Thursday, January 29, 2015

Please Let Freedom Ring

The World Wide Web took off in the early '90s, and caught the government off guard. Our government is just now becoming aware that this great big genie is out of the bottle, and things are just too free. There may be inequalities. It needs to be regulated. Or taxed. Or both. I received the following letter from Senator Mike Lee (R), Utah:
Dear Friends, 
Obamacare, the VA scandal, the IRS scandal--these are just a few examples of what happens when we give government huge power without oversight.

It's about to happen again--the Obama Administration is fighting for a government takeover of the Internet and the Federal Communications Commission is going to vote on it February 26th. That's why I am writing you today--I need your help to stop this.
President Obama came out a few weeks ago urging the FCC to vote to regulate the Internet the same way that it regulates public utilities under Title II. What this means is that, for the first time, billions of dollars in fees will be attached to Internet service just like they are to telephone service.

You see, under Title II if someone wants to own a telephone company, there are fees baked into the law--fees companies pass on to customers.

Now, under this new regulatory regime, Internet service providers will be subject to these fees as well, and then pass them on to you, the consumer.

This is essentially a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on.

The Internet is built on speed and dynamism, it’s always changing, there are always new and better ideas that are exploding onto the scene, and part of the reason for that is that innovators are not having to go ask Washington, DC for permission every time they want to do something new.

What this really comes down to is a fundamental question:

Who do you want in charge of the direction of the Internet: people at dot-com startups that brought us game changing companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and Uber; or nameless, faceless, unelected bureaucrats in our nation’s capital?

There is another aspect of this that gets overlooked: the Internet is an incredibly important force for freedom, for liberty, and the rights of free speech that we hold dear. It is an existential threat to tyrants in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia who seek to keep information from their people.

We must preserve the high ground for the United States to stand up to these countries and tell them to keep the Internet free and preserve free speech on the Internet throughout the world. We cannot do that if we are regulating the Internet in a similar manner ourselves.

I am not accusing anyone of sinister motives here, but I am deeply concerned about the idea of any government bureaucrat having the power to tell companies what they can and cannot do. In the long term, this could have a chilling effect on political speech, in ways that today we could not even begin to imagine.

We do not have much time left to stop this gigantic government takeover of the Internet. The FCC is voting on February 26th and the Left is mobilizing to support their effort to do so. We cannot let the conversation be totally one-sided. The FCC needs to hear from us today--not tomorrow or next week or next month. Today. Please join me and go sign the petition to keep the Internet free. We must stand for liberty and preserve the Internet free of government interference.

Thank you for standing for Internet freedom.

Senator Mike Lee
The Internet has unleashed a wave of political thought and diversity that rivals the invention of the printing press. Citizen journalism has replaced the monopoly of the leftstream media. Once government gets its meat-hooks into the Internet, licensing and regulation won't be far behind. Read what is happening in China. The article is about how censorship and oppression of the Chinese people, and the attendant bureaucratic mismanagement of the equipment to implement it, caused network outages all over the world. Think it can't happen here? Think the US government won't do that? Don't bet on it. We've already seen the IRS being weaponized against wrong-thinking Americans. After a government becomes tyrannical, it's too late. We have to act now. 


  1. This Mike Lee guy is an tool...huh!
    I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he is too stupid to understand what net neutrality is, but since he did not mention the phrase I suspect he is trying some hoodwinking here for sure.
    Internet providers provide a service...plain and simple...and they have my blessing in making money for doing so. But they do not provide content and should have no control over content. They have made it clear they want to leverage the service they provide to control content...the "fast lanes". I sure as hell do not want my electric company deciding what I can use the electricity for...or creating "fast lanes" for certain devices in my house. Oh sure...if they ever did that then everyone would choose another electricity market baby!
    I want my country to this country we want internet providers to do just that...provide internet. And in the name of liberty and all that is free we are going to make sure as hell the you internet providers do not control content.

