The End of the Internet?
February 4, 2006 12:57 PM   Subscribe

The End of the Internet? "The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online."
posted by allkindsoftime (31 comments total)
Have I mentioned that corporate fascism is on the march?
posted by nofundy at 12:59 PM on February 4, 2006

They'll get my internet when they pry it from my cold dead hands.
posted by jonmc at 1:02 PM on February 4, 2006

Maybe they heard about the tradegy of the commons? In a nutshell: "The parable demonstrates how unrestricted access to a resource such as a pasture ultimately dooms the resource because of over-exploitation. This occurs because the benefits of exploitation accrue to individuals, while the costs of exploitation are distributed between all those exploiting the resource."
posted by neuron at 1:06 PM on February 4, 2006

Oops, wrong thread. My message above should go in the earlier thread about postage for e-mail.
posted by neuron at 1:07 PM on February 4, 2006

So when the American portion of the internet is parcelled up into competing online services (just like AOL, Compuserve etc. before the internet, but with 'punch the monkey' flash ads), how will the rest of the world fare?
posted by nowonmai at 1:09 PM on February 4, 2006

These people can help you contact Congress about this.
posted by gsteff at 1:13 PM on February 4, 2006

Ultimately, this is the cancerous growth of the cell phone pricing scheme. Charging to send a few ascii characters to another person: that's madness. It's why I don't have a cell phone, and have refused one when offered to me for free....

But considering that we've already gotten a taste of the free internet, it'll be difficult for them to get away with this. It's hard to inspire the imagination of people these days to ward against threats to things they've never seen in their lifetime, but people would be pissed if they were suddenly charged for doing things online that have always been free. The Internet has long passed being merely the domain of "geeks," everyone uses it now.

In a way, I kind of hope they try it. It would wake a lot of people up.
posted by JHarris at 1:17 PM on February 4, 2006

Rediculous. Anyone can start an ISP and route around it. If the telcos are dumb enough to mess with Internet fundamentals. Historically whenever telcos try to reduce service, they create competitors who offer better solutions. That's the cool thing about the American marketplace, there is no dominate player that can do real evil.
posted by stbalbach at 1:18 PM on February 4, 2006

Whose pipes (fiber) do you think the ISPs use stbalbach?
posted by nofundy at 1:21 PM on February 4, 2006

Insofar as the think tank that is making these proposals is called the Progress and Freedom Foundation, I think we should all just relax. Progress and freedom are both good, right?
And the market fixes everything anyway.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 1:27 PM on February 4, 2006

Hmm, yeah, what stbalbach said, but with irony.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 1:38 PM on February 4, 2006

Good. This will suck for America, but the rest of the world will benifit from every productive and creative citizen left in the U.S. emigrating, the utter eviceration of any potential for new buisnesses emerging stateside and the fact that it will force new backbone lines to be laid down that avoid America alltogether.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:40 PM on February 4, 2006

Don't know if this is relevant, but Google is rumored to be creating its own Internet.
posted by ryanhealy at 1:40 PM on February 4, 2006

I have this image of us all having to reroute our Internet connections to some super-encrypted offshore proxy server and pay an arm and a leg for a barely passable semblance of privacy.
posted by Yakuman at 1:54 PM on February 4, 2006

This is why I joined the EFF. Because I feel helpless, and well, it's something.
posted by tweak at 1:58 PM on February 4, 2006

There's a US Senate Commerce Committe hearing on Net Neutrality coming up next Tuesday. It's being webcast and might be interesting to see what's said. The panel members look interesting.

I'm guessing that the relevant subcommittee is the Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation, and Competitiveness. If you're the type to write letters, these would be good people to get in touch with:

John Ensign (R-NV), Chair
John F. Kerry (D-MA), Ranking Member
Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), ex officio
Conrad Burns (R-MT)
John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
E. Benjamin Nelson (D-NE)
George Allen (R-VA)
Mark L. Pryor (D-AR)
John E. Sununu (R-NH)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
posted by Ickster at 2:00 PM on February 4, 2006

Can somebody explain why this won't work? It seems so ludicrous it must be doomed to failure, but I can't see why.


