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Net Neutrality Bill in Congress 254

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-again dept.
hip2b2 writes "The US Congress is finally doing something to prevent large bandwidth providers and network operators from charging (or putting restrictions on) competing web and other Internet media content providers. According to this NetworkWorld article, the new bill sponsored by Democratic Representatives Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jay Inslee of Washington state, Anna Eshoo of California and Rick Boucher of Virginia in the House and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon in the Senate. I am not a big fan of legislation, but, I hope this bill keeps the Internet a freer place." Here is our coverage of the first round.
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Net Neutrality Bill in Congress

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  • by Thanatopsis (29786) <despain.brian@nosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:14PM (#15258726) Homepage
    My prediction is that this bill will never even make it out of committee. Far too many telco lobbyists on K Street to let that happen.
    • I've made it clear to all of my federal representatives that this is my deciding factor in their vote. I do not like voting on one issue alone, but this is one that I would. I also made it very, very clear that I will make a very, very big deal out if this if they do not support it. Working in mass media has its perks.

      And yes, we are biased. Our demographic likes our bias. So piss off about that.
      • If only your demographic new you are biased. I will go out on a limb and say you don't announce your bias at the begining of the show.

        You are hurting America.
      • The only bad thing about that strategy is that in a rather low visibility issue like this, the challenger is very likely to hold the same position. Net neutrality isn't sexy, and a lot of people really don't care about it or don't understand it. I'd love to vote based on copyright reform, but the CTEA of 1998 was passed by voice vote in both houses.

        Currently*, the only way realistic way to get a minor issue in the fold is to start a single-issue party and attempt to gain enough votes so that one of the ma
    • Well no shit, this is a Republican congress. Look at the list of public laws [loc.gov]. I'd be willing to bet none of them have come from Democratic congressmen, excepting the odd naming of a post office.

      One of the rules of being in the majority party is making sure the minority doesn't get any bills passed. This allows the majority to cast the minority as ineffective and without ideas or a coherent strategy. If the minority does put forth something that has bipartisan or widespread constitutent support, the majo
    • Not with that attitude it won't.
      You could get involved you know.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:16PM (#15258738)
    "I am not a big fan of legislation, but, I hope this bill keeps the Internet a freer place"

    Is not the legislative branch of the US government the body that is supposed to be responsible for passing laws to protect our freedom and liberty?

    The mere statement made gives me the impression that this type of thing is not the norm. And this makes me sad.
    • The mere statement made gives me the impression that this type of thing is not the norm. And this makes me sad.

      Which statement? That he is not "a big fan of legislation"? That statement struck me as extremely bizzarre. How can you not be a big fan of legislation short of being an anarchist. I think the vast majority of people think that the vast majority of laws are good laws... right? It boggles my mind that people can be that out of touch and lack perspective either through willful ignorance, but more
    • Is not the legislative branch of the US government the body that is supposed to be responsible for passing laws to protect our freedom and liberty?

      No, the legislative branch is supposed to pass laws that restrict our freedom. The judicial branch exists to ensure our freedom by protecting us from the legislative branch. At least that's how its worded in the constitution.

  • by QuaintRealist (905302) * <quaintrealist.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:19PM (#15258750) Homepage Journal
    at the end - the Senate bill would only require that net neutrality be "studied", not enforced. This is a tactic employed by both parties - introduce a bill for publicity in one branch of the legislature, introduce a version which is watered down into oblivion in the other, and kill it in committee during the process of "reconciling" the House and Senate versions.

    This is particularly often seen with the House bill being the publicity seeker - Reps need to run for office every 2 years...
  • Wont happen (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zymano (581466)
    Have you seen who runs Congress ?

    Have you seen noticed the oil companies raking it in ?

    I expect more intrusive laws to divide and conquer the internet by corporate robber barons.
    • Get involoved.

      Did you notice that corporate heads of major energy companies are being questioned by Congress? Did you hear that the companies are being investigated?
      This time, it's no cozy up like last time, this time they will be swearing an oath.
      Tobacco is big industry, but they didn't get their way.
      • Who do you think elected the people questioning them ?

        Oil companies dontate alot to their party. It's a hands off policy by Republicans.

        Fox guarding the chickens.
  • The system (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gerrysteele (927030)
    As I recall there is a very long path before a law becomes a bill. It's a rough ride and poor old bill might get a bit hurt on the way.

    Should we all have a whip around, get some cash to lobby/bribe some of the body politic? I mean the free man doesn't really have an input into the political system these, days what with all the major corporations and their politcal representatives.

    They should invent something to deal with that. I suggest something to do with "common people" and "rule, strength", leveraging s
    • Re:The system (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:41PM (#15258886) Homepage Journal
      Call, Fax or write each of the sponser, tell them you like the bill.
      Ask them if they know the stance your representitive is taking. Probably not, but if the do it can prepare you to tlak to your representitive.
      Contact your congress critter, ask them where they stand. They may not even know about it yet. In your letter be sure to use the correct name of the legislation.

      Depending on your state, you may be able to get a face to face with the senator. If you do , for the love of god, dress appropriatly, i.e. Suit.

      Go to all the local User groups, even one you wouldn't normally be interested. Ask for 2 minutes in front of the group. Tell them you are orginizing people to get your congress to vote for the bill. Get names and cards of people willing to sign a petition.

      Find our how much it cost to get a not for profit.
      IF it is too expensive for you to shell out the cash,
      Contact the people who signed the petition, tell what you are trying to do, ask for their help.

      Once you have your organization set up, use it to get a meeting with your congress person. If you have any business owners that signed your petition, try damn hard to get them to go if you get a face to face. Politician like business.
      Any businessman worth theis salt should jump at the opportunity to get a face to face with a politician.

      All that isn't as much work as it seems. And yes, it can work. WIll it work? I don't know, depends on other factors because it is politics. I can tell you this: It wo't work if you don't try.

      • Call, Fax or write each of the sponser, tell them you like the bill.

        Dear Lord, don't do that. Tell them you hate it. snuck the Broadcast Flag [publicknowledge.org] into it.

        Screw that. Tell your Congressmen to support net neutrality and to fight against the broadcast flag.
    • Re:The system (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xiroth (917768)
      Heh, interesting idea. Maybe you guys need metaparties - parties which don't actually run for anything, but are able to say "We represent an association of x voters, and if you want us to recommend they vote for you then you should do y."

      Good god, could this be...a non-corrupt method of lobbying?

  • by xoran99 (745620) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:25PM (#15258782)
    According to this NetworkWorld article, the new bill sponsored by Democratic Representatives Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jay Inslee of Washington state, Anna Eshoo of California and Rick Boucher of Virginia in the House and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon in the Senate.

    I would like to point out that every sentence should have a verb. Except maybe this one.

    • Except is a verb. Shame on you!

      (yes, my response was meant to be ironic.)
    • Except maybe this one.

      "Except" is the verb in that sentence. I think it's an imperative sentence requesting that the reader "except" the sentence from the rule.
    • According to this NetworkWorld article, the new bill sponsored by Democratic Representatives Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jay Inslee of Washington state, Anna Eshoo of California and Rick Boucher of Virginia in the House and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon in the Senate.

      It has a verb, it's missing the word "is" in front of sponsored.
  • Democrats again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) * on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:29PM (#15258814) Homepage Journal
    It was in Democrats' time that internet was spread all over the world, and it became the medium with the most freedom ever known, and it is democrats again who are trying to protect it.
    • Re:Democrats again (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stine @ g m a i l . c om> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:48PM (#15258924) Homepage
      While I'd like to agree with you, that statement is essentially bullshit. There are a few Democrats who have signed on as sponsors, but I'm reasonably sure that less than half of congressional Democrats would vote for the bill. Telcos, like Hollywood, give generously to both sides of the aisle.
      • Maybe it's about time that we pass something preventing this corporate sponsorship BS. Last I knew, we were supposed to elect people based off of how they'd vote, not from whom they'd accept money and therefore support.
        • Maybe it's about time that we pass something preventing this corporate sponsorship BS.

          Thats just the point. It's a chicken/egg problem.

          The politicians in power aren't going to change a structure that enables them to turn the government into an ATM for their contributors, so they make rules that make it nearly impossible for anyone to change the system from the outside.

          It is a positive feedback loop. The more the politicians become entrenched, the more laws they pass to entrench themselves, and the harder
          • Time for a revolt? Though, I dunno if that bit in the constitution about overthrowing a corrupt government would be a suitable defense for the terrorism and treason charges levied against you within minutes. Ah well, time to head north.
    • just as it was a Democrat signing COPA, DMCA, NET and the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.
  • by wall0159 (881759) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:33PM (#15258840)
    "I am not a big fan of legislation, but..."

