New Bill Aimed at Big Tech

 

by Emily Jashinsky

Websites which allow users to post content are immune from lawsuits because they qualify as platforms according to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But under proposed legislation by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, companies would lose this immunity unless they could prove to the Federal Trade Commission that their content removal practices are neutral. “This legislation simply states that if the tech giants want to keep their government-granted immunity, they must bring transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate,” Hawley said. 

Under Hawley’s bill,” Fox News reported, “big tech firms would have to provide evidence to the FTC proving that their algorithms and content-removal practices are neutral. Tech titans would also be responsible for the costs of performing audits, and would also have to re-apply for immunity every two years.”

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Spectrum - a Rip off Internet Service Provider

by Allen Williams


I acquired Time-Warner’s Everyday Low Price internet plan about six years ago as I’m not a gamer and I don’t stream movies from NetFlix. I just enjoy reading the news and making occasional online purchases.  So I didn’t feel the need to pay for Hi speed internet.  Time Warner was a pretty good plan with decent service.

About 5 years ago Time-Warner was bought out by AT &T who sold off the cable service to Charter Communication’s Spectrum.  

Right from the start I began getting calls from their representatives for me to upgrade my service, add phone, TV and what not which I declined.  I have my own broadband phone installation which works fine so I didn’t need another.  At the same time I was receiving saturated mailings from Spectrum informing me of what extra service packages I could order.  The phrase ‘not interested’ has absolutely no meaning to the company.

In December of 2018, I opened my Spectrum bill and found that it had jumped 25 percent, down slightly from the 33 percent increase of 2017.  I promptly called them to discover the reason for the latest increase.

The Representative I talked with either wasn’t very knowledgeable of Spectrum plans or was deliberately misleading me on the various options.  It’s likely a corollary of the axiom “Tell customer anything to get the job or keep the service.

The Time-Warner Everyday Low Price (ELP) Internet plan is no longer offered on the Spectrum Website and the company will not let customers sign up for that plan even though my monthly bill continues to show the ELP selection.  http://concerningconsumers.bangordailynews.com/2017/03/16/home/spectrum-discontinues-time-warners-14-99-everyday-low-price-internet/ After informing me several times that Time-Warner no longer exists and that essentially I didn’t have a right to the ELP service at Spectrum, she continued to evade my questions on the reason for the price increases.  After much persistence on my part she finally told me that Spectrum initiated a company wide price increase.  

However, despite the representative’s assertions, the pricing increases appear to be some sort of punitive measure to force the consumer on to a plan of the company’s choosing rather than honoring the user’s preference. There’s also nothing like subsidizing Spectrum’s acquisition costs for Time Warner.

Today’s business strategies concentrate on forcing customer’s to buy services they don’t need or want at outrageous prices in a captive market created by government regulations and other federal enablers.  Remember Net Neutrality..a half baked government plan to equalize broadband speeds, no blocking access or throttling traffic, etc?

Broadband competition is intentionally muted to force prices upward and holdovers from less expensive plans are targeted for forced upgrades:  https://eu.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/2017/06/08/spectrum-customers-not-happy-in-time-warner-cable-changeover/376695001/

I’m not alone in experiencing Spectrum’s abusive rate hikes; Charter Communications has lost roughly 100,000 subscribers during the switch from Time -Warner Cable to Spectrum.  Here are more customer’s thoughts:

“After being a customer for 18 years they are trying to increase prices well above their ongoing advertised prices of TV Service, Internet Service.” 

“When Spectrum purchased Time Warner I kept getting a letters in the mail from Spectrum stating save $10 to switch to Spectrum, reading the fine details, year two would increase by $10, year 3 would be what ever going rate is.  I just hit year 2 and price went up $20.  I called and spoke to 5 people. All said I am getting the correct rate.  If anyone has a copy of the letter to prove me right or wrong would be appreciated”   Read more Spectrum complaints at: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/spectrum/internet/spectrum-spectrum-internet-service-took-over-time-warner-cable-industry-california-1338932

Spectrum offerings differ from locale to locale usually pushing phone, Internet and TV services at three to four times the cost of internet alone. The cheapest Internet offering I saw was a promotional at $44 per month soon to become $65 a month.   And Spectrum only offers two speed tiers – 60 Mbps and 100 Mbps, “with no data caps, usage-based pricing or additional modem fees,” according to a recent company press release.  

  • 60 Mbps = $64.99 ($53.99 for customers who also have Spectrum TV)*
  • 100 Mbps = $104.99 ($93.99 for customers who also have Spectrum TV)*

I asked the Rep if there were any changes to my broadband speed.  Spectrum responded that I’m getting 3.5 MB service but clocking the Internet speed with Speedtest shows 2.3Mbps.  http://www.speedtest.net/#, Download at 3.02 Mbps; Upload 0.25 Mbps

Spectrum’s own speed test is pretty comparable with a slightly higher Upload speed at 0.5 Mbps but these will vary from day to day based on traffic load, etc.  https://www.spectrum.com/internet/speed-test.html 

Both tests confirm that I’m getting less than 3.5 Mbps service so either the Rep doesn’t know what speed is supposed to come with Time-Warner’s old ELP service or one gets whatever the company feels like providing.

I would rate Spectrum at zero if the Sitejabber system would allow me for Spectrum’s deceptive business practices, disingenuous advertising, credit billing irregularities, minimal plan choices and unwillingness to allow people to keep their current plan and an endless solicitation harassment to upgrade services.

Spectrum is a dud. Best to avoid it.