Comments: 1725 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

levjoy1915 karma

Here's the deal: Net Neutrality is on life support. To save it we need to turn up the heat on the Federal Communications Commission and Chairman Tom Wheeler. We must stop the FCC from passing rules that would break the Internet and allow discrimination online.

LivingstonLanghorn350 karma

I agree with what you said, but I'm confused why Tom Wheeler seems to be saying that the proposal will not allow discrimination and that we're all confused. What's your take on his latest blog post?

Wheeler said this on his FCC blog today:

The allegation that it will result in anti-competitive price increases for consumers is also unfounded. That is exactly what the “commercially unreasonable” test will protect against: harm to competition and consumers stemming from abusive market activity.

To be clear, this is what the Notice will propose:

That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network; That no legal content may be blocked; and That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.

( )

levjoy710 karma

Chairman Wheeler is simply wrong, though I won’t speculate on why he's saying these things with a straight face. The court case is quite clear: unless the FCC classifies ISPs as common carriers, its rules have to allow ISPs "substantial room for individualized bargaining and discrimination in terms" with online content providers. Substantial discrimination isn't Net Neutrality, it's the exact opposite.

levjoy480 karma

The more the FCC tries to make this "commercially reasonable" test look like an actual prohibition on discrimination, the more likely the court will throw these rules out. Further, there’s absolutely nothing in the court decision that would suggest the FCC could bar ISPs from favoring their own content. What's more "commercially reasonable" than a business promoting it’s own products over its competitors?

iamthesnee1210 karma

What are the 3 most important things you would suggest the average citizen can do to help this movement?

HaroldFeld1821 karma

First, call your Senators and Representatives and tell them you want the FCC to classify broadband Access as a "Title II telecommunications service." these are the magic words that -- under the Communications Act -- let the FCC tell companies "this is like a telephone call, between the people involved, not something you get involved in -- you are hired to move the information, not mess with it."

Remember "I support Title II." Otherwise, the carriers can mess with the traffic and we're only debating the details of how much they can mess with it.

Blursday196 karma

Would you recommend contacting the FCC commissioners directly? Here are their email addresses. [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; Mike.O'[email protected] The FCC's main telephone line is 1-888-225-5322.

EDIT: Wow! Thank you for the gold!

davidadamsegal127 karma

Yep, please contact them and also contact your federal lawmakers and ask them to tell the FCC to restore Net Neutrality.

davidadamsegal7 karma

And to add to what Harold said -- when you call said lawmakers' offices, please tell them you support reclassification and tell them to call the FCC to tell the FCC to reclassify.

sarmorris1178 karma

Free Press has some great tools for making your voice heard in support of strong network neutrality protections...I'm sure Josh can help with links!

levjoy325 karma

Thanks Sarah!


  1. Sign our petition calling for the FCC to scrap these rules.
  2. Call FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and tell him to scrap these rules.
  3. Call your member of Congress. Congress oversees the FCC and can tell it to scrap these rules, too.

Want to know more? Much, much more here.

HaroldFeld153 karma

Last, tell your friends. This is where we prove if we are real people who take our rights seriously or couch potatoes. Real people come together and fight for their rights. They use the political process so they don't have to shoot each other. Spectators and coach potatoes let other people make the decisions and then bitch about how messed up things are.

Citizens movements are citizen driven. And once you've had the rush of being a real citizen you'll never want to go back.

HaroldFeld86 karma

Second, when this comes up for public comment, tell the FCC you want them to classify broadband access as a Title II service. Enough playing around at the edges! Do the right thing and get 'er done!

tenfolde371 karma

Explain net neutrality

levjoy595 karma

Net Neutrality is the simple concept that we should be able to freely access any content or service on the Internet without any gatekeepers (companies or governments) slowing things down, blocking access, or prioritizing one site or service over another.

tenfolde157 karma

Is this only applicable in the states? Where I come from. Websites are blocked by the authorities, mostly porn thou.

levjoy336 karma

Every country has its own rules on this. The EU is about to sign Net Neutrality rules into law. Brazil just did it. Chile has them too.

losian219 karma

One of the basic tenants is kinda like.. Say you bought a microwave of a certain brand, it happens to be made by a company that also sells microwavable food products. If you want to microwave another brand's food, you have to pay, otherwise it takes longer, or burns the shit out of your food, or undercooks it.

