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Al Franken Makes a Case For Net Neutrality 604

Posted by Soulskill
from the put-the-swiss-in-charge dept.
jomama717 writes "In a post titled 'The Most Important Free Speech Issue of Our Time' this morning on The Huffington Post, Senator Al Franken lays down a powerful case for net neutrality, as well as a grim scenario if the current draft regulations being considered by the FCC are accepted. Quoting: 'The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to issue regulations that protect net neutrality. The bad news is that draft regulations written by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski don't do that at all. They're worse than nothing. That's why Tuesday is such an important day. The FCC will be meeting to discuss those regulations, and we must make sure that its members understand that allowing corporations to control the Internet is simply unacceptable. Although Chairman Genachowski's draft Order has not been made public, early reports make clear that it falls far short of protecting net neutrality.'"
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Al Franken Makes a Case For Net Neutrality

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  • by TheRealQuestor (1750940) on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:25PM (#34619198)
    He is the only politician I don't hate. I don't hate too many things but lawyers and politicians [normally one and the same] are my 2. I think because Franken was not a lawyer before becoming a politician is why he seems to actually care about what is going on. The rest? Just there for a way too big paycheck [and not always from uncle sam]. I nice quote of his from a while back Sen. Al Franken: "I May Not Be A Lawyer, But Neither Are The Majority Of Americans" Gotta love this man.
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:22PM (#34620184)
      You know who I want to run for Senate? Jon Stewart.
      • by tgrigsby (164308)

        Why would you do that to him? And why would you do that to public discourse?

        Not that it isn't an interesting idea -- he's certainly smart enough and would bring a whole different spin to any discussion -- but he serves a more important role using comedy to question the decisions and even the discussions being promoted by those in charge. There is nothing that can ground an issue and restore perspective like shining a light on absurdity.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by collateralDmg (900166)
        As long as he brings his writers with him.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:27PM (#34619226) Homepage

    Net neutrality is an issue because Internet access has become a near-monopoly service. Few people today buy residential Internet connectivity from someone other than their monopoly telco or monopoly cable provider. For both of those monopolies, Internet access is a tie-in sale - both want to sell customers a "bundle" with telephony, video, and Internet connectivity. In some areas, there's only one provider.

    We've already lost one deregulation battle - the right to use any ISP you want over the monopoly telco wires. [broadbandreports.com] The FCC changed the rules on that back in 2003. Until then, telcos had to provide raw DSL connections from an ISP to a customer at prices no higher than they charged their own internal ISP. Once the FCC dropped that, the ISP business became a monopoly.

    Further back, telcos used to be regulated common carriers. We lost that back in the 1990s.

    "Net neutrality" is the last stop before total monopoly control.

    Wireless doesn't help. "Deregulation" also allowed wire-line and wireless carriers to merge, which is why AT&T is back in the cellular business. Nor does cable/telco competition. Mergers in that area are coming. In the end, you'll have one connection to the outside world, with a boot ready to step on your tube if you get out of line.

  • by mr_majestyk (671595) on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:47PM (#34619564)
    Conservatives are superficially lumping network neutrality in with the rest of the anti-Obama/government/socialism rhetoric, but the issue is far too complex to capture in partisan soundbites. This Bill Moyers broadcast from a few years ago (well before Obama arrived on the scene) explains the network neutrality issue extremely well, representing multiple viewpoints, including business, politics, consumers etc. The broadcast is about an hour long, but I have yet to come across a better way to get the complete picture of what network neutrality is all about (each of these videos gives a useful illustration of a key tradeoff): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmlpfXzSfhg>Part 1 Part 2 [youtube.com] Part 3 [youtube.com] Part 4 [youtube.com] Part 4 [youtube.com] Part 6 [youtube.com] Part 7 [youtube.com] Part 8 [youtube.com] Part 9 [youtube.com]
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:22PM (#34620964)
      Actually, for the most part, conservatives don't trust the government not to impose control over Internet content under the guise of "net neutrality". In the beginning the regulations will be very subtle, but they will establish the precedent for government regulation of the Internet. Then bit by bit the government will extend its regulation so that it will be harder and harder to get information from anyone other than the approved mega-corporations.
  • by carrier lost (222597) on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:59PM (#34619798) Homepage

    Will someone with a louder voice than mine please tell these people that all we need to guarantee net neutrality is true competition in wired-broadband?

    If the FCC were to reinstate their line-sharing rules, the cable/telcos would have to lease their lines - at cost - to competitors.

    Then, if Comcast decided to slow down Hulu because it's costing them TV subscribers, there'd be other ISPs to choose from!

    iAi!

    • by spitzak (4019)

      I fail to see how you can prevent Comcast from slowing down the "other ISP" without a rule against that.

      Basically you are saying you *do* want Net Neutrality, but the exact regulation is that the the data is split up into things you call an "ISP" and only those larger blocks must be treated "fairly", and that customers are allowed to buy any subset of these blocks.

  • I have mixed emotions about Network Neutrality. The concept has some good points, but there are large down sides as well. The worst thing is AFAIK no one has ever found a case that would be affected by most of the proposals I've seen posted. The closest I have seen was a telco blocking Vonage's SIP registration ports several years back, which the FCC caught. Neither AT&T nor Verizon are major rural players and mobile is most certainly not the way people in rural areas get their broadband. Perhaps the Senator should go a little further off the highway to see how people are connecting. FIXED wireless (Alvarion, Tranzeo, Canopy, etc), DSL, DOCSIS cable, and a surprising amount of FTTx but damn little mobile broadband.

    • Being that he's from Wisconsin, I'd be amazed if he won the election without visiting the rural US.

      Although I'm no expert, wikipedia says that about 68% live in the cities. One can't just ignore 32% of the electorate and expect to win (and it was a close race as you may recall)

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:20PM (#34620148)
    Break up companies such that there are "pipe providers" and "content providers". If my net service provider is not also my cable TV company then it loses much of its motivation to oppose net neutrality. Of course, this may not go far enough. If I'm an ISP and my backbone connection doesn't provide sufficient bandwidth to Comcast's digital cable stream, Comcast will be unhappy (and so will my users). So I'll need to add that bandwidth. The question is how much of that effort should be paid for by me, the "pipe guy" and Comcast (or any other content provider). I'm tempted to say that the market would dictate "pipe provider" behavior without any direct intervention from content providers. For instance, if Comcast offers digital cable and says "our service works on X, Y and Z providers, but not U, V and W", then U/V/W are going to face pressure to properly support Comcast's content stream.
  • by vinn (4370) on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:46PM (#34621326) Homepage Journal

    If you're wondering the FCC is thinking, read this:

    http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2010/db1209/DOC-303457A1.pdf [fcc.gov]

    Let me summarize:
    * They only see this as a checkbox on the Obama administration's to-do list. ("Work on net neutrality." DONE.)
    * They don't see any problem with the status quo other than some "isolated incidents"
    * They feel they are overstepping their regulatory bounds and this should be an action undertaken by the courts or Congress.

    In other words - kiss your open access goodbye.

  • The internet is an exceptionally important part of the United States' infrastructure. The idea of it not being neutral and in the hands of private corporations is just ridiculous.

    If the internet's fate should be in the hands of businesses then why not the same for landlines, roads or even the military? Seriously if the government fucks everything up then surely something as important as the military as well as roads should be in the hands of private companies and quit wasting tax payer money on them.
  • by srobert (4099) on Monday December 20, 2010 @07:11PM (#34622478)

    One way or the other, the free (as in speech) internet will die. You may now select to have the internet controlled by powerful corporations, or by the government (which is controlled by powerful corporations). Aren't you glad you live in a democracy where you can choose?

  • Common carriers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hacksoncode (239847) on Monday December 20, 2010 @07:27PM (#34622626)
    The problem isn't that ISPs want to filter content, it's that they want to filter content and still have common carrier safe harbor provisions that relieve them of all liability for the content they are controlling.

    You can't have it both ways (well, logically, at least... of course ISPs may get it both ways, but they shouldn't). If you don't want to be responsible for content, you can't filter on content.

    If this were made legally clear, I doubt many ISPs would touch content filtering with a 10' pole. They *want* freedom from liability.

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