Tag Archives: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Congress, the Courts and Net Neutrality

The war for net neutrality has moved to the halls of Congress and the courtroom. Attorneys generals from 21 states and the District of Columbia have filed suit to overturn the FCC‘s new rules on net neutrality. But the battle is not just the states against the FCC. Technology companies and public interest groups have also filed law suits. Firefox browser maker Mozilla, the public-interest group Free Press and New America’s Open Technology Institute have all taken up the battle for net neutrality. Other major tech-industry companies including Facebook, Google and Netflix are getting in the fight along with other lobbying groups. 

The lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was kicked off in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The petition asks the court to overturn the the FCC’s decision claiming the rule is “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion” under the law. The suit also argues that the the FCC improperly reclassified broadband as a Title I information service, rather than a Title II service, because of  “an erroneous and unreasonable interpretation” of communications law. Title II services, also known as common carriers, are subject to greater regulation.

An example of a Title II service would be the U.S. Postal Service. The post office can’t deny service to people sending letters it disagrees with. Another example is the phone company. The phone company can’t refuse service to people based on their religious views. Everyone has the same right to pay to use the service. Until now ISPs were considered common carriers.

The lawsuits are a multi-faceted battle to preserve net-neutrality. In congress Democrats are working to undo the new rule. Democrats in the Senate announced that they were just one vote shy of winning a vote to restore Obama era net neutrality rules. All 49 Democrats have agreed to vote for the repeal of the new Internet regulations. On the Republican side Senator Susan Collins of Maine supports the action.  That leaves Democrats searching for the final Republican to cross the party line and join them. The idea is not so far fetched since the net neutrality issue is a hot button issue for young people and the mid-term elections are approaching.

“Given how quickly we have gotten 50, we have a real chance of succeeding,” said Senator minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York in a statement.

Even if the Democrats succeed in getting the votes the rules does not automatically change. The same bill would have to be introduced and passed in the House of Representatives. That body is controlled by the Republicans and House Speaker Paul Ryan could simply refuse to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Finally, there is Donald Trump. He has to sign the bill to reverse the FCC action. Although the White House has publicly said it supports the the FCC move Trump has never been sure what he wants to do about net neutrality.

According to his own tweets Trump was all in for net neutrality in 2014. Trump criticized Obama for attacking the Internet, and defended net neutrality as “the Fairness Doctrine.” Now that has changed and he is all for the new rules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress Bans Ticket Bots

Courtesy Stuart Miles

Courtesy Stuart Miles

You have asked this question more than once; “How the hell did the concert sell out in five minutes?! Let me answer that question for you, Bots!

Bots are computer programs operated by ‘cyber-scalpers ‘ that buy thousands of tickets in a split second to re-sell them at astronomical mark ups. That is how bots cheat ordinary fans like yourself out of a fair chance to buy tickets.

Ticket bots work by using multiple IP addresses.  Such software, which is illegal in New York state, can bypass a ticket-selling websites’s security measures, such as CAPTCHA. According to the New York Times the secondary ticket market is an $8 billion a year industry.

The House of Representatives and the Senate have  passed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, or BOTS Act, with rare bipartisan support. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a state from his government website  saying, “These bots have gotten completely out of control and their dominance in the market is denying countless fans access to shows, concerts, and sporting events and driving prices through the roof. With this soon to be new law that will eliminate ‘bots’ and slap hackers with a hefty fine, we can now ensure those who want to attend shows in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices.”

The BOTS Act makes it illegal to circumvent a ticket sales website’s  security measures. The Federal Trade Commission will be charged with enforcing the law. Critics say bots feed a high-priced resale market that pushes ticket prices out of reach of ordinary consumers, particularly for hot events like the play “Hamilton” or a Beyonce concert. I mean, c’mon! How do you think the play “Hamilton” sold out for the next year? And the price for some a tickets have reached $10,000!  Really?

Here is the catch to a great move by congress. Many ticket bots operate with software and computers located outside the U.S. Because of this enforcement can be difficult. The New York Times reports that European governments are considering governments similar legislation.

Ticket scalping is legal. Companies like StubHub and Ticketmaster are well known ticket re-sellers. And yes, their ticket mark up can reach as high as 50 percent. So the law does not outlaw scalping it outlaws bypassing a website’s security measures. 

Passage of the BOTS Act is the culmination of years of frustration among the public, artists and producers infuriated by ticket hoarding bots that profit from their work while gouging the public. Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer of  the Broadway play “Hamilton,”called scalping “a usurious, parasitic business that only serves to create a new profit center between the artist and the consumer.”

Consider the recent visit by the Pope  to United States. Tickets to the parade were issued for free. But bots managed to gobble up thousands of them and they suddenly appeared on sites like eBay and Craigslist for hundreds of dollars.

Now you know.