Sen. Wyden falls into Net neutrality misinformation trap

Sen. Wyden falls into Net neutrality misinformation trap

Summary: George Ou clearly thinks the dirt he keeps finding under the Craigslist/Net neutrality rug is amounting to a story that's stranger than fiction.  To the extent that it's disturbing, it is indeed strange.

TOPICS: Browser

George Ou clearly thinks the dirt he keeps finding under the Craigslist/Net neutrality rug is amounting to a story that's stranger than fiction.  To the extent that it's disturbing, it is indeed strange. But, from my point of view, it's business as usual.  In case you've been missing the action, here are some bullet points to catch you up:

  • There's a debate going on about the issue of Net Neutrality.  The debate first surfaced when ISPs started talking about how they may impose restrictions on traffic flowing to and from hi-volume sites like Google and through the last mile to their end-user customers; traffic that's supposedly saturating their pipes. The restrictions involved degradation of service and there was talk of charging (to some, extorting) those hi-volume destinations to guarantee a certain quality of service.  On first blush, it doesn't appear as though that extortion will be extended to end-users.  In other words, the idea is to make Google, Yahoo, etc. foot the bill for better service.  But, just supposing some high-volume destinations don't pay, it's not clear whether or not, by upgrading to a higher bandwidth service like Verizon's FIOS or Cablevision's 30 mbps Optimum Online (announced today), users can or may have to take matters into their own hands (thus bearing the cost).  Also not clear is whether or not the financial burdens placed on companies like Google and Yahoo (who built their business on the basis that no such restrictions would exist in the last mile to end users) would somehow be passed down to users of their services.  High volume destinations already pay big dollars for bandwidth in the last mile to themselves.
  • News surfaced that end-users whose ISP was Cox Interactive were having difficulty reaching Craigslist (a hi-volume site). Users complained of "throttling."  In seeking an explanation, Tom Foremski found that the problem was related to Cox's usage of a security solution from Authentium but drew into question the degree to which Cox was motivated to solve the problem. Foremski wrote "Craigslist has approached Authentium several times to get it to stop blocking access by Cox internet users but it has been unresponsive.....[Jim Buckmaster, the CEO of Craigslist] wasn't aware that Cox had its own classified ads service. 'That changes things,' [Buckmaster] said."  Craigslist is also a classifieds ads site. Foremski also incorrectlly assumed that the fix was as simple as deleting Craigslist from a blacklist -- a sort of filter that keeps certain traffic out.  Debates like the Net neutrality debate do better when there's a poster child -- an apparent victim of some policy.  Now, it seemed as though the Net Neutrality debate had its poster child.
  • As that poster child status was being amplified by the media and the blogosphere, George Ou found the real explanation (see Net neutrality proponents flagrantly lie about Craigslist blockage). Instead of it being a blacklist that was causing the problem, it was an incompatibility between the way Craiglist runs its Web site and Authentium's adherence to certain Internet standards. Cox was hardly to blame for the "throttling." Throughout the ordeal, Authentium's fix for the problem was still in a beta mode, being stress tested.  Like most businesses, Cox can't be held to the fire for not implementing beta software on a heavily used production network.  In other words, Craigslist isn't the Net neutrality poster child that many wanted it to be.

And now, here's where the story takes the twist that George thinks is strange. Despite being legimately stripped of its poster child status by George, Craigslist is still be paraded around as example of the world that awaits us if something isn't done and done soon to guarantee neutrality.  OK. Since bad news travels faster than good news, the old story -- despite having no legs --  still has a bit of momentum.  But now, that momentum has apparently reached US Senator Ron Wyden's (Oregon) office.  Wyden has been outspoken on the issue of Net Neutrality and a poster child like Craigslist is just the sort of thing that any politician likes to sink their teeth into.  And sink his teeth he did when he published an op-ed piece (paid subscription required) in the Wall Street Journal that, according to blogger Matt S said:

Cox Communications, a broadband provider that also has a large classified advertising business, is currently blocking access to, a large, free classified Web site that competes with Cox.

