Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

Summary: Aren't politicians frickin' wonderful?

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Here's where we stand. The FCC has approved a form of net neutrality after years of debate and tail chasing.

See also: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin

So, what's it all mean? Does this finally mean we'll all get fair and affordable Internet, forever and ever?

More importantly, as ABC affiliate KTRS' host John Brown asked me on the air yesterday, "Will you still be able to get to your Facebook profile?"

The answers are no. And yes.

No, the Internet will not be fair and affordable forever. Not even close. And yes, you'll be able to get to your Facebook.

Here's the thing. The FCC's variation of net neutrality isn't neutral. In fact, it's the opposite. The rules the FCC approved today treat wired Internet and wireless completely differently.

The wired Internet will gain some level of net neutrality. But the wireless Internet (which, coincidentally, is pretty much where we're all moving to) will allow vendors to sculpt traffic to their hearts' content -- creating all sorts of special cases and special treatment.

Wired Internet will be somewhat open. Wireless Internet will be controlled and manipulated by large corporate interests and you and your Web site will most likely be treated like second class citizens.

Oh, and none of this is locked in stone. The FCC has made this ruling, but they had to bend a bunch of rules to get this far. We've got a vengeful Republican congress coming into office in a few weeks. So it's anyone's guess what will stick and what won't.

My take: like the health care bill, this is an area that desperately needed quality government attention. Instead, it got politicized, neutered, and gutted to the point where we might have actually been better off if they left the darned thing alone.

Aren't politicians frickin' wonderful?

Topics: Browser, Government, Government US

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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34 comments
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  • Of Course we would have been better off without FCC intervention...

    Have you ever, EVER seen any government managed program that wasn't completely screwed up. The 10 most frightening words in the english language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."
    Scubajrr
    • Move to Somalia, or Haiti....

      @Scubajrr

      No Government Managed Programs there....
      snberk341
    • Since you ask

      @Scubajrr

      <blockquote></i>Have you ever, EVER seen any government managed program that wasn't completely screwed up</i></blockquote>

      Hmm. Let me think about that:
      Water service? Never let me down, even tastes decent.
      Fire department? Awesome, actually. Fast response, extremely well-trained, great people to work with.
      Police? For all the complaints, the great majority do a hard job quite competently.
      Highways? Even when they're completely redoing roads in mountain country, they manage to do it with a minimum of disruption and get quality results.
      Military? If you want to criticize them, go right ahead.
      NOAA? World-class survey and monitoring for longer than any of us have been alive.
      Social Security? Handles more money than all other insurance operations combined and does it with less than one-sixth the overhead.
      Medical services? You take Mayo, I'll take Bethesda.

      So, yeah, I think there may be one or two "government managed program(s) that (aren't) completely screwed up."
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

        @Yagotta B. Kidding
        Water Service - not a federal program and in most cities they do well
        Fire department - not a federal program, does well
        Police - not a federal program, does well
        Highways - interstates are federal and federal dollars are used for state and local projects, for the most part I'd agree.
        Military - I was in it, huge waste of cash, this department in the federal government is why people think if you throw enough money at something, eventually it will work.

        My beef isn't with state and local agencies, it's with federal programs. You actually have a voice at the local level and that's were things usually get done right. Why? Because they are held accountable by the community, the press, and for the most part themselves.
        relwolf
      • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

        @relwolf

        So things like the workforce reinvestment act, or US Forest/Park services are useless and a waist of money? What about USDA? I don't know about you but I like the fact that there are standards for the food we eat. What about DOL (Department of Labor), They regulate workforce safety protocols, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance, and re-employment programs. Trust me these are just a few government programs that aren't a waste of money.
        mgaul
      • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

        @Relwolf
        You asked if any government programs weren't totally messed up. I believe the gentleman gave you a good answer.

        Frankly, I have little patience with a pissant like yourself that assumes the answer to the question. Certainly there is no justification for saying to the ISP's "go right ahead, set up your own online businesses, and slow down or disrupt communications with your competitors". Like telling truck drivers "go ahead and run other cars off the road".
        JohnVoter
    • Why YES I have!

