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"Net neutrality" is just another communist plot

Barack Obama has endorsed some rather specific steps towards establishing bizarre principles that have been called "net neutrality".



Mr Obama is a U.S. citizen who contributed his opinion about this fad. FCC, the independent communications regulatory agency, promised not to discard this video diatribe and to add Mr Obama's rant in the queue behind 4,000,000 opinions of other citizens. FCC produced another proof that Mr Obama is not being ignored.

Ten years ago or so, I didn't know what the concept coined in 2003 was supposed to mean. A staunchly left-wing colleague whom I won't name was telling me it was such a wonderful thing. I wanted to know what it was but the answer I got was very vague.

It was some rule preventing the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from changing the flow of packets in any way that depends on the type of the data or servers that are participating in the communication.




Superficially, it sounds like a memorandum against censorship. The ISPs could ban – or slow down etc. – some particular type of Internet traffic that goes against their business strategy, that helps their competitors or the competitors of the ISPs' business partners, and so on.




The problem with all of that talk is that I've never experienced such a filtering in my life. That experience of mine covered AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and whatever ISPs are serving Harvard in the U.S. as well as O2, Czech Radiocommunication, and T-mobile in Czechia.

It's not just the experience that shows no traces of such a harmful filtering. It's also a basic logic of the market. If some providers start to restrict their consumers' ability to access some websites or Internet services, they will pay dearly. The consumers will inform each other and such an Internet connection where something sufficiently important is missing just won't be viewed as a full-fledged Internet service.

On the other hand, there can be extremely good reasons why an ISP would do similar things. Different telephone companies may have different strategies to earn cash – allowing you to call to numbers served by the same company for free; or, on the contrary, treating all companies including "yours" equivalently; offering you extensive services for free if you pay a monthly flat rate; and many other things.

In the same way, ISPs used to offer you different schemes how much data you can transfer, what happens afterwards, what the fee is, and so on. It was extremely useful for the utilization of the Internet resources when the widths were insufficient. Despite the growing popularity of movies streamed over the Internet etc., we no longer encounter the FUP limits at home these days. But similar limits are obviously still important for the mobile Internet. When users want to transfer large amounts of data, the ISP may solve this challenge in many ways and none of the strategies is a priori guaranteed to be the superior one!

Also, some Internet activities are more likely to cause trouble. In particular, peer-to-peer connections are often exploited to transfer copyrighted files – pirated films and other things. The ISPs may found themselves in legal problems as well and they may have various creative strategies to reduce this risk.

Another way for the ISPs not to be net-neutral in a creative way materializes when they may get some funding from teaming up with some other companies and selectively promote their services. I don't think it's happening to the extent that would really restrict the freedom of the consumers – because consumers wouldn't be too satisfied with such an Internet service – but it may be done so that the users are more likely to be led to some services – especially in cases when the users would choose their services from a list of competitors randomly. I don't see anything wrong about it. The ISP may get some extra resources for guaranteeing this preference and with this cash, it can make the services cheaper or better for the consumer in other respects. The consumer may think that it's a great deal if he can get XY for free just for being more or less lightly pushed towards the service CD.

ISPs may provide the Internet connection for a work environment where the users are not expected to watch porn movies, or even less problematic relaxing things, so there are good reasons to create filters, too.

At the airport and public places, it may be a good idea to discourage porn as well. That's why years ago, you couldn't have opened xxx.lanl.gov – the archive of physics preprints – at the airports. This problem was solved when the main name of the server was changed to arXiv.org. Note that the founder of the server, Paul Ginsparg, named the server "xxx" as a parody of "www" because according to his not so demanding sense of humor, he thought it was funny. ;-)

There are just many reasons why the freedom of the ISPs to manipulate the data in certain creative ways may be good for these ISPs – as well as its business partners and its consumers.

The idea that all this freedom to approach all these problems creatively – and perhaps differently than the competition – should be "banned" is just another sign that a person is mentally a communist. Freedom is always great and it improves things, at least in the long run. "Net neutrality" is a form of egalitarianism and it is wrong for the very analogous reasons. (Incidentally, the recently proposed and later abandoned Hungarian "Internet tax" with a flat fee per gigabyte is also a type of egalitarianism and it's plain wrong simply because not all gigabytes – regardless of their origin and destination and regardless of the content – are created equal. Some gigabytes going from somewhere to somewhere may be made extremely cheap by the market and technologies and its cheapness may be extremely useful for the flourishing of many other things. These things may be killed by the "Internet tax".)

