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Al Franken Makes a Case For Net Neutrality 604

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 Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:30PM (#34619280)

    This is the problem with the internet. People are getting confused, and it's the politicians that are milking it.

    On Slashdot, Engadget, Gizmodo, and every other tech site that you can think of: Net Neutrality is about preventing companies from creating a tiered system.

    To the government, Net Neutrality is an excuse to take control of a system that seems to be out of control simply based on the happenings of the worst government-granted monopoly: cable (specifically Comcast). Truth be told, it is out of control. However, similar to everything else in life, you do not want the government to decide what's best for the rest of us (I say the "rest of us" because Congress has a nasty habit of exempting itself from large government bills: social security, including taxes, and the recent health care bill come to mind)!

    To really fix the system, they need to fix cable. Stop endorsing the local monopolies that these companies live from, and start allowing (not immediately forcing) competition. As long as cartels are blocked from forming to avoid the next-best-thing from occurring where cable companies simply agree not to compete, then competition will force these companies to open up what they're doing. This would also positively affect TV deals so that your bill can stop going up every month for the exact same service (which is why I live off of Netflix and Hulu and only pay for FiOS internet).

    Once this is stepped up, then the government can talk about its end of the enforcement bargain. Talk should focus only on preventing a tiered system. Fines and levies make sense in such a system, but not control by the government. We do not need another internet kill switch, or the ability for the government to inject party-of-the-year rules over the internet. This is what we will get if the current government gets to stuff Net Neutrality down our throats. And once the government gets a taste, then it is incredibly hard to pry it away.

  • by beakerMeep ( 716990 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:32PM (#34619324)

    I don't think he's a buffoon, but, you're right, it is a shame that people tune him out. Maybe those who tune him out should take this opportunity to rethink their position on the guy. So few politicians are willing to defend net neutrality it's really nice to see someone buck that trend.

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) < minus cat> on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:38PM (#34619426) Journal

    Excuse me, but who do you think controls government? Over the last 30 years, there has been a steady erosion of checks and balances, middle class earning power and quality of life, and civil rights and freedom. At the heart of all of this has been the wholesale purchase of our government by commercial interests. At this point in the game, big business writes law, polices itself (or doesn't as the case may be), and has the vast majority of our representatives in it's pocket (in fact, forcing the need of multi-million dollar political campaigns for offices from Dog Catcher on up, ensures that only candidates who've been vetted by the money interests even get a chance to play in the political arena.) If government sucks, its because big business bought it, and now we're being governed by self obsessed, greedy capitalists who put personal profit ahead of justice, dignity, or the future of human advance.

    If you're at all interested in government that isn't a brazen travesty, let's declare business a religion, and separate it from government so that the two might function apart as designed and immeasurably improve the human condition. While we're at it, we might also consider teaching ethics and social responsibility in our business schools... just a thought.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:40PM (#34619452)

    If you want to "prevent corporate control," there are better ways like forcefully divesting the telecoms of their ISP businesses. Make Verizon sell off FiOS as a new company that has to license Verizon's infrastructure like any other business.

  • by sageres ( 561626 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:40PM (#34619454)
    Honestly guys, have any of you ever ran a BitTorrent on your network at the same time as you are trying to watch streaming videos? You know, most of the time your video would be crappy. (Because it requires soft real-time delivery... and your routers are busy.) So what do you do? You go into your router and put some form of traffic control on it (be it QoS or connection limitation or whatever else). Now let me ask you a quesiton: If you are a paying cable modem user / DSL user, have it not pissed you off (sometimes) when you can not download anything or stream any videos / music because your neighbor kid next door decides to run non-stop BitTorrent movies downloading service? (Few years ago I got safficiently pissed and found that kid downloading 18 titles at the same time... He left them on for weeks!) And you know that the bandwidth in your neighborhood is crappy anyways? Why should the the ISP not be able to QoS the traffic between the kid and you and allow the same bandwidth, same number of concurrent connections to him as to me? I pay for my Internet too and want to watch my NetFlix and YouTube and even simply browse the Internet unmolested by the crappy page load-times.
  • Some Clarifications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Monday December 20, 2010 @03:56PM (#34619742) Journal

