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Blogs like Naked Capitalism Depend on Net Neutrality, So ISPs Should Be Common Carriers (or Their Pipes Turned Into Public Utilities)

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Let’s not start at the beginning;  let’s start at what we hope isn’t the end result of Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission [PDF], where the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the FCC’s net neutrality policy.

Figure 1

ku-medium

(Via). See Naked Capitalism there? No? In other words, with no net neutrality, the Internet’s going to end up like cable.

A little history. “Net neutrality” — the engineering principle that all data that moves on the Internet is treated equally — is a policy triumph where the political class actually did something right (although the engineering principle was only embodied in the FCC’s “Open Internet” rule in 2010):

In the 1990s, U.S. policymakers faced critical choices about who should build the Internet, how it should be governed, and to what extent it should be regulated and taxed. For the most part, they chose wisely to open a regulated telecommunications market to competition, stimulate private investment in broadband and digital technologies, and democratize access to the Internet.

The policies that took root in the ‘90s were refined and strengthened during the Bush and Obama administrations. Digital policy, in fact, remains a rare, bipartisan exception to the zero-sum logic of polarization that has paralyzed our national government.

(So whenever you hear the idea that net neutrality is new, or is being imposed, you know the speaker is not making an argument in good faith.)

The key word being “democratize.” “Net neutrality was coined by Tim Wu, who reacts to the DC Circuit’s decision this way:

Brian Fung: The D.C. Circuit court has struck down net neutrality. What does that mean for consumers [citizens]?

Tim Wu: It leaves the Internet in completely uncharted territory. There’s never been a situation where providers can block whatever they want. For example, it means AT&T can block people from reaching T-Mobile’s customer service site if it wanted. They can do whatever they want.

Think of the, er, Intertubes as a water supply system, and the Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner (obscenely profitable) regional monopolies as utilities. Up until the Court’s ruling Tuesday, they own the pipes, and water’s water; you get charged the same price for water no matter where it comes from; it’s all equally treated. What these guys want to do is leverage their control over the pipes to sell you different kinds of water; “innovative” water from a branded faucet, if you will. Does that make sense? Thought not. As PC News puts it:

Imagine if we did the same with electricity. Rich neighborhoods and lucrative businesses pay more for electricity, so they get 24/7 juice. The rest of us? You have a second-tier service, so you can run electricity from 5-8 a.m. and then 7-11 p.m. Think that’s far-fetched? Ask anyone from Ukraine how their government distributes heat.

(More examples, with cute animated bear gifs.) The problem here is that the FCC set itself up for failure — or, depending on your level of cynicism realism, for success — by the way it wrote its rules and argued its case. (David Pogue’ new) Yahoo Tech:

[T]he tough thing for Internet users is that the court’s opinion of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules isn’t wrong. The FCC’s rules were weak.

The 63-page ruling by judges David S. Tatel, Laurence H. Silberman and Judith W. Rogers for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that because the FCC declined to classify broadband providers the way you probably think of them — as “common carriers” that deliver information without interference, as the phone companies are considered — it can’t impose common-carrier-style regulations through other means:

The FCC itself queued up this collapse back in 2002, when it chose to classify cable Internet providers not as “telecommunications services” but as “information services,” then repeated the mistake in 2005 when it put phone-based broadband under the same category.

What’s the difference? The FCC says a telecommunications service “is used to deliver information without change in the form or content of the information,” while an “information service” consists of “applications that run over the ‘pipes’ of a communications network and depend on computers to generate, store, or process information.”

The Verge agrees:

[T]he FCC made what would turn out to be a pivotal mistake. Instead of stating the blindingly obvious — internet service is a utility just like landline phone service — the FCC tried to appease the out-of-control corporate egos of behemoths like Verizon and Comcast by pretending internet providers were special and classifying them as “information service providers” and not “telecommunications carriers.” The wrong words. Then, once everyone was wearing the nametag they wanted, the FCC tried to impose common carrier-style telecommunications regulations on them anyway.

The entire American internet experience is now at risk of turning into a walled garden of corporate control because the FCC chickened out and picked the wrong words in 2002, and the court called them on it twice over.

