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Confronting Net Neutrality Deceit -- Susan Crawford's NYT Op-ed Grossly Misrepresents the Facts

I have publicly debated Susan Crawford and found her to be intelligent, likable and zealously committed to the FCC broadband "public option," i.e. mandating that broadband become public-utility regulated as a common carrier. 

  • I was disappointed and stunned to read Ms. Crawford's latest assertions in her op-ed in the New York Times today, that totally and unabashedly misrepresented core facts; Ms. Crawford and the New York Times Editorial Board should know better. 

First, Ms. Crawford's characterization of a potential unilateral FCC decision to regulate broadband for the first time -- as simply a "relabeling" of Internet access services -- is blatant mis-representation. 

  • People know "relabeling" means changing what something is called or branded, not changing the contents of the good or service.
    • Ms. Crawford knows full well that what she is actually proposing is to radically change the service behind the label, changing it from, a competitive service that is free to innovate, differentiate, and improve, to a common carrier, 'Mother-may-I, service where the FCC, not the provider, makes the most important decisions about investment, business and operations. That is certainly not the same thing, but for the label...
      • Under any common understanding of fair representation or truth in labeling, it is tantamount to fraud to claim that a radical change in a good/service is just a re-labeling when the real intent and effect is so much more than that.
      • We would never countenance someone trying to "re-label" an unknown generic brand to be a well-known premium brand, nor would we tolerate someone selling alcohol as bottled water.
    • Does Ms. Crawford think everyone is stupid and will swallow hook, line and sinker what she proposes is just a "relabeling" when a top investment analyst called it "the nuclear option" and others have warned it would cause "WW III?"
    • Only in an Orwellian dystopia would Ms. Crawford's gross misrepresentation be fitting.     

Second, Ms. Crawford is grossly misrepresenting what the FCC must do in order to deem broadband to be regulated. She claimed: "All the Commission needs to do is prove it has a good reason." 

  • Huh?! This radical proposal is anything but simple, easy, or containable as I documented in excruciating detail in a previous post that enumerated many of the most obvious and important questions and issues the FCC must deal with before deeming broadband to be regulated. 
  • What Ms. Crawford advises the unelected FCC to do is essentially usurp Congress' role and effectively legislate a new "de-competition policy" that would radically change existing Congressional competition and Internet policy. That's no re-labeling!
  • Anyone that has had a civics class knows that the FCC must do more than just have "a good reason." It must have congressional authority, it must obey the law, it must not be arbitrary and capricious, and it must respect the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine and the Bill of Rights.

Third, Ms. Crawford implies that congressionally mandated de-regulation did not yield competition. 

  • What Ms.Crawford glossed over is that U.S. competition policy has produced more facilities-based broadband competition in the United States than any other nation in the world. That's because her public utility vision opposes any outcome that does not have the FCC/Government in control of the marketplace. 
    • The facts are that the U.S. is the only nation with two nationally-built out wireline broadband infrastructures and is the only nation with four major competing wireless broadband providers -- with a fifth WiMax competitor rapidly becoming a national competitor as well.

Fourth, Ms. Crawford has the unmitigated gall to claim that: "Prices stayed high and speeds slow."

  • How does Ms Crawford explain $15-20 broadband offerings, the expansion of free wifi hotspots, and the fact that the International Telecommunications Union statistics have the United States with the most affordable broadband of the 150 nations surveyed? 
  • How does Ms. Crawford explain the steady and vast increase in broadband speeds that have been achieved over the last several years?
    • How come Verizon's fiber-to-the-home deployment, which exceeds all of Europe's fiber deployments, is not considered faster broadband?
    • How come cable's DOCSIS 3.0's national upgrade to get 50-100 MBs to most every home in short order is not faster speeds?
    • How come AT&T Uverse's increases in broadband speed do not constitute faster broadband?
    • How come WiMaX speeds and the steady upgrades of wireless broadband upgrades and the coming deployment of LTE don't constitute faster broadband speeds?

In sum, be very wary when someone says they just want to "relabel" something when it involves an extremely controversial political issue that has raged for years.

  • Be even more wary when they feel the need to blatantly misrepresent the core facts of the situation.

  • If a policy recommendation in a New York Times op-ed cannot be presented fairly and accurately in order to persuade forthrightly, it is obviously a horrible policy recommendation.