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Is Net Neutrality Really Needed?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the six-of-one-a-half-dozen-of-the-other dept.

Government 705

darrad writes "An opinion piece over at the Wall Street Journal lays out an alternate theory on why we have new regulations from the FCC on Net Neutrality. There is a lot of talk about this subject, particularly among the tech sector. Most of the talk centers around preventing companies from charging more for traffic or black holing other traffic. However, the question should be asked, is granting control over the Internet to political appointees the way to go? Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"

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Still too vague and too poorly defined (5, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645138)

We all know what we want: We want Comcast to be unable to charge Google extra for the service of letting customers access Youtube. But it's really hard to phrase this well enough and clearly enough that it lets network admins do the kinds of QoS and traffic shaping things they need to do in order to provide good service, or for that matter, block unwanted traffic entirely.

I am not at all convinced that getting the government involved will improve my life.

Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (5, Insightful)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645206)

But it's my job to say what type of traffic is unwanted. If I wanted to live in China I'd move there.
It's difficult to decide who I trust less the government or big business; maybe that's because there isn't much difference between the two.

Real problem (2, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645526)

> maybe that's because there isn't much difference between the two.

Especially in the Internet biz. For 99% of customers the choice is between a huge bloated government granted and regulated monopoly telco and the almost as bloated government grated and regulated cable company. Then there is a couple of wireless options here and there most of which are owned and operated by the monopoly telco and will never deliver enough bandwidth to matter.

But the bigger problem with the FCC is the newspeak. Whenever progs open their piehole words come out but they don't mean what normal people assume they mean. "Freedom is Slavery" "Ignorance is Power" "Ministry of Truth" "Network Neutrality" You can bet your last dollar that the absolute last thing the FCC has in mind is "Neutrality".

Hopefully the courts will knock this one down as fast as the last attempts by the FCC to exceed their mandate.

Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (2)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645536)

No.

We have to wait until the ISP's do something so egregious that there is a huge public uprising, and then Congress and the Senate can get together to prevent that specific thing.

Then lather, rinse, and repeat.

Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (0)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645560)

Then the answer is simple :

Either you trust the government : no choice of provider (that much, history should prove)
Or you trust business : you can choose (for a little more money probably, yes, deal with it) a better provider, additionally you can build something yourself

Big business has a huge advantage over the government, even if both are total assholes : one business, no matter how big, is not the only big business. Is there really that much of a contest ?

Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645244)

We all know what we want: We want Comcast [goatse.fr] to be unable to charge Google [goatse.fr] extra for the service of letting customers access Youtube [goatse.fr] . But it's really hard to phrase this well enough and clearly enough that it lets network admins do the kinds of QoS and traffic shaping things they need to do in order to provide good service, or for that matter, block unwanted traffic entirely.

I am not at all convinced that getting the government involved will improve my life.

Why do they need to do traffic shaping? (5, Insightful)

jwietelmann (1220240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645300)

If they were willing to either A) deliver all of us the kind of bandwidth promised in their Unlimited*** plans, or B) charge by the megabyte instead of by the month, this should be moot. I paid for that bandwidth, and I'll use it as I see fit. If I need to prioritize my own traffic, I'll do so with my router. That way my streaming video doesn't interfere with my VOIP calls.

But they're not talking about that, are they? They don't want my streaming video to interfere with their other customers' VOIP calls... which would seem to suggest that they don't actually have the capacity to deliver their Unlimited****** (up to) 10Mbps** that they sold to everyone in my neighborhood.

We have this fundamental problem where these companies have oversold the bandwidth, and the only solution they're willing to consider is to invent rules that will give you less of what you paid for. Because any other solution would force them to abandon an already-misleading marketing gimmick.

Re:Why do they need to do traffic shaping? (2)

DubThree (1963844) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645414)

I think you've nailed it. It pisses me off when I get poor quality on Netflix, but a speed test puts me at over 20 Mb/s. I'm thinking about switching from Comcast to a competitor because I know they're throttling Netflix. Let's let the free-market solve the problem.

Re:Why do they need to do traffic shaping? (5, Insightful)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645550)

Good point, the free market can sort this out. I'll just dump comcast and sign up with my local dial up. That'll show them.

In the mean time, what does a majority of the country do - since most of us do not have multiple options for broadband?

Re:Why do they need to do traffic shaping? (2)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645428)

Some of the plans sound like they want to bring back AOL, in essence--the walled garden of 'preferred' content, with, optionally, a pipe out to that "internet" place.

Why we didn't use "you don't want AOL back, do you?" as an argument for net neutrality before completely escapes me.

Re:Why do they need to do traffic shaping? (1)

DescData (196712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645436)

May be the whole idea of unlimited access was never realistic. As the uses of the internet when from text, to static images, ..., to streaming high def video, the providers need to thicken the pipe at ever point in the net. The question is who will pay for the upgrade. The existing users or the new users. Why should I pay to for upgrades for someone unlimited need bandwidth?

Re:Why do they need to do traffic shaping? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645558)

Well, that's what competition's about, ain't it?

If you can't provide the services that I demand at the price point I demand 'em, I'll go to someone else who can.

Progress happens. Keep up with the times, or die. That's how the world works.

(Hey, how's your buggy-whip business doing?)

Re:Why do they need to do traffic shaping? (4, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645562)

They don't want my streaming video to interfere with their other customers' VOIP calls...

