The GOP Is Using Veterans As Props To Demonize Net Neutrality

from the lying-liars-and-the-liars-that-love-them dept

Earlier this year net neutrality opponents (read: US telecom monopolies and those who love them) used veterans as a cheap prop to unfairly demonize California's shiny new net neutrality law. California's net neutrality law bans "zero rating," or the act of imposing bullshit, arbitrary usage caps, then exempting an ISP's own content (or the content of any individual organization or company) from them. The reason for the ban? Caps are artificial constructs, and exempting select content from them tilts the internet playing field in favor of an ISP or deep-pocketed companies.

The prohibition is a good thing, in that it thwarts companies like AT&T or Comcast from exempting their own streaming content from caps, while still penalizing customers of competing streaming services (something AT&T has been doing for several years). It also prohibits letting a company like ESPN pay AT&T to exempt its own content from caps and obnoxious overage fees, ensuring they only apply to smaller sports media startups or competitors. It's an issue of fair competition.

Last month, the telecom industry clearly leaked a letter to Politico sent by two anonymous broadband providers (I believe to be T-Mobile and Verizon) to the VA, warning them that California's net neutrality law might ban veteran access to a healthcare app dubbed VA Video Connect. The issue: VA Video Connect is exempted from wireless and fixed broadband usage caps, providing veterans with a little financial relief for using it. So it technically violates the California law (not that California enforcers would actually act on it), and the VA was simply asking questions about what happens next.

But here's the thing: usage caps are bullshit constructs in the first place. They serve no technical function, and aren't helpful in managing network load or congestion. They're created by ISPs as a way to not only nickel-and-dime consumers and competing businesses, but to put themselves in an unwarranted position of control. As such, the whole model of exempting some content from such arbitrary restrictions is equally bullshit. And while the VA agreement does violate California's law, the workaround is simple: simply give veterans a discount off their entire mobile bill. Problem solved.

But because this is difficult for Luddites to understand, the GOP and its political operatives quickly pounced on the issue to exploit it, falsely claiming that "veterans were being cut off from essential healthcare." That message soon popped up everywhere in GOP-friendly news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, among telecom backed think tanks, and in the mouths of FCC Commissioners like Brendan Carr. As somebody who's covered telecom for longer than I'd like, it's clear the entire thing was coordinated by industry lobbyists/policy wonks from the start.

This week, GOP lawmakers sent a letter to FCC boss Jessica Rosenworcel again using this non-issue to try and warn the FCC away from restoring net neutrality:

"Almost immediately after California enforced this law, two Internet providers reportedly told the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that the law could force them to end arrangements with U.S. wireless carriers that enable veterans to access a free, mobile telehealth app called VA Video Connect...We cannot risk losing lifesaving programs like VA Video Connect by imposing heavy handed regulations under Title II of the Communications Act."

Again, vets aren't losing access to anything. The app in question will just no longer be zero rated because zero rating is ISP-crafted bullshit. And the VA and providers could simply give veterans a discount off their entire bill. It's not an problem, and using veterans as a political prop to try and stall some basic regulatory oversight of widely disliked telecom monopolies is just grotesque.

But the GOP literally has a fifteen year track record of simply lying about what net neutrality is or what it does, most notably the bogus claim that net neutrality somehow harmed industry investment. And despite this claim of "net neutrality is hurting veterans!" being total nonsense, it will be repeated for months and years to come as the gospel reality, parroted by all of the GOP loyal news outlets and lawmakers, until it lodges in the brains of people (and some reporters!) who don't know any better.

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Filed Under: california, fcc, net neutrality, va, veterans, zero rating


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2021 @ 6:50am

    I wonder if this gullibility is exploitable.

    For example: "Talking helps the libs, so lets own the libs by never ever talking again".

    Seems a bit too much to hope for. But when people's entire reality is made from horribly crafted lies, layered on top of each other, and spit and bubble gum slapped on to hold it together, there should be something exploitable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 20 Apr 2021 @ 7:52am

      Re:

      ... there should be something exploitable.

      No, there should be something punishable, and there is indeed.... it's called ignorance when one is being charitable, and willful stupidity when one is calling a spade a spade.

      An old saw goes something like "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance". Congress is proving that true every day, but the ones paying for that ignorance is us, the public citizenry.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    LittleCupcakes, 20 Apr 2021 @ 6:51am

    “Deletions of political speech are artificial constructs, and exempting select content from them tilts the internet playing field in favor of an ISP or deep-pocketed companies.”

    Had to fix that one.

    Corporations providing speech platforms that restrict their users’ political comments (which also deprives the users of the benefit of reading such speech) is vile, utterly reprehensible, but allowable (and totally cool really, if i understand rightly the editorial position of Techdirt).

    If corporations also wish to utilize their own networks in such a way that advantages them by zero rating or throttling, that is their business and theirs alone. It is their freedom to moderate content by slowing, speeding, disadvantaging, or privileging any of it however they wish, just as it is Facebook’s or Twitter’s, whatever their motivation.

