FCC votes in favor of more ISPs not being required to be transparent

By Jos · 21 replies
Feb 24, 2017
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  1. [parsehtml]<p><img src="https://www.techspot.com/images2/news/bigimage/2017/02/2017-02-24-image-9.jpg" /></p> <p>Internet providers with fewer than 250,000 subscribers will not be required to disclose information on network performance, fees, and data caps, thanks to a rule change by the FCC that many are seeing as a prelude to larger setbacks for net neutrality. Previously, the exemption applied to ISPs with fewer than 100,000 subscribers, but that expired in December 2016 before being bumped up today.</p> <p>The rule passed in a 2-1 vote, with Republicans saying the transparency requirements unfairly burdened smaller ISPs with additional work, instead of focusing their efforts in building out better broadband services to the rural parts of the United States. Mignon Clyburn, the FCC&#39;s only Democrat, who voted against, argued that disclosures are an important customer protection</p> <p>Clyburn says that the FCC is effectively exempting &ldquo;billion-dollar public companies&quot; from rules that can be complied with in mere hours each year. Moreover, while the 250,000-subscriber exemption won&#39;t apply to the top broadband providers such as Comcast, Charter, AT&amp;T, Verizon, and others, it will exempt many ISPs owned by conglomerates. This means that internet providers could avoid disclosing information by simply breaking their service areas up into different subsidiaries of a larger holding company.</p> <p>There are approximately 17 total wireline and wireless companies nationwide who have customer levels between these points. Some of the transparency rules that these companies will be able to avoid include:</p> <blockquote> <ul> <li><strong>Price&mdash;</strong>the full monthly service charge. Any promotional rates should be clearly noted as such, specify the duration of the promotional period, and note the full monthly service charge the consumer will incur after the expiration of the promotional period.</li> <li><strong>Other fees&mdash;</strong>all additional one-time and/or recurring fees and/or surcharges the consumer may incur either to initiate, maintain, or discontinue service, including the name, definition, and cost of each additional fee. These may include modem rental fees, installation fees, service charges, and early termination fees, among others.</li> <li><strong>Data caps and allowances&mdash;</strong>any data caps or allowances that are a part of the plan the consumer is purchasing, as well as the consequences of exceeding the cap or allowance (e.g., additional charges, loss of service for the remainder of the billing cycle).</li> </ul> </blockquote><p><a rel='alternate' href='https://www.techspot.com/news/68289-fcc-votes-favor-more-isps-not-required-transparent.html' target='_blank'>Permalink to story.</a></p><p class='permalink'><a rel='alternate' href='https://www.techspot.com/news/68289-fcc-votes-favor-more-isps-not-required-transparent.html'>https://www.techspot.com/news/68289-fcc-votes-favor-more-isps-not-required-transparent.html</a></p>[/parsehtml]
     
  2. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 425   +266

    Another win and another loophole for large and corrupt companies. yay! >_>
     
  3. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 495   +260

    Seriously we have three people, two republicans one of which is a flipping ***** (Pai) and one democrat voting on the internet needs for the entire nation?

    SMDH....How is that even a fair vote?
     
  4. Greg S

    Greg S TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,324   +434

    This has nothing to do with net neutrality Jose Vilches. This is about consumer protection legislation, not how internet service is delivered and what content is delivered.
     
  5. Mr Dude

    Mr Dude TS Enthusiast Posts: 64   +47

    It doesn't say so here, but it also affects performance, usage statistics and data caps.
     
  6. ForgottenLegion

    ForgottenLegion TS Maniac Posts: 220   +217

    Just by looking at that guys picture I can tell that he's an absolute C*NT!

    Do they actually believe what they're doing is a good thing?
     
    MonsterZero likes this.
  7. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,379   +535

    If you live in the United states you are unfortunately screwed until this guys term is over.

    he is going to undo everything that wheeler did for his corporate buddies.
     
    robb213 likes this.
  8. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,888   +1,274

    better question, who's lining his pockets
     
    ForgottenLegion likes this.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,748   +1,314

    Verizon at least...
     
  10. kapital98

    kapital98 TS Maniac Posts: 264   +199

    Congress can make any law regarding this matter. The FCC only has powers to regulate in absence of an existing statute. The FCC then makes regulations that are not in conflict with the constitution or statute. It's not as if 3 guys are making all internet policy. It's more that in absence of Congress passing a law, the FCC will determine what should be done.

