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Al Franken's Warning On Net Neutrality 564

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hate-when-the-comedians-are-right dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Democratic Sen. Al Franken weighed in on Net Neutrality over the weekend at the Netroots Nation conference of liberal activists in Las Vegas, calling it 'the First Amendment issue of our time,' and warning against Republican plans for less regulation. More from a blog post on CBSNews.com: 'Speculating on what the Internet could morph into under the Republicans' preferred lack of regulation, Franken asked the audience of bloggers how long it would take before the Fox News website loads significantly more quickly than the Daily Kos website. "If you want to protect the free flow of information in this country, you have to help me fight this," he said.'"
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Al Franken's Warning On Net Neutrality

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  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:48AM (#33031008) Homepage Journal
    understand that their whole business model is dependent upon a neutral net?
    • by beakerMeep (716990) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:58AM (#33031198)
      What business model?

      /sorry
      • I take your point (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Presto Vivace (882157)
        but social software and social networking are all dependent on a neutral net that makes it easy link and combine. It is also true that ASP and SaaS business models are also dependent upon a neutral net.
        • Re:I take your point (Score:5, Interesting)

          by beakerMeep (716990) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:43PM (#33032150)
          Oh I agree 100% (was just joking above). I always think the best example though, for explaining net neutrality to people unfamiliar with it is to talk about video on demand services. When I'm trying to teach them why a neutral net is important, I point to the fact that, for example, both Netflix and Comcast offer video on demand. But only one company is an ISP and in a position to affect the quality of the other's business by capping or slowing bandwidth. This tends to help people grok net neutrality faster than aligning it with the interests of facebook and flickr.
  • most excellent! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swschrad (312009) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:48AM (#33031010) Homepage Journal

    when unfettered access is outlawed, only outlaws will have unfettered access.

  • yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:49AM (#33031024) Homepage

    This is one of those areas where I WANT the government to intervene. "But they fuck up everything, what makes you think they can get this right???" How about the fact that ISPs already fuck with us, and if left unchecked, they will just get worse anyway.

    We should at least TRY to get things under control. The "free market" theory is obviously worth as much as tits on a bull when it comes to ISPs.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:50AM (#33031062)

      The "free market" theory is obviously worth as much as tits on a bull when it comes to ISPs.

      Blasphemy! Are you suggesting that the "free market" might not be able to solve all our problems?!

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:56AM (#33031164) Homepage

        Blasphemy! Are you suggesting that the "free market" might not be able to solve all our problems?!

        If he's not, I will.

      • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by spikenerd (642677) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:58AM (#33031210)

        The "free market" theory is obviously worth as much as tits on a bull when it comes to ISPs.

        Blasphemy! Are you suggesting that the "free market" might not be able to solve all our problems?!

        Will someone please define "free market" for me? I'm serious, I really don't know what you mean when you say it? Is a free market one in which Comcast controls everything b/c the government keeps its hands off? Or is a "free market" one in which I am free to choose among competitors, because they are free to do business, b/c the government breaks up monopolies? Obviously one of these is more "free" than the other. Has a "free market" ever even been tried in this domain?

        • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by imamac (1083405) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:05PM (#33031336)
          I have yet to see a "Free market" as far as ISPs go.
          • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Informative)

            by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:36PM (#33032020)

            We used to have them. It was called dial-up and any upstart ISP could purchase enough of them and compete on price and features on a level playing field. If you didn't like your ISP, just sign up with another and the only thing that changed was the phone number on your communications program.

            The need for speed changed the hardware requirements and ultimately the level playing field disappeared and was replaced with the large corporations willing to spend money to get the last mile of high speed connectivity to your house.

            If only the government had built its own communication infrastructure instead of financing the small number of corporations that provided an infrastructure that pretty much locks the consumer to that corporation.

            The republicans balk at net neutrality but they don't mind the corporate welfare system that our current telecommunication policy provides.

            • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Informative)

              by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:56PM (#33032412)

              Yep. The free market, WHEN IT'S THERE, works very well. Do you guys remember the dial-up market in the mid to late 90's? It truly was very competitive. I remember early companies having insane rates like $40 for 8 hours of access. Within a year or two that was down the $20 for 40 of access. A few more years? $20 per month for "unlimited" access (unlimited in quotes because they didn't seem to care how long you really used it, as long as you didn't have a "keep alive" program pinging a server to make sure it never disconnected). Towards the end of the dial up era I'd literally found a company locally that offered unlimited dial-up for $99 paid annually.

