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Net Neutrality Activism

For all of you interested in Net Neutrality (and that should be all of you), it seems that Congress is very close to stopping the threat against it. If you don't know what this is about, Net Neutrality means that all websites load equally fast, whereas this bill proposes to let telecom corporations decide which websites load faster than others based on how much site owners pay them. This is a non-partisan issue, and I urge you to contact your representatives and take action. (Note, the site I link to is a liberal blog, but this really is a non-partisan issue. Please take action regardless of your political beliefs)

It's about On Demand content.

RemusShepherd's picture

The entire net neutrality debate comes down to the cable companies' desire to provide On Demand content. Â It's a scarcity issue.

They've realize that it's not possible to reliably stream a movie to a consumer in today's internet.  There isn't enough bandwidth, and the bandwidth they have is unpredictably sucked up with spam and access to other sites they don't control.  So they want the right to throttle -- or shut off -- traffic to non-allied sites.  As an extra bonus, they'll get another revenue stream by forcing sites like Google and Yahoo to essentially pay them extortion money to prevent their access from being turned off.  Of course, your ISPs and the sites you spend money on will have to pass these extortion charges down to the consumer.

Net Neutrality is a bill that would prevent them from doing this. Â It would essentially say that any data passing through the backbone pipes has to be treated the same no matter the content or the originating site. Â Yes, Net Neutrality will kill Movies On Demand until the technology improves, but the alternative is to have half the net -- mostly the non-corporate sites that can't pay extortion money -- slow down or shut down.

It's not a matter of differentiating pricing among consumers, it's a matter of adding charges to the links between hubs on the net. Â The consumers have little to do with it...and little or no reason to support it, from what I can see.

 

 ...

Nework Neutrality?

So what exactly is "Network Neutrality"?  I don't mean what is it as a concept; I've read the articles in the above links and I understand that. I mean what force does it have? Is it currently enshrined in a law? Or is it some kind of commercial agreement between operating companies?

I'm having trouble inderstanding why - if they really want to - ISP's and bandwidth providers can't introduce differentiated pricing already.

Broken Voice Comics
Because comics are not just for kids

Broken Voice Comics
Because comics are not just for kids

Non-American concerns // What's this about?

LineItemVito's picture

Non-Americans should be concerned because the majority of websites and traffic are still centered in America. Your access to the internet will be restricted when your bits and bytes cross the American internet border.

What this is about -- Wikipedia has a good article about the issue: Here.

Here is my summary, which includes my bias:

The Internet should be run like the national highway and road system -- not for profit and equal access to all traffic. Except, the Internet is largely run by private for-profit concerns who want to separate traffic into high-volume/low-volume high-profit/low-profit sections, charging more and giving greater priority to high-volume content providers (websites and mailing lists, for example) and high-volume content consumers (probably NOT you, for example). This separation would mean that low-paying consumers who want content from low-volume non-mainstream sites would have a harder time getting it. Further, the ISPs are saying that any restriction on what they want to do is a violation of their freedom of speech rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The danger in letting the ISPs win this line of reasoning is that they would -- under free speach rights -- be able to filter or divert traffic that they don't like. There have already been examples of this where ISPs have filtered out traffic that contained links to websites that were advocates against the ISPs' interests.

Like I said, in my opinion, the internet should be a public resource and treated as a such, with equal access to all: net neutrality.

Note that even in the highway system, trucks pay more for their licenses than cars... because trucks cause more wear and tear to the highways and require bigger and more expensive roads. BUT that doesn't mean that the cars are shunted off to the small, poorly-maintained, side roads.

-- Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

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Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Save the internet?

WillieHewes's picture

I'm afraid I have trouble understanding this as well. The claims of what this bill will do vary, and I can't tell what's actually going on. I'm not American. I don't see how this would effect me, or how I could effect it.Â

So, no, I can't really get excited about this. Sorry.

Willie Hewes

Comics by a girl who likes sad things (but sometimes they are funny) - www.williehewes.co.uk

If Net Neutrality is such

If Net Neutrality is such big thing, I wonder why deleting software patents from law is not.

 

If we really want fair broadband access, we should legaistate the goverment to stop supporting molophy and get the playing field leveled. Â

A lot's happened last

Scott Story's picture

A lot's happened last week. For those who don't know where to look, I suggest following www.savetheinternet.com.

 

Net neutrality

Okay ... sitting here several thousand miles away from the US Congress on the other side of the Atlantic, here's what I don't understand ... How can the US legislate to control something which is so international?

In the first place, couldn't the guardians of the gateways to the net (presumably the telco's) charge differentiated pricing already, even without legislation? This sounds like a commercial decision, in which case what's stopping them is presumably competition, not legislation.

