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[Internet Policy] - Restricting the series of tubes

LanzLanz Registered User regular
edited February 18 in Debate and/or Discourse
http://gizmodo.com/federal-court-invalidates-net-neutrality-rules-sides-w-1501028467

So a Federal Appeals Court just struck down the FCC's Open Internet Order on the basis that they didn't have the grounds to regulate the ISPs as they were considered an information service, not Common Carrier Services like telecoms, according to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.

So what does this mean? Well, the basic purpose of the Open Internet Order was, in the FCC's view, meant to provide for transparency in the process of how ISPs operated their networks and prevent discriminatory access too and outright blocking of legal content on the Internet:
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-201A1.pdf

What the Court has just done is say that the FCC, due to the classification of ISPs as Information Services instead of Common Carriers, did not have the authority to do so. Which means that said regulations against them to prevent discrimination and blocking are not enforceable.

This is a rather bad thing, coupled with a market that is heavily monopolized and sees ISPs competing with other services on the web, particularly when it comes to online video: Many providers offer video on demand services, if not being Cable Television providers already; thus, having to allow access to services such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. tend to be a bit of a blow to the ISPs own offerings.

This is not so much of a problem when you can either charge your competition to be allowed decent access speeds if not any access period on your network. Which, without these regulations would be perfectly legal for ISPs to do. In other words, we've allowed service providers to be the gatekeepers for their own competition.

Chairman Tom Wheeler has made comments recently towards further promoting an open Internet, though I remain cynical as to whether or not we'll see much push for it given his background as an industry lobbyist.

You can read the full ruling here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/199616222/DC-Net-Neutrality-ruling

With that in mind, the question that comes to mind is: What can the FCC do to prevent an already monopolistic industry from further exercising anti-competitive power against both services and users? Congress is already mired in deadlock, with the House majority held by a party whose belief on regulations is that less is better and any problems will be solved by letting the market handle itself, an ideology seemingly refuted by looking at the workings of the already ISP-favorable regulatory environment that exists regarding the Internet and where many communities have at best two providers to choose from, where infrastructure improvements are shelved before communities even have a chance at them.

What can we do to promote working policy for an open Internet and improve Internet infrastructure and access in the country?

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So It Goes on
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Posts

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Actually, I'd say that it's a good ruling from the standpoint of consistency. Either we treat ISPs as common carriers or service providers - none of this "split the difference" gooseshit.

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  • MadicanMadican No face Registered User regular
    Consistency maybe, but I keep remembering how Viacom has been getting into spats with DirecTV and Time Warner over the past few years, and how every time it results in a huge block of channels going dark until a deal is hashed out.

    And then I realize that could very well become the Internet very soon. Don't want to pay the ISP? Your website may not even be accessible for anyone using that ISP.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Madican wrote: »
    Consistency maybe, but I keep remembering how Viacom has been getting into spats with DirecTV and Time Warner over the past few years, and how every time it results in a huge block of channels going dark until a deal is hashed out.

    And then I realize that could very well become the Internet very soon. Don't want to pay the ISP? Your website may not even be accessible for anyone using that ISP.

    Then the government should be regulating ISPs as common carriers.

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  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    Madican wrote: »
    Consistency maybe, but I keep remembering how Viacom has been getting into spats with DirecTV and Time Warner over the past few years, and how every time it results in a huge block of channels going dark until a deal is hashed out.

    And then I realize that could very well become the Internet very soon. Don't want to pay the ISP? Your website may not even be accessible for anyone using that ISP.

    Then the government should be regulating ISPs as common carriers.

    Yeah, that's the obvious end-game to keep the internet like it is now.

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  • MadicanMadican No face Registered User regular
    Madican wrote: »
    Consistency maybe, but I keep remembering how Viacom has been getting into spats with DirecTV and Time Warner over the past few years, and how every time it results in a huge block of channels going dark until a deal is hashed out.

    And then I realize that could very well become the Internet very soon. Don't want to pay the ISP? Your website may not even be accessible for anyone using that ISP.

