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      Ugh… terrible arguments.

      For those of us in the US (I’m going to ignore everyone else because I’m unfamiliar with the state of things in other countries) our First Amendment rights protect us from the government making any laws abridging freedom of speech. It’s a restraint on government, not on individuals or corporations. Individuals are free to discriminate based on speech.

      Suppose you write a book, in the book your have some things that I find offensive. I’m free to not read your book or write bad reviews about your book because of my dislike for it. Anything less would be an infringement on my First Amendment rights. Now suppose I’m also a bookseller. My store is small but I sell many books. It’s my shop and I decide what to sell. Since I do not like your book I do not carry it. You may be upset with my decision to not carry your book as it will cause you to sell fewer copies. But it’s my store and I may do as I please. You may think my customers would object to me not carry your book, but most do not as they prefer my store because of the selection of books they I know I carry. It’s part of my competitive advantage against larger book stores. I’m still an individual, and choosing what I sell in my store is my First Amendment right, even though it affects my customers.

      Net Neutrality is an important issue we need to talk about it. But Net Neutrality is not a free speech issue. It’s not. Period.

      Facebook, Google, and Twitter have done far more to manipulate information and censor views they disagree with. Facebook is constantly manipulating our news feeds so we only see a select portion of the posts our friends make. Every month we learn of someone who was banned from Twitter because @Jack and friends decided the users tweets were offensive or hateful. What have ISPs done? Inject a few ads into web pages? Throttle some Netflix? That’s nothing.

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        What have ISPs done?

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          First Amendment rights protect us from the government making any laws abridging freedom of speech. It’s a restraint on government, not on individuals or corporations. Individuals are free to discriminate based on speech.

          The First Amendment is a restraint on government AND any individual or business acting on behalf of the government.

          A private business that has a mutually beneficial commercial arrangement with the government is acting on behalf of the government.

          The federal government aims to provide all universal access to telecommunications and internet services. To this end, the Federal Government created the Universal Service Fund in 1996 to provide telecommunications and internet to all consumers (including schools, libraries, and individuals in rural, low-income, and high-cost regions) at reasonable non-discriminatory prices. This fund is paid for by individual consumers via the “Universal Service Fund” fee/tax on their monthly internet/phone bills. This fee/tax is then distributed from the Federal Government back to the ISPs through Lifeline and other programs.

          In other words, ISPs are collecting a tax on behalf of the government, and then using the funds from that tax to, on behalf of the government, provide a service. One can clearly argue this pulls ISPs under the authority of the First Amendment.

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          Ill add to your excellent list my experience when Comcast et al were talking capped plans versus unlimited. The cap was originally way too small. The bigger problem was the system that counted usage was counting mine when nothing was connected. They were either glitching or forging usage data to attempt to force me into buying unlimited plan.

          That went into the FCC complaint.

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            Comcast says their trackers were accurate…. but many others had similar complaints about wildly inaccurate readings (e.g. 300GB/day), and being offered the unlimited plan in lieu of an outrageous (inaccurate) bill.

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          All of that predates the FCC’s net neutrality regulations of 2015, so presumably all of that would still be resolved as it was prior to 2015.

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            In the 90s and early 00s, internet went over the phone lines which were considered Title II common carriers. Nascent broadband was considered an “information service” with more lax rules.

            In 2005, ISPs argued that DSL should be considered an “information service” like broadband, instead of “common carrier” like phone lines. The FCC reclassified DSL and simultaneously laid out four voluntary principles of net neutrality.

            That gets us to the hypothetical you’re talking about:

            presumably all of that would still be resolved as it was prior to 2015

            From 2005-2010, the FCC attempted to enforce net neutrality on the ISPs, which were classified as “information services”.

            Comcast had a drawn-out legal battle over suppressing the Bittorrent protocol, and in 2008 the FCC ruled that Comcast had illegally inhibited Bittorrent activity. Comcast appealed the decision, and the court of appeals struck down the FCC’s ruling, arguing that the rules of net neutrality were not formal enough.

