Senator John Thune is an asshole. Youll have to pardon my profanity, but the most transparent scam in US political history is unfolding in front of us and its difficult to parse information coming out of the post-truth world that Washington D.C. has become. CNBC liked TNW Conference that muchLet me start over: The US Senate today voted 52-47 in favor of a Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rescind the repeal of net neutrality. But according to Senator John Thune, if it were to miraculously make it to the House (which is likely to simply refuse to hear it) and even more incredulously pass there, it will be vetoed by the President. This isnt a win folks. Weve said it before: net neutrality is dead and its time to move on. Because the real fight isnt for Obamas net neutrality, its against Marsha Blackburns. Before we move on, its worth pointing out that the following GOP Senators voted to send the resolution to the House: Susan Collins, John Kennedy, and Lisa Murkowski. Kudos to them for caring about the problem. But, today isnt about solutions: its about drama. In the hours leading up to todays vote, Senators on both sides were called upon to debate the idea of net neutrality. When I started writing this, Id been listening to the debate for approximately three hours. Heres the three reasons why most of the GOP Senators urged the Democrats to vote against the CRA, according to Thune (paraphrased for brevity). First: Net neutrality made it harder for ISPs to provide broadband access to rural areas. This is demonstrably false. Its shocking to think anyone on the planet buys that line, because of how… many… times… this has been shown to be an outright lie. But Thune says it with great passion, and thats enough to convince some people. Second: It was based on Depression Era rules for phone companies. He says regulations from the 30s implemented during the Great Depression to keep Ma Bell from having a telephone company monopoly dont apply in todays modern world. He finds it incredible that anyone would think they do. Really John? You cant believe that people care about laws, rules, and regulations that are older than the technology they refer to, even if you cant explain what about them is outdated? On the one hand, hes an asshole. Heres a flowchart I made to demonstrate as much: And on the second of three hands (theres too much stupidity for just two), hes even more of an asshole. Protecting consumers never goes out of style. And furthermore the 2015 net neutrality bill was based on those same protections, but obviously terminology was updated — terms like throttling and fast-lanes didnt apply to Ma Bell. Small bookstores in the 30s werent concerned that the phone company would slow down the words coming out of their phones in exchange for more money from Amazon. But, if you look on the third hand, maybe hes got a point. By his logic, the second amendment is pretty damn outdated. It could use a new glance-over by some sober minded people who arent avowed firearms enthusiasts. Whats that you say? Its a non-starter? Oh goody, thats how we felt about net neutrality. Third: Cmon. Eh? Cmon! Trust us. Seriously, look at our face: why would Verizon do something that would hurt its customers just for more money? Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. Never gonna turn around and desert you. Seriously, Thune said the reason net neutrality should be repealed is because telecommunications companies have promised not to throttle, fast-lane, block, or prioritize legal internet content, so theres no reason to enforce regulations. Trust them. Wink. The reality is: even though John Thune cant give one truth-based reason for supporting the net neutrality repeal, he has 928,428 – each of them dollars. It would have saved the taxpayers a lot of time and money if he and the other GOP majority-voters, rather than spend their half of the debate talking (lying), just dumped bags of money on the floor and pointed at the cash. The Next Webs 2018 conference is almost here, and itll be . Find out all about our tracks here.
