Court Rule For Comcast Net Neutrality Falls on Our Watch-That’s a Damn Shame!


Just getting word about the FCC being defeated in court against Comcast over the issue of Net Neutrality. The courts ruled that the FCC has no authority to enforce Net Neutrality principles. This now opens the doors for any of the large telecoms like AT&T and Verizon who have spent millions of dollars  lobbying politicians, paying off traditional Civil Rights groups for their silence or advocacy and hand picking ‘pundits to murky the issue by setting up all sorts of distracting debates, to start regulating content. In short, the doors are now open for these telecoms to create toll lanes on the web where the more you pay the faster and more accessible your website, home page etc, to the masses. Here’s the actual decision  http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/common/opinions/201004/08-1291-1238302.pdf

The Internet was attractive to so many of us because it leveled the playing field. It allowed the little guy with a good idea to have voice right alongside the mediocre, slow-moving big guy with lot so f money. The net allowed a lot of folks to come up. The principles around Net Neutrality allowed a small outfit like Pandora to smash on the staleness of a Clear Channel. It allowed scores of Indy artists who we got to enjoy at last week’s Paid Dues concert in LA to be just as relevant and accessible as the corporate backed auto-tune drones that made so many of us thankful we could escape via the internet.

The principles of Net Neutrality have allowed scores of grassroots organizations to put up good fights and organize effectively. One example, is Basta Dobbs, the campaign against former CNN host Lou Dobbs that saw 32 cities simultaneously hold press conferences demanding his removal from the airwaves because of his constant racialization of immigrant communities. Organizers acknowledged  that a lot of their success was owed to their ability to reach the masses online.  Today there is a current campaign against CBS and comedian Adam Coralla making disparaging remarks against Filipinos got legs thanks to online efforts and the principles governing Net Neutrality. 

Many of us found out about the Troy Davis case through the Internet

Awareness around death penalty cases like the one involving  Troy Davis  owe much success to the internet spreading. The same with the plight of the Jena 6. Imagine if the students protesting election corruption in Iran were prevented from reaching us here in the US because Comcast or AT&T decided to restrict content? many of us got to know and support their plight because Net Neutrality was in tact. The current student protests here in the US around tuition hikes became known to many thanks to online organizing efforts. There’s a long list of how the little guy was able to make some headway against money, power, position and corporate privilege, thanks to the internet and the Net Neutrality allowing us to reach the masses.

Today’s ruling allowing Comcast and other telecoms to get around Net Neutrality  is bad news on a number of levels. First, it again underscores the power of judges and why we must pay attention in each election to make sure who is in position to appoint and who is actually running to sit on a bench. In this case these were appointed judges. Not sure of their backgrounds as of yet. But we do know the last few unfavorable police rulings like Sean Bell’s killers being acquitted came at the hands of a Bush appointed judge. What were finding is that as elected officials or in this case the FCC do the people’s bidding against the interest of corporations, these companies are running off to the courts which have been stacked over the past 8 years and getting favorable rulings. We can dwell deeper into judgeships on another day.

Second, is that we go through Congress to craft a law specifically protecting Net Neutrality or to grant the FCC authority to regulate and oversee this provision. The challenge is thanks to intense lobby efforts  by the telecoms we may have huge problem. For years, the telecoms have tried everything they could to get things deregulated so they could rush in and start setting up shop. In  previous attempts to allow Congress to grant the FCC such powers to govern Net Neutrality, Congress was stifled by the telecoms…

Sadly former Mayor Shirley Franklin has been among the handful of Black and Brown Civil Right icons doing the bidding of the telecoms who want to get rid of Net Neutrality

AT&T and their lobbying efforts have been a bit more insidious, with them taking advantage of the technological ignorance of many, they’ve been able to exploit the economic hardships experienced in many poor Black and Brown communities by showing up with money in hand to sponsor events, people and needy politicians in exchange for silence or outright advocacy by newly minted handpicked, artificial experts. In other words folks who have been brought off and are now in the pocket stomping for the telecoms. One keen example of this is former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin as outlined in this report Shirley Franklin fronting for the Big Telecoms . The angle Franklin and others of her ilk take around the buzz word ‘digital divide’, making it seem like that if we demand the telecoms back off from this Net Neutrality fight they in turn would not continue to help provide access to marginalized communities.