            In 2010, the FCC formalized net neutrality by creating the Open Internet Order of 2010. This was immediately challenged by the ISPs, and Verizon filed suit in 2011. In 2014, the courts ruled in favor of Verizon, stating that the OIO rules could only be applied to Title II common carriers. So the FCC did the next logical step and reclassified broadband ISPs as Title II common carriers in 2015.

            Now Ajit Pai is rolling that back, reclassifying broadband as an information service and completely nullifying any guarantees of net neutrality.

            We can’t just go back to the way things were in 2005, because of the legal precedents which have occurred since then. Since 2014, the FCC cannot enforce net neutrality unless ISPs are considered common carriers.

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            Yes exactly. This all happened before FCC’s “Title II” vote in 2015, making it an example of what ISPs do without net neutrality.

            (Perhaps I misunderstand your comment?)

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        What have ISPs done? Inject a few ads into web pages? Throttle some Netflix? That’s nothing.

        Only because they haven’t been able to get away with much until now.

        The thing is, I don’t want ISPs to be like a bookstore, with editorial discretion over what they allow you to connect to. ISPs ought to be dumb pipes. Especially with so little competition in a given region.

        I do agree that mega-websites have more power than ISPs, and I’m all ears if you have suggestions on how to address that. But it doesn’t mean we should relent on net neutrality.

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          I don’t think anybody is disagreeing that net neutrality is incredibly important. But it’s not a First Amendment issue. First Amendment-wise, ISPs are completely free to provide access to any selection of content they want.

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        The book store is a good place to start thinking about this issue, as you’re absolutely right when talking about a small shop like that (because there are many other small shops), but that’s not what these ISPs are. These ISPs are giant mega-corporations whose customers number not in the hundreds but in the millions, whose customers often only have one ISP to choose from, and whose actions affect billions. The larger their influence, the greater the damage from them censoring speech, and the more government-like they become.

        If you think killing free speech online is going to help your Facebook, Google and Twitter problems (and not make them 10 times worse), well, you are welcome to kill it and see what happens.

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          You don’t foster competition with mega corporations by making the market harder to compete in. You foster competition by lowering the barrier to entry in the market. Primarily by reducing regulations since the overhead of complying with regulation disproportionately effects smaller businesses. With reduced regulations startups can easily differentiate themselves from the big players by offering novel services the big players don’t. Think about how cell phone plans have improved over the years. Data is cheaper than ever, even though it’s much more difficult to deliver data to mobile devices than homes. Carriers are free to differentiate their offerings by pitching things such as free data for music streaming from online services. It’s a net plus for the consumer.

          I don’t like mega-corporations anymore than anyone else, but don’t forget Facebook, Google, and Twitter support Net Neutraility, and they control more of what we see online than any ISPs:

          Largest ISPs by number of customers:

          • Comcast: 25 million
          • Charter: 23 million
          • AT&T: 15 million

          Web services by monthly US users:

          • Facebook: 214 million
          • Google: Wasn’t able to find stats online, Most likely higher than FB
          • Twitter: 69 million

          Now of course each ISP customer represents probably 3-4 users. Even with that factored in FB, Google, and Twitter still have more influence than the top three ISPs. And that’s excluding others like YouTube and Yahoo.

          If you think killing free speech online is going to help your Facebook, Google and Twitter problems (and not make them 10 times worse), well, you are welcome to kill it and see what happens.

          It doesn’t sound like you want to have an honest discussion about this important issue. I’m not going to be responding to any more comments on this thread. Good day.


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            Data is cheaper than ever, even though it’s much more difficult to delivery data to mobile devices than homes.

            Is it, though? Last-mile wire installation is notoriously problematic. In contrast a wireless tower can cover a large area.

            I’m very excited for satellite internet. Should only be a few more years until it’s widely available…

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              Satellite internet access has been sporadically available for decades. It’s super expensive to deploy or repair (hah!) the equipment. Lots of money burned up so far. The latency is awful, and there’s not much to do about it unless you can change the speed of light. Only makes sense in remote areas with low population density. Even there, you’re better off with point-to-point long-distance wifi.

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                Yeah the latency with geosynchronous satellites is pretty awful. What I’m looking forward to is low-earth-orbit satellite internet by OneWeb and SpaceX. “OneWeb’s 50Mbps Internet with 30ms latency could hit remotest areas by 2019.”

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      It’s a property rights issue, not a speech issue. The Tier 1-3 ISP’s built the pipes with their money as private companies. They will claim the right to do whatever they want with them. Then, we put regulations in place saying that private property is too important to let them do just anything. That’s gone back and forth with a subversion happening recently where a person representing their interests was put in the place that’s supposed to represent ours (in theory). He’s making sure the ISP’s get what they want. At this point, citizens are supposed to defend themselves with market choices if possible (mostly not), votes, courts, and lethal force as last resort. Most citizens aren’t going to do anything. So, subversion will work until next set of politicians comes in at the least who can reign in or replace the guy. However, both state and federal Congress takes a lot of bribes from telecom industry.

      See how I directly talk about it as what it is from private property to regulations for public benefit to bribery of politicians? That’s how we should talk about it instead of legal theories that have nothing to do with what’s actually going on. What’s actually going on is simple: an oligopoly cartel that makes billions and wants more billions bribed politicians to get those extra billions while few people tried to do anything about it. The end. Drumming that into the public’s skulls along with what they lose in such situations, esp good service and cheap Internet.

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        It’s a property rights issue, not a speech issue.

        It is (also) a freedom of speech issue.

        But considering the “private property” argument…

        The Tier 1-3 ISP’s built the pipes with their money as private companies. They will claim the right to do whatever they want with them.

        Regardless of whose money* they used to build the pipes, the property rights of private companies can and have been regulated to protect consumers.

        Private individuals and companies built the railroads, and claimed the right to do whatever they wanted with them. Railroads quickly became a primary form of transportation.

        The lack of competition allowed them to abuse their power and charge prices that discriminated against smaller businesses. There was public outcry, which resulted in various state laws, which SCOTUS declared unconstitutional under the commerce clause.

        Then, in 1887, Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act, which made price discrimination illegal and required railroads to publish rates. In 1980, once the railways finally had competition again (the trucking industry and the interstate highway system) Congress passed the Staggers Rail Act, which significantly deregulated the railroad industry. It allowed rail carriers the freedom to establish rates for their services except in cases where there was no rail competition, and to establish contracts without federal review unless it affected their ability to provide common carrier service.

        Likewise, ISPs can and should be regulated to protect consumers, at least and until there is significant competition again for information transport and telecommunications (e.g. mesh networks and transporters).

        * Taxpayers certainly foot part of the bill. For example:

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          First, you’re talking to a pro-net neutrality person whose taken regulatory action against ISP’s. You don’t need to convince me. I will add the links to my collection, though. :)

          Next, that they’ve taken money doesn’t automatically connect their behavior to what government’s is. If anything, you might be really stretching some grey areas of law like they’re black and white. Especially with your link being to a government agency established for a specific purpose instead of a for-profit, publicly-traded corporation operating under entirely different laws and expectations. There’s private parties taking subsidies or tax benefits from the government all the time with them otherwise still expected to act like private parties. They might be expected to do specific things in exchange for that. For instance, rolling out Internet in to groups in areas that don’t have it. They don’t have to do anything past those promises. It’s why I’m against handing out tax dollars to dirty companies to do things for public benefit when I know they might sabotage them in short or long term. Non-profits or cooperatives with carefully-written charters were always better for that.

          With that background, it’s still a property rights issue unless a law passes that equates how ISP’s manage their fiber with government protections on free speech. Personally, I’d like to see some equivalence passed for at least what consumers do on what pipes they pay for since those activities can be extensions of free speech. Heads of Google or Facebook teamed up with a political party to manipulate their users’ perceptions in specific ways plus cut off dissidents could do far more damage to free discourse than a government official.

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        a person representing their interests

        I don’t suppose you mean this guy? He has a lot more visible cartel credibility (in terms of his background) than the current FCC chief.

