Obama wants FCC to regulate the Internet; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’

“Obama has called on federal regulators to toughen proposed net-neutrality rules for Internet traffic, including taking the controversial step of changing the way the law treats broadband providers so they are subject to stricter utility-like regulation,” Jim Puzzanghera reports for The Los Angeles Times. “‘Ever since the Internet was created, it’s been organized around basic principles of openness, fairness and freedom,’ Obama said in the video posted on the White House website. ‘There are no gatekeepers deciding which sites you get to access. There are no toll roads on the information superhighway,’ he said. ‘Abandoning these principals [sic] would threaten to end the Internet as we know it.'”

“FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Monday that he was ‘grateful’ for Obama’s input and called the president’s statement ‘an important, welcome addition’ to the agency’s deliberations. But Wheeler said the legal issues involved with crafting the rules are complex and the FCC had ‘more work to do.'”

“Net neutrality supporters welcomed Obama’s strong statement of support,” Puzzanghera reports. “But broadband providers said Obama’s proposals risked harming the Internet. And Republicans, who have fought adamantly against net neutrality rules, slammed the president for urging stronger government regulation. ”Net Neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government,’ tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).”

“Supporters of tough net-neutrality rules want the FCC to reclassify broadband providers to make them subject to regulation similar to that of telephone companies under Title 2 of the Telecommunications Act,” Puzzanghera reports. “Wheeler has said he’s open to such a move, which is strongly opposed by Internet service providers and most Republicans. And Wheeler has said he and the president are in agreement on the need for tough net-neutrality rules, although Obama had not detailed the exact rules he would prefer.”

MacDailyNews Take: Wait, Obama issued some vague platitudes without giving specifics? Shocking.

“On Monday, Obama was clear that he wanted the FCC to reclassify broadband providers, even though he does not have the power to force them to do so,” Puzzanghera reports. “Cable companies and other broadband service providers have opposed tougher regulation, saying it’s unnecessary and could stifle investment and innovation.”

MacDailyNews Take: Make no mistake: We don’t oppose the sentiment in Obama’s video and statements, specifically that the Internet retain “basic principles of openness, fairness and freedom.”

We oppose the imperious emptiness of it.

Not to mention its inherent illogicality: How, exactly, does the Internet remain “open, fair, and free” with the U.S. FCC regulating it?

“Verizon supports the open Internet, and we continue to believe that the light-touch regulatory approach in place for the past two decades has been central to the Internet’s success,” Verizon Communications Inc. said in a statement Monday,” Puzzanghera reports. “‘Reclassification under Title 2, which for the first time would apply 1930s-era utility regulation to the Internet, would be a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threaten great harm to an open Internet, competition and innovation,’ the company said. ‘That course will likely also face strong legal challenges and would likely not stand up in court,’ Verizon said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This genie is already long out of the bottle. There is no such thing as pure “net neutrality” as proponents imagine it. What is “Net Neutrality,” exactly? Don’t bother – there are a million different definitions. You back “Net Neutrality?” Great. Do you back the Easter Bunny, too?

Beware: Government meddling often produces unintended consequences and those advocating the strongest for government control have often war-gamed said consequences and likely stand to benefit from one or more of the potential outcomes.

This is a case of putting the cart before the horse. Let the market go where it goes and keep a close eye on it. If and when there is actual cause for increased regulation, then move deliberately but with a consensus and, above all, extreme caution lest there be unintended consequences which could actually end up retarding progress rather than fostering it.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. — Bert Lance

Related articles:
What Apple’s new content delivery network means for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – and for you – August 19, 2014
Apple’s content delivery network now live; paid interconnect deals with ISPs, massive capacity in place – August 1, 2014
Apple’s content delivery network is reportedly live and it’s positively massive – July 31, 2014
Apple negotiating paid interconnect deals with ISPs for their own Content Delivery Network – May 20, 2014

Verizon: We will sue U.S. FCC over ‘net neutrality’ – November 6, 2014
What Apple’s new content delivery network means for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – and for you – August 19, 2014
Forget about Net Neutrality; the Net isn’t neutral now, nor will it ever be – June 23, 2014
Is the FCC the wrong agency to handle net neutrality? – June 21, 2014
Obama backs away from ‘Net Neutrality’ campaign promises after U.S. FCC vote – May 16, 2014
U.S. FCC vote on ‘net neutrality’ will kick off long battle – May 13, 2014
Mozilla proposes new version of net neutrality rules – May 6, 2014
FCC to propose new rules for so-called ‘Net Neutrality’; would allow broadband providers to charge companies for speed – April 23, 2014
FCC plans to issue new so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 19, 2014
U.S. federal court strikes down FCC’s so-called ‘net-neutrality’ regulations – January 14, 2014

120 Comments

  1. This is one area where I actually agree with the President.

    I used to be a Netcomm and a AT&T dialup subscriber. These companies had relationships with certain organizations. With these approved websites you had full access. Other non preferred websites were slow or unusable.

