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FCC Backs Net Neutrality, Chairman's Full Speech Posted 270

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the but-can-they-be-trusted dept.
ArmyofGnomes writes "FCC chairman Julius Genachowski delivered Monday on President Obama's promise to back 'net neutrality' — but he went much further than merely seeking to expand rules that prohibit ISPs from filtering or blocking net traffic by proposing that they cover all broadband connections, including data connections for smartphones. Genachowski stated: 'I understand the Internet is a dynamic network and that technology continues to grow and evolve. I recognize that if we were to create unduly detailed rules that attempted to address every possible assault on openness, such rules would become outdated quickly. But the fact that the Internet is evolving rapidly does not mean we can, or should, abandon the underlying values fostered by an open network, or the important goal of setting rules of the road to protect the free and open Internet. ... In view of these challenges and opportunities, and because it is vital that the Internet continue to be an engine of innovation, economic growth, competition and democratic engagement, I believe the FCC must be a smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet.'"
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FCC Backs Net Neutrality, Chairman's Full Speech Posted

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  • Re:analysis please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:46PM (#29494665) Journal

    Does it open anything up to exploitation?

    Everything the Government does is open to exploitation. It's the regulatory equivalent of playing whack-a-mole. The question is will these purposed regulations do more good than harm.

  • Re:priority (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:51PM (#29494747)

    First two things come to mind:

    How do you determine which protocols get which rates? The ISPs? A government board?
    What happens when protocols are unidentifiable (i.e. encrypted data). Does it instantly get dropped into the slowest speed?

  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:52PM (#29494769) Journal

    In other words, they can still filter content. The ISPs' role should be nothing more than a dumb pipe. That is what we must demand. Let the police, with a PROPER warrant, handle the legalities.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:54PM (#29494803) Journal

    So is Verizon. And all the other wireless providers.

    Cable companies too.

    In fact, I can't think of any provider that won't object.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:56PM (#29494843)

    I'm curious how services like ESPN 360 will be affected being that they are the content provider and not the ISP. They are still blocking content to you unless you are on the "right" ISP.

    That is a great question and a very good example for US people in particular. My guess is ESPN 360 won't be covered. Companies create website all the time with restricted access where only employees are allowed in. I'm sure that ESPN 360 would be seen the same way. If the website creator wishes to restrict access, even on an ISP basis, that is their right to do so. If ESPN 360 doesn't want to let me in, it's hard for me to argue that my rights are violated. If ESPN 360 wants to let me in but my ISP deliberately slowed down the connection, that's another thing.

  • Re:priority (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:57PM (#29494857) Journal

    I don't know of anybody who has argued against using QoS for what it was intended for, and that is management of networks to assure stability and reasonable delivery of bandwidth. If that's all the Teloos and other big network companies had been on about, I don't think there would be anything to talk about at all.

    But these guys have been using, or at least considering, QoS and other technologies in an attempt to leverage their own servies or the services of those willing to basically pay an extortion fee. One can envision scenarios in which those who do not ante up being dropped down the pole, or maybe even dropped off. Since these companies have been going around intentionally confusing the two issues, one can only presume that that, to one degree or another, is their intent.

    But the whole argument has always been disingenous. They bitch about Google and other content providers somehow basically taking advantage of their networks, but with the content providers, there is little or no point for those networks. If there's no content out there, then the Internet is little more than a collection of protocols. They want to have their cake and eat it too; get the consumer to pay for the Internet connection, and then get the content providers to pay to be visible, or at least visible in some meaningful way, on their network.

    I'm glad the US government is finally making it clear that this behavior is unacceptable. And why shouldn't the US government? At the end of the day, one way or the other, the US taxpayer has basically underwritten much of the networks in question. The Telcos, in particular, are very quick to forget last mile and right of ways, which have been a big fat invaluable gift to them.

  • Re:priority (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:01PM (#29494905) Homepage Journal

    I'd like to see a law which prohibits granting any more monopolies on right of way &c. Any time someone wants to run a cable, they should be forced to put in enough space for two more people to run cables right next to theirs. If they don't like it, they can go find someone else who wants to run a cable in the same place, or they can go wireless. Hopefully they'd end up going wireless more often than not, and that's where we need to do research, so that we can truly cover the 'last mile'.

  • by bertoelcon (1557907) <berto.el.conNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:03PM (#29494939)
    This story needs that tag or a similar one.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:05PM (#29494959) Homepage

    It's almost like there are qualified, knowledgeable adults making policy decisions these days. Quite a difference from the days policy was dictated by partisan fund raisers who's qualifications were decided by how much money they could raise, right Brownie? Sometimes during the dark days it was like our government was being run by Romper Room.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:09PM (#29495025)

    In other words, they can still filter content.

