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Author Topic: Net Neutrality Issues  (Read 1838 times)

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Offline John C

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Net Neutrality Issues
« on: November 13, 2014, 05:04:27 AM »
Hi, All--

If you're not interested in quasi-political talk that's somewhat out of date, please move on to the next message.  Nothing to see here.

We've been quiet on the Net Neutrality front tied up on other things, but as the FCC finishes up its current round of rule-making, we wanted to at least give a heads-up and make some possible suggestions for people just hearing about all this now.

Capsule History:  After some astonishingly stupid legal battles (including suing over cardboard cones), the FCC declared telephone service to be a common carrier, meaning that your telephone provider (who was Ma Bell at the time) had no business telling you what you could do with your phone.  When non-dial-up Internet service began spreading, the phone and cable companies said, hey, computers deal in information, so this is an information service, not a common carrier.  So, they're allowed to charge you differently based on what kind of data you serve and who you are and even disrupt your service, but don't right now, due to complicated agreements.  Today, now that a whole lot of things--including phone service--run across the Internet, the telecommunications companies are agitating to drop those agreements to let them discriminate however they like.

The companies have been requesting permission for "fast lanes," to choose whose services will get to you faster.  Not whose server has more bandwidth, but whose data will arrive on your device faster than competitors.

What we've missed at DCM:

  • The couple of days when it was a good idea to e-mail or call your Congressman, especially if your Congressman happens to be on a relevant committee.
  • The FCC had an open comment period requesting input.
  • The FCC proposed and may have abandoned a "hybrid" rule, which obviously means the telecommunications companies could do what they want and pretend they're not playing favorites.
  • The White House came out publicly in favor of categorizing Internet service as a common carrier, which was in fact one of Obama's campaign pledges that got him a lot of attention in 2008.
  • Ted Cruz called Net Neutrality "ObamaCare for the Internet."  No details, because it was on Twitter.  And because it makes no sense.

If you want to personalize the fight, consider that there's no incentive to maintain anything other than the "fast lanes," so service would likely deteriorate for anybody except the big companies paying for better service.  If you have a copper-wire phone (I do), you know that the phone company is desperate to shift you to a digital line, which has fewer FCC restrictions for them, and they're fairly clear that they aren't planning to do much maintenance on those old lines.  The upshot of that digression is that, unless you only look at high-traffic sites backed by big companies (and if you do, how did you get here!?), a lot of what you want will get harder to access without a Net Neutrality ruling.

So, why mention it now?  Mostly because we should have done so earlier, but also because lines of communication are still open, so there's potential for impact if anybody's interested.  Technically, the commenting periods are closed, but it's worth keeping up the pressure so that the issue doesn't look like a flash in the pan.  When you talk about it, one of the magic words is "Title II," which is the common carrier definition.

  • If you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area, FCC representatives will be at City Hall next week, asking for testimony from interested parties, free admission.  The EFF will be holding a rally beforehand.
  • If you're a United States resident, the FCC's comment form works fairly well after a crash early on.  The proceeding is 14-28.
  • If you're not in the United States, or if you think the web form is stupid, e-mail the FCC at openinternet@fcc.gov, and make the case that many services you pay for come from the United States, so this affects you, too.
  • Wherever you live, contact your relevant government officials.  Pressure from Congress and foreign governments won't hurt.
  • This is doubly true if your Congressman thinks Ted Cruz is a genius for his ObamaCare quip.  Remind them that anything but Net Neutrality means that the telecommunications companies are picking and choosing which companies can succeed on the Internet, which is about as far from the free market as we can get.  They're not going to side with small businesses any more than Hippie pinkos that give away cooperatively-scanned public domain comics...
  • Watch the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is generally as up to date as anybody on these sorts of issues.  They also do good work in fighting for these issues in a non-partisan way.  Other groups also fight, but they'll eventually ask you to contribute to someone's political campaign, in my experience.
  • Cross your fingers.  The final decision will probably be soon.

It's worth mentioning that ISPs have terrible customer satisfaction ratings, so giving them more power to abuse...I dunno...

There are other things going on of note, of course.  There are still groups trying to Fast Track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Copyright Office is reviewing some of the DMCA rules as relates to cellphones and other "sealed" devices, anti-surveillance bills possibly coming to a vote, and maybe a couple of other things.  But this is the biggest issue on the horizon.

We now return you to your (ir)regularly scheduled comics.

Digital Comic Museum

Net Neutrality Issues
« on: November 13, 2014, 05:04:27 AM »

Offline Yoc

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Re: Net Neutrality Issues
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2014, 08:33:34 AM »
Many thanks for posting on this vital topic for DCM and it's members.
If the net becomes a toll highway I'm afraid DCM would be forced off at the first exit.

Offline Geo

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Re: Net Neutrality Issues
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2014, 08:29:27 PM »
Yep, what Yoc said. I see ads for ultra-fast internet on TV, but it's not coming here anytime soon and if it does it will cost a bunch more then what I pay for the service I now have and deal with slow downs all the time even though they follow your useage, as letters I've received from them, and no my useage did not go over the limit they imposed. So yes I'm onboard for Net Neutrality, it should be open for all people to use, not just a Ted Cruz mentality internet.

Geo
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Offline John C

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Re: Net Neutrality Issues
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2014, 02:19:00 PM »
It's the worst organization ever (like, say, no individual page per episode), but anybody interested in the topic might be interested in WFMU's recent "Radio Free Culture" podcast episode:

http://wfmu.org/playlists/FC

Amusingly titled "The Future Where Biff Owns the Cops," talks with Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge.

WFMU also hosts the Free Music Archive, which carries and curates open-licensed music since the DMCA made music a touch-and-go proposition.

Offline John C

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Re: Net Neutrality Issues
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2015, 02:26:43 PM »
FYI, the other day--considering that so many members of the FCC used to be telecommunications lobbyists--the FCC actually managed to vote to reclassify the Internet as a "common carrier" utility, meaning that (subject to the inevitable court challenges, which the Supreme Court has already signaled wouldn't fly) this is the end of the "fast lane" ideas, at least for the duration.  Tom Wheeler (head of the FCC and, let me make this point again, former and once-presumed-future lobbyist for the telecommunications industry) said the decision was made largely because of the millions of messages they received.

Bonus for those of us in the United States, they also updated the definitions of "broadband service," which is very likely to hurt the cable company arguments that they're not monopolies because there are "high-speed" dial-up or satellite services.

Overall, not bad.

Offline Yoc

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Re: Net Neutrality Issues
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2015, 06:48:49 PM »
Yes, I heard the news the same day and figured you'd want to update this.
Nice to see it happen though I suspect it will be an issue again someday.

Offline Geo

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Re: Net Neutrality Issues
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2015, 07:09:17 PM »
I've been watching this and been reading about it in our local newspaper. It's good for the ruling. At this time I'll wait to see if it really helps in the speed of the provider's ISP's increases.
And thanks for posting this for those who don't have the information on this important issue.

Geo
Filling holes, by ONE book at a time