The Lie of Net Neutrality

In simplest terms, Net Neutrality (hereafter “NN”) is intended to prevent your ISP from treating any data differently – that is, they have to let you use the Internet the way *you* want to, not the way *they* want you to. Like all other interventionism, it’s a lofty goal and one that should have no serious negative consequences, right? Sure. But, like every other form of interventionism, the proof is in the pudding. No law or regulation should be judged on its intentions, but rather only its results.

First a Little History

NN was intended to stop a small handful of individual issues that occurred over approximately 20 years of the Internet – issues that had either already been dealt with by *other* laws, or by the ISP’s customers themselves.

In fact, since NN was passed in 2015 (a FOUR HUNDRED PAGE regulation, that only limits certain actions by certain ISPs) the very things that NN was supposed to prevent and had never been performed before were *actually* done by the companies that did not fall within the FCC Title II power grab (in other words, they weren’t ISPs so they didn’t have to obey the new FCC rules — and they were probably inspired to do it because the FCC told ISPs that they weren’t allowed!).

Oh, on that note…so the way the FCC created NN in the first place was by declaring a law passed in the 1930s to prevent abuse by telephone and radio operators somehow granted them the authority to (without approval of congress, mind you) determine what any ISP could and could not do with their own services. Other laws actually forbade the FCC from doing this, and congress had even taken this up for vote and voted against it, but the FCC did it anyway. Nothing like a runaway government agency that isn’t subject to checks and balances, eh?

Here’s a short list of some of the things that NN declares illegal:

  • the ability for your ISP or cell carrier to *not* charge you for data used (this is called Zero-rating) for services they work with (like Comcast not charging to stream movies from their own library). Even though this is just stupidly obvious for many reasons, it’s actually one of the primary reasons why NN is supported by the major front groups for NN.
  • the ability for ISPs to enter into arrangements to improve performance between their customers.
  • the ability for ISPs to create plans catering to unique market segments – like people that don’t want to watch TV over the internet, so they might be interested in a much smaller (and cheaper) plan – that’s illegal under NN.
  • the ability for ISPs to block content that their own customers request be blocked (such as online gambling, porn, lingerie sites and so on), because that prevents “potential” users at a customer’s location from being able to see an “unfiltered” internet. This means that McDonald’s and Starbucks can actually be fined by the FCC for preventing people from watching porn in their lobby on their free wifi.
  • the ability for your ISP to provide free service to you in exchange for showing you advertisements or other revenue-generating options like your participation in their forums or being a customer already. Nevermind that this is how broadcast television *still* works (which also falls within the purview of the same FCC!), and that Comcast, AT&T and many other ISPs already have an insanely huge network of free wifi available to their existing customers (in violation of this NN clause).

This particular ad was actually created by a “prominent advocate of net neutrality” — that apparently can’t “math”

The way NN has been implemented is similar to having some people complain that Showtime and HBO aren’t available on their TV plan, so instead of simply ordering it and allowing those interested people the shows that they want included, the federal government declared that *nobody* could have TV services unless they also paid for Showtime and HBO.

Every single bill has gone up, and not a single person is better off for it…well, except for the ISPs that make a lot more money as a result. And, they get to buy out the smaller ISPs that can’t afford to *not* make traffic shaping arrangements with their backbone providers which are now illegal under NN.

I happen to run a hosting company. 3 years ago, before NN, I had near unlimited data included with my servers. Data was *cheap*. 2 years ago, after NN, the price has shot up over 30,000% — I get much less data on my servers now and don’t have that huge safety cushion, since paying for the same data cap would cost me an extra $8,000/month to get the same caps I had only 3 years ago.

Guess what this means? Web hosts have to increase their hosting fees, and their customers (anyone with a website!) has to find a way to make it worthwhile. Most of them will increase the number of ads that appear on their sites. Have you noticed that EVERY SINGLE SITE is now so ad-heavy that it feels more like you’re wading thru late night television than browsing the web? Yeah, you can blame NN for this. (But don’t deal with it – install AdBlock – it’ll also prevent a lot of malware since most malware is distributed through ads.)

Title II Vote

The thing is, the vote this week isn’t even on NN! It’s actually on Title II, the specific section of the Communications Act of 1934 that defines “common carriers” (aka, telephone services), and whether ISPs really fall within the FCC’s purview. The MSM, NN advocates, and other idiots, are deceiving the entire world by misrepresenting every single aspect of it and forcing the federal government to get involved, to prevent theoretical problems that just don’t exist or are addressed by other existing law.

You gotta ask yourself: is it more likely that with federal involvement the Internet will remain true and pure, or, is it more likely that this “mere” 400 page regulation is just the first volley of an incipient federal government program that’s intended to eventually allow them to be involved in every single IP transaction?

I can totally imagine the FCC declaring that, “in order to ensure that all traffic is treated equally, we need to have every byte that touches the Internet first pass through an NSA proxy in Utah…you know, for your own good!”

