You are here

Translating the "Washington-ese" of Itsournet.org's letter to the Senate on Stevens Bill

I thought it would be useful to “translate” the “Washington-ese” of the online giants’ recent letter to the Senate on NN. My translation is in italics.
Dear Senator,

We write to express our deep concern with the Advanced Telecommunications and Opportunity Reform Act, S. 2686. 

            Translated: It appears we have painted ourselves into a corner and need your rescue. After screaming from the rooftops that we must have new net neutrality legislation pass now, in order to “Save the Internet,” we got stuffed in the House, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the FCC. We now find ourselves in the embarrassing position of blocking passage of most of the new Net Neutrality protections which we were asking for and which the American people could greatly benefit from.
·          Here’s our dilemma Senator. S.2686, would only protect Americans’ First Amendment rights to free speech on the Internet and only protect consumers rights to access any content, applications, and device of their choosing. Everyone else gets what they want but us. The House and Senate won’t give us the special regulated prices, terms and conditions we need to maintain our 80-90% gross margins. It isn’t fair. Didn’t you get the memo? It’s OUR net.     
 
We ask you to insist that this legislation include meaningful and enforceable network neutrality provisions before it is considered by the full Senate.
·          Translation: The plain language in S. 2686 protecting free speech and consumer rights is not meaningful. It doesn’t block broadband providers’ ability to compete with us. It doesn’t degrade broadband providers’ ability to offer differentiated choices to consumers. And it doesn’t interfere with market forces and commercial negotiations. We urge you to pass much more intrusive regulation now.  

The Internet has been an engine of economic growth and a vibrant platform for innovation and competition because of its open architecture. However, this open structure did not happen by accident; in fact, it is the product of non-discrimination rules that had long been in place to prevent network operators from limiting consumer choice.
·          Translation: Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that net neutrality is a pre-1995 monopoly regulation approach that was superseded by, and made increasingly obsolete with Congress’s de-regulation and promotion of competition. And don’t listen to anyone that tells you that net neutrality has only applied to copper wires and not to broadband competitive alternatives of: cable, wireless, satellite, WiFi, WiMax, or broadband over power lines. That’s just an inconvenient truth.  

Last summer, the Federal Communications Commission removed these protections. It is critical that Congress reinstate them in this bill and preserve consumer choice. The strong network neutrality amendment introduced by Senators Snowe and Dorgan would have done just that, but it was narrowly defeated in Committee on a bi-partisan 11 to 11 vote.
·          Translation: It’s really frustrating and unfair that we must get a majority vote in order to get our way.

We fully support the goal of advancing competition in video services through franchise reform. But, as the telecommunications carriers increasingly use the broadband infrastructure to deliver their own video products, the only way to ensure that consumers will have real choice for video services is for Congress to re-establish meaningful network neutrality rules.
·          Translation: Let’s cut to the chase. We need you to order the broadband providers to give us unfettered use of their multi-hundred billion dollar infrastructures that they own and built –so that we can offer a competitive video service -- for no additional cost to us. It’s really important that you tell them that they must make our offering as good as theirs and ban them from building anything better for their customers. Thanks in advance for this special interest gift.      

Without network neutrality, consumers will be restricted to online offerings limited by cable and telephone companies. For the first time, those companies - rather than consumers - will effectively become the gatekeepers to the Internet.
·          Translation: It is perfectly fair for us to disintermediate and compete against them but turnabout is not fair play. It’s OUR net.  

Absent strong network neutrality provisions, consumers will no longer have the freedom to choose content from thousands of sources on an open Internet. Instead, the Internet will move backwards significantly with fewer options and limited choices. We ask that you protect their freedom.
·          Translation: Can we be frank? This is about protecting us not consumers. We hide behind the “choice” and “freedom” language to make us sound less self-serving.   

We stand ready to work with you and your Senate colleagues to include meaningful network neutrality provisions in any national video franchising reform legislation considered in the 109th session.
·          Translation: If we don’t get our “meaningful” protection from broadband competition, we’ll be sure consumers don’t get their “meaningful” First Amendment free speech protections and the Consumer Internet Bill of Rights in S.2686. It’s OUR net!      

Sincerely,

Amazon.com
eBay
Google
IAC/InterActiveCorp
Yahoo!

 

Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths