Net Neutrality

What does Net Neutrality mean? Why should I care? Basically, the major service providers (AT&T, Verizon, and overseas providers) are trying to leverage their regional monopolies so that if you want to get to the internet you will be restricted to a limited number of “associate sites”. How much you pay = how many websites you get. An exaggerated example of this can be seen below:

And you can watch a great video (thanks to my friend Brian for finding it) here:

Now… I think this is a very important issue, not just because I’m an internet junkie, but because currently this is one of the few mediums where I can get content that comes from somewhere other then a corporation, and just as important to me, I feel safer knowing that if I had something really important to say I could get it out there and if it was big it would be heard. While I have a fairly strong trust of most corporations (I fearlessly eat a fast food hamburger from a branch restaurant that I’ve never eaten at before because of my faith in the brand), they do have a capitalist slant, especially when it comes to news, providing things that scare or entertain us over things that we should hear: (damn it took me forever to find the video below)

The internet is so amazing because it is a two way conversation, because it allows people like me to post stuff, and anyone with a modem can hop on a read it. If we lock the internet down behind firewalls and section it off, then the only thing that makes our internet policy different from China is the people in control of the information will be the corporations as opposed to the government. The internet needs to remain a democratic tool, and in our hands. Now that you know what it means… Guess who supports internet freedom:

And guess who is against it.

2 thoughts on “Net Neutrality”

  1. Restricted access certainly is a concern. And it may be that many americans would never know the difference. I feel like to some extent this is already happening with email servers. People appreciate the spam filters, but there is no way to know that if you wanted to send an email, that it might not be stopped at a mail gateway by an overzealous (or evil) filter program.

    I had an experience with Cox Cable where they would periodically port scan me as a customer and close any ftp or http ports open. Apparently, my consumer grade internet connection never included the right to host a service on the internet. Comcast got into hot water trying to stop it’s customers from using BitTorrent amongst themselves.

    However, there will always be alternatives. Since people are having this conversation it implies that it matters to them, the assumption that they will find a provider that doesn’t restrict them also follows. AOL used to give you a very different internet experience that a simple connection, and it grew to be one of the most popular dial up companies in the 1990’s. Maybe it was free install disks everywhere and great marketing, or maybe this hand holding nanny with its closed forums and members only chats was the way to go. The fact that hardly anyone still uses AOL means that there must have been some opportunities.

    Two important points. First, every report I have seen about these unfair bottlenecks indicated that service providers would like to elevate some types of bandwidth (maybe watching Lost on ABC.com is okay) at the expense of others (watching porn on a russian server, or watching 16 year olds dance half naked and silly in front of their webcams on half a dozen websites). P2P applications, having no corporate presence, always seem to get the shaft. Maybe if there was less P2P stealing and more sharing, some lobby would have a leg to stand on. People are damaging their own interests there. So I think that ‘access denied’ banners on some korean kids web page would be unacceptable to a vast majority of customers (I would certainly flip a bit the first time a company did that to me), and a consumer backlash or outmigration would give these providers something to think about.

    Second, I don’t know of anyone who lives in a monopoly market. There may be one great price for bandwidth from either the city, the cable company, the phone company, or a satellite service. But I often see adds for T1 lines at reasonable rates. I would be ashamed if these folks were planning to adjust the speeds available by domain or by protocol. Universities would always have the freedom they need. I expect libraries, with their strict access to information ethic, would continue to provide unbridled internet (albeit at limited public facilities that no one wants to pass bond levies for anymore). The market would sabotage this if it mattered.

    So I think, yes, it great that your alarmed. Keep sounding the horn on this. Give a whopping fat check to the EFF, and find out how you can volunteer. Write your Senator, who might have a more enlightened view of the matter. Please don’t get the government to establish an inspection agency to audit these. The courts can handle this one. I guess the primary battle in our legal system would be to have a court rule as to what constituted an “internet connection”. If it means a level playing field, then there would be a branding of fair practice established, and corpnet.com’s service would be labelled something else (maybe corponet access?). If it seems like a few more billion dollars are spent bringing multiple OC3 connections from ABC’s Lost server to the world than your hosting company, you get what you pay for.

    To bring it back to politics, McCain and Obama are both very respectable Senators. One’s old, and has a history of voting and speaking. One’s young, was on the right side at the start of hostilities against Iraq, and stayed there. He has a gift for inspiring people around him. Neither of them seems to have a lot of good answers, and my reading of the constitution really doesn’t give the president that much power against a clear will of congress. If only congressmen would read the constitution before the swear on a bible to uphold it.

  2. Wow. Longest. Comment. Evar.

    ūüôā

    Thanks for your insight Dan, Frankly I think Mccain would make a fine president, but he won’t clean the White House of all those nasty Republicans who have been pushing my liberal buttons. It’ll mean the final vote in politicizing the Supreme Court, the overturn of Rowe V Wade, and the death of Net Neutrality, which will probably be somewhere close to half as bad as all the crazies (like myself) on the internet are painting it to be… shock and awe baby. But who wants slowed bandwidth for your favorite sites? I know you and your crazy libertarian friends (myself included) would probably disagree with me, but the “Tubes” of the internet need to be a regulated resource, like telephone lines or utilities. It doesn’t make sense to let 8 different companies tear up my back yard and install fiber or plumbing just so that I can make sure that I have choices on which internet provider to use or whom I get my electricity from. And without regulation any good corporation will raise cost to the break point, somewhere between maximum profitability and cthuluian insanity.

    I live in a monopoly market. It’s Time Warner, or… Time Warner. And trust me, even if you have 3 different ways to get online, that doesn’t protect you from their collusion or predatory pricing. When it comes to mutual profit these guys can be pretty chummy.

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