So, c’mon. Everybody knows that Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner aren’t “information services.” They’re not selling innovative water from a branded faucet; water’s water and they’re selling it from their pipes. Period. So treat them like common carriers or public utilities they are. Harvard’s Susan Crawford:

The court did, however, offer a way forward, if the commission was willing to take it. The agency must revisit and reverse Mr. Powell’s 2002 decision, relabeling high-speed Internet access a common carriage service.

High-speed Internet access isn’t a luxury; it is basic infrastructure, like electricity, clean water and a functioning street grid, that is essential for the free market to function. The F.C.C. can show its strength by having the guts to change its mind.

The USA Today editorial board:

The court clearly stated that the FCC could continue its net-neutrality policies if it reverses its decision from the 1990s to not treat broadband as a common carrier, as it had with traditional telephone service.

That decision, which looks hopelessly naive in retrospect, was based on a belief that the broadband industry would be much more competitive than it has turned out. In large swaths of the country, consumers have no more than one viable option.

Business Week:

This is all fixable. The court did not say that the FCC could not enforce net neutrality. It said only that if the commission wanted to enforce it—a measure the court broadly agreed with—it would need to decide, as every regulator in every other developed country has decided, that a company that owns the wires is a common-carrier telecommunication service. In its 2005 decision, the Supreme Court already confirmed that the FCC is within its rights to make this decision.

Heck, why stop at half-measures like the common carrier solution? Why not just turn the pipes into public utilities? (We could hardly get worse service.) Tech360′s Peter Bernstein:

Crawford is correct that access to broadband is not a luxury. I would go further and say that every citizen should have a right, to paraphrase the language in the 1934 Act, to state-of-the-art broadband communications at reasonable rates.

[M]y view that current fixed network providers, cable and telecom, should in the national interest divest their outside plant. The goal would be creation of a one-pipe, not dumb pipe, utility—jurisdictional issues to be settled as this would play out—that everyone could play on.

What to do? Well, you can send an e-mail at the FCC’s website. Or tweet @TomWheelerFCC. Because it looks like Wheeler’s angling for a post-FCC job in the industry. Tell Wheeler to make the ISPs common carriers, or you’ll expropriate their pipes. And watch for more organizing; I hope readers will leave such efforts in comments.

APPENDIX Comcast’s Stately Pleasure Dome

Meanwhile, in what I’m sure is a totally unrelated event, Comcast is doing the happy dance in the form of commissioning a humongous Norman Foster-designed skyscraper in downtown Philly. (As Atrios says, “Hope the building doesn’t wobble.”)

Comcast Corp. announced Wednesday that it’s building a new, iconic skyscraper that will redefine Philly’s skyline, create thousands of jobs and shift the city’s image from a Rocky, blue-collar town to a city of innovation that rivals the Silicon Valley.

“It will be a melting pot of talent and people who want to change the world in the businesses that we are in,” said CEO Brian Roberts.

The $1.2 billion development will be home to up to 4,000 employees dedicated to developing new apps, software and business services for the Philadelphia-based company.

And what will those apps look like? I’d bet they’ll look a lot like Figure 1.

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45 comments

  1. Chris Maukonen

    Asolutely. And even more to the point, the connects should be upgraded to give everyone high speed as well.

  2. Brooklin Bridge

    Potentially, this represents a huge revenue source (on the order of SS) for the carriers and a giant political coup for TPTB so I very much doubt the FCC will put up anything more than a token struggle. Think!, this represents a fabulous opportunity for a stealth coup on freedom of speech. Obama and his merry crew of corporate whores are drooling at the prospect of taking out or controlling sites like NC, Wikileaks, and people such as Snowden. Instead of the FCC doing anything constructive, Obama will give another speech. Yippee!!!. The MSM? HaHaHaHaHaHa…. Moreover, the carriers are not stupid; they won’t transform the spigot all at once into a bazaar of pay walls any more than they first did with cable t.v.. It will be slow and easy over about a ten year span which is the time it takes to get a new -up and coming- generation to assume it was always this way.

