Net-neutrality craziness: Fools on the Hill shill as FCC flounders

FCC chair Tom Wheeler vs. the corporations -- who will win?

tom wheeler fcc net neutrality

The FCC is trying to make a sound decision about this net-neutrality thing. That's not helped by a succession of industry-funded lobbyists and lawmakers, trying to shout louder than We, The People.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers fret and worry for the net's future.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Grant Gross loves a parade (the tramping of feet):

The [FCC] should abandon its efforts to pass net neutrality rules because new regulations would hurt investment and the deployment of broadband, a parade of...Republican senators argued during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Said Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican: "Without government regulation the Internet is growing," he said. ... "What is it that needs to be fixed?" ... Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, gave a six-minute speech about what he sees as the evils of a "nanny state."

Several Democratic senators...defended net neutrality...saying rules are needed to keep the Internet free from selective traffic slowdowns by broadband providers seeking to pump up profits through paid traffic prioritization deals.  

Who loves every beat she hears of a drum? Elise Hu, that's who: [You're fired -Ed.]

Now, we wait. The window for the public to weigh in...is closed, after a record 3.7 million comments arrived at the FCC. [But] whether the weight of popular opinion can overcome the significant lobbying heft of [ISPs] is a huge question mark. ... Verizon alone spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009.

The proposal before the five-member [panel] led by [FCC] Chairman Tom Wheeler, would allow [ISPs] to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management...potentially charg[ing] content companies (like Netflix) [for] paid prioritization, or "fast lanes." ... Wheeler has said that he hopes the FCC will approve a proposal before the end of 2014.  

And when T.C. Sottek hears a band, he just wants to stand and cheer as they come:

There's still a lot of ignorance about technology on both sides of the aisle. ... People who understand the history of the internet and the value it now provides [accept] that the internet is a utility, just like water and electricity. ... But internet providers don't want to be treated like common carriers, because...profits.

[In the] Senate Judiciary Committee hearing...each Republican member of the committee took turns trying to convey the idea of the internet [but] it was Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX) who managed to sound the most aggressively clueless..."Net neutrality is a wolf in sheep's clothing," [that it] amounts to a government takeover of the internet. To be blunt, that's simply a lie.

And the idea that the internet isn't broken and thus requires no care is like standing on the beach as a tsunami approaches. ... The reality is that ISPs are actively trying to mess with net neutrality and have been for years. ... Republicans ought to know that unregulated monopolies are [bad]. If they don't, they might want to start listening to Comcast customer service calls.  

But that rat-a tat-tat, the blare of a horn, awakens Alex Wilhelm:

To summarize the corporate response: Oh god, please no. Please.

ISPs, not looking for more regulation than they can avoid, disagree with the principle. [But] I’ve seen louder complaints from think-tank types and members of Congress about net neutrality as a concept. But that’s not too surprising: You know where their money comes from.

It seems that Wheeler has had less interest in trying to thread a needle that has no eye, aiming to pick up a constituency in the middle that doesn’t precisely exist. ... For now, Chairman Wheeler is edifying his former critics and appears to be scaring a group that had perhaps expected him to be in its camp.

Spine. In Washington. Color me surprised.  

Update: A bright uniform, the sight of a drill will give Bryce Baschuk a thrill:

Comcast Corp. Senior Vice President of Regulatory and State Legislative Affairs Lynn Charytan met with FCC General Counsel Jon Sallett and [other] officials...to discuss the potential harms that Title II reclassification could have. ... “Title II reclassification, apart from the many other harms it would impose on the broadband ecosystem, would not authorize more stringent restrictions on paid prioritization than the type of presumption available under Section 706,” [they] said.

Mike Montgomery, the executive director of CALinnovates, a technology advocacy group, met with [FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel] to warn against Title II reclassification. The commission should take steps to clarify that its commercially unreasonable prioritization standard does not “entrench incumbent edge providers at the expense of fair compensation,” the filing said.

AT&T Inc. Senior Executive Vice President Jim Cicconi told Sallett and Ruth Milkman, the chief of staff to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, that the commission should permit user-directed paid prioritization [and that the] proposed “commercial reasonableness” standard would be sufficient to govern arrangements between ISPs and Internet content providers. ... “Such an approach would preserve the ability of Internet service providers to engage in individualized negotiations with edge providers for a host of services, while prohibiting the precise practice that has raised ‘fast lane' concerns.”  


You have been reading IT Blogwatch by
Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or itbw@richi.uk. Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon