Net neutrality

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zugzwang
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Joined: 25-11-16
Dec 15 2017 20:23
Net neutrality

Anyone from the States (or anywhere) have an opinion on the net neutrality repeal? It's currently causing a stir. I haven't read much on it aside from a couple washington post articles. It's basically supposed to give internet providers/corporations greater control over their customers:

Quote:
For example, under the Obama-era rules, Verizon was not allowed to favor Yahoo and AOL, which it owns, by blocking Google or charging the search giant extra fees to connect to customers. Under the new rules, that type of behavior would be legal, as long as Verizon disclosed it.

It seems like a pretty audacious move from republicans and others who support it. If the like/dislike ratio of Ajit Pai (fcc chairman) "reassuring" people in this video is anything to go by, it doesn't seem so popular. There's also some irony in how people (mostly liberals) spring into action when their internet usage is at stake but are silent on how every other aspect of their lives is already dominated by capital and state. I'd imagine a communist vision of the internet is one where it is not a commodified service and everyone has free access to it, but I'd also guess the way people interact with the internet would also change (if anyone would like to link to stuff on this feel free to).

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Joined: 17-04-15
Dec 15 2017 20:25

It seems like Trump's administration represents the last mad dash by the oligarchs to asset strip the state before the shit hits the fan. They know something is coming, none of us know what yet - is it a Keynesian rescue plan a la post WWII is it the rise of Fascism, is it working class Socialist revolution, or is it something as yet inconceivable? but to say that the system is decaying and eating itself would be something of an understatement. We're not seeing the "healthy" post crash rebalancing as imagined by classical economics where the survivors feed on the remains of the dead thus reallocating the previously torpid capital to productive sectors. What we're seeing is the walking dead consuming whatever remains alive. I don't see any way in which this can continue indefinitely because eventually there's no more flesh left on the bones and then what? Capital seems hell bent on not investing in productive future technologies. Its so high risk compared to parasitism that I guess I can understand why but it just shows the enormous oozing, festering cancer at the heart of the entire Capitalist enterprise.

We can all see that Capital is living on a wing and a prayer and that further catastrophe and crisis seems almost inevitable, and more a case of when and how deep than if. There's just the same intractable problem of competition driving the worst possible decisions for the system as a whole.

DevastateTheAvenues
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Joined: 17-03-17
Dec 16 2017 05:05

I believe Anti-Capital had a piece on it.

For the big places on the internet, I doubt much will change in the US. For Alphabet's services like Google and YouTube, social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, the services of the main media groups, so on and so on, I imagine that they have a solid place at the negotiating table with the ISPs to include their services among those that will receive the usual speeds. The ISPs probably realize than an internet without any content, and at slow enough speeds there might as well not be any content, is worthless to the average customer. The content providers obviously have every reason to reach agreements with the ISPs over delivery speeds, so I can't imagine that the two sets of capitalists won't come to an agreement soon.

That said, some of these negotiations could very well entail money passed from content providers to ISPs, which some content providers might try to defray the costs of by passing it off to their own customers as user fees. There could also be very well be indirect user fees as ISPs throttle and block sections of the internet from their customers, charging premium rates for access. I can imagine the advertisements in which the standard plans claim to offer "priority" speeds to access YouTube or social media and for a pretty penny you "upgrade" other parts of the Internet to those same speeds.

The ability to throttle or block sections of the internet plus the indirect user fees this can impose means that a small group of capitalists firms, the ISPs, can determine the winners and losers among the other firms that rely on their infrastructure and services. Even if ISPs have competing commercial interests, this leaves whole groups of people with access to only those services dictated by ISPs, particularly where an ISP has a local monopoly.

Lastly, the effect this can have on political speech that ISPs oppose has been pointed out by many, as ISPs can selectively block the sections of the internet that have this information. This is probably the most dangerous possibility that arises from the end of net neutrality, as ISPs are under no obligation to facilitate access to or.a platform for any kind of speech at all.

zugzwang
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Joined: 25-11-16
Dec 17 2017 04:04

https://crimethinc.com/2017/12/15/anarchist-perspectives-on-net-neutrali...

Crimethinc posted this, touching on community-based mesh networks as a possible alternative to internet providers. That's somewhat working around internet providers and their infrastructure rather than directly challenging them, which I think we should do.

I'd be interested to see what other groups write about this, if they do at all.

Quote:
I believe Anti-Capital had a piece on it.

https://anticapital0.wordpress.com/net-neutrality-does-not-protect-the-i...

"Broletariat," if that's the author, makes some nice points. I don't get their argument about it being impossible to preserve internet regulations, or how it wouldn't make a difference either way. There are more people behind the status quo/net neutrality than anything beyond it, so that seems like the most realistic outcome. I believe like 75% of republicans themselves oppose the FCC's proposals and an even larger percentage of Americans. I agree with their conclusions to organize and directly challenge internet providers to win concessions. The two links posted at the end don't have much to do with customers though I believe, which is the issue here; they have more to do with telecommunication workers and their working conditions. Verizon workers e.g. who oppose deregulation affecting customers (which many also are) could organize, however (if that's the point they were trying to make). I'm sure they would get a lot of sympathy.

Quote:
Fighting to preserve the status quo is futile. The only way to advance towards a ‘free’ internet is by fighting for the most radical egalitarianism in internet usage. Free access to the internet for everyone guaranteed as a right. As with health care, as with housing, as with food, as with heating and air conditioning, as with transportation, as with high quality education, the excuse will be made that free internet access is impossible. And they are right. The capitalists are unable to guarantee us, the working class, access to health care, housing, food, heating and air conditioning, transportation, high quality education, or internet. We must guarantee these things to ourselves, for ourselves, and by ourselves, capitalist possibilities be damned.

In order to do this, we must begin acting as a class to meet our own needs. If we want to focus on the ISPs we already have two places to start.

DevastateTheAvenues
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Dec 17 2017 09:02

Unicorn Riot interview with Bill Bundington of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
https://www.unicornriot.ninja/2017/fcc-repeals-net-neutrality-interview-...

It hits on many of the same points that the Crimethinc piece does, gives a good analysis of the political stakes, ways forward but also an even handed account of the obstacles in the way. Crucially, Bundington views net neutrality as just the best of a bad situation, and that putting the US state in regulatory control over the US internet shouldn't have been the choice we had to make.

Quote:
The state is setting itself up as the position of savior here. You know because, if we are forced to choose between a regulated internet by strong federal agencies, and that’s obviously not what we want either. But really they kind of position themselves as a savior in this situation. And now it’s a choice between either on the one hand complete corporate control over internet provision, on the other hand a strong federal regulatory body that makes it not the worst possible internet that you can possibly have.