I remember that exactly 20 years ago, I was among the dozen(s) of undergrads who were introducing the Internet to our student hostels in Prague-Trója. A team of three people would enter one of the rooms where students live, drilled a hole in the wall and another hole in the ceiling (we would scream "orgasm" whenever this step was completed – it was my know-how streamlining our communication), dragged the cables through the empty corridors right above the ceiling, installed the ethernet outlet, and did many other things.

Our über-geeks would teach us that the Internet was another infrastructure analogous to the water pipelines or the electric grid – you can just bring it wherever you want, in many ways, and it's always the same thing what you get at the end. This informal, innocent formulation of "net neutrality" is a good zeroth approximation that many laymen should be explained as well (so that you don't get the questions whether they can open seznam.cz while on vacations in France, or infinitely many silly questions like that: yes, you can).

But it's still a simplification. The precise technology used to get the Internet somewhere may affect the price of the connection and different servers and services one connects to in the Internet have different implications. And because the ISP is "helping" these applications of the Internet to materialize, it bears some of the responsibility and should be allowed to influence the traffic in the content-sensitive way as a way deal with its share of responsibility.

The right approach for the government is Hands off the Net principle (equivalently, the "F@ck off, Obama" dictum) which has been more or less true. Anything else is bound to reduce the innovation and harm someone. Anything else is based on demagogy building on fear – in a world where it is completely enough to deal with the actual harm when it's done and not just fear. Any policy built on fear and the claim that some freedom may perhaps hurt is refusing to see that the freedom may help as well and this positive effect may be larger, sometimes substantially.

Many advocates of the "net neutrality" openly admit that their final goal is to liquidate the ISPs – to destroy the companies and the capitalist system in that industry in general. And indeed, if one prevented the ISPs from making any decisions (different from others or from the "only right decisions"), there would be no reason to have many companies. OK, so they want the companies to disappear. Do I have to explain to you why these people are completely unhinged communist lunatics?

It's the competition in the markets that has allowed the Internet to become accessible to everyone. Just 12 years ago or so, when I needed to connect to the Internet in Pilsen, I would be paying several dollars per hour. Do you remember the Internet cafés and ad hoc connections through the phone and how expensive all these things were?

For the progress to materialize, it was extremely important that companies were allowed to search for better and cheaper solutions and that there wasn't "one universal price" for everyone and valid everywhere and independently of all technologies, and so on. It was even important that some data were being compressed during their transfer. And I could tell you about the much more dramatic progress that the telephone providers have experienced since the time when this industry was privatized in Czechia. The telephone networks would be called "special" and "appropriate to be owned and controlled by the government" by certain advocates of socialism.

No sane person in 2014 doubts that the industry of telephone providers is a canonical standard example of an industry where the capitalism shows its effective muscles extremely clearly. (The railways and bus networks may be cited as additional examples, in almost the same way.) And there is no reason to expect that it will be any different for the ISPs and for the many structured layers of the Internet services that may sometimes use some extra data about the user, her location, her habits, and properties of her connection.

Just like virtually all other types of the government regulation (including carbon caps, carbon taxes, and concentration camps), this brand of regulation is promoted by arrogant morons who only see the costs of something but they don't see benefits at all (or versa) but whose fundamental and virtually unlimited stupidity and blindness doesn't prevent them from thinking that they're the right guys who should command everyone else. Yes, I think that it is right to count Mr Obama to this family of arrogant morons.

To regulate away the freedom in business is always counterproductive. At the end, I think that this particular fight against the non-existent problem is a method for the government to put itself "above" all the ISPs as well as all the users, it is creepy, and for that reason, I urge you to reject "net neutrality" regardless of the number of sweet demagogic words you will be bombarded by.

And that's the memo.



A video related to the arrogance of power: Prof Jonathan Gruber of MIT, a father of ObamaCare, boasts that he was able to make the sick law pass by making it opaque (a huge political advantage), by hiding that the mandate is a form of taxes, and that it is a method to steal from the rich, healthy people. The bill was allowed to pass because the Congressmen and the American voters are idiots, he proudly asserts. But he must be right because the bill really is very sick and it did pass.

