Will the Internet remain neutral?

Will the Internet remain neutral?

Summary: Our own Stefanie Olsen emphasized how Comcast, which is already throttling BitTorrent, stiffed the agency, but I think that misses the point. More important was the parade of interest groups at the meeting, each with their own agenda.

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TOPICS: Browser, Telcos
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Jimmy Durante poster from AllPostersProbably not.

What Net Neutrality advocates forget is what has kept the Internet neutral so far has been market discipline, not government.

Most customers want neutrality, and will "vote with their feet" against those carriers who violate it. Assuming, that is, they have a choice.

There are exceptions. A decade ago I did a story about a "Christian ISP" who was making big bucks censoring his customers' Net access to keep out pornography. Churches, individuals, and businesses were all avid buyers.

The real problem is that, increasingly, choice does not exist. You can get your access from the local cable operator or the local phone company. Other ISPs, which were re-sellers of this bandwidth, have been effectively driven from the market.

Force the incumbent owners of infrastructure to re-sell their bits at a fair price and yesterday's hearing becomes unnecessary. The alternative was on display at Stanford.

Our own Stefanie Olsen emphasized how Comcast, which is already throttling BitTorrent, stiffed the agency, but I think that misses the point.

More important was the parade of interest groups at the meeting, each with their own agenda.

Engineers like our former colleague George Ou, talked about video demands "causing a new collapse." For small ISPs, especially Wireless ISPs, these problems are real.

Copyright owners demanded that if regulation is to happen, stopping "illegal file-sharing" must be part of it. By illegal they mean any copyrighted file, which could mean just about any file.

And while Roberta Combs of the Christian Coalition was quick to condemn Comcast's blocking of a P2P transmission of the Bible, she might feel differently if the file were from the vaults of John Stagliano

That's what happens when government starts saying "thou shalt not." As the late Jimmy Durante said, "Everybody wants to get into the act." (You can still hang Jimmy on your wall for as little as $5.99 from Allposters.)

Topics: Browser, Telcos

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24 comments
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  • Let the sheeple read their daily gossip

    but for goodness sake don't stop us techie types from pushing the boundaries (which creates new technologies).

    I think creation forces are as big as market forces in the internet arena. It's not like there's just this one product in the shop and there's your choice (much as my favourite monopoly and Penelope and Rupert might like to force it down our throats that way).

    "Please Mr Government Man, here's a brown envelope, can you stop these thieves from stopping us from stealing their money back please, we've Penelope and Rupert to feed you know".
    fr0thy2
    • What a silly little rant.

      And so flawed its hard to even respond. First, I have never, ever under any condition tried to force you to make any choice of any kind. To the contrary, I have ALWAYS told users, clients and readers of the talkback to use what ever best fits their needs. (Unlike yourself that has repeatedly said users don't need all the features of MS products.)

      Funny then how you turn around and in some unfathonable way tell us you have the right to steal copyrighted works. Works that you repeatedly say no one wants or needs. Um, why demand the right to something you say no one wants or needs? Are you really this confused?
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • What a silly little man

        Who wants to support a future of talentless boybands and unreliable software. Are you obese yet? Will you think for yourself one day d'ya reckon?
        fr0thy2
        • Yes you are a silly little fella, but we

          do understand children often need to be insultive when they are unable to offer anything of value in a discussion.
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Value?

            In a discussion? You? Since when?
            zkiwi
          • Another useless post.

            Will you kids never learn?
            No_Ax_to_Grind
  • No room for market forces to work

    People talk about "market forces" and "free market" in connection with the internet either with willful ignorance or intentional deceit. Which one fits you?

    The communications industries in the US are HEAVILY regulated, at federal, state, and local levels. They are controlled in terms of services offerings, coverage, pricing, and content. More controls exist at the end-user level than at business and provider levels, so it means that the end-user has the least choice of all when trying to get a break from whatever monopoly provider they are forced to deal with.

