Update: Net Neutrality Restrictions Struck Down by U.S. Appeals Court

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Update: Net Neutrality Restrictions Struck Down by U.S. Appeals Court

The U.S. Appeals Court has ruled that the FCC cannot impose net neutrality rules on broadband internet providers.

In case you haven't heard of net neutrality, it's kind of a big deal. Put in the simplest terms it means that the government and internet service providers must treat all data (i.e. websites) as being equal. For instance, if a provider were to decide that it wanted to charge you a dollar every time you visited Facebook, it would have to charge you a dollar to visit every other website too.

All of this said, net neutrality in the United States took a substantial hit today thanks to a ruling from the U.S. Appeals Court invalidating current neutrality rules previously upheld by the FCC. According to the court, "the [FCC] has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers." In turn because "the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such" it lacks the authority to impose net neutrality rules on broadband providers.

What this ruling means is that broadband companies like Verizon and Time Warner Cable could potentially start selling special treatment to websites interested in faster loading speeds compared to their competitors. It could also give them the freedom to charge users for entry to specific, popular sites. The court ruling apparently includes a stipulation that broadband providers would need to inform customers which sites are being favored, but it could still be a hit for internet users who may now be left even more at the mercy of corporate whims. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said he's still "committed" to upholding previous ideals of net neutrality, but only time will tell if the previous rules will be restored.

Update: Verizon, responding to the Appeals Court ruling, has issued a statement affirming that "today's decision will not change consumers' ability to access and use the Internet as they do now." That said, the company says that the decision will "allow more room for innovation" and that "consumers [in the future] will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet." The statement also claimed that "Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet that provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where, and how they want. This will not change in light of the court's decision."

Source: Gizmodo

Permalink

Does it bother anyone else that the cables are upside down in that picture?

OT. This is ridiculous. Somebody got paid off

There was a scare like this a few years back when it was thought that internet providers would start charging you subscriptions to each individual site. E.g. you could get broadband packages that allowed you to access to Facebook, Google and Youtube for so much a month.

Myopic anti-consumer shenanigans in the U.S.? Gee whiz, who would've guessed.

Alexander Kirby:
There was a scare like this a few years back when it was thought that internet providers would start charging you subscriptions to each individual site. E.g. you could get broadband packages that allowed you to access to Facebook, Google and Youtube for so much a month.

.

That would be my biggest concern with things like this, that we could start to see websites bundles into packages in the same way as cable tv.

Want Facebook? Social networks package.
Want Sports stuff? Sports package.
Want porn? Porn package.

Want just one of those packages? Be prepared to get ripped off relative to getting a deal that includes them all, and just forget trying to get them on an individual site basis for any less than a kidney.

Fortunately, I have faith in the internet being diverse enough and consisting of enough angry nerds that one way or another, it'll continue to work more or less as it has.

Another ruling that once again proves that the USA only cares about the companies, not the consumers.

So the FCC does not have the regulatory power to force net neutrality on broadband carriers? Fair enough, but the people sure as hell do. I'm deadly serious when I say that I hope we can harness enough collective, active rage to push greater net neutrality laws through Congress that explicitly forbid carriers from favoring or dis-favoring any website. While I understand some might see this as a lesser issue to many social problems, I view it as nearly on the level with such things as free press or free speech. The internet is perhaps the greatest refuge of free speech and free press left in this world, and is a tool so powerful that the citizens of the world need to ensure that no entity can ever take that great power away from the people. This is not simply a matter of carriers charging extra for popular sites, this is about keeping the net as free and open as possible for everyone. In no way do I feel I'm making a bigger deal of this than is needed, as I don't think the importance of net neutrality can be overstated!

the doom cannon:
Does it bother anyone else that the cables are upside down in that picture?

OT. This is ridiculous. Somebody got paid off

It bothers me more that there is a solitary blue cable, whilst there are two of each of the other colours. What is worse is that it is excluding green cables! So much for cable equality.

I can honestly say I've never heard of net neutrality before, I guess I'm naive enough to have assumed ISPs wouldn't favour some sites over others.

The current chairman of the FCC (Tom Wheeler) was formerly a lobbyist for the very industries that the FCC is supposed to be regulating. I'm surprised that this obvious conflict of interest and blatant display of government corruption barely got any attention or outrage. Well, this is exactly the sort of BS that we can expect from this.

"Of the people, by the people, for the people."

That was true, once.

Interesting.

Well, before we all get up in a tissy, you guys should read this. Remember, there's always two sides to every argument. And a lot of the time, they are both equal in validity.

