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Networking The Internet

Net Neutrality Suffers Major Setback 790

RingDev writes "The US Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Comcast today, stating that the FCC lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks."
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Net Neutrality Suffers Major Setback

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  • Oh goody (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <capsplendid@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:16PM (#31750302) Homepage Journal
    Bye-bye internet, was nice knowing ya.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lwsimon ( 724555 )

      Nah - ISPs may try to shape traffic, but so long as the government stays out of it, two things will happen:

      1) Techniques will be developed to circumvent traffic shaping/filtering/prioritizing


      2) ISPs will be formed with the specific selling point of having no traffic shaping/filtering/prioritizing.

      There is no need for government regulation here - it would only benefit the existing ISPs at the expense of the consumer.

      • Re:Oh goody (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vancorps ( 746090 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:20PM (#31750410)
        Except for the fact that the big ISPs got that way because of billions of dollars of tax payer funding. That alone I would have thought would have given the FCC authority here. At seems, that presumption would be incorrect though which sucks.
        • Re:Oh goody (Score:5, Insightful)

          by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:30PM (#31750588) Journal

          That would be true but the 1996 Bill tied no strings to the dollars. For example Congress typically says, "Raise your drinking age to 21, else your federal highway funds will be reduced by 5%."

          Congress could have done something similar, mandating companies have equal access to all websites else get no funds, but they did not. As is typical of Cognress they handed corporations lots of money and no strings attached.

        • telecom (Score:3, Interesting)

          by slashnot007 ( 576103 )
          Remember the FCC is the Federal Communications Commission. Notice the word Communications. So it seems like they might have some authority here.

          One place we know they do have authority is telephony. And the largest immediate threats posed by the decision I think are to 1) VOIP and 2) Netflix. For brevity, I'm going to ignore bittorrent because at present while a big bandwidth hog, it's not a commercialized bandwidth hog like the other two.

          it will be easy for comcast
          • If the FCC doesn't have the authority to enforce equal access in ISPs, then they also don't have the authority to mandate free rights-of-way for ISPs.

            Comcast can now negotiate with every property owner over/through whose properties their Internet links pass. No more free ride, and major costs.

            Live by the sword, die by it.
      • Re:Oh goody (Score:5, Insightful)

        by brkello ( 642429 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:24PM (#31750474)
        Load of crap. You could use the same logic to say we don't want the government putting regulations on our food supply. I am sure someone will provide us an alternate source of water that has much less arsenic than the other company.

        You ignore reality. There isn't a lot of choice for most people on what ISP they use. So no, there will not be a better option. As far as techniques, it will be a constant escalation between the two sides which will just take up more bandwidth and cause everyone's connection to be slow.

        You folks need to wake up and understand that corporations do not and never will have your best interest in mind. Government regulations may not always be good, but in this case having a regulation that guaranteed net neutrality would benefit everyone. Of course that doesn't resonate well with the tin-foil hat and Fox News watchers out there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Once again, an answer for the Slashdot crowd that's useless to the public at large.

        Sure, we can figure out valid proxies and cobble together specialised software to route around damage, but the other 95% of humanity will basically have their internet hobbled permanently, with no recourse or no clue.
      • Re:Oh goody (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:28PM (#31750542) Journal

        >>>no need for government regulation here - it would only benefit the existing ISPs at the expense of the consumer.

        That's equivalent to saying there's no need for the government to regulate the Gas & Electric companies, or the Phone company, because it would only benefit the monopoly. I say "bull" to that. Whenever a monopoly exists, the government should either regulate the monopoly, or regulate it, or break it up and restore competition.

      • Re:Oh goody (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:32PM (#31750614)

        2) ISPs will be formed with the specific selling point of having no traffic shaping/filtering/prioritizing.

        This has been claimed for years and yet this hasn't actually happened. You live in a fantasy world if you actually believe such nonsense. The entrenched ISPs would kill off any such company.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SWolf1 ( 1569499 )
      Could someone explain to me why they trust the government to make things "fair" on the internet? Everything they touch they try to control more and more. At least with rrivate companies you get a choice.
    • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:26PM (#31750502) Journal

      The State government would have the power to regulate any monopolies inside its borders, including electrical providers, natural gas providers, phone companies, and yes Internet providers. - The local government/town that granted the exclusive license to Comcast also has the right to regulate, per the terms of the monopoly.

      Both these levels of government could mandate that Comcast provide equal access to ALL websites.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Why would the local or state government want to regulate it though?

