Net neutrality

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Net neutrality
(also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier.[1][2][3][4]
Examples of net neutrality violations include when the Internet service provider Comcast intentionally slowed peer-to-peercommunications.[5] In 2007, one other company was using deep packet inspection to discriminate against peer-to-peer, file transfer protocol, and online games, instituting a cell-phone-style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom value-added services, and bundling.[6]

§Definition and related principles[edit]

§Net neutrality[edit]

Network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.[7] According to Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, the best way to explain network neutrality is as a principle to be used when designing a network: that a public information network will end up being most useful if all content, sites, and platforms are treated equally.[8] A more detailed proposed definition of technical and service network neutrality suggests that service network neutrality is the adherence to the paradigm that operation of a service at a certain layer is not influenced by any data other than the data interpreted at that layer, and in accordance with the protocol specification for that layer.[9]

§Open Internet[edit]

The idea of an open Internet is the idea that the full resources of the Internet and means to operate on it are easily accessible to all individuals and companies. This often includes ideas such as net neutrality, open standards, transparency, lack of Internet censorship, and low barriers to entry. The concept of the open Internet is sometimes expressed as an expectation of decentralized technological power, and is seen by some as closely related to open-source software.[10]

Proponents often see net neutrality as an important component of an open Internet, where policies such as equal treatment of data and open web standards allow those on the Internet to easily communicate and conduct business without interference from a third party.[11] A closed Internet refers to the opposite situation, in which established persons, corporations or governments favor certain uses. A closed Internet may have restricted access to necessary web standards, artificially degrade some services, or explicitly filter out content.

§Dumb pipe[edit]

Main article: Dumb pipe

The concept of a dumb network made up of dumb pipes has been around since at least the early 1990s. The idea of a dumb network is that the endpoints of a network are generally where the intelligence lies, and that the network itself generally leaves the management and operation of communication to the end users. In 2013 the software company MetroTech Net, Inc. (MTN) coined the term Dumb Wave which is the modern application of the Dumb Pipe concept to the ubiquitous wireless network. If wireless carriers do not provide unique and value-added services, they will be relegated to the dumb pipe category where they can’t charge a premium or retain customers.

§End-to-end principle[edit]

Main article: End-to-end principle

The end-to-end principle is a principle of network design, first laid out explicitly in the 1981 conference paper End-to-end arguments in system design by Jerome H. Saltzer,David P. Reed, and David D. Clark. The principle states that, whenever possible, communications protocol operations should be defined to occur at the end-points of a communications system, or as close as possible to the resource being controlled. According to the end-to-end principle, protocol features are only justified in the lower layers of a system if they are a performance optimization; hence, TCP retransmission for reliability is still justified, but efforts to improve TCP reliability should stop after peak performance has been reached. They argued that reliable systems tend to require end-to-end processing to operate correctly, in addition to any processing in the intermediate system. They pointed out that most features in the lowest level of a communications system have costs for all higher-layer clients, even if those clients do not need the features, and are redundant if the clients have to re-implement the features on an end-to-end basis. This leads to the model of a minimal dumb network with smart terminals, a completely different model from the previous paradigm of the smart network with dumb terminals. Because the end-to-end principle is one of the central design principles of the Internet, and because the practical means for implementing data discrimination violate the end-to-end principle, the principle often enters discussions about net neutrality. The end-to-end principle is closely related, and sometimes seen as a direct precursor to the principle of net neutrality.[12]

§Traffic shaping[edit]

Main article: Traffic shaping

Traffic shaping is the control of computer network traffic in order to optimize or guarantee performance, improve latency, and/or increase usable bandwidth by delaying packetsthat meet certain criteria.[13] More specifically, traffic shaping is any action on a set of packets (often called a stream or a flow) which imposes additional delay on those packets such that they conform to some predetermined constraint (a contract or traffic profile).[14] Traffic shaping provides a means to control the volume of traffic being sent into anetwork in a specified period (bandwidth throttling), or the maximum rate at which the traffic is sent (rate limiting), or more complex criteria such as GCRA.