Wyden's insinuation was practically ripped right out of Foremski's dialog with Craigslist's Buckmaster despite the fact that all the wind has been taken out of that sail.  Not only was Wyden wrong to ride the dead horse, you have to wonder what the WSJ was thinking when it ran Wyden's piece unchecked.  Not only is Craiglist not the poster child Wyden is making it out to be, it doesn't want to be that poster child.  Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist) made that quite clear in a blog he posted yesterday that very matter of factly absolves both Authentium and Cox of any conspiracy to throttle access to Craigslist.  Case closed. Meanwhile, it seems rather routine to me how politicians build their arguments on fictional information and the media just regurgitates those arguments as though fiction is truth.  It's business as usual, if you ask me.

Topic: Browser

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  • The Market

    It is wise to keep goverment out of the Net. Let the market dictate policy.

    Neal Saferstein
    Neal Saferstein
    • Normally I would agree, however...

      The facts clearly do not support supporting your assertion. The fact is that with the massive telecommunications company consolidation taking place we have wound up with an infrastructure for the principle backbones of the Internet controlled by a bare handful of corporate interests. Normal competitive market pressures will not apply. Given the profit-friendly (and that's the kindest description I can find in my heart to use) administration in the Whitehouse, what can reasonably be expected to take place without neutrality safeguards imposed, at least giving the appearance of fairness and accountability? Autobaun for the biggest corporate customers and dirt-track footpaths for the rest of us is virtually gauranteed.

      • Market forces still apply

        I have switched ISPs because certain websites were slower than should be. When users do that, the ISPs offering better service are rewarded. That's the essence of market forces.
        • Apply to whom? Not most of us.

          Most of us - myself included - will not run around switching ISP's at the drop of a hat - not even once, if we can avoid it - since that means changing email addresses, losing contactact with people, having mail returned as 'unknown sender', and so on. Too much hassle for no guarantee of permanence. I'm a "gov't hands off!" person 99% of the time, but not on this one!
          • If you won't switch ISPs

            Then you don't really care. You're saying that you want more government regulation because you're too lazy to switch to a competing service. That makes no sense what-so-ever.
            Erik Engbrecht
        • I have switched ISPs

      • corporations versus "the rest of us"

        It's senseless to try to bash the Bush
        Administration when the executive branch has
        nothing to do with this. Congress is writing the
        laws here, and their lobbyist-influenced
        tendencies are a big part of the problem (DMCA,
        extended copyright, etc).

        Congressional "safeguards" are rarely that.
        Whenever government puts their foot down, they're
        usually putting their "foot in it" or into their
        mouths. Somehow a dollar passed through the
        government mill is always the least efficient
        dollar spent anywhere.

        The owners of things powerfully and consistently
        try to extend their wealth, while renters pay
        their freight. If you want to change that, get
        out and make your fortune like, and quit whining for the
        government to take from the rich and give to the
        • In a perfect world you would be right...

          I think it is short-sighted, at best, and disingenuous, at worst to put forth the idea that government policies over the years do not influence the ebb and flow of business. From the consumer?s perspective: a few decades ago the government broke up the monopolistic telephone giant into much smaller pieces. Today, that same company has regained it?s dominance in the telecom industry and has, through newer (since the Sixties) technologies, embraced, encompassed and dominated the flow of information and communication to consumers. That could not have happened without the elimination of a number of protectionist laws beginning with the Reagan administration.

          You mention the ?result? of congressional-imposed safeguards as being largely negative. That can be true, especially so when Congress lets business write the legislation.

          As for your assertion about competition, if there is a level playing field (the root premise of the Net Neutrality legislation) I agree. However, when was the last time the field was, indeed, level? <snicker>

    • Are you Sure?

      I thought the government started ARPA, no?...and that business (MS AOL and all the greed head spammers) came late to the party...and now they want to own it?
      • Agree - Business follows the money

        The gov provided the initial funding and the technical umbrella for the development of ARPANet, and a lot of that development occurred at universities. Some of the computer companies had solutions for connecting computers, but they were all proprietary and all VERY EXPENSIVE!

        The Internet really took off when companies finally started complying with standards; i.e., playing by the same rules. Once it started demonstrating success, businesses realized they could make money with it, and piled on with vengeance.
    • But when the telcos have already contracted with the gov?