              It was truly easy to switch companies back then, as I went through almost a dozen different dial-up companies for my access. Now, I have DSL. It's a lot faster, but for speed at that rate, I have no others options. The DSL is bought from the local telephone company. No other provider has access to those lines so I can't get DSL from any other source. There's no cable out where I'm at so no option there either. My internet bill hasn't changed in price in 7 years now. About a year ago they did decide to up the speed of their bottom tier (the one I'm on), from 1Mbps to 3Mbps, but no change in price ($45 per month). They don't need to - they're the phone company, and no one else can compete.

              As said, the free market works WONDERFULLY when it exists. But in this case it doesn't. IMHO, we should have a Federally owned universal ISP option. You can't tell me in this day and age that Internet access isn't as important as the postal system, which is federally owned.

              • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Sancho (17056) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:18PM (#33032790) Homepage

                This is fantastically analogous to Net Neutrality. Right now, we have lots of websites competing for our attention. If ISPs are allowed to block/slow down websites, suddenly we won't be the ones deciding which websites we get to go to. Competition decreases, the customer loses.

            • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by natehoy (1608657) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:03PM (#33032544) Journal

              RE: Dial-up... Only in the beginning.

              After a while, economies of scale ensured that only the "big boys" could afford enough modems to keep their subscribers happy, because they got big enough to just buy trunk lines. The small ISP was pretty much shoved out of business or bought out.

              At the peak of the dial-up ISP, you could see this happening at an increasing pace. It's just the advent of high-speed Internet that made the entire issue largely irrelevant.

              In an unregulated (freedom for the business) market, competition will ensure a race to the bottom and the one who offers service the most cheaply or makes the highest profits can then destroy or buy the competition. Then that one business can set the price to their liking, buy out competitors, and has no reason to add anything new except zeros to the amount it charges. You tend to get fast innovation followed by consolidation followed by monopoly, cash-cow mentality, and stagnation.

              In a regulated (freedom for the consumer) market, competition will be regulated so it continues to exist. You'll tend to get lower levels of sustained innovation, no consolidation, and it takes longer to reach the stagnation point, because there's room for new entries into the market. Companies that own expensive or unique resources are forced to share those resources to lower the cost of entry for a newcomer (or, in some cases, unique resources become a public resource).

              What we generally have now in most cases is a "regulated monopoly". You get great efficiencies of scale - one company, but you lose innovation because the company (a) has little reason to innovate since it's ensured monopoly status, and (b) has to run any changes by the Government or its regulatory body.

              But the regulation does, by and large, allow a company to install HUGE infrastructures and mitigates their risk, and forces the company to operate at a "reasonable" (as defined by the regulatory agency) profit while meeting minimums of service. Obviously not the hotbed of innovation you really want, but the phones work.

              So, which "free market" do you want to go to? If you own a decent-sized business who will either become the bear that eats everyone else or make a profit by being "eaten by the bear", or if you're sick and tired of the assholes in Washington DC telling you what you can and cannot do with all that pesky mercury you have when there's a perfectly good river next to your factory that flows "away" quite nicely, obviously your idea of a "free market" is one that any company can do anything they damned well please.

              If you are a general consumer, a smaller business, or a person downstream from that plant, you might want some level of regulation.

        • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:10PM (#33031414) Homepage

          Will someone please define "free market" for me?

          Literally, one with as few rules as possible. A market scenario in which whatever happens in the market must be good, because the "invisible guiding hand" ensures that the market always makes the best decision.

          In practice, nobody has ever had a free market. There's always some degree of regulation.

          And, when the greedy bastards manipulate the system to get as much money for themselves and screw everybody else over, you get to see all sorts of reasons why the free market isn't such a good system. The entire banking fiasco of the last few years is what happens when the financial industry has as close to a free market as they can get.

          According to strict, laissez fair capitalism, the BP spill happened because that was the optimal market outcome, and in the long term if it is good business to prevent such things, and if not, it will keep happening. I would argue letting oil companies self regulate gives them no incentive to actually fix things if it might impact their bottom line.