    Don’t like their pricing or policies? Do your American capitalist duty and take away your money from such businesses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2021 @ 7:03am

      Re:

      There are two major problems I can see right away:

      First, comparing Internet Service Providing to hosting a site is like comparing roads to houses. Those provide Internet service should merely be providing the access. Further more an equal comparison would be if a ISP also hosted a social media site (or basically any other side that allowed user generated content). If someone wanted to band the ISP from moderating their own site, I am pretty sure Techdirt would call them on it just as much as they have called for wanting to control how other sites moderate.

      If a social media site were to become an ISP (hello Facebook, and Google)... well Techdirt has already called them out on stupid shit like 'basics' or what ever stupidity Facebook was calling their reduced internet access.

      So when you compare the same thing.... you find out that the arguments are very consistent.

      The second point is: ISPs largely have a monopoly (or duopoly) on being an ISP, and in some cases there are (ISP bought) local laws hindering or out right prohibiting competition. Where as baring net neutrality violating ISPs, anyone one is free to use any or all social media. In fact if someone who uses Twitter send a link to their tweet to someone who uses pallor, other receiver can very likely promptly view the tweet without needing to do more that feed the link into a internet connected web browser.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Apr 2021 @ 7:09am

      If corporations also wish to utilize their own networks in such a way that advantages them by zero rating or throttling, that is their business and theirs alone. It is their freedom to moderate content by slowing, speeding, disadvantaging, or privileging any of it however they wish, just as it is Facebook’s or Twitter’s, whatever their motivation.

      Your analogy has a major flaw: When Facebook or Twitter moderate content, they don’t explicitly decide if the other service “wins” or “loses” in the marketplace — but when an Internet access provider “zero rates” a service such as Facebook or Twitter, the IAP does explicitly decide which service “wins” based on which service receives preferential treatment at the “common carrier”/“dumb pipe” level. Think in terms of cable TV: If a cable company carries ESPN in its default packages and makes customers pay more for access to other sports networks, guess which sports network will seem like the clear “winner” to someone who isn’t a well-off sports fanatic.

      I also have One Simple Question for you. Yes or no: Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel any privately owned interactive web service into hosting legally protected speech that the owners/operators of said service don’t want to host?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        MathFox, 20 Apr 2021 @ 7:57am

        Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel any privately owned interactive web service into hosting legally protected speech that the owners/operators of said service don’t want to host?

        It's a NO. it can be a smaller or a bigger no depending on the circumstances, but an interactive service should have the right to create its own atmosphere and select its topic niche. Some sites aim to provide a "safe" space for children while others are aimed at adult entertainment. Government should have the market sort itself out, that allows a creative diversity of sites.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 20 Apr 2021 @ 11:00am

      Re:

      It's already inviolately established that it's impossible to attack net neutrality without deliberately lying about what it is and does.

      It's already inviolately established that it's impossible to attack Section 230 without deliberately lying about what it is and does.

      And now we see that both remain true when a troll makes a pathetic attempt at attacking both at the same time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 20 Apr 2021 @ 7:53am

    The GOP use Veterans as props.
    The GOP use Farmers as props.
    The GOP use Bibles as props.
    The GOP use Babies as props.
    The GOP use Women as props.
    The list goes on and on.

    If you're not a billionaire or a corporation that donates to them they don't care about you, they are not in politics to make the world better for their voters, they're in it to stuff their pockets and harm just enough of the people who their base hates in order to keep getting elected. They don't believe in anything, they will let the world burn as long as they can maintain their power and wealth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous, 20 Apr 2021 @ 9:41am

    suck ups to Joe Biden

    I'm willing to bet that most of you, including the author of this article, voted for Biden.

    Let's all suck up to the authors, make them feel competent and worthy for their lack of journalism, which they never actually do, but love to have a trash talk session in their articles and comments section.

    Obviously, since Techdirt lost their advertising revenue in 2020, they had to alter their articles to trash talk anything to do with Republicans, Trump, his family and push the pro BLM agenda.

    Since, Techdirt articles haver gone to bad, to worse, to trash. Right where they need to be, since the authors are all the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2021 @ 5:43pm

      Re:

      How are those bleach injections working out for you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Apr 2021 @ 2:30am

      Re: suck ups to Joe Biden

      "I'm willing to bet that most of you, including the author of this article, voted for Biden."

      I didn't since I'm not in that country. But, I'm glad to see that people voted in a competent adult, and it's clear that many lives are already being saved by this.

      "their lack of journalism, which they never actually do"

      Why are you people always so obsessed with applying Pulitzer standards to opinion blogs? Especially when so many of you seem to subscribe to "news" outlets that not only don't follow those standards, but deliberately lie to their audiences?

      "Since, Techdirt articles haver gone to bad, to worse, to trash."

