FCC doubles down on dead-wrong definition of how internet works

Posted by DanielS on Sunday, 26 November 2017 01:33.

Tech Crunch, “FCC doubles down on its dead-wrong definition of how the internet works”, 25 Nov 2017:

In May, when the FCC released an early draft of its plan to undo 2015’s strong net neutrality rules, I pointed out that its case rests almost entirely on a deeply incorrect definition of how the internet works. There can be no mistake now that this misrepresentation is deliberate; the agency has reiterated it in even stronger terms in the final draft of the proposal.

I’m not going to go into great detail on it (my earlier post spells it out) but the basic problem is this: broadband has to be defined as either an information service or telecommunications service. The first is “the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information,” while the second is “the transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received.”

It’s important because the two things are regulated very differently — the FCC has much greater power over telecommunications services, under the “Title II” authority that internet service providers are so afraid of.

While it’s certainly true that ISPs do in some ways store and generate data on behalf of the user, usually as part of managing their networks, it’s equally certain that their primary purpose is to transmit data between the user and points of his or her choosing. Consequently, broadband should be classified as a telecommunications service.

But don’t take my word for it. The FCC made the argument for me in its 2015 order, citing many sources of its own in support of this fact. This excellent primer produced by the EFF and nearly 200 experts explains basically from first principles how the internet works and why it should be defined as telecommunications. There are big names on the list, but it seems clear that even the garden variety experts understand this much more clearly than the FCC does (or pretends to).

The FCC dismisses these scholars and founding technologists of the internet in a footnote, describing itself as “unpersuaded” that the internet works the way they insist it does. Meanwhile, the proposal repeatedly and unquestioningly cites the comments of ISPs claiming that something as simple as caching data magically exempts them from being telecommunication services:


Just trust them — after all, it’s not like they have a horse in this race.

The FCC’s case against net neutrality rests on a deliberate misrepresentation of how the internet works”, Tech Crunch 23 May 2017

The resulting definition of broadband as enabling users to generate, store, transform, and process their data is absurd. It is, as the Internet Engineers comment points out, like saying your phone is a pizzeria because you can use it to order a pizza. It is like saying that because you build a road, you are also building all the businesses along that road.

It is edge providers like Wikipedia, Dropbox, and even simple websites like TechCrunch that provide the services users request; it is ISPs that carry that data, with no change in form, between users and those edge providers. The FCC rejects this fundamental idea and substitutes a convenient fiction that upholds its current ambition to reclassify broadband. There is a semblance of plausibility to all this, but only because of precedents set in times when the internet looked very different.

This may be their downfall. Because the entire proposal is predicated on this spurious and outdated definition, to remove it causes the rest to crumble. Without reclassification there is no rollback of net neutrality. There is hope here: the FCC’s argument (which is to say, the broadband industry’s argument) already failed in court and may do so again. Here’s hoping. - Devin Coldewey

        Previously at MR, regarding net neutrality.



Comments:


1

Posted by FCC officially votes to kill net neutrality on Thu, 14 Dec 2017 20:09 | #

TCNews, “The FCC officially votes to kill net neutrality”, 14 Dec 2017:

Despite overwhelming opposition from Congress, technical experts, advocacy organizations and, of course, the American people, the FCC has voted to eliminate 2015’s Open Internet Order and the net neutrality protections it established.

The order passed today, “Restoring Internet Freedom,” essentially removes the FCC as a regulator of the broadband industry and relegates rules that prevented blocking and throttling content to the honor system. The FTC now ostensibly has that role, but it is far from an expert agency on this topic and cannot make preemptive rules like those that have been in place for the last few years.

As expected, the vote was 3 to 2 along party lines, with Chairman Ajit Pai and Republican Commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly voting in favor of the order, and Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel voting against.

