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Even if the repeal had passed the Senate, President Obama had promised to veto it

After months of threats and debating, the Republican leadership in Congress moved forward with plans to block the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) from rolling out basic net neutrality rules, which prevent landline internet carriers from throttling the user's connection, charging on a per website basis, or engaging in other tactics designed to slow some sites' load times and speed others' up.

I. Republicans Push for Net Neutrality Ban

As Republicans control the House of Representatives, the key battleground in the repeal effort would be the Senate.   Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) sponsored the repeal resolution, S.J. Res. 6.

Sen. Hutchinson took a hard stance, arguing that ISPs should be allowed to charge users on a per-site basis and throttle as they wish, without regulation.  She comments, "The internet and technology have produced more jobs in this country than just about any other sector.  It has been the cradle of innovation, it does not have a problem, and it does not need fixing."

Others in her party took a softer approach.  Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) wrote a "dear colleague" letter to her fellow Republicans.  In it she wrote that she felt that net neutrality regulation was necessary to protect consumer abuse.  But she argued the proper place for it was through the Senate, not the FCC.

But if "pro-net neutrality" Republicans senators had an alternative plan they failed to propose it in concrete form.  And it was unclear when or if a replacement to the current rules would be drafted if repeal was pass -- or for that matter whether a net neutrality bill could past muster in the House and Senate given many Republicans absolute opposition to anything standing in the way of ISPs' efforts to increase profits by cutting back and restructuring regional internet services.

The hardline Republicans like Sen. Hutchinson who flatly opposed any regulation argued that regulation would kill jobs.  Sen. Hutchinson pointed to industry studies that claimed net neutrality regulation would slow infrastructure deployment, and by proxy reduce jobs.

The Republican-controlled House had passed a net neutrality repeal measure in February 2011.
 

President Obama threatened to veto S.J. Res. 6

II. Democrats Warn That Repeal Would Kill Innovation, Free Speech

The repeal had Democratic President Barack Obama concerned enough that he threatened to veto the bill [PDF] if it should pass, with his office writing in a release, "If the President is presented with S.J. Res. 6, which would not safeguard the free and open Internet, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the Resolution."

But this dramatic game of political theater end rather mundanely as the Democratic majority in the Senate rallied together in opposition of the resolution.  Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller IV, the great-grandson of famous oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, led the opposition commenting:
 
There's still 53 of us, and if we stay together we'll win.  I think we're going to prevail.  Even if they don't, they'll still have the backing of the White House, which has already threatened to veto the resolution, should it survive past the Senate floor. It would be ill-advised to threaten the very foundations of innovation in the Internet economy and the democratic spirit that has made the Internet a force for social progress around the world.

III. Wednesday's Fiery Debate

Here's some video coverage of Wednesday's debate, which preceded a vote:

Democratic Perspective (~3 min)
 

Republican perspective (~17 min, but starts off strong)
 


IV. Democrats Emerge Triumphant

Sen. Rockefeller's stand paid off.  The final vote was tallied yesterday and showed all 52 Democrats voting opposing the measure, and all 46 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.  The bill was thus defeated, clearing the way for the FCC's new net neutrality rules to go into effect next week.  

Two senators did not vote -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Senator Dan Inouye (D-Haw.).  It appears that Sen. Inouye was at an event in Washington, D.C. honoring a Japanese veteran of World War II.  It was unclear why John McCain -- who had previously led the charge against net neutrality -- did not vote.

V. Legal Challenges Remain

The rejection of the repeal resolution now leaves the various lawsuits against the rules as the only thing standing in their way.  Interestingly, advocacy groups have also opposed the rules claiming they do not go far enough, and unfairly exempt mobile devices from their provisions.  Several groups have pursued legal action.

The Media Access Project, who had been suing on the grounds of the lax approach to mobile regulation, dropped its legal action after it saw its case assigned to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Policy Director Andrew Jay Schwartzman explained that his organization feared a hostile atmosphere in that particular court would kill the case.  He comments, "The D.C. Circuit Court is a very hostile forum.  [It would be a] very close case."

