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Proposing a Model For Locally Imposed Net Neutrality 153

Posted by timothy
from the good-thing-they-know-the-future-already dept.
newscloud writes "Envision Seattle has posted a model legal ordinance (pdf) for communities wishing to enshrine status quo net neutrality as law. The ordinance is co-authored by the legal group that helped Pittsburgh's city council ban fracking and corporate personhood last November. The concept of local municipalities defying FCC authority is troubling to some but the group counters that FCC authority actually violates certain rights that we hold as people, and the right to govern our own communities as an element of the right to community and local self-government. If we have a 'right to internet access' or a 'right to communicate' via these pathways, there are certain actions that can be taken by government which infringe on those rights. In our view, it's up to us to create these rights frameworks, and then enforce them at higher levels."
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Proposing a Model For Locally Imposed Net Neutrality

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  • Could work (Score:5, Informative)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @02:48PM (#36570132)
    if you get a few good sized markets to require it then it'd be too expensive to maintain one net for the non-neutral and another for the neutral. The best part is since the Cable companies have chased off the FCC you can't even say it's their job. The only real trouble is the markets aren't usually big enough to stand up to Comcast et al, and it's just divide and conqueror. That's kinda why we have a federal gov't in the first place.
    • Re:Could work (Score:4, Informative)

      by hedwards (940851) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @02:55PM (#36570186)

      I wouldn't count on Seattle getting anything done. I've lived there my entire life and it would be quicker to push through change at the federal level. Decisions don't get made until the courts step in and say no more discussion. Seriously, we were going to have a monorail, and it would've been done by now, but after about four redo elections the permits were eventually yanked killing the project. The tunnel is in the middle of the same process where the opponents are trying yet again to vote it down even though so far they've failed miserably to do so. This debate has been ongoing for over 20 years since we learned that the design could collapse in an earthquake. And even a couple earthquakes in the meantime hasn't pushed the debate much closer to conclusion.

      In 2005, the mayor proposed building our own municipal fiber to cover the last mile from the local IXP to the individual homes. Comcast wouldn't comment and Qwest claimed that they were already on it. It's been 6 years now, and Qwest hasn't done shit. I'm still stuck at virtually the same connection speed I've had for over a decade. Having increased from 4mbps to 5mbps.

    • Re:Could work (Score:4, Insightful)

      by newscloud (1037538) * on Saturday June 25, 2011 @03:00PM (#36570226) Homepage
      This kind of ordinance makes sense once you realize how colonized by corporate lobbying our federal govt has become. If it weren't for legalized "corruption" inherent in Congress, we might not need more local law.
      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Exactly. The Federal government has become so utterly corrupt that States and municipalities are trying to enact their own laws to do things that are supposed to be responsibilities of the Federal government. But then, the FG is suing them for it! This is for many different issues, including illegal immigration, net neutrality, and more.

        The solution is simple: the country needs to break up into smaller, more-manageable units. Republic-style (representative democracy) government simply doesn't work in la

        • by tqk (413719)

          Hi. I'm a (reluctant) Canuck, btw. :-)

          The solution is simple: the country needs to break up into smaller, more-manageable units. Republic-style (representative democracy) government simply doesn't work in large countries; the government just turns corrupt. Of all the democratic countries, it's the small ones where the government is most effective and least corrupt.

          Not so simple, sorry. You're a Pollyanna, Hellenic Greece already tried and failed at the City States idea, and have you no idea how passionate

          • Not so simple, sorry. You're a Pollyanna, The Roman Empire already tried and failed at the big country idea,

            FTFY

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @02:52PM (#36570166) Homepage

    This goes beyond simple net neutrality.

    The article also says Pittsburgh has also recognized the rights of nature. (Not natural rights, but the rights of the flora and fauna.)

    http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/drafting-natures-constitution [yesmagazine.org]

    That's really quite amazing that an industrial city like Pittsburgh would adopt such a radical provision, which could be good or bad depending on your view.

    I wonder what the rights of nature would mean in practice. After all, Bambi can't file a lawsuit on her own.

