Our View: Paging Congressman Knight, net neutrality needs fixing

By Signal Editorial Board

Last update: Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Every once in a while, our imperfect democracy gives us an opportunity to see why – though sometimes a flawed system, as Winston Churchill once noted – it’s still better than all the others.

Mechanisms break down. Mistakes are made. It’s why we have checks and balances.

And we ultimately remain hopeful things will work out as the system intended.

We hope that is true with the recent vote on net neutrality. If the vote stands, it could take us a lot longer to visit our favorite web sites, to use our favorite but lesser-known internet apps, or just do what we need to do online without having to pay more to do it.

Despite thousands of protests, FCC commissioners, an un-elected bureaucracy bestowed with the awesome power of regulating our internet, voted to end the Obama-era policy on net neutrality, which codified a very basic framework requiting internet service providers to treat all network traffic equally. Net neutrality rules basically call for all internet content to be treated equally by providers, whether the news, “fake news” or anything in between.

Online business that charge for content can be treated no differently by service providers than the sleaziest website populated with low-quality content.

It makes sense. Think about how reliant we are upon the internet. Sure, it’s possible we could live without it, just like we do without electricity during a power outage. But just like when we lose power, life without the internet is much less convenient.

And slow internet is about as bad as no internet.

But that’s exactly what the FCC granted license for our internet services providers, or ISPs, to give us by repealing net neutrality. Without it, there’s nothing stopping ISPs like Comcast, for example, from creating fast lanes and slow lanes for providing internet content.

Imagine you want to watch Fox News and CNN for several hours a day, except the corporate parent for one of them creates an exclusive deal with Verizon. Verizon could, in theory, be able to speed up bandwidth, or user access, to one site and slow it for the other. Internet users know that when traffic is slowed to a crawl, people go to other sites.

So your internet provider has essentially created a roadblock for one of your favorite information sources. We don’t think unelected bureaucrats should have that sort of authority, nor should they give the fox the keys to the hen house.

We’re also of the mind that everyone should have equal access to internet content.

Allowing private companies to shape the internet’s destiny based solely on ad revenues, exclusive content deals or purely unregulated pay-for-play access rules is not creating a free and fair capitalism-based model, any more than allowing our water providers to ship more or less water to homes based on their Zip Codes would be considered creating a free market.

We believe the utility comparison is fair because about half of all Americans don’t have a choice for their ISP provider, according to the FCC commissioners themselves.

And before anyone tries to argue that deregulation would spur investment that would create more of these choices – well, “Capital investments were higher at 16 of the 24 publicly traded ISP firms (or units) following the FCC’s vote approving net neutrality in 2015.”

That means, as a report by pro-net neutrality organization FreePress.net notes, FCC Chariman Ajit Pai’s justification of getting rid of net neutrality as a way to spur investment “is not just the wrong metric to use, it is also demonstrably false and illogical.”

Congressman Steve Knight demonstrated an understanding of the need for balance between stopping a government overreach and allowing deregulation to create a free-for-all that puts consumers at risk.

And that’s where those all-important checks and balances come into play.

Knight gave his word he’ll “seek a legislative solution to protect consumers while also allowing the regulatory flexibility to innovate and invest in a modern internet infrastructure.”

This is what the people not only want, but need. We don’t want businesses to determine from which sources we get our information.

Congressman Knight, we commend your support for the most free exchange of ideas and knowledge possible.  As the representative elected by the 25th Congressional District, we’re calling on you to follow through on legislation that would help make this right.

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Our View: Paging Congressman Knight, net neutrality needs fixing

Opinion - santa clarita news

Every once in a while, our imperfect democracy gives us an opportunity to see why – though sometimes a flawed system, as Winston Churchill once noted – it’s still better than all the others.

Mechanisms break down. Mistakes are made. It’s why we have checks and balances.

And we ultimately remain hopeful things will work out as the system intended.

We hope that is true with the recent vote on net neutrality. If the vote stands, it could take us a lot longer to visit our favorite web sites, to use our favorite but lesser-known internet apps, or just do what we need to do online without having to pay more to do it.

Despite thousands of protests, FCC commissioners, an un-elected bureaucracy bestowed with the awesome power of regulating our internet, voted to end the Obama-era policy on net neutrality, which codified a very basic framework requiting internet service providers to treat all network traffic equally. Net neutrality rules basically call for all internet content to be treated equally by providers, whether the news, “fake news” or anything in between.

Online business that charge for content can be treated no differently by service providers than the sleaziest website populated with low-quality content.

It makes sense. Think about how reliant we are upon the internet. Sure, it’s possible we could live without it, just like we do without electricity during a power outage. But just like when we lose power, life without the internet is much less convenient.

