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Law Experts: FCC Neutrality Rules Too Murky
As now written, could be utterly useless...
by Karl Bode 04:19PM Friday Nov 06 2009
Part of the problem with the FCC's current rules governing network neutrality is that they're so incredibly vague, they're useless when trying to crack down on anti-competitive behavior by ISPs. Were you the dubious sort, you might argue they were intentionally made that way to give the illusion that the FCC was engaged in a pro-consumer action when really just pandering to major carriers. Regardless of why they're murky, the entire reason for the FCC re-crafting these neutrality rules is to design more concrete guidelines that actually, well, work.

The new rules are only just getting cooked up at the FCC, but a group of law professors have taken an early look and say there's a serious problem: namely that, you guessed it, they're so murky and vague that they might not actually be useful. Yale Law School's Jack Balkin, Stanford Law Professor Barbara van Shewick, South Texas College of Law Professor John Blevins, University of Louisville School of Law's Jim Chen and Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig all essentially agree -- sending a letter to the FCC warning that their current rules lack teeth:
quote:
The two sources of unusual ambiguity that we have identified appear at odds with that goal. Though surely unintentional, these sources of ambiguity appear likely to provide particularly generous opportunities to try to work around the Commission's efforts in this area.
Specifically, the professors don't like that the FCC continues to leave the definition of "reasonable network management" vague -- something that's at the center of their debate with Comcast. The professors also argue that the FCC's proposed rules also fail to define "non-discrimination" in any meaningful way. As the professors note, surely this "unintentional" oversight will be rectified as the rule-making process moves forward.

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SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA

Dubious???

Why would you call it dubious to assume "they were intentionally made that way to give the illusion that the FCC was engaged in a pro-consumer action when really just pandering to major carriers"? Seems like standard fare to me.
33358088
Premium
join:2008-09-23
kudos:2

Re: Dubious???

of course, now your beginning to see why the Obama + biden = FORBIDEN

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

3 edits

3 recommendations

Murky because technology changes make hard rules obsolete

The reason that the rules are vague is:

1 - Because bureaucrats like them that way. It allows them to make decisions based on what they think is best at any given moment. The fact that that leaves them wide open to lawsuits doesn't bother them because to override their decision in court takes years & lots of money and can only be undertaken by the largest companies of all those that they regulate. So the small companies knuckle under rather than fight. You mean you didn't know that regulators like to pick on those without the resources to fight back(the IRS & the EPA are notorious for that tactic).

2 - Technology changes rapidly. But getting laws and rules changed is very time consuming. The vaguer the rules, the less frequently they need to be changed to handle new circumstances.

But a big downside to murky rules is that the biggest and most well connected and lawyered up companies(big telcos & cable) can usually get a temporary injunction to ignore a ruling until a court case is heard. The end result being that those who theoretically need regulation the most are affected by it the least.

And THAT class is why government regulation is usually a big waste of time and money and never accomplishes what it is supposed to(except provide high paying patronage jobs for the people who contribute to pols election campaigns). Better that the companies fight things out on their own and let the marketplace adjust to technology changes.
--
My BLOG .. .. Internet News .. .. My Web Page


SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA

Re: Murky because technology changes make hard rules obsolete

Holy Shit! GOLFnSUN actually wrote *something* I agree with!
But, the only reason some gov't regulation is a "big waste of time and money" is because the corporations exert their influence to make it such. It isn't the system as much as this huge white-elephant called corporate personage that is pulling it down.

TechieZero
Tools Are Using Me
Premium
join:2002-01-25
Gibsonton, FL

Re: Murky because technology changes make hard rules obsolete

Wow, it can't be that politicians are mostly lawyers and/or don't have a clue about what they are trying to regulate since they never actually worked in their life to earn money outside of the government.

karlmarx

join:2006-09-18
Chicago, IL
Wait, there is an easy solution to the net neutrality problem, as you so clearly stated. Let's just BAN ENCRYPTION! Unless you are a bank or paypal of course. That way, the megacorps can use sandvine to 'manage' their network the best way they see fit (i.e. caps).
--
The happiest countries are the most secular. The struggle AGAINST corporations is the struggle FOR humanity!
MTU
Premium
join:2005-02-15
San Luis Obispo, CA

1 edit

Face it

After the Insurance corps., the telecoms have the next largest 'war chest'. If your able to escape the dream, the fuzz will sharpen to reveal the legions of over-paid lawyers & lobbyists that dictate policy. No way will us peons ever be anything but supplicants.