If anything, having the federal government dictate how and what you can do on the Internet is far closer to China’s ISP filters that are used to prevent access to ideas which the Chinese government feels threatened of, than it is to actual freedom. Yes, the 400 pages of regulations do actually mention that unelected bureaucrats within the federal government get to decide whether content is allowed to be blocked or not. It reads an awful lot like the federal government wants to be the arbiter of what is seen on the Internet, even if they did write it with a very polite tone.

Think of NN as making a law against killing someone with a ham sandwich. Okay, *maybe* someone has actually thought of doing that before. But it doesn’t matter, since *murder* is already illegal. The end result of a law like that is that every meat market has to finance or obtain insurance to cover ham sales on the off chance that they’ll have to defend themselves against fines for ham sandwich murders. They also have to carefully interview their customers just in case granny is planning on killing grampa with that “ham off the bone.” Liability = risk + cost + time, which means that the price of ham will necessarily skyrocket. All to prevent something that’s already illegal!

How will repeal affect us?

Costs for data will reduce in price again, which means that ISPs can lower their rates. Will they? Probably not. The smaller ones will, but the larger ISPs will just use this as a long-term fast-cash infusion.

Some of the larger ones might actually create plans for “light” users that significantly reduces their costs. A niche of new ISPs may actually crop up *just* for providing email+social media access at a super-cheap rate. Netflix or other video streaming services will probably open their own ISPs so they can own the “last mile” and significantly reduce their costs.

Is the 400 page regulation really effective at preventing those theoretical problems? No. Especially not, since some companies started doing the very things they said not to the minute the FCC created the regs! Removing the regulations will not prevent companies from being evil, but with the previous 20+ years as a guide, the fanciful issues that they’re concerned with are not going to happen anyway, or, if they do, there are existing laws to address them.

Will the Internet be set on fire or have its “tubes” tied if NN is reversed? Hell, no. NN is a stain on the internet, and is actually causing far more problems than it could ever hope to prevent. One thing is certain: the Internet is beholden to no one. Like a cockroach, it’ll survive long after we’re gone, whether NN remains or not.

Confederate Battle

There comes a point where you have to say wait a big, fat minute.  Have we all forgotten history? I love this Facebook post by  Leonard J. Siebert.

“Interesting take on the Confederate flag but first we need to address your headline claim of ignorance and racism.

In 1860, northern and western electoral votes ...

In 1860, northern and western electoral votes (shown in red) put Lincoln into the White House.

The United States began its first Civil War on April 12th 1861, by all historic and documented accounts; Abraham Lincoln issued the ‘presidential order’, the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. So your premise that the Civil War was started over slavery, is not supported by the chronological timeline.

When we address cause and effect attempting to pigeon hole a cause can cause erroneous conclusions. Why in your article you claim ‘slavery’ as the cause of the Civil War, the actual historic cause is cited as the secession by seven states in the south, whose economies were all based on cotton. While I cannot deny that there were slaves in those states and slavery in any form is wrong; we need to know what caused the secession of these states as that has been cited as the cause of the Civil war.

Abraham Lincoln with Allan Pinkerton and Major...

Abraham Lincoln with Allan Pinkerton and Major General John Alexander McClernand at the Battle of Antietam.

Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election without being on the ballot in ten of the southern states. His victory triggered declarations of secession by those states.

In general Economic and social differences between the North and the South is cited as the top factor contributing to the actual war with State’s rights versus Federal rights (an interesting parallel, playing out currently) and finally the fight between abolitionists and slave owners, is cited as the third contributing cause with varied degrees and schools of thought as to whom and what was involved.

While Massachusetts was one of the first states to rule slavery unconstitutional, a decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts based on that states Constitution of 1780. It was in 1780 that Pennsylvania passed the ‘Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery’ that freed the future children of slaves. Those born prior to the Act remain enslaved for life. The Act becomes a model for other Northern states. Last of that states slaves were freed 1847.

The cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney on March 14, 1794 and could be cited as a point of conversion of America’s society from agrarian culture into an industrial one although most historians cite 1760 as the transition year, due to labor going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power, and the development of machine tools.

I however bring up the cotton gin as the South had long relied on hand labor and agriculture, economically they could not compete with the North and as machines became more efficient and autonomous, slavery was already headed the way of the dinosaur in most industrialized countries; save for the Middle East, that still boast a rather booming and active slave trade.

The key points to take from this is; Slavery was not the chief cause of the Civil War but it was a cause and even us ignorant Southern Okies, have a better grasp of history than you do.

Let me take this a step further with your comment:

“Defenders of the flag need to realize that after the Civil War, nobody was flying this thing, including Robert E. Lee. It is funny how “heritage” didn’t suddenly become important until the descendants of the people who used to be slaves suddenly started to get the same rights they had.”

Did you bother to read this for how contradictory this statement is to the heart of your angst against the Confederate flag? If nobody was flying it; not even Robert E. Lee, than your representation of it being a symbol, like that of the Nazi flag, being one of hate; suddenly becomes negated.