Logically, you bought the microwave, it should perform its task, period. Whatever you put in it should not matter, it is yours to do with as you wish. The company could also force competitors to pay them so as to not fuck up your food - it opens the door to a lot of shady bullshit, in essence, if we don't have net neutrality.

It's really the gist of it - should your ISP be able to nitpick what you access and how fast you access it based on what it is. If its Netflix they slow it down, unless Netflix pays them X extra. Is it another cable company's on demand service? Oops, slowed to a crawl, doesn't work. Imagine that. BUt you can use their shittier service for a low low fee, imagine that!

It's an attempt to block a conflict of interest that a company shouldn't be able to hold over their customers when the company has a near or complete monopoly. In reality, internet should just be a goddamn utility already.

levjoy226 karma

Yes. Now imagine that this microwave is... the foremost communications technology of our time.

davidadamsegal123 karma

and a monopoly

nsqe135 karma

Hi, Josh. Good to see you doing this.

This seems to be a big about-face from the FCC — I don't think anyone expected Wheeler to really push for reclassification (even though the DC Circuit has more or less urged the FCC to reclassify twice now), but whereas Genachowski at least tried to come up with a rulemaking that was deferential to service providers while maintaining the core of Open Internet principles, Wheeler seems to have just thrown the original principles out the window.

Congress has shot down legislation repeatedly, so where do we go from here? How can we continue the Open Internet push?

levjoy168 karma

These rules aren't set in stone yet - they're just a proposal. So now is the time to start telling the FCC to scrap the rules and start over again.

People can make calls directly to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and also to their member of Congress, who can also call Wheeler. Lots of info here:

HaroldFeld129 karma

Also here, Harold Feld, Senior VP Public Knowledge, and longtime blogger on this stuff.

dedicatedtojustice91 karma

We are literally going to lose the Internet. Why has this issue not taken off and what can be done to reignite the issue so that people realize what they are about to lose?

levjoy105 karma

When this issue first came up around 2006 millions got involved. Earlier this year, after a court threw out the FCC's open Internet rules, we delivered more than 1 million petitions for Net Neutrality.

Add to this the millions who've taken action to stop SOPA and mass surveillance and you have a movement to protect the open Internet. Now we just need to ignite that movement in the next three weeks in order to get the FCC to abandon this awful plan.

sarmorris143 karma

We are working every day to make sure this issue is known. Unfortunately, we are dealing with powerful industry interests and apparently an FCC Chairman who is still tied to those interests (that he used to represent).

As Harold mentioned earlier, call you congressional representatives! Tell them that the future of the Internet is at stake and that the FCC's currently plan is doomed to fail.

ketchup_packet87 karma

How can the First Amendment be used to protect Net Neutrality if the fiber is privately controlled?

HaroldFeld162 karma

If the fiber is a conduit for the conversation of others, then it works like the telephone. The speech right belongs to the speakers. See Sable Communications v. FCC,

HaroldFeld14 karma

As long as the company is free to speak, there is no First Amendment concern in requiring them to allow others to speak as well. See also Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins.

HaroldFeld60 karma

Second, Net Neutrality protects free speech by preventing third party censorship, aka "the Duck Dynasty" problem. See this:

If the ISP controls the content, people will push them to censor it. As simple as that. Glenn Beck went to Internet because he got too hot for cable. Why wouyld cable be any braver if they controlled the online content? They wouldn't Censorship of the marketplace, while not a violation of the First Amendment, undermines our vital First Amendment values of encouraging diverse viewpoints.

orangejulius54 karma

What's your impression of the Comcast-TWC merger and how will it affect consumers?

levjoy122 karma

This merger would be terrible for consumers. It would give Comcast control of 2/3 of the U.S. cable market and give it every incentive to raise prices and keep on providing crappy service. And without Net Neutrality rules, you could start seeing it degrading competitors' services in favor of its own.

