Flatfingers wrote: ↑
Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:47 am
The FCC imposing and verifying compliance with "rules that prohibit carriers from variably pricing broadband based on the origin of data" is not different in any meaningful way from "telling private businesses what they're allowed to charge for the goods and services they provide." These are just two different ways of saying the same thing: ISPs are to be prevented from performing legal business actions.
Let me give several analogies. In these examples, you live on an island where there is only one town, and there is only one store on this town. There is no way off this island. Now, here's the fun part: the person that owns The Store hates you. The Store owner also owns a floral business on the side, which is your main job. Their floral business is roughly as large as yours, and it's healthy competition. (And before you say "You're describing a monopoly, ISPs are not monopolies", keep in mind that in many places in the US, there is only one ISP available to the public. Where I live, the only ISP
available is Windstream. They've made deals with the local politicians to forbid anyone else from entering. They can jack the prices of service up as high as they want - and they do - and they don't care about providing quality service because there isn't any competition. For all intents and purposes, Windstream has a monopoly where I live. It's like this with other ISPs all over the country.)
It's not going to be the best analogy, so bear with me here.
1. ISPs being able to decide how much they charge based on who the purchaser is, is essentially the same as you going into The Store and the owner charging you, at the register, five times as much as everybody else in line just because they don't like you - and getting away with it. ISPs have done this.
2. ISPs being able to throttle sites that compete with them, or that they simply don't like - is essentially the same thing as the owner of The Store saying that they don't like you, so you are only allowed to purchase up to $10 worth of goods at a time. ISPs have done this.
3. ISPs being able to throttle you and then
force you to pay more money in order to continue using their service is essentially the same as a store owner blocking access out of his store
until you pay $500. You are not allowed to leave with your purchases - or at all - until you pay this much. Comcast did this as recently as last year to Netflix.
4. ISPs being able to charge non-company customers of certain sites more or less depending on how much they like them, or which sites they visit, is essentially the same as the owner of The Store charging any customers of your floral business twice as much as everyone else, just because they go to your business and not his. This is the only thing on this list that ISPs in the United States have not done, and only because it's impossible to get away with it quietly. ISPs in countries without net neutrality (lowercase) laws get away with charging people more to visit specific sites for specific numbers of hours
. There are even "caps" on how much you are permitted to visit different sites - unless you want to pay more to unlock "more hours".
5. ISPs being able to discriminate between potential customers is essentially the same thing as preventing anyone that purchases flowers from your floral business from entering The Store in the first place. Their choice is now to either live without food, or switch to The Store owner's floral business for their flower purchases. There's not really much of a choice here. ISPs are notorious for doing this. You are competition. Killing you off means they make more money. As large corporations, that's all they really care about. They wouldn't be large corporations if they cared about people.
6. ISPs being able to completely block all traffic to sites they dislike is essentially the same as The Store owner setting fire to your business and burning it to the ground
. Both sides of this analogy end with the targeted company crumbling. ISPs have done this a number of times. I listed some of them in my post with sources.
There are now no laws in place
in the US to prevent any
of this from happening. All the previous laws were merged with the 2015 Net Neutrality laws, which Ajit Pai & Co. eradicated on the 14th. Nothing protects small business or companies anymore, and nothing protects consumers.
(And yes, businesses setting pricing for their goods and services is legal -- in fact, it's a necessity in a capitalistic system. [...] )
Read above. I explained how it is not legal in this context. Store owners are permitted to charge different prices for their services and goods. A can of chicken may cost twice as much as a can of meat, and this is legal. However, everyone that walks into that store
must pay the same price for that can of beef as everyone else. Charging people more or less based on who they are - which is what we're talking about - is illegal.
I agree with critics when they observe that ISPs are imperfect and will sometimes get so big that they try to unfairly block competition. When this is the case, there is a remedy: the Federal Trade Commission exists to investigate and, where reasonably confirmed, block significant anti-competitive actions.
...Except Ajit Pai closed the investigations into the illegal actions of Verizon and AT&T earlier this year
. He would continue to do so as long as he's in office - but he won't need to now that all the laws protecting consumers are gone. The FCC will no longer investigate and block significant anti-competitive actions. If they would, the FCC chairman wouldn't have shut down the investigations.
But that is as far as regulation should go. Pricing should be controlled by the businesses who are subject to market forces, not by unaccountable DC lawyers. If you want to object to this by saying regulators need control because ISPs "might" do something bad
..."Might"? Did you read my post?
They've been doing this for over a decade - and, usually, not getting away with it. I even provided a huge list of sources to back it up. If they tried this hard when it was illegal, do you really think they'll suddenly stop because it isn't illegal anymore? That implies that they were only doing things because they were
illegal, which doesn't match your interpretation of Big Government being more evil than Big Corporations.
In short, I acknowledge the failings of ISPs and I support a responsibly limited regulatory oversight of all businesses, including ISPs, to prevent fraud and significantly anti-competitive actions.
I'm pleased with this, Flatfingers. I had gathered as much, but the part you're missing is that there isn't any regulatory oversight anymore. Everything that was in place is gone.
The pro-NN position would be considerably stronger if its proponents could equally acknowledge that more regulation also has dangers.
The anti-NN position would be considerably stronger if its proponents could equally acknowledge that a complete lack of regulation has more dangers than what we've had in place since 2005.
Now, if you're wanting me to acknowledge that more regulation also has dangers: Yes. I will agree with this. If the government tried blocking data in and out of the country (so that we wouldn't know how much better "the folks outside" had it), or if they tried shutting down sites that said negative things about the people in power, this would be too much regulation. I also agree that the government has spied on Internet traffic altogether too much in the past (NSA, anyone?). However, none of these things have anything to do with Net Neutrality.