    • Under the Clean Water Act, you only have legal standing to file a suit if you own property along a river or water system that's been damaged. You can only sue to recover monies equivalent to your loss e.g. you can no longer eat fish from the river. Monies recovered go to the Federal government, not to your local ecosystem for cleanup. With Rights for Nature, anyone shall have the authority to sue with an action in equity brought in a court of appropriate jurisdiction. See section 5b of the net neutrality or
    • by bky1701 (979071)
      "That's really quite amazing that an industrial city like Pittsburgh would adopt such a radical provision, which could be good or bad depending on your view."

      Pittsburgh used to be industrial, but now there are only offices of the industries that used to have plants there (like US Steel). Now it's mostly healthcare, banking, and universities now.
  • Aside from the(no doubt sticky) legal issues, there is the problem that for most purposes, the most 'local' portion of the network is not the limiting factor in the network's utility:

    There've been a number of real-world cases, I believe in Canada, where the local good-guys-mom-'n-pop ISPs have been "neutral/non-throttling"; but the Evil Telco Empire from which they had to lease their access was engaged in throttling, so the fact that they weren't touching customers' packets didn't end up mattering much.
    • by newscloud (1037538) * on Saturday June 25, 2011 @03:21PM (#36570336) Homepage
      Section 7 – Exploration of the City of Seattle as a Direct Broadband Provider - If broadband internet access service providers providing service to residents of the City of Seattle violate this ordinance in ways which evidence a pattern and practice on behalf of those providers to interfere with the rights secured by this ordinance, the City Council of the City of Seattle shall explore the potential for the City of Seattle to become a direct broadband internet access service provider to the residents of the City of Seattle.
    • Well considering many states have monopolies by law ( 1 company for dsl, 1 for cable), competition will never exist.

      As far as the RIAA throttling down your torrents so my online video gaming has low lag, I don't see the problem. Throttling has it's purpose, and if they were more open about it, they could offer me higher speeds. I'm in Maine with a 15mbit connection, that'll do 30mbit for like 15 seconds. If it wasn't for people freaking out over throttling, they would just give me a 30mbit connection and

      • What they need is actual working QoS like what that flag they have in the IP headers is for. I would gladly set my torrent traffic and bulk traffic to low priority QoS if I could figure out how. DPI shouldn't be necessary. Allow me to tell the ISP what's important some how and I will, and I'll try to be honest about it. Figuring out some way to do that for bulk transfers, and having routers accept that could help somewhat.
        • Well said. If this has been implemented for the last 5 years in every major OS (hidden from the average user, but not forced), it would have been a very easy and practical implementation, but I'm sure segments from the net neutrality movement would have railed against it.

          I don't think people fully understand the consequences of forcing ISPs to do DPI just for QoS.

      • "Throttling has it's purpose, and if they were more open about it, they could offer me higher speeds."

        That is assuming that throttling will be done in a responsible manner. But that is a pretty big, and probably not very realistic, assumption.

        Until they got caught and threatened with heavy fines, my ISP (a large national provider) was throttling any and all BitTorrent traffic, without regard to what the content was. They had no idea whether it was legal or illegal, and they didn't care. (For that matter, determining its legality would have required Deep Packet Inspection, which is illegal in that context

        • And why were they doing that in the first place, just because they are evil? No, they were being forced to do that to combat all the illegal activity taking place. Now they can instead raise prices and put their users in jail, wow, what a great turn of events, I'm so glad they were forced to stop doing that.
          • I see. So it's okay to break the law in order to enforce the law?

            That's an interesting concept.
          • There are a lot of potential solutions, some of them good, but lying to and cheating your customers is not one of them.

            Their contract was to deliver a certain amount of internet service. It was, quite frankly, none of their goddamned business what their customers were doing with that service, any more than it is a telephone company's business to listen in on phone conversations to see if they are about something "illegal".

            Without a warrant, that is.
    • I suspect that a much better deterrent to various nefarious telco practices is simply municipal fiber installs

      Absolutely. If you want this, lobby your city council, get involved, go to meetings, get elected to the board if you have to. The whole point is that you are going to have to build grassroots support outside of the walled garden that is /. if you want to see this happen. There are a number of cities and municipalities that have done this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipal_wireless_network#Cities_with_municipal_wi-fi [wikipedia.org], so you'll have plenty of lessons learned to work from.

