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AT&T CEO: Consumers need an 'Internet Bill of Rights'

By Polycount · 22 replies
Jan 24, 2018
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  1. Few issues have attracted as much widespread attention as net neutrality. Back in December, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and two of his fellow commissioners controversially voted to roll back Title II net neutrality protections that had been in place for years.

    Tech companies were quick to come out against the ruling and lawmakers have made attempts to overturn the FCC's decision. Last week, the Senate was a single vote away from doing just that. At the state level, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order yesterday which will compel ISPs operating within the state to abide by net neutrality rules:

    There has been a lot of talk around the country about how to respond to the recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to repeal net neutrality rules, which keep the internet free and open. It’s time to actually do something about it [...] The State of Montana is one of the biggest consumers of internet services in our state. Today we’re making our choice clear: we want net neutrality.

    It seems ISPs aren't content to sit back and wait for lawmakers to come up with solutions. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson published an open letter today calling for an "Internet Bill of Rights" to replace net neutrality protections.

    "Congressional action is needed to establish an 'Internet Bill of Rights' that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protection for all internet users," the letter reads. "Legislation would not only ensure consumers' rights are protected, but it would provide consistent rules of the road for all internet companies across all websites..."

    Stephenson goes on to say that AT&T is "committed to an open internet" and that the company has no intention of blocking websites or censoring online content, nor will they "throttle, discriminate or degrade network performance based on content."

    However, this leaves room for the possibility of "paid prioritization," a process by which ISPs could theoretically allow a company to pay for its users to have faster access to their website over a competitor's.

    Permalink to story.

  2. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 237   +113

    I've never understood why people give up on their rights so easily while using internet.
    Thumbs up for the initiative.
  3. eafshar

    eafshar TS Enthusiast Posts: 81   +18

    The article states that AT&T ceo states "nor will they "throttle, discriminate or degrade network performance based on content".

    How can that and paid priotizaion be mutualy exclusive as the end if the article suggests?
  4. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,200   +2,481

    This makes for good press, but time will tell whether AT&T backs this up in their actions.
    psycros likes this.
  5. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,890   +708

    AT&T. Their logo is the Deathstar. Competition is the ONLY way to have freedom
    hk2000 and Hexic like this.
  6. LeoLancaster

    LeoLancaster TS Rookie

    Keywords: based on content. Paid prioritization is based on money. In other words, AT&T is saying it won't censor a website because of the content on said website, but might still give "extra" bandwidth to websites which pay for it.

    It's still not as good as actual net neutrality, but it is less problematic to a degree.
    mbrowne5061, senketsu and Polycount like this.
  7. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,974   +581

    They basically have two pipes. One for the plebs and one for the people who pay extra. Then they don't throttle the first pipe. They just starve it of bandwidth. You can't complain as "technically" they aren't throttling. Just you aren't getting much upstream bandwidth for any site.

    So yes you are correct in being suspicious. They want to be able to do paid prioritisation which enables them to do scummy things you suspect them of.
    psycros and senketsu like this.
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,200   +2,481

    You preach about competition, and though I do not normally like preachers, I agree with you that competition would likely improve the situation in the US.

    The reality, however, is that in all but the rare places in the US, there is no competition. Companies like AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum and others have managed to dig themselves a trench in most of the areas they serve and, effectively, have killed the competition without firing a shot.

    So, in areas without competition and entrenched ISPs, I would like to understand how your view produces a net neutrality like solution.

    Darth Shiv and SirChocula like this.
  9. hk2000

    hk2000 TS Booster Posts: 72   +30

    I know the majority of the readers of this site are atypical of the majority of internet users and thus look at this subject from an entirely different angle, so I understand the consensus here. But when I put myself in the shoes of the regular internet users, like many in my family and friends, I have to disagree with the consensus. I think regulation is a necessary evil and even a good idea, if done with the correct intentions. I can think of many websites that should be completely wiped out of the internet, and whose demise would only raise the ire of the lowest of the low.
    Just like absolute dictatorship is a dreadful evil, so is absolute freedom.
  10. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,891   +409

    Aye. In other words, they won't throttle a website because they disagree with its message, but they could throttle it because a competitor is paying more for faster access.
    psycros likes this.
  11. trparky

    trparky TS Evangelist Posts: 589   +501

    And I wouldn't have a problem with paid prioritized access as long as that money is guaranteed to be put into infrastructure improvements that will allow for more room for non-paid traffic. But unfortunately I don't think that will happen so yeah... that idea sucks.
    psycros likes this.
  12. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,699   +4,035

    I agree with the concept as long as the Consumers Union or similar private organization writes that bill or rights with NO industry input.
  13. They are speaking up fast trying to slip through some legislation full of their weasel words before someone in government passes real Net Neutrality laws. No respect for this guy
    Reachable likes this.
  14. eafshar

    eafshar TS Enthusiast Posts: 81   +18

    Gotta agree with you.. like why Isis is able to share and spread their videos is beyond me. To host their content is to spread the fear they feed on. Propoganda from a clearly evil organization has no place in the net.
  15. Cubi Dorf

    Cubi Dorf TS Booster Posts: 158   +56

    Is paid prioritization not a form of throttling? You basically throttle everything that is not paid prioritize.
    psycros likes this.
  16. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,823   +2,669

    So ol' Randall wants "rules of the road", does he? OK, how about we use the Autobahn as a model?
  17. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,605   +1,207

    Yeah: because we all know the government and cops would NEVER violate our rights.
  18. trparky

    trparky TS Evangelist Posts: 589   +501

    No, it just means that specific packets get priority above other packets. It's just QOS but on the Internet as a whole.
  19. eafshar

    eafshar TS Enthusiast Posts: 81   +18

    But how is saying 'x' goes first or 'y' goes last different in nature? Either way x will go before y.
  20. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Maniac Posts: 228   +161

    He's right. But that doesn't mean I trust AT&T to craft it. In fact, an internet bill of rights should be decided upon independent of existing carriers in the industry.
  21. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 369   +183

    Net neutrality is the Bill of Rights. Well, no, it's actually just the start. AT&T and the other ISPs want less than net neutrality, and this talk of a Bill of Rights is PR. They're trying to ward off the reinstatement of net neutrality by Congress.
  22. lostinlodos

    lostinlodos TS Booster Posts: 142   +26

    This outcry here is typical of people who think they understand from reading “news” from others that think they understand.
    Att saying it will not throttle [down] speeds is quite clear. Prioritising has nothing to do with speed and bandwidth on it’s own. It’s about traffic control.
    In a real world setting think of this. Everything coming down the street in one direction has a flashing yellow light, (proceed with caution) while everything cross wise gets a flashing red light. Stop, proceed when clear.
    This is the general way the internet works now.
    What paid priority does is basically install the equivalent of a police traffic controller in feeds from company x or y, so that as their packets approach the junction everyone else gets a flashing red stop light while the travel through the intersection at full speed.
    This is not necessarily a bad thing, and we’re talking nano scale time to begin with.
    Not really the end of the world many tech people claim it to be!
  23. Net Neutrality doesn't guarantee an 'open Internet.' It's about consolidating control into the hands of a few, thereby threatening a 'free' Internet.

    These people are blowing smoke, as usual. This guy needs to go back to AT&T and focus on unscrewing their well known lousy service.

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