    Besides limiting web company access, both Netcomm and AT&T even tried to limit access to church websites. If you were a Protestant good luck downloading this weeks bulletin. After six months of complaining, AT&T stated that a rouge employee had placed restrictions without instruction or permission on some Protestant religious groups. This is a classic case where the Internet can be abused without net neutrality.

  2. The political posturing on MDN is increasingly putting me off. Not only is it extremely dull to read (especially from people who don’t live in the US) it has no place on what is supposed to be an Apple news site. I get it, you don’t like Obama, but how about a sensible take on Net Neutrality and regulation without boring personal attacks on your own president?

    1. MDN just gave you the most sensible take on Net Neutrality that you’re likely to get. It does not exist. Obama is a political animal always angling for more government control. He’ll use any excuse. It’s not what you wanted to hear. I get it. Tough shit. Try dealing with the truth for a change. Enough empty platitudes read from a teleprompter by an affirmative action puppet inoculated, until recently, from any real criticism due to his skin color.

      1. Actually, you are absolutely wrong and so is MDN.

        There is a very, very simple definition of ‘net neutrality. It exists. It is not unlike how the land line phone systems were in the early 80s after AT&T was broken up. The problem is that the vast majority of the large ISPs don’t like the simple definition.

        And the U.S. President did outline a way to make ‘net neutrality work: make ISPs common carriers under Title II and regulate them appropriately for their explicit business implementations. He did NOT come out with empty platitudes.

        You should try dealing with the truth in this case. Don’t just *assume* that the situation is impossible to fix.

        If we all looked at it your way, we’d have Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Century Link and others saying, “If you want Netflix and Hulu and others, you’ll need to pay me an extra fee every month — and per our contract I can change that fee *any* time I want. Otherwise I’ll slow those services down to kilobits per second data rates!” But, as in the case of Comcast, “If you’ll use my own ‘On Demand’ extremely limited system, I’ll charge you less and not throttle that poorer quality imagery.”

        People love to hate the current U.S. President on this site. It does not matter what he says or what he proposes. For some on this site, like First/Then and botvinnik, he could come out on the side that gang rape and mass murder are bad things and those two would take the opposite stance “just because”. It’s no different than on another site I sometimes view where an anti President Obama person literally stated, “I thought Net Neutrality was a good thing, but if Obama is for it then it must be a bad thing.” Just hate the individual to exclusion of all reason.

        1. “Wheeler said Obama had not detailed the exact rules he would prefer.”

          ISPs simply cannot just charge end users (you and I) whatever they want. Regardless of your belief, market forces DO work very efficiently. When the government interferes, bad things happen more often than not. I have history on my side.

          1. To what history specifically do you refer? The big bad government, when it does the people’s bidding, establishes a fair playing field for all. Thus the markets are trustworthy and all can prosper. The anarchy you propose has been adopted over an over in history and it has always ended in disaster. Winner-take-all politics is a dead end, as is your religious belief that markets can manage themselves without officials keeping the game clean.

      1. I’ll help the little red hen. I DO help the little red hen. I spend part of my free time working at the local ‘Edible Garden’, designed for anyone who wants some food to come pick it off the trees and bushes planted there during the growing season. The white raspberries are to die for.

        As for wanting a yacht:
        – I’d want to share it with others and let other people use it. I don’t want the thing all to myself.
        – I’d make sure it only had an inboard motor for going in and out of port. Otherwise, it runs on wind power, aka sailing, a sustainable method of travel and recreation.
        – I’d consider the costs of creating the yacht and who made it. I’d want local skilled craftsmen to make it according to the most efficient designs using renewable resources. I’d want the yacht built to last for generations with minimal maintenance.

        Etc. – We have the best brains in the animal kingdom. There’s no excuse for us being deliberately stupid about anything. That’s why I have little respect for the stupidity called ‘politics’. I like living IRL instead, as much as possible.

        Class dismissed! 😉

        1. Derek—

          We have the best brains in the animal kingdom. Who would disagree with that?

          Only a fussbudget like me, who likes to qualify all such ideas about our vaunted superiority in that realm.