 This is akin to me showing up at a conference on drug sentencing talking about in order for us to have this discussion we must address the issue of domestic violence. In other words they have very little to do with each other unless we wanna get creative and draw colorful lines to connect the dots as directed by the telecoms or we have a personal financial or political and now increasingly social stake in this.  Some of these big time telecoms have enticed folks by working behind the scenes and elevating their profile of their hand pick pundits making sure they get to be on talk shows or start being seen prominently in the blogasphere.

What’s most frustrating with todays ruling is that after writing, explaining and doing radio shows on this important topic for more than 5 years  there are many within this Hip Hop / urban community who I routinely engage who seem to know more about Ice Cube’s latest dis than they do about the Internet’s governing principles that allowed them to get the information in the first place.

For example, this past weekend in Washington DC there was a Hip Hop Bloggers conference and from what I saw Net Neutrality was mentioned only once  and only by someone from the Future of Music Coalition which has been fighting to preserve it.   While many of my peers waxed poetic about how they garnered fame and followers at a date and time when this important principle was at stake, it was sad NOT to see this as a front a center issue. The irony here is that many of us know a Dallas Penn, Okayplayer  or 2 Dope Boyz more than we know the news reporters working the local beat at a corporate owned newspaper. We know AllHipHop or HipHopDx better than we know the NY Times or Washington Post..

As I long explained, non corporate self-styled journalist, Hip Hop heads, urban youth and snarky college kids gaining a foothold to the masses without going through a high-priced, media gate-keeper was problematic.  Many of us laughed at and took glee over hearing how the local papers were unfolding and how local radio stations were crumbling. We looked at our Iphones,  Ipads and other gadgets and arrogantly proclaimed we were the new kings and queens on the block. We did that while ignoring two basic facts which is 1) power concedes nothing without a vicious fight and many of us were blogging but not fighting. We weren’t fighting by educating ourselves on this issue and we weren’t educating our readers on the importance of preserving the new media arenas that they come to love and depend on while escaping the doldrums and oppressive nature of traditional outlets. Voice was given to the Voiceless on the Internet and Net Neutrality   was and has been the main pillar why.

Second, many of us have long shunned politics. It’s an ugly business. It’s corrupt. It’s far from fair. Many of you have had the privilege to get on an unimpeded internet and share all sorts of theories and perspectives on why politics should be avoided. We know about the Obama Deception movie. We know about the Bildenberg group, We know about Illuminati etc.  All of these perspectives and many more have been freely delivered to the masses of people because of Net Neutrality. However, it’s this corrupt political arena where rules are made and policy shaped. As I remind people daily, many of us live in communities, where street politics, workplace politics are just as ugly yet we take time to know and understand them. We learn when we can wear red and blue. We learn what side we can tip our cap. We learn who is backbiter, ass kisser and saboteur in the office. Engaging politics is not beyond us. But to avoid the politics around something we didn’t build and essentially don’t own in terms of infrastructure, but use everyday is as foolish as going to a neighborhood in LA and not know ‘what time it is’..  

When it comes to Net Neutrality, I realize it’s a boring, complex issue. There is no easy soundbite that adequately explains it, but some of the most important things impacting our lives can’t be explained in a tweet or a Facebook status update.  Us being a headline news society will be the demise of us if we’re not careful. We should never trade away aor allow basic principles to be removed even if we had a work around or alternatives.  Somebody told me they wasn’t tripping off the ruling cause they had enough money to sustain themselves and they knew other work-arounds. That shortsighted thinking of ‘I got mine you better get yours’ is what has wrecked havoc on far too many of us… Hell I could call it a day and not trip my damn self.. I’m good on a number of levels as well. In fact maybe this latest ruling might eliminate a bunch of people and I can be one of the few destination places free of technological impediments. It could be all good until I’m the one being smashed on.

