What is Net Neutrality in 2017?

Ciaran Laval is on about Net Neutrality and the coming December 14th meeting of the FCC. Ciaran buys into to the mainstream media viewpoint things are getting worse with the pending rules change. I see it the other way. I take a long view and consider the principals that debatably created the greatest economic engine in history, the free market.

Cave Mushrooms

Cave Mushrooms

Ciaran sees current efforts in the FCC as something out of a “dystopian novel”. Well, if we were talking Atlas Shrugged I would agree, but we aren’t.

Quoting Ciaran,

The proposal is not consumer friendly, and consumers are letting the FCC know that. The proposal is not being welcomed by many tech companies and is a glaring example of how officials ignore consumers and fail to serve the public.

Is the proposal ‘consumer friendly’ or not? The answer depends on what you know about the proposal and the principals of the free market. On a purely personal, short-term basis the uninformed will think not. A deeper understanding of the free market gives us the clue that competition is always better for the consumer.

Where are people getting the idea the proposal is a bad thing? That comes from the media. The media that has been way wrong about so much and made up so much fake news. I’m not willing to trust them. Still, they bring up questions that deserve answers. But, even the questions they bring up are biased. So, where do we turn? I’ll suggest history and philosophy. I’ll get to that later.

First, to get our answers we need to define what is being talked about and the actual plans. What is being proposed?

You will notice Ciaran never quotes the text of the actual proposal. Ciaran only quotes what people have said about it. I had a hard time finding a link to the actual text of the proposed rule changes. And Ciaran only quotes from those on one side of the issue. Look at the sources quoted and the people writing about the issue. They are matching the position of the Washington Post, a major fake news and Left-side propaganda machine. (Check the ‘fact-check’ sites reporting bias, but avoid the fake fact check sites.) This should tell you something, but one never knows when some truth will slip through. So, we need to see the actual proposal.

FCC Fact Sheet: Restoring Internet Freedom. (PDF File from fcc.gov)

The first fact you are not likely to learn from current reading in the media is that the original Internet Freedom was signed in as policy by Pres. Clinton stated as “…to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” From then until 2015, we saw the Internet and its use explode.  In 2015 when Congress could not pass a Net Neutrality law Obama and the FCC placed the Internet under the Public Utility rules from the 1930’s and 40’s… the Railroad era.

More pages… links below

6 thoughts on “What is Net Neutrality in 2017?

  1. Thanks for the alternative viewpoint and thanks for the fair criticism that I didn’t quote the proposal.

    I share a lot of your scepticism about the media and some of the articles have been awful, I was most surprised to see the Portugal comparisons when Portugal is in the EU where we do have net neutrality regs and that sort of misinformation doesn’t help the cause of those of us who oppose these changes.

    I remain unconvinced that a return to pre-2015 regulations is helpful though, I’d rather see some compromise here and positive reasons for these changes have been thin on the ground.

    • The challenge is wading through all the BS. I think a good starting point is the book The Political Spectrum.

      Historically, the government has stifled most innovation. As the book shows the eggheads, industry brains, government, and special interests delayed FM radio 20 years and cellular something like 50 years. So, letting them, the government, take over regulation of the Internet would most likely mean an early death to Internet innovation and I expect control of free speech.

      As to the few positive points in the current plan, that is media bias and the Left’s agenda.

      • Net neutrality is absolutely vital in areas where one company has a monopoly (or near monopoly) over internet access. For much of the United States there is only one practical provider, the incumbent cable or telephone service. These are environments where free market forces absolutely do not exist, and in many cases telecom groups have fought for legislation to prevent a free market from being viable.

        Putting ISPs under Title II instead ensures the existence of a free market for internet companies. If Netflix could lobby the US government for preferential traffic treatment, we would call it bribery. The death of net neutrality means legalizing bribery of ISPs to promote one business and harm another. This is the very antithesis of a free market. When Ajit Pai talks about “innovation” being stifled, this is what he is referring to: innovation in revenue streams for already-extant monopolies, not technological innovation that contributes usefully to society.

        Net neutrality today does not entail censorship tomorrow. That is a slippery slope fallacy about regulation, and in this case it is philosophically irrational: legislation that, among other things, outlaws content filtering by an ISP does not imply that the government is preparing to step in and do so itself. If anything that would be an inconsistent agenda on the part of the legislators.

