William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Beware, Bloggers, The Government Is Coming. Update

Google CEO Larry Page holds up the Net Neutrality pact.

Google CEO Larry Page holds up the Net Neutrality pact.

We’ve all heard—this information is still allowed to be transmitted—that the government will soon take over the Internet under the couldn’t-they-come-up-with-something-not-so-Orwellian-sounding Net Neutrality scheme. By “neutrality” they mean a kind of enforced-by-arms demilitarized zone. No competition by carriers will be allowed that isn’t government designed, monitored, and approved.

That’s only the surface. Buried within NN will be new powers allowing the government to regulate content. That means sites like with “controversial” content could be in some deep kimchee.

First, it is a simple prediction that prices will rise and access and speed diminish. Not for everybody, of course. Just for those who do not make a government favorites list, which is most of us. A few select groups will discover that Internet access is a fundamental “right” and these folks will get free, but limited, service (and probably computers, too). News reports will highlight these winners.

The naifs at Google and other top providers actually gave money to Congresspeoples and the like so that these regulations would be instituted. The government is ever obliging to those with fat wallets. See, Google didn’t want its content regulated by carriers. So Google got the government to promise carriers they’d have to accept whatever content the government approved.

Google no doubt smiled, thinking their old-fashioned crony capitalistic trick worked. But you know how smart people can be really dumb? Here’s another case. Because Google also opened the door—which many in government were already pushing at—to the government regulating all content. Including content delivered by Google.

Idiots.

Say, remember how quickly Google caved to China when that government said “You may not do this”? And how quickly Google caved in Europe when those governments said “You may not do this”? And how… Sure you do. Prediction two: The same thing will happen here.

Enter Uncle Fred, who explains better the same thoughts had by Yours Truly:

First, “hate speech” will be banned. The government will tell us whom we can hate and whom we cannot. “Hatred” will be vaguely defined so that one will never be sure when one is engaging in it and, since it will be prosecutable, one will have to be very careful. Disapproval of favored groups, or of their behavior, will be defined as hatred. National security will be invoked, silencing whistle-blowers or, eventually, anything that might make the public uneasy with Washington’s wars.

The next step probably will be to block links to foreign sites deemed to transgress…

Prediction three: a major content provider, like Google (they own blogspot, blogger) will either be sued or will see harassment by “activists” because the activists revile a blog or blogs and want them killed. Maybe Ed Feser one day describes how acting on same-sex attraction violates natural law. This will be called “hate speech.” A “victim” or “victims” will be trotted out. The litigants/activists will invoke Net Neutrality, whether or not it is relevant. The “press” will jump at yet another chance to change the world.

And Google will cave. Out the door goes Feser. And every other site that is “hate filled”, too. For, you see, Google will write a new policy to protect itself from harassment from government and busybodies. Other major content providers will follow suit. Bloggers and news site writers won’t be all kicked off immediately, only when “discovered” by the perpetually “outraged.” Kind of like how copyrighted videos on YouTube disappear only after they’re found by lawyers.

Prediction four: a major carrier, like Comcast, will either be sued or will see harassment by “activists” because they, Comcast, streamed content from some site deemed politically unacceptable. How dare they “facilitate hate”, etc. Again, Net Neutrality will be invoked. The government, as above, may never be actively involved. Comcast will block the site, re-write its policies, which others will emulate.

Self-censorship will take care of most problems, leaving the government to clear up the most “egregious” cases. The cry of “Free speech!” will be heard, of course, and so that brings up Prediction five. The government won’t outright forbid most content. Instead, it will cause sites to have a “rating” which can be used to filter. That means carriers and web hosts will have to implement software rules to handle the filters. Browsers for major software platforms—think Brendan Eich?—will quickly add code that works with the ratings. All major corporations will restrict hate-rated sites.

The same sorts of restrictions for websites will happen to other venues like Twitter. Look for ratings and more from-the-hip account cancellations.

Timing? Good question. These things always happen faster than you think. I say within five years. You?

Update It’s important you see the comments between myself and others below. They explain better than anything why my predictions hold force.

117 Comments

  1. Questions:
    Do you think a Republican Congress will let this happen?
    Do you think the courts would let such stand?
    If the answer to the above is negative,
    Where would be a good country that one could migrate to (even if one is old and not wealthy)?

  2. “That means sites like with “controversial” content could be in some deep kimchee.”

    I assume you meant “sites like THIS ONE with…”

    Pesky NNers

  3. I’m not sure if this is of any value – didn’t follow the links, but…

    Supposedly, the United States is ranked #49 out in 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index with a score of 24.41

    http://index.rsf.org/#!/index-details/USA

  4. Do you think a Republican Congress will let this happen?

    It’s beginning to look like the Republican victories in November were won more by default than platform. My guess at the answer is: Yes.

    A bit OT: my prediction for 2016 is for the Democrats. The Republicans can’t seem to get their act together. They’re finally back in the driver’s seat but are fighting over the steering wheel and pedals.

  5. Bob: So far as I can see, a Republican congress is virtually no different than a Democrat one. Republicans do nothing to stop lawlessness, enforce the constitution, or even care about their constituents (note Jeb Bush is running against his base). So, no, there’s not a chance the spineless individuals elected will stop this.
    Courts–ditto. Someone should have woken up years ago and noticed that liberals were filling the courts and schools. Sadly, they kept sleeping and dreaming things were okay.
    My answer to your last question would be a third world nation where selling of guilt for success is impossible, where the desire for more is real, and where people are not used to the government taking care of them. We probably have to start over since insufficient numbers of persons here paid any attention or else lived in complete denial of what was going on. If enough woke up tomorrow, we might succeed. I see little evidence of mass awakening, however.

    All—my only hope here is someone in the tech industry will wake up and realize what is happening and design a tech work-around. That’s really probably the only chance there is of defeating this. Considering private tech is far better than government tech, it seems like a possible countermeasure.

  6. This has happened before. When radio transmission started the amateurs dominated the field but it didn’t take long before the government took over through regulation and outright bans. A similar thing happened with the movie and then the television industry. There is always a delay since the government moves slowly and, of course, it must collaborate with whoever emerges to dominate the field, since the government itself has no expertise beyond guns and badges. Your reference to NGOs reminds me of the concept of a bootlegger and baptist collaboration. It has been close to twenty years since the development of the internet which is a typical period of time for the government to catch on to the threat.

    However, the technology is still advancing very quickly and the internet is inherently much more difficult to control than the radio spectrum so that they might find that the more they tighten their grip the more slips through their fingers. Sort like what happened with prohibition and given the present addiction to the internet the push back could be considerable.

  7. You really have to be a little dumb, or of poor moral character, to be against net neutrality.

    JMJ

  8. JMJ: Really? Then you’re against it, aren’t you?

  9. JMJ, interesting example of the “ad hominem” fallacy:
    Major premise: Person A claims proposition X is true;
    Minor premise: Person B claims Person A is a no-goodnik;
    Conclusion: Proposition X is false.
    Clearly, the character or background of person A is (except in very special circumstances) of no relevance to the truth of proposition X–the “ad hominem” fallacy.
    For example, I am not dumb (I can speak, have a reasonably high IQ, several advanced degrees from prestigious Ivy League institutions, and have a name equation used without footnotes) and can bring all sorts of testimonials to my good character. So there’s a counterexample to your fallacious proposition.
    Unless you mean that, by definition, anyone who opposes control of the internet by the current administration or by bureaucracies to come is of poor moral character. And that definition is not one most people are likely to find useful.

  10. I can’t imagine why anyone would be against it, unless they are heavily vested in the cable companies or Netflix, I suppose, and then you’d just be a morally deficient person. Most all conservatives and libertarians started out for net neutrality, as I clearly recall, and then most of them changed their minds when the issue got big and the Republicans and conservative leaders came out against it.

    So, to you I say in a way you should understand, “Baaaaaaaaahhhhhhh (you are clearly against your best interest here, you loony Southdown).”

    JMJ

  11. See above, Bob. I meant it literally, not as ad hominem.

    JMJ

  12. I should have added I am against internet neutrality where “neutrality” is defined in an Orwellian double-speak by liberals and leftists.

  13. That’s a lie, Bob. There is no Orwellian double-speak here. You are being paranoid.

    JMJ

  14. I can only hope that a risque rating for conservative content does what the triple x rating did for adult content. Making it subversive to view conservative content would be a huge backfire for progressives.

  15. JMJ, here’s a simple explanation of what I meant by “Orwellian double-speak” referring to “internet neutrality”.
    If it is defined by the Democrat members of the FCC or by other member of the current administration, or by you, then it will not be neutral–there will not be open and unlimited discussion. Prove otherwise–you can’t.

  16. JMJ: Then you are clearly against it.
    (If liberals are involved, there is Orwellian double-speak. It’s the only language they know.)

    Paul W: Interesting point.

