More Closed Door Neutrality Deals Struck – Without Pesky Public Input Into the Process

Congress needs to get itself in gear and do what we pay them to do, instead of just sitting around and letting corporations write the laws that are supposed to govern their own behavior.

We’ve already seen how the Goorizon deal is little more than an empty shell, solely designed to keep tougher consumer protections away from wireless networks, while leaving plenty of loopholes open for anti-competitive behavior over wired networks. Now a group of companies including Microsoft, the NCTA, Verizon, AT&T and Skype have “reached an agreement” on network neutrality behind closed doors, with no public, government, or objective expert input. As Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes, such a deal is a blend of hubris and pointlessness:

I’m still at a loss as to how this actually matters. The companies can agree to whatever they want, and none of it makes a difference if Congress acts (or the courts say that the FCC is allowed to act). I guess the idea is to think that an “industry agreement” will stave off legislation, which perhaps might work for some time, but still reeks of collusion without consumer input or review.

Again, the hope is that by proposing a set of weak, voluntary principles (this one also doesn’t address wireless), weak regulators will buckle and avoid imposing tougher consumer protections — something that frequently works in a country where a responsible regulatory presence is considered on par with puppy torture. While it’s certainly not a given for an FCC that’s often intimidated by such massive companies, it’s not clear it’s going to work in this instance, since the FCC truly wants neutrality rules that cover wireless — and they’re fairly set on their plan to partially reclassify ISPs under Title 2 of the Communications Act.
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