§Over-provisioning[edit]

If the core of a network has more bandwidth than is permitted to enter at the edges, then good QoS can be obtained without policing. For example the telephone network employs admission control to limit user demand on the network core by refusing to create a circuit for the requested connection. Over-provisioning is a form of statistical multiplexing that makes liberal estimates of peak user demand. Over-provisioning is used in private networks such as WebEx and the Internet 2 Abilene Network, an American university network. David Isenberg believes that continued over-provisioning will always provide more capacity for less expense than QoS and deep packet inspectiontechnologies.[15][16]

§By issue[edit]

§Discrimination by protocol[edit]

Favoring or blocking information based on the communications protocol that the computers are using to communicate.

On 1 August 2008, the FCC formally voted 3-to-2 to uphold a complaint against Comcast, the largest cable company in the United States, ruling that it had illegally inhibited users of its high-speed Internet service from using file-sharing software. FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin said that the order was meant to set a precedent that Internet providers, and indeed all communications companies, could not prevent customers from using their networks the way they see fit unless there is a good reason. In an interview, Martin said, “We are preserving the open character of the Internet”. The legal complaint against Comcast related to BitTorrent, a transfer protocol that is especially apt at distributing large files such as video, music, and software on the Internet.[17] Comcast admitted no wrongdoing[18] in its proposed settlement of up to US$16 dollars per share in December 2009.[19] However, U.S. appeals court ruled in April 2010 that the FCC exceeded its authority when it sanctioned Comcast in 2008 for deliberately preventing some subscribers from using peer-to-peer file-sharing services to download large files. However, the FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard responded, “the court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet, nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.”[20] In spite of the ruling in favor of Comcast, a study by Measurement Lab in October 2011 verified that Comcast had virtually stopped its BitTorrent throttling practices.[21][22]

§Discrimination by IP address[edit]

During the early decades of the Internet, creating a non-neutral Internet was technically infeasible.[23] Originally developed to filter malware, the Internet security companyNetScreen Technologies released network firewalls in 2003 with so called deep packet inspection. Deep inspection helped make real-time discrimination between different kinds of data possible,[24] and is often used for Internet censorship.

In a practice called zero-rating, companies will reimburse data use from certain addresses, favoring use of those services. Examples include Facebook Zero[25] and Google Free Zone, and are especially common in the developing world.[26]

Sometimes ISPs will charge some companies, but not others, for the traffic they cause on the ISP’s network. French telecoms operator Orange, complaining that traffic from YouTube and other Google sites consists of roughly 50% of total traffic on the Orange network, reached a deal with Google, in which they charge Google for the traffic incurred on the Orange network.[27] Some also thought that Orange’s rival ISP Free throttled YouTube traffic. However, an investigation done by the French telecommunications regulatory body revealed that the network was simply congested during peak hours.[28]

§Favoring private networks[edit]

Favoring communications sent over the private networks run by individual organizations over information sent over the general Internet Protocol. Examples include Comcast’s deal with Microsoft.[29]

§Peering discrimination[edit]

See also: Peering

There is some disagreement about whether peering is a net neutrality issue.[30]

In the first quarter of 2014, streaming website Netflix reached an arrangement with ISP Comcast to improve the quality of its service to Netflix clients.[31] This arrangement was made in response to increasingly slow connection speeds through Comcast over the course of the 2013, where average speeds dropped by over 25% of their values a year before to an all time low. After the deal was struck in January 2014, the Netflix speed index recorded a 66% increase in connection.

Netflix agreed to a similar deal with Verizon in 2014 after Verizon DSL customers connection speed dropped to less than 1 Mbit/s early in the year. Netflix spoke out against this deal with a controversial statement delivered to all Verizon customers experiencing low connection speeds using the Netflix client.[32] This sparked an internal debate between the two companies that led to Verizon obtaining a cease and desist order on June 5, 2014 that forced Netflix to stop displaying this message.

§Legal aspects[edit]

Main article: Net neutrality law

Legal enforcement of net neutrality principles takes a variety of forms, from provisions that outlaw anti-competitive blocking and throttling of Internet services, all the way to legal enforcement that prevents companies from subsidizing Internet use on particular sites.