  17. JMJ, you’ve made some interesting comment, so far unsupported by evidence. I’ll give you another opportunity to make your case. What do YOU mean by internet neutrality? For example, let’s take this blog; how would it be different? Or, would National Review Online or Lucianne.com be limited in any way? Would one be proscribed from making remarks against radical Islamic terrorists, gay marriage or so-called “equal opportunity” regulations? Let’s be specific. Would remarks and posts against AGW (climate change) be regulated or prohibited?

  18. Briggs

    February 17, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    JMJ,

    So you’re making the “I want it, therefore some company better damn well give it to me without it costing me much or anything argument.” Well, in you favor, it’s an awfully popular argument. And, under Democracy, it’s a sure-fire winner. When the majority wants something, all they have to do is take it.

    But at least have the good taste to call it the Free-(Paid For By Others)-Unlimited-Internet-Bandwidth-For-Hipsters bill and not something like “neutrality.” Sheesh.

  19. Net neutrality was first and foremost to ensure that companies like Comcast did not have the power to to establish the bandwidth content of Internet site.

    Since Netflix requires large bandwidth enterprises like Comcast wanted the ability to say what signal would be prioritized and of course those who spent more would get more bandwidth.

    I haven’t seen the bill so I’m not sure what it says about content. But it seems that many of the prediction are extrapolated and do not have link with the reason being the bill

  20. Briggs

    February 17, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Sylvain,

    To rephrase, “Net neutrality was first and foremost to ensure that companies like Comcast did not have the power to charge what they wanted for their services, including charging more for more use.”

    Leftists always want somebody else to pay.

    And this opens the door for government meddling.

  21. Nobody can be against the words “net neutrality” if that’s exactly what you get. Which you won’t. Can’t see why anyone objected to the USSR because it had the words “Union”, “Socialist” and “Republic” in it? I mean, the USA is a union, has many social programs, and is also a republic. You’d have to be a little dumb, or of poor moral character, to be against the USSR. 😉

  22. http://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/files/114/BILLS-114hr-PIH-OpenInternet.pdf

    I do not see anything in the draft bill that can be construed as regulating content. Making any of the predictions improbable.

  23. I favor net neutrality,meaning that any website should have the same access spees.

    Just like speeds on the road are the same for everyone.

  24. Briggs

    February 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    All,

    “I favor net neutrality,meaning that any website should have the same access spees. Just like speeds on the road are the same for everyone.”

    See what I mean? They have taken a private service, stolen it (Nationalized it), made it a “right”, and required somebody else to pay. And they see nothing at all wrong in this. They can’t say to themselves, “I don’t like this Comcast so I won’t use it”, they say, “I don’t like this Comcast, so I’m going to steal it.” Where by “steal” I mean agitate for the government to pass rules like Net Neutraliy.

    Sylvain,

    Very well. You have my predictions. Let’s hear yours.

  25. Briggs,

    None of your prediction will come true ????

    Are you in favor of companies like Comcast to select what service you can or cannot view on your computer?

    If yes then you might not have access to service like you tube, Netflix or even bloggers platform if they don’t accept to pay the fee asked by Comcast.

  26. By the way, Internet has always been a public service. In all countries it was established by the government who gave the opportunity to the private sector to offer the service to citizen and industries. But the back bone is public.

  27. Have to agree with Sylvain (thanks for link btw)
    I just came back from USA. The condo we rented had cable internet that obviously ‘shaped traffic’. I would have no problem watching several 100 mb of streamed data on youtube or netflix, but if I tried listening to a fraction of that on shoutcast or internet radio, -even when the servers were in the same city-the stream would cut out and I would get the old ‘buffering’ hourglass. Same thing when I tried downloading large (not-copyrighted) files over http or torrent- download rate would completely stop after a minute.

    It was obvious youtube (ie Google) and Netflix were getting preferential treatment of bandwidth- to the point where I could not even access the content I wanted.
    Clearly there is room for improvement from current status quo. Perhaps they could offer an option to pay a little extra for those of us wishing multimedia sized bandwidth from content providers they are not receiving money from…

  28. Briggs

    February 17, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    All,

    This:

    When you run the economy through the government, the results are easy to see; we have seen them again and again throughout history: Government agencies will take their share off the top, and funnel wealth into the coffers of the state. The bureaucrats who direct the funds toward one business rather than another will effectively control them—as federal agencies now exert enormous power over Catholic colleges and hospitals, for instance. Worst of all, the continual fiddling with markets, wages, and prices, with no foreseeable end, will result in economic chaos—as government mandates, rather than the choices of consumers, set the costs of goods and services. This is no recipe for freedom.

  29. None of the liberal/left proponents of the proposed “internet neutrality” have specified how it would work in specific instances. What kinds of comments would be suppressed, what blogs would be edited for “fairness”? Could one point to the history of Islamic conquest and the injunctions for Jihad in the Koran? Or would this statement be “hate speech”? Could one argue against “gay marriage” (an oxymoron) or would this also be banned as hate speech? Would one be forced as the editor of a blog to listen to the spiteful rants of AGW proponents who would otherwise be banned from this blog?
    Give us some specifics Sylvain, dixonstalbert, JMJ, if you want us to put any credence in your arguments.

  30. And I should add, how would you prevent the FCC or other Obama administration bureaucracy from controlling content?
    “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

  31. So many people can’t tell the difference between how they think things should be and how things are.

    The US internet has been owned and maintained by private companies since 1994. Look it up. The government has no ownership claim other than bold assertion.

    Calling the internet a utility doesn’t mean this isn’t theft. Grousing your bandwidth issue doesn’t make theft OK. Imagining that your internet service can be better and cost less, doesn’t excuse the theft.

    Putting aside that this is theft, why would anybody imagine that the government is qualified to manage the internet? Where is the example of effective government management?

  32. This is what happens in a socialist country. People spend a lot of time talking about what to do with other people’s property, and they aren’t even embarrassed about it. People are confused about the concept of private property, and they think that private property only exists because of and for the benefit of the collective. They even think that a socialist government has the moral duty to use guns to seize property in the name of the common good.

  33. 1. To trim my costs for internet/cable/phone, I am going to cut my cable. I do not feel the need to demand that someone provide me with 1000 stations that I will not watch. I also do not demand that someone else pay for my internet, just as I don’t demand that someone else pay my for my health insurance (notice I didn’t say “doctor bills”.

    2. And if the net neutrality is benign, why are there 332 pages that outlines its application and possible loopholes? In my opinion, all legislation should be one page or less to inspire clarity of thought.

  34. Sylvain: http://net.gurus.org/history/

    Robbie: Obamacare launch comes to mind, as a good reason to keep the government out.

    Katie: If only we could limit legislation to one page or less. Excellent idea though nearly impossible to implement.

  35. Sheri, it can be done. Word count for Bill of Rights: 488 words.

  36. @Sylvain “Are you in favor of companies like Comcast to select what service you can or cannot view on your computer?
    If yes then you might not have access to service like you tube, Netflix or even bloggers platform if they don’t accept to pay the fee asked by Comcast.”
    That is a false choice unfortunately purported on the public. However even that would be better than Government regulated Internet – because Comcast could always get a competition (unlikely but it might) and, more importantly – Comcast can’t arrest you. But, Comcast and like should be bound by negative rights too. There is a “third choice” (not Government regulated Internet, not free-for-all to exploit either) that would do so: Constitutional amendment extending already existing rights to modern technology. Banning BOTH Government and Corporations from meddling with Internet data exchanges by defining every Internet package a protected expression of free speech in modern world. Negative rights for Government AND Corporations. No meddling with free speech allowed. Only that type of the solution would help.
    Mr Briggs haven’t underlined existing examples of why current “NetNeutrality” regulations point to his predictions. Please find FCC regulation overturned by Verizon lawsuit (as Govt’ had freedom to craft it as they’d like, likely to be repeated). Read. Find (undefined!) terms of “legal content”, “legal protocols” and “legal devices”. Such undefined terms allow any future Administration with “pen and the phone” to define them without legislative oversight. As it suits them. Imagine type of Administration you do not like and what they could do with such regulation. Just an example – Govt’ banning any device that does not have legal Government spying backdoor installed (just as in China)… [This goes beyond Mr Briggs vision but could easily happen down the slippery slope]. Government simply must not be given such power as it will inevitably use it for oppression.
    Support from practical examples #2: Country of my origin has “hate speech” laws as does whole EU. Currently there is huge fight there because… “public advocate” had just recently used this law to BLOCK Internet content speaking negative things about the Government… It is happening. And will repeat itself if given chance.

  37. According to ConstitutionFacts.com, “Since 1952, the Constitution has been on display in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Currently, all four pages are displayed behind protective glass framed with titanium. ” Not sure, but I think the actual page count including the Bill of Rights is six.

    One really should wonder why any law should be expressed with 50 times the number of pages in the Constitution.

    Look at the number of pages associated with Obamacare:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/how-many-pages-of-regulations-for-obamacare/2013/05/14/61eec914-bcf9-11e2-9b09-1638acc3942e_blog.html

    The WP scoffed at the 33,000 page claim saying: NAW! It’s more like 10,000! as if that in itself was totally unsurprising.