    I've read this a few times on Slashdot now. It's usually followed by some comment about a special case (or special interest?) where legislation is a Good Thing. This bugs me, because it's hypocritical.

    As an example, the entire concept of laissez-faire (free-market) economics (thank you, Adam Smith!) is based upon assumptions that do not hold in the real world. If we want an economy that even approximates a 'free-market', then we need legislation.

    Look at Microsoft, or AT&T. Were it not for legislation, there's be no check to their anti-competitive practices. In my opinion (FWIW) the natural end-consequence of a totally free market (in the absence of any control) are cartels - massive companies bribing (what remains of) the government, and helping their cronies and friends.
    • If we want an economy that even approximates a 'free-market', then we need legislation.

      You're spot on. Without regulations, a market is impossible. Particularly in matters concerning infrastructure, information flow, etc. But I agree the majority of Congressfolks are pretty clueless about technology, so I always cringe when I see bills relating to technology, fearing the worst.

      One reason to be hopeful, though: Rick Boucher, one of this bill's sponsors, strikes me as a person who "gets" tech and the "

      • Without regulations, a market is impossible.

        Bullshit.

        In most countries, states, cities, etc, there is not regulation on "black/grey market" goods. I'm talking about "taboo" things like good drugs, sex, you know, the things people want, and there is a market, no regulation and better than average quality control.

        Cocaine in the US has not gone up in price in about 20 years. Marijuana has gone up in price, but so has the quality. Sex is always at market value.

        What is the difference between a $1,000 hooker a
        • In most countries, states, cities, etc, there is not regulation on "black/grey market" goods. I'm talking about "taboo" things like good drugs, sex, you know, the things people want, and there is a market, no regulation and better than average quality control.

          One definition of regulation is: To bring into conformity with rules or principles or usage

          So if the rule or principle is "this good is illegal to seek or posses" then regulating it is fairly straight forward.

          A lot of states regulate marijuana sales. I

    • > As an example, the entire concept of laissez-faire (free-market) economics (thank you, Adam
      > Smith!) is based upon assumptions that do not hold in the real world. If we want an economy
      > that even approximates a 'free-market', then we need legislation.

      No we don't. We need a government to do the job it was tasked with. That means a Federal Givernment about 10-20% of it's present size.

      > Look at Microsoft, or AT&T.

      Yes, look at them. Both are monopolies which were mostly CREATED by the gover
      • by jimhill (7277) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @10:30PM (#15259456) Homepage
        "As for your example of Microsoft, notice that the Government couldn't fix that problem. And no it wasn't Bush's fault. The case had pretty much collapsed by election day 2000. David Bois (of SCO fame) had already managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory months before Bush & Ashcroft were in office. "

        I'm not sure whether you're engaging in revisionist history or whether you just have no idea what you're talking about. Boies and the other attorneys beat Microsoft like a drum, up one side and down the other. Two factors combined to kill any chance at a governmental remedy (this time):

        1) Judge Jackson couldn't keep his damn mouth shut during the trial, so the Appellate Court threw out his order to break up the company. In their ruling they stated that there was absolutely no evidence he'd been anything but impartial, but someone might complain so out went the order and the case was sent (with the finding of Sherman violations intact) to a new judge for a new disposition order. Unfortunately, that turned out to be Judge Kollar-Kotelly, who has less antitrust experience in her whole body than Judge Jackson had in his lovesack. Her over-the-head-ness led to a desperate, frantic plea for a settlement. Here's Factor 2.

        2) While Factor 1 was going down, we had a change of Administration and the DOJ's antitrust bunch were replaced by Republican douches whose entire antitrust experience was based on the assertion that antitrust was nonsense and probably an affront to God Almighty. When presented with Judge K-K's desperate, frantic plea for a settlement, they all sprouted wood and absolutely, utterly, shamefully threw in the towel and offered up a settlement that wasn't so much a slap on the wrist as it was a long, slow, deep, wet tongue-kiss.

        History isn't always written by the victors.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @08:34PM (#15258849)
    I really wish slashdot would wait until a bill reaches the floor of the House and/or Senate before posting its presence. Every year, thousands of bills are proposed. Only a few percent (I think its less than that) reach the floor of House and/or Senate. Most of the bills that do make it to the floor are voted down.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:22PM (#15259096) Journal
      Without pressure from constituents, it is even less likely that a bill will ever reach the floor.

      Proposed legislation is just as important as legislation that reaches the floor, potentially more so -- once it reaches the floor, most legislators have already decided where they stand on the issue.

