"When the D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the FCC's Open Internet Rules, a White House Petition was put up to 'direct the FCC to classify ISPs as "common carriers"'. With over 100k signatures, there is now an official response.
Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries. The resulting decline in the development of advanced online apps and services would dampen demand for broadband and ultimately discourage investment in broadband infrastructure. An open Internet removes barriers to investment worldwide.The petition asked that the President direct the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers as "common carriers" which, if upheld, would give the FCC a distinct set of regulatory tools to promote net neutrality. The FCC is an independent agency. Chairman Wheeler has publicly pledged to use the full authority granted by Congress to maintain a robust, free and open Internet a principle that this White House vigorously supports."
Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries. The resulting decline in the development of advanced online apps and services would dampen demand for broadband and ultimately discourage investment in broadband infrastructure. An open Internet removes barriers to investment worldwide.
The petition asked that the President direct the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers as "common carriers" which, if upheld, would give the FCC a distinct set of regulatory tools to promote net neutrality. The FCC is an independent agency. Chairman Wheeler has publicly pledged to use the full authority granted by Congress to maintain a robust, free and open Internet a principle that this White House vigorously supports."
There's no commitment in there other than to do their best to make sure there's a chicken in every pot. They're leaving it up to the FCC's discretion to use what Congress has given them in the manner the FCC thinks best.
Given this administration's actual actions as contrasted with campaign promises on subjects ranging from the war in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay to spying on civilians to immigration reform and all the rest, I fully expect more hand-wringing on this as not only nothing changes, but the slide into tyranny gets greased even more thoroughly.
Here's a translation of the double-talk for those without the patience to read the White House's "response."
Blah blah free speech blah blah cornerstone of our democracy.
Blah blah isn't it great we have these petitions and aren't they good for democracy?
Blah blah President Obama has been talking about net neutrality for a long time.
Blah blah the former industry lobbyist we have put in charge of the FCC said he will do something and that's good enough for us.
Blah blah you sure did ask for net neutrality.
Given that the Executive Branch does have oversight of the FCC, it is disheartening that the White House's response says that the FCC is "a separate entity". Sure, it's a separate entity, but it's under your oversight Mr. President! Not claiming oversight of your underlings malfeasance is a Mob-boss tactic. You can't wash your hands of what your subordinates do or don't do. He's basically saying it sure would be nice to have net neutrality enforced, but those other guys are in charge.
Even more to the point, President Obama was the one who appointed the current FCC chief. He pushed Tom Wheeler into his current position, after he worked as a lobbyist for cable and telecom companies; it's not as if Obama is disinterested in the department's direction. If anyone can be expected to give the FCC its marching orders, it is the current President.
Of course, the fact that Obama appointed somebody who worked professionally to not only to push the telecom industries agenda (and earlier to fund them, during his stint as a venture capitalist) gives a clear indication of what Obama really feels about Net Neutrality. He is merely setting up Wheeler to do the dirty work in hope of deflecting any bad press that might otherwise be aimed at the president when any and all hope of net neutrality goes down in flames .
Exactly. Obama s well within his rights, both on paper and based on precedent to fire Wheeler if he won't do what Obama wants. Ergo, what Obama actually wants is what Wheeler is doing. We've seen this pattern for the entire Obama campaign and administration: talk a good game, prominently hype positions and people with rational pro-freedom, pro-public agendas... and then appoint a corporate sock-puppet to any positions with real power.
Disheartening, but not unexpected. Every time the people ask for something we got a non answer. Everytime the corporations ask for something, they get a waiver. Senator obama would smack the crap out of president obama if they ever were able to meet face to face
Reminds me of a cartoon [truthdig.com] from some time ago.
At least they bothered to respond to this particular petition that exceeded 100,000, I suppose...
I think Senator Obama would high-five President Obama for how completely he was able to hoodwink a whole country. They're both cut from the same sleazy Chicagoland political cloth, after all.
I think you weren't paying attention to Senator Obama. He was on the FISA committee, and he found its actions good.
I wasn't really very much surprised by Pres. Obama. He's not a bad as I was afraid he might be, and probably has been better than McCain would have been...certainly better than Palin. This is known as faint praise.