It’s kinda like the Fox News mouthpiece Glen Beck who uses a platform granted by his employer Rupert Murdoch to talk crazy, mislead people and basically try to blow up the spot around Net Neutrality. It’s easy for him be dismissive and hostile, because he’s one of the few privileged folks in the world who has a daily TV talk show. He works for a powerful media mogul who spent the past two or three years buying up all sorts of newspapers and could stand to benefit handsomely if all these ‘pesky’ blogs and upstart news sites suddenly disappeared or simply weren’t able to be as accessible on line as his offerings.  

So what should we be doing? For starters call your Congressperson and tell them you want Net Neutrality. the same way you want clean water coming out your tap.  You can stay up on some of this by checking out my website daveyd.com. You can also go to the Center for Media Justice . You can also check out Kurthanson.com,  FreePress.org and Future of Music Coalition

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

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15 comments on “Court Rule For Comcast Net Neutrality Falls on Our Watch-That’s a Damn Shame!

  1. Net neutrality will be a minor issue. to me, the bigger issue is freedom of speech. That is gone now.

    I am more worried about a totalitarian that dislikes debate censoring our internet ala google and china.

    That is what is coming. In this politically correct US, facts are not allowed in a discussion. I mean its a war of terror, a war for drugs, and on and on.

    The trilateral commission, bilderburgs, and council on foreign relations with their puppet in the white house will soon end free speech and totally censor the internet.

    Welcome to the totalitarian police state that you live in brotha…

  2. Well if u like Freedom of speech my friend, then u better make sure u have net neutrality.. Thats how it starts.. U should be free to have ur material just as accesible as the NY Times and vice versa..Right now u can go and yell and u like.. What you can’t do right now is yell to the masses or at l;east yell and have the opportunity for the masses to hear u..

  3. marantha is right that freedom of speech is ultimately what’s at stake here. if allowed to stand, this ruling raises the possibility that de facto censorship aka filtering, will be legally allowed as a fair business practice.

    but its confusing that obama is referred to as a “puppet” who wants to end free speech when the opposite is actually true. Obama has been one of the staunchest advocates for Net Neutrality thusfar, and under his administration, the FCC was appearing to shake off the pro-corporate stance of the Bush administration and act for the public interest, which is what they are supposed to do.

    but there are a few things which should be pointed out about this case:
    1) the ruling was on a 2008 case over Comcast restricting BitTorrent files, not on the FCC’s proposed broadband plan.
    2) in fact, this ruling isnt so much of a victory for Comcast as it might initially seem. it merely outlines the limitations of the FCC’s authority under current guidelines.
    3) prior to the ruling, any sweeping mandate by the FCC over broadband policy was in a bit of a legal gray area.
    4) Comcast was in violation of the FCC’s Internet policy of 2005, but that policy lacked the teeth necessary to enforce it.
    5)The FCC now knows what it must do–prevail on Congress to amend current law and/ or appeal to the Supreme Court.
    6) ultimately, this will be a test of public interest vs. corporate interest. yet the public interest is backed by the First Amendment, and when you frame the argument in that context, any threat to that is a threat to the Constitution itself, which is what gives the Supreme Court its authority in the first place.
    7) the Obama administration clearly recognizes the importance of this issue, as well as the need for the FCC to take a more active role in shaping telecommunications policy, to ensure that access and fairness are upheld. So giving NN more gravitas by granting more power to the FCC to regulate broadband companies will likely be a top priority of the domestic agenda over the next two years.
    8) i have a feeling Obama and the FCC knew this ruling was coming, and that’s why they issued NN directives just before it was announced, to educate and inform the public and make plain where the administration stands on this issue.
    9) if the government can bring an antitrust case against Microsoft, they can bring one against the Telco’s.
    10)all of this is to say that not only is this victory largely symbolic, but it may be short-lived.