Bye Netflix it was nice knowing you.

Comcast has stated they want to charge both Netflix and the end user on a per user basis for example $10 for Netflix to send you data, $5 for you to receive Netflix data through Comcast plus the subscription fee you pay Netflix (that would have to increase) on top.

With this ruling they could legally do that while Comcast's own streaming service would only have the subscription fee.

its more than just being charged for package deals, etc it also means that your search engine results get doctored to give preferencial treatment to those corporations with money

This is a fucking disaster. That's about all I can say on the matter. Good thing I don't live in the US, and I hope they change their minds soon.

StewShearer:
Update: Verizon, responding to the Appeals Court ruling, has issued a statement affirming that "today's decision will not change consumers' ability to access and use the Internet as they do now." That said, the company says that the decision will "allow more room for innovation" and that "consumers [in the future] will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet." The statement also claimed that "Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet that provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where, and how they want. This will not change in light of the court's decision."

They're lying. They've been waiting for the green light to go nuts with charging schemes (they've been campaigning for exactly this outcome for that explicit purpose) and now they have it. I don't expect this claim to last longer than a month.

Jadak:

Alexander Kirby:
There was a scare like this a few years back when it was thought that internet providers would start charging you subscriptions to each individual site. E.g. you could get broadband packages that allowed you to access to Facebook, Google and Youtube for so much a month.

.

That would be my biggest concern with things like this, that we could start to see websites bundles into packages in the same way as cable tv.

Want Facebook? Social networks package.
Want Sports stuff? Sports package.
Want porn? Porn package.

Want just one of those packages? Be prepared to get ripped off relative to getting a deal that includes them all, and just forget trying to get them on an individual site basis for any less than a kidney.

Fortunately, I have faith in the internet being diverse enough and consisting of enough angry nerds that one way or another, it'll continue to work more or less as it has.

my biggest concern is that they will start charging websites for better bandwidth, leading to a situation where sites that don't pay up get subpar service. See Yelp's business model

EDIT double post

That said, the company says that the decision will "allow more room for innovation" and that "consumers [in the future] will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet."

Translation: "Now we're going to fuck you over even more, but we're going to give you the choice of where we stick our dick"

CriticalMiss:

the doom cannon:
Does it bother anyone else that the cables are upside down in that picture?

It bothers me more that there is a solitary blue cable, whilst there are two of each of the other colours. What is worse is that it is excluding green cables! So much for cable equality.

What gets me is that they've lined up 5 cables against 4 ports. Color won't affect performance and upside down cables can be turned right-side up, but too few ports requires new hardware...

Orange12345:
my biggest concern is that they will start charging websites for better bandwidth, leading to a situation where sites that don't pay up get subpar service. See Yelp's business model

Yep. It would entirely kill off online competition.

Why would anyone order something from an online store that takes an hour to load each page, when they could order it from Amazon in an instant?

Trishbot:
"Of the people, by the people, for the people."

That was true, once.

You say that as if corporations aren't people...

Twenty Ninjas:
This is a fucking disaster. That's about all I can say on the matter. Good thing I don't live in the US, and I hope they change their minds soon.

And by "fucking disaster" you're referring to the massive over-reaction by several people here?

I mean seriously, do you think any ISP would get away with being too greedy with this new set of rules? Nope. There's still such a thing as competition...if one or even several ISPs start being dicks, people will migrate to other services. I would be very surprised if anything changes. Besides...with Google ramping up their fiber service, eventually the other ISPs will get swallowed up, and Google has a vested interest in unlimited internet access because almost every site uses Google Ad Sense so Google gets a piece of that action anyway.

Arnoxthe1:
Interesting.

Well, before we all get up in a tissy, you guys should read this. Remember, there's always two sides to every argument. And a lot of the time, they are both equal in validity.

I take issue with a lot of what is argued there, but I'd have to write an essay to rebut it. Net neutrality is not the barrier to entry that some claim, infrastructure is. Because of the original subsidies granted to the incumbent players, they have a government created monopoly on infrastructure that cannot be duplicated without the same subsidies offered to a new market player to build their own redundant network. Because of the subsidy-created monopoly on infrastructure, the government is now forced into the role of net neutrality regulation.

If there is a good way to fix the middle-mile monopoly problem, the last-mile issues could be fixed by natural market forces. Alas, as it always is, you cannot have a government created monopoly on infrastructure and expect a free market solution to price/policy issues. On the other hand, you can't expect countless redundant infrastructure projects for every would-be player who wants in on the game. But we are where we are, and that means net neutrality has to be enforced until a solution to middle-mile monopoly issues are solved.