Mikey1

@charter.com

Hard NOT to be vague

They have to be a little vague. Simple and clear like some people want would basically say "bits is bits and no ISP can treat any bit differently than any other bit". Raise your hand if you want your phone call interrupted by a massive flood of music downloads the day after a celebrity death. Some type of prioritization has to be allowed to prevent such things.

RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

Re: Hard NOT to be vague

said by Mikey1 :

They have to be a little vague. Simple and clear like some people want would basically say "bits is bits and no ISP can treat any bit differently than any other bit". Raise your hand if you want your phone call interrupted by a massive flood of music downloads the day after a celebrity death. Some type of prioritization has to be allowed to prevent such things.
This is NOT the same as our bits are not the same as your bits. You can still treat different types of bits differently but you have to do it so that bits for the ISP's Services are treated the same as bits for the same service being served by another ISP. IOW: An ISP can not degrade a 3rd Party VoIP phone connection to give priority to their bundled VoIP phone connection. All VoIP should be given the same priority. The same with streaming downloads. If I go the Hulu/NetFlix I should not be downgraded due to the ISP being a Cable Company who is offering Video On Demand. Phone Calls are time sensitive and thus qualify for a QoS priority. So do Video Streaming. Email and Web can live with a lower priority (as can FTP and P2P).

sivran
Opera ex-pat
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Tread carefully

While I'm all for net neutrality, any legislation absolutely must be written with the utmost care lest it turn out worse than having no regulation at all.

They need a team of geeks, a team of legal eagles, and preferably some legal eagle geeks, to sit down and hash things out. And then hand whatever they come up with to a second group.

The politicians themselves should not touch it at all except to vote yea or nay.

Alas, idealism...
--
In dadkins' memory, Think outside the Fox...

ZappaF

@above.net

Re: Tread carefully

What you just requested is the process for rulemaking that is currently taking place at the FCC.

Note that this is not writing "legislation", but writing regulations.

ZappaF

@above.net

Read the Letter Folks

The prof's raise a very specific critique:

1) The proposed rule defines "nondiscriminatory" in a very narrow way, where only payment for prioritization would be banned. In other words, it would be perfectly acceptable for Comcast to prioritize Fancast traffic over YouTube traffic.

2) The FCC gutted the standard for "reasonable network management" established in the Comcast case. There, the RNM standard had to be narrowly tailored to serve a critically important interest. In the proposed rule, the FCC just rejected this standard, and replaced it with nothing. In other words, it would be perfectly acceptable under this standard for Comcast to forge RST packets to "delay" P2P, all in the name of fighting congestion.

These are specific critiques. The letter indicates the profs understand the rule must be flexible, but they are trying to get the FCC to close loopholes, or indicate that they did or did not intend for these loopholes to be in the proposal in the first place.

joebarnhart
Paxio evangelist

join:2005-12-15
Santa Clara, CA

Competition will guarantee neutrality

The best protection of net neutrality is lots and lots of competition. If we focus on how we get THAT going, network neutrality will take care of itself. For example, my carrier (Paxio) features "open access" as one of their core advantages over the incumbents.

We need more companies like this. Companies who just want to be the pipe to the internet and not try to screw with the content. If one company decides to block bittorrent or streaming video, then users will vote with their feet.

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

4 edits

Upon reflection, I do not wish to post. Take me back!

Upon reflection, I do not wish to post. Take me back!

ArrayList
netbus developer
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Brighton, MA

Re: Upon reflection, I do not wish to post. Take me back!

but you did.
crese24

join:2007-12-27

FCC is being lazy

The FCC should do whats best for consumers. They are just being lazy and listening to all the wrong people "corporations" who don't have the best in mind for consumers.
rdmiller

join:2005-09-23
Richmond, VA

Dubious!

Dubious is a great word! You can attach it to any comment and people will say, "That's just ___ being ____. He's dubious about everything."
33358088
Premium
join:2008-09-23
kudos:2

lets see

this is dubious why?
cause it gives me freedom and choice and value and is the right thing to do?
yea dubious under the current capitalism structure of acta and wipo and the imf that it could work of course is what they meant to say cause the upper 1% are scared shitless of us net nerds

to them i say haha scaredy pants