September 4, 2010

The NYT’s Nocera Lies About Net Neutrality

Filed under: Corporatism, Internet Democracy — Tags: , , — Russ @ 7:04 am


The NYT has fitted to print a pack of lies about the telecom rackets, net neutrality, and the future of democracy. The flack du jour is business columnist Joe Nocera.
He starts out describing the basic situation – a broad coalition at least claims to support net neutrality, but the FCC keeps dithering.

And yet, here we are, a year and a half into the Obama presidency, and net neutrality is no closer to being encoded in federal regulation than it was when George W. Bush was president. Just this week, the F.C.C. asked for comments on two of the issues surrounding net neutrality, issues that have been hashed over for months. It was an obvious effort to push any decision beyond the midterm elections.

Correct so far. But then the lies commence:

The F.C.C.’s punt doesn’t begin to get at the turmoil. When Google and Verizon, a month ago, put together a well-meaning proposal for enforceable net neutrality rules, the two companies were vilified by the net neutrality purists — because they wanted to exempt wireless. “There was universal condemnation of Google for abandoning its ‘don’t be evil’ ethos,” said Art Brodsky, the chief spokesman for Public Knowledge — the very group that was leading said condemnation.

There was nothing at all “well-meaning” about the Google-Verizon Pact. Its goal is clear: to set standards for gutting net neutrality. They want to exempt wireless (which they and many others believe is the future of the Internet) completely, while setting up a paid VIP lane alongside the “open Internet”. But there’s no reason as all why wireless should be treated any differently from fixed lines. And we can fill in the blank for ourselves as to where all subsequent infrastructure development for fixed wires will go. The proposals of the Pact are a way of passively killing the democratic Internet.
Here’s a truly malicious distortion:

In the wake of the Google-Verizon announcement, the F.C.C. abruptly called off talks among the various parties aimed at coming up with net neutrality rules. The talks have since been restarted, more or less, though without the involvement of the F.C.C. Yet even if the talks succeed, the resulting framework wouldn’t have the force of law, so it is hard to know precisely what they would accomplish.

These talks were nothing but an end-run around the democratic process. The goal was to remove public policy regarding the public Internet from the public purview. Instead they’d deliver democracy into the hands of racketeer elites whose goal isn’t to “come up with net neutrality rules”, but to gut net neutrality for profit.

And last but not least: thanks to a court decision in March — a decision that resulted directly from the F.C.C.’s effort to punish one big Internet service provider, Comcast, for violating the principle of net neutrality — the agency’s very authority to regulate broadband is in doubt.

Another lie. Only its “ancillary authority” under the tendentious and arbitrary 2005 classification is in doubt. At will the FCC can reclassify these communications services as communications services.
Nocera goes on to spew a telecom talking point:

Surely, this has to rank as the Mother of All Unintended Consequences: there is an outside chance that in its zeal to make net neutrality the law of the land, the F.C.C. could wind up as a regulator with very little to regulate.

This is a version of the Big Lie that net neutrality constitutes a government “takeover” of the Internet. On the contrary it’s a defense of the Internet against a monopoly racket takeover.
So we already see how Nocera and the NYT are in the bag for the rackets. Note how throughout the entire piece Nocera takes for granted the rationale for the very existence of the access rackets, and never explains why the public Internet which the public built and paid for shouldn’t be in the public’s hands, since the very fact that we’re even having this fight proves that the private sector can’t be trusted with it. (As we’ll see later, Nocera agrees with this but draws the opposite conclusion – the very fact that the rackets want to destroy the democratic Internet is sufficient reason for the citizenry to surrender completely.)
Just in case there was any doubt left, Nocera brings in Wall Street for commentary. Now we know Nocera and the NYT are on the side of the people!

“Net neutrality arguments have been reduced to bumper stickers,” sighed Craig Moffett of Sanford C. Bernstein, Wall Street’s premier telecom analyst. Mr. Moffett’s point is that like most political slogans that wind up on bumper stickers, the issue isn’t nearly as simple and straightforward as it might appear to be at first. Net neutrality is, in fact, incredibly complicated.

Data networks, after all, have to be managed. The engineering is complex. The capacity is limited. Inevitably, some form of prioritization is bound to take place. Rules also have to be created that will give companies the incentive they need to spend the billions upon billions of dollars necessary to extend broadband’s reach and improve its speed, so we can catch up to, say, South Korea.

Again, a flat out lie. Network management can be reasonably performed under net neutrality, and the FCC’s proposed rules allow for “reasonable network management”. Indeed, they’re probably too lenient.
Nocera goes on with some backhanded “balance” and distortions, repeatedly sneering at citizen advocates as “purists”. (Of course, mercenaries like Nocera arguing for the existence and aggrandizement of parasitic monopoly rackets aren’t “purists” making a “furor” with hatchet jobs like this piece, oh no!)
He lies and calls the existing adherence to net neutrality standards “purely voluntary”, representing the FCC’s attempt to sanction Comcast for discrimination as capricious and autocratic. On the contrary, implicit in the ancillary authority argument was that net neutrality could and would be enforced. Even the Bush administration said so.

Since that ruling came down in March, the agency has been going down two tracks at the same time. It has been desperately trying to find a way to re-establish jurisdiction over broadband services, while at the same time continuing to push for net neutrality. It has become a very complicated dance.