      In short, this doesn't need t

  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Saturday June 25, 2011 @03:20PM (#36570328) Homepage Journal

    Disclosure: I'm somewhere between a libertarian and voluntaryist, and I'm against net neutrality laws/regulations.

    But I'm happy to see this for a few reasons.

    1) the idea of federal supremecy really rubs me the wrong way. States and municipalities, so long as they are not violating incorporated individual protections, should do whatever they like and tell uncle sam to fuck off. This idea that every single detail of our lives has to be managed from DC and has to be the same for everybody everywhere is really, really stupid and is very counter to the original vision of America.

    2) If some people want something like net neutrality specifically, not doing it at the federal level is a great approach
    2a) I don't think the FCC really has any constitutional right to exist, but that ship sailed a long time ago. The idea that it has the power to impose and enforce net neutrality regulatoins is dubious at best.
    2b) I don't see that _all_ internet businesses eveyrwhere should play by arbitrary rules decided in DC. You could certainly envision high-density municipal internet services being provisiioned, used, and regulated differently than RRTA farmers in the dakotas. Let's let the people decide what they want at a _local_ level, and make businesses put up with it.
    2c) incidentally, having different rules and regulatinos for every little locality PROMOTES small businesses and regional operators, and dissuades mega-corps who want to push out local incumbents with federal power

    Now, I used to live in seattle and hated the politics of that whole festering sore of hippie socialists. But, I long for the idea that their right of supreme self-determination should trump and invalidate whatever Uncle Sam has to say about it.

    • You argument sounds like you would want the USPS to be broken up into 50 state entities with different laws and regulations in each state. National infrastructure needs to be regulated on a national level. The internet goes across state lines, just like radio waves, therefore it's entirely constitutional for the federal government to regulate it, and was in fact the vision from day 1.

      TV channel 37 is reserved for radio astronomy, do you really think scientists would have been able to purchase this from wh

      • by bmajik (96670)

        Re: USPS

        that would be wonderful. It shouldn't exist at all, naturally, but breaking it up would be a fine start :)

        Without conceding your overall point, I'll entertain that if you want to say that the feds should regulate trunks or long-haul links, you might have an argument. That argument wouldn't however extend to local ISP service, which is what we're talking about here.

        Re: what some states would allow: absolutely. People come in at all different levels on the taxonomy of wants and needs. If you're wo

        • that would be wonderful. It shouldn't exist at all, naturally, but breaking it up would be a fine start :)

          I think in the 1800s there was a need for the USPS, today snail mail is irrelevant.

          you're not one of the farmers in the rural dakotas who was bitterly clinging to his AMPS phone unti the day service ended

          My uncle has 3g service in remote parts of Tanzania, I'm sure with a little bit of national funding we could get some 3g in the Dakotas. Places like Egypt even have 3g across most of the country.

          Any farmer would gladly trade "NO I FUCKING MEAN IT" levels of radiation, at least in emergency situations,

          They could just get a HAM license and put out 1kw, that should go for a couple hundred miles

          and there are not local government obstacles to building/selling such a device

          That's why there is national regulation, otherwise obstacles would exist

        • Oh and as far as not regulating the major trunks, then it won't make any difference, as that's where all the control is.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          As an urban dweller, it doesn't bother me at all, but the purpose of the USPS is to ensure that you can send a package or envelope anywhere in the country for one fee. Regardless of how much it costs. I've been subsidizing those free loading rural residents for quite some time now, even as they vote to cut funding for things that I value.

          It's the to benefit the same arrogant fools that continuously vote against government even as they collect their government provided farm subsidies.

    • Disclosure: I'm somewhere between a libertarian and voluntaryist,

      Translation: I think it would be way cool if all of the lazy unproductive people would starve to death and/or die from lack of health care so that all of us hyper-productive individualist heros could have more cool toys to play with.

      • by bmajik (96670)

        Translation: I think it would be way cool if all of the lazy unproductive people would starve to death and/or die from lack of health care so that all of us hyper-productive individualist heros could have more cool toys to play with.

        Nonsense. I think that would be tragic.

        But should that remain an accurate description of them or their behavior, absent voluntary charity, that would certainly be the _just_ outcome.