    1. As you might suspect, I am not in favor of this so-called "net neutrality". All we're talking about is bandwidth allocation and quality of service, which has been done since day one, especially within enterprises. It's no different than first class, and bulk-rate mail, or overnight vs. economy shipping. E.g., video requires more bandwidth, and is more time-critical than email. By prioritizing network traffic, bulk rate doesn't interfere with express cargo.

      Most residential service uses excess bandwidth that is set aside for business users, who pay for a specified, guaranteed quality of service. In order to guarantee quality of service, the network has to be over-built for peak loads. Most of the time that extra capacity is wasted, so providers sell it off to residential customers at a much lower price, but they do not guarantee any minimum bandwidth. This is all completely natural, and nobody is getting ripped off, nor does anybody that I'm aware of intend to rip you off, or tell you how to use your bandwidth. But if you want to put some packets on the fast lane, you can pay extra for that capability (a feature most people don't have now).

      I get so damn tired of hearing people accuse this corporation or that corporation trying to screw somebody. I am much less concerned with a private entity that I have a voluntary contractual relationship with, than I am of a leviathan government that I have a mandatory relationship with. Who would I trust more? The one I could tell to jump in a lake; I'm keeping my money.

  2. Yea...I prefer my internet uncensored...thanks!

    It amazes me that the same people on the right who throw around terms like freedom, liberty, tyranny and naseum...want to give private corporations the right to censor the internet. I guess they are just being good little soldiers and are not really aware of what they are advocating.

    You do not find this sentence just slightly ironic...or perhaps total BS...or perhaps aimed to misinform...or perhaps purposely aimed at misguiding folks who are blind in their dogmatism?

    Who do you want in charge of the direction of the Internet: people at dot-com startups that brought us game changing companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and Uber; or nameless, faceless, unelected bureaucrats in our nation’s capital?

    Here is how those companies feel about net neutrality

    1. How would private corporations censor the internet? How would they not be exposed for attempting it? Do you really not see the risk of government controlling our means of communication? If a corporation does something bad, competition in the market will punish them, and if it doesn't we can take them to court. If government does something bad, there is no higher authority to appeal to.

      Finally, there is no guarantee that regulatory capture will not result in government protecting the very evil corporation you seem to think wants to censor your internet.

  3. Here's the deal...these huge corporate internet providers have come along and said...we need to create fast lanes in order to continue to provide the exact same service I have right now as I type...
    To fund these fast lanes we need to charge content providers like Netflix a tax. We need everyone's blessing for this.
    Unlike a tax increase by the government which would destroy jobs and increase prices...this one is good...will not do anything like that...this one is for profit!

    If Obama were to say he wanted to tax content providers like Netflix in order to fund internet access for low income Americans...heads would explode at the least...I can only imagine.

    1. Actually, here's the deal: the "corporate" internet providers and innovators have invented all sorts of stuff, with all sorts of business models. They will not provide the same exact service as you're getting now -- the demand for bandwidth has been steadily increasing, along with the demand for low-latency. Packet shaping and tiered quality of service is nothing new. Check your own router. It has QOS built right in. The difference is, your router can only optimize traffic entering and leaving your local network.

      If you think it takes a lot of bandwidth for 1080p high definition television, well guess what? Go down to Costco and see the new Quad HD TVs that are coming out now. Couple that with high 120 frames per second and 3D, and ask yourself if maybe more tiers of QOS might not be a bad idea. Don't you suppose it might be beneficial if the people who want to use that extra bandwidth might expect to pay more for it? That would seamlessly allocate limited resources so low demand services don't have to pay for high demand bandwidth. This is nothing new: FedEx, UPS and USPS charge different rates to deliver things of different sizes at different rates. Why is electronic payload any different?

      I don't even understand what you mean about taxing Netflix. Are you saying the government would tax Netflix? Because corporations cannot tax. They can charge for services rendered, based on voluntary agreements between consenting adults. Where I live, I can get internet service from at least five providers: Frontier DSL, Comcast cable, Verizon 4GL, Satellite from various sources, and Clearwire wireless. If I think one of those vendors is somehow restraining my options, or restraining trade, then I can shop for a better deal. Competition is like that. I'll vote with my dollars. If any provider engages in restraint of trade, then the justice department, or the aggrieved corporations, or even a class action consumer lawsuit should be able to sort that out without a bunch of stultifying bureaucrats dreaming up ever expanding rules and regulations to advance their limited and unimaginative view of social justice.