          It's about as brutally Darwinistic as you can get, and its proponents like to think that any form of regulation and rules placed on industry is an impediment to their proper role of making as much money as they can. Effects on society be damned since in the long term, society will vote with their dollars and get the optimal outcome.

          In short, it's something people hold up as in ideal, which never actually produces the results and good things that people like to ascribe to it.

          • Re:yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by spikenerd (642677) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:29PM (#33031850)
            Then I propose that we refer to it as a "hands-off market", since the term "free market" falsely implies a maximization of freedom. Then we can continue to debate about how to implement a freedom-maximizing market without falling into this rut where confused people say "no, free is bad, we need less free".
            • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Informative)

              by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:39PM (#33032068) Homepage

              Then I propose that we refer to it as a "hands-off market", since the term "free market" falsely implies a maximization of freedom.

              There's already the term "laissez-faire", which loosely translates as "leave it be" or "let it happen". It means exactly what you propose, as does "free market" in this context.

              The market isn't about maximizing your freedom. It's about maximizing the freedom of the market to conduct business how it sees fit.

              Meaning, the 'market' is free to do whatever it likes without restriction. Eventually the consumers will decide what is best, and everything will naturally work out in a way that is best for business, and gives consumers what they want.

              According to the free market people, the companies in the market aren't required to promote your freedoms and should be left 'free' to impose any rules they see fit.

              So, forcing them to not throttle their networks to keep out packets infringes on their freedom to conduct business. You only get the freedom to buy, or not buy a product. All other 'value' decisions fall out of the results of the market, with an implicit (explicit?) assumption that the market will find the 'right' solution.

              In this case, net neutrality says they'd like to apply regulations to industry, so that your rights are made more important that the rights of Comcast to say what you do with your internet connection.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by nschubach (922175)

            The entire banking fiasco of the last few years is what happens when the financial industry has as close to a free market as they can get.

            You do realize that the banking industry is probably still the most heavily regulated industry in America... right? Health Care is a very close second, if not first now.

            Here is a small list of banking regulations to start with:
            http://www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/reglisting.htm [federalreserve.gov]

            • Re:yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:08PM (#33032624) Homepage

              You do realize that the banking industry is probably still the most heavily regulated industry in America... right?

              And you realize that despite those regulations, AIG just paid out [yahoo.com] a big settlement to get rid of allegations of

              anti-competitive market division, accounting violations, and stock price manipulation by AIG between October 1999 and April 2005.

              You know -- On one hand they're selling something to consumers and saying "oh, this is a great idea". On the other hand they were selling something to brokerage houses as something to bet against this exact thing -- asset backed commodities were useless crap, but they managed to sell it to consumers as an investment vehicle. This to cover up the fact that they'd been giving mortgages with no sound financial reasoning for most of a decade, and were holding a lot of worthless debt and mostly wanted to offload that onto someone else.

              This is an industry which recently ran into troubles because their computerized stock sellers [yahoo.com] got a little twitchy and triggered a panic. Nothing to do with anything, but the computer program which was designed to milk as much money from the system as possible went a little glitchy.

              I never said the financial and banking industry was unregulated. I said they're as close to unregulated as they've been able to manage, and they're usually lobbying to have existing regulations removed.

              I think in this, and in many other segments, we need far more regulation than we have now. I don't have faith in them to adhere to the existing rules, let alone trying to exploit things that nobody has made a rule about.

              Then, after their big bailout, they're back to record profits and executive bonuses in a startlingly small amount of time. Mostly because they clammed up and did things like saying "well, since our profits have been down we're increasing service fees".

              A truly 'free market' would only make more things worse in the long run, not better. If they could rape and pillage the economy even more, they would in a heartbeat.

              • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

                by nschubach (922175) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:35PM (#33033122) Journal

                I never said the financial and banking industry was unregulated. I said they're as close to unregulated as they've been able to manage, and they're usually lobbying to have existing regulations removed.

                Actually, you said:

                The entire banking fiasco of the last few years is what happens when the financial industry has as close to a free market as they can get.

