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Wednesday, April 26, 2017


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Chanson de Roland

The report, supra, is a great call to arms. President Trump, as noted supra, presents so many challenges to Democrats and his other opponents that he both distracts their attention and stretches their resources, as they must respond to so many issues on such a broad front. So it is certainly understandable that many would rank saving Obamacare, our environment, preventing Trump's unfair and pernicious tax proposals and budget, etc., as higher priorities, until you realize this fact: The Internet is how we know, how we organize, how we make our voices heard to those in power and to each other, and the Internet is where we make some of our most important choices. The Internet is all that and more, so that if we lose net neutrality, we lose all of that. And if we lose privacy, all of that is exposed to ISPs, with us having no say in the matter. That is why the fight for net neutrality and privacy ranks up there with the other great issues, supra, because they are how we know and have effect in a modern democracy to influence all of those other great issues.


Excellent analysis by The Consumerist explaining why regulation of the internet by the F.T.C. (which F.C.C. Chairman Pai, Congresswoman Blackburn, Senator Flake, and almost all Republicans support) is a terrible idea:

"The FTC has very limited authority to make industry-wide regulations, and can really only create rules that prohibit unfair or deceptive business practices. So it can not, for example, tell ISPs to stop collecting and selling sensitive user data, so long as these companies are disclosing the practice in their fine print. That means we must rely on ISPs promising to play nice.

In most of the country, thanks to the history of cable, broadband providers are a local monopoly. Several reports over the years have shown ghat for the majority of is, competition is nonexistent. That leads to an environment where prices get higher and customer service gets worse, because there’s basically nothing you can do about it; you’re a captive audience. Customers are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with their internet providers, consistently ranking them worst among any industry.

With that as the backdrop, it’s very easy to be skeptical that any voluntary promise is even worth the pixels it’s printed with — because companies break their promises all the time.

Stripping ISPs of their common carrier classification would make it the FTC’s job, not the FCC’s, to make sure that the ISPs do what they’re going to say — but there’s a big catch there.

The FTC can only step in if companies are doing something anticompetitive or if they say one thing but then do another, basically. If, absent net neutrality, Comcast or AT&T were to change their terms of service to say something like, “All use of Netflix instead of our proprietary video service will incur you a $1/month additional ‘network usage’ fee, otherwise we throttle it to 768 Kbps” then they’d be in the clear to charge you that fee or throttle your connection. It would only be if they didn’t first disclose their intention that the FTC would bust them.

Companies can, and do, change their terms of service and customer agreements all the time. If you’re lucky, you get notice and the policy is comprehensible. If not, it happens on the sly. Without a law, there is absolutely nothing to prevent companies from changing their terms and creating fast lanes and additional access fees down the line when people aren’t paying attention."



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