And slow internet is about as bad as no internet.

But that’s exactly what the FCC granted license for our internet services providers, or ISPs, to give us by repealing net neutrality. Without it, there’s nothing stopping ISPs like Comcast, for example, from creating fast lanes and slow lanes for providing internet content.

Imagine you want to watch Fox News and CNN for several hours a day, except the corporate parent for one of them creates an exclusive deal with Verizon. Verizon could, in theory, be able to speed up bandwidth, or user access, to one site and slow it for the other. Internet users know that when traffic is slowed to a crawl, people go to other sites.

So your internet provider has essentially created a roadblock for one of your favorite information sources. We don’t think unelected bureaucrats should have that sort of authority, nor should they give the fox the keys to the hen house.

We’re also of the mind that everyone should have equal access to internet content.

Allowing private companies to shape the internet’s destiny based solely on ad revenues, exclusive content deals or purely unregulated pay-for-play access rules is not creating a free and fair capitalism-based model, any more than allowing our water providers to ship more or less water to homes based on their Zip Codes would be considered creating a free market.

We believe the utility comparison is fair because about half of all Americans don’t have a choice for their ISP provider, according to the FCC commissioners themselves.

And before anyone tries to argue that deregulation would spur investment that would create more of these choices – well, “Capital investments were higher at 16 of the 24 publicly traded ISP firms (or units) following the FCC’s vote approving net neutrality in 2015.”

That means, as a report by pro-net neutrality organization FreePress.net notes, FCC Chariman Ajit Pai’s justification of getting rid of net neutrality as a way to spur investment “is not just the wrong metric to use, it is also demonstrably false and illogical.”

Congressman Steve Knight demonstrated an understanding of the need for balance between stopping a government overreach and allowing deregulation to create a free-for-all that puts consumers at risk.

And that’s where those all-important checks and balances come into play.

Knight gave his word he’ll “seek a legislative solution to protect consumers while also allowing the regulatory flexibility to innovate and invest in a modern internet infrastructure.”

This is what the people not only want, but need. We don’t want businesses to determine from which sources we get our information.

Congressman Knight, we commend your support for the most free exchange of ideas and knowledge possible.  As the representative elected by the 25th Congressional District, we’re calling on you to follow through on legislation that would help make this right.

About the author

Signal Editorial Board

Signal Editorial Board

  • lois eisenberg

    “When the internet becomes a place where profitability is the primary concern, the idea of providing free internet access to those who cannot afford it goes away. Providers could charge whatever they wanted and restrict access to whomever they please. This could lead to demographic discrimination, socioeconomic discrimination, or prioritize content to the wealthiest who are willing to pay high prices for the fastest data streams.”
    The wealthiest win again~~~~

    • Kevin D. Korenthal

      Call me cold-hearted but I really don’t see how access to free internet of your own is a “right”. Just like cell phones and housing are not rights. The entirety of your argument hinges on the expectation that people are getting internet for “free”.

      And yes, I can afford a higher speed broadband package than my kids can. That’s the sort of reward I get for working hard and making responsible decisions.

      • lois eisenberg

        “And yes, I can afford a higher speed broadband package than my kids can. That’s the sort of reward I get for working hard and making responsible decisions.”
        BULLY FOR YOU !!!!!

        • Kevin D. Korenthal

          Thank you! Let’s not downplay the rewards of doing great for yourself!

          • lois eisenberg

            No downplay, just up play on your part !!!

          • Ron Bischof

            Mr. Korenthal was being factual, Ms. Eisenberg.

            Envy isn’t a cogent rebuttal.

          • Brian Richards

            Herr first cogent rebuttal will be her first.

    • Brian Richards

      I have the right to demand you make my car payment! Look up Lois, the sky, it’s falling!

      • lois eisenberg

        But if you are on Social Security the shy s falling!!
        The monthly check will be less in 2018 than 2017 !!!

        • Ron Bischof

          Source to support your shy (sic) assertion, Ms. Eisenberg?

        • Brian Richards

          That is a lie in a long line of lies that you spout.

  • lois eisenberg
  • Kevin D. Korenthal

    Wait, I thought America already discussed the idea of monopoly government regulation of communications? That’s why we broke up Ma Bell and the result was a $2.00 a minute call from L.A. to New York became FREE and we all have phones in our pockets that cost a fraction of what it cost to operate them and they do a millions more things than when they first came out.

    Those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it.

    • Ron Bischof

      No doubt you’ll recollect a similar change to airfares and flight availability when the industry was deregulated as well, Mr. Korenthal.

    • Steve Lunetta

      Perfect example, Kevin. Hope all is well.