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reader Gene Day said...

I agree with your views on this issue but there are ways in which governments must interfere in business freedom. Environmental protection and unfair restraint of trade are the most important two.
Let me add that these two functions are frequently abused. The latter is often used to discriminate against imported products and the former is abused in ways that are obvious to anyone paying attention. In the present situation I would dissolve our Environmental Protection Agency and start over with a much more restricted mandate.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gene, thanks for the comment.


At the end, I think it is the government that is most guilty of "restraining the trade". Of course that when the restraint of the trade is made into some kind of a law - like the sanctions against Russia - it is technically no longer a crime. But this reclassification is just due to the government's ability to manipulate the law and many other things.


But a point closer to the net neutrality issue. The EPA and agencies fighting the restraint of trade, when we forget about their recently emerging tumors, are agencies that are just simplifying the enforcement of some rights in situations when the number of lawsuits would be getting very high.


The EPA may regulate mercury because without the EPA, there would be and there could be thousands of lawsuits against companies hurting others by emitting mercury. The number of this traffic may be reduced - and the system may be made more effective - when some more detailed laws are created and an agency enforces them. It levels the field for all situations that would otherwise become mercury lawsuits.


But one can't or shouldn't build similar agencies on something that has never created any real harm. That's why it's against all the spirit of the constitution for the EPA to fight CO2 emissions or for the government to restrict the ISPs' freedom to choose how to handle the data if it hasn't led to any harm yet.


reader Richard Warren said...

One aspect of government control over the delivery of media in the US that is just about completely ignored is the concomitant influence the government has over the content being delivered. (For some strange reason, the media pretend this influence does not exist.) Simply put, when the government licenses (or supports by tax incentives, etc) your business, you pay a lot of attention to what the government wants. Its no surprise that the legacy media in the US are essentially tools of the state. They just want to add the internet to their toolbox.


reader de^mol said...

it is very worrying indeed. Every time it gets worse in the west...

I really think they will use these laws to decide what content is of their likes (the government) and what is not. The contents they don't like will get banned and the owners prosecuted...

And if I look to the hate-mongering towards Russia I get flash backs to the 30-ties in Germany. For example, the other day the largest Dutch newspaper showed Putin as a vampire, with blood getting out of his mouth. Can you believe it? I now know how it must have felt like for an honest German those days. What a shame.


reader lopff said...

In airports or any other public spaces(or anywhere) you can still set rules in routers for limiting internet access to certain websites without ISP intervention.


reader John Archer said...

Dear Luboš,

Do I have to explain to you why these people are completely unhinged communist lunatics?

No, not to me anyway. But thanks for the kind offer.

More to the point though, I'd like to see you come up with a reason why these unhinged communist lunatics shouldn't all be rounded up and completely fucking Breiviked, because it's a puzzle that stumps me.


reader scooby said...

I'm with Tim Berners-Lee on this issue.


reader Uncle Al said...

Obama must appoint an Intertubes Czar. What could possibly go wrong? Bergdahl, Benghazi, IRS political targeting, Associated Press scandal, Fast & Furious, NSA domestic spying, Russian Reset Button, Veterans Administration deaths, 100,000 children swarming over the US Southern border, Executive Order Obamacare replumbing, Secret Service White House trespass porosity, outing CIA intelligence chief in Afghanistan, US' 12-year, $12 trillion defeat in the Middle East.

General Buck Turgidson, "Well, I, uh, don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir." Dr. Strangelove The "single slip-up" sent 1400 megatons to bomb the USSR.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Oh, really? Can I set rules in routers? How do I set the rule on the Logan International Airport that blocks all websites except for The Reference Frame?


You didn't really mean "you", did you? It was just a subtle typo, wasn't it? You meant that either a government official or an airport manager can do such a thing.


But if those two men can do it, why the ISP couldn't do a very analogous thing? All of them - ISP, airport manager, government official - are just various men standing in between the passenger and the website that the passenger wants to see.


reader Luboš Motl said...

The two of you are fundamentally wrong. Let me mention Berners-Lee's comment on that issue:

"Users may influence the quality of the connection by paying the ISP; but the servers they visit cannot influence the quality of the connection by paying to the ISPs."

