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Senate Set To Vote On the Repeal of Net Neutrality 345

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The United States Senate will vote sometime today on the bill that would repeal the net neutrality laws that the FCC has put into place. The bill passed the US House back in April, so it only has to be approved by the Senate before it is sent to the President's desk. President Obama says that he will veto the bill. The debate over net neutrality has largely been split on party lines, with the Democratic party mostly being for keeping net neutrality laws in place, and the GOP looking to avoid them."
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Senate Set To Vote On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

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  • Another Kink (Score:3, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:12AM (#38011302)
    Another kink in the armor of American freedom.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:13AM (#38011316)

      If your ISP isn't neutral, just switch to one of the many, many other ISPs that services your area; surely one of them will have policies you agree with. And if you only have one ISP, all you need to do is start another one. It's easy! Trust in the dread god Freem'Arkhet to handle everything!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I have two choices for ISP: ATT and Comcast.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:53AM (#38011638)

          I have two choices for ISP: ATT and Comcast.

          Wasn't AT&T one of the ISPs that decided to cooperate with the NSA on traffic monitoring? That would make it a good, politically correct, provider for GOP supporters.

        • I dream of the day I'll actually have a second choice.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          Me too, but I think the GP was being sarcastic, especially with his nod to the Great American God Freem'Arkhet (described in the anti-Freem'Arkhet bible as "mammon").

          The +5 funny might have tipped you off, as well.

          Odd how the "free market" US has one or maybe two ISPs in any given town, while the "socialist" EU cities have multiple choices. But try to convince the T(ard) Party that maybe there are a few problems with their little green god and see how successful you are at it.

          We're screwed, dude.

          • It does not matter (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            There is no economic orientation, nor government structure, that can protect people from corruption.

            So long as humans are capable of attaining any measure of power over other humans, that power will be abused. Humans are like that.

            Carry on.

      • Trust in the dread god Freem'Arkhet to handle everything!

        If not, appeal to his wife; Courtney Cox.

      • Re:Another Kink (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @10:26AM (#38011948)

        And if you only have one ISP, all you need to do is start another one. It's easy! Trust in the dread god Freem'Arkhet to handle everything!

        This would be insightful if many local governments weren't granting monopolies for cable/Internet service. Back when ISPs were modem based, there were start ups all over the place, and they were driving costs down while providing better service than the likes of AOL.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      Which way? For or against Net Neutrality?

      Pro NN: Netflix and Google Win.
      Anti NN: AT&T and Comcast Win.
      Pro NN: The End User will end up paying more for service.
      Anti NN: The End User will not have fare access to other services
      Pro NN: You cannot offer a service with a connection that included internet as a secondary option... Lets say I am a Small provider and I am offering TCP/IP Streaming of services to customers using my infrastructure, my Infrastructure allows up to 1000mbs transfer and my internal net

      • Re:Another Kink (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tenebrousedge (1226584) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .egdesuorbenet.> on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:49AM (#38011606)

        To paraphrase, with network neutrality content providers win. Without NN, service providers win. Both win at the consumer's expense, but it's a lot easier to find alternate content than alternate infrastructure. The demise of NAT should make it easier for all of us to be content providers; I'm looking forward to it.

        I admit to not being able to follow your example. I myself cannot come up with a clear example of how equal access to networks (or other infrastructure) could be a bad thing. I suspect you may have a different definition of network neutrality than the rest of us; I believe the most commonly accepted phrasing would be "traffic should not be prioritized based on endpoints."

      • Re:Another Kink (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Olorion (2465574) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @10:28AM (#38011976)

        Net neutrality is about far, far more than some ISP's profits.

        The death of net neutrality is the death of the last independent voice in U.S. politics. You doubt this? Remember the deafening shouts of "WMDs in Iraq !!!" from practically all the mainstream media channels. Where were the dissenting voices? Basically, only on the Internet.

        If net neutrality dies, then companies like Comcast and AT&T will have the power to silence web sites they dislike. Since these are giant corporations, their agendas will of course align with those of the mainstream media, and all the protest sites will die. The U.S. media will have largely one voice, the voice of the one-percenters, and dissent will be silenced.