That leaves The Free Press, who is suing on similar grounds.  Strangely The Free Press's President and CEO Craig Aaron -- leading the suit against the rules -- cheered the Democratic success in block their repeal in the Senate.  He comments, "The Senate sent a strong signal today to would-be gatekeepers that the free and open internet needs to stay that way.  The American public doesn't want phone and cable companies undercutting competition, deciding which websites will work or censoring what people can do online."

Most public advocacy groups lauded the vote, while saying the rules still should be extended farther.  Among them is the American Civil Liberties Union.  In a post entitled "It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!" ACLU Washington, D.C. staffer Sandra Fulton writes:
 
Though the FCC’s rules are not great, they do offer some protections for net neutrality on the wired Internet and overturning them would have been a huge setback for free speech on the web. During debate on the Senate floor yesterday supporters of the resolution railed against government regulation while opponents defended the rules saying they were necessary to maintain the openness and innovation that has allowed the Internet to thrive.

On the other side of the spectrum, there's also a suit from Verizon Wireless, the joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD).  It's hard to understand why Verizon decided to sue the FCC, given that the Commission's proposal closely mirrors that which a Verizon - Google, Inc. (GOOGpact proposed in Aug. 2010.  The rules offer virtually no regulation on mobile internet service providers -- just as Verizon requested.

Verizon's lawsuit will be heard in the Spring or Summer.  In the meantime Verizon could request in court that the rules be suspended pending the outcome of the lawsuit.  The FCC has already taken a preemptive strike, moving to dismiss Verizon's lawsuit on legal technicalities.

The Democratic-majority FCC under the Obama administration has been quite busy.  It is currently in the process of finalizing a spectrum auction, an effort carriers laud but some TV broadcaster loathe.  It's also assisting the U.S. Department of Justice in its case against AT&T, Inc. (T) who is trying to engulf T-Mobile USA -- a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG (ETR:DTE) -- a move which would grant it a virtual monopoly on 3G GSM technology in the U.S.

Sources: Senate, The White House, Engadget, ACLU



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RE: OH GOOD
By Zaranthos on 11/11/2011 10:19:53 AM , Rating: 0
I watched both arguments and the Republicans won the argument in my opinion. Why exactly does my internet need regulation? I've been using the internet for almost 15 years and it's done nothing but gotten faster and cheaper that whole time. Why do I need regulation from the FCC to protect my internet? If it's not broke, don't fix it.


RE: OH GOOD
By room200 on 11/11/2011 10:26:42 AM , Rating: 1
How did they "win". You say 3 minutes of arguments about leaving the internet alone from the democrats, vs. 17 minutes of Kay Baily Hutchison selectively talking about regulations that she doesn't like. There are thousands of reulations that are in place now that keep you from walking around choking with a curved spine while eating poisoned food and drinking polluted water. Regualtions are there for a reason.


RE: OH GOOD
By Zaranthos on 11/11/2011 10:34:38 AM , Rating: 3
The Democrats talked about leaving the internet alone but that's not what is going on. They made new rules to not leave it along and the Republicans want to abolish those rules. The argument is a great big fail when it says one thing and does another.


RE: OH GOOD
By idiot77 on 11/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: OH GOOD
By DFSolley on 11/11/2011 11:17:22 AM , Rating: 2
The first step in controlling something is regulating it. You put the bureaucrats in place and say they are only there to make sure it stays pure and free. And then when you have some idea to control it, the bureacracy is in place and ready to exert control. Instead of the big bureacracy, why dont we just pass laws and let matters be settled in courts?

And it seems that you dont understand "the commons", as it usually resolves to the "tragedy of the commons". There are some socialists that say with the correct rules and rulers, the tragedy wont occur... but it always does in time. Public spaces have always been misused, either by overuse or restricting use (giving preference to those with power).
There are definitly places that should be public, but my computer isnt one of them.


RE: OH GOOD
By Dr of crap on 11/11/2011 12:40:08 PM , Rating: 2
And the above statements are why I posted what I did above them.
Go blow your politics somewhere else please.