                As close as they can get is not the same as "as close to unregulated as they've been able to manage." The banks have had to manipulate the market (with government assistance [wikipedia.org] for which you blame the bank when it was the SEC that defined it) to continue doing business because they were practically forced (by the government) to give loans to people who they knew couldn't pay them back. If the government came up to you and said, "Give money to this person even though you'll probably never see a dime back" how would you react? That's exactly [wikipedia.org] what [wikipedia.org] happened [lewrockwell.com] with the housing industry and they are trying to do it again [nationalreview.com]. With all these requirements, people were deceived as well to think that they could extend the equity in their homes to "pay off" debt through a HELOC. This was defined by the SEC as acceptable lending. And I don't know if you know this, but the SEC is a federal agency.

                • Re:yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:26PM (#33036078) Homepage

                  As an aside, I find it deeply ironic that you link to the wikipedia article which has choice quotes like:

                  In the February 2008 House hearing, law professor Michael S. Barr, a Treasury Department official under President Clinton,[67][113] stated that a Federal Reserve survey showed that affected institutions considered CRA loans profitable and not overly risky. He noted that approximately 50% of the subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies that were not regulated by the CRA, and another 25% to 30% came from only partially CRA regulated bank subsidiaries and affiliates. Barr noted that institutions fully regulated by CRA made "perhaps one in four" sub-prime loans, and that "the worst and most widespread abuses occurred in the institutions with the least federal oversight".[114]

                  Gotta love confirmation bias... it lets you ignore inconvenient facts...

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by blakelarson (1486631)
                  I call bullshit. Did the SEC demand that mortgage brokers hand out NINA mortgages (no-income, no-assets)? No, the upstream demand for mortgage-backed securities is what drove the availability of cheap money. And since those mortgage-backed securities were AAA-rated, everyone wanted to invest! Until the house of cards fell down. Blaming this on the little Community Reinvestment Act, which amounted to a tiny fraction of subprime loans, is ludicrous.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                You say that the free market is the reason AIG has been able to cause all kinds of trouble and in the same breath mention the big government bailout that kept them afloat. In this case, the market gave a solution to the problem but regulators stepped in and stopped it.

                I don't think the pure free market can solve all problems (no one does, that is a straw man). But your shit stinks just as much. Stop making straw men, reactionary decisions, and appeals to emotion ("rape and pillage") and start making rat

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by HangingChad (677530)

              You do realize that the banking industry is probably still the most heavily regulated industry in America... right?

              It doesn't matter how many regulations are in place if they're not being enforced. It doesn't matter how much regulation is on the books if the regulators don't have the authority to stop risky behaviors.

              The whole "government is bad" shtick is getting old. We tried less government interference in the banking industry and it nearly bankrupted the nation. We tried less government in enviro

          • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Informative)

            by roman_mir (125474) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:25PM (#33032912) Homepage Journal

            market scenario in which whatever happens in the market must be good

            - disagree on your definition. It's not about 'good' vs 'bad', that's what causes people to misunderstand markets and to want more regulation. It is about what is balanced vs unbalanced. Free Market does not know 'good' and it does not know 'bad', it tends towards an optimum price/quality ratio through market feedback system that signals whether there is room for competition or not.

            What governments and regulations do, is they break the business cycle of boom/bust, break something that in fact causes the market forces to be in balance. Government does not want the balance to be restored, it wants a perpetual boom and it never wants to see a bust, because bust means that there is a correction, businesses need to cut spending and government needs to cut spending, and where have you ever seen a government that actually wanted to cut spending and shrink? It does not exist, as do not exist people, who want to let go of power and money.

            And, when the greedy bastards manipulate the system to get as much money for themselves and screw everybody else over, you get to see all sorts of reasons why the free market isn't such a good system. The entire banking fiasco of the last few years is what happens when the financial industry has as close to a free market as they can get.