  • Ron Bischof

    “Despite thousands of protests, FCC commissioners, an un-elected bureaucracy bestowed with the awesome power of regulating our internet, voted to end the Obama-era policy on net neutrality, which codified a very basic framework requiting internet service providers to treat all network traffic equally.”

    Non sequitur. Weren’t these “Net Neutrality” rules to regulate ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as Title II telecom utilities in 2016 enacted by the same “un-elected bureaucracy” after heavy lobbying by content providers like Google and Netflix in addition to the Obama Administration?

    Preemptively regulating for a demonstrably non-existent problem isn’t sound policy. The internet exhibited none of the widespread slowdowns feared since its inception through 2015. The FTC retains the ability to address monopoly or restraint of trade violations. And if a systemic problem occurs, Congress as our representatives can address it with legislation.

    Internet access isn’t a monopoly like AT&T long distance service was when the Telecommunications Act of 1934 was enacted. In Santa Clarita, broadband speed internet connections are available via Charter Spectrum, AT&T, Dish/Direct TV and mobile carriers.

    For more details, get informed here:

    No, the FCC Isn’t ‘Overturning Net Neutrality’
    Set aside the Chicken Little fears about the internet dying.

    “People who maintain that the sky will fall and the internet will forever change for the worse after the FCC votes to ratify the RIF later this month are either misinformed or unfortunately opportunistic. Moving oversight of ISPs from a permissioned ex ante regulatory regime to a permissionless ex post one not only makes plain sense, it is the kind of framework that allowed the internet to develop into the powerhouse of innovation that we enjoy today. The internet is important in our lives, and it is easy to see how people can get upset when they are told that a policy change will ruin it forever. But a brief examination of the facts shows no such threat, and in fact the RIF is what can actually preserve the internet that we all know and love.”

    http://reason.com/blog/2017/12/05/no-the-fcc-isnt-overturning-net-neutrali

  • Brian Richards

    Nice to see the Signal jumping on the statist wagon. Imagine the arrogance of telling a tire store how much to sell their tires for and that they have to sell each of their brands for the same amount of money? Gosh, who knew this was such a huge problem before, you know, 24 months ago before the Obama administration stuck their greasy fingers into yet another industry they have no business touching. Did it ever occur to the writers of this Op Ed that if Verizon does such a horrible job delivering people’s Facebook page in a timely manner, then perhaps and another ISP will get started that will? Hey Signal, your paper isn’t free like some others so I demand you price your paper according to what some unelected bureaucrat in DC thinks is appropriate. Congressman Knight, I’m calling on you to act like a conservative and to dismantle the beast in DC and return power to the states and to the free market.

  • Paul Dale

    I wonder what the Signals position would be if the fed’s decided that “newspaper neutrality” would be a good idea: “newspaper neutrality” wherein the federal government would demand (force under penalty of law) that publishers only print newspapers that are TOTALLY MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD. For each article supporting a liberal (left) position there MUST be an article (of equal length) supporting a conservative (right) position and for every article opposing a liberal (left) position there MUST be an article (of equal length) opposing a conservative (right) position. NO editorials could take a position on any topic – all editorials must take a neutral position. And come election time the editorial staff MUST endorse ALL candidates.
    SO what say you, Signal editorial staff – would you support “newspaper neutrality”?

    • Ron Bischof

      Sounds like the “Fairness Doctrine” redux, Paul.

      Remember when there was an FCC bureaucracy that monitored broadcast network content?

      Read this opinion by the NYT and compare it to the hysteria around “Net Neutrality”:

      http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/05/arts/fcc-votes-down-fairness-doctrine-in-a-4-0-decision.html

      Did television and radio become proprietary censored networks or was there an explosion in media outlets due to deregulation?

      History provides the answer.

  • Brian Richards

    “Imagine you want to watch Fox News and CNN for several hours a day, except the corporate parent for one of them creates an exclusive deal with Verizon.”
    .
    I don’t know, you could do what any person with an IQ over 50 would do. Change providers perhaps?
    .

    “So your internet provider has essentially created a roadblock for one of your favorite information sources”
    .
    Infants!

  • Brian Richards

    Net neutrality doesn’t make the net neutral just like the Affordable Care Act didn’t make healthcare affordable and Planned Parenthood doesn’t teach expectant parents how to plan for parenthood.

    • Ron Bischof

      Since you’re ruining Christmas for the Left, let’s tell them Santa isn’t real too, Brian.

      I’d wait on unicorns and government created utopia, though. It may be too much at once.

  • Frank Rizzo

    It’s amazing to see that the SCV Signal and so many commentors have no clue what Net Neutrality did. Wow.

  • Anthony Breznican

    I’m with the Signal on this one.

    • Ron Bischof

      And you present no argument why you agree.