§Debate in the United States[edit]

There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law in the United States. Debate over the issue of net neutrality predates the coining of the term. Advocates of net neutrality such as Lawrence Lessig have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, and protocols), and even to block out competitors.[33] On the contrary, opponents claim net neutrality regulations would deter investment into improving broadband infrastructure and try to fix something that isn’t broken.[34][35]

Net neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise noncompetitive services.[36] Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important for the preservation of current internet freedoms; a lack of net neutrality would allow Internet service providers, such as Comcast, to extract payment from content providers like Netflix, and these charges would ultimately be passed on to consumers.[37][38] Prominent supporters of net neutrality include Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web, law professor Tim Wu, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Tumblr founder David Karp, and Last Week Tonight host John Oliver.[39][40][41][42] Organizations and companies that support net neutrality include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace, Tumblr, Kickstarter, Vimeo, Wikia, Mozilla Foundation, and others.[36][43][44][45]

Net neutrality opponents from the likes of IBM, Intel, Juniper, Qualcomm, and Cisco claim that net neutrality would deter investment into broadband infrastructure, saying that “shifting to Title II means that instead of billions of broadband investment driving other sectors of the economy forward, any reduction in this spending will stifle growth across the entire economy. Title II is going to lead to a slowdown, if not a hold, in broadband build out, because if you don’t know that you can recover on your investment, you won’t make it.” [34][46] Others argue that the regulation is “a solution that won’t work to a problem that simply doesn’t exist”.[47] Prominent opponents also include Netscape founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol Bob Kahn, PayPal founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel, MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, Internet engineer and former Chief Technologist for the FCC David Farber, VOIP pioneer Jeff Pulver and Nobel Prize economist Gary Becker.[48][49][50][51][52][53]Organizations and companies that oppose net neutrality regulations include several major technology hardware companies, cable and telecommunications companies, hundreds of small internet service providers, various think tanks, several civil rights groups, and others.[34][54][55][56][57]

Critics of net neutrality argue that data discrimination is desirable for reasons like guaranteeing quality of service. Bob Kahn, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, called the term net neutrality a slogan and opposes establishing it, but he admits that he is against the fragmentation of the net whenever this becomes excluding to other participants.[48] Vint Cerf, Kahn’s co-founder of the Internet Protocol, explains the confusion over their positions on net neutrality, “There’s also some argument that says, well you have to treat every packet the same. That’s not what any of us said. Or you can’t charge more for more usage. We didn’t say that either.”[58]

§FCC ruling[edit]

On 31 January 2015, AP News reported the FCC will present the notion of applying (“with some caveats”) Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the Internet in a vote expected on February 26, 2015.[59][60][61][62][63] Adoption of this notion would reclassify Internet service from one of information to one of telecommunications[64]and, according to Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, ensure net neutrality.[65][66] The FCC said that it would not let the public see its 332 page net neutrality plan until after the vote on its implementation as per long established FCC policy.[67] The FCC was expected to enforce net neutrality in its vote, according to the New York Times.[68][69]

On February 26, 2015, the United States FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunications service and thus applying Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to Internet service providers.[70][71][72][73][74] The FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, commented, “This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept.”[75]

§Related issues[edit]

§Data discrimination[edit]

Main article: Data discrimination

Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims that the current Internet is not neutral as its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time-sensitive traffic over real-time communications.[162] Generally, a network which blocks some nodes or services for the customers of the network would normally be expected to be less useful to the customers than one that did not. Therefore, for a network to remain significantly non-neutral requires either that the customers not be concerned about the particular non-neutralities or the customers not have any meaningful choice of providers, otherwise they would presumably switch to another provider with fewer restrictions.[citation needed]

While the network neutrality debate continues, network providers often enter into peering arrangements among themselves. These agreements often stipulate how certain information flows should be treated. In addition, network providers often implement various policies such as blocking of port 25 to prevent insecure systems from serving as spam relays, or other ports commonly used by decentralized music search applications implementing peer-to-peer networking models. They also present terms of service that often include rules about the use of certain applications as part of their contracts with users.[citation needed]