      Now, in the formative stages of legislative thought, is when it is MOST important to make sure your legislators support your views on issues like this. Waiting until it hits the floor is like waiting to have your brakes fixed until you need to stop to keep from rear-ending someone while barreling down a hill at 80 miles per hour. Our legislature needs 'preventative maintenance' just as much as your car does.

      Contact your legislators early. Contact them often.
    • I think it's great these things get posted early. You're absolutely correct that tons of bills are proposed and go nowhere, but this gives me a chance to write my Congresspeople and Senators. There's a better chance a bill will get through if our elected officials hear about it from us. These people are our representatives, let's tell them what we want.
  • It's the only way. If there's a pipe that a corporation can control, they will.

    • If not the ethernet into your home or office, they will control the wireless access points.

      If it's a free service in one of the many coffee shops that offer it, then you can't really expect them not to try to find some way to make a profit off of the free bandwidth they are giving you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:04PM (#15259007)
    "I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

    -- Stephen Colbert
  • by WatchTheTramCarPleas (970756) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:16PM (#15259061) Homepage
    Evcer think about the possibility that not just content providers would have an advantage/disadvantage, but also the consumer's general access? Would it not be possible for Internet providers to give machines running a particular operating system (cough Windows), have a particular processor(ahem Intel), or come from a particular vendor (acch Dell) because these systems are "More capable of network operation" or some other lie like that. Something similar to the Skype/Intel thing a few weeks back (Slashdot) http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/04/143024 3 [slashdot.org]
  • by GreenPlastikMan (881184) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:18PM (#15259072)
    Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska (R), tries to sneak in the Broadcast Flag again [engadget.com].

    For those of you who don't know what this is, please review: Broadcast Flag Article at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    Someone stop this man. The bridge to nowhere apparently keeps leading to the stupid &#$@* Broadcast Flag. DO NOT WANT...!!!! (Contact your Reps and Senators)
  • by ncfoster (661711) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:19PM (#15259077)
    As noted elsewhere in this thread, be very careful about getting too excited about this bill. I'm all for network neutrality, but if the re-introduction of the broadcast flag is the price we pay for it, I'm not sure what to think. We need to stand up to our legislators and get them to pass an honest bill. We're not talking about a little pork project added onto an otherwise good bill. Rather, this bill now is now a complete mess, giving corporations less control over the internet, but more control over digital media. The only difference is which big corporate entities stand to benefit most on the backs of consumers. Do not stand for this kind of garbage, and contact your representative and senator today, because no informed American would want the broadcast flag, even if it is wrapped up in a pretty little bow that says "network neutrality" on it.
    • I'm all for network neutrality, but if the re-introduction of the broadcast flag is the price we pay for it, I'm not sure what to think.

      So either way, some evil bastards win. Broadcast flag gets in and the MPAA wins, or AT&T gets to extort money for not throttling bandwidth. And we all know that both parties will get what they want, sooner or later anyhow. If not this bill, then the next. They just haven't picked the right "campaign contributions" yet. Bitter? Yes.

  • by svunt (916464) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @10:25PM (#15259430) Homepage Journal
    I read an article yesterday about the financial services lobby finally getting involved, as they've suddenly realised that tiered service could have an adverse effect on their customer service reputations. If customers are suddenly forced to pay extra to get a bank statement, or make an online payment, or have to accept slow service with their current internet service, this is going to impact on them in a horrible fashion. It's a shame, but the reality is that this will likely end up as a behemoth industry vs behemoth industry fight over our rights to reasonable service at a reasonable price. Sorry about the lack of a link, I'm having to look over my shoulder and risk a dressing down just to type this out - searching for the story would be too damn risky.
  • I managed to find the bill number for those interested: H.R. 5273 (A bill to promote open broadband networks and innovation, foster electronic commerce, and safeguard consumer access to online content and services). I was also going to include the text here, but neither Thomas, nor LexisNexis has it yet.
  • I don't know about you, but I am HIGHLY suspicious of the government's ability to do anything sensical when it comes to technology, and I can think of nothing worse than a law being passed to correct some theoretical problem that DOESN'T CURRENTLY EXIST and might never exist.

    What would happen if Congress tried to pass some Net Neutrality Law? Since there isn't any kind of ACTUAL problem now, I'm sure the bill would undoubtedly screw stuff up through the law of unintended consequences.

    Congress would inser

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