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F.C.C., In Net Neutrality Turnaround, Plans To Allow Fast Lane 410

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-to-play-the-movie dept.
Dega704 (1454673) writes in with news of the latest FCC plan which seems to put another dagger in the heart of net neutrality. "The Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules that allow Internet service providers to offer a faster lane through which to send video and other content to consumers, as long as a content company is willing to pay for it, according to people briefed on the proposals. The proposed rules are a complete turnaround for the F.C.C. on the subject of so-called net neutrality, the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose, and that no content providers should be discriminated against in providing their offerings to consumers."
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F.C.C., In Net Neutrality Turnaround, Plans To Allow Fast Lane

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  • Down the river... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by towermac (752159) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:19PM (#46828673)

    we are sold.

  • by CrazyDuke (529195) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:22PM (#46828693)

    ...shame if something where to happen to it...

  • by dstyle5 (702493) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:26PM (#46828729)
    All that PAC money does make a difference after all.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich&aol,com> on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:26PM (#46828731) Journal

    I hate to say it, but I told you so. I said it then, and I'll say it now. The moment Obama appointed yet... another... lobbyist to head the FCC, one who spent years as a cable company and telecom lobbyist:

    Net... Neutrality... Was DEAD... PERIOD.

    Need I remind all of you Obama-lovers of this little tid bit from no other website but ethics.change.gov:

    http://change.gov/agenda/ethic... [change.gov]

    "I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists â" and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."

    -- Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA
    November 10, 2007

    I informed you thusly...

  • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:34PM (#46828803)
    It truly just became pay to play for actual content producers and hosts. Goodbye little guys. Right now, I get content from the internet pretty much as fast as I'm willing to pay for. Now, for the same amount of my money, does this mean the content I'm delivered is at the mercy of how much the companies serving it are willing to pay ISPs backbone peers?

    How long until consumers are offered tiered internet to these sites, pay X to get the FB + GOOG + AAPL package, etc etc, pay Y for gaming, pay Z for streaming, if you're caught in violation you'll be automatically charged at the overage level (like cell phone providers).
  • so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deander2 (26173) * <`public' `at' `kered.org'> on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:45PM (#46828867) Homepage

    me: "i just created a new 'horoscope by phone' startup, and it's really popular! woohoo!"

    at&t: "hey, we've noticed a lot of people are calling your new company. it would be a shame if 20% of your calls were to drop. would you like to pay us to not drop them?"

    me: "WTF? your customers are calling me! THEY paid YOU already for their phone service! you can't just threaten me, that's extortion and a violation of the common carrier law!"

    at&t: "oh yeah, nevermind. we'll wait until you start a website..."

  • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:45PM (#46828869)

    Honestly this is a really bullshit line of thinking. Even if Romney wouldn't have been, then why on earth would you vote for either of them? Who cares if he would have been elected if Obama didn't? Look at the result: Instead of getting an unknown, you got the incumbent who you already know is bad.

    We don't have a two party system because the "system" or any laws dictate it. The reason we havee a two party system is because our culture as a whole thinks exactly as you just did.

    Voting for the lesser of two evils means you give that lesser evil your endorsement. There is no escaping that fact; you effectively went on the record as saying "I want this guy in office."

    Honestly I've never found a good reason for any of the third party candidates either (no fucking way I'd ever want Nader or Paul in office either.) My solution is just to not even vote on an office where I have no preferred candidate. That's right, I left the presidential box empty. Instead I just voted on a referendum (legalizing medicinal marijuana) and a few other things and left the rest of the ballot empty.

    I think voting for the wrong candidate, or not educating yourself on any of them first, is more harmful than not voting at all. This common message of "get out the vote" is bullshit and is the reason we're in the mess we are in today. People vote for shit they know nothing about.

  • by crioca (1394491) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:51PM (#46828909)
    No it's actually quite an accurate characterization; the established players ("the rich") are now able to leverage that position to raise barriers to new entrants. Being rich is being privileged in the most classical usage of the term.

    The Internet has acted as a great equalizer, removing many of the barriers that people without great wealth face when trying to make opportunities. Now we're putting those barriers back in place, by making it so that established players can use their wealth to hold a privileged position within the market.