  38. Comcast could always get a competition (unlikely but it might)

    Not unlikely at all. Where I live, Comcast is only one of the choices. I have Comcast for TV and Verizon for internet access. Comcast is not the first ISP to charge more for higher bandwidth. They all do.

  39. Robbie: See Sheri’s link

    Unless you consider the military and DoD as not being part of the government that link proved my point that the public created the back bone of the infrastructure which was later opened to the private sector.

    So no one owns the internet. What is own is the access point to the internet. The government has to guaranty net neutrality to make sure that no enterprise are disadvantaged.

    Lets say you try to start a business that sells stuff via the internet but providers refuse access to your site because you didn’t pay the fee required by the internet provider. The Customer already paid the fee to access your site when he signed up with the internet provider. Your companie already paid its access to internet either by creating a new node or by signing up with an internet provider.

    Without net neutrality a company like amazone could buy internet provider and block all signals from its competetor. If you are lucky you might have the choice of internet provider, but in many rural area the choice of broadband internet provider is very limited.

    For the economy to run smoothly, you need a strong government that is able to enforce the rule of laws. It is the government that has the obligation to established fairness in the economy. Why do you think the US now have antitrust laws. Without a strong government who is able to reach the entire territory it controls you can not have a prosperous economy because ownership is then determined by force instead of by law.

  40. Katie: You’re right. It has been done. We could do it again.

    Sylvain: First the government would have to be inclined to follow the law. Ours is not in any way so inclined at this point. In fact, they seem intent on ignoring laws and running wiid. All the more reason to keep them out of the internet. Oh, and there’s nothing to stop the government from shutting down whatever parts of the internet it does not like. We already have millions of illegal aliens here with the government’s blessing. It’s not really tough to imagine the government owning the internet and shutting down all of it that is not carrying the propaganda the government wants. Yes, rural areas are very limited. I am always sending emails to my provider saying “If only Wyoming had real internet”. But I still don’t want the government involved. Ownership is controlled by force of the government in your scenario. No real improvement there–governments are far more draconian than corporations.

  41. The censorship issue strikes me as something of a red herring. Carriers aren’t interested in blocking content. Firstly, it’s enormously costly for them to block ever changing IP’s and domain names. It makes their customers unhappy, and carriers actually like high usage as it encourages customers to purchase more expensive plans. Blocking is very rare even among companies that would financially benefit. Google ‘Bing’ or ‘Bing’ Google and you will see these private companies do not block each other’s search results, although it would be in each other’s financial interest to do so. The outcry in doing so would obviously be huge, cause boycotts, etc.

    The people here demanding that the government enact laws to protect them, are demanding laws to protect themselves against imaginary problems. A bit like the government’s deep concern over imaginary problems such as global warming. The very real risk is once the government protects you from A, it won’t be long before it will start protecting you from B, C, D and E.

  42. Sheri,

    Net neutrality is not about banning content but to open it and make sure that everyone has access to it.

    The worst thing I saw from the US government is Civil forfeitures where the police can seize what ever they want whenever they want.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEpZWGgJks

    I admit that it is not okay for government to shutdown content but this is not better when companies make that choice for you either.

    You own a house. What would prevent the bank to seize it if it was not for the law that the government make to protect your right.

    You have to realise that the government is you, you are part of it whether you like it or not. Without government all that reign is violence. Do you believe people in Somalia are happy to not have a government strong enough to protect them from the abuse of Boko Haram.

    From what can be seen the most egregious things that are done are done by states and local government.

  43. First off:
    Bob Kurland: The Republican congress will do nothing about this because this regulation is not being passed through normal legislative means. They will not even be given the opportunity to vote on it. The FCC chairman board (a body composed of 3 Obama democrats and 2 Republicans) were given the regulation (described by one chairman as, “Every last one of the regulations on the internet Obama asked for in 2011”) in secret, with express direction not to reveal it to the public before it is implemented, to be voted on implementation by February 26. This vote is a simple majority. 3 votes for government control and only 2 votes (1 definite, 1 probable) against.

    Second:
    These supposed “safeguards” from company A or company B conducting unfair business practices are a flim-flam. Laws and methods of legal protection already exist which the private person can pursue to ensure they are not taken advantage of unfairly. There is no need for additional ones. It is simply a smoke-screen to get you pansies afraid of “big-bad-business” to allow the government to take away more of your freedoms.

    Third:
    Competition should be the balance to all of these issues. If Company A says, “We are going to limit your service for X dollars,” company B can say, “we won’t limit your service for X minus 10 dollars.” The problem related to the failure in competition is not that there is no desire to compete, rather there is no possible way to compete under existing government regulations. A problem that will become even worse when the government steps in and applies price-fixing and federally recognized monopolies.

    Fourth:
    The regulation includes a “universal service fee” mandate which, one proponent stated, “Will generate 11 billion more tax income.” That’s a lot of money the government is simply mandating, WITHOUT REPRESENTATIVE VOTING IN CONGRESS, of every US citizen.

    “Net Neutrality” is nothing of the sort. It is simply a scam to steal away your freedom and money, put in place by the Democrats, and rammed down our throats as quickly, quietly, and illegally as possible.

  44. “Net neutrality is not about banning content but to open it and make sure that everyone has access to it.”

    And exactly where or who is now censoring the internet? Is this a real problem or are you advocating government regulation out of fear that something bad might happen some day? This hasn’t been a problem for the last 30+ years. On what basis has it become a problem now?

  45. Enough sophistry.

    You want the carriers to profiteer. For what? To make better wires? You have to be a fool or a crook to be against net neutrality. The carriers have a captive market, the internet should be treated a utility. It would be the best thing for the country. Screw the fools and crooks.

    JMJ

  46. 1) The Internet would be a much better place if there was a workable mechanism to ‘micro-charge’ for content. E.g., I wander over to Brigg’s blog, read today’s title and decide it sounds interesting, so I stick an anonymous virtual nickel in a slot, turn the little crank, and out pops the content.

    2) Massive legislation: some states have the line-item veto, other states require that each piece of legislation only cover a “single subject”. The latter seems to work pretty well and is my preference – it cuts way, way down on the screw-the-taxpayer back-room deals and vote-buying. Would a requirement for single-subject legislation work at the federal level? I’m skeptical, because . . .

    3) The federal government has become a bloated behemoth with no accountability. It clearly cannot be reformed or otherwise salvaged, it must be muzzled. The concept of checks and balances simply doesn’t exist any more at the federal level. The only viable solution I’ve heard of so far is a constitutional amendment to give the states veto power over all federal actions concerning US internal affairs. The federal government has one chance to get it right, and never does, and the failures layer one atop the other over time into a great steaming pile. With fifty states there are fifty chances to get it right, and unworkable approaches die swiftly and are soon forgotten.

    4) JMJ: I’m curious from whence thou speaketh. If we were to strike up a friendly conversation, and I used the phrase “economic productivity”, what words could I expect to hear from you on that concept? (Your answer could help me pigeonhole you properly.)

  47. I think to be critical of the conservative point of view, I often see a confusion where free market principles are championed even in markets that aren’t free. Capitalism works when there is competition in a market. It doesn’t work when there isn’t any. If a market has monopoly control or has a small number of oligarchical players and the cost to enter the market is exorbitant, a strong case can be made for government intervention.

    However, the mistake I see here from the side prompting regulation is to assume it’s always required on theoretical/ideological grounds.

    Microsoft Window’s is essentially a monopoly in the business market. 99% of the specialised accounting and ERP systems that the vast majority of businesses require run only on Windows. (Excluding very small businesses, which don’t have particularly specialised requirements.) Why hasn’t the government regulated Windows? Why hasn’t it set rules to determine its pricing, its backward compatibility standards, its future feature set?

    All of the above is far more critical to a healthy economy than whether someone’s Facebook or video game play is a little slower than it otherwise could be on a particular carrier, because someone else wants to download a movie faster.

    Or in other words, if you’re championing regulation, make a case for why it’s needed that’s better than hypothetical. Most of the talk here is of the “this could happen, that might happen”. Most scary things people dream up never happen. Regulations should be there to solve problems that exist, not address imaginary problems that don’t yet exit.

  48. Sylvian,

    We aren’t talking about a bill. This is a mandate from the FCC. This regulation never even entered into the House or Senate. Straight from the horse’s mouth as it were, via an interview with one of the FCC Commisioners.
    link

    It is important to know what is actually being discussed before positing incorrect assumptions.

    And you don’t got to look very far to see examples of Demos pushing for censorship. Just give her a go (I had articles from 4 different sites listed but spam filter won’t let this go through with them here).

  49. Briggs

    February 18, 2015 at 6:30 am

    John,

    Try the links now. But be sure to close them (the </a> tag).

  50. swordfishtrombone

    February 18, 2015 at 8:15 am

    JMJ:

    “You want the carriers to profiteer. For what? To make better wires?”

