Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Democrats Government United States Politics

U.S. Democrats Propose Legislation To Ban Internet Fast Lanes 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A proposal from Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate would require the FCC to stop ISPs from creating "internet fast lanes." Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, "Americans are speaking loud and clear. They want an Internet that is a platform for free expression and innovation, where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider." Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) added, "A free and open Internet is essential for consumers. Our country cannot afford 'pay-for-play' schemes that divide our Internet into tiers based on who has the deepest pockets." Unfortunately, this is only half a solution — the bill doesn't actually add to the FCC's authority. It only requires them to use the authority they currently have, which is questionable at best.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

U.S. Democrats Propose Legislation To Ban Internet Fast Lanes

Comments Filter:
  • Just do SOMETHING (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Brennan Pratt (3614719) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:35PM (#47257057)
    The Republican bill that would remove ISPs from FCC regulation would allow states to regulate. It would make rent seeking a lot more difficult for ISPs. This bill would do the obvious thing that the Fourth Branch has failed to do. It's a sign that the FCC is entirely pointless if Congress has to order it to do every little thing. This wouldn't address the paid prioritization problem, but seems like it would give consumers more rights against ISPs in re traffic shaping, etc.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:40PM (#47257097) Homepage

      It's a sign that the FCC is entirely pointless if Congress has to order it to do every little thing

      Making a former lobbyist for wireless and Cable the head of the FCC is a sign the FCC is entirely pointless.

      • by GodInHell (258915)
        At least he has openly declared that he "is not a dingo."
      • It's a sign that the FCC is entirely pointless if Congress has to order it to do every little thing

        Making a former lobbyist for wireless and Cable the head of the FCC is a sign the FCC is entirely pointless.

        Not necessarily -- such a person knows all the tricks, and is in a good position to smack current lobbyists down.

        However, in THIS case, his cultural bias is pretty obvious, and it seems that his reason for leaving the lobby was not "I became disillusioned with the whole racket."

        • by mythosaz (572040)

          Indeed.

          Who do you want leading the FCC? Someone with no experience in the communications industry?

          Any perceived good or bad in his bias is just going to be a matter of which side of the fight that you're on.

          • by mellon (7048) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @03:28PM (#47257637) Homepage

            So our choices are (1) an industry shill or (2) someone with no experience in the industry?

            I beg to differ.

            • by mythosaz (572040)

              No.

              It's a choice between experience or no experience.

              Anyone with sufficient experience will come from some background and bring with them some bias.

              • by Endymion (12816)

                Stop right there.
                Some random telecommunications engineer and a lobbyist ain't the same fucking thing.

                Ain't no fukcing ballpark neither.
                Now, look, maybe your way of judging bias differes from mine, but, you know,
                having some personal biases and having a job that literally tries to biasing people
                for a 3rd party ain't the same fucking ballpark.

                It ain't the same league.
                It ain't even the same fucking sport.

          • A racketeer, banker, and all-in-all ruthless Wall Street tycoon--he was appointed by FDR to become chairman of the SEC because he was the biggest, baddest wolf of them all. And he did a complete 180--he knew all the tricks because he'd done them (or invented them) and he turned the SEC into a force to be reckoned with. Kennedy not only obeyed the rules, he enforced them and made Wall Street toe the line, which arguably helped us get out of the Depression the first time (before Congress, going populist and a
          • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @03:36PM (#47257717) Journal
            This is a shitty argument. I want someone with a SCIENTIFIC background to run our communications, not a lobbyist.
      • Re:Just do SOMETHING (Score:5, Informative)

        by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @05:04PM (#47258397) Homepage

        He was a cable lobbyist (sort of--he was head of the largest cable trade association, and that association did do lobbying among other things) 30 years ago, when cable was the underdog trying to provide an alternative to the big broadcasters, and there was no such thing as a cable ISP because the public internet did not exist yet.

        He worked for the wireless trade group 10 years ago.

        Also in there he founded or was a heavy investor in several companies that were more on the content provider side of things, and would be hurt by a lack of net neutrality. There is no evidence that he is any more influenced by his very old (and irrelevant to internet) cable association or his more recent but still old wireless association than by his association with those other companies that were on the content side of things.

    • The Republican bill that would remove ISPs from FCC regulation would allow states to regulate. It would make rent seeking a lot more difficult for ISPs. This bill would do the obvious thing that the Fourth Branch has failed to do. It's a sign that the FCC is entirely pointless if Congress has to order it to do every little thing. This wouldn't address the paid prioritization problem, but seems like it would give consumers more rights against ISPs in re traffic shaping, etc.

      So the problem here isn't that the FCC hasn't already tried to do Net Neutrality - they have. The problem is that the Judicial branch told the FCC they don't have the authority to do so, which probably stems from them classifying internet infrastructure and ISPs not as Telcos but as "information" providers.