As for the major points of the article, I'll give short-(ish) and dirty answers, though I admit I am no more than a layman.

1) This is only an issue because of the way the current laws are written. Introduction of new legislation can solve this.

2) See my comments about redundant infrastructure, subsidy-created monopolies and how in large part, this ship has already sailed.

3) There is no reason net neutrality means that last-mile networks have to be frozen in stone, or that middle-mile networks can't expand. There is also no reason why net neutrality must stifle innovation or prevent network managers flexibility. I'd need the author to expand on these points since in the article they appear to just be assertions, but again I am no expert.

4) All true points, and as a libertarian, I strongly agree with several of them. However true they are though, they rely on an open market to breed the necessary competition and as has been pointed out, that ship sailed with the subsidy monopoly. As for community policing, what can the community do but push for legislation to keep the monopoly from being abusive? Complain on forums and bitch about the new pricing structures for their "Sports Package" they now have to buy? Community policing only works if there is a free market or through regulation, and we don't have the former and so must use the latter. This means we must rely on the FCC.

5) Again, these arguments are predicated on the idea that there is a free market here, and there simply isn't. Net Neutrality is necessary because of the existing monopoly, and ditching it without finding a way to ditch the monopoly is not going to work for the people, just the holders of the monopoly. You can't scream "let the free market sort it out" after you've already tinkered with it to the point that there is no free market to be had.

Just a few badly thought-out rebuttals off the top of my head. Someone with more knowledge than me can school me about this issue if I'm off base, and I'll be happy to learn more.

Avaholic03:

Twenty Ninjas:
This is a fucking disaster. That's about all I can say on the matter. Good thing I don't live in the US, and I hope they change their minds soon.

And by "fucking disaster" you're referring to the massive over-reaction by several people here?

I mean seriously, do you think any ISP would get away with being too greedy with this new set of rules? Nope. There's still such a thing as competition...if one or even several ISPs start being dicks, people will migrate to other services. I would be very surprised if anything changes. Besides...with Google ramping up their fiber service, eventually the other ISPs will get swallowed up, and Google has a vested interest in unlimited internet access because almost every site uses Google Ad Sense so Google gets a piece of that action anyway.

I don't see how you can consider people's reaction to be over the top when we've seen this play out before. The same argument about people migrating to different services if the service sucked was used when talking about the awful, anti-consumer policies implemented by cable carriers, and cell carriers, and the old phone carriers... And yet the consumer still gets the shaft because even the minor players adopt many of the garbage policies and pricing structures of the big ones.

Well that's a nail in the coffin. I have to wonder how much this will ripple internationally. An awful lot of servers are located in the US and I can't help but wonder how this will impact folks outside the US.

Nothing good can come of this. Maybe nothing immediately bad either but I see no good reason for backing this. Someone was bought off.

Capcha: the tribe has spoken

Oh capcha how are you so very frequently on point?

That said, the company says that the decision will "allow more room for innovation" and that "consumers [in the future] will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet."

Translation: This will let us come up with ways to either take things away from our customer base or gouge the hell out of them, thereby allowing us to make more money on their increasingly shrinking amount of freedoms.

Sometimes this @#$%ing country man.

As shitty as this country can be at times (hint: all the time), at the very least I can enjoy a rather good internet service, without transfer caps at a decent price, if this ever picks up on the US, I fear this might pick up everywhere else and it would definitely suck for everyone.

Captcha: Talk to strangers. Well, I'm kinda doing captcha... stop watching me! D:

Oh, how did the greatest capitalist country in the world managed to get itself such shitty Internet services? Could it be that regulation is actually required, so that this does not turn into another Enron?

Avaholic03:

Twenty Ninjas:
This is a fucking disaster. That's about all I can say on the matter. Good thing I don't live in the US, and I hope they change their minds soon.

And by "fucking disaster" you're referring to the massive over-reaction by several people here?

I mean seriously, do you think any ISP would get away with being too greedy with this new set of rules? Nope. There's still such a thing as competition...if one or even several ISPs start being dicks, people will migrate to other services. I would be very surprised if anything changes. Besides...with Google ramping up their fiber service, eventually the other ISPs will get swallowed up, and Google has a vested interest in unlimited internet access because almost every site uses Google Ad Sense so Google gets a piece of that action anyway.

You say this whole "people will migrate to other services" thing like there are a plethora of options for most folks. Where I live, assuming I want broadband of some kind and don't want the obscenely long ping associated with satellite (which can give you tons of bandwidth but has poor latency), I have exactly two options -- the local cable company and the local phone company. Only one of each offers service in this area.