            - but it's not true, do you actually truly believe what you write here? There is no free market in banking, no more than in Telco or Oil business, no more than in other big businesses. Governments prefer monopolies because monopolies give them more money back, governments 'recycle' more money from monopolies than from cut-throat businesses that truly compete on cost, where do those competing businesses can get money from to give to governments? Monopolies are created by the governments, any big business today is fed and oiled by the government. Look at the banking industry - FDIC is a prime example of something that was government regulation aimed at fixing a non-issue that lead to a gigantic moral hazard and helped to create huge banking monopolies. FDIC was created after the great depression to fight a problem that only affected about 2% of banks - those banks lost the money and couldn't return it to customers, when in reality the problem was not about people not being able to get their paper money back, but about people having the money and not being able to buy things with them, because paper lost value. While creating FDIC for probably 'noble' reasons (in reality for reasons based on political expedience) the real effect of it became something more sinister: people now spend no time thinking about the bank they use, no more time than thinking about which TV they'll buy. Moral hazard for the customers and for the banks. Banks, who do not have to compete for customers based on their performance and sound business, those banks can become as reckless with money as they can get away with. This is not the only reason for huge banks running the government, many other reasons exist: like the entire idea that government pushes forward about living on debt and never really repaying it. Free money that government prints and gives to preferred corporations make monopolies, or do you believe otherwise? Military industrial complex and banks and insurance industries and colleges even, many businesses that get money directly (discount Fed window, military bills) or indirectly (government guaranteed loans, medicare), these businesses now do not have to compete for customers, and they can push the prices way too high, because government guarantees the money will be paid.

            According to strict, laissez fair capitalism, the BP spill happened because that was the optimal market outcome,

            - not really. Look at the competitors, while BP had maybe a thousand violations of various procedures over 10 years, the rest of the oil industry had hardly 50 combined. BP is a very special

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rundgong (1575963)
              You are forgetting one very important factor. For any free market to actually be competitive it requires a low barrier to enter. Many markets have huge barriers to enter them. ISPs, telcos, wireless providers are among them since they need a lot of infrastructure to be useful.
              When that requirement is not fulfilled it will not be a free and competing market. That is the reason some markets need regulation.

              Another evidence some markets are not competitive are the huge profits for some companies. If there w
        • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:48PM (#33032276)

          Is a free market one in which Comcast controls everything b/c the government keeps its hands off?

          You've got it wrong. Comcast controls everything because they enter into contracts with local governments that forbid other cable providers from coming in.

          Effectively in this example, Comcast controls everything because the government can't keep it's hands off.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Is a free market one in which Comcast controls everything b/c the government keeps its hands off?

            You've got it wrong. Comcast controls everything because they enter into contracts with local governments that forbid other cable providers from coming in.

            Effectively in this example, Comcast controls everything because the government can't keep it's hands off.

            Can you please stop propagating this red herring? Local governments had to promise cablecos a monopoly in order to get them to invest in the infrastructure. Even if local governments sunsetted the monopolies, what incentive would another company have for investing in redundant infrastructure? The obvious solution is for the local government to sunset the monopoly, buy back the infrastructure, and lease it to whomever wants to use it.

      • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:11PM (#33031430) Journal

        The free market could solve our problems, but given that ISP's are granted local monopolies by the fricking government, there is no free market.

        The solution is to actually CREATE a free market, and let fair competition solve the issue.

        • Re:yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Schadrach (1042952) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:26PM (#33031772)

          Problem: Limited physical lines, and unwillingness to grant everyone who wants to run lines across X people's property permission to do so.

          Without forcing the lines themselves into a state where arbitrary competing companies can use them interchangeably on equal terms, you can't have real competition.

          • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by BassMan449 (1356143) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:45PM (#33032198)
            Actually I think making the lines themselves public property is not a bad idea. I am very conservative and generally favor avoiding government intervention, but in this case the lines themselves form a natural monopoly. If the lines were a publicly owned commodity that was leased wholesale to anyone, we could get much better competition and would ultimately improve the system for everyone.
            • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:55PM (#33032382) Journal

              Exactly.

              Infrastructure is one of those places were government intervention is most useful. No one wants local competing water and sewer service, but we tolerate competing, privately maintained information infrastructure?

              In many communities there is a push for the local governments to pay for high-end infrastructure with bonds and/or penny taxes, and communities are usually in favor of this.

              Telecoms, on the other hand, usually resort to lobbying and aggressive push-polling to try and keep this from happening. In my mind, that they don't like it, is the best argument that it's the right thing to do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by roman_mir (125474)

      Why do you bring 'free market' into something that has no free market around it for a million miles?

      Who built their own infrastructure without government's money? Who built their own infrastructure without various tax deals/breaks?

      So if government gives money, where is 'free market' in that?