    Then the government should be regulating ISPs as common carriers.

    This relies on the government understanding what the Internet even is in the first place. I remind you that historically the government has been receptive to measures that would restrict and lock down the Internet and everything on it. They only back down after their constituents out them, which results in a flood of angry letters/phone calls.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Madican wrote: »
    Madican wrote: »
    Consistency maybe, but I keep remembering how Viacom has been getting into spats with DirecTV and Time Warner over the past few years, and how every time it results in a huge block of channels going dark until a deal is hashed out.

    And then I realize that could very well become the Internet very soon. Don't want to pay the ISP? Your website may not even be accessible for anyone using that ISP.

    Then the government should be regulating ISPs as common carriers.

    This relies on the government understanding what the Internet even is in the first place. I remind you that historically the government has been receptive to measures that would restrict and lock down the Internet and everything on it. They only back down after their constituents out them, which results in a flood of angry letters/phone calls.

    So, what is "the Internet"? This is an argument that I hate with a passion - the idea that the Internet is somehow a separate realm divorced from the physical world.

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  • MadicanMadican No face Registered User regular
    Less that and more the fact that it is supposed to be a neutral zone when it comes to control. No one should ever be able to control it, least of all the ISP's. Net neutrality is what gives small sites the chance to be present on the Internet, because ISP's were not allowed to restrict who was allowed to access what. Every blog or personal site is a testament to this freedom.

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    Madican wrote: »
    Madican wrote: »
    Consistency maybe, but I keep remembering how Viacom has been getting into spats with DirecTV and Time Warner over the past few years, and how every time it results in a huge block of channels going dark until a deal is hashed out.

    And then I realize that could very well become the Internet very soon. Don't want to pay the ISP? Your website may not even be accessible for anyone using that ISP.

    Then the government should be regulating ISPs as common carriers.

    This relies on the government understanding what the Internet even is in the first place. I remind you that historically the government has been receptive to measures that would restrict and lock down the Internet and everything on it. They only back down after their constituents out them, which results in a flood of angry letters/phone calls.

    So, what is "the Internet"? This is an argument that I hate with a passion - the idea that the Internet is somehow a separate realm divorced from the physical world.

    I'm not sure how Madican is making that argument?

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  • centraldogmacentraldogma Registered User regular
    If I'm reading the FCC website correctly, wireless internet (via cell towers) are already classified as common carriers. Why were they classified differently than landline broadband?

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    If I'm reading the FCC website correctly, wireless internet (via cell towers) are already classified as common carriers. Why were they classified differently than landline broadband?

    Probably because it was treated as an extension of cell phone service, which is an extension of phone service, which has always been a common carrier scenario since the Bell breakup.

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  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    Basically the government just legalized digital mafia tactics.

    "Hey, this is some nice traffic youze got here. It'd be a shame if something were to happen to it."

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    http://bgr.com/2014/01/14/net-neutrality-court-ruling/
    In its ruling against the FCC’s rules, the court said that such restrictions are not needed in part because consumers have a choice in which ISP they use.

    “Without broadband provider market power, consumers, of course, have options,” the court writes. “They can go to another broadband provider if they want to reach particular edge providers or if their connections to particular edge providers have been degraded.”

    What

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  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
    You guys are missing/ignoring a big fact of this. It was struck down because of previous wording, it wasn't applicable how it was defended in court. However, the FCC does have a right to prevent it, they just have to rework it. It was done under old cable of phone laws which doesn't apply to the Internet due to how we classified it.

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  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    Tommatt wrote: »
    You guys are missing/ignoring a big fact of this. It was struck down because of previous wording, it wasn't applicable how it was defended in court. However, the FCC does have a right to prevent it, they just have to rework it. It was done under old cable of phone laws which doesn't apply to the Internet due to how we classified it.
    They tried to reword it previously and Verizon threw money at it until it died.

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  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
    When it comes to big cases like this that are going to set precedents wording of the law is very important.

