Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Only make believe" the Obama FCC has "saved" Net Neutrality -- by (shhh!) throwing it to the telecom wolves


"If you like to make believe . . .": Danny Eastwood (Ravenal) and Lisa Kulchycki (Magnolia) eventually get around to singing Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern's "Only Make Believe" in Act I of Show Boat (Scarborough, Ont., April 1989).
RAVENAL: Are you a player?
MAGNOLIA: You mean like on the piano? Yes, I play a little.
RAVENAL: Was that you I heard just now playing the piano?
MAGNOLIA: Yes, it was.
RAVENAL: What a pity!
MAGNOLIA: What'd you say, mister?
RAVENAL: Oh, when I asked if you were a player, I meant are you an actress?
MAGNOLIA: Oh no, but I'd give anything if I could be.
MAGNOLIA: Why? Because you can make believe so many wonderful things that never happen in real life.
RAVENAL: Oh, but wonderful things do happen in real life.

by Ken

This mode of magical thinking is, I assume, what the FCC's Chairman Julius (thought of at the time, you'll recall, as one of Obama's good appointments!) had in mind when he made believe yesterday that he had "saved" Net Neutrality by throwing it to the wolves of the telecom giants. For the time being, at least, regular land-line ISPs won't be able to who gets access to which online content and for now much -- though I wouldn't hold my breath about even that. However, those who connect wirelessly, clearly the direction in which online access is increasingly headed, will now be at the mercy of their providers.

Ah, so Net Neutrality is saved! For those with short memories, candidate Barack Obama was unequivocally committed to maintaining Net Neutrality. Now, apparently, he's committed to making believe we're maintaining it.

And consumers of the infotainment noozmedia would have little reason to believe otherwise. The infonoozers have been hawking the story of the miracle of the Compromise Package That Saved Net Neutrality, as pieced together by Chairman Julius, with the lobbyist-angels of the telecom giants whispering the terms in his ear. Of course we're already hearing from righteous right-wingers denouncing this shameful power grab by the FCC, presumably outraged that the Obama-style socialists are daring to interfere even this much in the raking in of consumers' Net-connection bucks.

The difference between the two modes of connection, you see, is that wireless connectors are using limited over-the-air bandwidth, and the people who've wangled control of that precious bandwidth have o be allowed to gouge us to the limit of their gouging capacity, which appears to be unlimited. (Certainly not by the FCC.)

Here's our our friends at Free Press, my go-to source for Net Neutrality matters, summed up yesterday's action:
Free Press: FCC Net Neutrality Order a ‘Squandered Opportunity’

Date: December 21, 2010

WASHINGTON -- By a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission approved new rules intended to prevent Internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from acting as gatekeepers on the Web. The rules, however, heavily favor the industry they are intended to regulate, and leave consumers with minimal protections. Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael Copps voted with Chairman Julius Genachowski, while Republican Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker voted against.

Free Press Managing Director Craig Aaron made the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed that the chairman chose to ignore the overwhelming public support for real Net Neutrality, instead moving forward with industry-written rules that will for the first time in Internet history allow discrimination online. This proceeding was a squandered opportunity to enact clear, meaningful rules to safeguard the Internet’s level playing field and protect consumers.

“The new rules are riddled with loopholes, evidence that the chairman sought approval from AT&T instead of listening to the millions of Americans who asked for real Net Neutrality. These rules don't do enough to stop the phone and cable companies from dividing the Internet into fast and slow lanes, and they fail to protect wireless users from discrimination. No longer can you get to the same Internet via your mobile device as you can via your laptop. The rules pave the way for AT&T to block your access to third-party applications and to require you to use its own preferred applications.

“Chairman Genachowski ignored President Obama's promise to the American people to take a 'back seat to no one' on Net Neutrality. He ignored the 2 million voices who petitioned for real Net Neutrality and the hundreds who came to public hearings across the country to ask him to protect the open Internet. And he ignored policymakers who urged him to protect consumers and maintain the Internet as a platform for innovation. It’s unfortunate that the only voices he chose to listen to were those coming from the very industry he’s charged with overseeing."

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