That's not what's going to kill the Internet. That's a problem that's easily solved with QoS and prioritizing based on protocol. What they don't want - and will pretty much kill to prevent - is they don't want you to stream video content that competes with their video content. And since the Telcos all got smart and invested in content providers, it is trivial from a technical perspective to implement this.

In China, the free Internet died because the government didn't want the users to watch Tiananmen videos. In the US, the free Internet will die because corporations don't want the users to watch content they're not getting paid for.

Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645402)

"block unwanted traffic entirely."

If Comcrap defines Youtube and Hulu as "unwanted" because their video offerings conflict with Comcrap's crappy, underfilled, looks-like-crap streaming video and extortionately-priced cable tv "services", your statement makes no sense at all.

And that's pretty much what Comcrap and TW have been setting up to do.

Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (1)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645520)

it's really hard to phrase this well enough and clearly enough that it lets network admins do the kinds of QoS and traffic shaping things they need to do

I'd prefer they not traffic shape, or block traffic (such as usenet), but I guess the wires can only handle so much load. Here is what the FCC press release says: Rule 1 Transparency: "service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices "

Rule 2 No Blocking: ", shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management." Makes note that video services should not be blocked just because they compete with ISP's video service (i.e. Comcast).

Rule 3 No Unreasonable Discrimination: "Reasonable network management shall not constitute unreasonable discrimination..... (ensuring network security and integrity, including by addressing traffic that is harmful to the network; addressing traffic that is unwanted by users (including by premise operators), such as by providing services or capabilities consistent with a user's choices regarding parental controls or security capabilities; and by reducing or mitigating the effects of congestion on the network.)" "Pay for Priority Unlikely to Satisfy "No Unreasonable Discrimination" Rule"

Mobile Broadband

"most consumers have more choices for mobile broadband than for fixed broadband. Mobile broadband speeds, capacity, and penetration are typically much lower than for fixed broadband, though some providers have begun offering 4G service that will enable offerings with higher speeds and capacity and lower latency than previous generations of mobile service. In addition, existing mobile networks present operational constraints that fixed broadband networks do not typically encounter. This puts greater pressure on the concept of "reasonable network management" for mobile providers, and creates additional challenges in applying a broader set of rules to mobile at this time. Further, we recognize that there have been meaningful recent moves toward openness, including the introduction of open operating systems like Android. In addition, we anticipate soon seeing the effects on the market of the openness conditions we imposed on mobile providers that operate on upper 700 MHz C-Block spectrum, which includes Verizon Wireless, one of the largest mobile wireless carriers in the U.S.

"In light of these considerations, we conclude it is appropriate to take measured steps at this time to protect the openness of the Internet when accessed through mobile broadband"

Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (1)

jimmy_dean (463322) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645574)

I completely agree with you. What does the government even know about a complex issue? This seems like it will only begin to hamper the innovation that is capable on the Internet without being crushed by regulation. I think the politicians are just trying to do another power grab.

False Dichotomy (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645142)

It's not a choice: one is not "handing it over control to political appointees". It is simply saying not packet dicrimination. So yes there will be regulators but they do not have fiat control, just enforcement responsibilities.

Thus this discussion is starting out on a false premise.

Re:False Dichotomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645186)

Well, the Wall Street Journal said that some guy who's a communist supports net neutrality, so it's clearly a communist plot. Are you a commie? Goombah99 is a commie!

Re:False Dichotomy (1, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645236)

The FCC has been regulating the air waves for over 76 years! Never had a problem with that.

So where the fuck is this coming from???

Sure you want some government appointee to handle the patent office but god forbid they oversee the internet to make sure that CONSUMERS don't get screwed out of what they are PAYING FOR!

Look it's the Wall Street Journal. SO it's a hatchet job.

Re:False Dichotomy (5, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645298)

Thus this discussion is starting out on a false premise.

The claim that Net Neutrality is "government regulation of the Internet" is a lie perpetuated by politicians acting on behalf of the cable and telephone monopolies. The purpose of Net Neutrality is to prevent the cable and telephone monopolies from shutting out competitors (or people they don't like).

Re:False Dichotomy (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645384)

It is simply saying not packet dicrimination. So yes there will be regulators but they do not have fiat control, just enforcement responsibilities.

However, the regulation that no packet shall be discriminated against based on its origin requires fiat control. The trick here is that the initial fiat control gives way to only enforcement responsibilities. It's unlikely to be that way, but then again: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." The price for a near-free Internet will be eternal vigilance for people who will seek permanent fiat control.

Answers. (5, Insightful)

BenFenner (981342) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645152)

Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"

Yes.

Should ISPs be free from regulation?
No.

Re:Answers. (4, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645264)

The real problem with government regulation is it can screw you in the face. Take Canada for example where the CRTC has decided that UBB is just fine, oh and we get to charge more. And you can only use 60gb/mo even if you're on another ISP. The SS Fail Train has set sail for the bottom of the Atlantic.

Re:Answers. (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645344)

In case you haven't been watching ISPs want to charge users for crappy internet access and double charge you for accessing content you are already paying for but because it goes through someone else backbone they want to charge you for the privileged of allowing those bits to go through their cables that was paid for by tax payer dollars.

Seriously dude, go watch hockey night in canada.

Privatization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645434)

On the other hand, private corporations are not beholden to the Bill of Rights. That's the beauty of privatization. You give carte blanche to a few big companies to determine how traffic is managed on the internet. You call the CEO and give him a few "suggestions" (not mandates; suggestions) as to what he should do. The CEO, not wanting to displease the government, lest they subsequently feel the need to audit him, does the patriotic thing and takes there advice.