RE: OH GOOD
By Nfarce on 11/11/2011 1:33:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Like paying for stuff you don't use? There you go, that's how the internet will be run if the Republicans have their way.


Well, I'm taxed in my local voting district for things I don't use. That means I pay for things like public transportation access, recreational park maintenance, libraries, handicap facilities, and on and on and on. Both Democrats and Republicans are involved with that.

And then I can expand that into the federal level with just one example: by soon having to pay a higher health care premium because Obamacare mandates that health insurance providers must provide birth control free of charge (no copays). In other words, we ALL will be paying for that even if we don't use it. And that's pure Democrat legislation.

Then of course there are wonders of Democrat legislation like the Dodd/Frank bill that caused everyone's banking fees to go up. But, all that's for another rant and another post.


RE: OH GOOD
By shin0bi272 on 11/14/2011 10:51:52 AM , Rating: 3
hey re-re ... libertarians want maximum freedom and minimum government. Learn your political parties before you type.

Also if you think that "the commons" shouldnt be owned tell that to the city you live in who charges you for water... or even better the private company that youre buying bottled water from. You mentioned health care, fire protection, police protection, retirement(really??), and the military in your mindless argument. NONE of these are what you are describing. All of those things are other people's labors and should not be considered an entitlement...which is what you are suggesting by saying these things shouldnt be "owned". I see through your mindless leftist argument and I am not amused.

Your entire argument is not only a fail but its also advocating centralized planning and a huge federal government which is what we know as socialism or communism... and thus you are a moron. Please log off and kill yourself you mindless waste of space.


RE: OH GOOD
By blankslate on 11/15/2011 4:06:02 PM , Rating: 2
The idea of the commons is valid concept. Particularly when it comes to natural resources that everyone needs for survival water and air being the most obvious examples.

Does anyone on this board actually trust a corporation whose sole purpose is to turn a profit to not take short cuts which could contaminate water or air if taking the shortcut would result in higher profits?

Unfortunately, past examples have shown that we cannot. Some government regulation is necessary to ensure that reasonable precautions are taken to prevent pollution of air or water.

As far as this argument about net neutrality goes, it has become apparent again that we cannot trust companies not to slow down or speed up internet traffic in order to give their business partners an advantage or give their competitors a disadvantage.

One of the main reasons for the rapid growth of the internet was the fact its blindness as to where the bits originated and what their destination was.
The internet is not a natural resource but many have come to depend on it for information, entertainment and conducting commerce.

Now to ensure greater profits some media corporations would like to slow down traffic over their parts of the network that originate from a competitor. They might even slow down information from servers that host blogs or stories that are unfavorable to them.

So why should the government have a say in whether or not companies can do this? Everyone knows that the internet has already helped some companies enjoy great profits when they have made the internet a core of their business model.
amazon and newegg come to mind.

It might not have happened as quickly or perhaps not even have begun yet, if certain senators didn't advocate the commercialization of what started as a Defense Agency research project.

If you don't believe me then read what one of the pioneers has to say about it.

http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/v...

I believe that this does mean that if corporations take measures to slow down access to information from sources that they aren't partnered with or are competing with them, then someone has to step in and stop that behavior.
Despite being cast as a mindless ghoul that wants to regulate every thing to the detriment of the very things they are regulating the federal government does have a role in regulating some things because they are the only group who can.
Particularly in the case of ensuring that there is no preference given to information flowing over the network when it was government research and then advocacy by members of the government that gave rise to the internet as we know it today.

If we want to have an influence on those regulations then it is our responsibility to vote for the people who we believe will be wisest when it comes to enacting those regulations.

This includes doing the due diligence in researching a candidates political stance. This is especially true when we hear something from some talking head who has his own agenda that determines what information that he/she is telling you and as importantly what they aren't telling you.
Ironically the internet is a very good means of verifying those things if we're willing to follow the trail to the source documents.

It's a shame that people are ignoring the potential of corporations to inhibit a persons free access to information over the internet because we're afraid of the government.