Clyburn and Rosenworcel made their feelings known at the meeting with some fierce remarks on the order and the procedures leading up to it:

“I dissent from this fiercely spun, legally lightweight, consumer-harming, corporate-enabling Destroying Internet Freedom Order,” said Commissioner Clyburn. “There is a basic fallacy underlying the majority’s actions and rhetoric today: the assumption of what is best for broadband providers is best for America. What saddens me is that the agency that is supposed to protect you is abandoning you. But what I am pleased to be able to say is the fight to save net neutrality does not end today. This agency does not have the final word. Thank goodness

“I dissent from this rash decision to roll back net neutrality rules,” said Commissioner Rosenworcel. “I dissent from the corrupt process that has brought us to this point. And I dissent from the contempt this agency has shown our citizens in pursuing this path today. This decision puts the Federal Communications Commission on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.”

Both will soon publish more substantive dissenting statements that lay out the problems with the order as voted on and perhaps give a hint as to how it may be legally challenged once it takes effect.

Chairman Pai trotted out the same talking points he’s been pushing since 2015. That the law that dictates the internet remain “unfettered by federal and state regulation” (that part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act is advisory, and also about porn); that the 2015 rules were “designed in the ’30s to regulate Ma Bell” (they were rebuilt from the ground up in 1996, as he explained moments earlier); that the regulations had destroyed jobs (the jobs never existed); that small ISPs were harmed (I’ve asked the ones he’s cited repeatedly and they have never explained how) — and how edge providers are a bigger threat than ISP discrimination.

Ironically, he asked that the internet be “driven by engineers” and not “lawyers and accountants” — ironic because hundreds of prominent engineers have pointed out the technical shortcomings of the order, which is largely based on economic analysis and legal hair-splitting.

(Pai’s remarks were interrupted by security, which asked everyone to leave the meeting room so it could be swept by what appeared to be bomb-sniffing dogs.)

Commissioner O’Rielly said the 2015 order, which was “railroaded” by the Obama administration, dealt primarily with theoretical threats, and called commentary suggesting possible harm “fearmongering.” He also said he saw no reason to have public meetings on the topic, since anyone interested could just leave a comment.

Commissioner Carr said this was “a great day,” recalling the halcyon days of 2008-2014, during which the internet grew unencumbered by 2015’s “unprecedented…massive regulatory overreach.” The open internet we know, he said, emerged from that framework; “Title II did not build that,” he said, and its removal will not lead us to a “Mad Max” version of the internet.

He also said, misleadingly, that the classification of broadband under Title I is the only one “blessed” by the Supreme Court, in 2005. In fact, the Supreme Court famously specifically declined to “bless” any particular classification, deferring to the FCC’s choice as an expert agency; and more recently courts have upheld the classification of broadband as a Title II telecommunications service — not to mention the fact that the people who actually created the modern internet insist that is the case as well.

As with all FCC orders of this magnitude, its effects do not take place immediately. The rules must first be entered in the federal register, something that will likely take place early next year.

Commentary on the Restoring Internet Freedom order and net neutrality in general has been voluminous; you can read a summary of the arguments here, and learn how the order is based on technically incorrect information here. You also can read about the origins of net neutrality and how its opponents organized against it.


2

Posted by Net neutrality is dead on Thu, 14 Dec 2017 22:18 | #

Net neutrality is dead.

....but there is hope in a Congressional Revue Act


3

Posted by Huge volume false comments against net neutrality on Sat, 16 Dec 2017 09:58 | #

...and regarding an enormous volume of fake Internet comments antagonistic to Net Neutrality:


 


4

Posted by Attorney General suing FCC for Net Neutrality on Sat, 16 Dec 2017 10:15 | #

Eric Schneiderman The New York State Attorney General is suing the FCC on behalf of Net Neutrality.

 


5

Posted by Braving Ruin on Sun, 17 Dec 2017 15:50 | #

Youtube personality, “Braving Ruin”, has some interesting thoughts on the Internet and Net Neutrality.

... i.e., “net neutrality” is problematic in that it also favors massive companies, notably Google, which uses 16% of all bandwidth and uses more public infrastructure.

Google was aided and abetted by the government to begin with.

.


6

Posted by Andrew Torba at RI on Fri, 16 Feb 2018 01:26 | #

Interview of Andrew Torba, Co-founder and CEO of GAB, a social media network that supports free speech.



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