      --

      If an ISP/Telco actually spent their own money to buy all of the necessary equipment and to pay all of the fees associated with laying all of the infrastructure themselves, then they should have all the rights to char

    • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:14PM (#33031504) Homepage Journal

      The crowd that maintains that "all government is incompetent and all regulation is bad" are composed of liars and the people who swallow their lies. I, for one, am exceeding glad there's an EPA and an OSHA, because I've lived in a time when they didn't exist. You young people can disbelieve me if you want to, but workplaces are far safer thanks to OSHA meddling, and the air and water are far cleaner than they were before EPA meddling.

      There is such a thing as too much regulation, and such a thing as too little regulation. In the case of net neutrality, the fact that most ISPs who offer high speed access are monopolies demands that they be tightly regulated. There is no free market in regards to any monopoly. Anyone who thinks monopolies should not be regulated shouldn't take so much oxycotin.

    • Re:yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:19PM (#33031606)
      I think you guys should calm your enthusiasm down a bit and consider the possibility that you are being misled here. Ask yourself why is there such a mad rush to have FCC regulate the ISPs when there is really no problem with them discriminating between content providers in reality, only in theory. Here is a crazy conspiracy theory for you: how about if net neutrality is being used as a first step towards the FCC regulating content on the Internet. It's the same way we lose most of our liberties - you start with regulation about a valid concern that everybody can get behind (think of the children!, terrorists are coming!, evil ISPs! etc) and after that its much easier to modify and expand that regulation that it is to get it in in the first place.
      • Re:yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:33PM (#33031932) Homepage

        Ask yourself why is there such a mad rush to have FCC regulate the ISPs when there is really no problem with them discriminating between content providers in reality, only in theory.

        So, I must have imagined all that stuff with Comcast screwing up BitTorrent?

        And my ISP certainly hasn't been playing around with my DNS either, right?

  • In the beginning, the internet was just a series of tubes.
    Over time, and much to most people's delight, it morphed into a series of boobs.
    Without net neutrality, it will become no more than a series of cubes (ie: Television 2.0)

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:53AM (#33031098)
    Where was he when the 70 Dems were against NN? Why didn't he warn against "how long it would take before the Daily Kos website loads significantly more quickly than the Fox News website"? Hopefully it just took him this long to learn about the reality of the issue, and he's not just a partisan spew nozzle. I sent the same warning to Rush Limbaugh when the 70 Dems opposed NN, but I never heard him change his tune regarding "Gubmint takeover of the 'Net"
  • I am sure the government wants net neutrality as long as the government can shut it off.

    Oh, and when the Internet is not shut off, I am pretty sure the government will require it to be completely monitored and filtered.

    Just think of the children!

  • Quite possible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:54AM (#33031126)
    Franken asked the audience of bloggers how long it would take before the Fox News website loads significantly more quickly than the Daily Kos website.

    The more likely model of what will happen is not that the internet companies will favor conservatives over liberals, but rather that they will favor companies by size. The cable companies will say that companies need to pay their fair share for bandwidth, and so they'll announce that any internet hosting that doesn't pay a certain amount of usage fees to the ISP will be throttled. So yes, it's likely under this model that Fox News will load faster than DailyKos - and that MSNBC will load faster than the Drudge Report - because those large media organizations will have the cash to give kickbacks to Comcast to make sure that they get full speed downloads, while the smaller bloggers and indie organizations may find themselves unable to meet the ISPs' demands.
    • by King_TJ (85913) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:44PM (#33032160) Journal

      You said, "Libertarians somehow believe that private businesses should be stronger than governments but weaker than individuals."

      I'd just like to correct that flawed statement. I know *no* libertarians who think that, at all. Nowhere do they say private businesses should be "stronger than governments". In fact, a fully functional Judicial system is critical to keeping a business economy working properly. The problems we see today are largely caused by government CORRUPTION, where a big business is able to buy influence in government. Government essentially "partners" with said business instead of performing its proper function as a "referee", who allows the "Free Market game" to continue, unimpeded, until/unless a player starts breaking one of the rules. Big business, as we now know it, is pretty much like a major league football game where the refs can be bought off easily by any team's manager who wants to work a deal with them. The ones with the most money can cheat their way to victory, game after game, with impunity. (And to extend this analogy, we've got a bunch of attendees of said games who know something's wrong and are angry - but don't always realize WHY it's happening. Therefore, some of them are screaming that the rules of the game need changing to fix the problem ... instead of realizing the corrupt referees need to be ejected!)