In May, for instance, Mr. Genachowski proposed that the F.C.C. could use Title II of the Telecommunications Act to re-establish jurisdiction. (Trust me: You don’t want to know the details.) But Title II brings with it all sorts of onerous, outmoded regulations better suited to the age of rotary telephones — including price regulation. Although Mr. Genachowski vows not to impose such regulation, who is to say that his successor will agree with his “forbearance” approach (as he calls it)?

Another lie. There’s nothing at all complicated about Title II classification. It’s very simple: Title II applies to communication services like telephone and cable lines. The ISPs deliver Internet access over telephone lines (Verizon, AT&T) or cable (Comcast). They are communication services. They should be classified under Title II.
Was that so hard? Are we the people really as stupid as Nocera pretends we are?
As for Genachowski’s forbearance, the real question regards the “voluntary” forbearance of the rackets, in which propagandists like Nocera always want us to believe.

And no matter how strenuously Mr. Genachowski vows not to impose price regulations, the Internet service providers have made it plain that they will sue to prevent the F.C.C. from asserting Title II jurisdiction over broadband. It is not inconceivable that the providers will win. At which point, the F.C.C. might as well close up shop.

So we should give in to extortion. Yes, Nocera’s colleague Errand Boy Sorkin has made a career of it. I guess Nocera wants to get on that ransom note delivery gravy train.

It is this strange stew — uncertainty over jurisdiction, combined with a campaign pledge to establish net neutrality — that explains the recent Google-Verizon proposal. The truth is, virtually every player involved wants the F.C.C. to have oversight over broadband services. Otherwise, chaos is likely to ensue.

Yeah – in exactly the same way the banksters want Treasury and the Fed to “have oversight” – in order to serve as bagmen for bailouts and otherwise enable them. Otherwise, to do nothing. To help privatize public wealth and socialize risk and cost. That’s all the telecoms and their flunkeyboy Nocera want here.
And now back to the earlier lie about the anti-democratic cabal of “stakeholders” against the net neutrality:

That’s why, at the request of the F.C.C.’s chief of staff, Edward P. Lazarus, representatives from all the sides of the issue, including the Open Internet Coalition, convened to see if they could come up with a framework for net neutrality they could all agree on — and that the F.C.C. could supervise. When those talks bogged down, Google and Verizon decided to come up with their own plan, thinking that they could help lead the others into the light.

Instead, they were slammed. Why? Because even though the framework they came up called for no discrimination of Web sites, for transparency and for all sorts of good things when it came to the kind of broadband that came in through a pipe, it exempted wireless broadband.

Google’s rationale — and, without question, Google was the one that compromised — is that wireless was still too new, and the capacity constraints were still too severe, to impose net neutrality, at least at this point. To put it another way, Google was looking at the issue realistically, instead of theologically.

There’s totalitarian code. Read: Our corporate theology cannot coexist with net neutrality, so it must be gutted. The FCC sought a realistic way to apply theology here but failed, so Google made its own attempt. The most realistic lie to try to put over is that wireless is somehow “new” and “complicated” and needs special study and lots of time before we can decide if net neutrality should apply. That way we can entrench the wireless Internet free of democratic requirements. It’ll be a done deal. Net neutrality will be dead.
Nocera proceeds with his sermon:

So there we now stand. Net neutrality is in limbo because the public interest purists believe that any compromise is a sellout, and because the F.C.C. so badly shot itself in the foot by pursuing the Comcast case. It is difficult to see how we’re ever going to get net neutrality rules.

Yes, net neutrality isn’t in limbo because it’s under attack by the monopoly rackets. No, this attack is simply part of nature’s way, God’s order. The world was put here for the profit of gangsters. They have an absolute god-given right to assert every prerogative everywhere. Anyone who resists this is resisting the market god himself….There’s the corporate theology. Nocera’s one of its priests.
And then an anodyne ending:

Then again, maybe the current snarl isn’t such a bad thing. “If everybody just walked away, the probability of anything bad happening is quite small,” said Mr. Moffett. I agree. Consumers have come to expect an open Internet, and companies will violate net neutrality at their peril. That is just the way the Internet has evolved.

Um, no. Access to the Internet has (d)evolved into a monopoly. If nothing is done the rackets will destroy the open Internet. That’s the Rule of Rackets. The moment a corporation can switch from competitor answering to the customer to an oligopolist who buys power and rams that power down the public’s throat, it will. That’s what’s happening here. Nocera knows that. He’s simply lying about it.
He does make one useful admission:

Without the F.C.C., the Federal Trade Commission would probably wind up serving as the Internet’s sheriff, using antitrust law as its guide and bringing tough enforcement actions. Nobody in the industry wants that.

Yes, the “industry” definitely doesn’t want real public interest enforcement. I’ve always said that breaking up the rackets is the only answer. That’s as true here as everywhere else. Anti-trust would be a good tool for this and should be applied to both the horizontal and vertical monopolies that afflict us.
Then with any luck a parasite like Nocera would lose his paid liar gig and have to get a real job for the first time in his life. We already know he can figuratively shovel shit. So maybe physically doing so is his proper place in this world.

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