        This outcome is undoubtedly the main intent of the one-percenters, especially in these days of the Occupy movement. The powers that be desperately need to kill net neutrality for the same reason that Mubarak tried to turn off the Internet during the occupation of Tahrir Square by the riff-raff. Our rulers know that good communication is essential to any successful revolution, and they are determined to cut off all possible channels of dissent.

        Now perhaps you are one of the 1%, or work for them. Perhaps you like having a media landscape that rivals China's in its depth of censorship. But I don't.

        • That's a pretty far-fetched bit of tin-foil-hattery you have there.

          I'll do you one better. Allowing government to regulate the Internet will do exactly the same thing, but more easily, without requiring cooperation (just one government, not 2 or 3 ISPs and a few smaller ones), AND ... they've already started doing it [torrent-finder.com].

          • Re:Another Kink (Score:5, Informative)

            by gmack (197796) <[gmack] [at] [innerfire.net]> on Thursday November 10, 2011 @11:22AM (#38012586) Homepage Journal

            Not that far fetched. In Canada some years ago during a strike Telus (second largest telco in Canada) blocked the employee’s union's website. Telcos can never be trusted not to censor things they don't like.

          • by MobyDisk (75490)

            It would seem far fetched if it hadn't happened already, and if they weren't asking for this ability. When someone asks for a law granting them some power, it is reasonable to assume they will use it. I have been meaning to compile a list of network neutrality violations for a while now, but we have had cases where ISPs have blocked or modified content. They come-up on Slashdot on occasion. We had common carrier laws long before the internet because historically freight carriers and phone companies did

      • by mcgrew (92797) *
        • Pro NN: Netflix and Google and YOU Win.
        • Anti NN: AT&T and Comcast Win. You lose.
        • Pro NN: The End User will end up paying more for service? Prove it; I simply don't believe it. They're not fighting against giving you extra for what you pay now, they're for giving you less for what you pay now. The statement "Pro NN: The End User will end up paying more" is utter bullshit.
        • Anti NN: The End User will not have fare [did you mean "fair?"] access to other services? Why not? That makes no sense whatever; and in
      • Re:Another Kink (Score:5, Informative)

        by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @11:29AM (#38012662) Homepage

        I'm sure that your arguments make perfect sense within some definition of network neutrality. If you could, please reply to this stating what you think network neutrality means because I would like to know how you came to your conclusions. Unfortunately, the term keeps getting hijacked by companies with a political agenda. Network neutrality is supposed to mean that ISPs cannot modify or shape internet traffic. And based on that simple rule, your conclusions are not correct. Let me explain:

        Pro NN: Netflix and Google Win.
        Anti NN: AT&T and Comcast Win.

        No one "wins" if NN is repealed. Currently, we have NN and everyone is doing just fine. If we lose NN, AT&T and Comcast can cheat by blocking a site then charging an extra fees to get it back. This is how they plan to make money off of it, without having to upgrade their infrastructure. I think calling that "winning" is a bad idea, since nothing good comes out of it.

        Pro NN: The End User will end up paying more for service.
        Anti NN: The End User will not have fair access to other services

        This is really the same issue as the first point. If we retain NN, the end user pays exactly what they are paying now. If NN is repealed, it means that ISPs can provide unfair access, then charge a special fee to get fair access back. It means the end user pays more to get the same thing. Or they just get unfair access.

        Pro NN: You cannot offer a service with a connection that included internet as a secondary option... I am breaking NN laws because I am offering my service faster to customers and internet access as a secondary service is slower.

        Network Neutrality does not state that you cannot offer a service faster to customers and internet access as a slower service. *All* networks are this way. The internet network is always faster than the external network.

        Anti NN: ISP can decide who they want to slow down or block just because they are in competition with them. So lets block Vonage or Skype because it Interfears with their Telephone business. Or netflix or hulu.