He's basically saying it sure would be nice to have net neutrality enforced, but those other guys are in charge.
Particularly disheartening considering that the Executive Branch's ENTIRE REASON TO EXIST is enforcement!
When have you ever known a politician to say what they mean and mean what they say?
The best politicians are those who aren't. What I mean is that any career politician is loyal to those who financed their campaign and will only say/do what they need to in order to get re-elected...it's the non-career politicians, the people who only serve 1-2 terms (usually local government) because of an issue they care about, not because they're trying to get re-elected.
We should have a mandatory two-term limit regardless of the office.
Term limits sound nice to people who haven't studied political science. What actually happens is that term limits obliterate the institutional knowledge of any governing body/office and hand the real power over to the people who have been there the longest--which becomes unelected lobbyists and advisers who can make a career out of learning the system. Term limits make government more inept and less responsive to constituencies.
Your real concern is the amount of money needed to run a political campaign, and where that money comes from. We would be better off with a short, publicly financed, campaign season focused on public debates and discussion.
Wish I had some mod points for this, because it's right on the money. Term limits do sound nice, but in reality solve nothing, and are more of the same doublespeak, as the elected officials aren't the ones holding the power in the first place...it's the people who got them there that pull the strings. Not to say they may not have a little wiggle room (and really what we need is a really good Houdini for prez), but they are pretty solidly beholden to their financiers, who more often than not will secure their investment by digging up some good dirt to keep them in check, which is getting a bit easier in the age of Big Data.
This is the message that Occupy should have remained focused on, which unfortunately is not what happened. But, the people are free to choose their actions, whether or not they're ultimately wise. Hope things go better next time around.
...or bad? I guess it really depends on your perspective of things.
I like the idea of "preserving" the Internet as I know it, but at the same time, I'm not really... happy with the way things are going? I guess that's a good way to subtly state it.
I think plenty of you guys would understand the sentiment. We're connected to a different network than what we used to connect to - sure, times change, things change, but for me, it seems that the quality of the data passing through our tubes hasn't been preserved in the least. I bet this is also a common complaint from those "now get off my lawn" dudes, too!
To name a few other specific annoyances, they've monetized bandwidth in ways that I'd never thought would happen; DRM came into existence and we're going to be locked in a battle for a long time to come over it; ads are a persistent menace (and viruses with them), etc, etc, etc, etc...
Well, I think I've become even more jaded ever since "net neutrality" even became a topic that people started to debate at all.
I wish everyone pulling for net neutrality would:
1) Agree on what it means, and2) Think through if we really really want this...
I imagine a lot of folks here are too young to remember telephone service before Bell got broken up. You really don't want your Internet to look like the phone system when your only choice was Ma Bell. The legacy of that disaster in public policy lasted for years.
Remember ISDN?Ever hear you parents complain about how expensive it was to call long distance?Remember renting your phones?
All this and more can be yours with just a little help from your friends in the government.
I do remember such things, and now that there is real competition in the phone market, things are cheaper. I remember price shopping for long distance plans between different companies. I remember in the 90s dialing a code before dialing a long distance number to get even cheaper rates through different companies. I remember dropping my land line and using Vonage and then some other company whose name I can't remember. Then dropping a regular phone completely because it was just cheaper to use my cell phone's free long distance. There's a lot of competition in the long distance market.
I also remember competition between online services way back in the day, like dropping AOL around 1991 in favor of Delphi because Delphi was substantially cheaper, though text based only. Or switching dial up ISPs for a better deal a few years later when I got on the internet.
Then came broadband. I've been stuck with one choice for broadband since 1999 (first it was DSL, then I moved in 2001 and got cable run by AT&T, which was then bought by Comcast). The only reason I have a better provider now is because I moved into the country from town. My current provider is a real relief from Comcast, but that's only because I got lucky and they're better. They could go evil and I'd basically only have a crappy satellite choice.
My point is, what we have now is exactly like the Ma Bell -- no competition, no choice, high prices, spotty service. The bandwidth business has none of the features we saw with breaking the long distance monopoly.