Most consumer Internet providers implement policies like these. The MIT Mantid Port Blocking Measurement Project is a measurement effort to characterize Internet port blocking and potentially discriminatory practices. However, the effect of peering arrangements among network providers are only local to the peers that enter into the arrangements, and cannot affect traffic flow outside their scope.[citation needed]

Jon Peha from Carnegie Mellon University believes it is important to create policies that protect users from harmful traffic discrimination, while allowing beneficial discrimination. Peha discusses the technologies that enable traffic discrimination, examples of different types of discrimination, and potential impacts of regulation.[163]

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt aligns Google’s views on data discrimination with Verizon’s: “I want to be clear what we mean by Net neutrality: What we mean is if you have one data type like video, you don’t discriminate against one person’s video in favor of another. But it’s okay to discriminate across different types. So you could prioritize voice over video. And there is general agreement with Verizon and Google on that issue.”[164]

Echoing similar comments by Schmidt, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist and “father of the internet”, Vint Cerf, says that “it’s entirely possible that some applications needs far more latency, like games. Other applications need broadband streaming capability in order to deliver real-time video. Others don’t really care as long as they can get the bits there, like e-mail or file transfers and things like that. But it should not be the case that the supplier of the access to the network mediates this on a competitive basis, but you may still have different kinds of service depending on what the requirements are for the different applications.”[58]

§Quality of service[edit]

Main article: Quality of service

Internet routers forward packets according to the diverse peering and transport agreements that exist between network operators. Many networks using Internet protocols now employ quality of service (QoS), and Network Service Providers frequently enter into Service Level Agreements with each other embracing some sort of QoS.

There is no single, uniform method of interconnecting networks using IP, and not all networks that use IP are part of the Internet. IPTV networks are isolated from the Internet, and are therefore not covered by network neutrality agreements.

The IP datagram includes a 3-bit wide Precedence field and a larger DiffServ Code Point that are used to request a level of service, consistent with the notion that protocols in a layered architecture offer services through Service Access Points. This field is sometimes ignored, especially if it requests a level of service outside the originating network’s contract with the receiving network. It is commonly used in private networks, especially those including Wi-Fi networks where priority is enforced. While there are several ways of communicating service levels across Internet connections, such as SIP, RSVP, IEEE 802.11e, and MPLS, the most common scheme combines SIP and DSCP. Router manufacturers now sell routers that have logic enabling them to route traffic for various Classes of Service at “wire-speed”.

With the emergence of multimedia, VoIP, IPTV, and other applications that benefit from low latency, various attempts to address the inability of some private networks to limit latency have arisen, including the proposition of offering tiered service levels that would shape Internet transmissions at the network layer based on application type. These efforts are ongoing, and are starting to yield results as wholesale Internet transport providers begin to amend service agreements to include service levels.[165]

Advocates of net neutrality have proposed several methods to implement a net neutral Internet that includes a notion of quality-of-service:

  • An approach offered by Tim Berners-Lee allows discrimination between different tiers, while enforcing strict neutrality of data sent at each tier: “If I pay to connect to the Net with a given quality of service, and you pay to connect to the net with the same or higher quality of service, then you and I can communicate across the net, with that quality and quantity of service”.[3] “[We] each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me.”[166]
  • United States lawmakers have introduced bills that would now allow quality of service discrimination for certain services as long as no special fee is charged for higher-quality service.[167]

Founder of Epic Privacy Browser, Alok Bhardwaj, has argued that net neutrality preservation through legislation is consistent with implementing quality of service protocols. He argues legislation should ban the charging of fees for any quality of service, which would both allow networks to implement quality of service as well as remove any incentive to abuse net neutrality ideas. He argues that since implementing quality of service doesn’t require any additional costs versus a non-QoS network, there’s no reason implementing quality of service should entail any additional fees.[106] However, the core network hardware needed (with large number of queues, etc.) and the cost of designing and maintaining a QoS network are both much higher than for a non-QoS network.[citation needed]

§Pricing models[edit]

Broadband Internet access has most often been sold to users based on Excess Information Rate or maximum available bandwidth. If Internet service providers (ISPs) can provide varying levels of service to websites at various prices, this may be a way to manage the costs of unused capacity by selling surplus bandwidth (or “leverage price discrimination to recoup costs of ‘consumer surplus‘”). However, purchasers of connectivity on the basis of Committed Information Rate or guaranteed bandwidth capacity must expect the capacity they purchase in order to meet their communications requirements.

