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Government Democrats Networking The Internet Politics Your Rights Online

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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  • "Netroots Nation" (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:47AM (#33030994)

    at the Netroots Nation conference of liberal activists

    is he just telling them what they want to hear or has he actually done anything to promote net neutrality?

  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:48AM (#33031008) Homepage Journal
    understand that their whole business model is dependent upon a neutral net?
  • most excellent! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swschrad (312009) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:48AM (#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 @10:49AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:50AM (#33031048)

    So because one company is willing to spend more for servers to provide their information, they should be punished by the government? I don't watch or read fox news myself, but if they want their sit screaming fast, then the others have the right to do the same, but it is their choice. It drives me nuts that just because you don't agree with someone that you think they should be stopped or hampered in their business.

  • Re:A big fat idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:51AM (#33031066) Homepage

    Typical elitist liberal agenda.

    Ensuring that ISPs can't discriminate against the little guy (such as myself) is elitest?

    What the fuck are you smoking?

  • by cgfsd (1238866) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:53AM (#33031112)

    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 @10:54AM (#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.
  • New movie idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:55AM (#33031144) Homepage Journal
    Stewart Smalley Saves the Internet!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:57AM (#33031178)

    you won't be able to load Fox News at all. Blogs will uniformly praise the Dear Leader, or they won't be accessible at all.

    More government regulation? This country is becoming the Soviet Union very rapidly.

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

    by spikenerd (642677) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:58AM (#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?

  • Oh puhlease (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:59AM (#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.

  • No competition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:00AM (#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).
  • note (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceraphis (1611217) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:01AM (#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.
  • Re:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:01AM (#33031274) Homepage Journal

    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 charge whatever they want for whatever service they like to deliver, and if this means they want to discriminate between packets on the networks, all they have to do is write it into the contract.

    However if someone knows of a Telco/ISP that did that, paid for everything out of their own pocket, please step forward. Looks to me like there is no free market in this industry and never was, so why are you expecting Free Market to take care of this NOW?

  • If the two events were to be truly compared, then the First Amendment should have made anyone with a printing press unable to refuse to print and distribute whatever someone else wants based on content, and that includes the major newspapers of the time - the First Amendment did no such thing, but network neutrality will do if it were to be implemented as trumpeted on Slashdot.
  • by Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:03AM (#33031288)

    Ahem.

    It's not about their servers -- how many there are, or how fast they are -- it's about them colluding with the ISPs to throttle other sites.

    In a pure capitalist, free market, collusion happens, and I suppose everyone is okay with it.

    But the internet was originally built with my tax dollars, and I don't want rich pricks colluding to slow down some content and not others.

  • Re:Quite possible (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:05AM (#33031328)

    or even worse, they will create 'packages' akin to cable channel packages.

    Foxnews.com and msnbc.com will be in the 'Basic package'. dailykos and drudge will be in the 'premier internet' package for an extra $15 a month.

    There will still be kickbacks of course. That's how you get into the 'Basic' package. But they won't stop there. They want to get paid by both Producers AND Consumers.

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

    by imamac (1083405) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:05AM (#33031336)
    I have yet to see a "Free market" as far as ISPs go.
  • by Michael Kristopeit (1751814) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:06AM (#33031338)
    both sides of the "Net Neutrality" issue are NOT NEUTRAL. both sides want to act to remove the possibility of the other side. it's political double speak. you'd sound like less of an idiot to me by referring to the internet as "a series of tubes".

    the phrase "Net Neutrality" is political propaganda designed to discredit the debate... similar to "conservatives" vs "liberals"... you can be liberally conservative or fight to conserve liberalism. it's designed to confuse. if you think "Net Neutrality" is a good idea, being neutral about it is probably the last thing you want, and if you think doing nothing is the right move, you probably don't want the suggested neutrality being offered.

    please use the phrase "Priority Traffic Shaping" if you'd like to discuss the issue.

  • Re:Strawman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:07AM (#33031372)
    People think that those who oppose government mandated "net neutrality" don't know what somebody like you means by "net neutrality", when in fact they understand perfectly well what you mean. They just don't believe that that is what a politician means when they say "net neutrality".
  • Re:yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <[Satanicpuppy] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:11AM (#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:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:14AM (#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.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:18AM (#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.