    Yes, actually. They’re called “fibre-optic”.

  51. Holy Comments, Batman!

    My view:
    Net Neutrality aims to fix a problem *caused* by government intervention with further government intervention.

    I have two choices of internet providers, *mandated* by the local government, through franchise grants to Time Warner and AT&T. The gov’t gets a kickback for each subscriber (of course, added to my bill), and if I want a land line connection to the net, I have to pay a toll to one of these two providers.

    Instead of pushing to eliminate local monopolization and banning government-imposed monopolies (which is hard), people instead push to entrench the existing monopolies (and “regulate” them) much as was done with Natural Gas and Electric utilities. Of course, those regulated companies quickly captured the regulatory boards and I don’t see how that can possibly be different this time around.

    The internet has always been a mishmash of agreements between networks, publishers, institutions, etc, and has *never* been “neutral” in the sense of “equal access” used by most of the commenters above. Sure, these agreements have been skewed by the mess that is local monopolies (creating a government-blessed gatekeeper between subscribers and content), but having the government control these agreements? Disaster in the making…

  52. Sure, Sylvain, the government is keeping open the internet. And the tooth fairy is alive and well.
    My guns are what keep the government from taking my house.
    The government is most certainly NOT ME. NOT, NO, HELL NO. Can I be more clear.
    You obviously have not idea what is going on in the United States right now.

    Sylvain: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0210/DOC-331957A1.pdf As John noted, NOT a bill.

    Enough class envy, JMJ. You just can’t stand anyone succeeding when you have obviously been such a failure. Screw you greedy failures. (Successes don’t suffer class envy.)

    Will: Good points. The government regulates that from with they are not currently profiting. Microsoft, Google, and many, many other such near-monopolies back Obama and Democrats. Plus they more or less work. I don’t believe we never have to regulate, but I do agree most definitely that regulation for the sake of government control is a no-no. (I’m not sure I agree with most scary things people imagine not happening, or at least not anymore. A lot of them do seem to be happening at a very fast rate.)

  53. Nate,

    It’s unlikely that cable providers would have made the investments in property (cables and adapters) that they did if it weren’t for those TV franchise guarantees. Internet access was added as an afterthought. The primary content was TV. Verizon, too, was after the TV market even though Verizon (as Bell) back in the pre-internet 80’s was looking into providing a minimum 56Kbaud data service to all homes through existing phone lines obviously before any real need.

    So now we have many who want to effectively “nationalize” property and its uses which were private investments. It’s as if, because the investments were made and are being widely used, everybody now has some basic right to them thus are attempting to control how those investments should be recovered.

    Google is attempting to enter the cellular market without making any network investments by riding on the investments of existing carriers. Should those carriers now be forced to give Google a free ride?

    It’s the same problem as this so-called “net neutrality”.

  54. DAV,

    I don’t think we disagree, except maybe on one point.

    Businessmen have used the tactic of “we won’t do it if there’s not a law passed to protect my business” for hundreds of years, whether it’s the East India Company, the US railroad barons (nothing capitalist about the railroads), etc.

    We can’t possibly claim to know what would have happened if those monopoly agreements hadn’t been made. Perhaps satellite TV would be much more common, and local municipal computer networks would have been created (private or public). Perhaps more people would have ended up in high density areas where infrastructure investments are profitable and concentrated. Or maybe we’d have seen digital encrypted TV over RF become the standard, rather than running wires to homes. “If the government doesn’t do it, it won’t happen” is the common argument, and it’s not backed up by evidence.

    I agree, there’s big free rider problem now – someone paid to build these lines, with certain expectations, and now “net neutrality” aims to steal them out from those who built them. I contend that instead, removing the barriers of the monopoly on local connections may help. But likely what will really help is when home wireless internet becomes more accessible, and there’s more competition between providers.

  55. Imagine that company X sees an opportunity in building a road between points A and B. So, they build that road and charge a toll of D for each car travelling on it.

    Company Y comes along and uses a large amount of capacity of the road by running an enormous number of trucks along it. Those trucks take up the space of 2-4 cars depriving company X of the income from those missing cars so company X wants to charge more for the trucks.. Company Y chafes at this and runs to the government to force X to charge the same rate for both trucks and cars. Company X would then have to raise the toll for both cars and trucks.

    Netflix and Amazon want to use a large amount of network capacity by running large trucks in the form of 90-120 minute movies along the internet roads blocking smaller content but are chafing at paying more than the smaller subscribers.

    This is what “net neutrality” is all about: riding on the investments of others without sharing the cost of those investments. It’s the few hogging what could be used by the many. At best it would mean everybody would have to pay more for access.

  56. Nate,

    I dunno. If it weren’t for those franchises the development of cable networks would have been much slower and likely not have included internet access. Verizon jumped in because they were going to upgrade to fiber regardless as it lowers their maintenance costs. This also applies to AT&T.

    But that being said, there are now three fiber cables running down my street belonging to Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. Maybe they would have been laid anyway without the initial Comcast franchise. Hard to say.

    Satellite TV suffers from the vagaries of the weather. It really can’t compete with cable. There’s nothing like having your favorite program blocked or seriously degraded by a storm. I had a DSL line which also seemed to go down in inclement weather. Took a long time to discover why. It too was a pain in the butt. I got my Verizon fiber optic internet out of frustration with the DSL line and before I discovered the DSL problem solution.

  57. I should also point out that the DSL was a replacement of an ISDN line from Verizon. At the time, Verizon would not provide DSL service and was apparently not at all in a hurry to do so, The DSL was provided by a third party using the same lines Verizon was claiming would not carry DSL.. I eventually replaced the DSL with a fiber optic connection through Verizon but that only became available some 5-7 years after I got the DSL. About the same time Comcast, who had the TV franchise, was only beginning to offer internet access. About the same time Verizon laid its fiber, they managed to get a franchise for TV (so now we had two TV providers). I can’t say whether Verizon was planning on the TV market or if they just saw it as an opportunity. Considering their previous reluctance at providing data service I suspect that their current provisions are just happy coincidence.

    Oddly, AT&T doesn’t provide any service in my neighborhood. I guess their line comes down my street out of some logistics convenience.

    Comcast still rules in my neighborhood. Primarily because they offer a much better deal than Verizon likely itself due to the competition from Verizon. It’s the only reason I stick with them for TV. They are quite an arrogant company but the ‘V’ word works wonders with them.

  58. DAV: Interesting. My satellite, when I had it, rarely went down due to inclement weather. Snow would cover the dish and I’d have to clear that, and during especially heavy rain storms. Maybe two or three times a year. Same thing happens now with the over-the-air channels.

    I live in a rural area, so choices are limited. Even in town, there is only one cable company and they seem to be down more than up. I don’t see net neutrality helping this, since the entire east coast has no idea the state of Wyoming even exists most of the time. The reality is we don’t have enough people for companies to make much profit, and the boom/bust cycles mean the company gets five or ten good year, then five or ten bad. That’s really not fixable. My solution is just to tell people not to move here if internet and television services are important to you.

  59. Sheri,

    That it went down at all because of precipitation would make it less reliable. But then, it wouldn’t be any different than having a ball game being rained out. Might be the reason domes were added to stadiums: reliability.

    Yeah, high speed internet access and essentially trouble-free TV can become addictive.

  60. RE Net Neutrality — there’s competition & there’s competion, the issue with net neutrality is about tactics, especailly those associated with heavy-handed monopolistic tactics, which have long been deemed unacceptable in a truly capitalistic socity…as Vihart shows somewhat entertainingly:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAxMyTwmu_M

  61. DAV:

    I hear you. When I was in Pittsburgh, FIOS had Comcast scared to death (and I was very impressed with both the FIOS TV and internet service). I guess it comes down to the fundamental problem of economics: unlimited wants, limited resources.

    Often, those who want to regulate, control, and appropriate are stuck in a static mindset of the world. They have a mental model that says that if we regulate something, everything will be exactly the same as today except *better*. There’s an incredible lack of ability to see the creative possibilities (and often a lack of belief in the creative power of the individual). A lot of this is also driven by a fear of change and ignorance of history…

  62. Sheri,

    Funny in Canada no ones fear to have their house seized by the government.

    How long will your gun protect you against an army of cops? Since you are white maybe a little bit longer than if you were black.

    Police are seizing house at the request of the so glamorous free enterprises banking. And in some occasion even when the house got paid in full after the 2008 debacle.

    Yes, corruption is very high in the US, just look at the number of republican governor facing trial over it, Walker, McConnel, Perry, etc.

    Here is what Obama is asking:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/net-neutrality

    “The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone. I believe the FCC should 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. The rules I am asking for are simple, common-sense steps that reflect the Internet you and I use every day, and that some ISPs already observe. These bright-line rules include:
    • 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.”

