There’s a lot of freaking-out going on in the pro-Net Neutrality camp due to a study released last week by Broadband for America, which concluded, among other things, that “69.9% of [Restoring Internet Freedom] comments are in favor of repealing Title II once accounting for fake and unverifiable international comments.”

The Net-Neuties think they smell “a conspiracy” to undermine the “heroic” efforts of Fight for the Future to stuff the ballot box with millions of (unverifiable) Net Neutrality comments. In this regard, ex-FCC special counsel, now Soros worker-bee, Gigi Sohn, has been particularly vocal about the purported delegitimization of the FftF comments. Wired uncritically (because the mag is for Net Neutrality, too) gives voice to her concerns, writing:

Critics argue that the FCC should have done more to prevent spamming in the first place. Sohn points out that the FCC knew a tidal wave of comments would ensue once it began the net neutrality proceedings, but the agency’s information technology department didn’t add new features, such as some sort of authentication system, to reduce spamming. Sohn and other critics suspect that stems from a lack of interest in the public comment system on Pai’s part.

The article continues, noting:

The breakdown of the public commenting system could give the FCC and the broadband industry grounds to claim that the public actually supports repealing Title II. But the problems with the system could also be used against the FCC if it’s forced to defend its decision to reverse Title II in court, Sohn says. The FCC’s failure to ensure the legitimacy of that public comment system could be a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires federal agencies to allow for public participation in regulatory decisions.

Funny, that same concern for “authentication” / quest for “legitimacy” wasn’t there when Gigi and FftF rounded up “4 million” comments “in support” of Net Neutrality in the previous Order.

Should it have been? Well, heck yes.

FOIA’d records show that on the very day the Internet Slowdown was occurring, and hundreds-of-thousands of comments were pouring into the Commission “for” Net Neutrality, Chairman Tom Wheeler remarked to his top top-brass (Gigi Sohn included), “Interesting that this new round of emails is designed to hide the person’s name. Thus, we don’t know if they’re real or not. Can we accept unsigned material into the record? (Emphasis added)

The reply to his query tersely notes that the Office of General Counsel confirms “anonymous comments are a part of the public record.” (Emphasis added)

“Real” comments? Sure, they lard the Open Internet Order.

There’s nothing about verifying anything. 223 pages of FOIA’d documents never even mention the words “verify the comments.” Because it was understood it could not be (especially for this PR stunt). If the agency did, that would make the “ballot” look questionable (at best).

Subsequent news reports reveal that the agency was willfully blind to the problem. In other words, it knew significant numbers of the comments were bogus, yet the Majority Commissioners still clung to / spun the notion that the “ballot” was “real,” thus “proving” that American’s want Net Neutrality. (We don’t have to look to the Russians for collusion, eh?)

Bottom line to all this is that the Wheeler / Sohn FCC was concerned only that the “vote count” looked big as it could. Yes, dupes were stripped, but that’s about it. The unverified / anonymous stuff, well, not so much.

Why? Because it would delegitimize their tally….

..and the already specious idea known as Net neutrality.

Gigi Sohn – winner of the pot calling the kettle black award.

More to come…

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The following filing was submitted to the FCC yesterday in the 17-108 Restoring Internet Freedom docket.  The filing can also be found on the FCC’s website here.

REPLY COMMENTS OF
MEDIAFREEDOM

I. Introduction

MediaFreedom1  would like to reiterate from its initial 17-108 comments our request that the Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) rulemaking eliminate the Open Internet Order’s (“OIO”) regulatory overreach, especially as it pertains to the re-classification of ISPs as common carriers. Similarly, MediaFreedom also urges that the resulting rules get rid of, or greatly relax, the FCC’s present Net Neutrality regulations on throttling, blocking and paid priority. On the whole, the OIO’s Title II Net Neutrality regime is not needed – it does not serve today’s converged marketplace, nor the free speech interests of the ecosystem, consumers and society as a whole. The balance of these Reply Comments rebut the spurious contentions by OIO supporters that the rules “do not regulate the Internet,” and that they comport with the First Amendment. Neither such contention could be further from the truth. [click to continue…]

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Isn’t it odd that the very companies which championed “free speech” via Net Neutrality – you know, Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Silicon Valley oligarchs – are now knee deep in expunging their properties (and users) of speech they don’t approve of in light of recent events in Charlottesville, etc?