      • Re:Just do SOMETHING (Score:5, Informative)

        by drakaan (688386) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:59PM (#47257293) Homepage Journal

        No, the problem is that the judicial branch told the FCC that *until* they classify ISPs as common carriers, they don't have the authority to mandate anything with regards to paid prioritization or de-prioritization.

        With Mr. Wheeler in charge, there doesn't seem to be much impetus to reclassify the ISPs in that way.

        I am an independent who often votes republican, and I believe that the republican bill as currently laid out is a bad plan. Internet service is a utility in the 21st century, and should be treated that way.

        • by sjames (1099)

          If the Dem's bill passes, they will be required to classify ISPs as telcos so that they will be able to enforce net neutrality since that is within their power. Of course, they will bend over backwards to re-interpret the law until it doesn't mean that.

    • Re:Just do SOMETHING (Score:5, Informative)

      by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:49PM (#47257201)

      The Republican bill that would remove ISPs from FCC regulation would allow states to regulate. It would make rent seeking a lot more difficult for ISPs.

      Not bloody likely. States are already busy shutting down competition for the incumbent ISPs [arstechnica.com].

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        Not bloody likely. States are already busy shutting down competition for the incumbent ISPs.

        The article you linked to talked about preventing unfair competition from government-run internet, not all competition. You want to run an ISP where you don't like the service from the existing one? Do it. It will cost you a lot of money and won't be profitable, but that's why there aren't more people doing it now.

        Government-run internet doesn't need to be profitable or even have any subscribers -- it will simply spend tax dollars. In the corporate world, that's called "unfair competition" and "predatory

        • by mellon (7048) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @03:35PM (#47257703) Homepage

          So what you're saying is that we can have a monopoly of greedy corporate bastards, or we can have a government-run monopoly that charges a price that's regulated by voters. And out of these two choices, you are selecting the former, because boo-hoo, the voters will set the price at cost, and the corporations want to make a profit, and that's not fair. Well fuck their profit. They want to own our eyeballs and sell them to the highest bidder. Fuck that.

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            So what you're saying is that we can have a monopoly of greedy corporate bastards,

            No, I'm saying nothing of the sort. I favor NO monopoly and NO predatory pricing. I thought that would be clear from what I said.

            or we can have a government-run monopoly that charges a price that's regulated by voters.

            In my city, we have a government-run monopoly on sewer and water supply. We have not had a public vote on rates ever in the more than twenty years I've lived here. It is ridiculous to assume that any other government-run service will have voter-set prices. Even were they to be voted on, you'd wind up with the situation easily predicted -- the voters who want free stuff will outn

            • by HiThere (15173)

              Sorry, but physical provision of wired services is a natural monopoly. I generally prefer that governments control natural monopolies. They *will* abuse it, but they already have a monopoly on the use of force, and any private party will also become an abusive monopoly, however they start out.

              I'd really rather not have ANY monopolies, but that's just not practical. So one that is at least influenced by the voters is preferable. And that means government. Preferably as local as possible, so that if you

              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                Sorry, but physical provision of wired services is a natural monopoly.

                "ISP" isn't necessarily a wired service, and gosh if the presence of multiple wires on the poles outside my house don't prove you wrong anyway. It's a COSTLY service that creates an economic barrier to entry, but Google in Portland is proving that there is still enough incentive for some to try. The fact that Time Warner never considered it worth the expense to try to overbuild a Comcast system doesn't mean they were legally prevented from trying or that there was a "natural" limitation to them doing so, o

          • So what you're saying is that we can have a monopoly of greedy corporate bastards, or we can have a government-run monopoly that charges a price that's regulated by voters.

            As to the first case, nonsense! YOU can start up a competitive service if you'd like.

            As to the second case, good luck on getting that price "regulated by voters", instead of "regulated by the Mayor".

    • Re:Just do SOMETHING (Score:4, Interesting)

      by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @03:00PM (#47257317) Homepage Journal

      The Republican bill that would remove ISPs from FCC regulation would allow states to regulate.

      That would be useless, given that most internet traffic is interstate or international. It's enough that one hop is in a state that hasn't forbidden slow lanes, and it's defeated.

    • Re:Just do SOMETHING (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @05:47PM (#47258619)

      If you think handing regulation to state government will result in less corruption and a fairer playing field you have no experience with or understanding of state government. Local government is better for some things but state governments are historically and currently the easiest for those with deep pockets to buy regulations and laws they want. I've got dozens of examples in my own state and you could undoubtedly find dozens in your own. Such things do occasionally make the national press such as the Texas car dealers association getting the state of Texas to ban the direct sale of Tesla cars. A key example of an entrenched interest with deep pockets being able to directly control the state government into passing patently anti-competition laws.