      The reality is telephone companies are regulated. And brother do they know how to play pliticians off against each other to the detrement of the consumer.

      Remember the broadband promises made to the government that were not kept.

      From the Harvard School of Journalism site
  • You're surprised?

    Why should the good senator be any quicker about getting his facts straight about net neutrality than our illustrious president is/was about the presence/absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
    • Did I say *I* was suprised?

      Actually, I'm not. But this occurance cuts to some other really thought provoking issues about governance and media. When the information appeared to suit the Senator's agenda, what diligence followed to make sure the information wasn't out of date by the time he used it publicly? Did his staff conduct an exhaustive search of the blogosphere (already well-known for occasionally offering more timely and accurate information than other sources) to double check the issue? And what's big media's role in all this.....particularly when it's an op-ed piece?

      • NO "blogosphere"!!!

        It's even a more stupid (and unnecessary) word than "blog", which should be banned from use in all civilized countries. Beyond that, this collection of web logs to which you refer is little more than a collection of diaries. The entries have no more credence than a letter to the editor, and shoud <b>certainly</b> not be used as factual. It's all opinion, and I don't trust yours (generic yours, nothing personal) any more than you trust mine.
        • Head, Sand, Insert

          Sorry MacBill.....

          While agree that just about everything written in the blogosphere is not reported (as in it's editorialized), to imply that all sources within the blogoshpere are not credible is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

          The number of times the blogosphere either factually scooped for corrected the mainstream media are to numerous to count at this point.

        • You err on the side of error

          You make a reasonably accurate point;

          ?The entries have no more credence than a letter to the editor, and shoud certainly not be used as factual.?

          But you seem to have the reasonable point embedded within a conclusion that comes across as overly critical and restrictive of blogs in general. Certainly a blog posting is nothing much more then a letter to the editor and typically as such cannot be afforded the status of a factual report, but a good blog can be far more then just an untrusted opinion.

          Many bloggers rely on logical or deductive reasoning in their posting to make their argument and as such if the reasoning is accurate as it sometimes is, the blog is factual in so far as that particular branch of the bloggers argument goes. It is very typical now for bloggers to supply weblinks to their posting, often to factually reliable sources to back up their argument and as such bring the bloggers argument back within that of a factual report so long as they have interpreted the facts correctly and not colored them to suit their own tastes.

          And a reader of a blog can often use a bloggers post as an inspiration to do a couple minutes online research to verify a claim the reader was not aware of, or had simply disbelieved in the past, so that frequent eventuality certainly brings an added dimension somewhat beyond a simple opinion that cannot be trusted. When your already online its relatively simple quite often to verify such claims and hence know where to place your trust much easier then reading a letter to the editor out of a newspaper in locations where no quick verification of facts can be made.

          Even beyond the verification of facts and logical reasoning, a good blog serves other socially worthwhile purposes beyond the typical ?little more than a collection of diaries? which you refer to them as. Good blogs are thought provoking and make the reader aware that certain ideas opinions and concerns exist in society they may not have been aware of and may even give a sense of depth and breadth to those same concerns when a reader can see the number of related postings and the kinds of responses in the postings, the fact they may not be factual doesn?t change the evidence that those opinions exist to the degree that they have been expressed.

          So don?t be so hard on blogs, nobody said they represented an online encyclopedia. Take your concerns to Wikipedia, there is a place that may need your warnings more then a blog.
      • What do you expect?

        The Senator is a Spendocrat. Go listen to Ted Kennedy and check his "facts". This is a party that lives on lies and misconceptions. Or changes their minds and I use the term loosely ever time the wind changes direction. Of course they are gonna tout a false fact. They did that with gun control years ago, why not with the net too?

    • Or congress in general about IP theft?

      Isn't this out of the same group of congressmen that push the theory that not only is IP theft the end of the US economy, but that an individual sitting at home backing up their DVD collection is supporting terrorism (because supporting pirating is supporting terrorism)?
      We already know they're full of crap. The question is how to stop them and big business without truly disrupting our economy.
      • how to stop them
  • Net Neutrality

    As with the rest of the evil republicans you spout crap that is totally false. You damn well that blockages of certain sites has and is taking place right now. You need to tell the truth and stop lying.