    Does the fact that other countries provide it free or at very reasonable cost bother them? Hell no; ya love this place or ya leave it, pinko commie! And indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the EU and then other countries falling all over themselves to do the exact same thing within five years. One, it’s gigantic profit. Two, it’s the power to make opposition absolutely invisible. Wikileaks would never have happened without it. Snowden? Never heard of him. It’s that simple.

    To stop this would take a major, m-a-j-o-r, public outcry and that just ain’t going to happen and even if it does, it won’t, not any more than a tree falls unseen and unheard.

    As for Powell; he is set. Really really set.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      The problem is that if the politicians let the Circuit Court ruling stand, they are screwing most small businesses, as well as all education, in their districts. And recall that Obama would probably not have been able to pull off his campaign in 2008 0r 2012 without the Internet as it is currently configured. That is not to say an open Internet is Dem or Rep; simply to point out that it has enabled people to become engaged in ways that did not happen in the past.

      More down below…

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Yes, good points, but it’s like king of the mountain. Politicians on top, such as Obama, are no longer in the least bit concerned with how they got there. On the contrary, they are only concerned with how to stay there. Nevertheless, you can be sure that those pols who perceive -correctly- they may have future need of the net will be sure to carve out a niche of neutrality specifically for themselves just as they have for health care. And you can be equally sure that will not include us, except of course in speeches.

        Talking about speeches, if we could just harness the useless, preening, king and the duke like drama, pure hot air that will be coming out of politicians mouths on this subject, we could set aside enough dough to put every bank disposed family back in their homes.

      2. HotFlash

        “And recall that Obama would probably not have been able to pull off his campaign in 2008 0r 2012 without the Internet as it is currently configured.”

        Indeedy! Burn the bridges and pull up the ladders!

      3. Carla

        “The problem is that if the politicians let the Circuit Court ruling stand, they are screwing most small businesses, as well as all education, in their districts.”

        That’s not a problem. That’s a feature.

    2. Nathanael

      The FCC’s misclassification of internet service seems to be an abuse of discretion of the sort which is not actually legal. Has someone sued to *force* the FCC to reclassify Internet service as a telecommunications service? Writ of mandamus, I think? Because that should work.

  3. Dino Reno

    If it follows the cable script, it won’t be ala carte. In order to get NC, I will have to buy all of the above. They won’t be happy until the bundle is about half the monthly cost of private health insurance. That’s how we spell Freedom.

  4. Embrace the Suck

    Back in 1994 used to go to my high school’s computer lab and hang out with the other geeks. We would do things like hack password-protected games to make them free, play around with DOS commands until we got into the servers for the main office….dumb things like that. The internet was nothing more than a bunch of message boards you could access through a phone line, if you knew the right command lines. Ahhh, the good old days.

    Of course, come 1996 it was a different landscape. You could get free email, free chatting. In 1997, I was able to buy dial-up internet. You could read the news, pick stocks, learn about new things, look at photos. The information wasn’t particularly personal. It was an optimistic time. The internet was changing the global economy and creating lots of opportunities for ordinary people. You could get a good part-time job with just a few programming or design skills. It was even thinkable that any person could create the next startup or pick the next Yahoo!. If you searched for people you knew back in the day you might even be able to find their address or phone number!

    But it’s not like that any more. I love the blogosphere and being able to examine other cultures, read the news of the weird. But information, particularly personal information, has become ubiquitous, and a source of exclusion and personal destruction more than a source of opportunity and knowledge. We have publicly available sex-offender lists, mainly full of people who got caught urinating in public or had an intimate teenage relationship with a 1 or 2 year age difference. Many people are unable to find housing or work because of the stigma. Stories of families left destitute by this kind of problem are depressingly common.

    Look at the number of teenage girls who have been destroyed when illegal photos or videos of them being sexually assaulted were uploaded and went viral. Many commit suicide–suicide!–and many more will never be able to find normal employment with the way information is spread and prejudicially used. Just yesterday Huffington Post published NSFW photos of adult competitors at a topless sledding competition. It’s in an area of Germany where minds are more open to that kind of thing. Would an American woman who participated in something like that find her career prospects in jeopardy? I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she did.