But this is completely contrary to the fact that the Internet is a two-way highway. It is a connection between two computers representing two persons - either physical or legal persons - and they play pretty much a symmetric role. Obviously, if one of them may influence the connection by paying more money, so can the other. In many cases, one can't even figure out "which side is which".


reader Luboš Motl said...

Your worry may sound as too dramatic but it may be realistic, too.


When a law says that "every Internet user must have the same access", it may be used to force ISPs to improve the access of users to something, but it may also be used to force ISPs to deny the access to *everybody* because otherwise the access wouldn't be the same.


So when several ISPs are forced to block Russia Today news, for example, the law may say that the others are oblige to offer the same, and everyone therefore has to block Russia Today news!


reader lopff said...

Yes it was a typo, sorry about that. And well, I agree with you on that the ISP should have the same freedom


reader de^mol said...

That is exactly what will happen and what I am afraid of. And the scam is that they bring it on as being 'fair'.
And I am sure it will not be RT only. Even you should get worried with your blog. Not yet, because it is not mainstream (yet). But keep up the good work.


reader Curious George said...

Do you actually upload and download about the same amount of data?


reader Gene Day said...

Yes. What is the harm that has been done and who, exactly, are the victims? These things should be crystal clear before the government even starts to consider getting involved.
Civil law also provides potential recourse of victims even without the feds getting directly involved.


reader Jason said...

The legacy media in the US are not so much tools of the state as tools of the Democratic Party.


reader Bob Felts said...

"The problem with all of that talk is that I've never experienced such a filtering in my life."

That you know of. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted about Net Neutrality yesterday (10 Nov) to which <a href="http://theoatmeal.com/blog/net_neutrality>The Oatmeal</a> responded. In particular, a graph is shown where Comcast was blocking Netflix traffic during negotiations with Netflix about carrying fees.

"Despite the growing popularity of movies streamed over the Internet etc., we no longer encounter the FUP limits at home these days."


I do. Comcast initiated a unilateral transfer cap not too long ago. I could switch to business class and make the cap go away, but then I would be paying more money for slower internet.

"If some providers start to restrict their consumers' ability to access some websites or Internet services, they will pay dearly."

How? Where I live, Comcast has a virtual monopoly on Internet delivery. AT&T provides DSL, but it has a max throughput of 1.5MB/s. AT&T has claimed that they will up the speed to 6MB/s, but they have been saying this for 6+ years. Google Fiber may come to the area, but it won't be where I live for years. The cable companies were granted virtual monopoly status. IMO, they need to be treated like monopolies until there is true competition.


reader NikFromNYC said...

The most frantic argument, given the monstrous Republican landslide that likely dooms both clinate alarm and Obamacare, is that Net Neutrality isn't Obamacare for the Internet, but by now, so few believe liberals any more. Here is the cartoon version:

theoatmeal.com/blog/net_Neutrality


reader Rehbock said...

I have been on line since Compuserve in the 70's those years well before the first commercial ISP, that compuserve connection was 300 bits/sec on a long distance call. The service was pricey and limited but it was some years before arpanet changed to the internet protocol and became at all available.
The dial up speeds were up to 1200 bps by the time of the first browsers in late 80's. I paid for an extra line for the modem. The ISP was expensive, too.There wasn't much content yet and connectivity was often an issue.
In the meantime we have had Gore claiming to invent it, Stevens saying it was a series of tubes, and Obama claiming he needs save it. I have megabits per second anywhere with content for everything and it is a little less expensive than it was at first. I think it is growing just fine without messing around.


reader NikFromNYC said...

“The FCC’s network neutrality proceeding may easily provide the answer. By classifying broadband access services as “interstate telecommunications services,” those services would suddenly become required to pay FCC fees. At the current 16.1% fee structure, it would be perhaps the largest, one-time tax increase on the Internet.”

www.forbes.com/sites/haroldfurchtgottroth/2014/10/12/fcc-plans-stealth-internet-tax-increase/


reader Anon said...

http://theoatmeal.com/blog/net_neutrality


reader Luboš Motl said...

It depends how you count it.


My Internet connection at home has a very low upload speed and of course it's not good to upload too much data.


But if you count me as a full provider of Internet content and the managers of blogspot.com to be my assistants, of course that I upload much more than I download.


4,000 people a day go to this blog and download perhaps half a megabyte per visit or 1 megabyte per 2 visits which makes 4 gigabytes per day, much more than I download.


reader Luboš Motl said...