More here:

HaroldFeld9 karma

Words cannot express it's awfulness, but I did try to do a humorous bit here:

lone_wing43 karma


levjoy52 karma

Thanks for thinking of us!

You can donate to Free Press here. We don't take any money from companies or governments, so your contribution really helps.

I'm sure others in this thread would like to chime in with their own pages as well.

HaroldFeld35 karma

If you are so moved, please go to the Public Knowledge website and hit the "donate" button in the righthand corner.

Caos240 karma

We can't talk about Net Neutrality without mentioning the law that was passed in Brazil this week. Do you think it can be the start the ball rolling?

levjoy45 karma

Yes, examples of like the Marco Civil in Brazil and the EU's recent Net Neutrality vote can galvanize the movement here in the U.S.

The goal right now is to get as many people as possible speaking out to the FCC. These examples are a huge help.

yincrash35 karma

How do we separate what's considered net neutrality, and what's considered normal negotiation of peering agreements (like what happened with Comcast and Netflix). Or do you guys consider that what happened there is in conflict with Net Neutrality?

sarmorris124 karma

The FCC says those deals would fall outside the scope of the proposed rules. But really they're just the latest frontier for discrimination. Here's what I've written previously about peering and "peering-like" agreements: and

TheBoringSpeech31 karma

As a Canadian, what can I and other non-Americans do?

Funkagenda14 karma

This is something I'm wondering about, as well.

The Big Three up here tend to be even more anti-competitive than the large US carriers, and provide both the majority of wireless service and the majority of internet access.

levjoy36 karma

You should join up with They're our closest allies in Canada, engaged in many of the same fights.

TheForceiswithus24 karma

First of all, thank you for stepping up to fight for a free and open internet. My question to you is:

How likely is it that we can convince the FCC to reclassify broadband internet as a common carrier?

Honestly, with the increasing prevalence of internet usage in our daily lives, from banking to socializing to even grocery shopping, it is what essentially amounts to a utility, not an optional service one can generally live without.

What can we do about this?

levjoy32 karma

We can do it if we band together. Once we get these rules scrapped — and that can happen if we make enough noise — the FCC will have no choice but to preserve Net Neutrality the right way, by classifying broadband providers as "common carriers."

To recap:

  1. Scrap these crappy rules
  2. Get the FCC to reclassify.

It can be done. Got to to get started.

goletasb24 karma

What are some of the ways average people can help to maintain net neutrality and/or to reinforce the concept in our culture and laws?

I think people often feel that as individuals they are powerless to participate and make a difference, so I'm hoping you guys have some suggestions for people harboring those feelings.

Given current trajectories, how do you see net neutrality issues evolving over the next five years?

amalia_CMJ19 karma

Good question and good point. Thankfully millions of people across the country have told the FCC what they want--even in person, at this Oakland Townhall in January People power is real, and no one should feel isolated or that their voice does not matter. Building community around and open internet is what many of us want!

levjoy21 karma

Also go to to take action and tell the FCC to scrap these rules. If enough of us raise our voices, these rules will be thrown out.

James_Locke13 karma

I like how 90% of the comments are by the people doing the AMA, not actual questions yet.

Actual question: for those of us concerned with excessive government regulation, why is it necessary to have these rules when such a violation of them are 1) rare and 2) obvious. Netflix lost 10% of their market over their price hike, can you imagine the backlash if ISPs started rationing internet? MY position is this: if it aint broken, dont fix it.

sarmorris116 karma

Comparing Netflix to ISP's is apples to oranges because Netflix doesn't control the Internet pipe to the end user. ISP's do.