      You say "profit" as if it's a bad thing. What do you suppose people do with profit? Bury it in a coffee can in their back yards? Hell no! They invest it! They spend it! They redistribute it! They invest it on business growth, jobs, innovation (e.g., Amazon, Google, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, MSN, and the list goes on and on and on and on). All these things took off because people were making a profit, and they were free to innovate, without government breathing down their necks, except to provide a system of justice. Even if these greedy evil corporations spent every penny on mansions, yachts, and 86" Plasma Quad HD 3D 120 FPS TVs, it would still provide jobs for the people who make, distribute, sell, install, program and maintain those things. So I don't know what your problem is.

    2. I started my career as chief engineer of mom & pop radio broadcast stations in the 1970s. I learned firsthand the expensive, intrusive, oppressive nature of FCC rules and regulations. There are no mom & pop radio stations anymore. Three guesses why. They all sold out to conglomerates, who could afford to comply with FCC section 73 & 74. The FCC brought us the "fairness doctrine". It practically silenced all political speech between 1949 and 1987.

      Worry about the First Amendment on the Internet? Moi? Cheah! It starts out small. The Radio Commission became the FCC with the Communications Act of 1934. At that time, the FCC was responsible only for setting some basic engineering standards and coordinating radio channels, especially internationally, to help prevent excessive interference. But the FCC has grown into a leviathan that stunts and regulates the growth of every industry it attempts to control. Did you ever wonder why it took so long for digital HDTV to take to the air? On the uncontrolled Internet, if you have a great idea, you just put up a server and start your webcast. It will take off if people like it.

      We have so many more options with digital communication, and the standards have been so well executed, that everything "just works". The World Wide Web has been a success because of its freedom. Freedom to communicate, freedom to innovate. And now the progressives have latched onto this one particular innovation, and they want to use it as a power grab to control the future growth of the Internet, because they have never trusted the free market, which has been demonstrated to be the most rousing success on the WWW.

    3. A lot has changed since I first got "broadband" in 2000. The price has dropped, and the speed went up. The number of sites and services has multiplied geometrically. And most of all, free speech has gone worldwide, even in places where free speech is not allowed, much to the consternation of the dictators, tyrants and oppressors. All without government bureaucracy controlling all of it.

  4. all the greatest internet innovators to date are all for net neutrality. You and your buddy, Mike Lee, mention most of them.
    "They invest it on business growth, jobs, innovation (e.g., Amazon, Google, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, MSN, and the list goes on and on and on and on)"

    The worst company in the US is against it...

    That worst company and others have been able to bring American consumers over priced mediocre broad band service.
    You mentioned a list of mediocre on down...and say...
    "and the standards have been so well executed"
    Exceptionalism indeed!

    Why do I refer to it an censorship....think for a moment of the underfunded inner city library. Today, if they have access to the internet. they have access to ALL of it beyond any consumer imposed filters. What if they cannot afford whatever content lanes comcast decides on?...oh yea...go to the lesser tier of service. us! This is a form of censorship, but I agree, would not necessarily pass a law suit...none the less.

    Why to I refer to it as a tax? If Netflix is know the thing you do today, tomorrow it is going to cost you more...Do you think they care where that increase of their cost of business comes from? If an am to believe the right...this is a job killer and price raiser. Please explain to me why, if the cost increase to Netflix comes from the government it is tyranny, oppression, socialism, communism....every bad ISM, but if it comes from comcast it is a boon to the consumer? More choices, free market...less content for even more money...yea!

    I guess I just do not understand the right :-(

    1. Ok, Mr. Anonymous, if that is your real name. I'm starting to recognize a style, and the talking points. We've tangled in other venues. I even think I know how you found this. There's a whole blog here of things that would offend you. Years worth of it.