    Davey is 100% correct that more public outcry is needed–and that the CBC should be admonished for their shameful selloutism–but rather than a complete forecast of doom and gloom, there may actually be a light of hope at the end of the tunnel.

    after all, the Empire Strikes Back was followed by Return of the Jedi.

  4. Davey keep up the good work, you put forth great effort in getting us to overstand the issue of net neutrality. I”ve come to understand that people are herded around the sensational and extravagant. Real power moves are done quietly and without much fanfare. Real change is boring, tedious and requires tremendous perseverance We make political views and judgements without knowing who controls the purse strings. For example, the symbolism of President Obama”s presidency is very powerful, but the same people who he is supposedly fighting is the same people who financed him. People have an emotional attachment to this symbolism, but, yet dismiss those financial ties. In the streets we say you never bite the hand that feeds you, so are we to believe that this wouldn’t apply at the highest level where people play for keeps? Again, I voted for President Obama for cultural reasons, but I am under no illusion that he is going to change America. We can embrace the symbolism and yet still overstand that politics follows money and the need for us to get organized. I really appreciate the serious work that you do and not buying into I got mine mindset. Escribblah, how do you reconcile the fact that the health industry is exempt from antitrust action, but believe that the same government is going to reign the Telco’s in? Just a question!

  5. At the end of the day, since 1933, the US, is a country in name only. It is a corporation. The IRS is an illegal collection agency for the cartel behind this fucked up enron.

    The fact is Obama is the president of a weak corporation that is now intent on destroying debate, dissent, or any checks and balances. A free internet is a thorn in this corporations ass.

    This corporation is hell bent on acquiring the media control that China has. Or Venezuela has.

    As it is the entire mainstream media is a total propaganda arm of which ever president is in the white house. This was achieved through the bildergberg group members in the mainstream media. Not to mention those council on foreign relations bastards.

    You would think that is enough power right?? Oh helllll NO. So what you get is obama playin his game, sayin he is all for net neutrality. He says one thing, and his administration does the complete opposite. That is a lie.

    He is for censorship. He cant stand debate or being asked a tough question. He has never been straight with the american people.

    I knew all along his plan was total control and censorship of internet traffic. He wont pass a law to do it. But he will allow telcos to regulate the internet traffic.

    This my friends is america. The america we knew in the 90’s died 9/11/01. That day the truth died in the media. So i am not suprised this is where we at.

    Much respect to Davey D for caring about these issues. I have always tried to tell my black friends, you may not think politics affects you, but at some point political decisions affect all of us.

  6. while i dont agree with you Davey on the issue of the internet “leveling the playing field” — though you make good points — i absolutely agree about the importance of this decision and more about our lack of political engagement on this or any issue. we arent out in front (in any larger coordinated way) on any issue.

    i too watched that bloggers conference and mentioned that precise point to the ED of the organization (and i sit proudly on WBL’s exec board). i think FMC is mostly soft but the one statement on net neutrality came from them although only at the beginning and with no real focus.

    this ruling just shows, further, the lack of power of the FCC or rather, its role/function as was laid down from its inception. it has never been here to genuinely advocate for “the people” — it is a show pony. this is why i’ve never agreed with the overwhelming attention paid to them by media “activists.” appeals to them have been largely useless to this point and now it will get only worse. we should enjoy DaveyD.com as long as possible because we may eventually find it hard to find or too slow to enjoy.

    i think we should revisit political organization designed to address the larger issues of society’s organization and wealth distribution. i think we should revisit unsanctioned behavior but in more organized ways and develop other low-tech media alternatives (low power radio, mixtape radio even and so on…) i think we should ban together and develop a more central online hub and support/develop it into a genuine political and journalistic national/international broadcast operation. my biggest problem with the focus on bloggers is all this individualism which just fragments and makes harder the dissemination of other forms of thought, action, ideas, etc. we need a truly political and journalistic huffington post for hip-hop, that is multi-media, bigger, has more contributors and EDITORS and is funded by hip-hop’s community as a national medium and it must call for political engagement on all fronts including new party development. it should also be supportive, if not call for, media civil disobedience… disruption of mainstream media, unsanctioned claims on public airwaves and digital spectrum and alternative electoral political party development.

    my point for hip-hop is simple, if we are to be a hip-hop “nation” we must become far more nationalistic.

    thanks Davey.

    jb

  7. …and guess who my cable subscriber is?