Secondly, if the US telco's introduce premium rates for faster access (with or without the backing of Congress) what's stopping a US consumer (or, for example, web-comicker) from signing up with an overseas entity? Surely it's not illegal to use an ISP or hosting service based outside the US?

Unless the legislation was to make it compulsory to charge higher tariffs (which I can't believe it would), I'd have thought any attempt by US telco's to hike up their charges for certain types of user would be an open invitation to foreign competitors to move in and market to that sector.

Broken Voice Comics
Because comics are not just for kids

Broken Voice Comics
Because comics are not just for kids

I just listened to an

Scott Story's picture

I just listened to an interesting take on the Net Neutrality issue on NPR’s New & Notes program. If passed by congress and signed into law by the president, this bill could have several outcomes, all bad:

Â

1)     The consumer has to pay more for higher speed surfing—Whether you’ve got dial-up or a T1 line, your download speed would be limited by how much of an additional premium you pay to the cable companies.

2)     Content screened by providers—The cable/phone companies become the gatekeepers of content, cutting off internet material to sites or competing providers as they see fit.

3)     Content makers charged for level of access—Businesses that function on the internet being forced to pay additional fees, beyond their hosting fees, to the phone/cable companies (owners of the pipelines or net infrastructure) to get the information onto the web, or at least onto the web’s fast lane.

Â

In the end, this could mean everyone pays more for fewer choices and less content. Entrepaneurship will be discouraged, and our struggling democracy will lose one of its last bastions of free speech and independent journalism.

I think part of the reason

Scott Story's picture

I think part of the reason that this issue has not gotten out there is it is not easy to immidiately understand. A lot of people don't see the relevance to themselves, especially if they don't have websites of their own or have a business over the web. As far as a play playing field, there have already been examples of the people who own the pipelines blocking content they didn't want shared, or search companies giving over inquiry information to governments such as China or the USA. If this shakes out in a worst case scenario way, then have a T1 line will be great until you try to access a sight that loads at a snail's pace.

 

 

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Shishio's picture

I too have tried to get people to care about this, but to no avail. I almost can't believe that people could be so apathetic about such an important issue.

One-liners - Preparation H. Shrinks Hemorrhoids.
New Comic Posted 06/23/06

No, this isn't a matter of

Neil Cohn's picture

No, this isn't a matter of semantics. Those speed differences you mention arise from the person who has the site (server) and the person who looks at it on the web (net connection). This would put a company in as the middleman that gets to decide who gets to load quickly and who gets to loads slowly, based on who pays them (most likely large amounts of money).Â

There is also a potential for abuse here too. Let's say that a website is saying something that the corporation controlling the pipeline doesn't want (or the government/politicians). They would then have the power to slow that site without any restriction or "law of neutrality" to prevent it.Â
Or, you can just think about it in the broader sense. In a democracy, the government is owned by the people, and as such, we own various parts of the goverment (the "Commons") like infrastructure, fire/police departments, water, etc. The Internet is one of those. When government allows things to be privatized (in this case, the Internet), it leaves the collective ownership of the people, and into the hands of private corporations who then can charge us to use it, whereas before we already paid a small amount (taxes) for full group ownership. I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I learned how to share, and I'm perfectly happy not letting some corporation take control of what We the People own.Â
------- Studying the Visual Language of "Comics" - www.emaki.net

------- Studying the Visual Language of "Comics" - http://www.emaki.net

I agree, but....

LineItemVito's picture

I completely agree that the 'net is like our highway system: equal access makes the rest of transporation-related commerce, communication, etc. possible.

But, I wonder if the 'net is actually equal access today? Don't some people/companies have faster servers and mirrored servers and redundant 24x365 servers because they can afford it while others can't? Don't some people/companies have faster connections to the 'net through T1's and T3's while others have 9600 baud dialup (or nothing)?

So, is it possible that this issue is simply one of semantics? (For the uninitiated, "semantics" is a word that used to be taught in American schools. In this case, it means an argument about what we CALL something as opposed to discussing the actual thing.)

Feeling snooty,
Eddie

-- Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

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Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

I've worked to pass around

Scott Story's picture

I've worked to pass around the word on this issue, but it's been hard to get people worked up about it so far. Unfortunately, without a crystal ball, we don't what the bill will look like once it gets into the conference stage between the House and Senate, and when it gets enacted what the long term results will be for us webcartoonists. No matter what, though, the community needs to unite and make its voice heard. What's more, being that we are on the fringes of the entertainment industry, we have lots of people who read our stuff and pretty wide audience of literate fans to appeal to.