And what's wrong about that? They show an example of a connection that blocks Google, or serves some huge ads whenever you open Google, and so on, to claim that something huge is at stake.


Then they admit that nothing like that has ever happened and instead, cite something "similar" that has happened in the real world. Except that there's nothing wrong about this thing.

The propaganda at theoatmeal.com is a classic example of bait-and-switch fraud.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Gordon, does your comment in any way differ from the generic anti-capitalist propaganda that "corporations are evil"?


Corporations are not evil. Corporations are one side of the face of most of us. And they're actually a much better arrangement where the management of the Internet traffic may be optimized.


reader Luboš Motl said...

And what's wrong about that [suspension of Netflix]?

The folks on your website show an example of a connection that blocks Google, or serves some huge ads whenever you open Google, and so on, to claim that something huge is at stake.

Then they admit that nothing like that has ever happened and instead, cite something "similar" that has happened in the real world. Except that there's nothing wrong about this thing.

Netflix is a form of cable TV so of course that the company that spreads this "signal" has to have an agreement with Netflix that both sides are OK with that.

The propaganda at theoatmeal.com is a classic example of bait-and-switch fraud.


reader scooby said...

This is not about "the consumers vs the evil coporations". There are three actors here: the users, the ISPs / telecom companies and the content providers + advertisers. Many companies in the last group support the Net neutrality argument. So the simple picture you are painting is the wrong one. I do not know much about the situation in the US or Canada, but in Europe the telecom companies have an history of being the worst offenders for price fixing. Those asking for complete deregulation should be careful what they ask for.


Here is a more informed view in my opinion: http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/10/7187501/6-reasons-real-conservatives-should-defy-republicans-and-support-net


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Scooby,


as I said, the Czech telecommunication industries have seen huge improvement since the time when the ISPs and similar companies were deregulated. Your suggestions to the contrary are just pure lies.


But more generally, don't you agree that this anti-ISP propaganda is just an example of choosing a scapegoat/witch that is then robbed?


The freedom to influence how these companies manage the data they transmit is a major part of the capitalization of these companies. Removing these rights is therefore a theft - of a significant portion of these companies.


It is not surprising that other companies that are not being robbed - and that may even get a part of the wealth that was stolen - may rejoice. But that fact can't change the fact that it is a crime to rob the ISPs of their basic freedoms.


Cheers
LM


reader Gordon said...

Well, you are wrong---some corporations are evil, or at least do evil imo...not all. Add some nuance to your repertoire---black and white is too boring. Tim Berners-Lee is not a communist---he is just a talented nice guy (responded to a young son's email to him about his original source code) who doesn't want the web hi-jacked and monetized to death.
Also, I am totally with you on Big Govt---maybe more-so.
The thrust of my comment was "balance" between open source and corporations (capitalism)


reader Gordon said...

It is quite bad in Canada--the Telecoms are quite bad- rapacious monopolists, and the cost of internet service is amongst the highest in the world. Generally, their customer service is appalling.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gordon, you comment that "some corporations are evil" is just an expression of your personal emotions, not a well-defined criticism of some of their wrongdoing. And if you want to use these emotions as a basis to rob them, it only shows that you're not being fair or impartial.


Concerning your comments about the Canadian "monopolies" and the quality of their service, this setup will surely *increase* the monopolist character of the Telecom companies.


It de facto tries to be "exactly the same like everyone other", so when it comes to their behavior, it will de facto unify them into one big communist company.


It will also hurt their profits, so of course that they will have to compensate it by a combination of increased price and "savings" in other parts of their business, e.g. costumer services.

So a rational evaluation of all these arguments is upside down relatively to what you wrote.


reader Curious George said...

Internet is a communist plot - as it has been always net neutral (to my admittedly limited knowledge.)


reader Luboš Motl said...

It's simply not true, George. All the "fast lanes" and other things that are against this "net neutrality" already exist, and exist almost everywhere. See e.g. this essay

http://www.aei.org/publication/net-neutrality-obama-stumbles-trusting-bureaucrats-regulators-markets/



The Internet would be made much less efficient and slower if it were *forced* to give up these fast lanes and other non-uniformities.


reader Steve Baker said...