        I don't know if you've noticed, but a lot of states aren't doing so hot right now with their budgets. Now, you've got two choices
        A) Spend more money on regulating Comcast, because your voters say so
        B) Say you care, accept a stipend, look the other way.

        The FCC was really the best shot at handling this issue - they may not have been the perfect entity but they are better than the alternatives. The last thing you need is internet access dependa

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          >>>a lot of states aren't doing so hot right now with their budgets

          Your argument also works for why the National government would not "want" to regulate ISPs. The National government doesn't have any spare cash to spend either, for hiring additional employees at the FCC to monitor Comcast and others.

          And also it's not a matter of "want". It's a matter of Law, and the Law is clear - the FCC has no authority beyond regulating commerce AMONG the states, not inside the states. The law makes clear tha

    • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:33PM (#31750634) Journal

      What is the point of having the FCC if you don't let it do its job? Under what guise could anyone come under the impression that this isn't FCC Jurisdiction?

      Lacks the Authority? It should be the Authority. The courts should only be called in when the FCC is doing something that is questionable. Instead, they have prevented the FCC from stopping all of the questionable behavior that is undoubtedly going to be spawned by this.

      With Wikileaks the other day, and now this, news is giving me a serious headache this week.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch ( 38532 )

      What the hell? Handing control of the internet back to the government would be the end of the internet. This is a good thing. I'll never understand the argument that the government is somehow less biased and corrupt than corporations, and most importantly, ISPs are selling a service and can regulate it as much as they want. Don't like it? Don't use it. The internet isn't a right.

      Sysadmins have the right to regulate network traffic. Bribed, corrupt politicians shouldn't be involved. People who want "net neut

  • and yet, they probably shall maintain the authority to 'regulate' 'Foul Language'. :(

    • Sorry, but I think I am missing something. What government body, precisely, regulates your use of foul language?

      Or maybe you were implying that Comcast does? I suppose they censor it on their cable channels, but if I Google, 'fuck,' on a Comcast connection, I find plenty of foul language.

      Furthermore, I am pretty sure you can and do have every right to walk into Comcast's local office and say, "Fuck you and your non-neuatral internet," right to their face.

      To my knowledge, nobody regulates foul langu
  • Meme (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheWizardTim ( 599546 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:18PM (#31750364) Journal

    Step 1. Send a letter to your ISP asking them to filter your access by a defined criteria.
    Step 2. Wait to get content that you requested filtered.
    Step 3. ??????
    Step 4. Profit.

    If they can filter content, based on whatever they want to do, they lose their common carrier status, and are now responsible for all content passed over their networks. If you get a spam message that you did not want, you can sue, at least in a perfect world. I am sure they will get out of it somehow.

    • Re:Meme (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:24PM (#31750482)

      If they can filter content, based on whatever they want to do, they lose their common carrier status,

      Lose what? They don't have common carrier status. They never were common carriers.

      In fact they have lobbied and fought hard to AVOID getting common carrier status. Being a common carrier would expose them to regulatory oversight they DO NOT WANT. And would limit them from doing certain types of Deep packet inspection, traffic shaping, etc, etc, that they DO WANT.

      and are now responsible for all content passed over their networks.

      Except libel and slander because they are exempted from respoonsibility in the communications decency act. Except Copyright infringement because they are protected provided they follow DMCA takedown requests. And so on.

      I am sure they will get out of it somehow.

      Of course they will. By and large they already have.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        In which case, it is time to have a public utility internet access, run by the local/state/federal government. Like Finland, we need to get a law passed that says people have the right to 1/10/100 mb access to the net. In the past, the US government had to step in to get companies to provide phone and power to rural locations in the US. The same needs to be done for high speed internet access, but not just limited to rural locations. Everyone in the US should be able to access the net at a high speed. As we

    • If they can filter content, based on whatever they want to do, they lose their common carrier status

      ISPs don't have common carrier status or the various obligations that go with that (net neutrality parallels some of those obligations), which is one reason why telcos want to be ISPs more than they want to be telcos.

      They do separate from common carrier status have many of the same kinds of protections granted to common carriers, as a result of lots of lobbying, but without the conditions that go with that fo

  • all your tubez are belong to comcast...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't this P2P blocking bit, a little like allowing AT&T arbitrarily and capriciously to prevent you from calling anyone in Chicago (not that it would be a bad thing)?

  • So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hoytak ( 1148181 )

    (possible lost profits from complying with net neutrality) > (potential financial benefits as proposed by FCC)? Are there some bargaining chips still on the table? Or is it just about "freedom of doing business how we want to"?