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  • galdongaldon Registered User regular
    Lanz wrote: »
    http://bgr.com/2014/01/14/net-neutrality-court-ruling/
    In its ruling against the FCC’s rules, the court said that such restrictions are not needed in part because consumers have a choice in which ISP they use.

    “Without broadband provider market power, consumers, of course, have options,” the court writes. “They can go to another broadband provider if they want to reach particular edge providers or if their connections to particular edge providers have been degraded.”

    What
    Yeah, the court's argument is BS. I am litterally forced to use a company operating under heughsnet because Time Warner, ATT and Verizon all decided they dont want to provide to my area. Snd months of searching only gave me a small list of satellite and wireless providers all owned by heughsnet.

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  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    The courts were never going to allow the FCC's asinine "neither fish nor fowl" regulations to stand. The ruling also states that the FCC does, in fact, have the statutory authority to regulate ISPs as Title II services, which is what they should have done in the first place.

    Now, there's an argument that if the FCC tries, Big Cable will push Congress to act, but I don't think that's as likely as people think. Big Tech isn't going to go down without a fight, and they have both the clout and war chest to fight successfully.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    Isn't Charter buying Time Warner soon?

    We'll just have one ISP in a few years and the argument of consumer choice will get even more laughable

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  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    They're trying to, but the TW board was like "lolnope" so they're trying to go straight to the shareholders. I find it pretty unlikely to complete, and the combined company would still be around half the size of Comcast.

  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    yeah and then comcast will buy aol time warner charter

  • RozRoz Boss of InternetRegistered User regular
    The courts were never going to allow the FCC's asinine "neither fish nor fowl" regulations to stand. The ruling also states that the FCC does, in fact, have the statutory authority to regulate ISPs as Title II services, which is what they should have done in the first place.

    Now, there's an argument that if the FCC tries, Big Cable will push Congress to act, but I don't think that's as likely as people think. Big Tech isn't going to go down without a fight, and they have both the clout and war chest to fight successfully.

    And the survival imperative to do so.

    All those cloud servers, streaming, and digital delivery plans are going to up in smoke once the ISPs pull the rug out from underneath them.

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  • DacDac Registered User regular
    And as bad as this is, this didn't even go as far as Verizon wanted it to. Verizon wanted to be able to cull or block traffic without having to even tell their subscribers.

    That should give you some indication of where their intentions lie vis a vis their consumers.

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  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    Tommatt wrote: »
    You guys are missing/ignoring a big fact of this. It was struck down because of previous wording, it wasn't applicable how it was defended in court. However, the FCC does have a right to prevent it, they just have to rework it. It was done under old cable of phone laws which doesn't apply to the Internet due to how we classified it.
    "These freedoms you have are poorly-worded. We'd better strip them all away from you until you word them properly."

    Seems legit.

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  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    Question, how does that affect other nations? Do US companies have the right to shape traffic that goes through US networks if the point of origin (and potentially of destination) is not in the USA?

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Richy wrote: »
    Tommatt wrote: »
    You guys are missing/ignoring a big fact of this. It was struck down because of previous wording, it wasn't applicable how it was defended in court. However, the FCC does have a right to prevent it, they just have to rework it. It was done under old cable of phone laws which doesn't apply to the Internet due to how we classified it.
    "These freedoms you have are poorly-worded. We'd better strip them all away from you until you word them properly."

    Seems legit.

    No, what the court said is "No shortcuts. You want to regulate ISPs as common carriers, do it properly."

    The only thing worse than bad law is inconsistent law.

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  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    edited January 2014
    Richy wrote: »
    Question, how does that affect other nations? Do US companies have the right to shape traffic that goes through US networks if the point of origin (and potentially of destination) is not in the USA?

    Best answer I can find is "probably not". This was asked in the AMA I posted above. If the internet is a sidewalk (the physical infrastructure) you walk down, ISPs only control the front steps of the stores (websites). The ISP can affect how you interact with a site while using their systems, but not someone else's.

    The "probably" comes in when you realize that many large ISPs also control large physical aspects of the internet. However limiting access to sites hosted through their infrastructure hurts them, so they're unlikely to do that.... maybe.