And that's how you censor the internet without technically infringing on anyone's rights.

Re:Answers. (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645460)

But the problem with NOT having government regulation is that the monopolies fuck the consumer just as hard then.

Look at all the places in the US where cable companies have a monopoly, simply because they managed to raise the barrier to entry high and entered into collusion agreements with other companies to pull out (my area used to have TW, Comcast, and Verizon for cable TV options, now we're stuck with Comcrap only because they ran Verizon out by running under cost and then TW "traded" us away by promising to pull out of our city if Comcrap pulled out of another city on the other side of the state).

Now look at what precisely Comcrap has been trying to do: block off streaming video from Youtube, Hulu, and Netflix to force people in their monopoly-areas to pay more for Comcrap's crappy shitty "video on demand" cable service instead.

No. In this case, we need government regulation. The trick is making sure it's the *right* regulation and properly enforced.

Re:Answers. (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645522)

If you are making a point, I recommend defining CRTC and UBB. Or better yet, just explain your point instead of making a vague reference to some event that most Americans won't recognize.

Nobody is saying all regulation is good. But network neutrality regulation is good. Lets not compare it to other dissimilar regulation. Lets look at this regulation, which boils down to "do what you've been doing for the past decade and don't try to defraud people in subtle, complicated ways."

Re:Answers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645564)

Lol, you said screw you in the face

Re:Answers. (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645316)

While I in large part agree with this, I could imagine a "specialty" ISP (targeted at, say, hardcore gamers) with robust traffic shaping being a Good Thing. This fictitious ISP would throttle http/ftp/ssh/smb/etc. traffic, with the trade-off of better throughput and lower latency for gamers. Were I a no-holds-barred gamer, I could see myself electing to sacrifice some speed on YouTube or what have you, if it meant a better gaming experience.

Of course, this is an entirely hypothetical situation, wherein the Big Corporations have our best interest in mind (will that get me a +1 Funny?)...

Re:Answers. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645456)

(will that get me a +1 Funny?)

Probably not, but your epic username fail is worth a chuckle :p

Re:Answers. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645484)

Traffic shaping on the last mile is only going to have limited benefit. Unless you're suggesting a complete fiber GamerNet backbone - it still goes over the same backbones as the other ISP's are sharing already.

Re:Answers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645378)

They aren't free from regulation now, hence the [potential] problem. This is a recurring theme: government creates a problem, more regulation is called for to 'fix' it. ISP's SHOULD be from regulation. Mom and Dad who don't use torrents, youtube, or streaming media in general shouldn't have to subsidize those who do. Traffic SHOULD be subject to 'discrimination', and those who want certain types of traffic should pay for it. ISP's SHOULD be able to filter content - in an unregulated market of providers people who wanted unfiltered content would patronize ISP's who didn't filter. Decent summary of these ideas:

http://blog.mises.org/15068/against-net-neutrality/

You see these sorts of issues anywhere there is a monopoly *granted by the government* - medicine, utilities, etc. I really wish people would think about 'monopoly' beyond the typical nonsense. If there is even the *threat* of competition then a provider of a service is compelled to improve it (see, for example, the NFL). The only real monopolies are those that are granted by the government, where it creates artificial scarcity or barriers to entry - besides the above examples see taxi cabs, lawyers, barbers, etc, etc. It doesn't require much thought to realize that these barriers to entry have little to do with the public welfare and everything to do with political back scratching.

Re:Answers. (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645494)

The original question isn't even a correct one.
One way or another the internet is going to be regulated.

The real question is whether you want private companies setting the rules,
or a government agency that at least pretends to care about the consumer.

And consider that if the Feds don't regulate, the States will.
With the end result being inconsistent rules across the nation.

No? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645156)

I'm not americkan, but I'm pretty sure most parts of your country don't have much of a choice in ISP, so I'd say regulate it.

Re:No? (1)

protektor (63514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645488)

The problem isn't to regulate ISPs to make more ISPs. The main problem is the last mile. They have basically allowed a monopoly at the last mile and then didn't force either the telcos or cable companies to share the last mile that they have had as a monopoly for the last 40-100 years. If you won't open up the last mile to competition, and you won't make them share, then you aren't going to ever have real competition. To see this all you have to do is look at how many locally owned ISPs there were 15 years and look at how many there are now. If you setup a form to ask users which ISP they use, you could list 10 of them and you would get 90-95% of the population with those 10. That is because of the last mile and the way the telcos and cable companies have been able to illegally leverage their monopolies to keep competition out of the marketplace.

It all comes down to one question. (4, Insightful)

moortak (1273582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645158)

Do you trust someone with a profit motive to screw with your connection, or someone with a political motive?

Re:It all comes down to one question. (0)

thynk (653762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645226)

Do you trust someone with a profit motive to screw with your connection, or someone with a political motive?

profit, as it has the market forces to help keep it in check. What keeps politicians in check? More politicians.

Re:It all comes down to one question. (1)

DamienRBlack (1165691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645356)

What keeps politicians in check?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say... voters? When was the last time you saw a large corporation seriously change their policies because of market pressure? When the pressure gets too high, they just change their image with a marketing campaign or re-branding.

Re:It all comes down to one question. (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645422)

wow, just ... wow. Are you really that ignorant?