    This can only serve to benefit the established players at the cost of consumers and new entrants.

  • Re:Wrong battle. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n8_f (85799) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @08:06PM (#46829005) Homepage
    Still wrong battle. Franchises are simply agreements to use a city's rights-of-way. They've been non-exclusive since 1992. The problem is that building wireline infrastructure is extremely capital expensive and has severely diminishing returns in areas that are already saturated by a competitor. Your business plan is to sink a bunch of capital into a business and then compete on price with a company that has no capital costs? Good luck raising the billions you'll need for that.

    No, the solution here is municipal fiber networks that are managed as public utilities that sell wholesale to ISPs. Just like how we have multiple shipping companies that use public infrastructure to transport packages between customers. Then you can have as many different competitors as the market will bear with as many different business plans. In that situation, the Comcast-Netflix deal would never have happened, because the competing ISPs would have been begging Netflix to install hardware in their data centers to make their customers' experience as good as possible. An ISP trying to make Netflix slower would have lost every customer that cares about Netflix (which apparently is a lot of them).
  • by preaction (1526109) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @08:11PM (#46829017)

    Clark from Popehat agrees: http://www.popehat.com/2013/12... [popehat.com]

  • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @08:11PM (#46829025) Journal

    Mod parent insightful.

    The internet began as a communication medium. Slowly but surely, we're seeing it turn into a broadcast medium.

    It all began years ago, when cable companies started offering internet service with unbalanced bandwidth: outgoing speed was (and still is) a small fraction of the incoming speed. So began the process that has led to what we have today.

    Imagine your Telephone Company sold you a phone service that let you call only certain other parties, who wrote a check to the Telephone Company so you could have the privilege. What's more, the number of words in the conversation depends on the payment, and the telephone subscriber (you) can never say more than one word for every 10 to 100 words you hear.

    Welcome to the death of the internet.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @08:18PM (#46829061)
    Can you imagine if some company bought all the highways in your area and then started charging higher fees in order to go in the passing lane but then started really gouging all the food deliveries to certain grocery stores?

    People might even try to defend this by saying that it was the free market but the reality would be just like the highways, the government gave these same companies nearly 100 years of subsidies to build these networks and the expertise to maintain them.

    Quite simply this infrastructure is quite simply a public good, the companies that are allowed to run it should only be able to run it at our pleasure. The moment they start to get greedy they should be thrown out and a the public good handed to another company to run properly.

    Net neutrality is a wonderfully level playing field which old zombie corporations hate and fast lanes are 100% anti consumer.
  • by n8_f (85799) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @08:22PM (#46829077) Homepage

    As long as ISPs are not allowed to intentionally degrade non-premium traffic on the back of direct-peering deals, I see no fundamental problem with it.

    Non-premium traffic with be de-facto downgraded, because even if they don't actively do it, large monopoly ISPs will be incentivized to make non-premium traffic as unreliable as possible. So whether it is simply slashing the capital budget of non-premium infrastructure or not performing repairs in a timely manner or a hundred other small things, non-premium traffic has to suffer. How long before there are multiple tiers of premium traffic? The monopoly ISPs face no competition or regulation; now they simply have to figure out how to maximize their rents.

  • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @08:39PM (#46829177) Journal

    Sorry, that's not one of the choices. That was never one of the choices. Government agencies act for the benefit only of themselves, never for the governed. The FCC seeks the solution that requires the most employees and biggest budget for the FCC, as that's their only actual incentive in any decision.

  • Re:Meh, vote left. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @08:54PM (#46829251)

    "Left" doesn't mean "freedom from opression by the rich and powerful". Never has. It means "authoritarianism". It means "I think for you because you're not enlightened enough to think for yourselves."

    The right wants to tell you what to do based on who paid them the most, and what their pastor said Jebus wants them to do.

    The left wants to tell you what to do based on who paid them the most, and what their poly sci professor told them the stupid unwashed masses need to have decided for them.

    Maybe you should look towards that party that is based on letting you decide for yourself what's best for you? You know, the one that actually has "liberty" in the name and all? Just a thought...

