Posted by Charity on May 27th, 2006

I received two e-mail today urging me to take action on a bill that deals with “net neutrality.” The funny thing is, they each had a very different take on it.

Here is the one supporting net neutrality (from Free Press):

The question before us is simple: Will the Internet remain in the hands of users and innovators? Or will a handful of telephone and cable companies determine which Web sites you see and which you don’t?

Here is the one against it (from Freedom Works):

Net neutrality legislation would give the federal government massive and unprecedented power over the Internet. If government control of the Internet unnerves you, either for economic or privacy reasons, you should be worried of net neutrality legislation.

It seems to boil down to corporate control vs. government control, or should I say, those who fear corporate control vs. those who fear government control.

What do you think about this notion of net neutrality?

Read more:

Article opposing what they see as government regulation of the internet. (against “net neutrality”)

Group supporting internet freedom, as they call it. (for net neutrality)

12 Responses to “The two sides of "net neutrality"”

  1. Corporations can be replaced much easier than governments. I think the government should keep its hands off. Once the government gets involved (even for it’s most noble of purposes to keep the internet playing field level) then they will screw it up.

    Companies are trying to offer a new service to guarantee a level of high band width for servers that need it. As technology advances this will possibly become a mute issue.

    We’ve gone through this cycle many time. Starting with the 300 baud modems, then 2400, 4800, 9600, 14.4, 19.2, 33.6, 56k dial-up modem, while at the same time some companies offered T1 and T3 lines for people and businesses that needed really fast service that was up all of the. The consumers trailed the leading edge, but the cheap products let all of the consumers build up the economies of scale. Now we have DSL, cable, satellite, wireless broadband and dial-up connections. Businesses are still offering faster services for a premium, but that is part of advancing technology.

    What would of happened if the government mandated that everyone must use 9600 baud modems? We’d probably still be using them.

    For people who are fearful of big business…Corporations can be replaced much easier than governments. The solution is to prevent the corporations from gaining political influence so they can’t act like monopolies. The way to do this is by supporting a system that prevents this sort of political graft and corruption. The best system ever created and is the great equalizer is the free market.

  2. “The best system ever created and is the great equalizer is the free market.”

    Touché.

    I am totally skeptical of this whole “net neutrality” thing, but I think it is a done deal because the net neutrality proponents have been successful in their scare tactics and in framing the debate in their terms.

    Come on Hardy, it’s the internet’s First Amendment. Who can be against that??

  3. Bob the Optimizer
    May 30th, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    “What would of happened if the government mandated that everyone must use 9600 baud modems? We’d probably still be using them. “
    Good point. Let’s not forget that the explosion in innovation happened after the Telecommunications Act of 1996, when the government loosened it’s grip on the phone companies.

    This is a typical liberal activist tactic: Invent a problem and offer a solution that involves more government control.

    Not that they would know this, but in business, when your competitor does something that isn’t popular with customers (like charging extra to access certain web pages), that’s called an ‘Opportunity’. You can take advantage of this ‘Opportunity’ to expand your customer base (by not charging to access certain web pages) and increase your profit margin. Unfortunately, your competitor will probably stop charging extra when he sees that he is losing business. This is the essence of the role of profit and loss in economics. They will determine what businesses do.

    It’s funny that the people behind this are pretty big businesses themselves, like Google and Yahoo. Shouldn’t the activists be asking why big businesses would be trying to use the government against their potential competitors? Isn’t Big business controlling the government one of their biggest gripes?

  4. Apparently people here have no interest in consumer protection – the real issue at hand. Morphing this into a “typical liberal activist tactic” striving for big government is wonderfully ignorant.

    Imagine you’re Verizon’s CEO. Your duty is to increase profits for your shareholders. Period. So you knock heads with your fellow CEO buddies at a GOP convention or something and come up with a thought: web sites have been riding on the back of Verizon’s infrastructure for years under unlimited access. It’s about time Verizon cashes in on that usage. Imagine your legacy of quadrupling your share price! Oooo, and that golden parachute….