I have nothing against a free market solution, but there must actually be a free market for that to work. When the choice I have is to either have, or not have, service -- that's not a choice and they can milk people to the point of significant pain. Until there is a functioning free market, regulation is required, otherwise we get the worst of both worlds -- unregulated local monopolies (probably all owned by a few umbrella corps). A free market would be something like 10 or more independent service providers -- at that level, price and service collusion would become difficult because at least one of those companies will see an opportunity to poach customers. But until we get to that point, broadband providers should be regulated with an iron fist.
AT&T didn't lay any cable, they just bought a bunch of existing plant and then sold it to Comcast. In my area TCI laid the cable. AT&T bought TCI, then sold it to Comcast.
I guess I was sloppy -- when I said "run" I meant AT&T provided my service, as in they ran the business. I have no idea who laid the cable.
The cable was probably laid by workers of a cable laying company. I doubt the telecommunication companies do it themselves.
I imagine a lot of folks here are too young to remember telephone service before Bell got broken up. You really don't want your Internet to look like the phone system when your only choice was Ma Bell. The legacy of that disaster in public policy lasted for years.
Please explain to me how a regulation about how existing ISPs handle Internet traffic priorities leads to a monopoly a la Bell Telephone. Because right now, your argument makes about as much sense as opposing a regulation requiring seat belts because it will force everyone to drive a Ford.
Who's going to decide what's neutral? It's not going to be you or me. It's going to be some boob who thinks the Internet is a series of tubes and who's looking to 'retire' in a few months into a cushy consulting job with the people she's currently regulating.
Your helpful government regulators are going to get captured and instead of neutrality what we'll end up with is a byzantine series of rules that practically guarantee new entrants are barred from the market. You'll have your monopoly and then some.
In some sense we've already lost the argument because we've let it devolve to a battle between the content providers (who actually have what we want) and the ISP's who are desperately trying to avoid becoming fat dumb pipes. Lost in all of this is the fact that the ISP's have already been paid: we pay for that bandwidth in our monthly service.
What this is really about is the ISP's getting to take two bites of the apple by exploiting their government granted monopoly. They were perfectly happy to sell us access to the Internet so long as we didn't want to actually use it.
If we're really interested in neutrality we'd be looking at breaking the real monopoly on last mile service, not enshrining it into law under the guise of neutrality.
It's not complicated.
Neutral router configuration looks something like this:If packet from network A is destined for network B, forward out interface B.If packet from network B is destined for network A, forward out interface A.
Non-neutral router configuration looks something like this:If packet is from subnet A.1 which didn't pay the protection money, drop it.If packet is from subnet A.2 which paid the lower amount of protection money, drop 5 and forward the 6th out interface B.If packet is from subnet A.3 which paid the higher protection money, forward it out interface B. ...
The status quo is no net neutrality, captured regulators, a last-mile monopoly, and high barriers to market entry. Ergo, the existence of a net neutrality rule has absolutely no bearing on whether there is a last-mile monopoly, regulatory capture, or extreme barriers to market entry.
As far as using competition to get out of this problem, how do you want these new competitive markets to handle these problems:- Which company is responsible for telephone poles or underground wire conduits? Does each potential market entrant have to handle their own, or are competitors required to make deals with each other so that there aren't 15 sets of poles along each street?- Are competitors required to form peering agreements with each other? If not, what's to prevent Big Bad Telco from simply shutting out Mom and Pop ISP, making it prohibitively expensive or even impossible for Mom and Pop to get their customers information from the servers their customers want to reach, allowing Big Bad Telco to avoid competition?
Even though calling long-distance wasn't cheap, overall I think it was more affordable. I don't remember my parents complaining about the bill going up every couple of months. The sound quality on the old POTS Bell System was superior to any cell service today, period. Full Duplex and Sidetone http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidetone [wikipedia.org] made for a superior experience. It did suck to rent your phone, but those things were tanks that you could literally throw across the room and not only would they still work, the plastic housing wouldn't even get scratched. My mom has an old rotary dial phone in her basement, a real early variant where the dial is metal (not plastic). As a goof I hooked it up to a phone jack in her place a few months ago (she still has landline service) and the fucker still worked.