Profit never keeps anything in check. EVER. It drives people to do whatever they can to make money, regardless of who is getting screwed over.

Politician, ultimately, answer to us.

Re:It all comes down to one question. (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645500)

profit, as it has the market forces to help keep it in check.

Only till some asshatted megaconglomerate comes in and runs in an area at under-cost until they drive out all competition, then jack the rates and fuck the consumers as a monopoly.

See also: the shitty situation most of America is stuck in for ISP service. There *IS* no real competition.

Re:It all comes down to one question. (3, Insightful)

protektor (63514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645546)

Profit will only keep market forces in check if there is actually a free market with all risks associated with a product are disclosed by the company. The and only then can consumers decide how much risk they are willing to take and the price at which they are willing to purchase that product with known risks. You also need to make sure that monopolies aren't leveraging their monopoly in one market to monopolize new markets. This is exactly what has happened with telcos and cable companies who got in to the Internet business.

Re:It all comes down to one question. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645248)

They're the same thing in America.

Um. (1)

jwietelmann (1220240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645502)

Neither, but I do trust one simple-to-understand-and-enforce rule ("you shall indiscriminately handle and deliver packets") to take it out of the hands of both.

If there were only a name for such a rule...

Does it really matter anymore? (1)

seepho (1959226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645164)

I've been spreading the good word of Net Neutrality for the last five years. Why is it that now, after I've stopped caring since the FCC passed this non-functioning solution under the banner of Net Neutrality, do I actually see people talking about the issue?

Re:Does it really matter anymore? (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645246)

Compare with the slowness of IPv6 progress in the US and contrast with the ol' Y2K.
Because until they're looking for filler, the media takes its time things that don't go "BOOM!"
If it doesn't, they at least want to make someone's public image implode

Re:Does it really matter anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645392)

Compare with the slowness of IPv6 progress in the US and contrast with the ol' Y2K. Because until they're looking for filler, the media takes its time things that don't go "BOOM!" If it doesn't, they at least want to make someone's public image implode

The hell..?

Re:Does it really matter anymore? (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645262)

That's right. We all just started talking about this subject today, because, you, Seepho, have stopped caring about it. We're just doing this to confuse and annoy you. In fact, we're waiting for you to stop caring about copyright infringement and Microsoft, so that we can start discussing those subjects here at Slashdot, as well.

The author is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645170)

a typical anti-neutrality shill.

However, the question should be asked, is granting control over the Internet to political appointees the way to go?

And who wants to do that? Net neutrality is not about regulating the Internet, it's about regulating telecomms with one simple rule: "all traffic should be equal".

Re:The author is... (0)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645390)

Would you expect anything else from a NewsCorp owned outlet?

Re:The author is... (0)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645432)

This has nothing to do with NewsCorp.

WSJ is the paper for the Robber Baron wannabe. Regardless of their ownership, they would be all for allowing those with money to be free to abuse that don't have money.

Profit is everything and we don't want to let the proles or their concerns get in the way of that.

Just your basic psuedo-libertarianism.

...aware that lawmakers are human. (2)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645420)

it's about regulating telecomms with one simple rule: "all traffic should be equal".

Except it isn't.

To paraphrase the old management joke: big, fast, cheap - pick two.
And not everybody is going to pick the same two. Especially politicians who don't care about your data.

Is your driving need...
Streaming/bulk data? a per-packet charge is going to cost you a LOT. The data difference between a Netflix-streaming couch potato and email-checking grandma is several orders of magnitude. Will your bill be four-five digits? or will her bill be pennies? Remember: "all traffic is equal" so you're going to pay per packet, and grandma's 'net bill isn't going to approach zero.
Time-sensitive data? you want low-latency pings for your multiplayer games, you'll have to pay for prioritization - or, well, you can't because "all traffic is equal". Get your packets in line behind a buffered movie.
Cheap data? since nobody can pay for prioritization even if they want to, you all get cheap data - and cheap does not necessarily mean inexpensive.

Careful what you ask for. You might get it.

free from regulation (2, Insightful)

uncanny (954868) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645172)

Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"

Yes, very much so, which is why we dont want companies regulating it. Content or availability.

shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645182)

Absolutely. The incumbent players should be able to use their monopoly status to erect barriers to stifle innovation in every form. Existing business models should be able to protect their revenue streams from new upstarts. They should be able to block innovation which threatens their operations.

Your -complaints- online (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645188)

Whether or not you think the FCC's alleged power over internet connections is useful, legit, or otherwise constitutional, there -is- a new influence that we can now bring to bear against people trying to disrupt the structure of the internet, e.g. Comcast v. L3:

The FCC has shown itself to be vulnerable to PTC-style interventions, where a large segment of organized users more-or-less simultaneously demands intervention against a regulated entity--see nipplegate for details.

A PTC-like organization of interested internet users (Hey, Anonymous--you guys reading this?) could force the FCC to levy fines against ISPs that engaged in activities that contravene usability of the internet for various users.

What we have here is an opportunity. Sure, the whole structure is not perfect, but that can be changed. Let's -use- this opportunity.

A lack of government is also regulation (2)

twitcher101 (1712418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645194)

To assume that a lack of government regulation is the same as no regulation is to completely overlook the corporate regulation that those who want net neutrality oppose. I would always rather have the government regulating instead of the profit driven anti-competitive private sector.