    Again, I'm wholly expecting mafia style tactics here, and sometimes that means they're going to put the squeeze on their own customers when they get more traffic.

    Dedwrekka on
  • XixXix Miami/LosAngeles/MoscowRegistered User regular
    So is this the beginning of the end of the internet?

    Are we going to have to buy tiered internet service subscriptions where we can access select websites like Facebook, Pinterest, Wikipedia, Disney, etc, and pay a huge premium to access a "firehose" tier that lets you access whatever you want?

  • DacDac Registered User regular
    edited January 2014
    That seems to be what telecom corporations would like to do, if they could. But I'm not entirely sure they would be able to get away with it.

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited January 2014
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/how-the-fcc-screwed-up-its-chance-to-make-isp-blocking-illegal/
    Public Knowledge Senior VP Harold Feld acknowledged to Ars that "such a reclassification would be subject to court challenge. But the Court here was pretty clear that it is up to the FCC to make a choice on classification."

    Would the FCC do that? Julius Genachowski, the FCC chairman at the time the Open Internet Order was enacted, didn't feel comfortable doing so, perhaps due to pressure from members of Congress. Newly sworn-in Chairman Tom Wheeler has already gone on record as saying ISPs should be able to charge edge providers, one of the very things the commission's Open Internet Order was seeking to prevent.

    "I am a firm believer in the market," Wheeler said, as we noted in coverage last month. “I think we’re also going to see a two-sided market where Netflix might say, ‘well, I’ll pay in order to make sure that you might receive, my subscriber receives, the best possible transmission of this movie.’ I think we want to let those kinds of things evolve. We want to observe what happens from that, and we want to make decisions accordingly, but I go back to the fact that the marketplace is where these decisions ought to be made, and the functionality of a competitive marketplace dictates the degree of regulation."
    Nothing in the court record "gives us any reason" to doubt that determination, judges wrote. "As the Commission noted, Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) services such as Vonage increasingly serve as substitutes for traditional telephone services, and broadband providers like AT&T and Time Warner have acknowledged that online video aggregators such as Netflix and Hulu compete directly with their own 'core video subscription service.' … Broadband providers also have powerful incentives to accept fees from edge providers, either in return for excluding their competitors or for granting them prioritized access to end users. Indeed, at oral argument Verizon’s counsel announced that 'but for [the Open Internet Order] rules we would be exploring those commercial arrangements.'"

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    I am still utterly baffled why in god's name a former telecom lobbyist is now heading up the government agency that is supposed to regulate said telecommunications companies.

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  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2014
    The previous Chairman took a job as a lobbyist immediately after leaving. It's just a temporary career state for them between lobbying jobs. They take a pay cut for a few years to fluff their resume and get a better job when they get out.

    This is basically true of all high-level regulation jobs, by the way. Wall Street people at the SEC, etc.

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  • DacDac Registered User regular
    Lanz wrote: »
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/how-the-fcc-screwed-up-its-chance-to-make-isp-blocking-illegal/
    Public Knowledge Senior VP Harold Feld acknowledged to Ars that "such a reclassification would be subject to court challenge. But the Court here was pretty clear that it is up to the FCC to make a choice on classification."

    Would the FCC do that? Julius Genachowski, the FCC chairman at the time the Open Internet Order was enacted, didn't feel comfortable doing so, perhaps due to pressure from members of Congress. Newly sworn-in Chairman Tom Wheeler has already gone on record as saying ISPs should be able to charge edge providers, one of the very things the commission's Open Internet Order was seeking to prevent.