      So... don't read the articles and comment on them, which increases their traffic and reach?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2021 @ 5:29am

        Re: Re: suck ups to Joe Biden

        So... don't read the articles and comment on them, which increases their traffic and reach?

        They come here for the same reason as they demand access to Twitter etc. They cannot tolerate any viewpoint differences, and when they see them they have found something that they need to attack.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 21 Apr 2021 @ 6:22am

          Re: Re: Re: suck ups to Joe Biden

          Oh, I know that. It's just from a logical point of view if you're opposed to what's being written somewhere, you either go somewhere else or you argue the points made in the articles. Pointlessly whining about nothing just amplified the thread.

          Not that I expect a Trumper to use actual logic, but I have to mention it...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ceyarrecks (profile), 20 Apr 2021 @ 10:12am

    Therapy of the Internet

    This Disabled Veteran can attest to the (at least short-term) therapeutic benefit of MMORPGs as a distraction of chronic pains and recollection of traumas; MMORPGs of course, requiring access to the Internet. Funny how this obviously corrupt GOP, being so Expert in the use of F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) are attempting to take advantage of the lack of knowledge or experience of others to suggest the "doom" of an agenda they themselves have LONG SINCE been pushing,...

    (how many programs and funds have been CUT from Vets by the GOP? let me count the ways,...)

    GOP thy name is Hypocrisy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Apr 2021 @ 10:55am

    surely anyone with half a brain knows that these fuckers who belong to the 'opposition' party will use any and every dirty trick and lie (reminiscent of Trump) to try to carry on getting 'campaign contributions from any and every source possible, using any and all people possible, even when they dont know they are being used to vote? this part is reminiscent of Pai and the poor dead people being used in various votes. those doing this need to be named and shamed! sooner or later, with enough black marks to their names, maybe, just maybe, those who voted for them previously will see what they are losing/having taken away and do something sensible about it!
    i know, i'm in cloud cuckoo land!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    fairuse (profile), 20 Apr 2021 @ 2:37pm

    You should not forget a 2 party system both parties are at fault

    Yes, the Democrats have their favorite horse to beat as well as Republicans. The part that people miss is they scratch each others back.

    I also point out that the moose and squirrel, I mean dems and repubs are not Reagan or Kennedy parties; globalism has forced them into junkyard dogs that have to pick their fights carefully.

    In this case all the bullshit is proving marketing access to internet service is just a hot air ballon. All the money that Capital Hill gets for campaigns means nothing short of overhaul campaign financing will begin to fix the finger pointing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Apr 2021 @ 2:39am

      Re: You should not forget a 2 party system both parties are at f

      Ah, the usual tactic - when you can't defend what one team is doing, skip to "both sides are bad", thus ensuring that the original criticism is lost.

      "I mean dems and repubs are not Reagan or Kennedy parties"

      That should be a good thing in the real world. Kennedy was a president in a totally different world to the one we live in today, and Reagan arguably caused a lot of the problems we face today globally. It would be a good thing if the parties no longer modelled themselves on either man and instead strive to uphold the positions that their constituents elected them to hold.

      "globalism has forced them into junkyard dogs that have to pick their fights carefully"

      Aside from the "globalism" nonsense - isn't the problem with junkyard dogs the fact that they'll attack anything? Isn't choosing fights carefully the exact opposite of that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Apr 2021 @ 8:14am

      Re: You should not forget a 2 party system both parties are at f

      "Yes, the Democrats have their favorite horse to beat as well as Republicans. The part that people miss is they scratch each others back."

      Context matters. The democrats may be venal, corrupt, or have so big a tent many major issues just get buried in the desperation to appeal to as wide a demographic of voters as possible...

      ...but the democrats aren't trumpeting out a xenophobic "Blood and Soil" message of preserving culture from on top of the modern-day version of the swastika, or shamelessly catering to the pseudo-confederate horde of yokels who stormed the capitol, shat on the floor, and, oh yeah, bludgeoned a cop to death. So much for "blue lives matter" I guess.

      Yeah, the dems aren't what they used to be. Probably a good thing since back in the 50's they were the racist scumbags.

      The republicans, however, aren't even politicians any longer. They've gone full demagogue, telling their "base" of bigots and racists that if the liberals win the NWO and their space lizard overlords will come and eat their children. In so far as they have a political message at all it's "Fear the other and trust us to save you".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bt, 21 Apr 2021 @ 7:26am

    This makes no sense at all. I have read many times that the GOP is now representing the long-forgotten working man, and are definitely not liking any more the evil, woke corporations in America.

    I'm canceling this whole article, all the comments as well. This is fake news.

    Now, pardon me, someone's breaking in through a hole in the border wall, I need to get my gun.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2021 @ 9:08am

      Re:

      How did you manage to write so many sentences that are mostly grammatically correct, yeah fail to have any coherent thoughts at all?

      I must admit that's fairly impressive. If you had added more made up words, Lewis Carroll would probably be jealous.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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