        This a the big ticket, but you only hit the smallest piece of it. Some other examples: ISPs could change advertisements on pages. Imagine a mom and pop advertises their local toy shop, but WalMart pays an ISP to remove those ads and replace them with ads for WalMart. Or an ISP alters pages that are critical critical about the ISP. Or perhaps they redirect websites that are critical of their political agenda to sites that are in favor of their view. Or even if they don't go this far, they could slow down sites that they don't like.

        Based on your statements, I think that you believe Network Neutrality places rules on how fast internet is, and how much ISPs can charge for it. I've heard that version of it a lot on various anti-network-neutrality sites. I can assure that that it does not mean that, except to those lobbyists who are trying to redefine the term to make it sound bad. The politicians have made it look like a debate between two approaches, when it isn't a debate, it is simply hijacking a common sense rule.

    • Where can you buy this kinky American freedom armor?
      • by telekon (185072)

        At the duty-free shop on your way out of the country. Unfortunately, it's not available to U.S. citizens.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Oooh, kinky armor! Uh, do you mean "chink"? A chink in your armor can be deadly, a kink in your armor is only uncomfortable.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:14AM (#38011326) Homepage

    The debate over net neutrality has largely been split on party lines, with the Democratic party mostly being for keeping net neutrality laws in place, and the GOP looking to avoid them.

    They aren't laws right now, they're regulations. In a conflict between laws and regulations, laws win.

    • Thank you. I came here to say just that. It's more than a "slight problem" also, as to me it represents the complete misunderstanding of the issue at hand. It's not that those "evil GOP want to take over your internetz" as is usually framed. It's that "those evil GOP want lawmakers to make the laws and not more FCC decrees." That's not to say they're for or against it, IMO. They want to stop un-elected bodies from making judgements such as this. While I am for net neutrality, Obama should call this for wha
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:50AM (#38011608)

        Let's see...
        Regulator aka bureaucrat familiar with the industry (supposed to be an expert) he or she is regulating

        Law maker aka at best a laymen having their opinion on matters formed by 22 year old legislative aids and lobbyists

        I can see why law makers are the vastly superior option here

      • by skids (119237)

        I do not support beurocrats making up laws we all have to abide by.

        ...because we'd all be so much better off if it took an act of congress to decide exactly how much rat feces can be in our hamburger.

        We have an executive branch for a reason: to go do what congress said to. This job includes working out the details.

    • by jthill (303417)

      And laws Congress writes aren't supreme right now. You might as well say things the Lieutenant tells you to do aren't orders right now. Regulations have the force of law. Agencies have the authority to write them because Congress handed them that authority, and Congress had that authority because we handed it to them. Your daddy didn't teach you this? Didn't care enough to check whether the schools did?

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Agencies have the authority to write them because Congress handed them that authority, and Congress had that authority because we handed it to them.

        And authority that Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away. That's my point. Even if Obama vetoes, if Congress had the votes, they could override the veto and force Obama and the FCC to comply. Or they could defund the FCC entirely.

    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @11:55AM (#38013004) Homepage

      That's not true. Common carrier laws have been in place for *hundreds of years*. The US actually inherited them from British commonlaw, back when they were concerned that freight carriers could mess with cargo. This only became a problem when the courts ruled that voice calls sent over the internet is not a voice call.

    • by Palshife (60519)

      They aren't laws right now, they're regulations. In a conflict between laws and regulations, laws win.

      True, but in a conflict between a bill and the president's veto, the veto wins (unless Congress overrides, like that'll happen).

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:21AM (#38011390)
    The problem isn't equal treatment of all traffic. Nobody would complain about FTP traffic being slowed during busy bursts to avoid interfering with voice traffic. It is the stated aim of some ISPs to throttle back certain sites unless you pay a premium. So Microsoft could agree to pay certain ISPs to advertise bing while at the same time making google very slow and barely usable. They could also undermine free sites by charging the provider to allow customers reasonable access, meaning that they have a charge to pass on somewhere. The end result will be the end of the free to access internet.
  • noooooo (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:30AM (#38011436)

    This really grinds my gears.

    I'll start my own damn internet... with hookers and booze!