    Like with most things, there are other avenues in regards to communication. This shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all ruling!

    @e-scribblah

    Good points! The way I understood it (through NPR-grain of salt) was that this was based on how these telecoms were regulating files that were hogging up bandwidth or slowing down networks. If, AND ONLY IF, that’s the case, then folks need to get more computer savvy and learn how to compress files, burn discs, etc. Otherwise, just as I posted above, there are other avenues for communication.

  8. Pingback: The end of the Internet as we know it? Court weakens Net Neutrality | 99Problems

  9. “Escribblah, how do you reconcile the fact that the health industry is exempt from antitrust action, but believe that the same government is going to reign the Telco’s in? Just a question!”

    you are asking me to compare apples and oranges. but i can tell you this: technology/information is a whole different ballgame than healthcare. i’m not an expert on healthcare so i cant really comment on that. but i think you are looking at vastly different scenarios with vastly different implications.

    the govt went after microsoft because if they controlled all the information, they could potentially stage a technological coup which would make the gov’t completely powerless. basically, they needed the source codes and public documentation to find out how MS did what it did. they did this in the public interest, because any corporation with more power than the government is a threat to that interest, as well as to the ability of the gov’t to maintain order.

    it’s kinda the same thing with the Telcos. this battle over NN is about access, first and foremost–who has it and who doesn’t. also how is it regulated and what restrictions/limitations are placed on it. furthermore, how do those regulations/limitations/restrictions serve the public interest.

    its not in anyone’s interest but the telcos, for instance, to filter information sent through the internet–to eliminate or hamper competition (which would stifle innovation and creativity).

    conversely, it IS in the public interest to ensure that access to hi-speed broadband remains open and available.

    “The way I understood it (through NPR-grain of salt) was that this was based on how these telecoms were regulating files that were hogging up bandwidth or slowing down networks. If, AND ONLY IF, that’s the case, then folks need to get more computer savvy and learn how to compress files, burn discs, etc’

    it’s not just about compressing files and becoming more computer savvy. reason being, the telcos control the access points of information,ie.e the fiber-optic lines through which everything you see on the Internet is sent. but it doesnt just stop there, because these companies also have their hands in cable TV and phone service, so NN affects potentially everything from streaming of mp3 files to downloading movies to ringtones to Bittorrent files to image galleries like Flickr.

    here’s where it gets insidious: let’s say Telco #A supports political candidate Y, whose running on a platform of criminalizing all people who wear yellow shirts and holding them indefinitely in jails while subjecting them to torture, etc.

    The yellow shirt people and their allies mount a grassroots Internet campaign to get information out and publicize their cause. but this information is blocked by the telco’s filtering technology, and as a result, the candidate is elected by a wide margin.

    so that’s a possible outcome if NN is shut down.

    on the good news side of the equation, much industry analysis i’ve seen has pointed out that previously, the FCC had taken a very begin approach to the telcos, seeking more to reign them in than regulate with ironclad stipulation.

    what this ruling effectively means is that for the FCC, the kid gloves are off. now they have no choice but to pursue a strategy which ensures gov’t authority over information and technology as the broadband market continues to expand.

    failure to do so could weaken or even destabilize the government itself, as well as make the constitution and the First Amendment essentially worthless pieces of paper.

    i’m not even kidding here. it will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court and Congress step up and defend the public interest, i.e. do their jobs, espeically if the alternative to such action is made clear.

    once again, that’s why we need public outcry and effective organization and mobilization around these issues, to let legislators know they are dealing with an informed public who is fully aware of what’s at stake here.

    if you’re not fully informed about these issues, Google it–while you stil can!

