ISPs Push Employees To Urge Governor Brown Veto New California Net Neutrality Bill

from the down-to-the-wire dept

Last week we noted how California managed to shake off ISP lobbyists and pass meaningful net neutrality rules. The rules largely mirror the FCC's discarded 2015 rules, in that they prohibit throttling or blocking of services that compete with ISP monopolies. But the rules also go a bit further in that they prohibit all of the sneaky bullshit ISPs have creatively-shifted to as their anti-competitive impulses evolved, including restrictions on zero rating and interconnection shenanigans out toward the edge of the network (the cause of those Netflix slowdowns a few years back).

While the California Senate has passed the new law, it still hasn't been signed by California Governor Jerry Brown. Given Brown's tendency to occasionally veto efforts that have broad public support, net neutrality activists are a little worried he may shut the entire effort down. Potentially via the argument that the bill would somehow harm ISPs ability to make a living (which has never been true, since you only run afoul of the rules when you behave badly).

ISPs meanwhile have been making a zero hour push to encourage Brown to veto the bill, with activists telling me the CTIA (the wireless industry's top lobbying organization), Comcast and AT&T all met with Brown at his office last Tuesday. Other ISPs, like Frontier Communications, have taken to urging their employees to demand Brown veto the bill. And, as is usually the case, their arguments aren't exactly what you'll call fact-based:

"The email directs users to an online form letter to Brown claiming that Frontier “supports an open Internet,” but that the bill will “create significant new costs for consumers, hinder network investment and delay Frontier’s hard work to help close the Digital Divide in California.”

Except Frontier’s “support” for net neutrality has involved participating in a coalition of ISPs that repeatedly sued the FCC over its modest rules. And claims that net neutrality somehow harms network investment have been repeatedly, painstakingly debunked using public SEC filings, ISP earnings reports, and countless public statements by ISP executives themselves.

The e-mail to employees, which urges them to sign this letter to Brown, also relies on an ISP industry falsehood from way back; the idea that the bill (SB822) would somehow give Netflix and Google "free internet":

"The email, which notes that employee participation is voluntary, contains numerous other unsubstantiated allegations, including one claim that the bill would somehow create “free internet for big users like Netflix and Google."

Obviously there's nothing about that statement that's true, though ISPs have long leaned on this idea that content companies are just "free riders" on their networks, hoovering up revenues that, by imaginary divine mandate, should be going into the pockets of the ISPs. Of course every time we suggest to an ISP that they pay Netflix or Google's bandwidth bill, they go oddly quiet. That's because, like most ISP talking points on net neutrality, ISPs have to make up points out of whole cloth, since admitting "we just want the freedom to anti-competitively cash in on broken broadband markets" isn't a winning argument.

If Brown signs the bill, the entire west coast will soon be covered in state-level net neutrality protections, which is certainly not what ISPs had in mind after spending millions to kill net neutrality. If Brown doesn't sign the bill, he's going to be opposing the bipartisan majority of Americans who want some degree of meaningful protection standing between them and historically anti-competitive telecom monopolies like Comcast.

While broadband tends to be an issue politicians pay empty lip service to, the FCC's grotesque handout to Comcast and friends has changed the game. Should Brown veto the bill, he's only reiterating that monopoly welfare trumps the public interest and the health of the internet, a position that's likely to hold political consequences moving forward.

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Filed Under: california, competition, isps, jerry brown, net neutrality


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  1. icon
    ECA (profile), 10 Sep 2018 @ 11:49am

    There are Problems..

    Consider what all those OLD services did..

    From AOL to Compuserve and and Everything that on the net NOW..
    What has been shown to WORK?
    What did the ISP's do before NOW..not allot compared to what was there.

    think of all the services and BUILD UP that google has done. What they HAD done, and stopped and changed and ADAPTED..
    Google and a few others RAN out into the net and Created MOST of the net.
    the Major ISPS?? have SAT, and slowly bought up a Few of those Proven services, and HARDWARE..

    Corps are SLOW to change and hope others DO THE WORK, and Prove something can be done.. OTHERS have proven what the internet can do, NOT the ISP's..

    IF, the ISP's can Create, rob, Steal, the Creations of OTHERS...they will love it. THEY are TRYING to catch up. but they DONT like competition, as it Raises COSTS to them, and the IDEAL of cutting every corner.
    They dont WANT to create from Scratch, what has been BUILT and shown to Word very well..

    THE BIG hit, that will show that they are winning..Watch EBAY and PAYPAL..when they get BOUGHT OUT or find competition(with a small company, made up from the ISP's) things will start down hill.

    An old thing thats happened, and few understand it..ges like this..
    Banks, Credit cards companies, CC Services, Expensive equipment..(there is 1 other part in this puzzle, that verifies the Cards)
    All those are related, but Each LAYER, adds money to the end result. Couldnt it be a Straight connection to the Bank?? it could, but its not. 99% of this system has become automated. And the Rich get to pay LESS interest, over the poor..

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