    The DMCA notice/counternotice model presents a way for dealing with potentially illegal content that doesn't involve filtering. All the speech says is that the openness principles exist to assure freedom for legal content. There is nothing to say that the rules will permit filtering by ISPs as a means of dealing with potentially illegal content.

  • A few points (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:10PM (#29495035)
    First, the principals here have needed to be made law for several years now and congratulations on moving society forward.
    1. Society should not be controlled by the pipe, the pipe is a service, we are not the service. The tail should not wag the dog.
    2. The rules call for "legal content" to be unfiltered, thats a hole big enough to drive a semi through.
    3. The rules need to have an enforcement mechanism with teeth or they will become meaningless.
    4. Reasonable management is being opened up for guidance by the very firms that would be managed. Reasonable management will become a hole big enough to pilot a supertanker through without careful vigilance.

    Celebrate that the principals of network neutrality are finally getting airtime and understand that now is the time for increased scrutiny lest we give legal reasons to block the very things that they are trying to open.

  • by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:16PM (#29495111)
    I second that. It's pleasing (and shocking, yes, since it's uncommon) to hear someone with authority actually understand that the long-term benefits of an open internet outweigh the commercial concerns of the carriers. Let's hope the FCC Chairman isn't replaced with a flunky as a result of this outstanding decision.
  • by Entropius (188861) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:16PM (#29495113)

    Exactly: the problem is "who determines what is lawful?" What if it's a bunch of encrypted bits that they suspect of being unlawful? Figuring out whether those bits consist of kiddie porn or (worse) the new Hollywood movie isn't my ISP's job. Even if I'm not breaking the law, I don't want my ISP wasting resources figuring out if everyone else is either.

    Just forward the bits.

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:18PM (#29495139) Homepage

    The CAN-SPAM act makes spam legal, so long as it complies with the act.

    Do you want to get into the details of legal spam vs. illegal spam?

    What we should be doing is requiring the telecommunications companies to declare themselves as "Common Carrier" or not. If they are, then they get protections under the law but can't discriminate. If they aren't, they can filter, but lose some of their legal protection.

    So, ISPs could offer "family safe filtering" or the like, but to do so, they have to declare that they're not a "Common Carrier".

    Disclaimer: I used to work for a small (3k user) ISP, and still hold stock in the company that bought it out. I'm also an elected official, and know that passing even the most mundane of laws takes months, and even then likely doesn't plan for every possibility.

  • Re:priority (Score:5, Insightful)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:23PM (#29495191) Journal

    Trouble is that many (for example) BitTorrent clients will specify a high-priority ToS so they can get more upload and download bandwidth. In fact, given the choice, ANY software vendor is going to choose a ToS that gives them the lowest latency and highest bandwidth possible.

    So, in order to determine which packets are P2P or other "latency tolerant bandwidth hogs", ISPs started implementing deep packet inspection, where they actually went into the contents of the payload to determine what was there. If it smelled P2P-ish, it was reassigned a "proper" ToS (or in the case of Comcast, merely dropped for a while, which is what started the whole neutrality brouhaha).

    I think most people, even a lot of P2P users, would be OK with traffic prioritization if it was implemented properly - eg, if it was implemented so it saturated your allocated pipe most of the time, but differentiated your VoIP packets from your P2P ones and made sure your VoIP line worked even when you were running P2P. I, for one, would welcome that sort of prioritization. Even if it meant that during peak periods my P2P dropped considerably in speed due to overall network traffic, as long as I knew my ISP would do some upgrades within a reasonable time period to handle the traffic.

    Unfortunately, Comcast's solution was too draconian, and by denying P2P traffic altogether they went too far and soured public opinion on any kind of rational Quality-of-Service (QoS) prioritization and traffic shaping.

  • by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:27PM (#29495241) Homepage

    Every time this issue gets brought up on air, those jackasses (Dennis in particular) cover the story like "net neutrality" means is some socialist takover of the internet.

    They think it means that ATT will have to build it and then give it all away for free.

    If they REALLY understood it, they would realize the ground rules for building the internet are one of the greatest successes of CAPITALISM in the past 50 years.

    It encourages innovation, calculated risks, and investment towards long-term gains by corporations.

    But, without net neutrality rules in place, there's nothing to stop your ISP from directing you to BING.com when you typed GOOGLE.com, because Microsoft threw some promotional money at them, and that's a massive problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:28PM (#29495243)

    ESPN 360 is a greater threat to openness than any of the other things that the FCC is worried about. If all of the popular websites start charging the ISP a per subscriber fee, subscriber fees will go up. So instead of paying for what you use, you'll be paying for things you don't use. Disney wants to cablefy the Internet.

