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DOJ Likes Packet Sniffing, Votes For AT&T

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Your first thought may be: What’s the Department of Justice got to do with Net Neutrality? Well, essentially nothing at this point, except that the FCC asked the Antitrust Division for its opinion. The Commission could have saved some time by just jotting down what AT&T said.

It’s interesting that Assistant Attorney General Thomas Barnett and his Antitrust Division saw no real problem with the current duopoly in the broadband market, nor could they find, equipped as they are with discovery materials and aid, any precedent that could sway them into thinking a regulatory approach may actually be beneficial.  

Which is kind of funny, because I didn’t have any trouble finding at least one article about how the Japanese government stepped in to deliver blistering speeds and innovation.

Innovation, by the way, is something, the DOJ said Net Neutrality regulation would stifle. It would also pass the cost of innovation on to you, the consumer, and then AT&T said "Jinx! You owe me a Coke." 

Barnett thinks one or two choices of broadband providers is plenty for Americans, and that "regulators should be careful not to impose regulations that could limit consumer choice and investment in broadband facilities,” despite that incumbents are already investing in fiber anyway, which is the future, which they will control, you know, both of them.

The DOJ goes on in its statement to compare the Internet to the US Postal Service, which we all know to be very efficient, and the varying levels of delivery guarantees and speeds offered, which might sound kind of stupid if you know anything about this debate, but to be fair, that’s how it was explained to them.

They say these different delivery services are responses to market demand and consumer choice. But the truth is you have three choices, two are better than the government’s but are more expensive, and everybody really wants their package there tomorrow but can’t afford it. But this isn’t an argument in favor of shipping neutrality.

Okay, so now that we’re in agreement that the US Postal Service analogy doesn’t really demonstrate that the DOJ had a clear understanding of the concept and that we were already suspicious that Barnett’s voice was coming out surprisingly like John Czwartacki’s, let’s look at what the DOJ has to do with the topic in the first place, because that is kind of confusing.

What could it be? Oh right. They like to subpoena people. For data. ISPs. Like AT&T. Net Neutrality protection would prevent AT&T from being able to sniff around your data packets. Pesky laws.

“It would seem that the President and the Justice Department cannot do enough for AT&T and the other companies that agreed to spy on the American people," said Harold Feld, Senior Vice President of Media Access Project, a 35-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment, in a statement.

"Without network neutrality, companies are free to turn over user information without a warrant or block users from desired content – as AT&T recently did ‘accidentally’ by blocking Pearl Jam’s criticism of the President during a concert performance carried on AT&T’s broadband service."

"Factually, the Department of Justice filing – like the industry filings it shamelessly parrots – is plain wrong. Americans pay more money for less speed than businesses and citizens in comparable developed nations such as Japan, South Korea, England, or France thanks to the policy of ’regulatory restraint’ urged in today’s DOJ filing.”

DOJ Likes Packet Sniffing, Votes For AT&T


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  • TomS

    Agreed, we all know … that the cost of moving the bits is essentially the same, no matter what they constitute.

    The argument that some content needs to be “premium” priced is just a ploy to allow charging more for less. We buy a package, offered by an ISP, to deliver bits at specified rate. They enjoy a “best effort” clause, which lets them off the hook if they fail their end.

    Now, they could and they do apply caps. Exceed certain total transfers per day or month, and you pay a penalty or get throttled. My service host bills me by the total volume of traffic in GB/month. I understand that total capacity is a cost factor.

    What does not make sense, is that if I run a VOIP service, or a torrent node that I get charged more than if I spend a lot of time streaming audio, or looking at YouTube. If the general capacity or bit-rate is the same, there is no cost difference.

    Or are you saying, if I use Google search, instead of the AT&T affiliate search engine, which pays AT&T a bonus on referrals, I should pay more.

    There is an honest way to do this.
    Put it in black and white and have the buyer understand what is being taken away. Put a meter on the page, showing what you are charging. Then see how much competition you can stomach without using regulatory tricks to block real innovation.

  • http://www.bsreachedoutandscrewedsomeone.com rose nesmith

    In my opinion, AT&T is the Enron of the telecommunications industry; please visit www.bsreachedoutandscrewedsomeone.com for insight as to why it would be financially devastating if all AT&T customers were advised to scrutinize their bills for products and services they did not order or do not need. Fortunately for AT&T, they’ve padded enough political pockets that no one will do anything about what’s happening to AT&T customers.

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