To Troll or not to Troll... (1)

Dharkfiber (555328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645198)

Wall Street Journal obviously has no dog in that hunt...

ISPs don't care what their customers want (5, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645200)

In an environment of "the customer is always right," the market can be trusted to deliver exactly what is in the customers' best interests without any form of outside interference.

In an environment of telco monopolies, multi-year contracts, terms which the provider can change at will, and more; it becomes necessary to restrict what providers can and cannot do because the customers are left powerless other than as voters who tell the government what they want.

Re:ISPs don't care what their customers want (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645340)

do you have a multi year contract with your ISP? that sucks.

Wireless (2)

jwietelmann (1220240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645544)

I think he's probably referring to his wireless internet plan, and you're thinking strictly in terms of wires.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645212)

Yes I mean I wouldn't want the government mucking around with my internet just like my healthcare.
Unless I manage to get to France where the government mucks with everything and I get to relax after a nice 35 hour work week, and take my 5 weeks vacation. Oh wait am I advocating both socialist heathcare and the internet? Anyway I found this author's post similar to the NeoCon arguements promoting "Individual Control" and felt compelled to make satire !!

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645430)

I forgot to answer the question Yes Net Neutraity is definately needed, already with bandwith throttling cases against Comcast and friends regarding ftp and other types of media, large companies always prove themselves in direct opposition to consumer rights,and further employee rights in many cases. Electronic Arts and developers,Starbuck's and taking the barrista's tips, plus the whole money laundering scheme that is legal called the double Irish allowing Google, Microsoft, Starbucks and others to reduce their tax rates to 3.5 % By the way sorry Wesley (Snipes) you should have incorporated before evading taxes then its legal!! Next time will be better... don't worry the loophole will still exist!! You too can then cash in on the action, while the banks lend their free interest loan back to the US government with interest charges, I love the whole freedomness, the US corporations enjoy, it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Good night I am filled with too much jubilent libertyness I think I will make some democracy smores with a nice creamy capitalist marshmellow center and a hot chocolate and sleep like a baby

No and No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645216)

"However, the question should be asked, is granting control over the Internet to political appointees the way to go? Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"

Those are two separate questions and should be answered as such, rather than conflated as the OP seems to be trying to do...

Should the Internet remain "free" from regulation the way food was before the FDA? No.
Should the Internet be vulnerable to ideological manipulation by political appointees? No.
Should the Internet be vulnerable to ideological manipulation by the telcos, cable providers, or wireless companies? No.

The solution should have been simple: classify internet service as a common carrier, so that _no-one_ has authority to interfere in the business of transferring data.

Net Neutrality(tm) is not about net neutrality (0)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645218)

If the FCC gets ahold of control over the internet they will screw it up really, really badly. Look at the radio spectrum. Do you really want your packets limited to say, 3 hops?

The FCC works for the phone companies, who are the ones pushing against net neutrality. Asking them to defend it is like guarding your goats with a T-Rex.

Re:Net Neutrality(tm) is not about net neutrality (3, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645324)

The FCC doesn't "control" the internet. It is merely prohibiting ISPs from controlling their customers' access to the internet. The electric company sells you electricity, they don't get to tell you how you can and can't use it - that's the nature of net neutrality.

Re:Net Neutrality(tm) is not about net neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645604)

Wow. I just have to say: wow! Much disinformation?

Net Neutrality *means* each packet is treated equally, irrespective of its source.

I'm not sure what is so difficult about it. And if you want your packets to be limited to 3 hops, just set your TTL accordingly.

We need some regulation... (5, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645224)

Net neutrality is a misnomer. What is needed is are regulations to stop ISPs from doing any or all of the following:

Discrimating by site. Non-DDoS traffic to site "A" should not cost more than going to site "B".

Add/modifying/deleting in flight traffic. Throttling/QoS is one thing, adding adds via Phorm, or changing people's postings to Web boards in flight is another.

Blocking/slowing down one site, just to make another site seem faster.

Unneeded snooping on connections. Traffic should be considered PII, stored only a few days to check for security breaches, then binned. It is not to be sold to any ad companies who want router logs.

Expanding infrastructure. We never see Japanese ISPs wringing their hands in front of the Diet and saying how they are being driven into the ground by people in Tokyo watching TV on their phones. Nor do we see this in Korea or Singapore. ISPs build infrastructure, not just whine about people actually using their services.

We need to address issues exactly, not bundle them under the hazy "net neutrality" topic.

Awww... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645232)

How cute. The WSJ has dug up somebody who thinks that only governments are capable of "regulation".

States generally reserve the most dramatic flavor of regulation for themselves "Don't do X, or men with guns will put you in a cage"; but corporations, particularly monopolists and oligopolists, are easily capable of exerting influence on par with fines, taxation, censorship and almost any other flavor of regulation short of that promising imprisonment or death....

Re:Awww... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645504)

By far the most salient comment in this thread.

It wasn't always the case, but in the modern world, you will be regulated. All corporate entities (corporations and governments) seek to regulate your conduct. It's just a question of whether you'll have a say in how it happens. For some services, we can prefer a private, opt-in regime, the terms of which you cannot control (these are your relationships with your corporate--as in private corporations--regulators). For others, it makes sense to prefer an arrangement that is mandatory, but the terms of which you can control, at least to some extent.