  • by davester666 (731373) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @09:53PM (#46829561) Journal

    First, you have already been paying the ISPs boatloads of money that they mark as "profit" and are paid out as bonuses to executives, and maybe even some of it as dividends. Remarkably little of it is marked for "upgrade network to even support new users".

    Second, You ALREADY pay your ISP to give you good enough speed to get stutter free video, they just aren't interested in actually providing you with what their ad said they will. Now, they will get paid again to deliver bits to you, and there is nothing to stop them from just using the same pipes, only reserve more of the pipe only for the 'fast laners'.

    This 'rule change' is basically saying you didn't pay to access the internet, you paid to access your ISP [like AOL way back]. Now everyone you want to connect to also has to pay to join your ISP.

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:07PM (#46829649)

    Here's a good graphic showing the FCC heads revolving door. [arstechnica.com]

    Obama nominated Thomas Wheeler as head of FCC in 2013: "Wheeler is currently the managing director at Core Capital Partners, a venture-capital firm based in Washington, D.C.. He has also been a top lobbyist for the wireless and cable industries. From 1979 to 1984, he served as president of the National Cable Television Association and before that he was CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association." -- http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/10/29/tom-wheeler-confirmed-fcc-chairman/3309333/ [usatoday.com]

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:20PM (#46829713)

    I wouldn't even look to the court. The court merely read the law, which very plainly states that the FCC may not do what they tried to do. In essence, the law says:

    The FCC must regulate common carriers according to a, b, and c.
    The FCC may not regulate b or c in regard to anyone other than common carriers.

    The FCC wanted to do B without C, so they claimed "ISPs are not common carriers, so we don't have to do C. ISPs are common carriers, so we're going to do B". That's ridiculous, you can't say they ARE common carriers and NOT common carriers at the same time. Therefore, the FCC can't make up net neutrality laws.

    If and when we end up needing a net neutrality law, Congress will need to pass one. That should be pretty clear to anyone who has passed fourth grade civics, so I really don't see why the FCC tried to make up the law themselves in the first place. Any half-competent court would strike them down.

  • by dmbasso (1052166) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:28PM (#46829745)

    I see... you think "smart" means bringing a knife to a gun fight. Good for you.

  • by green1 (322787) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:33PM (#46829765)

    Knowing how to work within the system to change the system seems brilliant to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:34PM (#46829775)

    If your position is "super PACs are overly powerful, and have been made legal, we want to roll back the law allowing them," forming a super PAC is perfectly logical. Yes, if they win, they're disbanded - but they've accomplished their goal, so they're fine with being disbanded.

  • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:42PM (#46829819) Journal

    There seems to be some kneejerk reaction on /. that saying "government isn't helping us" == "let the corporations win". That's the false dichotomy. With a government owned by the corporations, there's no "government or corporations" in play. There's no choice like that right now. The choice is "more corporation-run government" or "less corporation-run government".

  • by spike hay (534165) <blu_ice@@@violate...me...uk> on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:49PM (#46829861) Homepage

    The problem with the internet, especially cable, is that it is a natural monopoly. It's like most utitilities that require infrastructure to the home. It would be stupid to have 10 competing water companies, right? That's because there would be large amounts of redundant infrastructure. Therefore, it is better to have a highly regulated monopoly with pricing set to prevent monopolistic rents.

    The current situation is that each cable company has a monopoly in most areas, with DSL providing a duopoly in some places. Obviously, monopolistic pricing occurs, with prices far above the free market rate for inferior service. But that isn't illegal! You have to show that they are acting in an anticompetitive manner, which is very difficult.

    Even in the case of oligopilies, price fixing is legal as long as it is implicit: A company can signal to another by unilaterally raising prices in a way that would be irrational if non-cooperative behavior is assumed. Then the other company will raise their prices as well, to acheive a cooperative outcome with both companies making more money. Again, this isn't illegal, unless there is an explicitly communicated price-fixing agreement.

    Thus, FTC antitrust stuff means fuck-all.

  • by Teun (17872) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @12:11AM (#46830179) Homepage
    (as a foreigner) I am not fully aware of the possibilities of a PAC but I don't see it as a democratic problem when like-minded people band together to push a subject, compare it to starting a political party.

