After a year of intense pressure, the FCC if finally on the brink of voting to restore real Net Neutrality under Title II of the Communications Act. But now members of Congress are pushing fake Net Neutrality bills to try and stop the FCC.

Key committees in the House and the Senate are holding hearings today (at 10am and 2pm EDT) to discuss the FCC's proposal and this new fake Net Neutrality legislation. We'll be here answering questions and exposing cable industry talking points.

We are:

  • Candace Clement: Internet Campaign Director, Free Press
  • Matt Wood: Policy Director, Free Press
  • David Segal: Executive Director, Demand Progress
  • Holmes Wilson: Co-Founder, Fight for the Future
  • ...and more will join throughout the day!

Proof: https://twitter.com/candacejeanne/status/557911416532119552

Comments: 200 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

DellFargus29 karma

What, exactly, is net neutrality? I keep seeing it all over the place online, but haven't bothered to research it because it seems to be political 'zealotry' (to me - no offense intended) that isn't exactly part of the mainstream American awareness.

Could you give 'the rest of us' a TL;DR or an ELI5?

candacejeannec60 karma

Sure. Net Neutrality is the principle that prevents the companies you pay to get online (i.e., phone and cable companies) from interfering with content online. So they can't speed it up or slow it down based on its source, content or destination. What those companies would like is for the Internet to be split into fast lanes and slow lanes, with big $$$ companies being the only ones able to afford to get their content to people faster.

That would destroy everything that makes the Internet...well, the Internet. What's been so great about it is that anyone, anywhere can create things and share them. No one has to get permission from their cable company. You don't have to start out rich to succeed.

seeallangles7 karma

It's so awesome that it is your cakeday too!

candacejeannec12 karma

Oh wow -- that's what that is! Yay reddit!

EtaKuramNaSmekh19 karma

Are we going to win this fight or is Comcast, et al. too ingrained into Washington's pockets? i.e. the FCC chair being a former telecom lobbyist?

candacejeannec27 karma

We are really, really close to winning. This time last year -- right after the court threw out the FCC's existing Open Internet rules -- people said it would be impossible for us to get this far. So much of that can be attributed to the people power. This NYT piece from earlier this week outlines it all really well: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/technology/shifting-politics-of-net-neutrality-debate-ahead-of-fcc-vote.html?ref=technology

candacejeannec19 karma

That said, the next few weeks leading up to the FCC's vote (on Feb 26) are going to be intense. Members of Congress are going to try and squash all the progress we've made. The two hearings happening today in Congress will be important to watch. You can stream them here: http://www.freepress.net/blog/2015/01/20/join-conversation-net-neutrality-hearings

philo_the_middle12 karma

How is net neutrality going to play out? What I mean is: Will it require governmental regulation (ala utility companies) and if so, will that undermine competition in the marketplace? I want MORE choices for my providers to keep Comast/Att/TimeWarner/Verizon honest but I'm afraid any governmental regulation will throttle that at the root. I don't want a limited amount of choices for my providers like I have for my electric company!

mattfwood10 karma

Title II isn't utility regulation. It applies basic nondiscrimination protections to all sorts of competitive and deregulated telecom sectors, like wireless voice and business-grade broadband services.

philo_the_middle1 karma

So, Net Neutrality in this context is specifically regarding Title II?

candacejeannec10 karma

We want to achieve Net Neutrality through Title II, yes. The FCC can do this without any new legislation from Congress. And that's what they seemed poised to do in February (after a year of pressure from the public, private sector, etc). However Congress is now trying to thwart those efforts by introducing new "Net Neutrality" bills...these coming from people who have called Net Neutrality "a solution in search of a problem" and "unjustified" in the past. Why the sudden love for Net Neutrality? Its not real. Its an effort to stop the FCC from moving. More here.

philo_the_middle1 karma

Can you explain exactly how Title II does NOT increase taxes and decrease innovation and how Title II does NOT decrease competition in the marketplace?

mattfwood7 karma

Explain how it does NOT do those things? That's a weird formulation but I'll try.

Title II was amended in 1996 to promote competition among providers by requiring that networks do what's called "interconnecting" with each other. So that promotes competition, if the FCC does it right. NOTHING in Title II says "there shall be only one provider," or that nondiscrimination only matters when there's a single provider.