    You have to consider that the people asked a question and let him respond without shouting or interrupting. On one hand this shows a dialogue with some actual interest in hearing what the other person has to say. On the other hand this is a key capability every politician needs: to be able to talk for a very lengthy amount of time and identify with anyone. What he did was good, he achieved some common ground with some very passionate opponents. But that's what politicians do. He's good but he's not accomplishing some impossible feat -- merely exhibiting good politeness and genuine interest in his constituents (opponents included). Franken had the attention of people that wanted to talk to him and what you saw were two parties genuinely interested in what the others had to say. Franken can lose his cool [] and act just like other politicians [].

    I wish my Senator would come around to the county fair and talk to his constituents like that.

    Okay, I must correct you here. That was at the state fair [] which is a very huge thing in Minnesota and still a three to six hour drive from some of the more remote parts of Minnesota (like where I grew up). I don't think Al Franken makes it out to county fairs.

    Now, I'm not disagreeing with you here and just to put some more positive spin on Franken, when I last went home my grandfather started rambling about all the times he had called up Franken and spoke with him on the phone. Thinking that my grandfather had finally lost it and was entering some sort of dementia, I asked my grandmother what he was talking about. She said he would wait on hold for thirty minutes and get about ten minutes of the senator's time every now and then (my grandfather is a retired dirt farmer living between Porter and Taunton). I was still skeptical but he showed me follow up letters from Franken's staff, hand signed by Franken explaining why Franken had voted on some bills that my grandfather had phoned him about. I was pretty impressed.

    TFA makes some good points and breaks down "Net Neutrality" to the lay person who just wants to use the internet. You should try reading it.

    On this point, I agree. I think Franken's on the right track here although I think he could have added another two sentence paragraph about limiting what specifically the FCC would be doing to address the obvious government control rebuttal a little more thoroughly. I am glad to see Franken writing this letter, though a little sad to see it in the Huffington Post and not a more mainstream publication.

    It's odd but my favorite moments of Franken [] are often very different than most people's.

  • Re:Yay (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:11PM (#34620004) Journal
    He understands that it should not be controlled by corporations. Google understands that it should not be controlled by governments. If we're lucky, the FCC will listen to both of them...
  • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:22PM (#34620184)
    You know who I want to run for Senate? Jon Stewart.
  • *sigh* This again. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by seebs ( 15766 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:45PM (#34620472) Homepage

    Look, I love the idea, but.

    No one has yet given me a technical definition of network neutrality that allows me to block or filter spam.

    The right to say "I don't want your content" or "I only want a trickle of your content" is a pretty important right. In fact, it's also a free speech issue -- one of the rights of free speech is freedom from compelled speech.

    I want the right to refuse unwanted traffic, or traffic-shape it into oblivion. But that seems to be essentially incompatible with "net neutrality". Once I'm making judgements on whether I feel happy with the amount of traffic I get from a given source, I'm not being net neutral. But if I can't make those judgements, people drown in spam.

    So go ahead. Offer a set of words that we could back as "net neutrality" which couldn't be used as the basis for lawsuit-based harassment of ISPs that block spam. Remember, you're proposing laws; you can't rely on any kind of common sense or sanity. If your words do not mean EXACTLY what you want, and have all the exceptions clearly encoded, you have probably made things worse rather than better.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:50PM (#34620560) Journal

    Oh please. Every single time there is anything political you bring out that "metagovernment" crap, which not only has LESS of a chance than electing 50 non crap senators, in fact has about as much odds of winning as the entire USA military being taken on by 40 guys from Alabama where the biggest weapon they have is grandpaw's hunting rifle.

