choice is the FCC as a telco sock puppet, or no FCC at all...

        I can't say I'd miss them.

  • ... tommorow, the IRS!
  • Disillusioned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:12PM (#32080278) Homepage

    "...not voting to apply Title II regulation to Internet carriers is tantamount to giving up on net neutrality -- which has been a centerpiece of the Obama administration's tech policy."

    As one who bought the hype and strongly advocated for Obama, let me say I think this sentence is under-broad. From Gitmo to torture to open government to bringing everyone to the table on health care, the story has been the same.

    The author mentions giving up on netneut, a centerpiece of tech policy. I think giving up on things has been a centerpiece all Obama policy.

    • by Techman83 (949264)
      Sounds like the Same situation we are in over here in Australia. Kevin Rudd, promising much, delivering very little.
  • REAL ala carte pricing, where I can pick and choose the channels I want? I know there's some lame version of it available now, if you call your cable company between 4:30 and 4:35 and get that one girl who smokes a lot and actually knows they can do this even though it's like $29.99 per channel when purchased ala carte?

    I know there's some bullshit reason they don't do this, something along the lines of the way they "buy" channels from the networks/content producers who insist they take 10 really lame chann

  • No surprise corporations have their way and the commons suffers.
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:34PM (#32080836)

    we'll have to figure out a way to make a second one that retains net neutrality.

    Maybe this can be done both bottom up, through open-standards organizations,
    and ad-hoc technical committees,
    and top-down, with funding and support from the likes of Google and legions
    of other would-be information exchangers on the Internet.

    We will need a giant "route around the problem" type of solution, involving
    new fiber backbones, with different ownership arrangements than presently,
    and high-speed wireless for the last mile.

    If the telcos start filtering the pipes, we need to render them irrelevant through
    collective will to build a better net with more geodesic rather than hub spoke topology.

  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:13PM (#32081064)
    The Internet is a huge opportunity to grab enormous power, like the railroads in the 19th Century. No government is going to stop the rich and powerful from taking it over. Just the thought of controlling the discourse and commerce of society will drive powerful men to do anything -- lie, cheat, steal, kill. People will be damned, of course,
  • by bwcbwc (601780) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @07:37AM (#32083226)

    This isn't giving up. It's to force congress to write proper legislation to define the level of authority the FCC has over broadband. Why should the agency foot the bill for endless lawsuits when a law giving them the authority would let them use their budget for more effective purposes.

    Of course, the drawback to this technique is that it puts the net neutrality debate into the hands of congress.

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