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  1. 1. Y490 Politics of the Internet November 8, 2011
  2. 2. Critical Political Economy <ul><li>“ Traditionally, this type of analysis focuses on how economic inequalities based upon ownership and control serve to narrow the range of media content available in market-based societies.” </li></ul>Source: Chadwick, p. 290.
  3. 3. Three Schools of Thought <ul><li>Strong political economy approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Media should be seen as directly servicing a wider system of material production (e.g. Theodor Adorno -- consumer capitalism) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Weak political economy approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Greater role for individual leadership in the media industries (e.g. Benjamin Bagdikian ) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Instrumental approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How owners and political elites use the media as instruments of ideological mobilization (e.g. Noam Chomsky ) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Decline of Newspapers? <ul><li>Readership is down relative to other media use. </li></ul><ul><li>Last year was the worst on record for the U.S. newspaper industry advertising.  Total advertising revenues (both print and online) declined to $25.84 billion in 2010, according to the latest figures from the Newspaper Association of America .  That is down from $48 billion in 2004.  </li></ul><ul><li>On-line newspaper advertising was up to $3 billion in 2010 from $1.2 billion in 2003 but that clearly does not make up from the decline in other areas. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Decline in Readership <ul><li>Online readership is growing but overall readership is down according to the Pew Research Center </li></ul>
  6. 6. Main News Source by Age
  7. 7. Print and Online Advertising
  8. 8. Help Wanted Ad Revenues
  9. 9. Closing of Newspapers <ul><li>At least 120 newspapers in the U.S. have shut down since January 2008, according to Paper Cuts, a Web site tracking the newspaper industry. More than 21,000 jobs at 67 newspapers have vaporized in that time, according to the site. </li></ul>Source: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/19/newspaper.decline.layoff/index.html
  10. 10. Origins of the Net Neutrality Debate <ul><li>Coalition of Broadband Users and Innovators (CBUI) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell in November 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>It included the phrase “net neutrality” coined by Tim Wu in an article written in 2002 and published in 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>CBUI called for “nondiscrimination safeguards” to guarantee net neutrality </li></ul>
  11. 11. What is Net Neutrality? <ul><li>“ Net neutrality simply means that all like Internet content must be treated alike and move at the same speed over the network. The owners of the Internet’s wires cannot discriminate. This is the simple but brilliant “end-to-end” design of the Internet that has made it such a powerful force for economic and social good.” </li></ul><ul><li>Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney, “No Tolls on the Internet,” Washington Post, June 8, 2006. </li></ul>Ask a Ninja’s “What is Net Neutrality?” video
  12. 12. Eli Noam’s Possible Meanings <ul><li>No different quality grades for service </li></ul><ul><li>No price discrimination among Internet providers </li></ul><ul><li>No monopoly price charged to content and application providers </li></ul><ul><li>No discrimination against content providers who compete with carrier’s own content </li></ul><ul><li>No selectivity by the carriers over the content that they transmit </li></ul><ul><li>No blocking of the access of users to some websites </li></ul>
  13. 13. Arguments of Proponents <ul><li>End-to-end architecture of the Internet must be preserved </li></ul><ul><li>This means preventing discrimination by conduit companies against content and services that they do not control </li></ul><ul><li>Conduit companies will reserve lots of bandwidth for services like cable TV which will degrade Internet performance for everyone else </li></ul>Vint Cerf
  14. 14. Congress and the FCC Encourage Telephone and Cable to Compete <ul><li>Telecom Act of 1996 </li></ul><ul><li>FCC decisions to permit telephone companies to buy cable networks and cable operators to compete in telephone markets </li></ul><ul><li>FCC wanted telcos and cable companies to compete in high-speed Internet and cable TV services via new fiber optic networks built without government subsidies </li></ul>
  15. 15. Top ISPs in the USA (2011) <ul><li>Comcast </li></ul><ul><li>Time Warner </li></ul><ul><li>AT&T </li></ul><ul><li>Cox </li></ul><ul><li>Optimum </li></ul><ul><li>Charter </li></ul><ul><li>Verizon </li></ul>Source: http://isp-review.toptenreviews.com/ Cable operators Telephone companies
  16. 16. Top Global Web Sites (2011) <ul><li>Google </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>Yahoo! </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><li>Baidu </li></ul><ul><li>Blogspot </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul>
  17. 17. Michael Powell’s Internet Freedoms, 2004 <ul><li>freedom to access content </li></ul><ul><li>freedom to use applications </li></ul><ul><li>freedom to attach personal devices </li></ul><ul><li>freedom to obtain service plan information </li></ul>