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:18AM (#33031572) Homepage

    If this were really such a cut & dry partisan issue, why have 70+ democrat members of congress also asked the FCC to drop it's plans to impose net neutrality rules?

    Likely because they have doners or other special interests that would be negatively affected by it, just like any other politician working for themselves and not the people.

    That being said, I referenced Republicans insofar as the overall party, elected and electorate. It is kind of a moot point though...for every person that understands what Net Neutrality is about, there are a BUNCH of people that have either no idea or an inaccurate idea.

  • by Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:18AM (#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.

  • by VShael (62735) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:19AM (#33031598) Journal

    To the Republicans, the "little guy" is Enron. The Big Guy is the government.

    You are not the little guy. You are less than nothing.

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

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:19AM (#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:note (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:21AM (#33031628)

    I just feel like he could have used a much more hard hitting example than that.

    Well he was talking to moonbats. So there really is nothing harder hitting than using Fox News as the boogeyman and Daily Kos as the poor, little, helpless underdog.

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

    by eldepeche (854916) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:23AM (#33031686)

    When did liberals start listening to comedians for their politics

    About 40 years after conservatives started listening to a shitty actor for theirs.

  • Re:yes, please. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Barefoot Monkey (1657313) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:23AM (#33031700)

    Last night i was told by my ISP that they would charge extra to get fast access to hulu.com

    Oh wait no .... no they didn't

    The point isn't that they are doing it, it's that they could be.

    That's right. More to the point, they have already been trying to do so for almost 5 years (although in a more inconspicuous manner - they won't charge you extra for accessing hulu, but in addition to hulu paying its ISP and you paying yours they would want hulu to give your ISP extra money or else degrade your internet access, along with everyone else on your network, whenever you try to access hulu. Yes, it's that convoluted.). The only reason this isn't actually happenning is because of net--neutrality activists fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent this scenario from coming to pass.

    I'm a registered Independent, and have been since I turned 18. I've also never voted in the two presidential elections I've been old enough for because all of the choices are just as corrupt. Yes, that includes third, fourth, and fifth parties.

    Good on you. I must admit though that I find the term "registered Independant" somewhat amusing.

  • Re:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pspahn (1175617) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:25AM (#33031724)

    They do? I seem to always read about Europeans complaining about their ISP and download caps, overage charges, etc.

    Meanwhile I pay my $50/mo for unlimited usage at speeds right on average with the rest of the world (according to publicly available metrics anyway).

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

    by Schadrach (1042952) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:26AM (#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:4, Insightful)

    by spikenerd (642677) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:29AM (#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".
  • by sammy baby (14909) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:30AM (#33031874) Journal

    If the two events were to be truly compared, then the First Amendment should have made anyone with a printing press unable to refuse to print and distribute whatever someone else wants based on content, and that includes the major newspapers of the time - the First Amendment did no such thing, but network neutrality will do if it were to be implemented as trumpeted on Slashdot.

    Your analogy is deeply, misleadingly, and vexatiously flawed. Net neutrality legislation doesn't enjoin people attempting to produce content, as do the printers of your example. It enjoins people attempting to take part in a public infrastructure which transmits that content to would-be consumers. As it happens, the founders did have an opinion about that, and the US Postal Service was established in an attempt to give equal access to that service.

    For a lot of reasons that should probably be obvious, I don't think that the USPS makes a very good point of comparison with the Internet. But your analogy is simply ludicrous, unless you think that the passage of Net Neutrality is going to force, say, HBO to produce my four part special on toe cheese.

  • by D'Sphitz (699604) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:31AM (#33031884) Journal
    So would it be ok then if say, the phone company randomly disconnected phone calls to Bill's Plumbing Service because Sven's Super Plumbing Depot paid them extra for premium service? Or what if they paid the phone company for an exclusive service, and all phone calls to any plumber in the state were redirected to Sven's, would that be cool with you? How about the liberal phone CEO who drops all calls to GOP fundraising lines, and vice versa? How about a Christian phone company exec deciding to block all calls to planned parenthood, phone sex lines, and synagogues?