This on top of last year’s fake news hysteria, which had the Valley working to curate “better” news choices for users; efforts to end online “hate” and bullying; and establishment of Orwellian “trust and safety councils,” among other work, from some of the aforementioned companies to prune “undesirable voices” (many of whom were conservatives) from their virtual real estate.

Their actions say they own the issue, and they’re working in overdrive to make their brand better, safer, or something.

For whom?

For their shareholders. Not free speech.

I’m alright with this, however. That is their wont, legal and otherwise.

But, they can keep their free speech preaching, especially as it pertains to Net Neutrality – a law they wrote with President Obama and his FCC designed to stop the “evil” ISPs from…

…blocking free speech.

Google et al are now using a piece of the law – the ’96 Telecom Act’s Section 230 – to extricate the “hateful” weeds from their platforms, blocking speech that doesn’t suit their brand image. The weird thing here is that ISPs, too, can avail themselves of that same piece of the law to block harassing or otherwise objectionable speech if they want to…

…but have chosen not to. All speech may traffic across their networks, unlike those of “free speech” Silicon Valley.

Anyway, this latest Silicon Valley hypocrisy seems to be the straw breaking the camel’s back. There are growing calls by some in the tech community, even right-leaning libertarians, that perhaps companies like Google, Facebook and others have too much power to regulate our speech, commerce and privacy, and thus must somehow be brought to heal.

People are seeing the lie that Net Neutrality always was – which is that the law was only ever crafted to protect and subsidize Silicon Valley billionaires, and nothing more.

Consequently, I believe it’s just a matter of time before policymakers feel that the kitchen is too hot and work to punish / regulate the Valley oligarchs.

Net Neutrality was premised in large measure on preventing the ISPs from blocking content…Turns out it’s the edge companies like Google doing it instead.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for this. But, how long did Silicon Valley think it could hoodwink Americans into thinking their “don’t be evil” ethos was the real deal? It ain’t (especially in regard to conservatives). The gig is up for the real censors and exploiters.

To this end, here’s my quick prediction:

I think Google, Facebook and others in Silicon Valley will want to inoculate themselves from this ongoing mess. And the vehicle they will choose is a legislative version of Net Neutrality – one which at a minimum “clarifies” the FCC’s expansive powers to police the “open Internet”; and allows reasonable business practices like paid priority and use of end-user data, subject to clear FTC jurisdiction, applied equally across the entire Internet ecosystem.

Reports have it that they’re already sitting down to discuss Net Neutrality with a broad cross-section of policymakers, “public interest” groups and industry reps. The events of the past couple of weeks – not to mention Europe’s increasing glare at some of the Valley’s behemoths – will hasten the search for a grand, comprehensive, “pro-consumer” compromise.

Do we need regulatory / legislative Net Neutrality? No. I hate the idea. However, if the current agency ping-pong game can be stopped and with it the (in-apt, FDR-era) Title II Net Neutrality concept legislatively narrowed in a significant way, then that would deserve some serious consideration by all.

The pressure on Silicon Valley is only mounting for it to prove it isn’t evil. Working with others in the ecosystem to end the Net Neutrality game would go a long way toward showing that.

Preaching free speech and then allowing it – even the “undesirable” voices – over their networks wouldn’t be such a bad thing, either.

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Help Detroit, Help America

by Mike Wendy on August 17, 2017

Abandoned retail store – a common sight in beleaguered Detroit

I visited Detroit for the first time this past weekend to see relatives. What I saw there shocked me – not my relatives, but the decay of the city itself. What was once a proud and world-class city had fallen prey to forces too numerous to list here.

Yes, Motown still has a lot to offer, but it remains a shell of what it was in its heyday. Perhaps the city will once again become the “Silicon Valley” it was, especially with the development of autonomous cars and IoT. But right now, that revitalization seems far off.