How about as a comprise there is a minimum speed regulation. If you want to pay more to get Netflicks etc fine, but if you choose to spend your disposable income otherwise you are still guarenteed a reasonable speed on the internet. I would say live streaming at 360p or something. High Speed Internet access is almost a human right, or do you not believe in those kinds of commie sentiments either?


reader John Archer said...

Hello all you little people.

Theft and fraud have been the bane of man's existence ever since he first set foot on earth.

And now the good news. I'm from the government and I'm here to help with that — we have the solution to this problem.

In a nutshell, as from today all your property will be scanned, registered and tagged. You'll be delighted to know we now have the technology to do this. Yes, even your toe nail clippings. The inconvenience to you will be minimal.

Among other things, additional regular random checks will be carried out on all property everywhere.

The upshot is that we will be able to tell instantly who is and who is not in rightful possession of every item of property on the face of the planet.

Oh yes, we'll tag you too, just in case someone steals you.

Meanwhile please feel free to celebrate this wonderful news.

More details to follow shortly. Stayed tuned, and be assured we have your best interests at heart even if you don't know what they are yourself.

We're here to ensure your freedom. But right now we're concentrating on your freedom from theft. We're working very hard for you.

What? No, no questions at this stage please. We'll let you know everything you need to know all in good time.

Oh yes, one other thing: you all know you can buy a perpetuity ... well, we'll be introducing the perpetuity vote, not only to save you the trouble of all future visits to your local polling station but also to save you the bother of future postal voting if that was an option you chose to exercise up to now. Your vote is secure with us. Again, details to follow.

We're working on a whole range of other good-news policies for you too.

That's all. Carry on!


reader Bob Felts said...

And what's wrong about that [suspension of Netflix]?

It wasn't suspension; it was intentional degradation of service in order to extract more money from Netflix. I pay Comcast for delivery of data. Netflix paid to have their data delivered. Comcast, not happy with the increasing number of subscribers who are "cutting cable" -- because of content providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Apple -- decided to restore some of their lost profits through, essentially, blackmail.

Your obsession with the "de facto monopolies" is also sick.

It's hardly an obsession. It's simply the observation that monopolies typically aren't good for societies.

One such observation is the monopolists using their monopoly position to buy off state legislatures so as to keep their monopoly status (cf. ArsTechnica.

Except that there's nothing wrong about this thing.
If this were a competitive market, and I had the choice between Comcast, Google Fibre, a public broadband system, or even faster DSL, then I would agree with you.


I would prefer that corporations act virtuously in their relationships with their customers without external governmental persuasion. But they don't (e.g. the Minamata disaster. Closer to home, I recently bought my wife an iPhone 6. Days later, she got an e-mail welcoming her to the phone replacement insurance plan -- something that I did not sign up for, nor would I, had I been asked. I had to go back to the store and have the remove the charge. That might be enough to make me switch providers -- because I have a choice in phone service. My wife has gotten to really like Apple Pay. So we won't shop at CVS, or other stores, that deliberately disabled it so that they could push a competing, but not yet real, service. With these merchants, we have a choice.


I don't with cable.


reader Luboš Motl said...

No one prevents the ISPs from offering these "guarantees" to the consumers, and if these guarantees were so important for the consumers, and easy enough to enforce, someone (an ISP) would have surely offered such a thing.


Why do you want to *force* some ISPs, or perhaps all ISPs, to include things into their products that almost no one actually wants to pay for?


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Bob, when I take a chocolate in a supermarket and the clerks tell me that they will call police unless I pay them the price of the chocolate, do you also call it "blackmail"? Don't you agree that it's demagogy in the case of the chocolate, in the case of the connection of the service, and in the case of any other business transaction in the world?


A transaction has two sides that have to agree. If an ISP is asked to connect someone to the Internet, to allow him to exchange data with someone else on the other side of America, both this someone and the ISP must agree with the conditions, right?


Netflix transfers huge amounts of data and its addition to the network may be responsible for slowing down the transfer lots of other, more important and less data-demanding services on the Internet, like reading Gmail. It makes perfect sense for the ISP to classify the streaming video services such as Netflix to be the lowest priority, and if Netflix wants to change something about it, they simply have to pay.


To steal these basic rights from the ISPs means to prevent them from being able to increase - and even keep - the quality of the service they are providing.


reader Gordon said...