    If this type of neutrality regulation is needed for phone companies, why is it supposedly so evil for the internet?
  • Re:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:32AM (#33031908)

    That could also have to do with the fact that all of Europe is about 1/3 the size of the United States, too, with signifcantly higher population densities. Lot cheaper to build & maintain an infrastructure that doesn't include hundreds of miles of cabling that service 200 people.

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

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:33AM (#33031932)

    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?

  • Re:A big fat idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by norminator (784674) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:34AM (#33031952)

    How about setting the precedent that the government can?

    First it will be FCC's "Net neutrality", then it will be a mandatory proprietary iCHIP for parental controls in every ethernet adapter.

    Based on what information? This sounds an awful lot like the "information" Glenn Beck is spewing. Just in case that is where you get your "facts," you should know that when Glenn Beck did his show about Net Neutrality, everything that he described as being part of Net Neutrality actually has nothing to do with it. He didn't cover what it actually is, he just listed a bunch of "Marxist" stuff and falsely claimed that that's what Net Neutrality is.

    I guess he feels like he can get away with it because it's all stuff that supposedly could happen, if you take the least probable things Beck says at their most far-out extremes as absolute fact.

  • Re:No competition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by santiagoanders (1357681) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:44AM (#33032170)

    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 government. Why not just build another government network? Oh, because governments aren't allowed to compete with "natural" monopolies... that's unfair. So if you can't beat 'em, take 'em by eminent domain or some such bullshit. Next stop green dam.

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

    by BassMan449 (1356143) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:45AM (#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] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:55AM (#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:A big fat idiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by glebovitz (202712) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:57AM (#33032438) Journal

    you are really confusing your agendas.

    The FCC, via congress, is already capable of something like the iChip. Such things do not come from net neutrality, they come from a special interest from the far right religious lobby. Independent of Net Neutrality, the FCC is being lobbied for parental controls and anti pornography policies. The religious freaks in Massachusetts are trying to get a bill passed that would make internet pornography illegal. But that is another story.

    There is still this conflict between limiting liability of common carriers and giving the carries the right to control content. If carriers had give up limited liability then they would like move towards neutrality. Let Comcast deal with a few 100,000 law suits over content and they would quickly rethink their strategy.

    If you think the net neutrality is is about regulating the Internet then you should rethink your position. Net neutrality is about who controls the content. Is it you, or Comcast and AT&T?

  • Re:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@@@wumpus-cave...net> on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:59AM (#33032492)

    It would be more effective to pass legislation to end the local monopolies that are granted to service providers . . .

    Good luck. Those agreements are a combination of federal, state, and local laws. Taking the Nuclear Option would create havoc for years, and isn't something you want to do in an economy that's barely recovering as it is. Disentangling it piece-by-piece would be less disruptive, but would also take years and make it easy to overlook something.

    I'm afraid that the status quo will need to be worked around rather than replaced. One thing that can help with that is that whenever an ISP says "those are our lines, bought and paid for, and we have the right do whatever we want with them", don't believe them. If a tea partier says "net neutrality is a communist conspiracy", call them out as the straw-manning idiot that they are.

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

    by natehoy (1608657) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:03PM (#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:A big fat idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tuxgeek (872962) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:06PM (#33032580)

    "more Democrats in Washington oppose net neutrality" - citation needed

    Keep in mind that democrats == republicans anymore. There is little difference in stupidity asshole factor

    Net Neutrality == internet providers are regulated to provide fair and equal access to the 'net for everyone == Very good for all

    Dems may wish to tax the internet, to much resistance from the general public
    But Republicans want to deregulate the internet, which is double speak meaning circumventing net neutrality. This is very very bad!

    Historically, every time Republicans deregulated a public service or utility, the service has turned to shit. Costs go up and service goes down.

    Support Net Neutrality
    Oppose Internet deregulation. Don't let them do it!

  • by backdoc (416006) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:06PM (#33032588)

    I was all for net neutrality before Al Franken's comment. At that point, I realized there must be a problem with it. Instead of the ISP's and corporations dictating what you can do, it will be Al Franken. I'll take the free markets, thank you.