    And yeah, I assume the "benefits" implied by the article -- funds for improving internet to rural areas -- are peanuts to comcast...

  • by elohel ( 1582481 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:20PM (#31750400)
    But what should we expect when politicians are bought and sold and when an actual value can be placed on the price of integrity and transparency. I could rant, but what good would it do? Here's a link to the official ruling from wired.com: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2010/04/comcastdecision.pdf [wired.com]
    • Sheesh, forget your drama queen pills this morning?

      There is nothing terrible about this decision, because this decision has nothing to do with net neutrality. It was a decision about whether a government agency has carte blanche to do whatever the hell it wants without any congressional oversight, much less voter oversight.

      Please, get a clue. Anyone with a brain does NOT WANT GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVING UNLIMITED POWER, even if they do things you like. They next decision might be something you don't like, and you won't have any way to stop them.

      If you want net neutrality, then fine, get the government to pass a law. That's the way we do things in a representative democracy. We do NOT want government by executive order.

  • Did you hear that? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by calibre-not-output ( 1736770 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:21PM (#31750414) Homepage
    It's the sound of the FCC never having anything to do with regulating the Internet to begin with. If someone says that the FDA doesn't have the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks, will that also be a major setback for Net Neutrality?
    • by BobPaul ( 710574 ) *

      The FCC has the power to regulate the companies that are supplying last mile to consumers. I understand what you're saying as a general view, and it would seem the court agrees with that view, but there is sense to the FCCs position. They regulate the cable companies. They regulate the phone companies. The phone and cable companies supply internet to users.

  • and i don't think Congress can pass a law either. You have ISP's on one side some of whom are also cable companies and in the business of reselling media content via their cable TV business. and on the other side you have companies like Google who think up of new digital products that cause ISP's to spend more money for capital upgrades. if there is a net neutrality law then i can see the ISP's coming out with tiered pricing overnight. it's like electricity, in the last 10 years people's demand for it has g

    • You're missing a key point. The American tax payers paid for the majority of broadband cable laid in our country through enormous government subsidies. The ISPs have no right to turn around and charge us extra to use our own cable.
  • by vinn ( 4370 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:22PM (#31750432) Homepage Journal

    ISP's operate in that magical land of no tariffs. I bet not for long. If the FCC has any backbone (I'm not necessarily convinced they do, but hey, sometimes you can hope) they'll turn this into a regulated service. Just like all of those other wonderful tariffs we've had, for basic POTS lines, T1's, ISDN, etc, etc, look for that to happen with all sorts of Internet connections. So, in return for keeping net neutrality we'll lose ISP's... and the vicious dog eat dog cycle begins.

  • by Sentex ( 625502 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:23PM (#31750448)
    This is just one Circuit of the US Court of Appeals (although very influential). There is no "The United States Court of Appeals".
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:23PM (#31750454)
    but my packets were delayed...
  • by viridari ( 1138635 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:27PM (#31750528)
    The end result might suck for net neutrality but it's a win for the US Constitution, which has been sorely hurting. If you want net neutrality, don't expect it to come legitimately from the pen of a bureaucrat; demand it from Congress.
  • Once the internet is completely metered and locked down, with corporate traffic given huge priority over private traffic, I wonder if all the "free market solves everything" libertarian types will still be so anti-regulation....

    Slashdot seems to have a fairly large amount of 'free market solves all' people. Maybe strangling the internet is the thing that will make some of them realize that certain things do deserve either heavy regulation or government ownership:)

    Since this is the "information super highwa

  • Pyrrhic Victory? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by javakah ( 932230 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:28PM (#31750550)

    Without net-neutrality, Comcast's purchase of NBC (and Hulu) could start raising some major questions about whether it is forming a monopoly, especially when the government is already looking at the broadband situation in the US (and possibly unhappy about it).

    Additionally, the FCC has made it pretty clear that they want some authority over the net, so far assuming implicitly that they have such authority. With this ruling, we may yet see them given such authority explicitly.

    I almost wonder if this may be a pyrrhic victory for Comcast. Imagine them having the NBC/Hulu sale blocked, and then later the FCC gets it's authority specifically created, enforcing Net Neutrality (perhaps with some fangs), and having a bit of a grudge against Comcast.

  • by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:40PM (#31750778) Journal

    The FCC knew Comcast was going to win quite a while back. Comcast's basic argument rests on the fact that the FCC didn't follow it's own rules in how it created the net neutrality rule. Since the rules weren't followed for creating a new rule, Comcast argued the net neutrality rule was unenforceable.