        And any other outcome that relied on non-voluntary action would be, in aggregate, less just and

  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @03:27PM (#36570362)

    Are you willing to take the bad with the good? What if some communities want to do away with net neutrality, or regulate any of a myriad of other things we've looked to the feds to regulate up to now? Pushing those decisions down to the local level means that along with stuff you like, you're going to get stuff you don't.

    • by protektor (63514)

      You already have this. Cities pass ordinances that some people like and other find really annoying or wrong. So exactly how would this change anything? You don't like something then get people to rally around it and get it voted on to be removed or added or whatever. It happens at the local level and its the people directly around you deciding how they want to live rather than someone far away who has never been to your town telling you how you have to do things.

      Read the papers written before and after the

    • Are you willing to take the bad with the good? What if some communities want to do away with net neutrality, or regulate any of a myriad of other things we've looked to the feds to regulate up to now? Pushing those decisions down to the local level means that along with stuff you like, you're going to get stuff you don't.

      Yes, so long as freedom of movement is undisturbed.

      Pushing those decisions down to the local level means that you get much more stuff that you like and much less stuff that you dislike, provided that you're living in a like-minded community. And it's not all that hard to provide for that. You may never find a place where the consensus is in agreement with 100% of your views, but you can get a reasonably high approximation. On the other hand, when you have 300 million people voting over a single issue, it's

    • Well, part of the advantage of having these things done at a local level is that it's reasonable to consider moving.

      Would you move to a different city that has better Internet? Perhaps. Would you move to a different state that has better Internet? Probably not. Would you move to a different country that has better Internet? No.

  • I thought this was a submission requesting Slashdot users come up with frameworks for software-based net neutrality tools. Obviously there are some issues that can't be solved that way, but something like that could be turned into a simple browser add-in that would at least stop some types of abuse. If flat out filtering and bandwidth control were the only ways net neutrality could be harmed, THAT issue would be easier to tackle since it's pretty black and white, and everyone knows the right answer. When w
  • Good luck on that one. Corporation v. Community... Corporation will win every time.

    • by reifman (786887)
      Um, so best just to give in?
    • by ScentCone (795499)

      Corporation v. Community... Corporation will win every time

      The companies that actually run the networks, including the mom-and-pop operations in small towns, "win," in the sense that they're the ones actually providing the service. "Community" doesn't run a giant network of networks. You might have something to go on, there, if you could point to the success of municipal networks that don't more or less immediately run out of cash and fold up (see countless recent examples that city taxpayers all across the country have become fed up paying for, and kill off). If

  • The "the right to govern our own communities as an element of the right to community and local self-government" is a can of worms that will cause major issues for any large companies or companies that work in many jurisdictions.

    Here is a site with many state laws that have been struck down due to their effect on interstate trade. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/statecommerce.htm [umkc.edu]

    If every jurisdiction was allowed to make laws abut everything then the country would become a patchwork of so

    • by reifman (786887)
      You make it sounds like democracy is a can of worms :) Ha, it is. Besides, there already is a patchwork of sometimes conflicting statutes across our country. From the blog post ... This work is about giving up hope that Congress is going to do the right thing, or State legislatures are going to do the right thing; and beginning to craft a structure of "rights" at the municipal level that challenges the hegemony exercised by those other levels of government; and then using the combined force of that municip
      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        There already is a structure for municipalities to get their issues heard at higher levels of government. For example, in California there is the League of California Cities, http://www.cacities.org/index.jsp [cacities.org], which lobbies the state to change laws on behalf of communities in the state. On the state to federal level there is the National Governors Association, http://www.nga.org./ [www.nga.org] They advocate states issues to the national level.

        If enough local governments advocated to their state leagues and enough Govern

    • The "the right to govern our own communities as an element of the right to community and local self-government" is a can of worms that will cause major issues for any large companies or companies that work in many jurisdictions.

      Are you seriously arguing that democracy (and make no mistake: local government is what makes democracy actually work) should be curtailed because it makes life harder for big business? You have some rather strange priorities, in my opinion.

      This whole issue seems to forget that DC is not a separate country. Everyone votes for representatives that go to DC. If you want a law that is controlled by the federal government changed the lobby your federal representative.