  • Re:yes, please. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:07PM (#33032610)
    What if that's what I actually believe? That the rights of individuals to communicate as they please is more important than the rights of a made up entity?
  • Re:yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:08PM (#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:3, Insightful)

    by divisionbyzero (300681) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:15PM (#33032740)

    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 Sancho (17056) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:18PM (#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.

  • by b1t r0t (216468) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:24PM (#33032904)

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

    That sounds to me like something to which the word "fraud" would apply. And it should have been treated as such, not with some omnibus bill full of crap like "individuals purchasing gold must be reported to the government" that congress (aka "the opposite of progress") voted for recently.

  • Re:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:30PM (#33033002) Homepage

    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 environmental regulation and 11 people are dead and we had to deal with an uncapped well spewing oil into the gulf for almost 90 days.

    Supply side economics is a fraud and government isn't always the problem. I'm more afraid of corporate rule than a democratically elected government.

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

    by nschubach (922175) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:35PM (#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:Strawman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rkhalloran (136467) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:45PM (#33033326) Homepage

    Comcast exec's are on the record as having proposed "double-dipping" with their ISP service: charge the users for Internet access, then turn around and charge major websites a premium for access to Comcast subscribers or face throttling, regardless that said sites are already paying a bandwidth provider for their own access.

    The issue isn't being able to buy bandwidth for your site, it's about having to get past a potential paywall put up by consumer ISPs for access to their customers.

    SCOX(Q) DELENDA EST!!

  • Re:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EvolutionsPeak (913411) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:57PM (#33033556)

    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 rational arguments.

  • by managerialslime (739286) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:58PM (#33033602) Journal

    Why do ISPs not have the right to run their networks however they want?

    If an ISP built their business without special advantages over their competition, your point would be valid. However, in the U.S., most high-speed ISP's successfully lobbied for monopoly or duopoly positions as utilities where competitors were prohibited from stringing their own wires on utility poles and tunnels. In return for this advantage, they agreed to operate as regulated entities.

    Perhaps as 4G and other high-speed wireless companies come to market, there will be more competition and those original companies can then lobby for removal of the regulatory environment. Until then, we will hear a lot of screaming from both sides.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:11PM (#33033866) Homepage Journal

    Why do ISPs not have the right to run their networks however they want?

    Because the lack of a Justice Department Anti-Trust Division worth a damn has created a situation where there are only a few ISPs left. That's why. And now that the ISPs are also involved in content creation and delivery, they're creating a "horizontal monopoly" that threatens all free enterprise on the web. You must see the danger of allowing a few corporations to own the means of delivery and then allowing them to compete with their own customers.

    Net Neutrality doesn't expand the government's role in anything. It just enforces the role the government have had since the early 1900s.

    And "bonch", your bit about Internet access no being a constitutional right is a strawman. Net Neutrality doesn't guarantee anyone Internet access. It just guarantees that once you're on the Internet your communications aren't artificially limited by an ISP that is also trying to be your competitor in content creation.

    We've had laws against creating this kind of horizontal monopoly for a long time. If you really thought net neutrality through instead of just buying the corporate FUD, you'd see how important it is. Personally, I believe broadband internet access should be treated as a public utility, but that's not what net neutrality is about.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:20PM (#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 @01:30PM (#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 natehoy (1608657) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:43PM (#33034440) Journal

    Oh, and you need dozens of choices to make sure you have real competition, eh?

    For any product, if you want to talk about "free market" competition, you need to have sufficient numbers of competitors to have a meaningful choice. One company is no choice at all. Two may offer some choice, but it may or may not be meaningful.

    Once you have enough companies, the regulations can surround making sure that the competition exists and remains meaningful, and that the competitors are not in collusion (in other words, your competitors are actually competing with each other, not meeting over coffee to set inflated prices).

    But I think you're missing the point. True competition for high-speed Internet access is, by and large, nonexistent in most of America.

    Please to inform us as to what market your in where you DO have "dozens" of choices? Cell phones? Gas stations? Car companies? Brands of Tea?

    To a varying degree, each of the markets you've listed offer meaningful choices, and regulation tends to be inversely proportional to the number of meaningful choices.

    Cell phones have significant regulation, because there are relatively few major cell phone companies. The regulations exist to make sure that they don't collude on price, and that they represent meaningful competition with each other.