    So you, a powerful CEO, light a fire to the idea of net neutrality. It would essentially let telcos ignore consumer-protection tariffs (state and federal) and impose whatever fees they see fit. Consequently, users who use the net a lot will pay a lot while those who rarely use it pay accordingly. Sounds great, right?

    If net neutrality had not been in place from the beginning, there would be no eBay, no Yahoo, no Google, and no Blogspot since consumer traffic drives demand regardless of consumers’ income. Of course, the telcos would gladly take the call from consumer demand and create their own pseudo sites (offered at discounted rates, naturally). Or those big sites can pay a ransom to stay alive. The innovation we have known to date from developers and GUI designers would be non-existent, these skills now being proprietary depending on your local net provider.

    Opposing net neutrality means supporting a crippled economy.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5009250.stm

  5. That article was not very balanced. It only presented the issue from one side and didn’t even offer a single quote from the other side. It was basically one guy’s take on it.

    Here is an interesting article from CNET, which is some kind of tech website my husband goes to. It talks about an alternative to the ultra-restrictive net neutrality legislation being considered now. It would deal with the doomsday scenarios being thrown up by the net neutrality folks by setting up a system by which complaints are reviews by the FCC on a case-by-case basis. It also talks about why the author thinks the current bill is bad.

    I would much rather see individual situations evaluated case-by-case than sweeping regulatory legislation that will no doubt have unforeseen negative consequences that could adversely affect the future technological development of the internet.

  6. Bob the Optimizer
    May 31st, 2006 at 2:45 am

    Anonymous, that was amazing! In your quest to be clever, you poke holes in your own argument!
    First, you say that Net Neutrality is all about consumer protection. I’ve never in my life seen big corporations like Google, Amazon, Yahoo and Microsoft (yes, Microsoft, which has lost antitrust lawsuits both here AND in the EU) lobby congress so aggressively on my behalf. That is truly amazing! Get real. They are doing the very thing you liberals claim to hate: lobbying for their own ‘special interest’ at the cost of the average consumer.

    Then later you give a what-if scenario where there was no Net Neutrality and none of the success was possible. News flash: there was no such thing as Net Neutrality when the Ebays and Googles saw explosive growth! Net Neutrality is a term that was coined by your hated Big Business (the ones that stand to gain from this) to push this crap on all of us. The ‘thing’ that was in effect is called the Free Market. It ensures that we get the best service for the least cost. If you don’t believe me, just look at Ebay, Amazon, Google, and Blogspot!

    And then there’s your CEO scenario. You might have missed this from my previous post, so here it is in a nutshell: businesses will do the things that increase their profit margin. Alienating their customer base by denying access to web sites that they have always had access to in the past will do nothing but alienate them and make them seek alternatives. These are what I called business ‘Opportunities’ for competitors in my last post. Verizon, or any other corporation whose stock is publicly traded, is obligated to seek profit. Alienating customers will not achieve that goal. Why don’t you imagine Verizon’s CEO explaining to the board why he thought charging customers more for something they already had was a good idea? That’s called a price increase. We consumers don’t like those very much.

    And my favorite: “It would essentially let telcos ignore consumer-protection tariffs (state and federal) and impose whatever fees they see fit.”
    You obviously don’t know much about the telecommunications industry. Even with all the legislation in recent years that has opened up competition in the industry, they are still hamstrung by tariffs and regulations. A substantial amount of time and money is spent ensuring that these tariffs and regulations are not violated. I can tell you from personal experience that any service order that violates these tariffs will be rejected, as my current job is managing T1 change orders. To state that a telecom carrier can arbitrarily ignore them is beyond ridiculous. It sounds very clever though. Nice try.

    Last, but not least:” Opposing net neutrality means supporting a crippled economy.”
    Net Neutrality is a scheme cooked up by businesses that stand to gain from it, and some Senator from Oregon. We don’t have ‘Net Neutrality’ now and the economy is doing fine. Government intervention into a smoothly functioning entity is what will cripple the economy.
    Broadband competition (like every other industry) is fierce. Anyone foolish enough to try blocking sites to all but premium payers will loose, big time. And I doubt anyone is foolish enough to try it.