    Where are the threat mention in his plan. The author of the Fcc press release is known to be a Republican (see here: http://dailycaller.com/2015/02/10/republican-fcc-commissioner-obamas-internet-plan-worse-than-i-imagined/)

    Now we know the guidelines Obama set to the Fcc. They are pretty straight forward, and none invasive. It would be nice to be able to see the 332 pages fcc document to see Ajit Pai accusation are founded or just a plain political partisan politic.

    According to Republican pundit Obama is a dictator that wears mom jeans, while having a hard on for Putin, the King of Jordan, and CeCe in egypt for how swift they are reacting to dissent. All three being real dictator.

    As for Ajit Pai, he seems pretty cozy with communication companies. So does he works for them or for the public. Only seeing the entire document can confirm or debunk what he said.

  63. Ken,

    “he issue with net neutrality is about tactics, especailly those associated with heavy-handed monopolistic tactics, which have long been deemed unacceptable in a truly capitalistic socity”

    Could you clarify what you mean by that? A drug company spends $100 million and brings a new drug to market that saves lives. It has an exclusive patent on the drug. If you don’t pay their charge, you die. They have monopolised the treatment. Are you saying that in a capitalistic society this type of behaviour is unacceptable and that after its been developed, the government should legislate to take it away from the company so it can be used by all?

  64. Ken,

    The arguments in the video are based on false assumptions.

    The primary one is: You paid for delivery of whatever you want when you want it when you signed up with your ISP. This is false. The capacity of the line coming into your neighborhood wasn’t really designed to deliver 100Mbs (or whatever) 100% of the time to each house. It’s an expected peak usage over a short period of time. The ONLY way for this to happen is for the ISP to build in more bandwidth — which means investing more $$$.

    So, in the meantime, the ISP is faced with two options: 1) catch the sink by increasing end user fees or 2) catch the source by increasing fees of content providers. Either one (or both) would help alleviate the problem. However, the home owner isn’t in it for the profit but companies like Netflix are. It seems much fairer to charge Netflix more because they are cashing on the ISP’s investment costs while simultaneously being unwilling to share them.

    I note that Google Fiber was mentioned in the video. This is even grosser blood sucking. It’s Google forming a network with ZERO outlay of investment.

    If Netflix, Amazon and Google get away with this — and it looks like they will because (apparently) so few understand the economics — then everybody will have to pony up more fees and internet service will be highly degraded during the movie watching rush hours just as road service gets degraded by morning and evening commuters.

    Of course, there’s another alternative: usage fees vs. flat fees just like with utilities. What one pays is determined by how much one uses.

  65. The rush hours on highways are most apropos. Many cities are now implementing express lanes on expressways that charge more for usage. You pay more; you get home quicker. Don’t pay it; enjoy being surrounding and held back by fellow drivers.

    Are the express lanes unfair? Apparently, you see it that way. After all, ALL of the drivers paid for the road through taxes and ALL should have equal rights to the road, right? Some cities don’t seem to see it that way.

  66. Hi all,
    Could someone please explain why there isn’t more ISP competition? Competition usually solves most of these problems without the need for government intervention. The market regulates itself by answering to the needs and demands of the consumer. If an ISP were to do something to the disliking of the consumer, the consumer could simply switch ISPs. It’s always healthiest when companies have to answer to the consumer and not the government.

    So why aren’t there more ISP’s? What is the barrier to entry? Government regulation? Costs? This should be the solution.

    Thanks.

  67. Could someone please explain why there isn’t more ISP competition?

    Pretty much the same reason there isn’t more competition in railroad building or nationwide parcel package delivery. For an ISP, there’s a high front-end investment cos and the return per household per year is small. Where I live, FIOS and Comcast compete but in the end both charge roughly the same.

  68. Ken – I could only get a little over three minutes into your Vihart Net Neutrality video before my brain crashed – it hiccuped on every false or fishy sounding statement, but bang, bang, bang, they kept coming in rapid fire succession. Ouch, ouch, ouch, make it stop!

    It would be oh-so-nice if people who create this stuff were actually interested in explaining their reasoning to me so I can learn something, rather than simply validating the thinking of those already in agreement.

  69. Dav,

    Your highway analogy doesn’t really work since people already pay different amount for different speed and even download .

    What enterprises like Comcast ask for is for the ability to decide the your speed once you got through the gate.

    Your highway analogy becomes that you pay more the get through the paygate faster but once your through the gate company control at what speed you can go depending on where you want to go. Not because it would give a better service but simply because they can squeeze more money that way.

  70. Sylvain,

    Ill-informed as usual but just as opinionated. I don’t know where to start.

  71. Dav,

    You are always more ill informed and opiniated. If I lived my life according to your principle I would be in very deep trouble. Of course, happy are the stupid because they don’t know what they are.

    Edited

  72. “Your highway analogy doesn’t really work since people already pay different amount for different speed and even download .”

    Never heard of road tolls?

    Since your first sentence is factually wrong the rest of your argument immediately collapses.

  73. Hi Sylvain,

    I’m trying to follow your comment that you made at 1:00AM and am getting alittle lost in it.

    Maybe that’s why DAV responded the way he did (“Ill-informed as usual but just as opinionated. I don’t know where to start.”)

    I really don’t know how I feel on this issue.
    I think you were making some good points, but I also feel that DAV answered many of them.
    But again, your last full response to DAV was a bit confusing as to what you’re trying to say.

  74. Sylvain: I didn’t say I feared my house would be taken. You said the government protected me from this and I said my gun did. I expressed no such fear.

  75. Will,

    Yes, I’ve heard of road toll. On the Internet road toll are the ISPs. They charge different amount for different speeds.

    This is why the highway analogy doesn’t work, I mean there’s always been fast lane on the internet.

    Net neutrality is not what happens between you and your ISPs but between your ISPs and the site you wish to access. Net neutrality want you to have access to all sites at the maximum speed your access and the site access permit. Without net neutrality your ISPs decides at what speed you can access each website depending on their own time table.

  76. Thanks Jim my last comment should be clearer.

  77. Sylvain: You seriously think I fear a government that thinks terrorists would be nice if only they had jobs? We can’t kill our way out of terrorism? They are clueless cowards. I may fear the progressives and individuals who cluelessly follow them, but not much. Clueless, cowardly people are not to be feared, but rather pitied. They are indeed problematic for society in general, but they are not to feared. Eventually, they will have to be dealt with, yes. In all likelihood, the unemployed terrorists will deal with them, but that’s a different story.

  78. “Just like speeds on the road are the same for everyone.”

    But different vehicles pay different rates to drive on that road. New cars pay higher vehicle fees that old cars. Trucks pay higher tolls than cars. Trucks have lower speed limits than cars. And, Priuses ( Prii?) drive in the carpool lane.

    Internet as utility… heavy users of electricity pay a higher rate per kilowatt hour than light users… same for water. Most net-neutrality advocates want no charge for use, just a charge to have the pipe connected.

    Regulation protects entrenched interests. It is a barrier to entry. It is a cost that large providers can afford and small providers cannot.

    In my neighborhood there are now fewer than 15 broadband providers. Comcast / Time Warner / ATT does not have an oligopoly where I live. I realize that much of the country is not as wired as Silicon Valley… but in the “non-neutral” world, I can pick the provider that offers me the deal that suits my needs. How many of these niche competitors will there be “post-neutrality?”

  79. Sylvain,

    What do you think you are getting when an ISP tells you your connection is 50Mbps? You clearly don’t understand what the number means. You should look into this before continuing your ranting.

    The road analogy is far closer than you think. There are speed limits, bottlenecks, vehicle sizes, red lights and more on the internet highways.Go learn about it.

  80. There are speed test programs out there to find out what your actual speed is, not what the provider tells you. One time I spent 10 minutes trying to get the speed test to load and finally gave up. Needless to say, I was not getting high speed internet at that point.

  81. Is it a fact that companies like NetFlix takes up more bandwidth and that taking up more bandwidth will slow down other things? Like going to a site where you can listen to music or maybe a youtube.

    I’ve just read posted in the comments over at The Blaze article that that’s a lie.
    That Netflix taking up more bandwidth would not cause a slow down in other bits of data coming from other sources.
    And that someone like Comcast charging NetFlix more is completely unnecessary.

    But granted, I’m not the most knowledgeable with this.

    Thanks for any help.

  82. There are speed test programs out there to find out what your actual speed is, not what the provider tells you.

    This is where a lot of misconception sets in. The speed programs don’t actually measure the connection speed which very likely matches what the ISP claims.

    Instead, the speed programs give you and effective data rate during the time of the test. Run it again and you could easily get a different number. The number is often less than the connection speed even when there is no slowdown as data packets have inherent (and possibly varying) overhead that some of these ignore as most people are after the data rate and not the actual connection or packet speeds

  83. The test at speedtest.net allows you to select the other end of the test so you can observe speeds between you and Tacoma or you and Baltimore, etc. The numbers are usually different. Here, there are several close terminals only 10-20 miles apart and I get wildly different effective speeds between them. At any given time, it’s really hard to tell which will be the fastest.