What if your wireless voice provider were to say to you that they'd block your calls to certain numbers because hey, you can always switch to another carrier?

philo_the_middle-2 karma

The problem we have with ISPs (versus wireless carriers) is that we don't have a choice. I live outside Nashville and Comcast is the only viable choice (Charter is not where I am and neither is Verizon Fios or Uverse). Satellite is an option but not really due to costs. Meanwhile Comcast charges me "x" for basic internet because I don't use any of their other services. I want Comcast to have to compete for my business.

For me, Net Neutrality should not limit content choices WHILE allowing for increased competition and investment. I'm just not sure Title II is a good fix and probably needs a completely new regulation that offers incentives for new competitors to increase capacity and reach.

mattfwood11 karma

Net Neutrality decidedly does not limit content choices, and nondiscrimination protections are vital even in competitive communications spheres. Again, would you be happy if AT&T blocked your wireless calls because you could always switch to Verizon? Increasing competition and reach of broadband competitors is the explicit aim of several provisions in Title II: interconnection, universal service, disabilities access laws, etc.

philo_the_middle-9 karma

I think this is a fear-mongering tactic you're employing. Why should we believe that ISPs would block traffic that I'm interested in consuming?

It's in the ISPs best interest to supply a means of consuming legal content that is in demand.

There's no precedent that suggests any ISP would want to block access to say Netflix or Amazon. It is certainly suggested that ISPs want to charge more for access to content in demand and follows the basic supply/demand laws of economics.

Here's a scenario analogy:

Millions of people want to travel to Tahiti. There are "x" number of providers that can get them there. Some are slower, some are faster.

NO ONE would suggest that the carrier who has a Supersonic Jet (better infrastructure) should charge the same as someone who provides the same trip via an Prop Driven Cargo plane. Taking carrier A via supersonic Jet in 1/3 of the time demands a premium price over taking Carrier B (cargo plane @ 3x the time) who offers a lower price.

That's what we're talking about right? We're saying that all carriers should provide the same access to the same destination at the same rate REGARDLESS of the infrastructure/investment that is used to reach that destination. Am I following this correctly?

candacejeannec13 karma

This might be helpful: Here's a list of previous Net Neutrality violations.

Svusoccer5511 karma

What do you think the biggest obstacle is that you've overcome so far?

candacejeannec16 karma

Washington doesn't lead, it follows. When the people began to lead the way, DC started to follow. That's why we are seeing such a shift towards the policies we want at the FCC. It can all be destroyed if we give up for even a moment, though...the cable lobby pockets are deep and they have more lobbyists than we do. We have to keep bringing the noise.

People understand how important this issue is and are passionate about fighting for it. That wasn't the case when this issue first arose in the mid 2000s...

greatluck6 karma

I understand why net neutrality is a good thing. What I don't understand is the other side's perspective -- why are they saying net neutrality shouldn't be in place? Can you shed some light on their reasoning?

candacejeannec8 karma

You will be hard pressed to find someone saying that Net Neutrality should be scrapped that isn't on the payroll of a phone/cable company, or getting massive amounts of money from them. The reason they don't want it is simple: by getting rid of Net Neutrality they have new ways to squeeze money out of consumers.

greatluck3 karma

Obviously Republican congressmen aren't saying they oppose it because the cable companies are paying them. What are the reasons they are publicly giving for opposing this?

candacejeannec9 karma

What's really weird is that a lot of these people were saying things a year ago like Net Neutrality is a "solution in search of a problem" or "unjustified" etc. The reason they are talking about NN now is that they can see we are winning and they want to throw up roadblocks. But a lot of these members of Congress just don't seem to understand how it works. They buy cable industry talking points -- that we have repeatedly debunked -- and repeat them to their constituents.

greatluck1 karma

So if I was to ask Mr Boehner (just an example, I don't actually know what his stance on this issue is) why should net neutrality not be passed, what would he say today? Sorry for pressing on this, I'm just trying to wrap my head around their argument...

candacejeannec5 karma

Something like this.

InfanticideAquifer1 karma

I'd be one of those rare anti-net neutrality people.

I don't own the cables, so I shouldn't have a say in how they're used. They belong to various companies and I oppose the government telling them how they can use their own property.

candacejeannec10 karma

I have good news for you. If you use the Internet and like it, you probably actually DO support Net Neutrality.

The Internet was born because of Net Neutrality. Because the phone company was prohibited from interfering with the content flowing over the network, people were able to use it to connect computers together. Everything we love about the Internet -- all its innovations -- arose because they didn't have to ask for permission from the companies providing the connection, and those companies couldn't interfere.