    Here is what you would have to accomplish to pull off metagovenrment, please pay attention: You will have to simultaneously get the entire population to turn off ALL forms of propaganda, which of course will be pounding into their collective heads what a complete nutter you are, while at the same time get the ENTIRE senate and congress to essentially vote to disband themselves and stop the money train.

    I hate to break the news to you but there is a reason why you can pull crap like metagovernment in say Paduka nowhere Alaska and can NOT even get it state wide. Know why? Because the MILLISECOND you try that shit at anything above nowhere city council level you awaken the megacorps, which then point their WMD known as the MSM at you and then you are well and truly fucked. I'd love to see a poll to see what the public thinks of Wikileaks right now, I'll bet my last dollar they'll say something like "a terrorist hangout for rapists" or something of the sort. You seem to think that We, The People are actually in control and can just decide things should be different when that hasn't been the case in probably a century, if it ever was. You have corporations making billions on the endless wars and stupidity and frankly people and ideas have been killed for far less. You keep waving your little metagovernment flag, but I don't care if it is the best damned idea in the history of ideas, unless you have a couple of billion lying around to run counter propaganda with it has about as much chance as ice cream in hell.

    As for TFA, it really is a shame we don't have 50 Frankens, but IRL they'll let him rant while the telecos pay off....err use their lobbyist influence, to add to the election coffers of the right people and they'll get a wish list of "how can I screw Americans" like big business has been getting for decades. See healthcare reform, see DMCA, see the Mickey Mouse copyright extensions, for examples. If big teleco wants net neutrality dead, then dead it shall be. It isn't like most of us have a choice and can vote with our dollars anyway.

  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:32PM (#34621098) Homepage

    No one has yet given me a technical definition of network neutrality that allows me to block or filter spam.

    Spam is already illegal. Enacting rules or legislation that explicitly allows for filtering of traffic deemed illegal based on pre-existing law would be trivial enough.

    If your words do not mean EXACTLY what you want, and have all the exceptions clearly encoded, you have probably made things worse rather than better.

    While I believe your example is poor, in this, you are absolutely correct.

    The problem is, there really are legitimate uses of QoS, and defining regulation that enforces net neutrality while *also* allowing for legitimate use of QoS is extremely challenging. For example, a rule stating "source/destination-based QoS is illegal" is too simplistic, as it still allows protocol-level discrimination (Skype is the obvious example here). If you then say "well, then make protocol-level QoS illegal" means you've made *all* QoS illegal, and that's bad, too (deprioritizing bulk transfers behind real-time traffic is the primary need QoS fills).

    Fundamentally, I'll bet net neutrality regulation would have to go the way of obscenity laws... ie, the "I know it when I see it" approach. Which, obviously, has massive problems of its own.

  • by VGR ( 467274 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @06:02PM (#34621580)

    As someone who lives in a rural area, allow me to explain how I and everyone around me views the situation.

    You are correct. Living in a rural area comes with trade-offs. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who lives out here understands that.

    For water, we must pay for a well and a pump. For heat, we must pay for propane tanks to be regularly refilled. For trash, we must drive our own refuse to a dumpster facility, as there is no pickup. After a snow, our roads get plowed last if at all, so we use our own vehicles and equipment to do it sooner. For television, we pay for satellite or make do with rabbit ears.

    For Internet, we're willing to pay for the wires to be extended to our area.

    Oh, wait, we can't. We don't even have the option of paying for the last mile (well, last several miles).

    I guess what I'm saying is, your welfare-queen image of rural residents is wrong. We accept that we have to pay more for a lot of things. We don't want subsidies or charity. I and most people around me would be happy to pay the extra cost.

    Currently, I pay for a wireless broadband service. I get about 3 Mbps each way. It's decent but I'm sure I would do more (more work, more video chat, more Google Earth browsing, etc.) if we had Fios. But it's clear we never will. (Before the wireless service was available, I had satellite Internet, which is so bad I wouldn't wish it on anyone.)

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"