Progress is good, but your hindsight is pretty bad. Ma Bell wasn't all bad and competition hasn't really made things cheaper since the break up.
Competition is not the issue, and is in fact a great boon to the ISP market. The issue is when there are no limits to what can be done in the name of competition that serve to protect society from the hazards of extremely powerful business machines (it beats calling them "people") and to direct their endeavors along more societally beneficial routes. Corporations are derived from a charter from government, and their original intention was to be TEMPORARY and created to address a specific project at hand. Over the years the corporate legal teams have been able to walk roughshod over the rule of law, however, and those restrictions that ultimately should be there are not, turning a corporation originally intended to provide for a boon to society into a weaponized attack-bot. Perhaps we should pay a little more attention to Asimov's rules of robotics.
Competition for ISP's should not rely on carving up the Internet into a series of tollbooths, but rather through leveraging superior infrastructure at affordable prices to improve the quality of the overall communications system. They can compete ruthlessly, but they have to play by the rules...and We the People need to ensure that those rules are in place to begin with.
Cry socialist all you want; corporations are entirely the creation of the government, which has since been parasitically made subservient to their creations. If true laissez-faire is what you're after, the myriad government structures that create these corporations in the first place are just as much an impediment as anything, as they are artificially granted preference in the market through the force of the legal system. Give me 100 ISP's to choose from, and I'll be a little more comfortable allowing some of them to play with bending the conventional wisdom of net neutrality, provided I have the choice to opt for a more conventional plan. Until then, rules need to be made and enforced.
I like that everyone is committed (quite a number of times according to the petition response), but nobody has actually decided to DO anything about it.
In politics, "is committed to" means "doesn't understand what all the fuss is about but has not (yet) been bribed to do the opposite"...
To improve the summary, emphasize that every word after the "official response" hyperlink is actually quoted from the official response. This could be done with a colon and then italics, for example.
I thought I was still reading Fluffeh's words until the very end, when I was thrown by "... a principle that this White House vigorously supports".
Didn't you know Fluffy works at the white house? Try to keep up.
.And yeah I always felt the other site had this problem too.
It seems to me that a big improvement could be made by not just saying "posted by Dopefish [soylentnews.org] on Wednesday ..." but instead expanding that to "posted by Dopefish [soylentnews.org] based on this original submission [soylentnews.org] by Fluffeh [soylentnews.org] on Wednesday ..."
This would then free up the main summary section for what most readers really care about, with 1 fewer level of quoting going on.
.DISCLAIMER: In my example above, some of the URLs are wrong.
You know, that isn't a bad idea at all. I'll bring it up and see what sticks. Thanks for reading! ~mattie_p
Thanks for pointing this out. It can be difficult for us editors to make sense of the summaries sometimes, and we rely on the community to help us out. I know I've already gotten to the point where some edits I'm making are just words, no context. I appreciate the feedback, and thanks for reading! ~mattie_p
Talk is cheap. Action is harder. This was talk without any real sign of direction or indication of any action.
If ISP's are classified as common carriers doesn't the NSA have the ability to tap communications with out a warrant now?
Pretty sure a lack of common carrier status hasn't interfered with that, at all.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." What part of that gives the NSA the right to tap Internet communications without a warrant, whether ISPs are common carriers or not?
I'm not sure what you quoted because you didn't say (I am not from the US)
Have a read of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Intelligence_ Surveillance_Act_of_1978_Amendments_Act_of_2008 [wikipedia.org]
Then have a read of
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120821/16141120 116/how-random-lawsuit-about-telco-policy-probably -resulted-broad-secret-law-enabling-nsa-to-spy-you .shtml [techdirt.com]
Well, it's only the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution [wikipedia.org]! I'm pretty sure that should trump any other piddling law that Congress might pass. If only the Supreme Court could get its head out of its ass.
He quoted the constitution, which is supposed to override all other laws. It practice it doesn't seem to work that way.