What you are missing is the other, more insidious and less immediately apparent version of this -- don't charge the end user anything, but demand that the host on the other end pay up to not be throttled. Imagine your ISP demanding $5.00 a month per user on their service from Microsoft and Google in exchange for not throttling your access to them. Now imagine doing that for every online store out there -- or as I'd like to describe it "suddenly you can buy stuff from amazon and a few other large retailers instantly, but any smaller retailer takes several minutes per page because they can't afford to offer your ISP thousands of dollars per month in bribe money and are thus capped to 56kps."

Gorrath:
Alas, as it always is, you cannot have a government created monopoly on infrastructure and expect a free market solution to price/policy issues.

You *could*, but it requires the government to hold the monopoly on the infrastructure, rather than the government to subsidize someone else gaining a monopoly on the infrastructure. Unfortunately, I suspect all the people who argue that the free market would fix it would have a huge problem with using eminent domain to take over the middle and last mile infrastructure, and then leasing use of the lines (at a rate that covers line maintenance and administration, and little else) to private ISPs.

This is disturbing and needs to be watched closely. These package deal ideas cannot be allowed to happen under any circumstances, and other ideas I have seen look little better.

On a side note, I would like to voice my displeasure towards the companies involved, the writer of this article and many of the people commenting on this thread for referring to themselves, me and everyone else as consumers. It is an insulting term.

Another point that should be mentioned is that the court likely gave the correct decision on this and it is the legislation itself that needs to be altered. We shouldn't expect courts to interpret things in a consumer-friendly manner just because it would be best for the people, we should expect them to interpret the laws in a way that is consistent and in the spirit and letter of the laws. We should not expect courts to save us from bad legislation, we should demand good legislation to fix bad legislation, unless said legislation is unconstitutional of course.

Instead of complaining about the decision and the country, we should use the powerful tools we have to change the laws to support us. The petulance might be warranted, but is not a good path to reform.

And they wonder why there are so many goddamn hackers, pirates, and so forth. Well, Bubba, you made them.

Schadrach:

Gorrath:
Alas, as it always is, you cannot have a government created monopoly on infrastructure and expect a free market solution to price/policy issues.

You *could*, but it requires the government to hold the monopoly on the infrastructure, rather than the government to subsidize someone else gaining a monopoly on the infrastructure. Unfortunately, I suspect all the people who argue that the free market would fix it would have a huge problem with using eminent domain to take over the middle and last mile infrastructure, and then leasing use of the lines (at a rate that covers line maintenance and administration, and little else) to private ISPs.

Well, to be clear, I don't consider public ownership of infrastructure to be monopoly in this sense, even if it fits the technical definition. As you say, the problem is that the government did not build and does not own the infrastructure here, and so its only recourse to prevent abuse is through regulation of the monopoly it helped create. Even as a libertarian, I recognize the need for massive infrastructure projects to be government owned/managed. What should not happen is for the government to assist in the creation of infrastructure monopolies and then take a hands-off approach to how those monopolies operate, but I have a feeling you and I agree on that.

Gorrath:
Another point that should be mentioned is that the court likely gave the correct decision on this and it is the legislation itself that needs to be altered. We shouldn't expect courts to interpret things in a consumer-friendly manner just because it would be best for the people, we should expect them to interpret the laws in a way that is consistent and in the spirit and letter of the laws. We should not expect courts to save us from bad legislation, we should demand good legislation to fix bad legislation, unless said legislation is unconstitutional of course.

Instead of complaining about the decision and the country, we should use the powerful tools we have to change the laws to support us. The petulance might be warranted, but is not a good path to reform.

Yes, but corporate management has gotten smarter. They won't try to fry the frog, they'll just boil it slowly. The "powerful tools" we have require a critical mass of people, but corporate and media management have progressed to the point that preventing a critical mass from forming is pretty much textbook, these days.

It'll be curious to see how this pans out

On one hand: Cable companies already do this with TV - you buy cable packages, as subscriptions to gain access to television channels

On the other hand: How would ISPs even enforce something like this?

Where I live my ISP has voluntarily blocked access to certain sites to avoid potential liability in piracy cases - but using things like OpenDNS gets around that no sweat

How would an ISP put up a tollbooth in front of certain websites? ISPs might control a lot of things, but they can't control the route by which you enter websites. Mind you I'm not that technically minded, so if there are other ways to do it (which honestly wouldn't surprise me) then do tell

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here