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          We thought that but he flipped on them. He did good. Current one, who is ex-Verizon IIRC, is trying to roll his stuff back.

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      Your speech isn’t banned, it’s just impeded past reasonable bounds. You’re free to set up your own ISP and deliver your web sites on it, but you’re not going to. It’s like newspapers’ Letters to the Editor. “You didn’t print my letter! You are preventing my speech!” “Well, a) we don’t care, and b) you can just setup your own newspaper and print what you want.” You could go out and buy a printing press and make a zine and distribute it as far as you can, but you probably won’t.

      I get the spirit of what the author is saying, but I don’t think it’s going to fly unless you believe internet access is a utility, rather than a medium. I think the majority of the public do see it as a utility, and being told how you should use your electricity is something we wouldn’t tolerate. But I think Pai and his cronies have convinced the old men on the Hill – that don’t care because they have their interns print out all their email anyway – that it’s a medium, and just like cable can choose channels, ISPs can choose web sites.

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        You’re free to set up your own ISP and deliver your web sites on it, but you’re not going to

        This just isn’t true.

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      So, Jeffery Tucker may indeed be the sort of zealot who can blithely reduce all human values to the relative pricing of goods and services. He may even be wrong. But this little rant does a lousy job of presenting a counter-argument. If there’s ever really any evidence that ISPs are conspiring to censor or manipulate traffic content, won’t we just see increased consumer VPN use? And if they’re not conspiring, wouldn’t competition work against any individual would-be ISP censor? What exactly do we suppose they stand to gain by doing that, anyway?

      If we want to get upset about censorship and manipulation, we should be talking about Facebook and Google, not Comcast and Verizon. In my world anyway, what sucks about the latter pair (both before and after 2015) is their shitty service, bandwidth caps, and too-high prices.

      I probably shouldn’t fan the flames… but here are a couple of counter-counter-argument pieces I find much more convincing, despite their tinge of economic absolutism:

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        I agree that platform providers are more directly interfering with speech. (e.g., Google’s Content ID system interferes with fair use on YouTube.)

        However, we do have evidence of ISPs manipulating traffic in favor of their own preferred content and services, cf. https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history

        From the perspective of the FCC, Net Neutrality is about classifying ISPs as common carriers. Currently, ISPs like Comcast provide a bundle of services and Title II prevents them from giving priority to, say, their own video-on-demand service over Netflix.

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        And if they’re not conspiring, wouldn’t competition work against any individual would-be ISP censor?

        There is hardly competition. If you have two choices, consider yourself lucky because as of June 2015, only 24% had two broadband ISPs. As of June 2016, FCC reports showed three-quarters of the US still lacked high-speed broadband choice.

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        we should be talking about Facebook and Google

        Huh, I never considered that angle. They do control the content we see in a much more obvious way.

        Also, this article tries to ignore the cost of providing the internet and make it on principle. An article with cold hard numbers (not airy ideals) is an interview with Ajit Pai at http://reason.com/blog/2017/11/21/ajit-pai-net-neutrality-podcast

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          Those whose sensibilities are offended by “airy ideals” are welcome to dive down into the nitty gritty of why Ajit Pai is basically one of the most dishonest people there is in this “debate”.

          Here are a few links to support that statement:

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          ignore the cost of providing the internet

          U-Haul charges you $n/day, which covers the cost of providing the truck. U-Haul doesn’t charge you more if you fill the truck with your massive MGM DVD collection than if you fill it with furniture. Once you pay for your 402 cubic feet, the capacity is yours to use as you please.

          ISPs charge you to access the internet, which covers their cost of providing the internet. ISPs charge Netflix to access the internet, which also covers their cost of providing the internet. Once you and Netflix pay for your GBs, the capacity should be yours to use as you please.

          However, the ISPs decided they wanted to charge Netflix for your wanting to access Netflix on the internet which you and Netflix had already paid for. Netflix didn’t want to, so ISPs blocked/throttled access to Netflix… until Netflix paid to stop the bleeding. Net Neutrality stops that bullshit.