October 23, 2006

Democrats = net neutrality?

How close is this connection? I'd like to know.


Seven Machos said...

Of course, Democrats are uniformly for net neutrality and the bad old Republicans are for huge companies keeping the Internet for the fat cats.

Democrats are for goodness. Republicans are for badness. This election is about which wide you are on: do you stand for goodness? Or do you stand for badness?

Don't you read the newspapers?

Karl said...
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The Drill SGT said...

I think there are a couple of definitions of net neutrality. I'm not yet sure where I stand on the first and I'm not sure the second is proven.

1. The issue as the article states it. Big content providers today don't pay their share of the costs. Today, consumers fund the internet. The telco's want to be able to charge big providers of content based on how much they provide. The googles of the world don't want that.

2. There are indications that Web 2, the second generation of web enterprises, Googles, YouTube, etc are not balanced in their treatment of all content. censoring what is provided to China, hosting terrorist snuff videos, but censoring anti-Islamist material, etc. I don't know if this case is proven either, but it is troubling.

Karl said...

A knee-jerk connection at best.

While I'm rather convinced you can't break the net, I think mandating neutrality would generally favor entrepreneurs over entrenched interests. The better question might be whether any politician is honestly in favor of net neutrality.

Lessig has several good posts debunking the 'net neutrality is for communists/leftists/liberals only' meme this week.


Ann Althouse said...

In case it wasn't clear: I'm very much for net neutrality.

ShadowFox said...

I don't know where drill SGT gets his operational definitions, but the second one does not resemble anything that I have seen (and I've followed net neutrality issues rather closely). Net neutrality has some odd allies, even among Republicans. But, if I read Ann's question correctly, Dems are more likely to protect net neutrality than Repubes. Oddly enough, both supporters and opponents rely on different versions of libertarian principles.

Back to drill SGT's #1: The problem with this statement is that you seem to suggest that abandoning net neutrality will make net funding more equitable, in the sense that those responsible for most of the throughput will pay more than the end-users and small content providers. This does not seem to match the fears that most net neutrality proponents express--in fact, almost the opposite is true. Although the net is mostly supported by end-users buying into the system, much of the backbone is owned by three companies--it might be two now, after all the mergers. Back when 60% was owned by BBN, this was not an issue--BBN made its money from defense contracts and was committed to supporting free access to the net. But BBN was sold to GTE, then to Verizon, which now owns the bulk of the backbone (SBC is the other major; I don't know what happened to the MCI-owned portion). The bottom line is that it is very easy to restrict access and bandwidth for any user. Big users will pay for wider access and will get a discount in the process. That means that they will be subsidized by the smaller users who will be held hostage to the accessibility and speed issues. Even if we assume that at least the premise of drill SGT's statement is true--the smaller users pay the bulk of the costs--they still have equal access to all of the net. Abandoning net neutrality means same or higher costs with lower access. Sure, "the googles of the world don't want that", but they would rather have that than have to compete with mom-and-pop sites. If major providers can distinguish themselves and put themselves closer to the front of the queue, they will surely pay for it.

Morven said...

The whole thing is about the telcos being irritated that providing the network isn't the money-making thing it once was, and that they've become a commodity.

Unfortunately for them, Internet access being a commodity benefits (almost) everyone else.

However, I can see any "Net Neutrality" law that ever gets passed being a bad one, that ends up stifling the industry, preventing competition, and allowing stagnation.