      Although I don't like the new FCC run by lobbyists and prefer the version from the 50's that was run by engineers. They are at least less corruptible than local politics. If FCC duties are handed to the states we'll have state legislatures writing laws that favor local large businesses in a heart beat. We already have dozens of incumbent written state laws around the nation baring local governments from wiring themselves when the incumbent refuses. I can't even imagine the horror state governments would cause.

  • If they would label ISP's as common carriers none of this would be needed.
    • by alen (225700)

      why not?

      is it some magic law that will make them upgrade their edge routers? common carriers just says they have to carry all traffic equally and without discrimination.

      • by medv4380 (1604309)
        Basically. It would mean they could be regulated. The "Fit Willing and Able" part of being a common carrier would require them to upgrade as the regulations demanded. There is only one argument I see as valid against making ISP's common carriers, and that the resulting legal mess might make things chaotic for a few years, or even a decade. Too many legal/court things have been done under Information Services that changing would give a lot of lawyers a lot of money.
        • by alen (225700)

          except that all the regional bell companies were common carriers and charged for terminating calls onto their networks
          kind of like almost every video provider out there pays commercial CDN's to host their content or transit network to carry. the CDN's in turn pay the ISP's for bandwidth. kind of like the RBOC's of old. almost everyone except your precious netflix who is trying to get special treatment with having ISP's host their CDN for free

      • by Aryden (1872756) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @03:02PM (#47257341)

        common carriers just says they have to carry all traffic equally and without discrimination.

        You answered your own question.

      • by mellon (7048)

        Back when they were still regulating data transmission under common carrier rules, there was competition in the point of presence: the telco had to lease lines to the home at the same price to competitors as to their internal service provider. The consequence of this was that they could not use their stranglehold on the last mile to charge monopoly rents. They could still make money selling Internet, but if they screwed you (e.g. with a "fast lane") you could switch. Now there is no competition, and g

    • by thule (9041)
      What does common carrier have to do with peering? Even long distance companies of old had to connect to the local exchanges. The local exchanges had only so much capacity on their switches. It would be possible that a call couldn't go over a particular long distance router because the switch was full "all circuits are busy, please try again." This is no different than Internet peering except that Internet peering doesn't have discrete channels for each "call".
  • Market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:41PM (#47257109)
    This doesn't fix the root cause. I have 1 ISP in my region that provides cable internet. As long as they have monopoly power they will abuse it. Fix the monopoly issue and the federal goverment might not need to regulate the internet like this.
    • by alen (225700)

      how exactly do you solve it?
      you can create a huge company to own all the fiber and last mile wiring, but then the ISP will just dump a lot of debt onto it that they incurred laying the wire and they people will still have to pay the costs?

      the ISP's are carrying over $100 billion in debt collectively because upgrades are paid for with bonds that are paid back over decades and we are still paying for upgrades done 20 years ago

      • That is bs. http://www.wikinvest.com/stock... [wikinvest.com]
        Comcast total debt issuance has flucuated between -2 billion and 2.5 billion over the last 5 years. Compare that with the dividends it pays out in 2014: Quarterly Dividends and Quarterly Share Repurchases Increased 35.5% to $1.3 Billion
        • by alen (225700)

          you're an idiot
          their TOTAL DEBT outstanding is like $45 BILLION. Time warner is around $20 BILLION. AT&T and Verizon are probably close to $200 billion but that includes their other businesses.
          it's in that website you linked to

      • Think of the old 1990's ISP model...
        You had your local telephone monopoly/government service who gave you your phone connection. Then you could choose your favorite ISP for your internet. You had two bills one for your ISP and one to the Phone Company.

        To fix this today
        You have the ISP and you have a company/government service providing the cable/fiber infrastructure.
        You need to pay for the infrastructure either by paying the company for it, or via your taxes. Then you choose the ISP (probably local) who

        • by alen (225700)

          i remember those days. the dial up ISP's used to disconnect everyone who spent more than an hour logged in because no one ever had enough ports available for all of their customers. best you could do was try to dial a non local number and pay for it on your phone bill instead of it being free

      • by mellon (7048)

        Have you ever been to Philadelphia? Check out these sweet digs [google.com]. Corporations do not just put cash in the bank. They invest it in stuff they can sell later, and depreciate and deduct now, so they pay less tax. So sure, they'll cry you a river about how their profit margin is so low, but booking profit and paying the taxes on it is the last thing they want to do.

