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US Internet backbone, net neutrality participants.

Net Neutrality: Who Controls the Communications of the Communications Controllers?



By Duane Thresher, Ph.D.          August 10, 2019

Answer: Proofpoint Inc. of Sunnyvale California, just minutes down the road from Google, Facebook, and Twitter. The question more specifically: Who controls the email of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)? Your question: What does this have to do with net neutrality? My answer: Read on.

The Internet in the United States has a backbone. It's fiber optic cables able to carry massive amounts of data, starting with voice, across the country (note: I'm a certified fiber optic technician). These fiber optic cables, or at least their copper predecessors, were laid by AT&T back when it was a government-authorized monopoly -- so could more easily get rights-of-way, the most valuable asset -- long before the Internet started in the early 1990s.

In the early 1980s AT&T, a.k.a. Ma Bell, was broken up into Baby Bells, due to an early 1970s Department of Justice anti-trust lawsuit. The trust busting led to many new telecommunications companies, many tracing their origins to the Baby Bells, including the current AT&T. These companies ended up with the cross-country fiber optic cables and became (and/or sell use of the cables to) Internet Service Providers (ISPs), like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. I've had all three of these as ISPs so I know, from painful experience, quite a bit about them (Comcast was so notoriously bad they had to rename it Xfinity).

Being an ISP is an expensive investment, and these days far more hindered by the government than helped. Like it or not -- and I don't either -- ISPs thus have both the need, having invested so much, and the right, as non-government businesses, to charge as much as they can, however they can.

Enter "net neutrality", which you've probably heard bandied about but have no idea what it is. Sure sounds good though, doesn't it? You impulsively support it. (Should we ban the deadly chemical dihydrogen monoxide? If you said, "yes, of course", look up dihydrogen monoxide.)

Companies that provide content over the Internet, like Google, Facebook, and Twitter coined the self-serving term "net neutrality" to prevent ISPs from charging them higher prices for higher Internet speeds when their customers access their server computers.

This standard-everywhere-else pricing structure would hurt the content providers' profits since they can't have slower Internet speeds because it means fewer customers. This has been proven and we all know it from our own experience: if a webpage takes too long to load we simply skip it.

What we also know from our own experience is that we have to pay higher prices to our ISP for higher Internet speeds (I can give you quotes for AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon). But these ridiculously-rich frighteningly-powerful content providers think they shouldn't be subject to such realities that we mere mortals are.

These content providers try to scare their customers by saying that without net neutrality their websites would be unusably slow. But this is utter nonsense. They would never allow their websites to be so slow, since they would lose too many customers, they would just have to pay more to the ISPs to keep them fast.

And who can more easily afford to pay more to the ISPs, us or the massively-wealthy content providers, like Google, Facebook, and Twitter? If the ISPs got more money from the content providers, we would have to pay less.

The content providers pretend "net neutrality" means that all content providers get treated the same on the Internet in order to ensure the freedom of speech, against abridgment by the U.S. Government, guaranteed to U.S. citizens in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

However, the First Amendment only applies to the U.S. Government, not companies like ISPs. And who's more interested in the content of speech: content providers or ISPs, who don't see speech, only bits?

These frighteningly-powerful content providers are far more likely to abridge others' freedom of speech than they are to have their own abridged. In fact, this is exactly how they make their money. For example, only those who can afford to pay Google will have their message seen in a Google search. And Google, Facebook, and Twitter have shown that they want to abridge others' freedom of speech not just for money but for political purposes.

You are forgiven if you don't care which side wins. You're going to get screwed no matter what. Choosing between Google and Comcast is like choosing between Stalin and Hitler, who both killed millions of innocents (excuse the hyberbole, but it makes the point well).

But who does get to decide the case, Content Providers v. ISPs, a.k.a. Google, Facebook, Twitter v. Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However, they are not a court who can decide once and for all. Their decisions change with the political winds, since presidential administrations pick the FCC leadership. Under Obama, the FCC was on the content providers' side, which makes sense because the content providers essentially created Obama. Under Trump, who the content providers hate, the FCC is on the ISPs' side, which makes sense because Trump is a businessman.

However, the content providers have a secret weapon that I'll bet the FCC does not even realize: Proofpoint Inc. of Sunnyvale California, just minutes down the road from Google, Facebook, and Twitter, provides supposedly-secure email service to the FCC.

You say, "Oh no, no email service provider would ever read the email of its customers, not for profit or political reasons". You're a fool if you believe that. Google is the biggest email service provider and reading your email is standard practice. It claims it only does this by computer to target ads at you but Google humans program these computers. And Edward Snowden proved Google provides emails to the National Security Agency (NSA). It really is the fox guarding the henhouse.

You say, "Well maybe Proofpoint has no profit or political reasons to read the FCC's email". Don't be silly. For profit, at the very least Proofpoint could sell the information to the content providers like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

As for political reasons, Proofpoint is in the most solidly leftist liberal area in the United States: Silicon Valley, home of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Conservatives have been violently driven out. No, Proofpoint is not the exception. To see this, let's look at who leads Proofpoint.

Lyn Campbell is Proofpoint's Senior Vice President for Global Operations and Information Technology. She is IT incompetent in the extreme. She only has a BA in English. Before fleeing to Proofpoint in May 2014 she worked in engineering at Yahoo! for 7 years. She was one of the IT incompetent clowns who let hackers destroy Yahoo! in a series of massive data breaches starting in 2013 -- the bad IT was in place long before that -- and she was one of the rats who then swam away as Yahoo! sank.

Lyn Campbell was obviously not hired for her IT expertise. She clearly has neither the expertise nor the desire -- they usually go together -- to provide secure email. It must be something else; see Principles of IT Incompetence (IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Political Correctness). Being an English major her desire is to get what she wants to say, however stupid, to a wider audience. And given that her BA in English is from the University of California Berkeley, home of violent anti free speech protests (only leftist liberals can speak), what she wants to say is very leftist liberal. Campbell would certainly read the FCC's email to help out Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the leftist liberal cause.

Ryan Kalember is Proofpoint's Executive Vice President of Cybersecurity Strategy (e.g. deciding how to secure email). He seems to have a fake IT education, from Stanford University, making him both IT incompetent and a liar. Given that, he may have other motivations; see Principles of IT Incompetence (IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Political Correctness). In fact, according to the Federal Election Commission, in July 2016 Kalember donated $2,700 (the max) to Hillary Clinton's presidential election campaign. And Stanford is a well-known leftist liberal university, Silicon Valley's university. Kalember would certainly read the FCC's email to help out Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the leftist liberal cause.

And yes, emails to and from the FCC would be extremely valuable to content providers in undermining the FCC. Remember, the FCC is not a court who can decide once and for all. And many battles have been decided by intercepting enemy communications.

Thus it looks like the content providers -- Google, Facebook, Twitter -- are going to win, again, which is usually what happens to the side that cheats.