    @Win7Dev: Net Neutrality is a wide term. One that is just assumed to be a good thing by sites like Techspot. This is something that can be challenged (it's basically an argument over unfettered markets v. public goods/market failures). Anyways, assuming that net neutrality is good, then this is a very important ruling. Consumer protection and net neutrality go hand in hand. Net neutrality is in essence just a part of consumer protection by ensuring everyone has equal access to the internet.
     
    mbrowne5061 and MonsterZero like this.
  11. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,789   +1,922

    "it will exempt many ISPs owned by conglomerates"

    That's a problem. So essentially a company can fracture into smaller pieces while still remaining completely in control and avoid being transparent.

    "Price—the full monthly service charge. Any promotional rates should be clearly noted as such, specify the duration of the promotional period, and note the full monthly service charge the consumer will incur after the expiration of the promotional period.
    Other fees—all additional one-time and/or recurring fees and/or surcharges the consumer may incur either to initiate, maintain, or discontinue service, including the name, definition, and cost of each additional fee. These may include modem rental fees, installation fees, service charges, and early termination fees, among others.
    Data caps and allowances—any data caps or allowances that are a part of the plan the consumer is purchasing, as well as the consequences of exceeding the cap or allowance (e.g., additional charges, loss of service for the remainder of the billing cycle)."

    I really don't get how the listing the above is burdensome, it's good business 101 to tell your customers any possible fees upfront. It probably takes more effort to remove these simple items from the monthly bill template then it does to keep it. I use online billing systems all the time to charge customers and any assertion that being transparent is too much for small business is absolutely ridiculous. Applying, recording, and sending in collected taxes is far more burdensome, especially considering the arcane processes still used. I guess you don't have to provide good business when you have a firm grip on the market though...
     
    wiyosaya likes this.
  12. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,156   +1,182

    Well said. Making billing less transparent isnt going to save much cash at all (and Pai is acting like having pen pushers in an office is somehow detracting ISPs from laying lines, which makes no sense). At the most, it would allow big companies to rip off millions from it's consumers a bit at a time, and since they have monopolies, consumers have no choice but to accept these terms.

    Simplifying the tax code and closing loopholes would both save cash and time for small businesses, and provide more revenue in the form of big businesses actually paying what they should be paying, but we cant let the Corporate States of America do that, now can we?
     
    Evernessince likes this.
  13. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,306

    You guys have this exactly backwards. If you are Verizon or Comcast this is bad for you. If you want there to only be 3 major ISPs in the US, this is bad for you.

    If you would like to be able to choose between a few different ISPs (like we do with cell phone providers) then this is good for you. If you want your small ISP startup to be able to compete with Verizon and Comcast, then this is good for you.

    Here's why - when the govt comes up with a bunch of rules for businesses to follow it costs them money. It's like a tax. But only the big players can afford to hire the extra staff to comply with the new rules. The companies who don't have huge balance sheets can't afford the cost of following the new rules.

    Here's the last example - after the 2008 financial crisis the govt passed a bill called Dodd-Frank that put in a pile of rules for banks to follow. Over the next few years the big banks started buying the small struggling banks and today there are far fewer banks in the country than there were. Here in Milwaukee our local bank called M&I got bought by the international giant BMO Harris.

    Are we safer or better off because of these rules - usually not - usually they're passed for exactly the reason quote above - "disclosures are an important customer protection" But no one ever follows up to see if they actually accomplished anything - usually they just cause problems and make the big companies even bigger.
     
  14. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,481   +522

    We have another article here on Techspot how Amazon won't help provide data (non transparent) to help in a murder case and it is generally agreed with. Here we have an article on non transparency and it is generally agree with. You make the call...I am calling it.
     
  15. matrix86

    matrix86 TS Guru Posts: 845   +38

    Apples and Oranges, there. The Amazon situation is vastly different than what is going on here. With Amazon, they are refusing to give up a customer's private information. This has nothing to do with transparency.

    Here, the FCC is not making it mandatory for ISPs with 250k or less subscribers to be transparent about their prices, fees, and data caps.

    So.......I really have no clue as to why you brought up the Amazon situation. Two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT situations. One is a company refusing to hand over a customer's private info, the other allowing companies to hide pricing and capping info from customers.
     
    robb213 and wiyosaya like this.
  16. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,748   +1,314

    We'll see how it turns out. What you state potentially applies to these rules, too. No matter what side of the fence you are on, being in business costs money.

    With this, the small guys do not have to disclose certain information, however, that opens up the small guys to deceit based on fear of their competition. In other words, if the small guy feels threatened in some fashion by their competition, they could literally do as much as they want to mask what they are doing even if it is unfair to their customers with no need to disclose what they are actually doing to anyone, including their customers.

    As I see it, it is very rare for companies to be totally ethical if they are in the position of being unable to compete with their competitors, and in some cases, too, companies will do anything to maintain their profit margin no matter how well the company is doing.