Well the definition of evil is subjective, but surely you agree that SOME companies DO evil, even using your definition of "evil". You don't need to cripple business with some regulation, or even moral pressure. I do agree that as proposed, net neutrality is not ideal and is already having some negative consequences.
I forget which large Telecom it is but I was driving and listening to the radio and heard that one rolling out "last mile" optical cable connectivity for cities has suspended this until the situation is clarified.
I still think the tension between open source movements and corporations drives innovation and progress on the net (rather than "free range" capitalism.)
Overregulation is anathema both to the open source people and to the corporations.


reader Luboš Motl said...

I don't really believe that companies do "evil" for extended periods of time. If someone is doing something evil to someone else, the someone else may sue and gradually force the company to stop doing that.


Something that some companies are doing may be "evil" according to some other, subjective definition I could use - from my point of view - but I realize very well that it is totally essential to realize that this personal feeling of mine is not a reason for the company to be destroyed or terrorized or hurt.


Not sure what this net neutrality has to do with "open source" - except for the fact that both "open source" and "net neutrality" advocates are generally leftists.


reader Bob Felts said...

... do you also call it "blackmail"?

Of course not. I would call it theft and I think you would, too.

However, I think your analogy isn't accurate. And it isn't accurate because I already paid for that blueberry. I pay the store some amount of money every month so that, for the term of the contract, I can come in and eat all the blueberries I wanted. So, having taken a blueberry, the store now tells me that, not only do I have to pay more but that I'm limited to 10 blueberries per month. And since they're the only store in the area, either I completely give up blueberries and their wonderful flavor and antioxidant properties, or I acquiesce to their demands.

... both this someone and the ISP must agree with the conditions, right?

Sure. I pay my ISP to deliver content. And then I find my ISP throttling content from various providers (see, e.g. here). And I can demonstrate it by accessing the content with and without a VPN. I find that my ISP is monitoring what I do and deliberately degrading service if a) they can tell who the service is coming from and b) that service just happens to compete with them for content delivery.

To steal these basic rights from the ISPs...

Excuse me? How am I stealing from them? I've paid them for a service -- a service they degrade if I'm not vigilant.

It makes perfect sense for the ISP to classify the streaming video services such as Netflix to be the lowest priority...

Only if the ISP gives their streaming service the same priority. (After all, I'm paying them for delivery of the content I want to watch -- not the content they want me to watch.) But they won't. They'll use their monopoly power to stifle competition.

You have the choice with the ISPs just like you have with the CVS...



No, Lubos, I don't.


reader Karel Strašný said...

Well, I would actually argue that net neutrality is a defining quality of the Internet.
To be specific:
My home network is "not part of the Internet" since I don't allow just anything to go in or our, it is only connected to the Internet.
A corporate network is in the same way only connected to the Internet and not part of it.

On the other hand infrastructure of the ISP is part of the Internet since it allows other networks to communicate regardless of the content.
But the intranet of the ISP is again "just" connected to the Internet.



So my opinion is that if I am buying the ability to connect to the Internet I should be guaranteed net neutrality.
But that does not mean that I cannot buy connectivity to someone's (moderated) network.


So the analogy is that if I name something "butter" it is made of milk (and not oil), gasoline engine runs on gasoline (not diesel), hydrogen atom has one proton (not 2, or 3), and "Internet connection" is neutral with respect to the content.


reader Steve Baker said...

I do not know about the telecoms where you live, but there is no invisible hand where I live, only ISP with a hand iin my pocket. Thus my conculsions. Stupid as they are.


reader John said...

Net Neutrality sounds like such a good idea..... Who could possibly be against it!? Somebody labelled it pretty good. But, unfortunately these days, ANYTHING Obama (and his ultra leftist cadre) is for I am pretty much against. That is the clue right there! It has been reduced to that, I am afraid! He does not have my (or any freedom-loving individual's) interest at heart! Most recently, the entire 20th century is evidence against this government is all-knowing, all-caring stuff. When will we learn?


reader Gordon said...

Read Michael Lewis' "Liar's Poker" or "The Big Short"

"I don't really believe that companies do "evil" for extended periods of time."

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BOA, Salomon Bros.

Read Michael Lewis' "Liar's Poker" or "The Big Short", and he is a capitalist who worked for Salomon Brothers...


reader Curious George said...

Oh, columnists know better than Tim Berners-Lee, the communist. But wait .. as he invented the Internet, you are actually supporting my thesis that the Internet is a communist plot.