  84. jim Bones,

    You got it. It is a lie. Unfortunately, this net neutrality thing is going to go into effect very soon because apparently the majority of FCC commissioners are completely ignorant of the facts or just don’t care. That it expands FCC power is probably just a coincidence.

    As Doug M pointed out, regulation strangles competition. This neutrality thing is completely unnecessary.

  85. Dav,

    Yes there are many analogy that can be made between Internet and highways but the you used did not describe what is really happening in the case of net neutrality.

    This is what happened without net neutrality:

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/06/fcc-gets-comcast-verizon-to-reveal-netflixs-paid-peering-deals/

    Net neutrality in Canada has already been delt with via our regulatory commission (crtc).

    http://t.thestar.com/#/article/business/tech_news/2015/01/30/crtc-says-no-to-internet-fast-and-slow-lanes-geist.html

  86. So Canadians can’t think. Apparently the FCC can’t either. Sad really. I can only wonder why you are so interested in the affairs here as you already live in wonderland. Just to keep convincing yourself it’s better?

    Sorry, but you still don’t know what you’re talking about. Pointing out you aren’t alone doesn’t mean you’re any closer to being right. In fact, you can’t be Right as you are on the Left which, by definition, is not Right.

  87. But, between you and me, seeing you are quite the astute consumer, there’s a bridge near Briggs’s digs that I can get you at rock bottom price. Imagine the possibilities! I hear it goes into what was the premier world market for gold bricks. I can even toss in a couple for free to get you started.

    Sound yummy?

  88. Jim,

    Two things causes increased in bandwidth.: Video and video games.

    When you pay your subscription to your ISP you will pay for two things: 1) your connection speed and download limit.

    Since you already pay for a selected speed and download limit there is no reason you can access any site you like at the desired speed but you might pay fee on download if you get over your limit.

    That more people choose to watch Netflix doesn’t affect in any way the ISP since you already but the bandwidth. So it doesn’t change anything that everyone goes on Netflix or YouTube as long as they are able to face the demand.
    But ISPs didn’t like that most of the traffic came from only a few site so they decided they wanted a cut of their business. Like criminals who will ask for owners of small shop in cities money from protection from their own gang.

  89. See what I mean? You don’t know what “connection speed” actually means.

  90. That more people choose to watch Netflix doesn’t affect in any way the ISP since you already but [bought?] the bandwidth.

    You insist on talking from ignorance. As I said, you don’t know what “connection speed” means. It is not bandwidth although it sets the upper limit for bandwidth. The ISP is generally not capable of guaranteeing bandwidth. All you bought was a guaranteed connection speed; nothing more.

  91. @Sylvain

    “Yes, I’ve heard of road toll. On the Internet road toll are the ISPs. They charge different amount for different speeds. This is why the highway analogy doesn’t work, I mean there’s always been fast lane on the internet.”

    Again, you’re being factually wrong. It’s hard to get to the point where people will listen to your arguments (which might possibly be good ones) if you can’t get your facts straight. There are roadways near me where I can pay a toll and travel much faster, or I can choose not to pay, and travel in the congested lanes. These lanes travel side by side. And to think, I already paid all my government taxes too! Roads also routinely have dedicated fast lanes for public transport or may set other conditions, such that you must have at least 2 or 3 or 4 passengers in the vehicle to use the lane. (They are called T2/T3, etc., lanes where I live.) There is nothing wrong with the analogy. As far as the analogy goes, it’s a good analogy.

    “Net neutrality want you to have access to all sites at the maximum speed your access and the site access permit. Without net neutrality your ISPs decides at what speed you can access each website depending on their own time table.”

    Well that is pretty absurd when you think about it. ISP’s need to throttle some sites from time to time otherwise everyone experiences congestion. Or they might need to improve accessibility for select users. Road ways are actually even more harsh about this. They will close some lanes completely during peak hours, or they will run red lights for extended periods of time. All so that the maximum number of users may experience the best possible outcome. Or, also, so that revenue collection may be increased. You want the internet to be treated like a public utility, but then don’t want the internet to be limited to the same restrictions public utilities are routinely subjected to.

  92. Dav, Will

    My ISP is videotron. I have unlimited download at a speed of 30 mbps.

    My neighbor a local TV host is also with also with videotron but at a speed of 200 mbps and unlimited download.

    http://www.videotron.com/residentiel/internet/internet-residentiel

    Both our internet are on the same subnetwork, we have the same mode except mine is blocked at 30mbps. The speed at which the signal goes from my house, or my neighbors house to the videotron passerelle is the same and this is close to the speed of light.

    The difference between me and my neighbor is the number of signal our modem can process (send or receive). I live in a small village and there are dozens of customer using the same subnetwork, but we are still very fast because we are not surpassing the capacity of the cable and the ISP passerelle. But if we were hundreds on the same subnetwork at the same time, the subnetwork would be overloaded and speed would go down.

    But videotron, and its competitor Bell (these are the only to possible provider in my region) also offer webtv stations that you can buy like you buy Netflix. So like Comcast they tried to slow down Netflix and favor their own webtv. The CRTC intervene and ruled it illegal that those companies could degrade the service of competition to favor their own. I don’t like the web tv service they offer which is too expensive and uninteresting content compared to Netflix.

    Net neutrality does not effect the connection speed between me and my provider, but it does effect the connection speed between my provider and Netflix. It can effect it enough that you get tired that it doesn’t work and you switch to ISP web TV which is more expensive and not as good.

    Now there can be hours of the day where the traffic to a website gets too high and a traffic jam can occur. that traffic jam will occur at the website that you visit and will be cause by the lack of capability of the web site in question or its own ISP.

    This kind of Jam happened often in the early 2000s when highspeed internet came on the market and when the growth in costumer was faster than the growth in network capability. But these problem have been resolved a while back.

  93. @Sylvain

    Very brief lesson in how running a business works. (I’ve been the managing director of private technology companies for 30+ years.)

    A CEO’s job is to increase the value of the business he runs. He is incentivized to do this because company value is tied to his bonus. He/She can do this in the short run by paying a higher dividend – essentially giving profits back to owners, which tends to drive up the share price. Or buy back shares – this effectively reduces the pool of owners, hence same no. of dividends go to a smaller group, hence increase in value. Or the profit can sit in a bank account somewhere. Not a great option, as banks (or bonds) don’t pay much interest these days. Or the CEO can invest. Investing is a great option because owners expect the CEO to have an investment plan. Without one, he won’t have a job anyway. For a services company, such as a carrier, that means, improving service or reducing fees to win more market share. Reducing fees can be counter productive. (Because extra customers might not make up the difference in reduced income overall.) Increasing service typically means laying more cable or upgrading cable. That’s expensive. The business can only afford to do so much of this at a time. But it can do more of it, if its profits are greater. One way to increase profits is to find new revenue streams, i.e., get extra income from video service providers.

    What a “net neutrality” law might ultimately end up doing, is block new sources of revenue, which means new services take longer to roll out. Or in a worst case scenario, if the market becomes too regulated, the need for competition in that particular market is reduced, and hence investment stops.

    The point of the above explanation is that service companies LOVE to improve their services. The more profitable they are, the faster they can do that. It’s usually their preferred option when it comes to deciding what to do with profit. When government regulate a market in a ham fisted way, they often create results that are the exact opposite of the intended regulations. The public don’t understand any of this, because they don’t understand how businesses operate. It sounds great on paper, and governments love to introduce rules if they are popular. Whether they work or not, is not really the point of the exercise for the government.

  94. Sylvain,

    1) The speed of light thing irrelevant to this topic
    2) Even if you could directly connect to your neighbor, your connection speed will be limited to that of the slowest terminal
    3) You don’t connect directly to your neighbor — you go through a router at the ISP. That only clogs two wires and unlikely causes no interference to anyone else.
    4) The connection speed sets an upper limit on the end-to-end bandwidth. It can never exceed the slowest point along the path.
    5) Netflix enjoys being able to utilize and profit from resources provided at your ISP without having to pay for it. This is theft so of course they can be cheaper. They are also depriving your ISP of expected revenue while stealing from them. the Apparently, your government is OK with this.
    6) Using Neflix likely exceeds the expected usage your ISP imagined when they set the price for your connection. Call that your share, The resources they allocated to provide your share are likely too small for this type of usage (i.e., connecting and downloading from Netflix). This is fine until someone else does the same thing. You are then both grabbing more than you tacitly agreed to pay for which, in turn, means you are using resources allocated to someone else.
    7) It maybe hard to find out how much usage (your share) they actually envisioned but you can probably guess at it from the connection fees. Believe you me that “unlimited” download was a sales gimmick and they really don’t expect you to take advantage of it a lot.
    8) Your abetting the resource theft by Netflix will result in higher cost to you for your connection or you will begin seeing congestion as more like-minded neighbors engage in larceny.
    9) What Will said.