Cable companies wouldn't abuse it? (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645234)

Cable companies have a huge incentive to protect what is otherwise a dying industry. They will do whatever it takes to block or otherwise interfere with those services that are going to kick their butts. This whole "you didn't pay for the bandwidth" is crap as it is their customers demanding these services and thus if anyone is going to pay it should be the customers. Except at wholesale rates bandwidth is nearly free. Even if you downloaded a gig an hour 24/7 the cost to provide this on a per customer basis is a tiny fraction of what customers are already paying per month. Most of the costs of providing high speed connections are things like call center support and marketing. The tech portion while large is actually tiny per customer per month.

Government is as government does (4, Insightful)

howlingfrog (211151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645242)

In what way is a large, powerful institution that can control the flow of information NOT a government? In what way is showing preference for certain packets over others NOT regulation?

Anarchism is feudalism. There is no such thing as total deregulation--the choice is about who gets to regulate and how much say you and I get in it.

First impressions (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645252)

I look at the link and I think, "Gosh, is the Wall Street Journal capable of delivering an objective opinion on this? They do, after all, have a stake in the issue."

So I click through, and there's the sub-head: "The campaign to regulate the Internet was funded by a who's who of left-liberal foundations."

Technically, I have to actually read the article to come up with an opinion. But I had a chili dog for lunch, and I don't need to be nauseated any further. I might even agree with the article's conclusion, but I doubt I'll find the reasoning sound.

Re:First impressions (4, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645388)

The WSJ has an impressively schizophrenic personality. The regular articles--the ones that you'd find on, say, the front page of the print edition--are very well researched and well-written, as well as impressively neutral in political alignment. They tend to stick strictly to the facts and use as little conjecture as possible.

The editorial page, however, is sometimes even further to the right than Glenn Beck. It is -RABIDLY- right-wing, sometimes getting close to fascism. It's probably what the Fox News people point to when they try to claim that their coverage fair and balanced.

Re:First impressions (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645524)

That's my impression as well. They still do a good job of reporting the real news, but are completely insane on the opinion pages.

Not entirely unlike Fox News, in fact, which really does deliver only somewhat slanted news on the pure news shows but are frothingly deranged on the opinion shows. WSJ seems to do a better job of keeping it from spilling over, while Fox News viewers who believe that they're genuinely separate are deluded.

Re:First impressions (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645476)

Point made.

You can't think for yourself, and judge people bu some small heading in a newspaper.

We really need less people like you.

Objective opinion? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645570)

Gosh, is the Wall Street Journal capable of delivering an objective opinion on this?

No one is capable of delivering an "objective opinion" since opinion is, by definition, subjective.

Re:First impressions of weak ad hom teabagging (1)

wagadog (545179) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645588)

Exactly

"The campaign to regulate the Internet was funded by a who's who of left-liberal foundations."..."(They are the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bill Moyers's Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, the Joyce Foundation, George Soros's Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.)"

you know, the same people that fund the Evil Crazy Scary Commie Socialist Dirty Hippie Kids Show uh...what was the name of that again?

Oh yeah. SESAME STREET.

Re:First impressions (2)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645596)

Wow, mods must be nice today. You got +4 insightful for a really long version of:

tl;dr

Faux News (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645286)

An opinion piece over at the Wall Street Journal

Since being taken over by NewsCorp, I'm not sure you could describe any of their articles as anything else. They're just GOP/big business shills now, RIP the news organization that used to make a meaningful contribution to our society.

Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"

You might as well ask, "Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the privately owned bridges be free from regulation?" or how about "Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the banks remain free from regulation?" or maybe "Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the electric company remain free from regulation?"

In any case the answer is "NO!" Vital resources should be regulated by the government because the government, for all its flaws, is ultimately answerable to the people and private companies have shown again and again they put their profits first and do great harm to society in pursuit of that, whether it be by dumping poison in our nation's rivers, gouging individuals using monopolies, Misusing money put into banks with risky investments, or leveraging resources to influence politics for profit.

A better question isn't if the government should regulate things, but "Why are we still letting private companies and foreign nations" influence our politics through campaign contributions, lobbying, and political adverts when the vast majority of individuals thing it should be illegal?"

We hold these truths to be self-evident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645296)

That all packets are created equal.
that they are endowed by their server with certain unalienable Rights.

Re:We hold these truths to be self-evident (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645506)

Shut the fuck up.

...Seriously.

Definition vs. Regulation (1)

kc0dby (522118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645314)

I think the last thing anybody wants is one or more government's interfering with the Internet.

Perhaps the best solution would just be to define "Internet Access" as a utility that provides unrestricted use of an Internet connection. Just like the power
company can't introduce fancy tech to prevent me from powering a TV if it does something the electric company doesn't like, if I'm paying for a service, I
should be able to use it as I see fit. I personally think that companies shouldn't be able to advertise a service as "Internet" if they are blocking certain sites,
certain ports, or other services I may wish to access.

It is just ridiculous that to be able to connect to something on Port 25, I have to pay twice as much for a "business" account. What is happening here is that
corporations are trying to "Re-AOL" the Internet so that it conforms to their business models.

How often do we have to go over this? (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645322)

The Internet is not going to remain free, regardless of what happens. Either Telcos and content providers integrate to add value to their commoditized dumb pipes and control where users go through caps and channel pricing, or the government regulates what Telcos and ISPs can and cannot do to users. One is the guaranteed effect of a capitalistic system in a market with very high barriers to entry, the other is the result of a population wanting some input on how a market prone to the creation of monopolies.

