I Wonder What Our Benevolent Seed Overlords Think of This?

The FTC has released a report calling for the end of net neutrality (FTC’s pdf report here*). What does that mean? Well:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to abandon net neutrality and allow telecoms companies to charge websites for access.
The FTC said in a report that, despite popular support for net neutrality, it was minded to let the market sort out the issue.
This means that the organisation will not stand in the way of companies using differential pricing to make sure that some websites can be viewed more quickly than others. The report also counsels against net neutrality legislation.

Not only could this screw over our Benevolent Seed Overlords–compared to a major corporation, how much money can they shovel into paying for highspeed access–but there is a far more serious freedom of speech issue: political groups won’t be able to pay for high speed access while corporations will. Lest you think this only affects the left, the right wasn’t too happy with big business on the immigration issue. Of course, government sites will come up lickety split, no doubt.
I guess freedom really isn’t free….
This is just one more symptom of the infrastructure decay that has occurred under Republican rule:

Every time I talk with someone in the US about their cable TV rates I have to brace myself for some horrendous story about cost, which is always much higher in the US than here in “socialist” France. US cable operators will find any excuse – the latest being the set top boxes with a removable chip, like we have here – to charge more. The bloated fees have helped the cable operators maintain a healthy lobbying presence in Washington to fight off competition but now they are bashing heads with another bloated industry, telcos, who also want a piece of the action.
As mentioned before, in Paris customers can choose from a number of options for cable/telecom/internet and mobile options (using free wifi) at costs dramatically lower than what can be found in the US. The current rate is still about 30 euro/month for unlimited internet, 100+ cable channels, video on demand, phone calls to roughly 50 countries in the world and various options for running your mobile phone over your wifi network. Even with the weak dollar we’re still talking about $40, though 30 euro in local buying terms is like $30 in US buying terms.
All of the crying and now additional $2 and $3 charges to customers is absolute rubbish. The American cable TV industry has done a great job of protecting themselves from competition but sooner or later Congress is going to wake up and see that it’s painfully anti-consumer in all ways possible. What ever happened to the long lost spirit of competition in America? Interesting how much of that disappeared during the GOP congress years, isn’t it?

Great. So now the French are whipping us in healthcare and the internets. What next? Baseball?
*You would think the FTC, an organization that regulates the internets, would be able to post an HTML version.

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9 Responses to I Wonder What Our Benevolent Seed Overlords Think of This?

  1. Trinifar says:

    I’m not sure many people appreciate how significant this is. After it happened to radio, TV, and newspapers, the net has been the one place with a more or less level playing field where corporate power didn’t limit our choices. It’s like we are moving backwards as a culture.

  2. Rob Knop says:

    *You would think the FTC, an organization that regulates the internets, would be able to post an HTML version.
    Not this FTC. If they regulated it competently, then I might expect that, but this is an FTC that I expect would have no clue about anything Internet-related.

  3. Jeb says:

    I guess freedom really isn’t free….
    Actually, freedom costs a buck oh five.

  4. And gee, I wonder what’s going to happen to groups like the EFF and Creative Commons in a post-net-neutrality world. Not like gigantic telecom and media conglomerates would have any bias or anything…

  5. Edward says:

    Let’s not forget that the internet is international. What happens if, say, the EU decides to enact strong net nutrality laws?
    As for cable TV companies, we stopped subscribing years ago. It was a $50/month bill and we were only really interested in watching only a few shows a week. Lately, It’s been mostly watching DVDs when we want to see something. DVD’s can be watched when you want, paused, and don’t have commercials. DVRs offer some of the same advantages, but add to the cost of the cable and TV bill. For $50, I can buy 4-5 DVDs, which is about what I have time to see in a month, or there are compiens like netflix from whom I could probably rent 4-5 DVDs a month for something like $20. As DVD prices continue to fall while the costs of cable stay fixed or rise (as a result of those extra fees), perhaps more people in the US will tune out cable.

  6. Erik says:

    The market does indeed have a strong influence over our household. Since I am supporting myself, my wife, and my son on a doctoral student’s salary we have to watch the costs closely. Cable is way too pricey. As are cell phones.
    My main source of nighttime entertainment is the internet, but since the costs of nixing net neutrality will ultimately be passed down to us, we might have to ditch the high-speed access too. Trickle-down economics at work.
    On the other hand, I actually enjoy being the renegade “dont need no stinking cell phone or cable”.

  7. HOTI Dave says:

    I consult for the Hands Off the Internet coalition, against regulating in this area. The article linked isn’t quite accurate. For one thing, the net has never really been neutral, so it’s not quite fair to say the FTC is “abandoning” it. Secondly, the idea that ISPs will charge for access to “websites” is too simplified to be useful. What ISPs want to offer is called QoS — prioritization of packets mainly for data-intensive services like video and audio. This really has no bearing or impact on blogging, search, anything that’s predominantly text.
    The idea that there is some threat to Internet freedom is vastly overblown, and the idea that the net will end up “like TV” is silly, too. For one thing, the very nature of the medium provides many points of access for little cost, something TV just isn’t. And I think it’s also fair to say that in recent years, TV has gotten more like the Internet — with more channels, lower barriers to entry (see Al Gore’s channel) and Internet spots winding up on TV.
    All the FTC is doing is signing off on letting ISPs offer QoS. Nothing wrong with that — it’s just the market being allowed to work.

  8. robbien says:

    Doesn’t surprise me that a consultant for Hands Off the Internet coalition supports the “market being allowed to work” with the telecos as gatekeepers of the internet.
    Take a look at who funds Hands Off the Internet. A bunch of telecos who want our hands off the internet because the telecos have their own plans for it and want free rein.

  9. CaptainBooshi says:

    The real threat here isn’t to consumers (well, until the telecommunication companies get comfortable and start banning websites they don’t like, which will also now be completely legal), it’s to anybody who does business on the internet. Now, it’s completely legal to charge a ‘protection fee’ to every website to ensure that it’s not so slow no one will visit it. It’s essentially the mafia racket, where men in suits come around to your business and talk about you should buy ‘insurance’ to make sure nothing bad happen. What new service like Google is going to get charged so much they go out of business because the telecommunication companies don’t want competition?
    And HOTI Dave, don’t give me that shit this isn’t that big a deal. We’ve already seen in cases where net neutrality was dropped what the consequences are. I’m specifically reminding of that Canadian company Telus blocking anybody from accessing the union website, or sending emails with union information during a labor dispute. Or in North Carolina, where an ISP completely blocked any of it’s users from using a rival VOIP service. This occurred when the nation’s eyes were already on them and the idea of restoring net neutrality was still being considered. Once they know that they’re safe to do what they want, it’s only going to get worse.

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