    What this potentially says is that it is OK for a company to be unethical, and in at least some cases, I would bet that a company in trouble will resort to unethical behavior to stay afloat. Someone will catch up to them at some point, and then people will complain, and this rule could easily be reversed. If we could trust everyone to be totally ethical in their dealings, this rule would work. However, from my own experience, trusting everyone to be ethical in all their dealings is folly.

    From my experience with Time Warner, now Spectrum, they are as unethical as a company can be from slamming to blaming their internal network problems on their customers, and I am aware that this rule would not apply to them.

    You say that Dodd-Frank was too expensive for your local bank to comply with it. Do you really know that, or was that a talking point of a bank that was in trouble already, but felt the need to cover that trouble with a talking point?

    I would love to live in a world where I could implicitly trust everyone to be totally ethical, however, I do not believe that humanity has come to that point, yet.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  17. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,789   +1,922

    The blanket assertion that all rules cost businesses money is a fallacy at best.

    "after the 2008 financial crisis the govt passed a bill called Dodd-Frank"

    Yes, to prevent another Crisis... Have you read about Dodd -Frank?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodd–Frank_Wall_Street_Reform_and_Consumer_Protection_Act

    It actually has very little to do with banks and the regulations imposed on banks. The only real regulation targeted towards banks in Dodd-Frank was the Volcker Rule

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcker_Rule

    The goal of which is to prohibit speculative investments, which is what lead to the housing crash.

    The vast majority of Dodd-Frank deals with Wall Street transparency and economic transparency.

    "Are we safer or better off because of these rules - usually not - usually they're passed for exactly the reason quote above - "disclosures are an important customer protection" But no one ever follows up to see if they actually accomplished anything - usually they just cause problems and make the big companies even bigger."

    Um, yes they do follow up. Dodd-Frank created multiple new Federal office that do just that. The only problem is that we have republicans in office who screw the rules over and allow Wall Street to make risky investments and essentially have shadow companies with zero transparency.

    "usually they just cause problems and make the big companies even bigger"

    You must have missed all the banking rules that have been in place since the great depression. They kind of have been working for a long time now. Capitalism is a self consuming system and will always fail without government regulation. Have you even seen a pure capitalist economy? Didn't think so, because every country imposes regulations. Machiavelli understood over 500 years ago that any system that can be exploited will be.
     
    Lionvibez and wiyosaya like this.
  18. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,306


    wow - generalize much?

    You can't say Dodd Frank is good or Dodd Frank is bad - there are like 15 sections of it - some completely different from others - some good, and some bad. Swap exchanges - good idea. Capital requirements on variable annuity products - exactly backward. And they ALL cost money. Every IT firm from every investment company in this country has spent a pile on changing their systems. Plus all the lawyers to interpret the law.

    And the Volcker rule is a perfect example of what I'm talking about - small bank speculation did NOT contribute to the housing crash. Blame ING and their credit default swaps, blame Fanny and Freddie for their speculation (but they're not small) - blame undocumented loans and ARMs and CDOs. Blame the risk passing that was inherent in the system. Blame the rating agencies who marked MBS tranches at AAA when they should have been B! Of all the contributors to the crisis - small banks are a barely a footnote. And yet they got regulated. Small banks wouldn't even do that type of speculation anyway - but they get swept up in having to follow the rules. Good call to bring this up.

    and what is this nonsense - "Capitalism is a self consuming system and will always fail without government regulation. Have you even seen a pure capitalist economy? Didn't think so, because every country imposes regulations. "

    I have heard this argument everytime I discuss regulation with someone on the left. They hear someone say 'we need LESS regulation' and their immediate reaction is 'oh you want to get RID of regulation?! Know what'll happen then?!!'
    No one is suggesting getting rid of all regulations. A pure capitalist economy is as big an illogical fantasy as one where everyone has the same income. Machiavelli had common sense, go figure.

    This doesn't even make sense - no part of Dodd Frank has been repealed by anyone - and the office setup by Dodd Frank - the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - is alive and well. I get it you want to blame republicans for something, but at least find something that exists.

    TLDR; regulation has trade-offs. If the regulation has little to no upside all you're left with is the downside - cost.
     
  19. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,789   +1,922

    "Every IT firm from every investment company in this country has spent a pile on changing their systems. Plus all the lawyers to interpret the law."

    Those costs are incurred in the way of business. Unless you are insinuating that nothing will ever change, those costs will always be there.

    "You can't say Dodd Frank is good or Dodd Frank is bad - there are like 15 sections of it - some completely different from others - some good, and some bad."

    It prevents another financial collapse and increases transparency. It is good on the whole, no *****footing about it.