Various studies have sought to provide network providers the necessary formulas for adequately pricing such a tiered service for their customer base. But while network neutrality is primarily focused on protocol based provisioning, most of the pricing models are based on bandwidth restrictions.[168]

§Privacy concerns[edit]

Some proponents of net neutrality legislation point to concerns of privacy rights that could come about as a result, how those infringements of privacy can be exploited. While some believe it is hyperbole to suggest that ISPs will just transparently monitor transmitted content, or that ISPs will have to alter their content, there is the concern that ISPs may have profit motives to analyze what their subscribers are viewing, and be able to use such information to their financial advantage. For example, an ISP may be able to essentially replicate the “targeting” that has already been employed by companies like Google. To critics such as David Clark, a senior research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the proper question is “who has the right to observe everything you do”?[169]

§Framing of debate[edit]

Former Washington Post columnist, Jeffrey Birnbaum, called the debate “vague and misleading” in 2006.[170]

Guess Who’s Winning the Money Battle in the War on Net Neutrality

Guess Who's Winning the Money Battle in the War on Net Neutrality

Who’s spending the most to win the hearts and minds of Congress in the war on net neutrality? Verizon and AT&T, of course. Followed by—guess who?—Comcast. In other words, the companies that stand to lose money if the internet remains free and open are trying to shut it down.

The Sunlight Foundation recently published a series of graphics showing lobbyist spending from companies that support and oppose net neutrality. From 2003 to 2013, anti-net neutrality groups issued nearly three times as many lobbying reports mentioning net neutrality as those that support it, like AOL, Google, and Microsoft. Verizon and AT&T alone each issued 119 reports, while Google issued less than 25. None of this is surprising, though, because big telecom companies were spending millions on lobbying before companies like Google even employed lobbyists.

Guess Who's Winning the Money Battle in the War on Net Neutrality

It’s difficult to boil this all down into a dollar amount, though. While the Sunlight Foundation breaks out these companies’ total spending on lobbying to reveal that anti-net neutrality groups out spend pro-net neutrality groups by a five-to-one ratio, that graph fails to recognize that all of these companies hire lobbyists to do more than fight for or against net neutrality. The sharp increase in total spending from anti-net neutrality groups is, nevertheless, undeniable.

Guess Who's Winning the Money Battle in the War on Net Neutrality

This is only the beginning. Now that the FCC has pushed forward with a horrible set of proposed net neutrality rules that would allow internet fast lanes for those who paid for them, we’re going to hear more and more about how the war for a free and open the internet hinges upon a battle over profit margins. Companies like Verizon and AT&T stand to make more money if the FCC turns its proposed rules into policy, while startups that can’t even afford lobbyists in the first place stand to lose out.

But hey, why wouldn’t the FCC bend to big telecom interests? After all, high-paying jobs with big telecom companies are a popular destination for outgoing commissioners. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler himself is a former big telecom lobbyist. The elected officials on Capitol Hill can’t be bought and sold so directly (we hope) so it’s only natural that big telecom would shovel tens of millions of lobbyist dollars in their direction. We must just look like a bunch of idiots for letting them.

Net Neutrality: What it Really Means, and How it Could Impact You

Lily Dane
The Daily Sheeple

When I first heard people talking about Obama’s attempt to push the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “keep the internet free and open” I thought, well, that sounds good to me. Last Monday, in his plea for the implementation of rules for net neutrality, Obama used terms like “fairness” and “freedom”. He expressed the need for more government control to ensure equal Internet access for everyone.
Net neutrality. That sounds like a friendly term, like something we all would WANT, right?net neutrality comic 3

And he said that abandoning the principles of net neutrality “would threaten to end the Internet as we know it.”

