The Watering Hole, Monday, May 8, 2017: Preserve Net Neutrality

The new FCC Commissioner, whoever he is, doesn’t believe in protecting net neutrality. And why not? He used to be a lawyer for Verizon. (The president who appointed him doesn’t even understand the concept of net neutrality, so there’s no help there.) On last night’s “Last Week Tonight”, John Oliver explained why ISPs were now able to be governed by the FCC. In short, ISPs were re-classified as businesses that could be governed under Title II of the Communications Act, instead of under Title I where the Supreme Court said the FCC lacked that authority. This new commissioner doesn’t seem to understand why it was necessary to do that, and thinks it’s really bad and should be changed. You must tell them No. In addition to contacting your Members of Congress, you can leave a comment on the FCC’s Comments page, if you can find it. Since it was changed from the much simpler comment system from three years ago, one has a right to assume they deliberately want to make it harder for you to complain and then say later, “Well, nobody used the comment system to complain.” This was how Fox News Channel defended their star host, Bill O’Reilly, from claims of sexual harassment – that nobody used the internal complaint system to complain, so they have a hard time believing any of it happened. John Oliver explained the tedious process of what you would now have to go through just to get to the FCC’s comments page. He and his great staff wanted to make it easier for you to get there, so they created this website:

go fcc yourself dot com

It skips through the confusing pages and inconveniently located links to get to where you can leave a comment to tell them to preserve net neutrality and Title II. If it works. I tried it and it seemed to go to a mostly blank page except for a little blue circle with a person’s outline in it. Maybe he crashed the FCC’s commenting system just like he did three years ago. Well, his viewers did.

Now, please go there and tell them to what to do, and then enjoy today’s open thread.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 2, 2015: How The Right Gets Net Neutrality Wrong

This past Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to change the way the nation’s internet service providers are regulated. After their proposed regulation, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, is published on the federal register in a few weeks, it will take effect sixty days later. This has some prominent right wing luminaries upset, even though it’s apparent they have absolutely no understanding of what net neutrality is. All it means is that all internet content must be treated equally by the internet service providers (ISPs). Comcast can’t slow down your Netflix streaming video just because they would prefer you use their subsidiary company’s product, Hulu. The ISPs aren’t happy, but you should be overjoyed. Don’t listen to these people.

People like Pat Robertson. Like many Conservatives, Robertson calls the new FCC regulations a “takeover” of the internet, and he adds that this is all part of a socialist agenda to take control of everything. As with most things Pat Robertson says, nothing could be further from the truth. The government is not taking over the internet which it created (and which Al Gore helped bring into the civilian world.) The government is simply making sure no private corporation can take over the internet and deprive you of content that might come from a competitor, or charge you extra to get higher speed internet for some content, and slower speeds for content like the blog you’re reading right now.

Robertson says the government wants to regulate the internet using a law written in 1934. That is false. They are using a law written in 1996 which updated the law written in 1934. He’s also wrong about the PP/ACA being a takeover of the healthcare industry. Conservatives frequently mischaracterize things in order to scare you into thinking something is happening which isn’t. And the goal of the fear mongering is the fear itself. People who are afraid often make bad decisions, and one of those bad decisions is voting for Conservatives.

Don’t listen to people like Rush Limbaugh, either. Limbaugh also thinks the government is trying to take over the internet it once created, but for a completely different reason. He thinks the government wants to ban bullets. I know it just flows so logically. You see, Rush is afraid of ISIS, and he’s afraid because they’re recruiting from all over the United States and Rush says “the government must have control of the Internet if we are to be safe.” (Projection.) Rush thinks the government is going to resort to extraordinary measures to fight ISIS, and that will include the banning of bullets. Except the government is not trying to ban bullets, they are trying to regulate armor-piercing bullets. And they won’t ban the ones that are “primarily” used for sporting purposes, so if a bunch of sovereign citizens decide today is the day the government is coming for their guns, they’ll still be able to shoot them with armor-piercing bullets.

And don’t listen to people like Ted Cruz, either. (It could result in brain damage. For you, not Ted. He’s already gone.) Somehow, Ted has it in his tiny little mind that regulating the internet will deprive you of your freedom.

“We do that fundamentally by standing with the people and not with Washington.”