  95. What you are doing, Sylvain, is no different ordering a cup of coffee at some eatery and then have Joe’s Pizza delivered to you at your table. Joe doesn’t have to pay for the resources supporting your table and your cup of coffee didn’t either. The owner of the table figured you would buy your food from him and figures someone should pay extra. If your stupid government says he can’t charge Joe then it is you that is being left holding the bag.

  96. The net neutrality rules are based on treating the Internet as a phone system. IOW, a major danger is monopolists letting lines deteriorate because they’re protected from competition. Another major danger is increased surveillance. Yet another danger is that ISPs will be required to complete every communication. Spam has almost disappeared from my email over the past few years. Will it revive?

    If they’re not censoring phones, they’re unlikely to censor the Internet.

    It took 108 years to dump the Interstate Commerce Commission and 57 years to dump the Civil Aeronautics Board. How long will this last?

  97. Will,

    I understand that company like Comcast want to make has much money has they can. All the thrust in the late 1800s acted the same way and used the government to establish laws that favor them until people understood that thrusts were reducing competition and were jacking up the price to the consumer.

    This is why there are now antitrust laws to prevent monopolies.

    All the largest cable and phone companies now propose tv packages and own tv channels. They all wish to favor their own products, which in return can prevent the creation of new idea in garages by small people like YouTube.

    Netflix had to pay Verizon and Comcast to stay in business. They offer a service that people like at an affordable price.

    Another example are the telephone post which were at first private to each companies, but since not all companies can install post wherever they want the owner of the post has to allow competitors access to there post for a reasonable fee. We are seeing the same thing recently with cell phone towers where all companies can connect to the same towers instead of having 1 tower for each company.

    There are also train track that can be used for a fee by competition and once again the owner of the track cannot favor it’s own trains.

    You pay your ISPS to connect on the internet once you get on the internet your ISP should not be able to tell you where you can or cannot go.

  98. To Sylvain: You cannot use the Ring. Regulation answers to the Establishment alone. It has no other master.

  99. @Sylvain

    Yes I think I understand your position but you have not addressed any of the problems I’ve raised with your position. So let me summarise them and maybe we end there.

    What actual censorship by carriers can you point to? If you can’t identity any, then clearly such legislation is intended to address hypothetical or even imaginary problems.

    Regulation has risks and costs in a free market. There are unintended consequences, no matter how good in theory regulations sound. If the problem is purely hypothetical (at this stage) the risk benefit isn’t looking good, is it?

    Although they are not ideal, monopolies exist everywhere. Consider my Microsoft example, which has a benign monopoly over the business market. The risks involved in regulating Microsoft would exceed any plausible benefit (at this stage).

    Even with infrastructure, the practice of offering ‘fast lanes’ are perfectly normal. A toll road runs faster than a more congested ‘free’ road. People who use electricity at peak demand times pay more.

    The main problem with this sort of legislation is that it reduces profits which disincentivizes investment. While it might strike you as unfair that people who pay more for certain internet services get access to greater speeds, the extra money these individual pays increases the carrier’s profits. That enables the carrier to invest more. Everyone ultimately benefits, not just those who paid more for the selected premium services.

  100. Dav,

    2) we could connect and I agree that we would do it at the lowest speed.
    3) Through relay and switch we are connected to the same entry on the router. We could connect directly if we wished to do so.
    4) agreed
    5) the contract I signed with my ISP is to access the internet, not what my ISPs want me to access. If they don’t want to provide internet then they shouldn’t but if they want then send it to me the fastest possible way. The bandwith taken on my ISP is my bandwith that I have already paid. Netflix doesn’t steal my ISP bandwith it uses my own bandwith. It would be really funny to see Comcast make the claim that Netflix is stealing from them in court.
    6) I cannot exceed my usage even if I was downloading 100% of the time at full capacity. The price they ask from me include profit from the equipment they have to buy and the profit that comes from it. My share is 30 mbps (or 77,760,000 mb/for a 30 days month). If I don’t use it entirely they make more profit. If I use it entirely they still make a profit. Most likely no one ever use all the allocated space. If they assumed that I would use less that what I use then its their problem and bad prediction from them. But everyone uses what is allocated to him. If someone download more than he is supposed to they will charge him for it, and I paid enough surcharged to know that they don’t go lightly on the charges. Some month my download charges were twice the amount I pay for a month of service. I paid about 50$ back then and now around 100$ for a consumption averaging 200g a month, with highs of 300g and lows of 150g.
    7) of course, they don’t expect me to use more than what they predicted. While I calculated that it was cheaper this way than to buy bloc of consummation.
    8) If they miss there target they will adjust it but the problem is not between them and Netflix but between them and their customer. Netflix causes my ISP to sell more expensive package which already bring them more money from their internet services. But web TVs cost them money from people abandoning or reducing their cable TV packages.

  101. Will,

    Until Netflix accepted to pay Verizon they were almost not accessible by Verizon customer. The same happened with Comcast. Doesn’t Comcast own NBC.

    Regulations are unavoidable. the 1800s as shown that lack of regulation had deleterious consequences on the economy and competitiveness. Without a strong government that can apply the law you can have a prosperous economy. If it was the reverse then Somalia would be an economic dream.

    Yes, sometimes regulation will have negative effect, the situation before anti-thrusts laws were passed is an example. Thrusts controlled congress and often had congressmen pass laws that prevented competitions. The President that started the work was Republican Theodore Roosevelt which I guess is well viewed by the conservatives.

    In net neutrality the problem is not hypothetical since there are instances where it has been violated.

    Microsoft is a quasi monopoly, and they paid billions of dollars to Apple in the 1990s so it would not fall under. The net neutrality equivalent would have had Apple paying Microsoft so they could keep selling computer. But Microsoft was regulated in the 1990s. Some regulation apply to Microsoft like the removability of Internet Explorer which was considered an unfair advantage and which has been surpass by other browser like Safari, FireFox, Chrome and probably others. But not before Netscape died or at least became irrelevant.

    There is a huge competition in the console market between Sony, Microsoft and to a lesser degree Nintendo which is a very good thing, and you wouldn’t one of these two companies to get a monopole since innovation comes from competition. Sony Move and Microsoft Kinect are the result of the popularity of the Wii motion. Sony missed the boat on that point while Microsoft took the lead. So a new competitor in the OS system market could be a good thing.

    I agree with your fifth paragraphed but it still does apply to net neutrality. We are not talking of a Jam but deliberate slowdown of a competitor to make a product less appealing while favoring your own web tv services, which it seems is xfinity. Without net neutrality Comcast can offer a better service for xfinity than Netflix wether it is or not during peak hour. Look back above to the 4 bullets point of what Obama is asking.

    Again that people that pay more get better service is not the problem of net neutrality. The problem is that the ISP provide better service to the detriment of competition.

  102. @Sylvain

    ” almost not accessible”

    That’s not the same as blocked, is it? Censored is not the same as slow or inconvenient.

    “the 1800s as shown that lack of regulation had deleterious consequences on the economy and competitiveness.”

    What does that even mean? Who shows this? What are you talking about? You are comparing different technological levels, types of government, and very different economic systems, and have concluded ‘regulations’ were the problem? How so? I suppose, since you can pretty much make up anything you want here. Given all these differences, you could equally argue that heavy regulation would have destroyed fledgling capitalist economies in the 1800’s. A silly position to try to bring into the argument either way.

    “Without a strong government that can apply the law you can have a prosperous economy. If it was the reverse then Somalia would be an economic dream.”

    Somalia doesn’t have an economy because it’s a failed state at war with itself. That has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with politics. So you’re confusing one with the other.

    I could just as easily confuse politics with economics and point to Venezuela, whose government heavily regulated all aspects of its functioning free market and has now destroyed it. They even now have shortages of toilet paper.

    However, this argument is even more silly because my argument is that regulations also have costs. Not that markets should always be regulation free.

    Your Microsoft argument actually refutes your position so why bring it up? The EU forced Microsoft to remove Internet Explorer, and the regulations turned out to be completely pointless because Firefox, Chrome, etc., became viable competitors. The regulations weren’t needed and just became a nuisance and a cost for Microsoft. (IE has less than 50% of the market, although I would expect nearly 100% of serious web surfers don’t use it anyway. So what did the EU achieve that the market didn’t sort out by itself? A good example of why anti-trust turned into a waste of time. So why bring it up?)

    Regarding competition: I don’t think you understand how that works in practice, hence you’re asserting things that don’t make much sense. That’s why I used the example of a drug company that has sole patent rights over a medical treatment. That is ‘anti competition’ by your definition but perfectly consistent with the way markets should operate. The current generation internet wasn’t designed as a replacement for cable and broadcast television. That’s why there are bottlenecks now. By introducing this legislation a very likely result will be a slow down in investment, which means the bottlenecks will stay around for longer. The exact opposite of the intent of the regulation. Once the networks are upgraded, speed issues will be a moot point. By not permitting premium customers to pay more for preferred services, you reduce the profitability of the carriers and potentially cause these bottlenecks to be there for much longer longer than they otherwise would have been, or in a worse case, indefinitely.