From the desk of a former FCC CommissionerFebruary 13, 2014Columbia Journalism Review
http://www.cjr.org/essay/from_the_desk_of_a_former _fcc.php?page=all&print=true [cjr.org]
Lengthy but interesting read. Mod parent up.
Agreed. Article linked above is well worth your time
The system its self is fine. The response to this petition sucked. I read multiple paragraphs that read like pabulum to a baby. Not until the last paragraph was there any real reference to the original petition and the response was at best tepid, but mainly non-responsive. The President has the ability to direct the FCC, he appointed the commissioner, this answer showed he does not care. it would have been just as good for the response to be, "No, I wont do that, good day". At least it would not have wasted my time on vacuous words with little import. What surprises me the most is that this should no a no-brainer crossing political boundaries at the people level. We, We want neutrality whether that We is a Democrat, Republican, Green or other party. We do not want the internet controlled by a few big entities and the President has the ability to act, first as an Executive, and then as part of the legistrative body to ensure We don't lose control of the Internet.
So, Mr. President, your response was weak, and said more in who you really want to support then you think. You gave Us platitudes while you continue to give true power to the few who pay your bills.
If you're writing to a Tea Party Extremist, you should be pushing for the removal of government granted monopolies for ISP's. These are what give the real teeth to allowing ISP's to break net neutrality, as while not quite trivial, it'd be entirely possible for municipal, co-op, or simply independent and network-neutrality-supporting private service providers to compete with the filtered systems, and very likely win in large areas. I don't see how anyone could call themselves a libertarian anything and not see the sense in that.
I see your dilemma though, as you surely won't be getting their support for more regulations, in most cases. You're not without options though.
Why wouldn't they take the lobby money and give away the pipes?Self Interest:I wonder if they really think they'd lose an election over it.Morality:I doubt it.Other lobbies:Are there any groups with tons of money paying to keep net neutrality alive?
This is why we need a real Pirate Party in the US. The only state that has them on the ballot is Massachusetts, and thus far, that hasn't really amounted to much of anything in the way of elections. We cannot rely on the Democratic or Republican party to deviate so far from their normal MO without at the very least having a noticeable enough "heckler" to threaten to jump up the ladder if they make too many wrong moves.
A new party isn't going to help. It may at first, but power attracts corruption. There's no way to escape from sociopaths eventually taking over any power structure you setup.
450 words, and nothing was said.
This mechanism that Obama set up when he entered his first term was quickly exposed as a sham. They don't actually read it or listen to what people are petitioning for. Take the petition to legalize marijuana. Lots and lots of people signed it, and the reply from the President was terse, "I have no plans to legalize marijuana." Now, I'm not a pro-pot guy (not an anti-pot guy either), but the wave of states legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana rather indicates that a major cultural shift is underway and that, as usual, Washington DC is obstructing rather than responding to it. It also shows up Whitehouse petitions as an empty PR gag; they want to give the appearance of being transparent and responsive without actually being so.
So why did anyone expect this petition to produce real action from the Whitehouse? Nothing else has, neither did this.
White House petitions are not empty PR gags. Surely it's a PR but also an indicator how much people are invested in an issue. Consider it a substitute for million man march.
I'd say they are PR Gags with a purpose: that of collecting information on signatories so that they can be sent manipulative information during election cycles. To think that Whitehouse cares in any way about opinions that do not come with a $50,000 check attached, is naive.
Additionally, some We The People petitions that do exceed the 100,000 signature threshold (within the time limit) never [whitehouse.gov] receive [techdirt.com] a response.
Now we just need 100,000 signatures on a new petition requesting an actual response to the original petition.
It's nice that someone modded this +1 Funny, but I was actually being serious.
Aka a bunch of smoke up the voters' asses.
What they are really saying is that this is already decided and their high roller contributors (google, facebook, apple, etc) already sent their checks into the campaign funds.
So no turning back. Sorry for all those people who went through the trouble of signing up.
But that hasn't stopped President Obama from signing two dozen Executive Orders ordering the ATF and other "independent agencies" to restrict American's Constitutionally-guaranteed civil rights.
Seems he talks out of both sides of his mouth.