More Net Neutrality (or, how Telcos buy Votes)

Posted by tigerhawkvok on October 27, 2009 13:14 in computers , politics , internet

Oh, net neutrality. As you may know, the FCC proposed rules for net neutrality last week and opened the stage up to commenting. Here are the proposed rules:

  • Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice
  • Consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement
  • Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
  • A provider of broadband Internet access service must treat lawful content, applications, and services in a nondiscriminatory manner
  • A provider of broadband Internet access service must disclose such information concerning network management and other practices as is reasonably required for users and content, application, and service providers to enjoy the protections specified in this rulemaking

Now, I do have some issues with this, including the framework for "reasonable" management:

But overall, I feel like this is a goo, large step forward. In my opinion, net neutrality rules should be quite simple:

  • ISPs may not discriminate, manage, inspect, or otherwise treat any set of data over their network in any way that is not applied unilaterally to all data over the network in an identical manner. Random fluctuations in network reliability are permissible, and subject to analysis by a p-test to confirm random distribution and other tests to determine such fluctuation is protocol-agnostic.
  • Access to content may not be restricted or controlled in any manner, unless such content comes from an IP address with zero legal content. At that time, restriction to access of that IP address is at the discretion of the ISP, but not mandatory.
  • None of these principles affect the legality of actions taken on the internet.
  • Violations of these principles are subject to a $100,000 fine (per instance).

In other words, I'd love to see network neutrality legislation that favors a "dumb pipe". But OK, that's fine, like I said — this is a good step. Who couldn't favor it?

It turns out that John McCain (and though it's not explicitly mentioned here, a number of other Republican representatives taking large donations from ATT, Verizon, and/or Comcast) have a bone to pick:

The money trail is actually painfully obvious. But, it doesn't change the fact that the openinternet.gov site is being deluged with anti-net-neutratliy comments from those getting their pockets filled by TelCos. The FCC is seeking out comments, and it's important that you comment — either the quick way on openinternet.gov's discussion page, or make a more "official" comment by submitting a filing on ECFS (Proceeding/Docket Number "09-191").

Help keep the net open! If you ever have doubts, just consider for a moment how hard it is to change your internet carrier ... and if they decided to, say, cut off Google from you, what your recourse would be. That is what Net Neutrality is about.

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