    "I am a firm believer in the market," Wheeler said, as we noted in coverage last month. “I think we’re also going to see a two-sided market where Netflix might say, ‘well, I’ll pay in order to make sure that you might receive, my subscriber receives, the best possible transmission of this movie.’ I think we want to let those kinds of things evolve. We want to observe what happens from that, and we want to make decisions accordingly, but I go back to the fact that the marketplace is where these decisions ought to be made, and the functionality of a competitive marketplace dictates the degree of regulation."
    Nothing in the court record "gives us any reason" to doubt that determination, judges wrote. "As the Commission noted, Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) services such as Vonage increasingly serve as substitutes for traditional telephone services, and broadband providers like AT&T and Time Warner have acknowledged that online video aggregators such as Netflix and Hulu compete directly with their own 'core video subscription service.' … Broadband providers also have powerful incentives to accept fees from edge providers, either in return for excluding their competitors or for granting them prioritized access to end users. Indeed, at oral argument Verizon’s counsel announced that 'but for [the Open Internet Order] rules we would be exploring those commercial arrangements.'"

    Ew0OmWK.jpg

    ... Then again, I find it hard to maintain optimism when they openly declare things like this.

    It just opens up so many incredibly awful abilities for corporations. Consider how many start-ups these days live or die based on their ability to use the internet to get their ideas out. What happens if one happens to be competing with a pet-project of your ISP? I'm not convinced that we wouldn't see shakedowns, if not outright sabotage. And this is even worse when you remember that there's hardly universal choice of ISPs for many areas of the country.

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  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    Imagine, if you will, an alternate USA. The date is September 1, 1997 and Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been denied the grant and are otherwise unable to raise enough money to pay the ISPs to allow their users to access this strange new website called Google.

    I... I think I need to sit in the corner and rock back and forth a little bit

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  • silence1186silence1186 Character shields down! As a wingmanRegistered User regular
    This is one of those things that infuriates me. It would seem to me that most people would want a free and open internet, but they can't seem to elect anyone who will fight for that. They don't even seem to realize they're sending people to Washington who are paid by Verizon et al. to kill the internet (as we know it).

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  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    This is one of those things that infuriates me. It would seem to me that most people would want a free and open internet, but they can't seem to elect anyone who will fight for that. They don't even seem to realize they're sending people to Washington who are paid by Verizon et al. to kill the internet (as we know it).
    We don't elect FCC chairman. Even though we elect the people who appoint them, they're several degrees removed from any election process by then.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Dedwrekka wrote: »
    This is one of those things that infuriates me. It would seem to me that most people would want a free and open internet, but they can't seem to elect anyone who will fight for that. They don't even seem to realize they're sending people to Washington who are paid by Verizon et al. to kill the internet (as we know it).
    We don't elect FCC chairman. Even though we elect the people who appoint them, they're several degrees removed from any election process by then.

    Actually, the bigger issue is that while people want a "free and open internet", they seem to not want to do it the proper way, which would build that free and open system on centuries of established case law. While people rightfully point out that major ISPs were opposed to Title II classification for obvious reasons, what gets ignored is that the tech community was at best ambivalent about the classification as well, mainly on ideological "regulation bad" grounds. That's how we wound up with the clearly legally flawed rules that were just struck down, which were an attempt to get all the "good" bits of common carrier without all the other bits.

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  • RchanenRchanen Registered User regular
    Do we have to build on centuries of established case law?

    Could we not just start fresh, Say "This thing is new and we shall start new rules for it"

    List a set of principles and decide case law by adherence to those principles.

    1. Information traffic should not be restricted
    2. Other than laws on secrecy and pornography the right to diseminate material over the internet shall not be restricted
    3. AWP campers suck

    And so on and so forth

    Must we jam every damn rectangular peg into a square whole

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  • AiouaAioua Ora Occidens Ora OptimaRegistered User regular
    That's... that's what the common carrier laws p much do.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Rchanen wrote: »
    Do we have to build on centuries of established case law?

    Could we not just start fresh, Say "This thing is new and we shall start new rules for it"

    List a set of principles and decide case law by adherence to those principles.

    1. Information traffic should not be restricted
    2. Other than laws on secrecy and pornography the right to diseminate material over the internet shall not be restricted
    3. AWP campers suck

    And so on and so forth

    Must we jam every damn rectangular peg into a square whole

    You don't have to, in the same sense that you don't have to build on bedrock.

    And this isn't something new, and the insistence that it is continues to be something that continues to screw us over when it comes to the law online.

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