February 11, 2014

Net neutrality

Filed under: Uncategorized — jchatoff @ 12:14 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Net neutrality is extremely important and we should all be on guard against attempts to undermine it. I would be doing something, anything, to make sure it remains inviolate if I could only figure out what the hell it is exactly.

The Wik definition is straightforward: net neutrality ‘is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.’

Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the internet as we know it, is a believer in net neutrality.

Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the internet as we know it, is a believer in net neutrality.

First of all, the word neutrality should be changed to parity. We used to use the word parity a lot, especially in connection with government functions. Parity in trade and subsidies and stuff like that. But that was back when people thought that a level playing field really was a good idea.

Then, instead of describing what parity on the internet is, I’d define it in terms of its opposite, because what we really want to know is, what is the opposite of internet parity?

What would a lack of net parity mean to me, the consumer? I’m not sure, which is why opposing efforts to subvert it seems a bit like kabuki.

Maybe it would be something like two people dialing your phone number at the same time. One would be your sister, just calling to chat, the other a guy from the Whatsis National Political Committee wanting to tell you about their good work and asking for a donation. Without parity, your sister’s call would be on the slow route and she might even get a busy signal (no call waiting in this scenario). The WNPC call would zip right through – they paid for that – and it could even be clearer than others because they paid for that too.

(You might be given the option of fast-tracking your sister for a small fee – each time she calls.)

At the moment, those things don’t happen because of FCC rules, but there would be plenty of outrage to go around if somehow the rules got changed.

And that’s exactly what the telecoms are asking for – an end to rules on net neutrality. They’ve already gotten the courts to reverse the FCC:

‘On September 23, 2011, the FCC released its final rules for Preserving a Free and Open Internet. These rules state that providers must have transparency of network management practices, not block lawful content, nor unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.[101] These rules are effective 20 November 2011.

‘On January 14, 2014, the DC Circuit Court determined that the FCC has no authority to enforce Network Neutrality rules, as service providers are not identified as “common carriers.” (Wikipedia)

(The common carrier issue is the crux here – quite a few of us disagree with the Circuit Court, but it’s not likely that the Supremes will.)

In short, this is a fairly complicated issue, one which the mainstream media isn’t telling us about because they and the telecoms are pretty much one and the same.  But it’s time to pull up our socks and manufacture some real outrage. And, btw, when the telecoms start whining about the cost of shifting packets around, remind them that they aren’t yet paying us royalties for the web, which taxpayers (via the DoD) paid for.

If you’d like to see parity carved in stone, write your own rep or drop Senator Ed Markey  a line. He’s introducing legislation to protect net neutrality.

But do it quick -when the rules are completely rewritten you might have to pay in order to have your opinion forwarded.


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