          Rational thought is a poor puppet, an eternal trojan horse for the primitive, hidden thoughts and instincts that pervert logic—our crowning creation—by whispering mad desires into us.

          We all come vulnerable to this delusional force of nature whenever any passion is in play, which is almost always the case.

          So therefore I disagree that we have no excuse for stupidity. We have the perfect excuse: nature predisposes us to shoot first and ask questions later.

          It can only be hoped that passions do cool, and that questions do get asked later — if for no other reason than to exhibit that other crown jewel of the species, self-examination.

  3. It’s a tough one for me. On one hand, I really don’t know want giant corporations deciding what content I can view (or, just as importantly, how fast I can view it). On the other, I don’t want government regulation any more than the average joe.

    In a perfect world, there’d be enough ISP options available everywhere that a company that promised not to throttle or block traffic would be able to win over the market by making that their sales pitch (“Unfettered, fast connections with no restrictions!”) But in reality, the cost of the infrastructure makes that impossible. In my rural area, I have a few options . . . Cable, DSL or a wireless option. Really, in larger metropolitan areas it isn’t any better than that. That’s not many options if you compare it to other industries.

    Cable doesn’t want streaming to be successful at the expense of their core business, so without net neutrality it can block things that compete (or at best, require those streaming firms to pay money for access to their customers). With DSL, it’s pretty much the same. The ISPs sniff profit and so force the ESPNs of the world to make agreements to allow their traffic.

    The consumer loses.

    All of that written, I guess I wouldn’t oppose some very simple legislation that says this: “All ISPs are required to provide all connections to all servers at the maximum speed the network can handle based on what the consumer has paid for.” How do you regulate that? I think it can be simpler than one might realize. Customers will always judge their provider based on the speed of connections . . . and if particular monetary transactions between large corporations in exchange for faster speeds is expressly forbidden, that would be very easy to audit without even peeking at their infrastructure. If they are doing it behind the scenes, their performance would reflect that and customers would leave. The fastest and cheapest ISPs win, and the Cable, DSL, wireless, etc. companies out there will be relegated to the dumb pipes we all wish they were.

    Probably there’s need to be some teeth in a law in case a company is throttling and some access to their infrastructure, but methinks that could be a “probable cause” situation based on slews of complaints by consumers rather than the government constantly monitoring the flow of data (and I mean speeds and connections here, as clearly the NSA already rapes our privacy).

    End rant.

  4. What a surprise. Ted Cruz, who accepted campaign contributions from Comcast, doesn’t want the FCC to crash their party of charging too much for crappy service, with the intention of charging even more for even crappier service. Republicans and Democrats are not the problem. Liberals and Conservatives are not the problem. Companies with deep pockets dictating legislature is the problem. Until that is addressed, we’re all screwed.

  5. What’s hilarious to me, apart from the usual idiotic propagandizing of anything the biznizz bozos don’t like, is how Obama assigned Mr. Thomas Wheeler, arch-lobbyist for the ISP and media industry, to run the FCC. As I posted somewhere else or other:
    Massive Cognitive Dissonance.
    > > > >Echoing Hypocrisy< < < <

    Then of course there's the open world of the Internet being REGULATED by the biznizz bozos themselves:

    1) Biznizziz invented the REGULATION of the Internet whereby any company (not in their Biz-Cliche) that wanted broad bandwidth access to their companies had to pay up massive $$$$$$$$. That's monopoly power in its pure form.

    2) Biznizziz invented the REGULATION of competition between ISPs on the Internet by way of joining the marketing of multiple companies. This was attempted specifically where I live. Verizon and Time Warner Cable got tired of competing. So they decided to create an effective MONOPOLY of the two companies effectively becoming one with regards to the customers. Again: Monopoly Power. Thankfully, their request to the government to do so was thrown out.

    3) Biznizziz invented REGULATING the Internet by allowing THEIR OWN media to have highest priority bandwidth to their customers. (See #1 above for the other arm of this monopoly power strategy).

    Ad Nauseam.

    Net Neutrality means NO regulation of any kind. Let the packets flow. Simple as that.

    If it takes government re-definition of the Internet into a 'utility' in order to keep EVERYONE'S hands off net neutrality, then that's fine by me!

    But obviously, dirty doings rule in the current bad biznizz era. Some stinker is going to INSIST upon ruining everything. And I seriously doubt Obama is going to be any savior this time either.

      1. MDN’s points are ridiculous, of course, because they don’t line up with my Lib ideology of “feelings matter, facts don’t” – espoused by proven failures, Obama, Pelosi, Reid, etc.

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