    The regulations surrounding gas stations (as opposed to gas and oil companies) have more to do with ensuring honesty. Testing pumps to make sure that a measured gallon is really a gallon, and that the fuel is up to quality standards. There's less regulation and enforcement of actual anti-competitive behavior because there's more competition.

    Tea companies round out the mix nicely. There are dozens of brands of tea, and therefore the only meaningful regulations today have more to do with product safety than anti-competitive behavior.

    Particularly given the expense of setting up your own lines, the fact that you think you should have dozens of choices is kind of nuts.

    Actually, you're rather making GP's point for him. It's completely impractical to offer meaningful choice in Internet service, because it's damned expensive to connect wires to all the houses.

    Since it's not practical to have meaningful choice, most people are forced into a monopoly (or duopoly), and the companies running those services know that their customers lack a choice.

    So we allow the natural monopoly to occur, since fixing the monopoly is (as you accurately stated) impractical.

    In return for that monopoly, the people demand that the companies not abuse their monopoly position. So the monopolies are heavily regulated, and have to follow rules that protect the rights of their customers - basically regulations are meant to replace competition with an attempt to enforce rights and prices to the consumer which (admittedly imperfectly) represent what the consumer would be receiving had true competition been available. It doesn't work terribly well, but it does work OK, and the alternative is true competition (impractical, as you pointed out yourself) or deregulation (which means the company will simply start to abuse its monopoly position, since the consumer does not have a free market to choose from).

    High-speed Internet access is one of those areas where we do not have, and have never had, a meaningful free market. Natural gas, electricity, small-letter delivery, and (up until recently) telephone are others (and the free market choice in telephone is dependent upon a neutral Internet, as evidenced by Comcast intentionally mucking with my packets going to my Vonage telephone line a couple of years ago).

    The instant someone comes up with a way to provide multiple meaningful choices in Internet service, we can drop back to preventing a monopoly from forming like we do with most other industries where competition is available.

    Without "Net Neutrality" enforcement against Comcast, I would not

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

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:43PM (#33034452) Homepage Journal

    So, your solution to a problem that government regulation created (ISPs who offer high speed access are monopolies)

    Government regulations didn't create high speed ISPs; government welfare to the cable and phone companies did. Where are you getting your misinformation from? Gove me a credible link or this conversation is meaningless; I might as well argue the existance of space aliens on earth with a schitzophrenic otherwise.

  • Re:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:45PM (#33034480) Homepage Journal

    How well is the postal system doing these days?

    It has the highest approval rating of any government agency or entity. It is more popular than US Forest Service, the National Park Service, the FBI or the Department of Defense.

    The satisfaction rate (>90%!) for customers of the US Postal Service is higher than UPS or FedEx by up to twenty percentage points. If you ask an overwhelming majority of Americans, the US Postal Service is doing very well these days, thank you very much.

    Your notion of "Federally owned universal ISP option" is silly, has nothing to do with Net Neutrality, nor has it been proposed by anyone. Having ISPs become public utilities is another story, and is a good idea, IMO. But "public utility" and "federally owned universal ISP" are two completely different things.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:50PM (#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

  • by TheABomb (180342) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:13PM (#33034974)

    But it did so in a time when there were significantly fewer barriers to entry. I can remember cutting my teeth on a local, mom-and-pop ISP that was literally run out of a garage with an assload of phone lines and modems, but still more reliable and cheaper than AOL was offering at the time. Good luck starting your own DSL or cable company and competing with Verizon and Comcast and their ilk. (Then again, I'm sure if you tried the FCC would be as hell-bent on stopping you as your competitors.)

  • by capnchicken (664317) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:16PM (#33035036)

    The free market ONLY stopped AOL because AOL did not own the wires. There is a monopoly on wires almost like the monopoly on the water pipes that run into your house and the sewage pipes that run out, this is not just a clear cut free market issue here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:36PM (#33035352)
    Yes, you are a fucking moron, too.
  • Re:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rundgong (1575963) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:50PM (#33035530)
    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 was competition someone would undercut the prices of those having huge margins until the margins were low. This clearly does not happen in some markets.
  • Re:yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:26PM (#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:yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blakelarson (1486631) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:37PM (#33036244)
    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.

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