Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Four Years Without Net Neutrality

Nathan Leamer:

Four years ago today the FCC rightly repealed #netneutrality regulations.

And guess what? The Internet works fine.

But never forget the hyperbolic predictions. Thread below

Karl Bode (tweet):

This week a coalition of infotainment outlets, including Fox News, The Hill, Reason, and the Washington Examiner all pushed stories with the same underlying narrative: four years ago net neutrality was repealed and the internet didn’t explode, therefore repealing net neutrality must not have mattered. The narrative also bumbled around Twitter thanks to former Ajit Pai assistant Nathan Leamer, who now works for Targeted Victory, a DC internet comms and policy shop whose members have (surprise) telecoms like AT&T as a client.


One reason big ISPs haven’t behaved worse in the wake of the repeal isn’t because the rules didn’t matter, it’s because of the states. The courts ruled that the FCC’s attempt to block states from protecting broadband consumers was a gross over reach. In response, several states (like Washington, Maine, and California) passed replacement state level net neutrality laws ISPs weren’t keen on violating. Large ISPs were also nervous about the return of net neutrality rules on the federal level (yeah, the threat of regulation can be nearly as much of a deterrent as actual regulation) so they generally tried to avoid stupid stuff that was too ham fisted: like blocking entire websites or competitors outright.

Granted the nation’s biggest ISPs still engaged in net neutrality violations, they just had to be quieter and slightly more clever about it. That often involved imposing gatekeeper barriers, then trying to sell consumers and policymakers on the idea they were exciting new value propositions. Like AT&T imposing arbitrary and unnecessary broadband usage caps, then using those caps to disadvantage streaming competitors. Or CenturyLink briefly blocking internet access to sling ads. Or Verizon charging you extra to stream HD video. Or Sprint trying to charge its subscribers extra just to enjoy music, video, or games.

Nick Heer:

Many tweets about 2017’s coverage of the end of net neutrality rules were clearly inaccurate and hysterical — that is for certain. But the loss of those rules has not magically solved U.S. broadband problems, either; on the contrary, it has exacerbated the worst tendencies of telecommunications conglomerates as many people — including yours truly — predicted.


4 Comments RSS · Twitter

As someone who was vehemently against net neutrality - I saw it as government take over of the internet and something that would make the internet worse- this doesn't surprise me. All the doom and gloom was clearly wrong. Nick and Karl are wrong - nothing bad happened.

Kevin Schumacher

@Matt B

Boy will you be upset when you learn who ultimately controls the internet.

Setting your ridiculous assertion about the government "taking over the internet" aside, there are quite literally linked examples of bad behavior by ISPs in the quote above. Saying "nothing bad happened" in the face of direct evidence to the contrary is like standing in front of house that was partially burned down in a fire and saying "Looks good to me."

A lobbyist who worked on conservative campaigns thinks progressive causes are silly? Say it ain't so.

It's true: the relative lack of net neutrality has yet to hit us as hard as some of us feared. It does not follow that regulation is unnecessary, and we *have* seen, IMHO, that telcos cannot be trusted to self-regulate.

"government take over of the internet"

I don't even know where to start with this.

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