    What makes it bad and undemocratic is when the democratic principle of one-man one-vote is breached because some can contribute vastly more to 'their' PAC than others can to an opposing PAC.

    Using the means available is their lawful right.

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @12:21AM (#46830213) Homepage
    Asymmetrical bandwidth, or what you call "unbalanced bandwidth," isn't something the cable companies invented. After all, that's what the A in ADSL stands for, and it came out years before cable internet. And, if you stop and think about it, it makes sense for the average residential user: the vast majority of the data passing through the connection is incoming, with just a tiny fraction of it going out, and that's just as true for cable as for DSL.
  • by Teun (17872) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @12:22AM (#46830215) Homepage
    That's why transport or infrastructure should be separated from media or content.

    Like I can chose from who I buy power or DSL, including TV and telphone, even though there is only one power line and one telephone or fiber cable to my house.

    But I live in a democracy mainly run by and for the people...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @12:25AM (#46830223)

    not sure if trolling...

    Our system is corrupt from the inside out, and the only way to affect change is through large amounts of money (e.g., this very story). In order to change that system, one must necessarily put together a PAC, even if the change you're going for is to take money out of the system.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @12:32AM (#46830253) Homepage

    Nope, the FCC was under the control of management that understood Net Neutrality. Uncle Tom Obama simply replaced that management with new political appointees with instructions to follow the orders of the incumbents, hence the change. Once and for all the is no such thing as the fast lane, that is a lie. You pay for bandwidth you either get that bandwidth or not. So they lie to you, sell you bandwidth and then do not provide it, now they want to further legalise the lie, sell you bandwidth, then not only specifically not provide that bandwidth but chuck you in the strangleband lane, where you traffic is slowed and slowed and slowed and slowed until they can extort extra payments from you. Current FCC management is quite simply supporting corrupt practices to allow the generation of extra profit based upon lies.

  • by MtHuurne (602934) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @05:23AM (#46831061) Homepage

    I don't think asymmetric bandwidth is the problem: even with user-generated content, there will be more downloads than uploads: you post on a forum, multiple people read it, you share a photo, multiple people see it. Unless you advocate everyone to run home servers or a massive switch from client-server to peer-to-peer, having asymmetric bandwidth is not a bad idea.

    One problem is that the big ISPs don't want to be in the business of moving network packets; they want to be in the content business, because they see more potential profit there. They see the internet as a way of delivering that content: like you said, as a broadcast medium.

    Another problem is closed services. For example, every social network has their own private/instance message system, instead of using standard protocols like IMAP and XMPP. This means you have to use the same service as your friends to be able to communicate with them. So even for non-broadcast use, power is becoming concentrated. The internet is moving further and further away from its decentralized roots.

  • Re:you sure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday April 24, 2014 @08:07AM (#46831599)

    "Left" means social authoritarianism. "Right" means corporate authoritarianism. Those of us who care in the slightest about freedom are fucked either way.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:37AM (#46832219)

    > Nothing is wrong with it when you put it that way, but that's not the way it is. The problem is that PACs are about donations

    FYI, the #1 rule of PAC Club is that they can't donate to candidates. The #2 rule is that they can't coordinate with any candidate's campaign.

    What they CAN do, and what the Citizen's United case sought to outlaw, is the kind of thing Michael Moore's organization did - make a political statement separate and apart from any candidate. I happen to think Michael Moore is disgusting, and he's admitted that his movies are full of lies, but I think it's pretty clear that he and his friends have the right to get together and make stupid movies. Citizen's United made movies too, with a political point just like Michael Moore's movies. The FEC sought to prevent them from making these movies. This is a plain violation of the first amendment. It has little or nothing to do with political donations - they were making movies. The FEC said that's illegal because they spent some money making the movies, and under their rules it was illegal to spend any money exercising your first amendment rights.

  • Lie = Fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigpat (158134) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:23AM (#46832623)
    Basically the FCC is allowing fraud. Customers are paying for bandwidth and then the company is secretly throttling that bandwidth only for certain content.

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