Conniving to Get “Real” Net Neutrality

by Mike Wendy on December 16, 2014

Transcription – Free Press’ Craig Aaron on bullhorn:We’ve brought in a giant magnifying glass. ‘Cuz we are going to symbolize how closely we’re going to be watching these rules and this decision. And how carefully we’re going to be scrutinizing if this is real Title II. Not fake Title II. No loopholes. No poison pills. We will only settle for real Net Neutrality.

Demonstrator in background holding sign: “Title II is common carrier classification?

Voice off-camera:You got it.”

Aaron:That is. That’s right. Common carrier. This is a smart crowd.”

Smart crowd,” Aaron remarks, with a smirk.

What is “real” Title II? Or, “full” Title II. Or, “simple” Net Neutrality?

Demonstrator at FCC rally asking for "Full" Net Neutrality...whatever that is.

Demonstrator (right) at FCC rally asking for “Full Title II” Net Neutrality…whatever that is.

Well, there is no such thing, even though Free Press and Craig Aaron have to pretend there is so they can continue using (the bundled up) flower children protesters to get a trillion-dollar free ride for Silicon Valley.

Here’s how Free Press terms “real” Net Neutrality:

As we articulated in the 2010 Broadband Framework proceeding and the current Open Internet proceeding, the Commission should not forbear from and instead should retain all or part of Sections 201, 202, 208, 222, 251, 255 and 256. We noted in the 2010 filing that the Commission also should consider retaining Section 214 discontinuance provisions, and suggested there would be “significant difficulty in transforming the Universal Service Fund to support broadband for rural and low-income communities” absent Section 254.

Goodness, imagine Aaron spitting all that out at the rally. What a buzzkill.

Of course, the intentional under-disclosure was designed to ensure the troops are kept in the dark…and exploitable.

Perhaps the oddest part of all of this is the group’s perennial call for no discrimination of content, data, providers, etc. Whatever that no loophole term means today.

I say odd because in the (old fashioned) system that they’re pushing for – the one that protected state-granted, telephone monopolies – reasonable discrimination was allowed. Like volume discounts. 1-800 numbers. Private lines. Faster, more quality-assured levels of service for those willing to pay. Etc., etc., etc. These are all examples of “fast lane” agreements allowed under the old monopoly telephone system.

Legal competition wasn’t allowed in that system, hence the need to regulate to “protect consumers”. Now, it is. And it thrives like at no time in the history of communications markets (funny, the inverse relationship there). It stands to reason that what was reasonable in the old system would be even more so now, with today’s consumer being protect by actual competition.

But, no. They want “real” Net Neutrality. Not “fake” Title II. No loopholes. No poison pills.

A pondering FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler at the agency's open hearing, December 11, 2014.

A pondering FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler at the agency’s open hearing, December 11, 2014.

All of this has the Chairman looking like a pondering mess. What to do? Title II? A hybrid approach? A 706 approach? What do Silicon Valley and Google want? Will the flower children let me get out of the driveway so I can get to work today?

That’s why he’s delayed the rule. It will be litigated. More than likely it will be tossed out (again) by the DC Circuit and end up at the Supreme Court. That is, if Congress and a new President don’t get to it first. In any event, we’re looking at years of uncertainty before this is all settled.

And this has me thinking. What smart crowd would want that uncertainty, unless, of course, that’s the goal in the first place? That is – making the cost for American broadband providers so high it makes more sense to sell-out and let the government run the joint instead. I mean, who needs the hassle just to lose a couple of points on every dollar of private investment?

The only person in that type of profitless business would be Uncle Sam.

Hmmm…That’s not smart.  That’s just plain conniving.

Hand me that magnifying glass so I can see the fingerprints (these, too) of those perpetrating this crime.

Kevin Zeese December 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Title II existed in the early years of the Internet until 2002 when the Internet was misclassified as an information service and not as a common carrier. Since 2002 there have been net neutrality rules in place until a court decision one year ago in the Verizon case. So, your claim that the Internet “thrives like at no time in the history of communications markets” misses the point — there has been regulation throughout the time period the Internet has thrived.

As to the court throwing the reclassification and net neutrality rules out, you must not have read the Verizon decision. The decision makes it very clear that the only reason the net neutrality rules were thrown out was because the Internet was not in Title II. Title II gives the authority to restore net neutrality which has been the rule throughout the existence of the Internet.

Finally, it is strange to oppose net neutrality as all it does is insure a level playing field for competition. Rather than giving established corporations an advantage — because they have the resources to pay for faster Internet service — it gives small business and start-ups the opportunity to get into the marketplace and compete. Net neutrality allows more competition not less.

Mike Wendy December 16, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Kevin, thanks for this reply. I saw you at the FCC hearing with Ms. Flowers last week, and if only your demonstrations were as level-headed sounding as this, y’all might get somewhere. But, like so much of your advocacy, you stumble on the facts.

Indeed, until SCOTUS jumped in in 2005, the FCC regulated DSL like a common carrier / Title II. In fact, many rural carriers today use NECA Tariff 5 to tariff their DSL service under Title II. Cable-provided b-band, however, has never been reuglated in this manner. And that’s what the FCC decided to change in the earlier part of the century to level the playing field. Since then – essentially 2005 – the Internet exploded with even more growth.

Only for a short period have there been legally cognizable Net Neutrality rules in place – from November 2011 until January of 2014. In January, the DC Circuit threw out most of the FCC’s Net Neutrality rule, except for its tranparency requirements. They argued that the FCC’s rules were actually Title II rules, which, not going through the proper steps, they lacked the authority to issue.

Let’s be clear – Net Neutrality is not Title II. We argue that Net neutrality can be (and is) enforced through the advance of technology, competitive forces, industry peer policing and standards, reputation management, consumer transparency tools, “reasonableness,” and already existing enforcement authoirty (like with the FTC, the states).

Title II is confiscation of networks through price, access, and other controls – which is I think what your group and others actually want. To legally steal from corporations in order to make everything / the Internet “fair”.

But, this will have the opposite effect. The system you want makes it impossible for private enterprise to supply the market with what it wants and needs. It places people like you in charge, instead of the (less corruptible) marketplace doing that. There is nothing level about that system, which plays / tools favorites. Stated differenty – the matketplace stinks – that is, until you look at all the other options (like yours).

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