  103. Great explanations of how business works, Will and DAV and others.

    What the green-eyed jealous class-enviers do not understand is that the people who are willing to pay more for new and better items lead to everyone getting newer and better items at a lower price. In 1989, a person I was a nanny for had what was one of the first VCRs. He had paid $1000 for it (a few years before 1989—it was not new when I worked for him). He and others like him made it possible for VCRs to come on the market and eventually become priced for everyone.

    In reality, only competition and varying income levels allow for this. The countries where there are innovations have rich and poor people, not just average everyones. There’s no incentive to make new things if there’s no one to cover the original costs and get the idea out to the public. No VCRs, no cell phones, no internet, no PCs. We would not be having this discussion if it weren’t for the rich paying for the internet and computers when it started. Countries without enough rich folks copy what the richer countries innovate. Get rid of the rich, destroy the innovations.

  104. If I use it entirely they still make a profit.

    They generally make ZERO profit from your usage unless they can sell what your don’t use to someone else and/or they can sell you things like videos just as Netflix does. Their profit can only come from collected fees. You apparently have no business sense.

    I cannot exceed my usage even if I was downloading 100% of the time at full capacity. The price they ask from me include profit from the equipment they have to buy and the profit that comes from it. My share is 30 mbps (or 77,760,000 mb/for a 30 days month). If I don’t use it entirely they make more profit.

    No. They don’t expect 100% usage. In fact, even utilities that charge for usage don’t. Why do you think brownouts and blackouts happen with electricity? There is only so much capacity. You are eventually going to learn this the hard way when your rates go up and/or your download speeds diminish. The latter can be done without telling you. Things just get slower.

    If someone download more than he is supposed to they will charge him for it .. Some month my download charges were twice the amount I pay for a month of service.

    You are contradicting yourself. You said you had “unlimited download” (http://wmbriggs.com/post/15306/#comment-137616) which means they WON”T charge more. Are you being dishonest now? You should also realize that “unlimited download” is offered in the same vein as a restaurant might offer “all you can eat”. They don’t expect you to go for 100 helpings but if you do they can’t say anything however don’t expect good treatment afterwards.

    I suspect you are making up all the rest so I’m going to stop now unless you can explain your contradictions.

  105. Sheri,

    What the green-eyed jealous class-enviers do not understand…

    Absolutely. Couldn’t have been said better. Although its been shown time and again that socialism doesn’t work, there are still those that still clamor for it. Go figure.

  106. Once the networks are upgraded, speed issues will be a moot point.

    Or until more people or something even bigger than video downloads comes along. Ever notice that traffic jams still happen even after the roads have been widened?

  107. So true, DAV. Hard drives just get bigger and bigger as we store more and more electronic data. They now stream HD movies. If bandwidth increases, so does the traffic.

  108. Sheri,

    I remember back at the dawn of time, someone I knew bought a TRS-80 and was enamored by the fact that an 8-inch floppy disk could hold has much as 76KB of data. “Do you know how long it would take to type that much?” he asked. He didn’t believe me when I told him it would fill up quicker than he could spit. I also remember my first “huge” hard drive that could hold the unbelievable amount of 10MB and having the same emotions when I got my first GB drive. Now even a TB doesn’t seem big enough.

    Times change.

  109. Will,

    “That’s not the same as blocked, is it? ”

    No it is not but enough so Netflix was losing business from these two major carrier. Prompting them to pay the ransom money.

    “What does that even mean?”

    the 1900s were the start of the progressive era in the US. the 1800s saw the rise of thrust preventing any competition to succeed. The worst of the thrust was seen in the 1890s. At that time thrust were establishing regulation to prevent competition. And when there was no competition they jacked up the price.

    The problem were lack of regulation to established what fair practice was, because companies will do anything they can for a few dollars more.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-woman-who-took-on-the-tycoon-651396/?no-ist

    “In 1900, nearly three decades after the Cleveland Massacre, Tarbell set her sights on what would become “The History of the Standard Oil Company,” a 19-part series (and book) that, as one writer described, “fed the antitrust frenzy by verifying what many had suspected for years: the pattern of deceit, secrecy and unregulated concentration of power that characterized Gilded Age business practice with its ‘commercial Machiavellianism.’ ”

    Thrust were in railroad, oil, steel, etc. This was the dark ages of the American economy where people were considered commodity to the richest who could disposed of them has they wish and even working a 100 hours a week was barely enough to survive.

    Sadly in the recent years the USA seems to go back to those years where a small amount of the population control congress. The Koch brother pledged almost 1 billions dollars for the next election cycle. If they succeed they will save twice as much in taxes in the following years.

    Miss information is everywhere. Canada is paying to build a bridge from Windsor to Detroit, the USA are putting nothing. You can learn more here.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/canada-us-reach-deal-for-funding-plaza-for-detroit-windsor-bridge/article23053779/

    What you don’t seem to realize is that there is always regulations. If it is not the government that make them its is the companies that will do it, except the companies will do it to favor themselves.

  110. Sylvain, here’s the sentence that causes me to run for cover:
    “I’m here from the government and I’m here to help you.”

  111. Yes Sylvain, factory workers during the industrial revolution had it pretty tough. But do you know where those factory workers came from? They came from farming communities and left those farming communities to work in factories *because* that was still better than starving to death. By today’s standards those people were exploited, but you’re projecting your biases on a very different world. Feudalism prior to industrialism wasn’t a picnic either. Can you try to recognize the absurdity of suggesting that regulation would have immediately ‘fixed’ any of those problems? Should Henry VIII have mandated free healthcare, a minimum wage and welfare for the poor? Given the fact that none of these things existed or possible back then, what would the regulations have achieved? And if the regulations had come before any sort of economic prosperity had been created, there never would have been anything the body politic could have shared through regulation. What I’m suggesting is that things are a bit more complicated than you imagine they were.

    You seem to be indulging in a false dichotomy here. That is to say, workers were exploited and regulation “fixed” those injustices. Nobody is claiming regulation = good|bad, free market = good|bad. Only that regulations have benefits and also costs. If you don’t properly evaluate the costs or can’t identify the actual (not hypothetical) benefits, you are shrinking economic prosperity for everyone.

    As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any economic schools that consider regulation to be a wholly positive thing. Most schools view regulation negatively and you don’t have to be Laissez-faire to reach that conclusion. The Monetarists, the Neo-Classicals, the Pragmatic school, the Austrians, all argue that regulation should be limited (note: not eliminated entirely). I can’t think of any economic schools that see it as more positive than negative. Maybe someone else can think of one.

  112. Bob.

    You will be happy to learn that I’ve never heard any government employee say that. Maybe with the exception of policemen, firemen and medical professional . Other than that I have very little contact with the government unless I’m the one contacting them.

    Will,

    You realizes that even though our working condition are much better than in these old times we generate more profit than ever before. Dow Jones has tripled since early 2009 when Obama took power..

    Regulation are inevitable because there is always a class of people that want rules that will favor them over their competition. There were such rules in mercantilism, and colonialism, where countries imposed heavy taxes to protect there own industries. Still under mercantilism the economy has grown at the fastest rate in history to that point.

    The same could be said of the 1800s when the economy grew at the fastest rate yet even though it saw the development of thrust and rules that were voted by congress that favored them.

    But since then a lot has been learned. We now know what kind of rules open the market to competition and what kind can close\restrict it.

    We have learned that companies if unchecked will do anything to gain monopoly and prevent competition. Net neutrality is exactly to prevent that.

    You ask what regulation would have achieve if they were passed under Henry VIII. Not a lot was known about health at that time but regulation were still present under the inquisition who prosecuted women for witchcraft. Their witchcraft was to concoct old time medicine that were the best known medicine at that time, but unknown to those who called themselves doctors.

    You are right that regulation usually follow action. There were no rules for communication until conflict in air waves developed. Their were no rule for trains, plains, car until conflict happened on the road, in the air and on the track. Safety rule appears when there are known technologies that the industries delay to apply.

    Is there anything more regulated than aeronautics yet it doesn’t prevent, Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, Bombardier etc, to develop new air planes transporting more people than ever thought possible.

    Regulation might not fix all problems but many regulation did fix injustices, like child’s labor. Anti-trust regulation gave the chance to many artisan like the Dodge brother to start in business. Without anti-trust laws there was much fewer innovation and competition.

    The Pragmatic school were against all regulation and were discredited by Adam Smith who was against rules when trading with other countries, but in favor of a regulated market inside a country.

    Riccardo wished to limit inheritance of the largest wealth giving a rent to the family but total inherited wealth had a maximum limit.

  113. Classical economist were against rule that favor one over the other.

  114. An interesting article showing the negative effects of government control of the internet:
    http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2015/02/23/losing-the-internet/

  115. Bob,

    Both article are about the same thing than the post is about.

    Right we have to take at his word a single whistleblower and who offers no proofs of its claim.

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