    I personally have a friend from high school who, in his early twenties, was at a family member’s softball game when a fight broke out. Police arrived and several people were arrested, including him. It was later determined through eyewitness accounts that he had nothing to do with it, and the prosecutor dropped all charges. His mugshot from nearly 20 years ago became available online back in ’07, and he has struggled with finding steady employment since 2008. There’s no doubt as to why. Companies that publish mugshots online routinely extort people out of hundreds of dollars to before they will remove them. The next company picks up where the first one left off. Many of them have the same owners. It’s illegal to turn someone down for employment over an arrest since an arrest just shows officers couldn’t sort out all the facts at the scene. It happens anyway. Businesses who do this are more criminal than the people they purport to screen.

    Would an end of net neutrality resolve any of this? I’m not optimistic that it would. It could make things worse–extortionists might be able to afford to get through the wall while positive efforts may not. Would it slow the viral spread of life-ruining videos and photos? Again questionable.

    Many businesses have started online. Many people have been able to grow their brick-and-mortar shops through an online presence. But the almost 100% positive internet of the 1990′s has become a doomsday weapon, gleefully used to bring people to complete financial and personal ruin. Things have gotten to a point where the internet as we know it, for many thousands and maybe millions of people, simply is not worth fighting for. Unless ways are found to permanently and meaningfully address that issue, I think net neutrality is probably doomed.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Your comment is perceptive and appropriate for anoather of todays NC posts; see, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/01/sick-predators-dying-regime-preyed-upon-women-hiv-invested-wholesale-racism-endangered-public-health.html

      Your suggestion that this move to muzzle the internet will not help such people will almost certainly prove correct as long as these tragic cases represent a pool of “salacious” profit for the MSM or can be manipulated by our sick sick politicians as in the case of the NC post on HIV infected women in Greece.

      Neither the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia nor the FCC with their intentionally bogus wording provide relief for such victims. It would be the furthest thing from their minds. This is about money and power and it may be a point when all the masks really start dropping to the floor.

    2. flora

      Yes, the internet can be used by bad guys to cause great harm, as you well describe. The bad guys also use telephones to destroy lives (financial) with boiler room scams, and scams of many kinds. (“Hi, I’m calling from your bank and need your account number and SS# to check recent suspicious activity.”) Bad guys also use the U.S. mail for scams. I’m appalled at what some people do. But I guess my point is that criminal or offensive network use is not a reason to abandon network neutrality anymore than criminal use of telephones is a reason to deregulate telephone companies.

    3. J.

      Losing net neutrality won’t slow down scammers at all. Many scammers are making $$$ and can pay to have their scams made speedier. Look at all the shady ads for weight loss etc that you see on websites.

      The mugshot sites will go away pretty soon anyway I think. A couple that are/were located in the US just had to start taking pictures down and pay restitution: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2014/01/07/Plaintiffs-win-settlement-over-online-mugshot-sites/UPI-85291389134529/

      Some of these sites are not in the US and will be harder to attack legally, but there are technological solutions not involving a loss of net neutrality. A link from the same article says that Google is dropping mugshot sites lower in search rankings, and credit card processors are starting to refuse their business. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/10/06/Google-credit-card-companies-combating-for-profit-mugshot-sites/UPI-26051381092759/

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When we were young, we believed…100% positive net…almost.

      Now we realize it’s part of the brainwashing, because in life, it’s usually about trading off positives versus negatives.

      It’s propaganda to say, when a technology has a net positive outcome, ‘look, how wonderful,’ and when it brings a net negative outcome, ‘well, we can’t go back to the old days.’

      And you hear that a lot – ‘Well, we can’t go back. How do you feed this many people?’

      Tomorrow, it’ll be the same ‘How do you feed this many x 100 people? We can’t go back,’

      And the day after tomorrow: ‘How do you feed this many x 1,000 people? We can’t go back now. We need more technology.’

      That, my friends, is a Ponzi scheme.