This means that the argument that a lack of regulation is the same as a free system is a flat-out lie. It necessarily implies that corporations will never engage in monopolistic rent-seeking, which is clearly false.

The only question then is: who gets to control the Internet? A corporation, or a bureaucrat? Furthermore, will control be left to an entity that is guaranteed to create a system that is designed to maximize its profit, or to an entity where the common citizens has even a chance of providing input?

This doesn't mean that any regulation is good. Some regulation will lead to the same result as no regulation. Some will lead to worse results. But there is at least the chance that it will lead to a better result. What's more, other countries have already shown what kind of regulatory environment is more beneficial to users than the one that currently exists in the US. So it's not that it's hard - it just requires some politicians to be afraid of their constituents.

Finally, I'd like to point something out that Americans seem to have a hard time understanding: a corporation is not a person. Furthermore, a corporation behaves like a sociopath. This means that things that benefit a corporation are not the same that benefit society as a whole. Remember that next time a corporate lobbyists argues that what's good for them is good for the country.

Re:How often do we have to go over this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645584)

I guess this all boils down to if you think you "as a user" have more influence through the representative process or through your pocketbook as a customer.

For me that is a very tough question especially considering you may lean one way or the other politically on most issues other than this so then what do you do?

Why can't we just pass a law that makes it illegal for content providers to call their service "Internet Service" if it is not totally open and available and also force the big telcos to share their backbone.

OMG socialism (1)

asamad (658115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645326)

yeah like your (USA) health system is soooo good for the masses, once corporate greed gets involved forget it.

What alternate theory? Crying socialism? (3, Insightful)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645332)

The crux of John Fund's ENTIRE article is, to paraphrase, "Net Neutrality is bad because it was created by SOCIALISTS! AND MARXISTS! AND THEY DON'T DENY IT!"

That is, of course, the problem with a lot of the commentary about Net Neutrality (although more on the side against Net Neutrality than for, I've noticed, although maybe that's just my own biases showing). None of the commentary actually address the issues of why Net Neutrality is or isn't necessary. Rather, it devolves into arguments about collateral issues like crying socialism like John Fund does here. He thinks Net Neutrality is bad because a "socialist" came up with it. As if a person's political views will render a person's idea per se invalid.

There are always those who thinks the way to score political points is to try to fit the word "socialism" as many times as they can into an article and call it an argument.

The internet is going to be regulated by SOMEONE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645336)

The internet is a situation that is inherently unstable. If it is not regulated and controlled by the government, it will be regulated and controlled by commercial interests, i.e. ISPs. Nature abhors a vacuum, including a power vacuum, and companies will inherently work to segment the market and charge all the market can bear in any area of endeavor; the internet is no exception to this, and such market segmentation could include paying for access to the wider internet outside of a walled garden; paying for access to specific protocols of communication (i.e. e-mail is extra, gaming is extra, etc.). The nature of the market is such that many consumers are effectively stuck with a monopoly (as there is only one provider of internet services in the area they live), and therefore the free market's "invisible hand" is useless to prevent such actions.

Why not allow ISPs to do whatever they want? The economic effects would be quite terrible for a lot of other parties. If you had to pay extra money to get access to E-bay, a lot of people wouldn't do it, so charging this fee (though enriching the ISP) would hurt the market and other companies disproportionately. Also, there is a wonderful amount of political discourse and free speech that could be easily stifled.

I personally would prefer a political appointee at least theoretically on the side of the people controlling the internet, to a company out to squeeze the market for all the wealth that can be extracted from it.

Doesn't the US have consumer-protection laws? (1)

shawnhcorey (1315781) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645358)

How can a carrier offer anything but net neutrality? It's the same hardware, it's the same software, therefore it's the same service; the only difference is an artificial one created by the carrier. I don't know about the US, but in my country there are consumer-protection laws which prevent business from charging two different prices for the same service.

Re:Doesn't the US have consumer-protection laws? (1)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645602)

Amen. We already have plenty of laws forbidding business practices most NN alarmists already preach are going to happen. (Or could much easier be added instead of getting the FCC into the Internet) And any observed lack of competition between ISPs is largely caused by the same FCC NN want to hand the keys to. It's a bit of a feel good idea with almost no practical or ethical usefulness in the real world. I honestly don't care what the FCC or government says because it all happens on their whim anyway. The mindless mob grants them the power whether I approve or not. If Government is authorized to prevent something you just handed them the keys to *someday* do the opposite and allow it. Once they are in... they never go away. That is how this works.

No (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645376)

It's a primary means of information. Not regulating it means corporations will control where you can go, adn tyou will ahve no course of action.

With government regulation you have rights, and due process. You also have a voice.

The 'no regulation' concept is bullshit. Either the government will regulates it or corporations with regulate it.

yes and no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645394)

Technical net neutrality, the state that the Internet has always been: yes. Political bullshit like "a conservative magazine, they would provide a link to a liberal site" and "get rid of the media capitalists" and "overthrow the capitalist system itself": no.

An example of a strawman argument? (2)

jtseng (4054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645396)

FTA:

"The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility."

How will the consumers be losers? We're treating the companies that maintain the conduits of the Internet like a public utility and we should keep it that way. Do we have the water and power utilities telling us how to use our water and power? Should the water company prevent us from buying bottled water or buy it only from them? What if there are new start-ups with good ideas - I doubt these regulations will "stifle" these newcomers.

