On January 14, as Brad Chacos so perfectly put it for PC World, “a Washington appeals court ruled that the FCC’s net neutrality rules are invalid in an 81-page document that included talk about cat videos on YouTube.” Reactions have been varied. Joe Carter recently surveyed various arguments in his latest explainer. For my part, I recommend the German, ordoliberal economist Walter Eucken as a guide for evaluating net neutrality, which as Joe Carter put it, “[a]t its simplest … is the idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally and that every website … should all be treated the same when it comes to giving users the bandwidth to reach the internet-connected services they prefer.” (more…)
Last week, Verizon Communications Inc. shareholders rejected a wireless network neutrality proxy resolution from two prominent Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility members, Nathan Cummings Foundation and Trillium Asset Management Corporation.
As this writer noted in a March 28, 2013, blog post concerning a similar proxy resolution submitted to AT&T Inc., advocacy of network neutrality is far removed from the ICCR’s goals of furthering social justice because it kills jobs, deters technical innovations and drives up consumer bills. The NCF and TAMC resolutions singling out Verizon, however, are even more ludicrous as the company still awaits its day in court to appeal net neutrality rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.
Got that? The shareholders wanted Verizon to adopt the very same rules for its wireless service that it’s battling against for its wired networks in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
The NCF/TAMC resolution reads, in part:
Verizon’s stated policies for customers who access the Internet via wireless devices are markedly different from those for customers who access the Internet via wired networks.
For example, on its web site the Company offers customers who gain Internet access via its wired network a “commitment” which includes: “We will not prevent you or other users of our service from sending and receiving the lawful content of your choice; running lawful applications and using lawful services of your choice…” and “We will disclose the types of practices that we use to manage our network…”
Wireless customers, however, are given no such assurances. The Company tells wireless customers: “We will continue to disclose accurate and relevant information in plain language about the characteristics and capabilities of our service offerings so you and other users of our service can make informed choices.”
As investors, we are deeply concerned about this disparity in principles, policies and practices. In light of potential reputational, regulatory, and legislative risk related to Verizon’s network management practices and the issue of network neutrality, this disparity is troubling.
There may also be reputational and commercial risk in not providing customers with evidence of open Internet policies. On its public policy blog, a Verizon executive describes a high level of competition in the wireless market and says consumers “can vote with their feet if they want to” by choosing another wireless provider. (more…)
Blurring the distinction between religious faith and totally unrelated political activism has attained new levels of absurdity during the 2013 proxy resolution voting season.
One needs look no further than the network neutrality proxy resolutions submitted to AT&T Inc. by a host of clergy and religious organizations for evidence. These groups assert that net neutrality – described in their resolution as “open Internet policies” – “help drive the economy, encourage innovation and reward investors” when nothing could be further from the truth on all three counts.
Instead, the only groups advocating for net neutrality are left-of-center organizations who wish to shackle the profitability of Internet providers and stifle the growth of what has become one-sixth of the nation’s economy over the past 20 years. Joining these organizations with the AT&T proxy resolutions are the following Interfaith Council of Corporate Responsibility members:
- Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, Rose Marie Stallbaumer, OSB;
- Trillium Asset Management Corporation, Jonas Kron;
- Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, Sr. Henry Marie Zimmermann, OSB;
- Christus Health, Delia Foster;
- Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Carolyn Psencik;
- Nathan Cummings Foundation, Laura Shaffer Campos;
- Congregation of Benedictine Sisters, Boerne TX, Sr. Susan Mika, OSB.
The resolution filed by these groups reads: “AT&T expects mobile data traffic to grow more than eight times from 2011 levels.
“A critical factor in this growth is the open (non-discriminatory) architecture of the Internet. Non-discrimination principles are commonly referred to as ‘network neutrality’ and seek to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment for all content.”
Keep in mind that Comcast sued the Federal Communications Commission over net neutrality regulations in 2010 – and won in a unanimous decision by the three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. (more…)