  5. Brooklin Bridge

    Another beneficiary of this move is the MSM itself. They have been loosing viewers hand over fist with their insipid, increasingly blatant pure distilled propaganda for years. They can’t even stomach their own stuff it’s so bad. Take out, muzzle, and/or covert all internet sites where the truth still shows it’s elusive form, and – in their dim greedy grubby grabby imaginations at least – they get back their captive audience. Rachael Maddow and Megyn Kelly will finally get to sing their songs uninterrupted and be the media stars, along with David Gregory and Hannity and the rest of the whole sick and twisted all American professional wrestling media teams crews that defecate over journalistic integrity, that they so richly deserve (and can afford), to be.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      The MSM won’t get viewers back.
      Even if you turn back Net Neutrality, people aren’t going to return to the days of yore. It’s just not in the cards.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        You are probably right, though I think they would get some viewers back, but note that I didn’t say they would; I said essentially they imagine they would. For some of the reasons you mentioned above, such as the effect on small business, as well as for others, this may turn out to be a bit of a fight even though I think the public will be very very easy to manipulate on this subject (more than on others because it’s abstract and easy to frame in all sorts of ways). But if in the end, the net becomes a commercial super highway on the one hand and just another means of pure propaganda and political control on the other, I imagine many of the TV Baghdad Bobs and Tokyo Roses will get a reprieve of sorts.

  6. Jazzbuff

    On the other hand, since they are now “content aware”, doesn’t this open the carriers to criminal charges for pornography or other content that any local District Attorney finds objectionable.

  7. Alejandro

    Class warfare by any other name. Although it’s only called warfare when there’s pushback, otherwise it’s asymmetrical (or is that “preemptive”?) raids and plunder. The obsession with “secrecy” (or is that asymmetrical “privacy”?) seems to be intended to make the pushback reactionary at best (or worst, depending on whether your raiding or being raided). Raid can also be defined as “the act of mulcting public money” but it’s often associated with a brand name insecticide.

  8. cnchal

    Comcast’s stately pleasure dome.

    $1,200,000,000 / 4000 = $300,000 per employee

    Economies of scale, eh.

  9. scraping_by

    Common carrier came about as a bargain between government and business. The businesses couldn’t operate without government help, mostly in continuous right-of-way and uses of public assets, so the government demanded certain government-like policies in return.

    Ignoring the obvious common carrier basis for the Internet shows ideology as the handmaiden to personal interest. The commissioners of the FCC took a dive, knowing this would be the outcome.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      Common carrier ideology? If you can persuade a court to accept an argument that an enterprise is “affected by a public interest” then it’s a common carrier. That’s about all there is to it.

  10. Tim

    “and shift the city’s image from a Rocky, blue-collar town to a city of innovation that rivals the Silicon Valley.”

    As a Philadelphia resident, let me just say: no thanks.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yep. There’s no slack in Silicon Valley (unless you’re a CEO). I’m trying to imagine the most likely way the Mummers are going to interact with Brian’s Giant Shaft, and it’s not a pretty sight.

  11. coboarts

    If they move this way it will be hard to quit the Internet, but just like my cable I’ll go with a very slim package. That first $5 tier will do. A lot of the conveniences that I’ve adopted through the Internet can be easily done away with – goodbye Amazon.

  12. Banger

    I think the inet should be a utility but we seem to be moving away from that model into a strict “money talks and bullsh@t walks” style society. I have yet to see a counter-push. If net-neutrality becomes history and everything will become cable that opens up very interesting possibilities. I think a significant minority of people, particularly the young will begin to look for alternatives to the internet as reconfigured as yet another cable venue.

    We need, in this society, fundamental change and to do that we need a significant minority of highly motivated “change agents” or, to be put it another way, revolutionaries. As far as I can see there is little hope for reforming the current political system (the “economy” is strictly subject to power and not “blind” market forces). Since money dominates our political life we need to create alternate ways to assert our interests or simply accept that oligarchs will run every aspect of our lives. It only takes a minority of committed people, perhaps 5-10% of the population to bring us dramatic change. Perhaps the end of net-neutrality will be the spark.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I think large numbers of people around the globe are in a sort of suspended animation right now. On the one hand they sense a sort of tectonic shift taking place (Yves had a great post on this), but on the other they have a hard time – just as we do – seeing and believing the US suddenly become the evil empire. And they have both real and perceived financial and social interests at stake. Even if the transition has been silently going on for 40 years and more, the visible aspect of the current free for all corruption (break down in the fabric of rule of law for instance) is very very recent. At a visceral level, many people including the intelligentsia who have seen this coming are simply stunned (much the way we will all be when global warming really kicks in with a vengeance). People will resist change until it practically burns them alive.