    "Small banks wouldn't even do that type of speculation anyway - but they get swept up in having to follow the rules. Good call to bring this up."

    Um, if they aren't doing it anyways then they is zero change for them. There is zero difference because they don't have to comply to rules for a game they never played.

    "I have heard this argument everytime I discuss regulation with someone on the left"

    Oh boy, starting with a generalization.

    "They hear someone say 'we need LESS regulation' and their immediate reaction is 'oh you want to get RID of regulation?! Know what'll happen then?!!'
    No one is suggesting getting rid of all regulations. A pure capitalist economy is as big an illogical fantasy as one where everyone has the same income. Machiavelli had common sense, go figure.

    You jump to conclusions. No, what people get mad at is when regulations are attacked and bullshit reasons are given to remove them.

    "This doesn't even make sense - no part of Dodd Frank has been repealed by anyone - and the office setup by Dodd Frank - the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - is alive and well. I get it you want to blame republicans for something, but at least find something that exists. "

    That's because I never mentioned Dodd-Frank Specifically. I was referring to regulation in general. If you read my comment

    "The only problem is that we have republicans in office who screw the rules over and allow Wall Street to make risky investments and essentially have shadow companies with zero transparency."

    I never mention any specific regulation. This article is a fine example, The removal of the fiduciary rule is another, Obamacare without a replacement is another, allowing dumping of coal mining byproducts is another. This administration hasn't even been in very long and it's obvious it's targeting rules just to increase profits and isn't concerned with creating jobs. In fact, it is likely to decrease jobs.

    "TLDR; regulation has trade-offs. If the regulation has little to no upside all you're left with is the downside - cost."

    I'm fine with removing regulations with more cost then benefit. When was the last time I actually saw a republican give an honest answer, and not obvious BS? Probably when McCain was running. I would have taken a 5 year old rotting raccoon corpse over trump.
     
  20. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,481   +522

    It will seem that way to some maybe most but I can make the case and get it in the NY Times and half the people will believe it
     
  21. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,306

    No - these costs are directly related to the law. It's not normal business - it's a lot of money spent on compliance that could be spent elsewhere. Where I work we have had a project in the investment IT area called 'Dodd-Frank' for the last 3 years.

    I agree it's overall good. But don't think it prevents another crisis. It only prevents another mortgage crises brought about by the exact things that caused the last one. It won't stop a student loan bubble from bursting or a worldwide crash from entitlements combined with an aging population. Greece already went under - what happens when others follow?

    Yes they do. The govt doesn't just take their word for it that they're playing by the rules. They'll need to create and deliver reports, do the tax forms, and prepare data for the auditors.

    Well... that's my personal experience. You're not the first one I've talked to who's taken an idea and removed all context in order to try to discredit it.

    You can call the reason BS - that's your opinion. I think a regulation is unnecessary when it costs a lot to comply and doesn't actually do what it's supposed to do. This happens all the time - my favorite example is the auto regulations for MPG the govt imposed. They said the avg MPG for the whole fleet of cars sold by a manufacturer had to increase - so car companies added a hybrid to their lineup and dropped the MPG of their SUVs and trucks. No one bought the hybrids, but they bought lots of SUVs and the overall avg MPG of the cars on the road went down - even though everyone was complying with the law. And it cost a ton of money for each company to put out a hybrid. The environmental regulations did exactly the opposite of what they were supposed to do. Except for the part where they made the environmentalists happy (since they PASSED the regulation and never followed up later to check on it) - maybe that was the whole point.

    Your comment was "Dodd-Frank created multiple new Federal office that do just that." - I responded by talking about the CFPB. It's the biggest and most powerful office created by the law.

    if by 'increasing profits' you mean being able to spend it how they wish instead of complying with extra regulation, then yes. But it won't decrease jobs. More profits always means more jobs. It's when companies lose money that jobs disappear (mexico or china or closed plants) More profits for companies means more jobs, more benefits for employees, and higher wages. The way to stop a company from getting too big is through competition - which you can't have unless an industry is profitable. Regulation hurts competition.

    To be fair - Trump isn't actually a conservative. The #NeverTrump movement was a conservative movement. He's been friends with the Clinton's his whole life and I personally believe the reason we'll never see his tax returns is because there's a Clinton Foundation donation on there somewhere or a Planned Parenthood one - and his credibility would be trashed (even more so... if that's possible).
     
  22. turismozilla

    turismozilla TS Addict Posts: 174   +55

    There should be an agency that collects information on all these fnckers, so they'd have that pending over their heads if they don't play ball for the interests of all of us. "Remember, you vote tomorrow, just keep in mind we have a picture of you and this awesome looking woman who is not you're wife at a time you told your wife you were at the office."
     

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