        You seem to have come up with this based on an intrinsic mistrust of regulations. But some regulations are effective, and to ignore them is completely dishonest. I am certain you are aware that regulations controlling pollution were absolutely vital in saving air and water from becoming completely toxic in the fifties. The free market was completely inadequate to deal with the upkeep of this common good, as the factories contributing to the pollution regarded the environment as an externality with no relevance to their business. By the time they would have acknowledged such problems on their own and taken action to correct the issue, it would have been too late.

        The pre-2015 landscape is often mentioned by revisionists as a paradise of good-mannered self-regulation by ISPs. But on several occasions these companies were caught red-handed using traffic shaping against services they disapproved of, such as BitTorrent. While many are quick to discount BitTorrent as a vehicle for piracy, that behaviour also impacted people downloading Linux installers, public domain content, scientific data, and other forms of legitimate communication. The Title II reclassification came in response to these abuses when it became apparent that ISPs had no interest in maintaining the peaceful landscape of the 90s, when the industry was in its infancy. The concept of manipulating traffic for profit may not have existed back then, but it’s absurd to suggest it can simply be forgotten.

        And if none of that has convinced you, consider the following: Verizon wants to buy CNN, and Comcast already owns NBC. In principle, under Title I classification, they could slow down all other news sites for their customers. Do you really want your ISP deciding that kind of thing for you?

        • As to one provider, you are wrong. We are no where near a monopoly. The list of backbone providers is here. Most cities provide a franchise for the companies that build infrastructure, coaxed and fiber optic. But, there are still numerous small companies competing within such cities. In my town of 101,000 there are 22 ISP’s with COX holding the main franchise. Cord-cutters are switching to these smaller ISP’s as they provide better service/performance.

          The Obama Net Neutrality will slowly wipe them out. Pia/Trump’s reversal will allow more of them to grow and compete.

          Title II slowed the development of FM radio and delayed the creation of wireless cellular. It will not assure a free market. It guarantees a regulated, not free, market. For history and studies see the book Political Spectrum (link in previous response) and its bibliography.

          Net Neutrality is not supposed to include censorship and it is advertised that way. But, Title II definitely limits speech. We see that today in language limits (words that cannot be said), nudity limits, and whatever else the censors decide. I thought everyone new that. How many times have you seen a celebrity ask if they can say that on air…

          During the Obama administration we saw the Democrat members of the FCC proposing controls to limit political speech on the Internet and specifically targeting Drudge Report and other conservative web sites. (References 100+) Since they could not get their miss named Net Neutrality law passed, Obama wrote an Executive Order placing the Internet under the FCC’s control via Title II.

          Read a little news from places like the Electronic Frontier Foundation through 2012 to 2015 and you find a CONSISTANT effort to limit speech on the Internet. The Left & Right are both fairly consistent in trying to acquire power.

          There are good regulations. It is not a distrust of regulation. It is a distrust of politicians. You have no doubt heard of the Democrats’ Jim Crow Laws. Then there was Nixon’s Republican passed gasoline price controls, which Net Neutrality under Title II has striking similarity in ideology.

          Placing the Internet in a 1934 era laws that stifled development for a half century is not good regulation.

          I have never seen anyone other than ISP’s talking about how well-mannered ISP’s were. The pre-2015 era was an amazing era of innovation and free market growth.

          The idea that designing a system to facilitate a businesses’ financial model is common place. You seem to think it is something bad. Fedex, UPS, DHL, and others do it very well. Customer pay for the speed they want, next day, 2-day, Ground (3+ days). People don’t have a problem paying for what they want or can afford.

          In contrast the USPS is going broke from all the regulation forced on it and is the slowest innovator in the field as it takes an act of congress to get much of anything changed.

          The Internet is not being forgotten. Pai’s proposal adds a considerable level of transparency and some enforcement tools not currently available and certainly does NOT exist in Title II laws.

          Your concern about Verizon/CNN (supporting the Left), Comcast/NBC (supporting the Left), and others is likely only a concern because the Democrats/Obama chose to ignore and not prosecute there big donors/supporters with existing well tried and performing Anti-Trust Laws.

          You brought up reasonable concerns. But, your understanding of the 2015 change to Title II seems highly uninformed.

  2. Reference regarding Capital Expenditures by Publicly Traded Broadband Providers (2013–2016) based on SEC filings
    https://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/capital_expenditures_by_publicly_traded_ISPs.pdf

  3. Pingback: Net Neutrality and the Gullible | Nalates' Things & StuffNalates’ Things & Stuff

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