The average person can vote and thereby have an influence over the government, you can't say the same about corporations unless you have stock in a company and even then you probably don't have enough shares to really have any influence on a corporation.

A knee jerk reaction against net neutrality rules is kind of ignorant when you look at the picture as a whole.

Sure point out the double standards between wired and wireless companies. Criticize the people who are writing the regulation. However, don't just discount net neutrality as something that is needed for the internet allow a free exchange of ideas and knowledge in the future as it has done up to this point.


RE: OH GOOD
By superPC on 11/11/2011 10:28:03 AM , Rating: 4
you know what's the difference in those past 15 years? you don't have video streaming until a few years ago. and you don't have netflix or hulu. that's a big difference. without net neutrality ISP can throttle netflix or hulu and increase speed to their own service that mimic netflix or hulu. that's unfair. that's undemocratic. we need to see the internet like we see power lines. everyone has the same rights to use it and draw power from it without limit (except the power line capability and consumer ability to pay). if new cables need to be laid down so capacity can be maintained for all it has to be done, be it power lines or fiber optic lines.


RE: OH GOOD
By autoboy on 11/11/11, Rating: 0
RE: OH GOOD
By gixser on 11/11/2011 3:53:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There ARE some services that would benefit society if the ISPs could guarantee speeds such as remote medical work using robots.


Don't use a public network for such traffic. There are commercial circuits you can buy that do provide the requisite guarantees.


RE: OH GOOD
By MozeeToby on 11/11/2011 4:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There ARE some services that would benefit society if the ISPs could guarantee speeds such as remote medical work using robots.
Most sane net neutrality plans allow for Quality of Service (aka some services faster than others) so long as it is by the type of service and not by the source or destination. For example, VOIP packets could be given better latency than bulk download packets, so long as all VOIP packets are treated equally. You could have an official use only, best effort, real time protocol which would have the highest priority but not be guaranteed much bandwidth. Bulk transfers can be given whatever bandwidth is left over, but they don't care about latency as much. Etc, etc, etc.

That's not a problem, and long term it's going to be all but required to manage networks as more and more people use high bandwidth (but generally low latency) services. Where problems arise is if your ISP offers it's own VOIP service (or receives kickbacks from some other service) and treats those packets better than they treat packets from Skype or Google Voice. Then Skype and Google get to choose between paying every ISP in the nation for decent service, suing (but without net neutrality they have no explicit legal standing), or throwing in the towel.


RE: OH GOOD
By ekv on 11/12/2011 4:33:06 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Most sane net neutrality plans
Are you remotely implying that this congress has made a sane plan? If only that were true, then there would be pragmatic grounds for compromise. The bickering really does turn me off, but if no-one owns the Internet then really, what that boils down to is, the Gov't owns it. I'd rather a corporation own it. Somebody that CAN be vilified if necessary. As opposed to, say, another Great (fire-) Wall.

Laws currently exist giving Google and Skype plenty of room in court to operate. And I'm sure their lawyers wouldn't want to have to sue every ISP, but then again, lawyers bill by the hour, don't they?


RE: OH GOOD
By Reclaimer77 on 11/11/2011 6:09:22 PM , Rating: 1
Is that even being done though? So because ISP's "can" do something, you want to hand the Internet over to the FCC and create MORE bureaucracy? There has to be a better way.


RE: OH GOOD
By seraphim1982 on 11/11/2011 10:38:30 AM , Rating: 3
Obviously, you haven't seen the prices and quality of service in other countries....


RE: OH GOOD
By Zaranthos on 11/11/2011 10:40:18 AM , Rating: 1
Obviously you don't realize this country is massively larger with much more remote areas?


RE: OH GOOD
By yomamafor1 on 11/11/2011 12:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't know US was larger than Russia, and with more remote spaces.


RE: OH GOOD
By gladiatorua on 11/11/2011 1:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
Russia is not very good example. It has a lot of problems due to its size, poor management and corruption.
US on the other hand has slightly different problem. F*cking government-pushed monopolies. You already have unreasonable prices for internet and wireless communications. Do you want to be screwed even more?
This kind of regulation restricts corporations and not users. Corporations that instead of spending money to upgrade the infrastructure, limit users and rise prices. And without competition they can get away with it.
Do you really want to pay more for less?