      @Scubajrr
      Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused approval for an application from the Richardson-Merrell company to market thalidomide in the United States.
      Of course saving hundreds of thousands of babies probably isn't that important an accomplishment to you.
      JohnVoter
      • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

        @JohnVoter

        No, according to that font of information Glenn Beck, the FDA is out to control you. I think this brings a new meaning to eat sh*t and die ;-)
        tonymcs@...
      • Thalidomide "Catch"

        Please, let's be clear about the details of this "great success of the FDA's approval process." Dr. Kelsey withheld approval of thalidomide because she was "concerned that thalidomide might cause neuropathy, a nerve disease, in some users." That is, her reservations were about the effects of the drug on the women who took it, NOT on the possible effects that the drug might have on the women's OFFSPRING! That call for more information about the effects of the drug on the mothers served to provide time for information to accumulate about the prevalence of birth defects in the mothers' offspring. That such a regulatory delay allowed the U.S. to avoid the rate of births of thalidomide babies to be lower than in Europe was not attributable to the effect of FDA regulations, but rather, to - for lack of a more politically correct term - dumb luck. Those wishing to point to examples of the virtues of Federal regulation would be better served by choosing other examples than the Thalidomide episode, which actually illustrates its shortcomings.
        heuristic
    • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

      @Scubajrr

      Gee Americans are cute. Their refusal to believe any goverment can act benevolently to its citizens is the root cause of much of their problems.

      As to wireless is the way we're heading - not with limited spectrum and having to build towers everywhere it's not. Wireless is already crowded and it promises to become more so. It's also expensive.

      In Australia we are building fibre to the home with a national broadband network. I'll use wireless in a variety of places, but fibre will be the main connection.

      As to Net neutrality, the only ones who object to it are those who want your money - sure they'll rationalise it with all sorts of reasons, but basically they just want to get rich at your expense.
      tonymcs@...
      • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

        hohoho, see the problem of you sheeples is that you don't understand what responsibility and accountability are. It's amazing anyone believes that big government w/ zero risk on own shoulder but endless supply of tax payers' money can somehow spend money more prudently than private industry that has to deal with the risk of failure and make ends meet on their own to achieve business success.<br><br>Your naivety is exceeded only by your gullibility.
        LBiege
      • @LBiege

        Which is why, of course, those bastions of free-enterprise - GM, Chrysler (isn't this now the 2nd time?), and ... how many banks and investment houses now? Nortel ... have basically gone bankrupt.

        So, whether or not you agree that Government should have kicked in some money or not.... the point is that just because it's private enterprise does not mean that they know how to spend money prudently.

        It can be argued that there is even more risk for government than private enterprise. The Board of Directors can be voted out every 4 years. Without stock options.
        snberk341
      • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

        @snberk341
        I think the point LBiege is trying to make complements yours. If a private company screws up they go bankrupt and they have no more money to screw up with. If the government screws up, they just raise taxes or run up huge deficits. I'm not suggesting we can completely eliminate the government, but with adequate competition there is no need for the government to make the rules.
        anono
  • Net Neutrality gives power to the FCC

    Net neutrality gives the FCC unprecedented power over the freest medium of expression left in the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTshrURtcjU
    whoisharmonica
    • Put on your foil hat

      @whoisharmonica
      Net neutrality guarantees American consumers that THEY -- not the not-so-fast ISPs -- will decide what web sites they can use.
      So take your fascist "corporations should run America" attitude back home.
      JohnVoter
      • Net Neutrality fixes a problem that isn't there

        N/T
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

        @goff256<br>Exactly! So is JohnVoter suggesting he can't already already choose what web sites he can use? Which part of the world does he live in? Also the question isn't whether "corporations should run America", but rather whether America should run corporations. Remember, it was these corporations that built their networks in the first place not the government. If there was a monopoly, I could understand, but that isn't the case.
        anono
  • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

    While it appears obvious that neither side in this debate received all of what they were hoping, its important to keep today?s decision in context:

    * This does allow for paid prioritization.
    * This does not allow government censorship.
    * This does enforce?to some extent?net neutrality rules via broadband.
    * This does not enforce net neutrality rules via mobile broadband.
    * This is a first step towards protecting consumers.
    * This is not the last step towards protecting consumers.

    Read more: http://bit.ly/fxd1BU
    mlschafer7
    • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

      @mlschafer7
      Well stated.
      JohnVoter
  • RE: Net neutrality? More like neutered neutrality.

    I guess "better left off if they had left the darned thing alone" means that we let Comcast direct us to their walled garden of captive internet services.
    Maybe this article would have been better off if you had left it unwritten.
    JohnVoter