What is my Senator saying about Net Neutrality?
May 28, 2006 9:50 PM   Subscribe

Net Neutrality Issue: Please help me interpret this email from my Senator.

I used some organization's web site to send an email to Diane Feinstein (California)about net neutrality, and how important I think it is. This is what she wrote back (or what her staff wrote back)

"It is vital to Americans and to our economy that we provide
access to an open Internet with a balanced playing field for
network, service and information providers. Giving consumers
more access to and choices over information and services available
over the Internet should not compromise other providers. Should
legislation regarding network neutrality come before the Senate I
will be sure to keep your views in mind."

I am confounded by this. It seems that her position favors the corporations and their nefarious plans, but to be honest, I can't tell from the language she uses. It sounds like DoubleSpeak. What do you think?

How should I respond? I would like to send her a hand-written letter this time.
posted by shifafa to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Translation into English: "Shut up and leave me alone. I'm not going to tell you my position on this."
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:57 PM on May 28, 2006

You are correct that your Senator just used a lot of words to say precisely nothing.... the idea being that you will read whatever you want to hear into her words.

She has taken no position here at all, which means she probably supports corporate interests. If she was on your side, she'd tell you in plain and simple language.
posted by Malor at 9:58 PM on May 28, 2006

Feinstein is notorious for double-speak. She is a "Democrat" in name only. Beware. (She just ripped out a revered public park by her new mansion for her own purposes... oops!
posted by trip and a half at 10:02 PM on May 28, 2006

posted by trip and a half at 10:04 PM on May 28, 2006


and that's bad.
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 10:09 PM on May 28, 2006

Well, it's gobeldygook, but in reading it, I can't really find anything to suggest that she supports a tiered internet, and this line...
Giving consumers
more access to and choices over information and services available
over the Internet should not compromise other providers.
...seems to address one of the arguments communications companies are trying to use in the battle, which is that if they don't get to shake-down whatever content/services provider they think is profitable, then they won't have the money to extend access to underserved populations.
posted by Good Brain at 10:58 PM on May 28, 2006

Dear Senator ...

A local reporter tells me that an earlier letter you me was probably staff-written and encouraged me to try again.

In a statement you wrote (included below) you took a great many words to say absolutely nothing about an issue very important to many people.

For the moment, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your evasive words were merely a failed attempt at diplomacy, rather than condescending double-talk.

Please rectify this by providing me with direct and an "honest" answer instead of wording it like a Gypsy Fortune Teller -- so vague and general that anyone can read whatever they like into it.


* stolen freely from Malor's post.
posted by RavinDave at 11:49 PM on May 28, 2006

Malor writes "She has taken no position here at all, which means she probably supports corporate interests."

But the question remains: which corporate interests? Remember, there are big companies with deep pockets on both sides of this issue. I think she hasn't decided yet. Did you write to Boxer and get a response? How about your House Representative? The issue is in the house right now...
posted by mr_roboto at 12:18 AM on May 29, 2006

If she was on your side, she'd tell you in plain and simple language.

No, she'd still send a letter calculated to give the least possible offense across all people who could conceivably read it. This same letter almost certainly goes to you and to people who send letters to her reading "OMG FOX NEWS SAID YOU WERE DOGIN BAD THINGS TO THE PHONE COMPANY! STOP IT CUZ MY PAPA WORKS FOR THEM!"

I am confounded by this.

You should read it as: Mercy me, this stuff is all so complicated. Thank you for whatever the hell it was you said; it seemed just ever so smart. I'll be sure to do think real hard now about whatever it was.

How should I respond?

Take your satisfaction or lack thereof with that reply into account the next time you vote in a primary or general election.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:23 AM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Those letters are crafted simply to placate correspondents; they do not indicate that your letter was even read, and it probably wasn't; nor would most of the serving politicians in the U.S. want to publicly take a position on anything except punishment for child molestors (more) or taxes (less). If the letter said anything, someone might hold them to it, you understand.
posted by jellicle at 3:42 AM on May 29, 2006

It means this:


Until now, a basic principle of the Internet has been that the pipe companies can't discriminate among content providers. Everyone who puts stuff up on the Internet is treated exactly the same. The net is neutral.

But now the pipe companies want to charge the content providers, depending on how fast and reliably the pipes deliver the content. Presumably, the biggest content providers would pay the most money, leaving the little content people in the slowest and least-reliable parts of the pipe. (It will take you five minutes to download my blog.) The pipe companies claim unless they start charge for speed and reliability, they won't have enough money to invest in the next generation of networks. This is an absurd argument. The pipes are already making lots of money off consumers who pay them for being connected to the Internet.

posted by Budge at 4:51 AM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

She has people on staff who can write clear paragraphs if they want to. You can't understand her position because she doesn't want you to. The reason you can't tell what she said is because she didn't quite say anything. This is the same thing politicians do on TV. When you get a question you just talk for a while, you say things that sound nice or sound strong, and you shape your statement as if you were answering a question. I have no idea why the people who make decisions in our name are allowed to get away with refusing to tell us what they are doing, but they do.
posted by Ken McE at 10:35 AM on May 29, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for chiming in, everyone. My original mass email to Senator Feinstein was, I believe, through EFF, so [b1tr0t] I believe I'm hangin' with the right Sparticus. But point taken.

FWIW, my local representative Sam Farr is already on top of this issue, and, as always, is on the side of Good.

I did write Boxer, who didn't respond.

Feinstein always seems to inspire me to tear my hair out. Can't believe she ripped out that garden. I used to live in SF, and walked through that area a time or two.

RavinDave, I like your "letter" so much, I may actually use it. :)
posted by shifafa at 10:43 AM on May 29, 2006

If you want a real answer, try a hand written letter sent through the mail. Those are taken much more seriously. Washington state legislators often get over 1,000 e-mails per day. I'm sure federal legistlators get many times that number. Drafting a genuine letter is much more likely to get a response and be seriously considered. Be sure to include your return address on the sheet where you write your letter, as the envelope may get lost through the anthrax screening process.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:57 AM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Fire the bitch. She'll vote on the side that pleases the people the give her the most money. She's proved her true colors (green). Surely someone is in the primary against her.
posted by Goofyy at 2:37 AM on May 30, 2006

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