  • New movie idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:55AM (#33031144) Homepage Journal
    Stewart Smalley Saves the Internet!
    • Re:New movie idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by eln (21727) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:18PM (#33031590) Homepage
      This reminds me of something that really bugged me about this story on CNN. When CNN reported basically this same story yesterday, the link from their front page read "Former SNL Alum talks Net Neutrality" or something like that. Then you click, and it turns out they're talking about Senator Franken. It struck me as really disrespectful to refer to him that way. It would be like referring to the governor of California as "Former Body Builder Schwarzenegger" or our 40th president as "Former Actor Reagan".

      Yes, Franken started out as a comedian, but he's now an elected United States Senator and should be afforded the same respect as any other Senator. Of course, the amount of respect we give to our senators tends to be vanishingly small (in most cases deservedly so), but we at least give them the dignity of referring to them by their proper title.

      I'm probably overreacting, but I was surprised to see a supposedly serious news organization do something like that.
  • Oh puhlease (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:59AM (#33031232) Homepage

    Franken asked the audience of bloggers how long it would take before the Fox News website loads significantly more quickly than the Daily Kos website. "If you want to protect the free flow of information in this country, you have to help me fight this," he said.

    If this were RedState warning the exact opposite, it would never make front page. It'd be written off as right-wing paranoia.

    Here's a little interesting bit of news: the Republicans aren't the majority party. Here's another one: the Democrats are at least as much in bed with the telecoms as the Republicans. Franken's own damn party is as likely to create a pro-telecom, anti-everyone else regulatory environment as the Republicans if their past behavior on... pretty much any issue that concerns Democratic donors is any indication.

    The FCC is, at this point, a textbook example of regulatory capture. Like it or not, that's what it is. Stridently defending what could be is not even remotely compatible with what currently is and likely will be if the FCC is given the power to act. The odds are much greater that the FCC will end up fucking Google, Apple, etc. up the ass than maintaining a policy of genuine openness.

  • blow it up (Score:4, Funny)

    by Danzigism (881294) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:00PM (#33031240)
    When the Internet blows up, you guys are more than welcome to dial up to my BBS and we can play LORD, go back to Fidonet, and enjoy the finer things in life.
  • No competition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:00PM (#33031256)
    The main problem is that the pro-business argument here (mostly Republican, but plenty of Dems too) tries to predicate this on "free market" principles. But there is no real free market in the ISP sector, because there is no real competition. You have a handful of large broadband ISP's (AT&T, Verizon, Time-Warner, and Comcast alone probably represent about 80%+ of the entire market). And most consumers have all of two (three if they're lucky) choices for ISP. In my area, you can choose between Comcast (cable) and AT&T (DSL) and that's it. If both those companies degrade or block a particular website, that's it. There is nowhere else to go for decent performance (and even AT&T's DSL is inferior to Comcast, so there is really only ONE place to go for anything above 3Mbps).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And there is no real competition because practically all local governments in the United States only allow a single cable/POTS provider to operate in their jurisdiction. The problem was created by the government in the first place. Politicians and lobbyists love this arrangement, getting kickbacks and taxes from their franchisees, and the consumers get screwed.

      Now people are advocating a full scale takeover of the cable/telco policies. Why even have a company anymore? Everything is dictated by the governmen

  • note (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceraphis (1611217) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:01PM (#33031260)
    I always liked the idea of net neutrality, and obviously there is something to be said about one website loading faster than another, but aren't there many more far reaching implications than just "Fox News loading faster than Daily Kos"? Like throttling of any downloading whatsoever unless it's a Fox News PDF or torrents being completely handicapped or something just because they are torrents.

    I just feel like he could have used a much more hard hitting example than that.
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:18PM (#33031570)

    In an ideal world, we wouldn't need the government to intervene. If my ISP suddenly started loading their "preferred" sites faster, I would simply leave them and go to any of my dozens of other choices. Information on which ISPs were mucking with speeds would be public and well documented for everyone to access in order to make informed purchase decisions.