  7. “And I doubt anyone is foolish enough to try it.”

    What about AOL?

  8. That’s interesting that you brought up AOL as a company that blocks content.

    Here’s a fact, “AOL lost 2.8 million U.S. members in 2005.”

    Looks like you proved Bob’s point.

  9. Bob the Optimizer
    May 31st, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    “What about AOL?”

    AOL!! That’s a riot! I guess the ‘foolish enough to try it’ would aply to AOL customers too!
    They’ve been pulling stunts like this and not offering an uninstall option for years. And like Charity said, they are losing customers.
    Their niche was people new to the internet. I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone who can use Firefox or Internet Explorer would still use AOL.
    The nature of the internet is such that word will quickly spread about any ISP limiting choice and access. And someone else will step in to fill the void.
    We don’t need a law to do this because the free market will do it everytime (unless they are hindered in some way by the government). The beauty of the free market is that it will work in every situation, whereas a law only works in certain situations.
    Speaking of which, this law is way too vague. It looks like it was designed to make laywers rich, not protect anybody.

  10. “That article was not very balanced.”

    Not balanced? So the guy who helped invent the internet (alongside the World Wide Web Consortium) testifies that Net Neutrality is the founding model for the internet and you say it’s not balanced? I guess because there was no Verizon and Bellsouth banner behind him in the photo, his arguments are just liberal hogwash.

    Your CNET article brings up interesting points worthy of discussion (perhaps later).

    “News flash: there was no such thing as Net Neutrality when the Ebays and Googles saw explosive growth!”

    Here’s my link again, Bob, since you obviously didn’t read it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5009250.stm

    Bob, you seem angry. Not sure if it’s because you ran out of ritalin or because you know your job of “managing T1 change orders” is about as advanced technologically as being the guy responsible for sending smoke signals. Surely you’re worried about outsourcing for managing dinosaurs.

    My argument does not sprout holes merely because you say so. For example, just because Microsoft and eBay happen to fall on my side of this debate does not make my argument null and void. If you used that logic in your support for the president, then I’d say you have no basis because Ken Lay was convicted (i.e. not a strong counter-argument).

    As for tariffs, I can speak as a person who dealt with T1’s over 10 years ago. The “Baby Bells” routinely violate tariff agreements. For example, Business X signs up for a calling plan only to get a higher bill because the telco bumped them into a different tariff bracket w/out notice (not slamming; this would be a move to the Base Rate or other product line). It is a business decision not unlike the rebate scam by retailers (banking on the fact that a small percentage will be persistent enough to follow-up). It often takes an appeal to the FCC and/or VT’s PSB to amend the matter. Even then, fines are nothing more than slaps on the wrist.

    re: AOL – “Looks like you proved Bob’s point.”

    As best I can tell, someone with a similar name merely asked a question that you then mutated into your own conclusion. Par for the course….

  11. “I guess because there was no Verizon and Bellsouth banner behind him in the photo, his arguments are just liberal hogwash.”

    No, but what the telecom companies are accused of wanting to do and the consequences of those actions, are purely speculation, especially since they were not allowed to comment.

    Just because someone helped invent the internet does not mean his words should be taken as gospel and no one should be allowed to counter.

    Any article that accuses some group of a set of actions should at least have a comment from that group. It just makes for more credible journalism.

    “Bob, you seem angry.”

    I’m sure Bob can speak for himself, but I didn’t think he sounded angry at all. If he was, my guess is that it is only because you lack the capacity to conduct a discussion without insulting those who have a different opinion.

  12. Bob the Optimizer
    June 12th, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    From techrepublic.com: “Thursday evening, in a testament to Verizon’s lobbying prowess, the U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected extensive Net neutrality regulations in a 269-152 vote. “

    Half way there!!