    • by thule (9041)
      Exactly! This stuff needs to happen at the *local* level, not at the FCC level. I firmly believe the government is ignorant on how the Internet works and they will only screw it up. The best way to solve the problem is working with the local city that manages right-of-way. Force the city to make it easier for companies to get permits. Reduce the cost and paper work, etc.
    • by Shatrat (855151)

      It's not intended to. It's only intended to get some politicians names in the news in conjunction with a popular issue. This is a toothless pointless bill.

    • by Ziggitz (2637281)
      I'm actually not opposed to getting rid of the notion of net neutrality in theory. If private entities want to invest in their own infrastructure, compete in an open market and provide a service at the cost and convenience of their choosing then so be it. However you don't get to take billions of public dollars, setup monopolies and then fuck over your customers who have no other options because you made sure they didn't.
    • by mellon (7048)

      Right. How do you do that? There are a couple of ways. One is the common carrier way: regulate the last mile, requiring that whoever has a connection from their distribution point to your home rent access to that connection (the whole connection, exclusively, or else just access to the IP layer) at the same price their internal ISP business unit pays for it.

      Alternatively, you can have the municipality or even the development own the last mile, and rent it out to whichever ISP the end-user chooses. "

    • by westlake (615356)

      I have 1 ISP in my region that provides cable internet.

      In my home county alone, with a population of 216,000, there are at least 25 geographical and political entities that can negotiate deals for broadband service, including an Indian reservation.

      The choice is between DSL or cable. I don't see any motivation for a third entrant here.

    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      I have no ISPs in my region that provide cable, we're stuck down on copper DSL until VZ decides to force me to LTE.

  • Slowing undesirable traffic down could be (and therefore will be) interpreted as creating slow lanes, not creating fast lanes. To maintain net neutrality both need to be forbidden.

  • by zeroryoko1974 (2634611) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:44PM (#47257151)
    Here, Mr. Congressman have some money, we don't need no silly neutrality. How about free HBO for your family instead?
  • If they ban internet fast lanes and tiers then what? Netflix can't pay off the ISPs and they just continue throttling the internet as they see fit? And when Netflix confronts them about their crappy service they just say "it wasn't me.".
    • by thule (9041)
      Netflix chose to build peering links. They could have just easily pulled back all peering and started sending all traffic over transit links. What do you think would have come of that? Netflix decided they received more bang for buck when they directly peered with ISPs.
  • Dead in the house (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:48PM (#47257191) Homepage Journal
    Every single name on this bill has a (D) next to it. It will never make it to the floor in the house.
    • Not to mention the fact that Democrats get just as much money from Telcos/Cable Companies as Republicans. This is just hand waving and PR. If every member of the house was currently a Democrat I still don't think this would pass.

      • by Aryden (1872756)
        it would get pork-barreled/ridered like any other to the point that it wouldn't look anything like the original bill.
    • It might. I remember when the first bill was produced a bill to regulate telemarketing. The idea was a classic political maneuver. They'd introduce the bill to give the impression they gave a shit. Then they'd quietly kill the bill or gut it before it got too far. But it turned out that people were really tired of having their phone lines abused. So many people called or wrote their congressmen that they couldn't kill the bill. They did water it down over the years but it had a lot more teeth than they inte
  • Always remember, just because someone in government suggests they do something, and that something sounds like a good idea, does not mean it will bode well for the population at large.

    The only thing the feds have done right in the last 20 years, IMO, is expand their own power and influence. I expect that to be the end goal in this case as well.

  • That sounds like a bill that would actually work FOR the consumer and AGAINST the corporations. So which one is it?

    a) A bill that he knows will not pass due to never getting the required support
    b) A trojan horse that sounds great but is actually going to make things worse
    c) A decoy to paperclip something worse to its back
    d) All three

  • The same lawmakers should ban airlines (and other transportation providers) from offering "First Class" travel [townhall.com].

    Oh, and, certainly, the namesake Fast Lanes — now increasingly reserved for customers of E-ZPass and similar payment systems — should be banned too.

  • I'm having a difficult time believing that this is a genuine effort to accomplish anything besides PR for the democratic party. First of all, everyone knows perfectly well that the FCC's current authority falls well short of what is needed to ban fast lanes; Verizon did a rather thorough job of demonstrating that if I remember correctly. Secondly, if they are going to pass legislation, then why not pass net neutrality directly into law? This is a farce. Most democrats do not care about this issue any mo
  • ... slow lanes, instead.

  • The fundamental problem is that ISPs seem to be in a sort of quantum superposition regarding common carrier status. Whenever they're applying to use common land or using it as a legal defense, they claim to be common carriers. Whenever they want to charge people more money for certain things, they aren't common carriers.

    Let's let them pick. Every year, let them choose whether they want to be common carriers or not. If they are, then they get the access to existing utility poles, and the immunity for any cri

"You need tender loving care once a week - so that I can slap you into shape." - Ellyn Mustard

Working...