      So yes, net neutrality could be the tipping point, as could most anything, but I doubt it will be. What will likely tip the balance are core resource depletions, such as water and food. Then, the spark that fires it off will be some obscure little thing that no one would ever dream of. And the “revolution” will probably have little more rhyme or reason than past ones other than basic needs. It will be many gut reactions, played out in many places, and every one with a cause will try to get out in front of them and claim for his and/or hers. And still something may come of it (or them), but at a historically great cost in suffering and disruption due to the simple fact and logistics of our over-population.

      Or it could be just an overly dramatized way to run a mass extinction.

      1. Nathanael

        Yep, you understand what’s going on. I think we’re a lot further along than you think, though. The “shock” period started when Bush stole the Presidential election in 2000. “Shock” has worn off for most people. “Denial” came before “shock”.

        We’re mostly in the stage 3 reaction now. I’m not quite sure what stage 3 is. “Bargaining” in Kubler-Ross terms, maybe? Attempting to come up with ways of fixing things which don’t involve murder, arson, and war?

  13. mansoor h. khan

    Banger Said:

    “Since money dominates our political life we need to create alternate ways to assert our interests”.

    Banger, I think sometimes in the “fog of war” we forget that there is truth. And it does matter. Even if you don’t believe in a higher power (like god or Allah or Bhagvan) most people do eventually realize with enough life experiences that certain principles and modes of behavior lead to a better result. And the opposite of those principles and modes of behavior lead serious issues all around.

    As we descend into more and more opression by the 1% in control. I believe we will see an awakening. I am not sure about the timing but given the increased pace of resource depletion and environmental degradation our current economic system will likely fail within a decade leading most likely to great social chaos and the pace of change will greatly accelerate as people begin to open up to new ideas and ways of organizing their lives.

    This is what has happened throughtout history like during the post-Roman empire collapse and during the iron-clad-hold of the CHURCH during the late medieval period (i.e., the protestant reformation).

    The great change that I believe is coming will likey take decades rather than centuries due to much, much greater centralization of money & banking and production processes (agricultural and non-agricultural) and global control of resources by a very small minority than we ever had in entire recorded human history.

    The bottom line is: The more insanity from the elites the faster the change will be!!!

    What to do in the mean time for people like us? We should educate ourselves about the issues around us and be ready with a set of ideas to start discussions and (inshallah) consensus will build very fast when the right time comes. People like us are like prophets of the ancient times as we will teach the people how to think differently about things around them to improve their lives.

    Mansoor H. Khan

    1. Banger

      I think you are right. The change is coming, in part, because the current arrangements are increasingly absurd.

  14. jfleni

    RE: Common Carrier status for Internet

    Just try to get a paper bill for Electric or Telephone service! Asking gets embarassed and pervasive silence almost like yelling a string of grossly indecent epithets! The phone company promised, but hasn’t yet. The “Investor-Owned” (GIMME!) Power company (the biggest and baddest in USA – three guesses) just shrugs off the old geezer and his foul language: Paper Bills! How can harassed, strapped and unemployed or partially employed people get Internet when the cost is a large fraction of a hundred-dollar bill (or even more) every month, just to substitute for a stamp and an envelope?

    For any number of good or bad reasons or no reason at all, Virtual (On-Line) systems can easily fail. Home repairs: You can’t pay your essential bills on time or at all. (USPS would forward it to you – how’s that for service). Likewise: Yuppie Virtual systems that just FAIL at the drop of a hat- think of the recent medical sign-up debacle, and thousands of other examples!

    The Plutocrat Tu*d way morons in their slick office towers just cannot understand this, and think about “Snail Mail” jibes and nineteenth century stagecoaches. But Ben Franklin’s Postal Service (the object of Plutocrat sneers and plans for destruction) is the only UNIVERSAL System for all essential communication and has worked well for 200+ years, but that’s not a factor as the Plutocrats yell “GIMME!” and hatch plans to pick up the fragments left over, after it’s destroyed!