  • by 2obvious4u (871996) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:28PM (#29495249)
    I guess as a slashdot reader I'm supposed to be for "net neutrality" however I trust profit grabbing companies more than I trust the FCC. If I don't like the way a company is routing their traffic I can at least switch companies. If the FCC gets involved and they do something stupid there is no alternative. The worst case for a business blocking/routing traffic is that someone else creates a competing ISP.
  • by strstr (539330) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:34PM (#29495321)

    You're all off base; net neutrality is in regards to how the data being transferred over the Internet itself is handled (the pipes) and what ISPs are allowed to do with it. As a user (computer connected to the internet) you have control of to whom and what is sent, what connections are allowed; we want to keep this open and unrestricted with net neutrality.

  • Re:priority (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyoShin (610051) <`tukaro' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:35PM (#29495331) Homepage Journal

    They want to have their cake and eat it too; get the consumer to pay for the Internet connection, and then get the content providers to pay to be visible, or at least visible in some meaningful way, on their network.

    It just struck me: ISPs are trying to follow the American cellphone model.

    While I'm sure our European counterparts[1] have learned about it by now, a brief explanation: In America, we pay to both send and receive. It's not just that our text charges are insane, but most plans charge you both for sending and receiving a text message (in some cases, even if you don't read it you still get charged for receiving a text.) Many plans do the same for phone calls.

    ISPs are trying to do something similar. While both ends already pay for their connection, ISPs are trying to make the content providers pay double. "You have access to our network, but if you want access to our clients you must pay again." It's relatively the same kind of double-dipping, which, if not curbed now, will extend to end users as well. "What's that? You want to use Pandora? Well, we offer our own 'free' music service, RealRhapsody NapsterTunes, but if you really want to use Pandora we can let you access it for an extra $1/hour."

    [1] I say European because my understanding is that this kind of bullshit doesn't happen commonly in Europe

  • Re:analysis please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:52PM (#29495563) Journal

    The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence my friend. It's no mistake that the most liberal/regulated/taxed states are the ones that are hurting the most right now. Here in NYS we've been hemorrhaging jobs and young people for the last two decades because businesses have been taxed and regulated to death.

    It'd be nice to find a middle ground between the two extremes but our political system doesn't seem to be structured to lead to that result most of the time. More's the pity.

  • by Ambvai (1106941) on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:54PM (#29495585)

    Do they lose common carrier status If they OFFER "family safe filtering" or if they FORCE some kind of filtering?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:58PM (#29495649)

    I hope you aren't serious and are just trolling, but if you are, then a) you're wrong about the current government (both "qualified and knowledgeable" and "not being dictated by fundraisers" are obviously false to anyone who pays attention), and b) the government has been like that for roughly 200 years. History didn't start in January 2001.

  • by Chyeld (713439) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dleyhc.> on Monday September 21, 2009 @03:59PM (#29495661)

    If they attempted to call it that, they'd have a revolt in less than 20 seconds. Every 'pay' site out there would be guilty of "net discrimination" then. The only difference between Hulu and them is that 'someone else' is paying for your membership to Hulu.

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Monday September 21, 2009 @04:06PM (#29495741) Journal

    I guess as a slashdot reader I'm supposed to be for "net neutrality" however I trust profit grabbing companies more than I trust the FCC. If I don't like the way a company is routing their traffic I can at least switch companies

    Yes, you are correct, there is an almost limitless choice of dial-up ISPs.

    In the real world, for most residential customers, there is a duopoly of broadband (Cable/DSL) ISPs, and there is no efective choice.

  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Monday September 21, 2009 @04:18PM (#29495927)

    Or, even better, sometimes you can switch companies. To another company that does the same exact thing. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Gotta love the "free market."

    I'm expecting someone to come out of the woodwork and tell me that, "No, no, eventually someone will decide that they can get more customers by starting up a company that supports net neutrality---and the consumers will flock to them!" Suuuuure. I'm imagining how their conversations with potential investors would go, "Hey, we need to spend millions building a network infrastructure to compete with the Big ISPs, except we're going to be doing it with lower profit margins, which we expect to make up for in volume with our nonexistent user base that will be viciously fought for by bigger, nastier companies, and possibly, maybe make a profit eventually if we aren't hounded into oblivion. It's a winner! You can sign there."

  • by richmaine (128733) on Monday September 21, 2009 @04:32PM (#29496127)

    The server market is competitive - very much so (as I presume you are well aware). That makes the situation very much different. Most of the reason why we need net neutrality rules is the lack of competitiveness in the ISP market. If the market were really competitive, to the extent that Joe Blow customer (such as me) could realistically tell his ISP to go jump in a lake, then we wouldn't need net neutrality rules. Market competition would indeed do the job.