Are you opposed to the gov't saying that your cable company can't decide to slow down your access to reddit but speed up your access to their homepage? If so, okay, you're right: you are an anti-Net Neutrality person.

And FWIW: the companies that own the cables have received billions of dollars from taxpayers -- either directly or indirectly. They enjoy numerous tax breaks. And what they provide is a connection to a network -- a network that has no value without what we all put on it and use it for.

seeallangles5 karma

Besides calling, which I've already done, can you provide a list of relevant email addresses to contact congress as well? Also, What else can I do?!!!

candacejeannec7 karma

Go to Battle for the Net to send emails to your members of Congress. You can also go meet with their local offices...more on how to do that is here. And finally: get creative! Tell your friends and family about this! Share things, spread the word, throw a dance party...there are lots of ways you can help us win. In the last year we've thrown rallies, protests, dance parties, rock shows, shut down the FCC's website, flooded the phone lines of Congress and the FCC, and more. And sign up for our mailing lists/follow us on social media to stay in the loop about actions.


If net neutrality is attained, what kind of retaliation do you thing the telecom companies will enact? Do you think they will punish consumers?

candacejeannec6 karma

Lawsuits, more efforts by Congress to overturn it, etc. But if the FCC moves to Title II, they will be on stronger legal footing that is much more likely to survive a court challenge.

dillivered2 karma

Will re-classification as a utility finish the fight? I ask in light of Google's recent lawsuit over the difficulties they have faced gaining access to utility poles.

candacejeannec8 karma

Well two things:

1) Reclassifying under Title II is not the same as making it a utility. There are lots of services currently under T2 that you wouldn't call a utility like enterprise broadband and wireless voice. So again, this would just apply the basic nondiscrimination protections we need to protect users.

2) Will reclassification be the end of the fight? I suppose that depends on what you are fighting for. We have many other problems broadband to address in this country, but getting Title II puts us in a good place to achieve other goals. If the FCC reclassifies, there will be efforts to overturn it but we are in this for the long haul and will keep fighting.

DrkSnpr141 karma

What do you see as the biggest obstacle for success, and what is your plan to overcome it?

candacejeannec5 karma

The deep, deep pockets of the cable and phone industry that wants to destroy Net Neutrality. Overcoming it? Non-stop pressure, advocacy and activism. We have become impossible to ignore in the last year and are constantly strategizing ways to continue -- and grow -- that momentum.

magusheart1 karma

I'm curious, what is the average age or age range of your group?

candacejeannec3 karma

Do you mean those of us doing the AMA here? I'd say Gen X-Millennial.

SquirtyMcDirty1 karma

Obama has recently voiced his support for net neutrality. Can we count on him to veto anything congress tries to push through?

candacejeannec7 karma

I don't think we can ever count on anything in politics, so we always need to be ready to bring the pressure. That said, the indications that he is a Net Neutrality defender are very strong.

kgva1 karma

What's the deal with Comcast putting out a t.v. ad claiming they support net neutrality? Is anyone taking any steps to publicly counter that message, since it's obviously nonsense?

candacejeannec1 karma

Comcast is legally required to abide by the FCC 2010 Open Internet rules (even though those were overturned by the court last year) as a condition of their merger with NBC. Their "support" of Net Neutrality runs out in 2018.

imusuallycorrect1 karma

What are you going to do to combat how ISPs are deliberately not upgrading their networks, so they can charge their customers more money for higher speed tiers using bandwidth as a false scarcity?

candacejeannec2 karma

Competition would certainly help with that. Last week Obama brought up getting rid of state laws that prevent municipalities from building their own networks. That would be a good start for sure.

thatguy23661 karma

I'm a Communications major. How can I get involved higher up in the process?

EthanHE1 karma

Ted Cruz recently (at least 3 or 4 months ago) talked about landline phones being classified under Title 2 and have shown little to no evolution while cellphones, not categorized under Title 2 were free to evolve and compete.

Is this a proper comparison to make? To phone lines?