RE: OH GOOD
By ekv on 11/12/2011 4:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It has a lot of problems due to its size, poor management and corruption.
And the US doesn't have anything like that. Nothing like Solyndra or Fast-and-Furious here, or is there?

You complain about "government-pushed monopolies" -- which I disagree with you about -- but if Net Neutrality pushes the corporation(s) out of controlling the infrastructure they build and operate, then who's in charge? The gov't. Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.
quote:
And without competition they can get away with it.
We agree on this. My solution however, is less gov't -- though strictly enforcing contractual law, of course. I want more competition. More businesses and corporations in this market will lower costs to consumers and ultimately lead to greater innovation and better products. If you take away incentive to build and operate you will get less competition.


RE: OH GOOD
By shin0bi272 on 11/14/2011 11:01:41 AM , Rating: 2
what they were saying what in reply to someone else who said that government run internet was great in other countries and they gave an example of a country with government run internet that wasnt working.

your argument is about our government corruption in other areas and is thus invalid. You then say that you disagree with them on government pushed monopolies but then admit that if net neutrality passes the government will basically own the internet. You contradict yourself (in very poor english) good sir.

You say you want more competition? Yet you support the government controlling the internet... hypocritesayswhat?

If you dont like the crap your ISP is doing MOVE TO ANOTHER ONE! No it wont be another cable company but there's dsl, satellite, dialup, and even 3g/4g cellphone internet (with an unlimited data plan you have no complaints since 4g is faster than even my cable internet).


RE: OH GOOD
By ekv on 11/14/2011 4:03:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
your argument is about our government corruption in other areas and is thus invalid.
Thank you for your reply. No, my comment about government corruption is more about the tendency for Men to be corrupt. Larger gov't means more Men, or more people if you prefer, and hence the greater likelihood of corruption. That of course does not take into account the kind of people working for the gov't. It could be that a miracle could occur and we would have totally righteous people working for the gov't and thus no corruption. That would be nice. Not likely though and certainly is not the case today.
quote:
You then say that you disagree with them on government pushed monopolies but then admit that if net neutrality passes the government will basically own the internet.
I disagree that we have gov't pushed monopolies. It is an arguable point which is why I only mentioned it in passing. So I think you're missing the main thrust of my argument. The gov't ought not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Hence a gov't pushed monopoly, whether it exists or not, ought not be in the first place. Again, I want more competition.

I am aware that a large corp can dominate to the point of knocking out the competition completely. Case in point, Microsoft. Of course, market forces and bureaucratic inertia seemed to have caught up with Microsoft to the extent that Apple and Google, while not direct rivals per se, offer an ecosystem (as it were) that competes more than effectively with Microsoft. So, in this case, where's the monopoly. Yes, a monopoly may have existed for some time, but again, market forces seem to have made the correction for us. If there were gov't force behind Microsoft, then market forces would have been squashed and/or disallowed. That is what I argue against.
quote:
You contradict yourself (in very poor english) good sir.
I disagree and would point out that "what they were saying what in reply to someone else who said that" is absolutely no better English than anything I've put down, ever. Please lead by example. If you have a specific criticism point it out.
quote:
Yet you support the government controlling the internet
Where did I say this? I don't think I've said anything like that. For starters, it would be against my principles as one who leans towards a small gov't (arch) conservative philosophy. I believe that Net Neutrality, as espoused by the current administration, is bent on ultimately taking over control of the Internet. No that is not tin-foil-hat thinking. It is consistent with how Obama has treated the auto industry, the health-care industry, etc.
quote:
If you dont like the crap your ISP is doing MOVE TO ANOTHER ONE!
We agree!


RE: OH GOOD
By Jeffk464 on 11/11/2011 11:17:14 AM , Rating: 2
"I watched both arguments and the Republicans won the argument in my opinion"

If the Republicans win on this one, we the consumer loose.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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