      This assumes that it is possible or desirable to have a single law that's good enough for everyone. In practice, it often isn't. Pushing these things down on local level lets minorities (on federal level) decide what's best for them without having their preferences being

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Are you seriously arguing that democracy (and make no mistake: local government is what makes democracy actually work) should be curtailed because it makes life harder for big business? You have some rather strange priorities, in my opinion.

        Democracy on a local level sometimes causes NIMBY issues. I noticed that you did not make any note of the state laws that were cited in my post. A state banning importing of milk from another state? A state requiring only one label on apples? If you want to belong to a country you need to do what's best for the country and not necessarily just for your locality.

        As for big business being bad, millions of people would not be alive if not for big business. How do you think you get most of your food, clothing a

        • es. I noticed that you did not make any note of the state laws that were cited in my post. A state banning importing of milk from another state? A state requiring only one label on apples?

          That's why there's the commerce clause, which restricts undue interference by the states. I never said that everything should be handled locally - just that this should be the default, and things should be elevated onto the federal level should be treated as exceptions added on a case-by-case basis and with a damn good justification. Which is pretty much how the US Constitution does it already, per the Tenth Amendment.

          So, for your specific examples: banning importation of milk in general would not be a good

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            But what, specifically, do you find wrong with pushing the particular law described in TFA to municipal level?

            The specific instance is beside the point (I am in fact for net neutrality).The issue is that currently the Federal Government regulates ISPs and not local governments. If you want to change that then lobby your elected state and federal representatives to change that. Otherwise stay out of regulations that are not within a local government's area of responsibility.

            Your example of your state making it illegal for local governments weapons beyond what state law restricts seems to be the same as the federal l

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      No company that works nation wide could deal with it.

      you say that like it's a bad thing.
      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        How do you expect your food, clothing and energy to get to you without nation wide companies? Not all companies can or should be local.

        Gotta love the hypocrisy of people who hate big companies yet consume their products on a daily basis.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I definitely could be wrong, but I don't think that the city is under any legal obligation to permit Comcast or Qwest to put their wires on public property.

    • by PPH (736903)

      If every jurisdiction was allowed to make laws abut everything then the country would become a patchwork of sometime conflicting statutes. No company that works nation wide could deal with it.

      That's a valid point. But lets turn the situation around and look at what happens to interstate commerce when the various telcos are allowed to turn their systems into walled gardens. It suffers. And in this case, the suffering is felt by thousands (tens of thousands) of businesses that have to pay to play over every system their packets travel. Or risk getting throttled.

      Local control isn't a good solution. But in the face of Congress' unwillingness to fix the problem, the courts may have to say that 50 (o

  • There are some problems with enacting a local ordinance enforcing net neutrality: the measure can be taken to the courts and nullified even less expensively than it would take to fight a county-wide or state-wide law or the ISPs can simply refuse to improve infrastructure in the local municipality that enacts a net neutrality law as a form of retaliation. If the ISP refused to invest in infrastructure, it would cause some adverse reactions like diminishing land values because no one will want to live in an
    • Section 7 – Exploration of the City of Seattle as a Direct Broadband Provider - If broadband internet access service providers providing service to residents of the City of Seattle violate this ordinance in ways which evidence a pattern and practice on behalf of those providers to interfere with the rights secured by this ordinance, the City Council of the City of Seattle shall explore the potential for the City of Seattle to become a direct broadband internet access service provider to the residents
    • by PPH (736903)

      And when the telco's franchise agreement comes up for renegotiation, they might get tossed out of the towm.

      I saw this coming years ago. If the FCC doesn't take the lead on a standard set of regulations that everyone can live with, every little wide spot in the road will write their own rules. Don't like the FCC's take on 'Net neutrality? How about several thousand unique contracts?

  • by shentino (1139071)

    Here's hoping municipalities that try this don't get sued by the telcos.

    TDS anyone?

  • If Congress would simply get its sh*t together, stop listening to the "special interests", and allow the FCC to regulate ISPs as Common Carriers under Title II (as it should have from the very beginning), the vast majority of these issues would simply disappear, virtually overnight.

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