But, as with everything else that interests me, I had to research it for myself. Whenever a politician (especially one who aggressively forces things like Obamacare) pushes for something, I think it is natural to have some level of skepticism.

So, for the last week, I have been heavily researching this so-called “net neutrality” to find out what it is all about, and why so many support it.

In reality, “net neutrality” is as confusing as its name.

There are two pieces to this that need to be identified and explained before we go further. One is the term “net neutrality”and other is Title II regulation.

What IS net neutrality?

Here’s what Obama wants to you think it is:

“Net neutrality” has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

Obama wants the FCC to “create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online.” (Could it be that this is a way for the GOVERNMENT to restrict what we can do or see online? Read on to find out.)

Here are the rules he is recommending:

  • No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
  • No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
  • Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
  • No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.

How does Obama want the FCC to do all of this?

His explanation, in his own words:

So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies.

The “other vital services” Obama is referring to are public utilities like water and electricity. In other words, he wants the internet to be regulated the same way.

All of that makes it sound like Obama is looking out for American citizens, doesn’t it?

Let’s investigate.

Back in June, Tom Woods talked to Berin Szoka about net neutrality and what it means.

Szoka is the president and founder of TechFreedom, a non-profit technology think tank in Washington, DC. Before founding TechFreedom, Berin was a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Center for Internet Freedom at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, and previously practiced Internet & communications law.

Please visit TechFreedom’s net neutrality myth-busting website Don’t Break the Net for a more detailed explanation of Title II and what reclassifying the internet would mean for consumers.

Here is Szoka’s interview with Woods.

Last week, the Cato Institute spoke with Szoka:

Is Obama exploiting the confusion over net neutrality in an attempt to push draconian Title II regulation – and, ultimately, more taxes – upon citizens?

It sure seems that way.

He is misrepresenting what “net neutrality” actually is and what Title II regulations would actually do.

From TechFreedom’s November 10 media statement titled Obama Cynically Exploits Confusion over Title II, Misses Opportunity to Lead on Legislative Deal:

This morning, President Obama called on the FCC to “reclassify” broadband under Title II of the Communications Act so it can ban all paid prioritization. TechFreedom President Berin Szoka responded as follows:

Title II means the very opposite of net neutrality. Even under Title II, the FCC can’t legally ban all paid prioritization — only regulate it to make sure that prices are just and reasonable. In fact, Title II would authorize broadband providers to charge some price to content and service providers for carrying their traffic to users — and there’s no precedent for the FCC from “forbearing” from this requirement in a market that it claims is a “terminating access monopoly.” Title II would raise a host of other problems, including choking broadband competition, inviting regulation of the rest of the Internet and validating Russia and China’s push to have the International Telecommunications Union regulate the Internet as a telecom service.

Obama’s statement is simply a cynical political ploy, a way of playing to activists on the radical Left who have built mailing lists and a political movement on the most absolutist conception of net neutrality. Forbearance, the process by which many claim the FCC could make Title II palatable, will only be politicized even further by Obama’s inflammatory rhetoric.

This is simply the opening salvo of the legislative fight over net neutrality that has been brewing for nearly a decade. No-blocking and transparency rules are uncontroversial: back in 2006, 215 House Republicans voted for them as part of badly-overdue update to the Communications Act. The debate has always been about two questions. First, how to craft a non-discrimination rule that bans anti-competitive behavior — but doesn’t ultimately harm consumers? That means policing paid prioritization under flexible rules, not banning it. Second, how to prevent net neutrality from leading to larger regulation of the Internet? That means barring Title II, clarifying that Section 706 isn’t a grant of authority, and giving the FCC narrow authority to deal with truly harmful broadband practices.

