Friday, June 09, 2006

Net Neutrality

I started to write a blog post about the rejection of the "Net Neutrality" amendment to the COPE act but as I started to research some more, I found it to be a pretty dense topic. It is important too. In reading the Slashdot thread on the topic, I found this post that contained the response of someone's congressperson. In it is a key bit of the telco industry position:

The problem is that over the next couple of years, large Internet sites are planning to offer high-definition video services, which will use large amounts of bandwidth and clog the pipelines of the Internet. Telephone and cable companies want to be able to charge for such large amounts of bandwidth; otherwise, they will have to pass the costs on to the consumer.
This line of argument has some serious weaknesses but I'm concerned that people who take action based on calls like Google's are ignoring the opposing opinion instead of engaging it. Worse still are the absolutist claims like, "anything less than this amendment would be a loss for freedom and innovation on the Internet." In fact, there is other legislation with nearly identical language in the works.

I can't say I'm crying about how things are turning out. I would probably most fit into the "support neutrality in theory but think it is too early to codify" camp. The telco industry moves to remove FCC policy regarding neutrality are not an encouraging development but I don't see a feasible way for the telephone companies to put their "charge Google" monetization plan in place. The ZDNet article linked above is particularly lame as it casts the issue in Democrat and Republican terms even though the prime mover of the FCC's neutrality policy was Republican and noted serial censor Michael Powell.

Another interesting quote from the congressperson's reply was this:

Rest assured that as we move through this process, I will continue to listen to the opinions of the experts and my constituents. I appreciate your comments and hope to receive them in the future.
Probably a key problem in grassroots activism is that constituents aren't seen as experts.

2 comments:

Ethan said...

I bet Frank has some thoughts on this.

Pablo said...

I am glad that you have done some thinking on this, because I have not, and it does indeed seem to be an important issue.

I have read the ZDNET article that you labeled as being lame for "casting the issue in Democrat and Republican terms". I do not think that the article does the reader a disservice by pointing out that the House debate is pretty clearly divided along party lines. The fact that Powell (a Republican) did articulate a position on net neutrality does not render meaningless the clear partisan divide on this issue.

I hope to hear more thoughts and snarky comments.

I find the debate fascinating because both sides are casting the issue as a struggle to preserve an "open marketplace".

Lamar Smith for example, urges folks to " reject government regulation of the Internet."

Google urges folks also claims that the open marketplace is at risk:

"Creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are all at stake in this fight."