    In the real world, however, most people have only one or two broadband ISPs. If my cable company mucks with site speeds, I might be able to go to my phone company. If they muck with the speeds also, I have no options. (Actually, I'm stuck after the cable company as Verizon doesn't have FIOS where I live.)

    Network Neutrality opponents argue that "the market" will fix any problems, but how can "the market" fix the problem when you have a monopoly or duopoly? I'm not a huge fan of government regulations, but there are places where they should be and this is one of them.

    • Interesting quote (Score:3, Interesting)

      by copponex (13876)

      I can't find the exact words, but I watched a documentary on poverty the other night, and one of the economists basically said this:

      "In a purely capitalist economy, the market solution to a famine is a lot of dead people. Demand for food then falls, the supply again reaches a price equilibrium, and then the problem is considered solved."

      People always favor an unregulated economy when they are at the top of it.

  • by Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:18PM (#33031580)

    "Speculating on what the Internet could morph into under the Republicans' preferred lack of regulation,...

    Well, just look how well lack of regulation worked with Credit Default Swaps in the financial markets, e.g., these past few years.

    Not that I'm necessarily keen on big government, or more regulation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      Recently read a book on this and the facts about what happened should frighten people because whatever new regulations came about, they didn't address what happened at all.

      The problem was that places like Credit Suisse and Deutch Bank were packaging up loans into aggregated piles and then selling bonds backing a pile of loans. Most of these "piles" or badly aggregated random assortments of loans of questionable value should have been rated as rather risky - like a BBB bond. Instead, the rating companies w

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheSync (5291)

        Instead, the rating companies were completely irresponsibly rating 80% of the bonds at AAA or "investment grade".

        The theory of tranches of asset-based securities is that you expect a portion of them will have more risk due to prepayment or default. You separate out the ones that are less risky (which get a higher rating) from those that are more risky (which get a lower rating).

        This works pretty well when the probability of prepayment or default was well understood - it worked fine for about 20 years. Du

  • It's more than that (Score:3, Informative)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:37PM (#33032028)
    This isn't simply that some websites will load slower than others. It will literally segregate the internet. Sites will load so slowly that you'll no longer be able to visit them at all. ISPs will use this to put companies that compete with them like Netflix, Hulu, Vonage, etc.. out of business. Don't doubt for a second that if your ISP sells phone or TV services that the ONLY phone or TV service that will work adequately on their network will be their own.
  • by TheSync (5291) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:20PM (#33034018) Journal

    The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press"

    It does not say "Congress shall make laws abridging the freedom of Internet service providers..."

  • by operagost (62405) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:30PM (#33034192) Homepage Journal

    'Speculating on what the Internet could morph into under the Republicans' preferred lack of regulation, Franken asked the audience of bloggers how long it would take before the Fox News website loads significantly more quickly than the Daily Kos website.

    Hypocrite-- harping on the fears of the left, who couldn't give a crap if the opposite scenario happened. Listen, it doesn't matter who's in office. Right now, the Democrats can pretty much pass any legislation they want, yet we don't have net neutrality yet. Either this means the Democrats are self-interested mega-capitalists too, or they are also fearful of a less-free internet that's heavily regulated by the government. If some loser ISP decides to throttle Kos, do you really think that deep-pockets George Soros won't start up or buy a competitor? Are you all buying the rhetoric of the progressives that all of our problems are caused by "conservative" capitalists, while ignoring the Eco-capitalist carbon credit corporations run by Soros and Gore? They would love to silence dissent, as well.

    When in doubt, don't give the government more power.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:50PM (#33034570)

    There has been much confusion regarding "Net Neutrality". Much of it, I contend, deliberate on the part of politicians and government bureaucrats.

    I'm all for "Net Neutrality" if it's defined as fair practices in traffic shaping, throttling, routing & etc, PERIOD. A bill to accomplish that would only need to be a few pages long at most.

    The problem (and the reason I oppose the current iterations) is that what Congress is contemplating is a (relatively) huge piece of legislation that expands government control over the internet using "Net Neutrality" as cover for a power grab.

    Those like Franken are hoping people are stupid enough to not look past the title to see what is actually in the bill and what it actually accomplishes.

    Don't be as stupid as those in Congress think you are. There's too much at stake.

    Strat

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