    If I tell my ISP to go jump, I'm back to dialup... or I suppose I could get Satellite, but that's pretty worthless for anything interactive. It is clear that I'm far from alone and am closer to typical in this.

    Market competition doesn't work when there is a small group that controls the market and there are substantial barriers to entry by others. That is really the crux of the whole matter, and the part that the big players who do control most of the ISP market would like to distract people from. It does make a difference - a huge one.

  • Re:priority (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:08PM (#29496599) Journal

    The problem is that no one in North America is implementing a European-style cell billing system. Since there's no regularatory pressure to set things up in favor of a consumer-friendly model, as far as the wireless providers are concerned, it would be ridiculous for any party to implement it.

    I don't know whether the North American cell market is in a stalemate situation (nobody is willing to make the leap of faith and go the European route) or whether there is some more nefarious kind of collusion. For some odd reason, cell networks, which should, to my mind, be far more heavily regulated than landline infrastructure, have basically been let loose, and we have a shining example of just how much the consumer gets screwed in an effectively unregulated market.

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:48PM (#29497071)

    Except that the ISP should remain neutral and in the case of ESPN 360 they are not. They either pay or their clients don't get to access the site. They could just as easily charge me directly.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday September 21, 2009 @07:06PM (#29497831) Journal

    Ahhh yes, but that's only the first half of the sentence. You need to read the WHOLE sentence. To quote the Author of the Constitution James Madison - "For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity." (Federalist 41)

    He further clarifies: "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." (James Madison, Letter to Edmund Pendleton, January 21, 1792)

    And finally if you're still confused, just read the Supreme Law for yourself, which makes clear most powers belong to the State governments, not Congress: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

    The Supreme Court concurs. That's why many laws have been voided. For example see United States v. Butler

  • by icebike (68054) on Monday September 21, 2009 @07:12PM (#29497873)

    ". If the website creator wishes to restrict access, even on an ISP basis, that is their right to do so."

    No, they don't. That is illegal restraint of trade. We have laws in this country against that. Ford can not tell you that you are not permitted to shop at AutoZone for your Ford Certified parts.

    ESPN limits ISPs based on the ISP's decisions on bandwidth allocation, not because they don't want your dollars.

    This will make it so ESPN will not have to engage in this practice. Besides: todate, no one has challenged this in court.

  • by icebike (68054) on Monday September 21, 2009 @07:39PM (#29498135)

    > Which part of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate content over privately-owned wires?

    Which wires are privately owned?

    The wires running thru your subdivision on public right of way, the access to which was granted by cities and counties?

    The microwave towers and cell towers using radio waves owned by the people and licensed to them?

    The fiber-optic and copper laid in public right of way along our highways, and through easements taken by eminent domain all over the nation?

    The wires you paid for with your subscription to Publicly Regulated carriers who also have had massive government funding, but who's prices never go down?

    The satellites launched by NASA at a net loss with government funds?

    Those wires?

    If you had attempted to read the article, you would have realized the FCC is proposing that the internet is to remain free of content blocking by companies selling you bandwidth.

    It is after all, not like you have any free choice in this matter. You can't take your business down the street.

    In most places your Internet service provider is a dictated choice. Only game in town. Further, your routing is dictated by people you are not even a customer of. M3 or one of the other backbone carriers could decide you will not be allowed to visit your favorite web site and it wouldn't matter who your ISP was. (Don't laugh, this has happened already).

    The FCC is protecting your rights in this instance. You paid for bandwidth, and you should be free to do any legal thing with that bandwidth, and not be subject to the whims of some upstream provider that doesn't think you should be able to watch porn on Sunday morning.

    The FCC is not adding any new regulation of content, and they are proposing to not allow ATT or Comcast to do so either.

    But hey, its all private enterprise, Right? Never mind who paid for it. Its their wires, so lets hand the entire internet over to the carriers free of charge and let them control our choices with no government intervention. Let them block VOIP. Let them block movie rental on line. Let them filter our mail (sending copies to the CIA). Just turn it all over the people who "own" the wires.

    Without the rule of law there is no such thing as a Free Market.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday September 21, 2009 @07:46PM (#29498185) Journal

    I was under the impression that some websites like ESPN360.com and Disneyconnection.com carged fees. The ISPs that paid the fees (like Verzion) get access and those that don't pay (like Comcast) don't get access.

    And I agree with another poster this is restraint of trade. As a free person I should be able to whip-out my credit card and pay the disneyconnection, but I don't even have that option.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @08:33PM (#29498645)

    But how about when you driver charges extra for being able to take you to point b, even thou all that is there is crap. You can't change drivers, because everyone in your area charges for the same "service".

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