  18. 18. FCC Policy Statement 2005 <ul><li>consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice </li></ul><ul><li>consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement </li></ul><ul><li>consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network </li></ul><ul><li>consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers </li></ul>
  19. 19. More Arguments of Proponents <ul><li>There is insufficient competition between cable operators and telcos to guarantee non-discrimination </li></ul><ul><li>There is a potential for violations of freedom of speech in the absence of net neutrality guarantees </li></ul>Gigi Sohn Larry Lessig Tim Berners-Lee
  20. 20. Organizations that Support Net Neutrality <ul><li>ACLU </li></ul><ul><li>ALA </li></ul><ul><li>Christian Coalition </li></ul><ul><li>Gun Owners of America </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers Union </li></ul><ul><li>Google, Amazon, Yahoo! </li></ul><ul><li>American Electronics Association </li></ul>
  21. 21. The Opponents’ Perspective on Net Neutrality <ul><li>NCTA anti-NN ad </li></ul><ul><li>Fox News coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Glenn Beck </li></ul>David Farber
  22. 22. Arguments of Opponents <ul><li>Net neutrality guarantees constitute unnecessary regulation </li></ul><ul><li>The threat of discrimination is overblown </li></ul><ul><li>Cable and telephone companies need new revenues to build out the network </li></ul><ul><li>Need to have “intelligent networks” to obtain “quality of service” </li></ul><ul><li>Competition is sufficient to prevent abuses </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Video Franchise Bill, 2006 <ul><li>Attempts by Democrats led by Ed Markey in the House to add net neutrality amendments failed in committee and on the floor </li></ul><ul><li>Net neutrality amendment proposed by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) failed to pass in an 11-11 committee vote </li></ul><ul><li>Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) voted against the amendment </li></ul>
  24. 24. Ted Stevens’ Tubes Statement <ul><li>And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes . And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material. </li></ul>June 28, 2006 Video by Y490 class members in Spring 2010
  25. 25. People React to Stevens’ Explanation
  26. 26. Telecom Lobbying Money Spent in the First Half of 2006 Category Specific Firms and Organization Amount in $ millions Telephone Interests AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth, and USTA 30.3 Cable Interests Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and NCTA 12.2 Internet Interests Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Microsoft, Amazon.com 8.8 Total 51.3
  27. 27. Wyden Saves the Day <ul><li>Ron Wyden used his Senatorial privilege to place a hold on the Video Franchise bill because of the lack of net neutrality guarantees. Since Ted Stevens did not have the 60 votes needed to override Wyden’s hold, the bill was not put up for a vote on the Senate floor. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Barack Obama Supports Net Neutrality <ul><li>Speech on net neutrality at Google in 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Net neutrality becomes part of the official Democratic party platform in 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Obama appoints Julius Genachowski as head of the FCC in 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 provides $7.2 billion for broadband infrastructure and mandates that the FCC prepare a National Broadband Plan </li></ul>
  29. 29. Genachowski Adds Two Items to FCC Policy Statement of 2005 <ul><li>“ broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications” </li></ul><ul><li>• “ providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management processes.” </li></ul>Video of Genachowski
  30. 30. Comcast Throttling of Bit-Torrent Traffic in 2007 <ul><li>Robb Topolski discovers delays in delivery of Bit-Torrent files for his barber shop quartet </li></ul><ul><li>Topolski publishes this on TorrentFreak blog </li></ul><ul><li>EFF and AP verify independently </li></ul><ul><li>Comcast eventually admits that it was “traffic shaping” using an application called Sandvine that prevents “seeding” </li></ul><ul><li>The FCC told Comcast to stop doing this </li></ul><ul><li>Comcast complied but appealed to courts </li></ul>
  31. 31. The Comcast Ruling <ul><li>US Circuit Court of Appeals of DC ruled on April 6, 2010, that the FCC did not have the authority to regulate ISPs under the Telecom Act of 1996 (therefore Comcast was not bound to obey FCC rules regarding traffic management) </li></ul><ul><li>Ruling was based on FCC decision to reclassify cable modems and DSL as information services </li></ul>
  32. 32. The National Broadband Plan <ul><li>FCC announced intention to guarantee net neutrality in spite of Comcast ruling </li></ul><ul><li>Genachowski spoke of a “ third way ” between “heavy-handed prescriptive regulation” and the “light-touch approach” of the past </li></ul><ul><li>FCC would attempt to reclassify transmission component of broadband as a “telecommunication service” </li></ul>
  33. 33. Conclusions <ul><li>Net neutrality was framed by Republicans as a regulatory issue. </li></ul><ul><li>Republicans and their supporters carried the day until June 2006 when the political tide began turn against them. </li></ul><ul><li>The 2006 and 2008 election results meant that Democrats and their allies would attempt to pass legislation guaranteeing net neutrality. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the Comcast ruling and strong Republican opposition to net neutrality made legislative action very unlikely. It was not clear whether the FCC strategy to reclassify broadband transmission would work. </li></ul>