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The FCC May Decide Not To Regulate Broadband 279

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

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

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

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

  • Re:Great. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anarche ( 1525323 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:35PM (#32079958)


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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:52PM (#32080108) Homepage Journal

    Eh, not exactly. The "long tail" is a phrase that usually comes up in discussions of financial matters, and I agree that (unfortunately) it hasn't panned out the way we were hoping it would. But ideas are not measurable in dollars. I would argue that the active, constant, and often very healthy (as well as yes, often polarized and idiotic) political debate that takes place across the internet is in fact a success: more people have access to a greater range of facts and opinions than ever before, and more ways to speak out. There is just about nothing said in print or broadcast media that isn't immediately dissected in every possible way, all in public view. It doesn't work perfectly, but it works better than just about anything we've tried before.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:18PM (#32080334) Homepage Journal

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

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:44PM (#32080522)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • What have we come to (Score:3, Interesting)

    by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:46PM (#32081310)

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

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

  • by sonicmerlin ( 1505111 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @12:11AM (#32081486)

    The issue is how the rich's share of income tax intersects with their share of the national income, and how those two have diverged over the past 30 years as progressive taxation was reduced, and "trickle down" (deregulatory) politics increased.

    When the top tenth of 1% of the population receives half of every available dollar of income (almost as much as the bottom 50%) you'd expect them to pay more in income taxes. The question is whether they are paying "more" like they were 30 years ago, prior to income taxes becoming more regressive, before their share of the national income quadrupled while the average American lost ground.

    I mean, is it a good thing that 300,000 Americans quadrupled their incomes, and pay less tax on that money today than they would have 30 years ago? To the "less tax" crowd that may sound like an ideal world. But, is that ideal when, at the same time, average income dropped 10%?

    In 1980, Ronald Reagan asked "are you better off today than you were four years ago?" He got elected and proceeded to make income taxation less progressive. The result has been as described above.

    But, if the average American asks the same question Reagan did, he's accused of being a "deadbeat," "wanting something for nothing."

  • Re:Great (Score:1, Interesting)

    by thatisscary ( 1297483 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:07AM (#32082064)
    Why is government an involvement in a problem created by government always the answer. At&t, Comcast and all other single source providers are legislated Monopolies. Suck it up, socialist. This is what a well regulated society looks like.

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

  • by thatisscary ( 1297483 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:21AM (#32082106)

    I find it hard so see how railing against stringently regulated industries, such as broadcast TV (either Cable or Network) proves that lassez-faire capitalism is not the answer.

    Please tell me one, just one, media empire that does not benefit from government legislation and government regulation.

    Or you can tell me how you wish the government would regulate in your favor and for your benefit.

    Either way, it is the same answer. Pigs at the trough. You are just looking over the railing at the other pigs, and thinking how disgusting they are. Or perhaps, someone snuck in a mirror and you just haven't figured it out yet.

  • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @07:52AM (#32083312)

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

  • by jwhitener ( 198343 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @01:47PM (#32088194)

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

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

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972