For all their talk about Freedom, Conservatives still do not understand the concept that our federal government IS “We the People.” Then again, they never liked that from the beginning. It was Conservatives, those heavy on the “States’ Rights” idea (even though the Articles of Confederation proved the concept unworkable), who objected to the first three words of the Constitution. They felt it should have read “We the States.” And they haven’t given up that fight since.

“Washington wants Obamacare. The people want liberty.”

Here, and in the subsequent sentences, Cruz is using the term “The people” to refer only to Conservative Americans, and “Washington” to refer to everyone else. Conservatives do not view non-Conservatives as being “true Americans.” In fact, they see us as the Enemy, much as they did in 1776 when Liberals decided they wanted to explore the freedom of not being British citizens. Conservatives wrongly believe the individual mandate is both unprecedented and unconstitutional. (This despite the fact that President John Adams wrote a law requiring all mariners to buy health insurance, and despite the fact that SCOTUS ruled the law constitutional.) They don’t like it precisely because it does bring us incrementally closer to having Single Payer which, in their minds, equates to a total loss of freedom for everyone. Completely untrue, of course. It would only deny corporations the right to cheat you out of your life savings. But since corporations are not really poeple, that shouldn’t matter.

“Washington wants amnesty. The people want rule of law.”

This is a reference to the president’s immigration policy, announced in the wake of House Republicans refusing to do anything (like pass the bill the Senate did.) It’s not an amnesty program, like the one announced under President Reagan, no matter how many times they say it is. And even if it was, it wouldn’t be unconstitutional because the president has the constitutional authority to grant amnesty. And it’s not illegal, which they’ll learn when the SCOTUS upholds it. They just hate seeing anyone get help from the government. They don’t believe government exists to serve the people of which it’s comprised.

“Washington wants power over the internet. The people want freedom online.”

Conservatives have a hard time believing that anyone in government would want to do something that protects people from unscrupulous corporations. That’s because they believe the purpose of government is to protect unscrupulous corporations from the people. They want ISPs to be able to set up a multi-tier system of various speed options. They want it to be possible for ISPs to block content that competes with their own. The only possible way one could interpret net neutrality as taking away your freedoms is if you think corporations are people with the same rights as people. But to believe that, you would have to believe that corporations should have the right to terminate the existence of a subsidiary corporation still in the process of being created without government interference. IOW, to have an abortion.

This our daily open thread. Thanks to Obama’s FCC, you’ll still have access to this blog at the same speed as the big name corporations get. Use it wisely, and talk about anything you want.

Internet Censorship Coming to Australia

Australia plans to join China in implementing mandatory internet censorship.  The Australian government will not allow internet users to opt out of the national filter, something originally provided in the initial proposal.

Originally outlined as a way to combat child pornography and adult content, this censorship proposal is reported to possibly include sites containing information on euthanasia and anorexia.

Mr Conroy said trials were yet to be carried out, but “we are talking about mandatory blocking, where possible, of illegal material.”

Many groups have come out against the proposal saying it would “unfairly restrict Australians’ access to the web, slow internet speeds and raise the price of internet access.”

EFA board member Colin Jacobs said it would have little effect on illegal internet content, including child pornography, as it would not cover file-sharing networks.

“If the Government would actually come out and say we’re only targeting child pornography it would be a different debate,” he said.

Not everyone is against this proposal.  The Australian Christian Lobby welcomed it saying, “The need to prevent access to illegal hard-core material and child pornography must be placed above the industry’s desire for unfettered access.”

I have read unsubstantiated stories about Rogers (AT&T) and Telus (both in Canada) looking into blocking the internet, but the original story I read is no longer available (and since it contained no links to any sources) and upon further reading, it appears that what Rogers is trying to do is charge extra for long streams of data which tie up the networks. Capitalism being what it is, I cannot complain about that.  Hopefully, there is enough competition in Canada to allow customers to shop elsewhere should they not want to pay for these extra services.

That said, it  is too reminiscent of rumblings here in the US that providers were going to allow their business customers to pay additional revenue so that their sites load faster, which could lead to limited competition if consumers get tired of one site taking forever to load (remember those “World Wide Wait” commercials?)  Each tiny step taken to place limitations on a free internet is a step in the wrong direction.

And should a western country implement any type of censorship, one must ask oneself, how long before it arrives here?

Read up on Net Neutrality and take action.  Do not allow this to ever come to pass, for what you are reading right now, may become nonexistent in the future.

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