      You hate Comcast. I bet you hate Monsanto and the Koch brothers too. You do realize that Comcast has competition,right? If you don't like their offerings, then switch to someone else! I think Dish Network dropped Fox News -- that ought to make you happy, but lots of people are switching from Dish to other providers that do carry the #1 cable news network. Tsk! Tsk! That'll fix them! That's how competition works. Vote with your dollars. Vote with your feet. Can the problem be solved with more freedom, instead of less? Indeed it can!

      I'll repeat what I said earlier, but I'm getting tired of repeating myself. It is my blog; I could simply not publish your remarks. I don't expect to change your mind -- it's never worked before, but I'll argue for the benefit of the lurkers and onlookers. After a while though, it becomes futile, and at that point, I probably should just not click "publish" when the notice comes in of a new comment. Your First Amendment right remains intact, because you can always start your own blog for free, as long as government allows it. Of course they would probably silence me before they silence you, because bureaucrats represent the government, not the people. Bureaucrats are really not freedom fighters; I represent a threat to them.

      So as I was saying, when I first signed up for "broadband" in 2001, I was getting 768 kbps down on DSL. The speed has gone up over the years to over 8 mbps for the same price. There aren't many other products that have followed that trend line, especially in this moribund economy. I started out with MSN, then Verizon, and now Frontier. Now I could get much faster service from Comcast, at a slightly higher price, along with my basic cable package, but I like DSL. And 6 mbps is quite fast enough to stream Netflix, as well as keep ten or twelve other computing devices clicking along just fine, thank you very much. You don't need government to control this. Customers could switch to other ISPs any time they want, but they don't seem to want. They just want government to compel their carrier of choice to change their private business model because it doesn't suit them. Vote with your dollars! That poor inner city library could vote with its dollars too. Government could instruct all of its agencies to vote with their dollars, and only contract with vendors who meet their specifications. That is quite acceptable to me. But private enterprise is private. Government should leave it the hell alone.

      This is another example of government getting involved to solve a hypothetical problem that doesn't even exist yet, and may never come to pass. Set up a straw man, and light it on fire, and then send in the regulators to put it out. Have you SEEN the innovation in the World Wide Web? If Netflix gets throttled and extorted, someone will just invent a new way to stream video that doesn't use the existing mechanism. And I already described how non-technical legal means could also squelch actual abuse, such as restraint of trade, monopoly and the like. We don't need to drag another empire-building bureaucracy into the mix.

  5. Worry about the First Amendment on the Internet? Moi? Cheah! It starts out small.

    This is the way it starts out...

    Hey know that netflix\amazon\you tube and all the other current innovator's content you enjoy? Well, starting tomorrow, unless they pay up, your service is going to start to suck. And do not blame us, we have oodles of lawyers to tell you so. We cannot be expected to continue in business unless our profit margin has a steady increase. Yea, we know that last week you enjoyed that streaming movie, but hey $$$

    If this works out and we can report a profit increase without having to even address basic service then we will hold off for awhile until the next content squeeze.

    I understand why politicians, especially those on the right, fight for this travesty...but the constituents? the tea party? They really think this is the path to freedom? I can only think there is this mythology that they are waiting to see become reality.

    1. As I have already said (and it will soon become ad-nauseam), Comcast is not the only ISP, and they are not the only Internet backbone. If people don't like the terms and conditions, change vendors. Or create your own. Or invent an alternative distribution model. That has been the pattern for the World Wide Web since day one. I think the innovation and staggering success of the World Wide Web is not a fluke, it is a direct result of catching the government by surprise, and not being regulated by it. Now the Vogon have come out of their stupor, and are starting to want to read poetry at us.

  6. The Washington State Attorney General has just announced, Feb 4 2015, that he "applauds" this:

    ...which is being framed as consumer protection.

    What can citizens do to raise awareness about what's on the horizon and what this really means? Clearly it's an expansion of government domination of technology which has blossomed and thrived without the interference of bureaucrats.

  7. It is not consumer protection. It is the usual anti-capitalist glurge that we always get from illiberal control freaks. We have seen how dynamic and consumer-friendly the unregulated world wide web was. That will come to an end once the federal Vogon pours treacle all over it.


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