Think of it this way - if you don't like Netflix you have other options to watch things online, and it's fairly easy to cancel your service. If you are a Comcast subscriber, you may not have any other viable options for service in your area (in fact they are hinging a large part of their argument in favor of the merger on this point), and you almost certainly don't have two subscriptions at once. The point being - just because you're unsatisfied with your ISP, doesn't mean you have an easy way to express your backlash.

davidadamsegal6 karma

To the extent to which it hasn't happened, it's substantially been a function of lack of technical ability and regulation. But it has, of course, happened, re: BitTorrent, Netflix, etc. In Europe, the cell service providers block VOIP - more than 25% of Europeans are already subject to some kind of blocking/throttling. And the impact of consumer pressure matters way less when your dealing with effective monopolies in most places.

PopoSama11 karma

Do you think that what is happening to net neutrality in the states will in any way affect countries in the EU? I'm not entirely familiar with how the internet works so even if countries have good net neutrality rules, could ISP's controlling more cable stifle that in any way?

levjoy25 karma

The EU is actually on its way toward signing NN into law. The FCC's rules won't have any bearing on that. And we in the U.S. should be pointing to those rules — and the rules just passed in Brazil this week — as beacons of what's possible. It's shameful that the FCC refuses to follow in their footsteps.

HaroldFeld9 karma

Am not Marvin but will point to some things I've written and said on this in past. First, Net Neutrality as campaign finance reform.

We have "campaign neutrality" on tv and radio, under fed law, must charge all candidates the same and can't deny a candidate space. Still makes cost of campaigning astronomical and corrupts politics.

drake07279 karma

Lets say net neutrality does remain in place. What is stopping the ISP carriers from charging by the bandwidth versus our "unlimited bandwidth" we enjoy today? Are we, as a consumer, worse off or better off with this tiered "pay what you use" system?

I mean think about it, if I need to ship something from Florida to Alaska, should it cost the same if I ship the same item from Florida to Georgia?

levjoy13 karma

So Net Neutrality and tiered pricing are separate, but related, issues.

Tiered pricing is an artificial method of penalizing services that induce bandwidth consumption. The pipes owned by cable and phone and cable companies are big enough to allow us all to access what we want, without the need for charging for extra bandwidth.

As to your second question - the difference is that bits move at the speed of light. Packets traveling from Florida to Alaska and Florida to Georgia take up the same amount of resources and travel at the same speed. There's no functional difference no matter where the two end points are.

drake07278 karma

I can agree on the first point, thanks for answering!

But for the 2nd point, there is a legitimate concern Bits do matter.

Each packet sent through the internet has a packet header and a priority. And a packet going from Florida to Alaska is vastly different than going from Florida to Georgia. You have to go to multiple ISP's to get to Alaska, as well as the factor in the cost of the handshake between ISP's to let this data take the proper path.

In other words, a SSL packet going from Florida to Alaska has a different priority than a regular TCP/IP handshake packet. If you run a trace route from your computer to a website, then run it again 5 hours later, it may be different (hence it took a different path, which means different ISP carriers).

The assumption that every bit from point A to point B and point A to point C is technically equivalent is a fallacy.

levjoy19 karma

What I meant to say was that the routing of data on the internet is a zero sum game. If there’s no congestion, there’s no meaning to "priority" treatment. Packets through each physical router on a "first-in, first-out" basis. If you’re going to start to prioritize, there either needs to be congestion, or it has to be created by slowing down all non-prioritized data. So its not like physical package shipping in that your sending of an overnight package in no way slows down my sending of a first-class letter.

This is why the FCC's rules are harmful, because the provide an incentive for ISPs to create congestion and scarcity where there should be abundance.

MagicCityMan7 karma

I have no questions but I want to thank you all for your hard work and wish you the best of luck.

levjoy4 karma

Thank you!

thundorable6 karma

Thanks for fighting for us. What can I, as just a regular person, do to help?

levjoy8 karma

This is a comprehensive list of everything you can do to get the FCC to scrap its rules and pass real Net Neutrality:

relkin433 karma

What can we as just average mostly powerless citizens in an Oligarch run society do to combat the complete control and corporatization of the last bastion of free thought and information? Television, Radio, and Print were all conquered long ago and now with the Verizon CEO saying they should get to act as editors of content and this recent ruling by the FCC showing that they are more then willing to cave to the desires of the few and rich...I worry that we have no effective recourse.

levjoy2 karma

I sometimes feel the same way.