  • by morgauxo (974071) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @09:55AM (#38011652)
    I'll take net neutrality laws as they have been written any day over letting the ISPs just do as they please. After all, the broadband ones are all old entrenched telecom and media companies that already do discriminate between content. At the very least they pretty much all throttle P2P which contrary to some people's opinions can and is used for plenty of good, non-pirate things.

    On the other hand... why can't we have laws which distinguish between a provider's LAN services and the internet? When TV service comes through the modem on what is essentially a big LAN, usually a 10.x.x.x network and the internet comes through as a tunnel on that LAN then I think net neutrality laws should be applied to what comes through the tunnel, not the whole LAN connection. The LAN belongs to the ISP, the Internet does not.

    In other words, when I connect to the internet I expect to be able to reach Google, Bing or some other competitior, NetFlix, some big corporate website or somebody's personal page all equally (as far as my ISPs connection is concerned, obviously they will each have different providers and capacity). If however the ISP has some kind of assurance in place that the other services on their LAN aren't being 'squeezed out' by the Internet tunnel that is fine with me.

    Then again, with an ever faster Internet traditional TV and phone services become pretty obsolete. Using that whole LAN for Internet access and plugging my computer into my TV sounds just fine to me and I haven't had use for a landline in years.
  • There are no net neutrality laws in place. Calling it a law implies that it was passed by the legislature, and signed by the executive. Net neutrality "laws" are nothing more than a decree issued by a federal agency that has too much power.
  • by sohmc (595388) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @10:47AM (#38012180) Journal

    Back when google was cool and actually believed in "do no evil", it supported net neutrality the way most people understand it.

    Ask the common geek, I would assume many of them would agree the following should be defined as Net Neutrality:
    * Treat all data equally, regardless of source. (e.g. data from Bob's Video Shack would be treated the same as Netflix)
    * Do not block services (e.g. BitTorrent should not be blocked)
    * Do not block web sites (e.g. Comcast/NBC should not block access to ABC/CBS/etc)
    * and probably a few I'm forgetting.

    If an ISP wants to charge more for bandwidth, that's understandable. It's a limited resource.

    But I shouldn't have to pay more to visit netflix just because 75% of the traffic goes there. I already paid for the bandwidth!

    The problem I see is that corporations who control content and access are trying to define "Net Neutrality", when really they are defining a set of policies to make them more money. Maybe before putting together regulations and laws, IETF can get together a RFC of what Net Neutrality should be.

  • Bill number? (Score:3, Informative)

    by OhHellWithIt (756826) * on Thursday November 10, 2011 @11:21AM (#38012570) Journal
    I wish TFA or the people who post articles about pending legislation would include the @#%^ bill number! It looks like this one is H.J.RES.37 [loc.gov], in case any of you feel like writing your senator [senate.gov]. (It would be delightful if we could slashdot Congress.)
  • by cpotoso (606303) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @11:54AM (#38012978) Journal
    Republicans are evil. Unfortunately the democrats are just plain incompetent. Sigh!
  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @11:57AM (#38013034) Homepage

    Yeah, it's bold faced socialism, but having subsidized guaranteed Internet for as many as possible is the best plus for people. The other issues matter, but the access issue, even to a heavily regulated connection, is better than nothing. This is why I think the change from rural telephone access to rural broadband access is the real win for everyone.

    I've long since abandoned the idea of "Neutrality". Net Neutrality is all about dividing up never increasing pie into larger and smaller pieces. It's about market share of something artificially set up as a limited resource.

    I'm behind the idea of an Internet policy of "no person left behind". I'm less concerned about Comcast giving preferential treatment to Netflix than I am to rural school children and their parents having competitively priced broadband in the first place. We also need a national policy standard on speed the same way we have a national policy standard on gas mileage.

    We are falling drastically behind other countries that have fiber as their last mile. At 1000Mb+, throttling for most services approaches irrelevancy. The highest total bandwidth service currently, Netflix, is insignificant traffic on fiber.

    Rather than arguing over dividing up low bandwidth, we need to push to increase bandwidth by upgrading aging last mile networks.

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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