    Maybe the Internet chiefs will set up an efficient common-carrier system to receive and pay bills! Fat chance!

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      You bring up an excellent point about the difficulties with over muzzling the net. How to keep rent extraction flowing smoothly. The days of paying ones bills via check and Post Office are numbered and local, State and Federal governments are already making laws to require online payments. The sheeple seem as eager and willing as the scoundrels with the flutes. Yet as it is (as you point out) the digital way of doing this is crusty at best. If you suddenly introduce all sorts of additional electronic hurdles, it will be a sweet irony to watch it all backfire. But unfortunately, that will not bring back net neutrality once it’s gone because the carriers would rather loose everything including their balls than loose the mirage of such a bonanza. Being able to charge whatever they want and most of all the luxury every corporate fascist secretly dreams of; to piss on the very soul of democracy – to control who can and cannot speak and what they can and can not say is heady stuff indeed.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Well, here is one, https://www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/Mandatory_e-Pay.shtml

          Here’s another that touches on Massachusetts, a bit closer to home for me…
          http://www.kahnlitwin.com/blogs/tax-blog/more-states-requiring-taxpayers-to-pay-taxes-electronically

          There is more, particularly for businesses and payroll, Federal Withholding or 941 for instance, but I can’t find the links readily. As you can imagine, if you wave the idea of laying off Federal or State employees in front of a politician, and electronic automation is great for that, you can make em lick a red hot branding iron and think it’s desert. Their favorite time is Christmas if they can find a way to blame it on someone else, and the only thing they love more is funneling pension funds into their campaign coffers by hollow investment kickbacks.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Note that above, I’m trying to follow fromMexico’s sage advice and discipline to maintain a positive attitude. Otherwise my views on pols would be considerably more sinister.

  15. jfleni

    RE: Internet Extortion … i.e. mugshot blackmail, selling embarassing or humiliating photos, etc.

    Extortionists are in the same boat as many of their victims: They really cannot hide, so they must live very dangerously! They all have businesses, houses, cars, and more. A soda bottle or mason jar with a cup or so of motor fuel and a match can cost them immensely in an instant, and make no mistake, many victims will fight back, especially if the blackmail continues.
    And as blackmailers (criminals), they have very litle protection legally; they must protect themselves as best they can.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      And as blackmailers (criminals), they have very litle protection legally; they must protect themselves as best they can.

      The best way they have found so far is to become a banker or a politician.

  16. scn2k

    The US decided to abandon the common carrier / regulated monopoly / guaranteed rate of return model in the 1980s. That changed everything.

  17. American Slave

    The more I read and hear about stuff like this the more I wish I could live in a society/economic system like this.

    http://copiosis.com/what-is-copiosis/

    Maybe without the privatize everything belief but at least the net benefit payment system.

    It would help in this situation.

  18. MikeW_CA

    Hmm. I wonder if the need to support and rationalize the FCC’s decision to ‘classify cable Internet providers not as “telecommunications services” but as “information services,”’ has anything to do with the fact that we have upstream bandwidth only 1/10 the speed of downstream?

  19. Stratos

    Thanks for sounding the alarm, Lambert. My only disagreement with your article is that you are way too easy on the government/telecom complex. Everything they do is by design. The latest ruling is the intended outcome. They don’t mind slowly strangling the population as long as death by asphyxiation is the result.

    The fate of the US Postal Service is a case in point. Congress passed a sneaky bill in the dead of night in 2006 forcing the USPS to prefund their worker retirement fund for the next 75 years. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/03/04/how-the-postal-service-is-being-gutted.aspx?source=isesitlnk0000001&mrr=1.00 No other business public or private operates under such outrageous conditions—funding retirement for people who haven’t even been born!

    Now, eight years later, those political courtesans and their paymasters are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the USPS’s imminent collapse and their chance to charge eight bucks for shipping a one ounce letter from Bangor, Maine to Los Angeles, California. Not to mention looting USPS assets and snapping up that prime real estate on the cheap.

    Long story short, the FCC acted purposely to gut net neutrality.

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