Senate defies "armies of lobbyists," but House may help FCC kill net neutrality. The US Senate today voted to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, with all members of the Democratic caucus and three Republicans voting in favor of net neutrality. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has scheduled his repeal to take effect on June 11. If Congress doesn't act, the net neutrality rules and the FCC's classification of ISPs as common carriers would be eliminated on that date. Democrats face much longer odds in the House, where Republicans hold a 236-193 majority. Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate, but Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) broke ranks in order to support net neutrality and common carrier regulation of broadband providers. The vote was 52-47. Before the vote, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) urged fellow senators to disregard the "armies of lobbyists marching the halls of Congress on behalf of big Internet service providers." Lobbyists tried to convince senators that net neutrality rules aren't needed "because ISPs will self-regulate" and that blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization are just hypothetical harms, Markey said. Lobby groups representing all the major cable companies, telecoms, and mobile carriers urged senators to reject the attempt to restore net neutrality rules. The lobby groups complained that net neutrality rules don't apply to "the practices of edge providers, such as search engines and social media platforms. " That's no surprise, because the FCC regulates telecommunications networks and net neutrality rules apply specifically to broadband networks—websites and online services are regulated separately by the Federal Trade Commission. Markey said that net neutrality rules are needed because of events like Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic and AT&T blocking Skype and other voice applications that compete against its mobile phone service. "Net neutrality is the free speech issue of our time," Markey said. Large majorities of both Democratic and Republican voters support net neutrality, Markey noted. Thousands of small businesses wrote to Congress in support of net neutrality, and "millions of Americans sent letters, posted tweets, and made calls defending net neutrality," he said. The FCC's anti-net neutrality vote "neglected the will of everyday Americans and gave a gift to the rich and powerful," providing ISPs with "new tools to inflate profits" at the expense of Internet users and small businesses, Markey said. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tore into the Trump administration and FCC, saying the commission "has become a puppet for giant Internet providers." Warren continued: The FCC's current chairman, Ajit Pai, has made it clear that he will work to put special interests over what's good for the American people. The FCC was once an agency dedicated to protecting and promoting the public interest, but it has morphed into an agency that exists solely to do the bidding of giant telecom companies. It is a disgrace. When Pai unveiled his "plan to destroy net neutrality, he made it clear that he would ignore the views of millions of Americans who weighed in to urge him to abandon that plan," Warren said. Pai criticized the vote today, saying, Its disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin. But ultimately, I'm confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail." Pai's order that eliminates net neutrality rules was titled "Restoring Internet Freedom." Today, Pai said that the Internet "will continue to be free and open once the Restoring Internet Freedom Order takes effect on June 11." "The cable industry ranks at the very bottom of 43 industries in consumer satisfaction," Cantwell also said, arguing that Internet users need protection from the companies' anti-consumer practices. Repealing net neutrality would create "toll booths all over the Internet," and "those higher costs would, in one way or another, come out of your pocket," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said that all senators want to prevent blocking and throttling, and he argued that Congress should pass bipartisan legislation to protect net neutrality. But Wicker did not say whether he wants a ban on paid prioritization, which would let ISPs charge websites and online services for better access to Internet users than online services that don't pay such fees. "Today, some in Congress are trying to give the government more control again, applying utility-style regulations that would threaten the Internet as we know it," Wicker said. US Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) criticized Democrats for trying to maintain "partisan, onerous, and heavy-handed regulations on the Internet. " Some aspects of the FCC's net neutrality regulation "lack a fundamental connection to net neutrality principles and harm consumer freedom," Thune said. By way of example, Thune criticized the Obama-era FCC for trying to stop certain zero-rating plans. The FCC determined in January 2017 that AT&T and Verizon Wireless violated net neutrality by letting their own video services stream on their mobile networks without counting against customers' data caps, while charging other video providers for the same data cap exemptions. Pai reversed that decision. "Net neutrality isn't about regulating mobile phone plan offerings to meet a government Internet standard," Thune said. "But the Markey resolution would restore rules that the Obama Federal Communications Commission used to scrutinize such popular and affordable plans." Thune noted that in 2015, he proposed legislation that would have prohibited blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Democrats "reached the cynical conclusion that exploiting concern about the Internet outweighed the value of working with Republicans to pass net neutrality protections," Thune said. Thune's proposal would also forbid the FCC from regulating Internet service providers as common carriers. Common carrier regulation can go beyond net neutrality by letting the FCC protect consumers from unjust or unreasonable rates and practices in general. Though Thune supports a ban on paid prioritization, there are Republicans who want to let ISPs charge for fast lanes. Thune acknowledged that his proposal "did not anticipate all of the concerns that my colleagues raised and, of course, there is always room for compromise." Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) repeated the telecom industry talking point that ISPs shouldn't face different rules than websites. "What we don't want to have is two different sets of rules where this set of companies, the Googles and Facebooks and Netflix, get to tell a different set of companies, the fiber, how they do their business," Lankford said. "Neither do we want the fiber companies telling the content companies how to run their business. Let them compete." Lankford also claimed that the broadband industry is awash in competition. "A lot of people say there [are] only a few Internet service providers that are out there," he said. "Well, in the United States, there are 4,500 Internet service providers that are out there." But except for satellite services with poor latency and a few large mobile providers, those broadband networks don't serve the whole country. Internet users generally have just one or two options for high-speed Internet service at their homes, as FCC data shows. Despite that reality, Lankford argued that the small ISPs will keep the big ones in check. " Yes, there are some big [ISPs], but there are a lot of small ones, and if the big ones misbehave, guess what happens: competition will beat them down and those small companies will beat them," Lankford said. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) argued that customers frustrated by network limitations won't be able to easily switch ISPs because there's so little competition. "Competition does not exist—this is not a matter of competition, this is a matter of preventing discrimination," he said.