    If ATT decides TODAY that they are only going to allow me to access web addresses beginning with the letter "A" and only receive emails containing Viagra offers, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING I can do about it. Other than cancel service from my sole high-speed provider of course.
    terry flores
    • And that really is the issue. No competition allowed

      The real issue is that the major ISPs (telco & cable) are government backed monopolies or duopolies in limited areas.

      We can not see the futur and must rely on past actions to make a judgement and the poast has shown that both the telcos and cable companies will act only in the interest of their bottom line and simply do not care what the consumer thinks or wants. After, its not as if the consumer has any other real alternative when you are the only game in town.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
  • Do you really have to stereotype Christians like that?

    "And while Roberta Combs of the Christian Coalition was quick to condemn Comcast???s blocking of a P2P transmission of the Bible, she might feel differently if the file were from the vaults of John Stagliano."

    Wow. Do you really have to stereotype Christians like that? Is that what you think we really are?

    "A decade ago I did a story about a 'Christian ISP' who was making big bucks censoring his customers??? Net access to keep out pornography."

    If customers are signing up willingly, I wouldn't really call it censorship. You do have a choice to use a non-Christian ISP and get all of the porn you want. If a person willingly decides to say "I don't want this" out of their own accord, I think that's perfectly acceptable.

    I do not think people deciding for themselves what they do and do not want is censorship. I think you're being quite unreasonable here.

    I would agree that choice is good. It's the driving force of our economy. But I think you're blurring the line between government censorship and personal "censorship." Even if government censorship is harmful, that does not mean a person shouldn't be able to make their own personal decisions and decide for themselves what they do and do not want.

    As long as it's not a monopoly, I don't see anything wrong with a Christian ISP, or with Christians wanting net neutrality. I think you're way out of line with your very stereotypical remark about the Christian Coalition, and about Christians in general.
    CobraA1
    • Slight objection

      While attacking a specific group as automatically making foolish decisions is foolish and Christians are often a target of such stereotyping, the concern is not without warrant.

      To say that if someone has a choice in which version of the internet they receive does provide a choice it is similar to the way executionees are sometimes given a choice as to method the overall end is the same. If the way internet is piped changes so that we must choose which agenda our internet follows we have effectively ruined its purpose. A global communication network must be willing to support ideas, images, and thoughts that people object to because if those ideas are not given the ability to be communicated they are wasted.

      The freedom of choice is only valid when a "none of the above" option is available. If atheists we told they can pick any religion they want but they must choose one it would defeat the point of freedom of religion. When an ISP becomes privatized by corporations, governments, or religions and then further disseminated to block certain things the internet is gone and replaced by the McDonald's Wide Net.

      I don't want to see this come to pass and in time when it does I'm sure you'll agree with me.
      lastsigma
  • US controlled internet

    From the same script which gave you "The Axis of ~Evil" and the pre-emptive invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan :

    "Control of Cyberspace ??? "Although many concepts of 'cyber-war' have elements of science fiction about them, and the role of the Defense Department in establishing 'control,' or even what 'security' on the Internet means, requires a consideration of a host of legal, moral and political issues, there nonetheless will remain an imperative to be able to deny America and its allies' enemies the ability to disrupt or paralyze either the military's or the commercial sector's computer networks.

    "Conversely, an offensive capability could offer America's military and political leaders an invaluable tool in disabling an adversary in a decisive manner. Taken together, the prospects for space war or 'cyberspace war' represent the truly revolutionary potential inherent in the notion of military transformation. These future forms of warfare are technologically immature, to be sure. But, it is also clear that for the U.S. armed forces to remain preeminent and avoid an Achilles Heel in the exercise of its power they must be sure that these potential future forms of warfare favor America just as today???s air, land and sea warfare reflect United States military dominance" (p. 57).

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article3249.htm

    Anyone who think's that the internet - originally a military project - is going to be a neutral entity, has not done their homework.
    whisperycat
    • Thou shalt not question ...

      ... for it is your job to feed the rich ...