Of course we don't want bad regulations. But to say we shouldn't have any regulations is a bad idea (see Wall Street as a guide).

No... (1)

Xanthas (102594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645400)

The Internet has never been free of regulation. In fact, it was originally envisioned as a switching network much like typical telephone systems. I recall reading somewhere (can't find the article, please link to it in response if you have it), that it was a political end-run around the telcos, who apparently did not see it coming, that led to its current packet-routing form instead of a switched version (at least for the commercial Internet we know today). The telcos and others obviously (due to pushes to "shape" traffic a la Comcast) still want the degree of control and revenue extraction that a switched system would provide them. It is only now that the back-end providers have the hardware sophistication necessary to analyze every packet to the degree necessary to do this. Hence, now is when the need for regulation comes up--it wasn't needed before because the problem was not possible.

And I for one find the current FCC rules to be a major step in the right direction. Now we have precedent that the Internet does in fact fall under their regulatory umbrella, and that they are working to protect citizens using the Internet from over-reach by those with a monopoly on the physical network in their areas. What is allowed and is not allowed will certainly change as the technology progresses, but for now, what they have developed is certainly better than nothing.

Shame on /. for airing a professional shill's rant (2)

RandCraw (1047302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645408)

A WSJ blogger? Are you kidding me? Has Slashdot fallen so far that now you're promoting for-profit hacks like this guy?

For shame. This article is 100% unrecyclable trash.

The only regulation we need is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645440)

...a strict regulation for net neutrality.
Without net neutrality, the Internet would sooner or later turn into a maze of near-monopoly controlled payware networks. All of these networks would be based on TCP/IP and somehow reachable via the IP protocol, but most services demanding some bandwidth would only work when you buy them from the near-monopoly content provider that has been approved by your near-monopoly network provider. Say good-bye to small internet companies, free projects, free internet telephony (free as in freedom), affordable streaming, torrents, etc.

In a nutshell: Yes, we are in need of keeping the Net as neutral as possible. Or do you want to pay way toll every few miles for using someone's roads like in the Middle Age?

I just wonder why anybody would think that the FCC could be responsible. The Internet is international, and so the regulation obviously needs to be international, too. If at all, the FCC could be the US organ responsible for enforcing that international regulation.

Natural monopolies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645450)

Natural monopolies must be regulated. The only sensible alternative is to put infrastructure into public hands, i.e. to take not just the policy-making away from private businesses but also the operative business. The more interesting question is how to regulate natural monopolies. An approach which works relatively well in Europe is to require infrastructure providers with a high market share to rent whole connections and services to competitors at competitive prices. The result is that you can switch to a different ISP if your old ISP does not peer appropriately or doesn't buy enough transit, and the new ISP does not need to build out the last mile again. With actual competition, there's very little need for explicit network neutrality regulation.

Net Neutrality is only a start (1)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645516)

I think net neutrality as it's currently being proposed simply treats a symptom, not the cause. The cause is that telecom and cable companies have virtual monopolies due to access to public property that is granted to them exclusively. This allows them to pull whatever shenanigans they please; not just prioritized service. They have fiber wire just laying there unused because they don't feel the need to compete -- there's no one else around after all. They can price their plans ridiculously high (Verizon Wireless, I'm looking at you) without fear since they have sole access to a creme de la creme slice of spectrum that no one else is allowed.

If we truly want change, the various levels of governments need to pool some public funds into developing line and spectrum sharing technology. Plenty of non-profit organizations out there (EFF for instance) can provide technical input and ways to improve it in the future.

Then and only then will there be true competition when it comes to the internet. Anyone can start a cable company if they choose to invest in the routing/server infrastructure. Communities would be free to setup their own service with one giant pipe to the nearest hub. Competition will keep prices down and force companies to improve service instead of sitting back and raking in cash (and charging all sorts of nebulous, borderline scam fees).

Political point of view (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645538)

However, the question should be asked, is granting control over the Internet to political appointees the way to go?

That's actually not a relevant question in regard to the recent decision. No power was granted to political appointees that they did not already have under existing law. What happened was the parties to whom power was granted in existing law chose to exercise it in a manner which is proactive and provides advance notice and clarity as to how it will be applied, rather than the reactive, case-by-case manner in which the same political appointees have previously used the same grants of authority to pursue the same ends.

Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?

(1) The internet wasn't free of regulation before the net neutrality order; it was already subject to FCC oversight which was exercised on a case-by-case basis exercising the FCC's statutory authority, on top of that, it is subject to generally applicable laws, and, on top of that, the ability to offer connection services is subject to a wide variety of government regulations securing property rights, creating easements for specific purposes, governing telcos and cable providers outside of their ISP roles, etc.
(2) The concept that the internet should be "free of regulation", whether that means actually free of regulation (i.e., lawless) or merely free of the particular kinds of regulation adopted this week is a political point of view, and the attempt to portray it as if it were a universal norm independent of political viewpoints is extraordinarily disingenous.

Conceptually, yes (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645540)

If there isn't some regulation for 'fairness' to protect us citizens, you end up with comcast.

Seriously.... (1)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645568)

this post again?

This will work both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645598)

If ISP's think they can somehow negotiate a nice bonus from Google, they will be in for a big surprise.
Google should already have a list of which ISP is available in each area of the world. They will simply offer there services to (and only to) the highest bidder in each area. They rest of the ISP's will have to try and sell an internet without google, youtube, gmail, etc.

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