I’m not a big believer in big government programs to solve seemingly intractable challenges like those facing Detroit (and elsewhere in America). That said, I see some modest communications policy ideas that, in my mind, are worth a good try to help move Detroit (and us) in the direction of renewed economic growth and prosperity.

General Motors – the “Silicon Valley” of the past century…and, maybe, someday in the near future?

Simply, they are:

  • Release more spectrum so that the wireless revolution can grow further, enabling the spread of life-bettering, productivity-enhancing wireless tools, which can be affordably accessed by all Americans.
  • Reduce federal, state and local barriers to the expansion of broadband – such as enacting reasonable processes surrounding rights-of-way / one touch and cell tower citing matters – so that broadband infrastructure, like fiber and 5G, can more rapidly make it out to where it needs to go.
  • Reform taxes so businesses can more quickly expense capital items; American companies aren’t at disadvantage in the global marketplace; small companies aren’t penalized just for being small; and more money remains in the pockets of hard-working Americans – all of which can incentivize the roll out and adoption of powerful new information and communications technology offerings for use in the marketplace.
  • And, repeal Title II Net Neutrality so that ISPs and “edge providers” can both more freely supply innovative, consumer-friendly services that consumers truly need and desire, and deploy more broadband infrastructure to connect all Americans to the Internet.

No doubt more could be done to get Detroit – and America – productive and prosperous again. That noted, Uncle Sam and his counterparts in the states and municipalities would do well to follow these modest policies to prime that pump.

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Sinclair-Trib Merger Shows Freepress’ True Colors – They’re Dyed in the Wool, Authoritarian Censors

August 4, 2017

In arguing for the rejection of the proposed Sinclair-Tribune broadcast merger, “media reform” group Freepress made this astoundingly ironic (and anti-American) statement: …Sinclair is notorious for slipping right-wing views and Republican talking points into its newscasts. The company overrides the objections of local journalists and forces its stations to run conservative commentaries and slanted stories […]

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45 Words Net Neutrality Supporters Never Utter

July 20, 2017

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: “Yes, one of the great tenets of the Bill of Rights – the freedom of speech. Do you stand with me? Are you ready to resist? Are you ready to defend Net Neutrality? Are you ready to wear that banner? I am a fighter for the First Amendment. I am a […]

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Net Neutrality – It’s About the “Small Companies,” Says Google, er, Senator Ed Markey

July 18, 2017

Senator Ed Markey was shoveling out the Net Neutrality bullslop in overdrive during last week’s “day of action” Hill event. According to the Senator, Net Neutrality is about protecting “small companies.” Exclaimed Markey (from the video above): “…And I think that this is going to be well understood by every American, and in Washington, DC, […]

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MediaFreedom to FCC > Can We Get Rid of the Pernicious OIO / Net Neutrality Rules Already?

July 18, 2017

Before the Federal Communications Commission Washington, D.C. 20554 COMMENTS OF MEDIAFREEDOM MediaFreedom commends the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom NPRM, which we hope leads to the elimination of the Open Internet Order’s (“OIO”) regulatory overreach, especially as it pertains to the re-classification of ISPs as common carriers. We hope also that the resulting rules axe in […]

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Net Neutrality Conflatus – Senator Al Franken

July 14, 2017

Wednesday was the so-called Day of Action – a fake news event staged by professional community activists to raise awareness about the “importance” of government-regulated Net Neutrality. At one such event on Capitol Hill, Senator Al Franken addressed adoring millennials, harping on industry contentions that Title II Net Neutrality could tamp down investment and innovation. […]

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Srinivasan-Tatel Provide ISPs with Net Neutrality “Get out of Jail Card”?

July 10, 2017

You may know that earlier in May an en banc panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rejected an appeal challenging the Open Internet / Net Neutrality Order, letting the Order stand for the time being. Interestingly, in that ruling, Judges Srinivasan and Tatel issued an illuminating concurring statement, revealing, in […]

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