A legislative deal is possible, but both the President and Congressional Republicans would have to get beyond soundbites and start talking substance.President Obama’s bizarre insistence that four million Americans supported Title II, when nearly a quarter of the comments filed with the FCC actually opposed Title II, doesn’t augur well for the negotiating process. A more pragmatic president would have used this opportunity to work with Republicans and the dozens of Congressional Democrats who’ve opposed Title II on a legislative deal — the way that Clinton and Gingrich resolved welfare reform and the key debates of their day.

If FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler does what Obama wants him to do, the repercussions to Americans will be quite unpleasant.

If broadband is reclassified as a Title II public utility, the FCC will soon start taxing it – at an estimated $87/year per broadband household.

And then, there’s this:

On September 18, 2014, President Obama signed House Joint Resolution 124, which includes provisions
extending the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) through December 11. The Act was previously scheduled
to expire November 1, 2014, and the extension gives Congress a chance to consider the ITFA’s long-term
future during the lame-duck session after the midterm elections. (source)

Why is this significant? Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Researchexplains:

Using existing state laws, these regulations would be free to tax Internet services as a regulated or public utility service. In addition, the Internet tax moratorium will end on December 11th, which will give state and local governments the right to levy Internet taxes on consumers. If common carrier taxes are any benchmark, we can expect Internet taxes on consumers to increase to a rate of 17 percent. Ironically, the increase in price would suppress consumer demand and block Internet access far beyond whatever “openness” could hope to be achieved by net neutrality. This would be regulatory mismanagement at its finest.

And what about privacy? Grant Babcock of Reason addressed this in his article Net Neutrality—and Obama’s Scheme for the Internet—Are Lousy Ideas:

We know, indisputably, thanks to the heroic disclosures by Edward Snowden and the tireless work of journalists like Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, that the federal government is attempting to use the Internet to build a global Panopticon, capable of accessing everyone’s personal information at any time for any reason or no reason.

We also know that one way the government is trying to accomplish this is by securing the cooperation of private companies. You can attempt to thwart surveillance by using encryption—but encryption only protects data in transit. Once it’s received and decrypted, it’s an open book. If the government can compromise private data custodians, encryption loses a lot of its efficacy. This is exactly what happened to Google, which had its internal traffic bugged by the NSA.

Sometimes instead of outright sabotage, the government pressures companies into turning over information about their customers. See, for example, the brave efforts of Ladar Levison, head of now-defunct secure email provider Lavabit, to protect his customers—including Edward Snowden—from the government’s prying eyes.

But not all tech companies have the spine of Lavabit. What we risk doing by ramping up the government’s regulatory authority over the Internet is to make it easier for the government to pressure ISPs, many of which are data custodians, to get what they want.

Babcock also points out that the government is not above using its “‘legitimate regulatory’ authorities to bully private actors.” He references the heavily-regulated financial industry and the blackmailing of healthy banks into taking unwanted TARP money by Bernanke’s Federal Reserve. The government’s “Operation Choke Point” program, which puts pressure on banks to refuse to deal with people engaged in perfectly legal businesses the Obama administration, for one reason or another, doesn’t like, is another example.

The bottom line? Obama’s idea of “net neutrality” is not “neutral” and is not consumer-friendly. Not one bit.

Here’s a heavily-researched video on the history of the internet and FCC regulations, related corruption, and why net neutrality is not good for consumers. It is long, but worth watching.

Resources:

Don’t be fooled: Net neutrality is all about cronyism

Obama couldn’t be more wrong on Title II

The Net Neutrality Debate Is About Companies & Politicians Own Posturing

We Need Real Competition, Not a Cable-Internet Monopoly

Net Neutrality—and Obama’s Scheme for the Internet—Are Lousy Ideas

Net Neutrality Is A Bad Idea Supported By Poor Analogies

A Perfect Storm: Net Neutrality And The End Of The Internet Tax Moratorium

Regulations almost killed the Internet

Net Neutrality and Reclassification Make American Broadband Consumers the Real Losers

Against Net Neutrality

– See more at: http://www.thedailysheeple.com/net-neutrality-what-it-really-means-and-how-it-could-impact-you_112014#sthash.DS5TKFRf.dpuf

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