But I can't stress enough the importance of contacting the FCC and Congress. Policymakers really do listen to us, if we manage to cut through the noise.

In addition to calling the FCC and Congress, we've organized many townhall meetings (with the FCC and Congress) and constituent meetings with members of Congress. We've managed to change policy this way.

loveandrave2 karma

Can you give us some insight as to why customer service is truly so atrocious with major cable companies like Comcast? Are they getting anything by being useless to their customers?

davidadamsegal5 karma

Precisely because you probably don't have a meaningful competitor to turn to. They have no reason to care about what you think.

semiautomata2 karma

The news reports are all calling Wheeler's proposal a big reversal, despite the fact that the original Open Internet order already allowed for specialized services. Wouldn't reclassification be an even bigger reversal?

levjoy2 karma

It's a reversal because even the open Internet rule — which had too many loopholes and was passed in the wrong way — didn't allow for the creation of fast lanes and slow lanes. This kind of "pay-to-play" stuff is the opposite of what was intended with those old rules.

But yes - reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service would be a better kind of reversal :)

HaroldFeld2 karma

Sadly, gotta run.

toonaphish2 karma

Josh & Harold: why not push for a solution to the competition problem, like structural separation, instead of trying to regulate the symptoms of monopoly control via net neutrality?

HaroldFeld4 karma

I do that too. But certain problems are not solved by competition. Because the ISP will always have a "termination monopoly," there will always be the need for some level of protection just as we have for the telephone. We do not allow providers of phone service to discriminate simply because there is competition for phone service, because we think phone service needs to work in a particular, reliable way all the time for it to function properly. The same is true here.

GamerChick12 karma

Probably an off the wall question, but what is your favorite dessert?

sarmorris15 karma

Rocky Road Ice Cream ;)

levjoy3 karma

York Peppermint Patties. I just devoured one while writing this.

CCM4Life2 karma

and how do you propose to stop the FCC when it seems the people in congress etc don't really care what the people think as long as they keep getting those lobby group pay checks.

levjoy3 karma

The voices of the public (otherwise known as voters) carry a lot of sway. If we speak up — calling Congress and the FCC, meeting with elected officials, writing letters to the editor — people will listen.

More here:

dustyeike1 karma

Why isn't the argument "For the Good of the Country"... a high enough moral high ground from which to base Net Neutrality on?

Story: TWC and Comcast are awful. They know they're bad. In NY for example. If I want Verizon (read not FiOS), you need a dish installed on the roof of your building. Over 50% of the buildings in NY are pre-war. Installation isn't an option. My only other choice is TWC which is terrible. Point being, THERE IS NO COMPETITION. The only way you're going to beat these guys is with technology IMO and better examples of what Net Neutrality is and isn't.

levjoy2 karma

Right, they have an effective monopoly. Because of this, we need strong, clear rules in place — passed in a way that holds up in court — that define what ISPs can and can't do. For example, they can't create slow and fast lanes, can't prioritize traffic for pay, can't block, slow down or otherwise discriminate against content or services, etc.

It's not hard to make that happen. If the FCC classifies broadband providers as common carriers — which it can do right now — it can then pass Net Neutrality rules that hold up.

PostYourSinks1 karma

Who is really to blame here with the new FCC proposal? The FCC? Congress? Lobbies? Companies? Who is the driving force behind this?

levjoy1 karma

First and foremost, the FCC. Specifically Chairman Tom Wheeler. This is his political calculus at work.

But that calculus is formed via pressure from the phone and cable companies, who spend millions lobbying Congress and the FCC. And they usually get what they want — this proposal is a good example of that.

Oh yeah, Wheeler used to be the top lobbyist for the cable industry. So there's that.