  10. Escribblah,

    The point I’m making is that the economic elite/corporations already own the government. You have 1-2 % of the population that owns 80% of the wealth in this country. So essentially I am comparing apples to apples. The distinction you make between industries in a non issue. The industries are consolidated in the hands of a few elite groups. The political process is DEPENDENT on the financial contributions of the economic elite. He who has the gold makes the rules regardless of what the constitution says. I suggest you read the study by the Pew Research Center titled, The Future of the Internet. We better hope that Comcast isn’t allowed to buy NBC!

  11. This is awesome. I was honored to be on that panel — we coulda been talking about breakfast cereal!

    Thanks for bringing all this stuff to light (as usual). Net neutrality is an issue we all gotta keep pushing on. The fight ain’t over yet.

  12. adekunle, i agree with some of what you are saying but not all of it. industries are not completely interchangable–you cant watch YouTube with a bottle of NyQuil, for instance.

    if what you were saying was correct, there would be zero distinction between the FCC and Comcast and, say, the people who make Paxil. obviously, that is not the case…

    i think you should research this topic (NN) a little further, because the point you are making really diverges from the topic at hand. it’s possible a deeper understanding will lead you to some different conclusions about where all this can go.

    regardless, i dont think a doom n gloom forecast empowers anyone except those who are already empowered…it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, which means they–whoever they are–have already won.

    but if you believe there’s something you can do, then maybe there’s still hope. or you could just sit idly by and complain about not having any power and being subject to the whims of giant corporations. it’s your choice.

  13. E-scribblah,

    Doom and gloom is very different from a clear honest analysis of the current reality and what the time calls for. You have to determine what something is before you can change it for the better. It’s not an either/or situation. The focus is not on the industries, but who controls those industries. You cannot deny the fact that the majority of wealth in this country is in the hands of a few. When and how did this concentration of wealth take place? How did we the American peopleallow this to happen? America currently fits that classic definition of facism. I know it’s very diffcult to accept this, because Americans believe that the sun will never set on the American empire. Does this mean that the future isn’t bright? No, the future holds all kinds of possibilities! Where there is life there is hope. But, do know that each of us has a CHOICE of were we place our hope. Sitting idly by and complaining is far different than clearly overstanding our responsibilities, our power to create a better world, and the time of the hour. We’re on the same side!

  14. bro, i’m not disputing anything you’re saying about who owns the majority of wealth, etc.

    i’m just saying, this thread is about one specific issue: Net Neutrality.

    your comments are valid, but they don’t really address the topic at hand. focusing on what you raise detracts from the situation, which is this:

    we’re looking at a corporate takeover of one of the last remaining lanes for independent, grassroots,alternative, and non-mainstream perspectives, unless the communities most affected by this get vocal and active.

    if these communities remain apathetic because they claim they dont understand the issue, or claim it doesnt matter anyway because corporations are already running shit, then what resistance can we expect?

    i merely point this out to say, there is something which can be done. we must remind the FCC to uphold the public interest. we must remind the CBC who their constituencies really are. we must not allow Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to continue to engage in censorship. and we must educate ourselves, so that our foes cannot use our ignorance as their chief weapon.

    in short, we must become technologically-literate if we are not only to survive, but progress, in a technological age.

    the battle must be fought on many fronts, but this one is one of the greatest challenges of our time.there is no going back to the stone age, only moving forward with light-speed connectivity. the brother Davey D has been warning people of this coming Internet apocalypse since at least 2006, maybe even earlier. we must not ignore his warnings, though some are saying it is already too late.

    Our efforts can and will make a difference, if we organize and make our voices heard. we must not allow Capitol Hill lobbyists to define our struggle, rather we must take our struggle to Capitol Hill, if need be. when they try to take away free speech, we must speak louder, and with utmost clarity. we must not be enslaved by fiber-optic chains, but rather use these cables to ensure our freedom–for this and future generations. Our ancestors demand no less. We must make progress, not excuses.

    Our time is now.

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