Statement on PSA Criticisms

Response to criticism from YouTuber PSA.

It’s worth noting for your audience — that while you claim the second half of the video would cause you to “retread all the same ground and same concepts that are covered in this video,” that’s simply a lie. The economic considerations, which the second half revolves around are important and it brings into question whether you even take objection to those considerations.

There are a few other things to mention that might clear up your confusion. The intention of the video was to highlight the lack of expert uniformity on the issue, which is never taken into account by Net Neutrality campaigns. As I fully acknowledge in the video, there should be a debate among experts on the issue, but it’s not useful for those who necessarily lack critical information. My secondary intention of citing these experts was not to appeal to authority, but to emphasize the delicate nature of the discussion.  (This is a concern I addressed preemptively, but that you conveniently left out). It’s yet to be revealed why it’s “damning” that I’m not establishing an uncorroborated opinion on a field that is foreign to the vast majority of the population. I find it much more troubling that someone would comment on highly specific fields like this without the majority of their piece relying on those who are most familiar.

This leads us into the primary purpose of the video, which is to rectify the most often made and misunderstood arguments in favor of the idea. You claim that I’m trying to make Net Neutrality activists seem “uninformed,” while disregarding they do that themselves by parroting this anti-blocking nonsense - which you, I, & Wu all understand is wrong. (This is also why I cited college network management practices). As Rayburn pointed out and Farber pointed out, there are “high level” arguments that can be had by experts on the issue. Neither you nor I are equipped to have that discussion, but what we can do is address the misframing of the debate at the hands of the general population. Much of of your video dwells on the supposed set up of strawmen. I mean - I suppose they are strawmen—but they certainly weren’t set up by me, but by NN activists. As stated at the outset, this video focuses on “the public’s perception” of the issue, or more accurately, its misperception.

You go on to equate the FCC and the Supreme Court, which is wildly off base as they serve completely different roles - one is endowed with the constitutional role of interpreting the law, whereas the other is legislating by fiat. This oversimplification is troublesome for a few reasons: just because the president is elected doesn’t mean everyone he appoints has the authority to run roughshod over the people’s representatives in Congress. Our constitution wasn’t framed such that the legislature plays second potato to the executive on these matters, and for good reason. Then you claim that the executive isn’t overstepping its mandate because Congress isn’t doing anything about the matter.

Firstly, thinking a policy is necessary doesn’t free you to overstep the burden of proof that is placed on you arguing successfully in its favor by having the FCC institute regardless. Furthermore, Congress’s unwillingness to undo it could be to do with just how thorny an issue it is, so it’s easier for them to sit back and allow the executive to do as it pleases - understanding the risk it could pose to their political careers (See Ajit Pai). More concerningly, our system of government is arranged so that they are supposed to debate contentious matters such as these because it is a decentralized body that is forced to arrive at consensus through compromise, unlike the executive which largely carries out the will of the president (which, if you’re not a fan of Donald Trump, should encourage you to invest less authority in it--not more.) Troublingly, you argue that the executive should override the congress to institute policy - a disturbing proposition. In sum, these concerns aren’t reducible to a “bumper sticker”, and the concerns about unelected bureaucrats assigning themselves control over the entire internet isn’t as simplistic as you frame it.

You also puzzlingly equate the FCC with the FTC as if they’re even similar in their approach (ex ante vs ex post). They’re not remotely and the distinction should be obvious. Police officers, yes, are unelected, but we like when they enforce the law - just not preemptively and based on who the police officer is (the FCC takes that pre-emptive approach). Not all “unelected bureaucracies” are created equal.

I’m well aware of Farber’s letter, which addresses high-level arguments that most aren’t equipped to properly assess. However, again, the purpose of the video was to correct misconceptions about “Net Neutrality,” which Farber also has repeatedly attempted to do in The Atlantic and MIT Technology Review. I’m aware, also, that the FCC is given free reign to determine what’s a “reasonable” net mgmt practice - a parameter that is subject to change depending on who's heading the FCC.