      Hats off to the engineers who bravely rigged up WT7 to make it safe within 5 hours ...
      fr0thy2
      • Freefall

        Yes, the destruction of the 47 storey building serving, among other entities, the US Department of Defence, the CIA and the US Secret Service, in a 6.6 second symmetrical, vertical collapse into its own basement, on top of fires which registered 1000K to the AVIRIS thermal imaging taken 6 days later, is a bit of a mystery. A 9/11 Mystery.
        whisperycat
  • The one stereotype that fits most often ...

    is the pervasive hypocrisy expressed by most religious leaders' when involved in government or commercial interests. These people are quite willing to embrace the 1st Amendment when it serves their purposes. But they immediately decry anybody else's freedom to see, say, or do anything that contradicts the Christian beliefs. It smacks of opportunism, not of righteousness.

    And hypocrisy is a telling sign of lack of morality and personal responsibility. It undermines the moral authority of both the message and the messenger. If a religious leader truly believes that his doctrine is the only correct one, then the 1st Amendment should be anathema to them, since it establishes equality, not primacy of the Christian religion.
    terry flores
    • I hate stereotypes.

      Umm, yeah, about that stereotype - I'd rather you not stereotype at all. No thanks, I hate to be lumped together with hypocrites.

      The hypocrisy is just people who are hypocritical - it has nothing to do with Christian beliefs at all. You're confusing the religion with the people.

      "If a religious leader truly believes that his doctrine is the only correct one, then the 1st Amendment should be anathema to them, since it establishes equality, not primacy of the Christian religion."

      Umm, no. Christianity does not teach loathing of other people and ideas, no matter what you may hear from the more extreme members of Christianity. Jesus himself associated with people who were "sinners," and God used a man who formerly hated Christians to spread his word. If a Christian expresses extreme hatred towards people with different ideas and beliefs, I do not believe they are in line with Christian beliefs.
      CobraA1
      • Substitute religion of your choice then ...

        I used Christianity as an example, but Islam applies equally as well. If you believe that your way is the *only* way, then concept of "different but equal" is a contradiction in terms.

        Don't get me wrong: I admire many Christian leaders who are not hypocritical in their approach to the church vs. state conundrum. Those who envision their roles to be a "helping hand". Personally I view the 1st Amendment as an expression of two Biblical principles (Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:31) that do embody equality and respect.

        And as far as "teach loathing of other people and ideas", well I guess you haven't read any of James Dobson's or Tony Perkins's screeds on the evils of the 1st Amendment being applied to "pagan" religions like Buddhism or Islam.
        terry flores
        • A little bit of philosophy

          "If you believe that your way is the *only* way, then concept of 'different but equal' is a contradiction in terms."

          We believe that Christianity is the only true reflection of how the spiritual world works, yes, but we do not imply it necessitates that we treat other beliefs with disrespect, and we certainly do not advocate denying people the free will to decide for themselves whether they wish to follow our religion, whether it be the "only way" or not.

          Even if I believe that my religion is the only true religion, why should I deny people the free will to make their own decisions? God allowed people the right to free will - if he wanted to, he could force people to come to Christianity without my help. I will respect his decision to give humans free will, and I will not support the use of force or coercion to spread my religion.

          The 1st amendment does not in any way make the claim that a religion cannot hold to the belief that they are the true reflection of the world - it only says that in our country that we treat religions and their followers with respect.
          CobraA1
          • Then

            "[B]I will not support the use of force or coercion to spread my religion.[/B]" you are against the war in Iraq, right? After all just listening to bush carry on about how god will see us through and we will prevail because we have god on our side, this is both a war for oil and a holy war.

            That's the way I see it based on the rhetoric coming from the white house. ]:)
            Linux User 147560
          • He's Christian therefore every war he starts is religious?

            If you truly believe we started the war based on oil and/or religion, I would believe you are mistaken. I do not think him being religious and trusting in God means that religion was the reason he started the war.

            He's Christian therefore every war he starts is religious? I'd say that's a fallacy, probably guilt by association or the genetic fallacy. Either way, your logic is pretty flawed.
            CobraA1
          • Not all religions

            " in our country that we treat religions and their followers with respect."

            <b>I disagree with that...<br>We Satanists are shunned by society and Christians especially have no respect for the worship of Lucifer.<br>Smacks of hypocrisy to me!
            thungurknifur