a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Net Neutrality: guide to getting it

Posted on the May 5th, 2008

The blog post is aptly titled “Why The ‘Right’ Gets Net Neutrality Wrong,” and it reviews this individual freedom issue both from an historical perspective and as it is today (Art Brodsky, May 2, 2008, Public Knowledge).

The info couldn’t be more timely. Tomorrow, a House subcommittee is scheduled to begin a hearing on Net Neutrality legislation.

An excerpt from Brodsky’s blog:

Perhaps the worst argument from conservatives about Net Neutrality is that “pervasive regulation,” as former FCC Commissioner Rachelle Chong called it, would somehow be such a burden to the poor, deprived telephone and cable companies that their incentives to invest and to innovate would just dry up. Opponents of an open Internet conjure up images of parents unable to protect their children, of government setting up business models, of companies unable to manage their networks.

Those tired-winged canards don’t quack here. Net Neutrality is neither pervasive nor burdensome. It allows for innovation and investment. It allows for telephone companies to sell different levels of service to different customers. Parents can still protect their children. What it doesn’t allow is discrimination. That’s why Michele Combs from the Christian Coalition supports an open Internet, and she is brave and correct to do so in the face of uninformed criticism of her fellow “conservatives.”

Read more here.

(I found the link to the article on The Huffington Post)

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It’s our Internet to lose

Posted on the March 6th, 2008

Yesterday’s Seattle Times has an editorial warning that the Internet is in jeopardy (“Internet in jeopardy as neutrality erodes” The Democracy Papers series, March 5, 2008). I liked this piece in particular because it outlines this complex issue simply and briefly.

A key sentence:

The Internet has developed into a clean canvas for all to play on and create. The cable and telecommunication companies that dominate broadband in the United States are fighting any network-neutrality law that would ensure the Internet stays this way.

See here for more discussion of this important battle now underway.

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Should content providers pay more for access to the Internet’s “fast” lane?

Posted on the February 15th, 2008

No way! says U.S. Congressman Edward Markey. This week he proposed new legislation to bar exactly this from happening in the U.S., according to an AP story on the Wired website (“Bill Bars Web Traffic Discrimination” AP, Feb 13, 2008).

Markey is trying to head off a coalition of major telephone and cable companies, including AT&T and Qwest, who reportedly want to be able to charge whatever the market will bear, in effect, for Internet access.

From the AP article:

Markey, who introduced similar legislation in 2006, said the bill doesn’t regulate the Internet, only makes sure the rules of online engagement are fair. His spokeswoman said he wanted to defuse critics’ arguments that the bill amounts to regulation, which she called inaccurate.

“It does, however, suggest that the principles which have guided the Internet’s development and expansion are highly worthy of retention, and it seeks to enshrine such principles in the law as guide stars for U.S. broadband policy,” Markey said of The Internet Freedom Preservation Act.

The hot issue at the heart of Rep. Markey’s legislative fight is what is known as “Net Neutrality.” Its supporters have their own website, SAVETHEINTERNET.com. Members include Google, most prominently, plus hundreds of websites, small businesses, educators, and public interest groups such as the ACLU, Consumers Union, MoveOn.org, and Common Cause (see list here).

For anyone wanting to learn the basics of this battle, the website offers a Net Neutrality 101 page.

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Exaflood: Is it real or is it Oz?

Posted on the December 11th, 2007

When I came across a video on the website of the Internet Innovation Alliance (IAA) warning that at predicted growth rates, online user traffic soon is going to overwhelm capacity, I was fascinated. This approaching tsunami of user demand has been christened with its own name, the Exaflood. What exactly this is, and the user growth patterns of the Internet that are feeding its ominous arrival are presented by IAA in an informative and concise visual package.

Of course, the question that then came to mind was whether there is more than one side to this story.

Nosing around online, I soon found a recent article by New York Times technology reporter Steve Lohr that addressed this very issue (“Is the Exaflood Coming?”, New York Times, Nov 30, 2007).

So in this post, for anyone interested, I re-trace my beginning path in learning some basics about this dark spectre of the Exaflood. Is the threat real? Or is it mostly a scary PR tactic by those opposed to net neutrality (net neutrality = all users are created equal, in effect)?

I recommend that you first read Lohr’s brief analysis (link above). Then, watch the IAA video below. Then decide for yourself.

Whether you agree, disagree or reserve judgement, you’ll be more prepared, in any case, to understand this crucial discussion that is underway.

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