The Vonage co-founder’s elaborated statements on the issue can be found by searching: TechFreedomTV#3: Jeff Pulver Says No to Title II, Yes to Innovation.

In regards to Dan Rayburn’s credibility, those labels I chose to use are accurate. He’s consistently consulted by mainstream publications (The Verge, Time, Mashable etc) for years on issues concerning video streaming and CDNs.  You think they’re mistaken to do so? He’s only commented on Net Neutrality a few times, which he’s not necessarily against. He cites his concerns about the perception of the issue in his article that I cited. If anyone’s credibility should be subject to scrutiny, it’s Cogent’s CEO, which you oddly cite. I similarly wouldn’t take Comcast’s FCC filings at face value and I’m sure you wouldn’t either. Also, I did cite Rayburn’s data - not sure how that was overlooked. It’s also further confirmed by CNET (that this Comcast - Netflix is superfluous to NN) which you irresponsibly neglect to mention in your video. Also, Frost & Sullivan is a legitimate technology consulting company. I’m not sure on what basis you’re casting that into doubt. You claim that it’s “his analyst page.” I guess it is “his” in the sense that it’s about him - provided by a legitimate consulting firm that you’ve yet to demonstrate as having some sort of lack of legitimacy. Is anything not massive in public scope disreputable?

Your standard for authority seems to rely on there being some sort of Wiki page on a given expert. There are countless numbers of experienced diplomats and military experts without public recognition, but that doesn’t negate their expertise. The demonstrated value of Rayburn who’s routinely ask to consult on these matters by both companies and media for years should speak for itself. It’s a delicious bit of irony that you levy the accusation of “appealing to authority” in the very title of your video, yet turn around and actually appeal to authority in regards to Rayburn’s credibility, instead refusing to addressing the arguments and data that were cited.

Comcast is unable to lie about throttling anymore due to the market’s introduction of tools that can easily track this. Consumers can still file complaints with the FTC. Also, your gross simplification of network admins just being “lazy” in addressing BitTorrent is ironic given how lazy of an argument that is

You take issue with me saying that Klinker’s statement is contrary to the Net Neutrality narrative. It does run contrary. You frame this as me attempting to be misleading. The full quote is included on the screen, but I introduced it by embedding.

In regards to The Micro Transport Protocol, I’m glad they had no “government affairs office, no avenue for lobbying legislation,” which is why I included it on the screen for everyone to read. As I’m sure you’re aware, I support the subordination of the centralization of power (like FCC) for free market innovation - of which the BitTorrent case is an example. Klinker’s congressional testimony doesn’t contradict his statements in Fast Company nor his originally released statement. I wholeheartedly agree with Klinker’s 2016 summation of the issue  where he explains the best way to achieve the Internet “Neutrality” principle is very much an open debate. (See Eric Klinker: The future of the internet is open, permission-less innovation)

I fully reject the argument that because AT&T announced it would introduce a novel two way video app after a two month waiting period, it’s time to cede authority over the internet to the FCC. Also, it seems you’re unsure of the difference between WiFi apps and cellular apps, as you cite the existence of the WiFi version of FaceTime as evidence.

The most curious part of your video, though, is after I explain: “Though NN advocates hope to lump in myriad cases to bolster their point, each of its details and circumstances are important and should be examined & assessed on an individual basis.” You go on to lump in myriad cases to bolster your argument. This was already pointed out under your original tweet of the list long before you uploaded this.

Although a novel attempt, your gish galloping video confounds more than it rebuts, outright ignores economic problems, and only highlights my argument that this issue ought not to be reduced to the low-resolution you and others would like it to be. Ajit Pai’s decision is based on statutorial process - not necessarily on the merits or demerits of NN. His personal feelings on it are irrelevant, which he readily acknowledges. Because my  intention was to settle a few of the most commonplace misconceptions on the issue (which I succeeded at) and given that a network manager or internetworking expert would be best equipped to explore the technical arguments, it would be irresponsibility driven by arrogance to extend my commentary into that realm, which it appears you've done.