However you were accusing Southerners of ignorance and this is about me highlighting you own or are you just lying. The South had many flags during the Civil War and this caused a great deal of confusion during combat as many resembled ‘Old Glory’. That was what flags and banners are for, you know, identification and communication of combat units, at a distance, during battle, before ‘radio’ existed. Yet addressing your erroneous point more directly:

“On November 28, 1861, Confederate soldiers in General Robert E. Lee’s newly reorganized Army of Northern Virginia received the new battle flags in ceremonies at Centreville and Manassas, Virginia, and carried them throughout the Civil War. Beauregard gave a speech encouraging the soldiers to treat this new flag with honor and that it must never be surrendered.

Many soldiers wrote home about the ceremony and the impression the flag had upon them, the “fighting colors” boosting morale after the confusion at the Battle of First Manassas. From that point on, the battle flag only grew in its identification with the Confederacy and the South in general. Later, a 13th star was added for Kentucky.”

So, what does the above factual history about the Confederate Battle Square or ‘Stars and Bars’, mean in context to your article. It means that you and your editors are either very ignorant of the Civil War, very stupid or lying and using a hate filled rant full of erroneous propaganda to incite more hate against a symbol that will forever be etched in American history; like it or not.

So where was all your righteous indignation over the Confederate flag for the last 154 other years of history or did you only just learn to write? Perhaps you need to devote more time to reading before you start spouting off about history or any other subject.

Basically I have proven the subject matter you used to make your points erroneous; as such the entire headline you maintain is equally erroneous. I am not denying that racism exists, it does but the Confederate Battle Square is not the representation of it, as you are trying so desperately to claim. It is rather a reminder of a tragic point in our history, one that should not be forgotten, ever.

After all, those who do not remember the sins of the past; are doomed to repeat them.  Based on the your article; I’d say your more than half-way there.”

– By Leonard J. Siebert

Thank you Mr. Siebert for setting people straight.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

This post was written in response to this article: “Dirt Ignorant, Flag Waving Bigots Out in Force Across the South“.

Note: The graphics I added.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day, everyone! Please take a moment to remember what this day represents: standing up to oppression and a statement of freedom.

Declaration of IndependenceThis day is not about the formation of the United States, but of the dissolution of the bonds the American  colonists had with England, a remote entity who didn’t share their values, interests or goals. England imposed  her will on the colonists without proper representation — deciding  their fates based on grand self-interest.

The current administration usually adorns these types of declarations with one of the adorable phrases “we can’t wait” or “for the children.” Nevertheless, these are abuses on their face and no amount of decorative wording can justify these actions.

The great men we call the Signers and Founders did not start by creating a new government to replace what they had, but first agreed that whatever may happen, what they had was severely broken, and knowing that regardless of what MIGHT come in the future, that what they were already subjected to was simply unacceptable.

The Signers had no way of knowing that several years in the future their efforts would eventually lead to a functional democratic republic.

As a developer I believe in having a true understanding of all inputs and potential complications before opening up an IDE, but when your life and liberty are on the line it’s all too often important to act impulsively. Remember this the next time you’re treated like a war criminal for refusing to submit to bogus “authority,” are threatened with force if you dare step outside  your “free speech zone”  or are declared an enemy combatant simply for disagreeing with Dear Leader.

Bald Eagle by Águila calva CC BY-SA 3.0The Declaration of Independence, for which this holiday is named, identifies twenty-seven (27) distinct classes of violations against the colonists. Fully twenty-two (22) of these are being actively repeated by the current administration and other recent administrations.  Of the remaining five, three are likely already happening as well — the incomprehensible lack of government transparency shrouds far too many of their actions. Moreover, there are plenty of additional offenses against us taking place each and every day, such as the gross invasion of our privacy by the NSA. Are we really supposed to believe that “person, papers and effects” doesn’t include our computers, telephones or travel?

Since the passage of the 16th amendment, which provided the federal government with it’s very own wishing well, our nation has gone to hell in a hand-basket. The last hundred years our nation has decayed more and more, providing a roost for some of  the worst mankind has to offer. From war profiteering to false flags to backroom deals for lobbyists…our elected representatives would do well to wear the logos for the brands and companies who sponsor each of their activities, for so rarely are they truly representing the interests of their actual  constituents. We can no longer stand idle while these people perform their ghastly deeds in secret, in our names. Sadly, “voting the bums out” when the only alternatives proffered are two sides of the same coin isn’t a realistic solution.

The worst part of it is that this has been in the works for so very long. Our nation flounders because we are so easily divided. The last several Presidents, while on television during (and I use this term in protest) “debates”  they portrayed their actions and positions as heatedly different, each performed in exactly the same ways. Taken as a whole, there has been nothing done by any of them to distinguish them from one another.  You would be hard-pressed to look at the individual actions of any of them and be able to identify exactly which person, or which political party, had done.

Not to be outdone, congress alternates between doing nothing at all and doing everything wrong. Personally, I would rather survive without  the added oppression imposed by “look-busy legislators”, so I pray for stalemate rather than compromise. My darling wife is very fond of saying, “when both houses of congress agree — you can be sure there’s a greater-than-normal conspiracy underway.” Some of the greatest offenses against the American public have been at the hands of a united and near-unanimous majority. Sigh.

This month I’m going to write about each of the reasons the Signers declared independence from England and how that applies to our lives today.  After 238 years, are we falling into the same trap?  Come back and visit. And tell a friend.