I don't know much about the history of telecommunications, so I'm not able to properly refute it when it comes up in conversation.

candacejeannec3 karma

Ted Cruz doesn't have a good track record in the "understanding Net Neutrality" department. There are lots of things classified under Title II -- including cell phones and also very high capacity broadband networks ("enterprise broadband") that serve large businesses.

surroundedbyasshats1 karma

How will the FCC forbear from rate regulation?

candacejeannec1 karma

Given that the FCC hasn't done it in 25 years, I don't think this is a concern. Enterprise broadband, mobile voice, and rural DSL are all under Title II, and no discussion of rate regulation has ever come up for any of these services. It also didn't come up during the years when telco retail broadband was classified under a much broader swath of Title II.

quisp651 karma

Does content providers having largely the sole public vocal voice in effect make America's Net Neutrality debate one sided? There's my question ;-)

Personally I think technology is going to solve any problem better than Government oversight at least in regards to the true definition of Net Neutrality. Litigation is going to be more costly to content providers than decentralizing servers in the long run.

candacejeannec4 karma

By content providers, what do you mean exactly? There is so much diversity of perspective in terms of Net Neutrality supporters on the record.

quisp651 karma

Would you support the GOP bill in some measure if pricing of all back end negotiations were made public? I feel the GOP bill is unclear in this area and needs to be clarified with them. Price openness with the back-end is one of the few things I feel is important.

candacejeannec5 karma

Transparency is definitely key, but there are a lot of problems with the bill that has been proposed. You can read more about them here.

forcemon1 karma

I signed up for your email stuff (Demand Progress and Fight for the Future) I a while back and I have a couple of questions. 1. What do you think your biggest obstacle is? 2. How did you start your activism? 3. If I do what your emails say I should be doing how much will it help? How often should I be doing those things?

holmesworcester2 karma

Sorry for such a short reply to such important questions. I'm supposed to jump on a call now.

1) The difficulty of harnessing all the amazing talent, intelligence, creativity and courage of the Internet into a force that can defend the Internet. If we could do that, we'd win every time. The world needs better tools for organizing mass collective action.

2) My first big project was on copyright and the music business, around the time they first started suing users. All my musician friends hated the major labels already, and they were screwing up the Internet too! So we organized a musician and music-centric campaign to stop them. That was like 12 years ago.

3) We don't send emails unless we think it'll help. If we say it's really important to call, there's a theory of change there (like, we think that if all our people do it, it will have an impact). The hard part is, we know there are so many people out there who could do so much more, and that's what's hard to organize.

So, do all the stuff we ask for (if you can) but it's also good to just go wildcat sometimes and try something on your own or with a group of friends.

candacejeannec3 karma

PS to Holmes: I remember #2. I was totally inspired by the work y'all were doing at that time and used to play your PSAs on my college radio station. :)

candacejeannec2 karma

Candace from Free Press here (we also have email stuff) but I can still answer this question on behalf of my friends. We spend our days monitoring all this stuff and letting you know when we need to put pressure on Congress, the FCC, whoever is standing in our way. For example, since last week we've sent over 20,000 phone calls to Congress with our shared campaign site, Battle for the Net.

trick_m0nkey1 karma

How are you guys doing from a financial perspective? Where can the average citizen donate to your group to help?

candacejeannec2 karma

On behalf of all our nonprofits: THANK YOU!

nojihad1 karma

Would you agree that net neutrality is an international issue? How can the fight for net neutrality be taken to the developing world where internet access is still at the nascent stages?

candacejeannec4 karma

Definitely an international issue! There's some great work being done on the global scale around this as well. Check it out.

statuspost0 karma

Probably too late to the thread, but could you TLDR it for us? It seems to me, if I were to try, that you would prefer a government agency in charge of this than private industry. Do I have that right?

candacejeannec1 karma

Its all about the proper role for government. All we want the government to do is to protect Internet users from discrimination by their phone and cable companies. That's it!

drunkpunk1380 karma

Since nobody will answer requests by many people for more info on Title X on the Fight for the Future page, why is it a bad thing (please note that the ONLY reference to Title X provided in the meme-style petition is an article that is in SUPPORT of Title X, and completely contradicts the petition itself)?

candacejeannec3 karma

Here's a bunch of detailed info on why Title X is bad: http://www.freepress.net/press-release/106761/trouble-fake-net-neutrality-bills

CatoPapers0 karma

Why is it okay for anyone to tell a service provider or goods producer how they may sell their product? How is that "neutral"?

And why should we trust any state agency to regulate internet prices when we've seen their eagerness to regulate content??

candacejeannec12 karma

This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what Net Neutrality actually is.