      The FCC recognized Comcast had a point and restarted the rule making process to enable them to legally enforce net neutrality.

    Personally, I'd like to see the FCC say that if you own a cable or phone company, you can't provide internet service. We've just been through the consequences of companies that were too big to fail failing and are quite a bit poorer because of it. Letting monopolies form is just taking us down that path again.

    Both At&t and the cables are scared shitless that the Internet will make their business models obsolete. Of course, they're right.

  • Not an FCC issue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by discojohnson ( 930368 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:50PM (#31751000)
    This is an FTC issue. If you want the FCC to keep their hands off of the broadcast flag or a three-strikes program, then they need to not be in net neutrality business either.
  • Funny Explanation. (Score:3, Informative)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:54PM (#31751082)
    Funny, TechDirt [techdirt.com] explains why this is good.
  • by nilbog ( 732352 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @02:26PM (#31751632) Homepage Journal

    It's not as if handing over the reigns to corporate interests ruined radio - so why would it ruin the Internet?

    Currently listening to: Ke$ha - Tik Tok

  • by mykos ( 1627575 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @02:51PM (#31751992)
    Under current law, the FCC had no authority to do what they did. The idea was right, the execution was wrong. We need to have clear laws about net neutrality so that the government DOES have the authority to tell ISPs when they are hurting consumers.
  • Ahem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @03:04PM (#31752218) Homepage Journal

    How is this a set back? That statement assumes they aren't already throttling the piss out of traffic.
    I can download at 258kbps from Microsoft no problem.
    I can got to Hulu and clear 259kbps.
    I try and update World of Warcraft (which uses p2p) and I suddenly get 49kbps.
    I download Ubuntu Linux at 49kbps.
    In fact ANY torrent is exactly capped at 49kbps.(unless I turn on Protocol Encryption Only then magically that 49kbps cap vanishes...)
    I can download from any non-major website and get 128kbps... capped. (Simtropolis for example, sourceforge, etc.)

    A SET BACK implies they are not throttling already.

    And the kicker... If I start a torrent my bandwidth appears to be capped at 49kbps for about 3 hours afterwards.

    Boot Computer
    Download by Excel files from work at about 109kbps.
    Start a torrent and let it run for about 30 minutes while I take a shower. Torrent appears capped at 49kbps.
    Stop the torrent and close Utorrent.
    Download the same excel files from work... at 49kbps....
    Wait 1 hour... try again... 49kbps
    Wait 1 hour... try again... 49kbps
    Wait 1 hour... suddenly back to about 109kbps...

    Next Day:
    Boot computer
    Download excel files from work 109kbps.
    Open Forced Protocol Encryption torrent
    256-290kbps for torrent.
    Close torrent.
    Download excel files from work 109kbps.
    Open WoW to update and suddenly total bandwidth drops to 49kbps....

    Sorry it isn't a set back, it's "Court Affirms Right for ISPs to CONTINUE to throttle traffic."

    As long as this stands non-megacorporations don't stand a chance when say Facebook will be allowed to buy a high service level then a competitor. There is nothing preventing Comcast in offering 21 Tier 1 SLA blocks
    200 Tier 2 SLA blocks
    1000 Tier 3 SLA Blocks

    and bucketing all non-sla buyers in a T4 bucket. Then they can auction the top 21 blocks and charge substantial fees for the 2 and 3 blocks.

    The capitalization of preferred service levels isn't new and the anti-competitive abuse that comes with it will be par for the course.

  • by StillNeedMoreCoffee ( 123989 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:42PM (#31754542)

    Let them know what you think on this issue. If they know there is some interest or even a large body of interested parties that have an real informed opinion on the matter, maybe there will be legislation to treat the information highway as a public resource like the rest of our highways, a public resource not a private corporate money pit.

    We do something similar with the air we breath.

        Remember control of information is a first step to control of the people.

  • by TechForensics ( 944258 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:33PM (#31755228) Homepage Journal

    "Today's court decision invalidated the prior commission's approach to preserving an open Internet," the agency's statement said. "But the court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet; nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end."

    Seems like the Court said you can't do it this way but you can try others. That doesn't sound so grim as originally sounded.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:55PM (#31756554)

    ... lies with every state, city, town, or wide spot in the road from whom Comcast (and others) must obtain a franchise for the use of their rights of way. Lets go back to that system, with each little jurisdiction imposing its own rules. Then watch the ISPs come back, begging to have the FCC take over regulations.

The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad