3.04.2009

Another sad day for the Internet

Apparently, Obama wants to further deny property rights, this time to the telecom companies that provide Internet access. Obama nominated Julius Genachowski to head the Federal Communications Commission.

Genachowski is a strong supporter of net neutrality. Net neutrality proponents demand that telecommunication companies not control what content flows through their lines. Even if excessive use of peer-to-peer transfers of illegal files overwhelms the network, telecom companies would be forbidden, according to net neutrality, to self-regulate the traffice to provide better service to the masses of other customers. This is a clear violation of individual rights. If the telecom companies cannot control their own property, what's the point? Yet sadly, Congress seems to have no intent on stopping the nomination.

7 comments:

  1. Pekka Lehtikoski8:22 PM

    Hi John,
    In this matter I do disagree. I believe that the role of connection provider is to provide the connection, not to supervise the content, and same rules should apply as to mail or regular telephone. The telecom corporations should not be burdened with controlling the net traffic, nor should be responsible for it. On the other hand we need some control, to detect criminal use of the net. Monitoring this belongs to the police, and punishments to rest of out legal system.

    Your view that denying right of service providers to self-regulate the traffic is a clear violation of individual rights, is controversial, in my opinion. Whose individual rights, telecom corporations or the end users? I think that a person that commits a criminal act trough web is responsible for it, not the telecom company that passes it on.

    Service provider network traffic filtering is fine, as long as customer understands and agrees with it when buying the connection.

    Pekka Lehtikoski

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  2. Pekka,

    I'm a little confused by your post. You seem to say that service providers should not be "forced" to filter, supervise, or self-regulate traffic. And to that, I agree. It is the governments job, not the service provider.

    However... they do have the "right" to filter, supervise, or self-regulate, should they choose to do so. Service providers are fully in the right to limit the amount of bandwidth consumed (as they have done in the past). Why can they not limit the type of packets sent? In terms of property rights, what is the difference between quantity and quality?

    Secondly, the end user's rights are not being violated. The end user still owns the ideas or files located on their local computer. No one has stolen them or prevented use of those files. But the second the files leave the end user's personal computer and enters into the wires owned by the service provider, the files are transmitted by the service provider's contract. If the service provider decides that some traffic should receive precedence over others and it is identified as such in the contract, they should have a right to do so. Net neutrality destroys that option.

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  3. Pekka Lehtikoski11:41 PM

    Hi John,
    Thank you for your response. Nomination of Julius Genachowski was unexpected. I had always assumed that government would like to control the net, and not to refuse providers from regulating it. I do not know which I fear more, government control of Internet providers or providers control over end users. I fear that providers demonstrating ability to take efficient control of the net, might lead to legislation forcing them to do so, and eventually to legislation to make sure that visible content in web is politically correct. I freely agree that my fear might be just paranoia of person from socialistic country. Even P2P, child pornography, etc. are cancers of the net, the freedom to publish our different views seems valuable to me. We should find other way to deal with the problems.

    Best regards,
    Pekka Lehtikoski

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  4. Thanks for participating in this week's carnival!

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  5. Net Neutrality is just absurd. The advocates pre-suppose the existence of the Internet in a "the goods are here," manner. If not for the knowledge, investment, hard work, pointless political fights that the service providers like Comcast and many many others have put in. To bring instant, fast, and reliable communication to anyone in the world for a small price and in such an an amazingly short amount of time, there would be nothing for these supposed "freedom" lovers to clamor for control over.

    Seriously, building networks is expensive and hard. Building huge ones is harder. And the payment they get is a pipsqueak bureaucrat with a gun to appease. Why invest in such infrastructure when you aren't allowed to capitalize on it? Why make it better if the control is just going to be wrested from your hand. Where now you are lawfully required to maintain it and keep it running, but can't take the steps necessary to do that without being fined by the FCC.

    Can anyone seriously want the government to make content decisions for the Internet? Really? This is what it boils down to. They claim to want all traffic treated equally, that the owner of the equipment has no say on how that equipment is used?!

    Okay, so blocking spam, is a service provider selectively filtering. Clearly that's okay. And what about unlawful activity, or clear attacks, or viruses? Do we have to wait for a bureaucrat to sign a change order before we can get the network back working when the next SQL slammer virus hits? How about porn? Or emails with vulgar language? Or emails with anti-establishment language?

    The telcom corporations should be able to do with their computing systems the same that you can do with yours. Whatever they want. If what they want is to engage in contracts with consumers and promise to give unfiltered Internet, and then don't. Well they've broken a contract, contract law handles that.

    And if an ISP doesn't want to allow bit-torrent traffic but you want it. Don't deal with them, vote with your dollars, they will either change their idea or their competitors will buy up their infrastructure at pennies on the dollar at the liquidation sale.

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  6. Kevin,

    Thanks for your passionate response. Its right on the money.

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  7. Glad to have people who blog on the right side of the issue so I can rage in their comment section. :-) This way when I'm confronted with the arguments in person, I can still be passionate, but in a more controlled manner.

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