Would this not require various new laws to be passed? And if so, will Google, Yahoo et al. be able to slap it down with copious lobbying? I've tried to follow this but law makes my brain ache.

Also, does this affect the rest of world? I imagine the same companies who own the US fibre probably own most of everything else. Anyone?
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:22 PM on February 4, 2006

Might be some answers in this:

Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes

But it has many, many words. More than I can keep in my head right now.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:25 PM on February 4, 2006

At least it will simplify things for NSA
posted by Postroad at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2006

Could an open-source type wireless network be an alternative to this? Or do the corps own the air too?
posted by showmethecalvino at 2:58 PM on February 4, 2006

Great. So overpaid greedy corporate CEO assholes are basically trying to squeeze blood from a stone while cutting America off from the rest of the planet.

Great move, guys. *sigh*

"Industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing "platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access that would set limits on the number of downloads, media streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received."

Hah. That would never fly. I run my own mail servers. How is Comcast going to count how many emails I receive? This all sounds like the rumoured 'internet tax' that we hear about every couple of years.
posted by drstein at 3:21 PM on February 4, 2006

Donate money to the EFF. They do good things.
posted by wakko at 3:23 PM on February 4, 2006

Donate money to the EFF. They do good things.

This issue has motivated me to. Someone needs to tell them to get better t-shirts for their store though (I've emailed about this, got no response).
posted by gsteff at 3:25 PM on February 4, 2006

drstein: Simple, every e-mail sever must communicate how many e-mails it recieves to Comcast or it gets kicked off the network.

For anyone who thinks about saying some variation "But data is data" congratulations, you've summed up exactly what they're trying to change. All the data on the sort of network this consortium of telecos is proposing will be categorized by who sent it, what it is, and how much they paid. Any steps you take to obscure that information will be grounds to *immediately* kick you off.
posted by Grimgrin at 3:49 PM on February 4, 2006

"Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment, and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!"

Right.. For free; Let's see how did you get those pipes? Obscene LD rate plans based on distance, which is now out-moded, bs blanket ta 96 recovery fees as well as other miscellanous price gouging . Consumers spent ridiculous sums of money to build "their pipes." These guys are bunch of fucking cry babies. I'd venture to say at least 70% of the traffc is packet switched, using "their pipes" moments at a time.

Who are these people? I'd like to order them a tall glass of shut the fuck up.
posted by AllesKlar at 3:50 PM on February 4, 2006

Well, not only that, but the infrastructure was paid for by taxpayers. This is obscene. Of course, with the current administration in control, I fully expect that the telcoms will get whatever they want, as they've already paid for the congresscritters.
posted by dejah420 at 5:30 PM on February 4, 2006

This is all about the telcos fearing a future where data is data and they cannot get away with gouging for voice, fax, TV, whatever. They want to preserve this archaic business model, becuase they fear change.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:42 PM on February 4, 2006

This is just insane. What happened to companies charging for a product or service someone wants or needs; not finding a product or service someone is already has and figuring out how to take it away so they can sell it back again? Corporate greed has gone beyond absurd.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:45 PM on February 4, 2006

Sounds like they want to unseal ATM from the Tomb of Exceedingly Stupid Ideas, reanimating it with steam and lightning.

(Yes, yes, I know, ATM is being used today and in beneficial ways -- but not as originally intended. The network model on which ATM was designed was a lot more like this ill-conceived proposal.)
posted by majick at 8:04 AM on February 5, 2006

The Internet is falling! The Internet is falling! ... how many people here still know how to connect directly to their friend's computer across town? (Anyone remember UUCP?) If the Finns could make the IRC work under the nose of the Soviets, maybe we will be able to do the same under these fascists ... maybe we could even do it with all the bells and whistles?
posted by Surfurrus at 10:04 PM on February 5, 2006

This is all about the telcos fearing a future where data is data and they cannot get away with gouging for voice, fax, TV, whatever.

To me, this is more a case of telcos seeing that Apple is making lots of money with the iTunes Store (for one example) and wanting to get in on the action. Essentially, they know that some data is more valuable than other data, and want to profit parasitically off of that data that other people/companies have made into valuable properties.

Why every business that does business through the Internet isn't opposed to this idea I have no clue.
posted by moonbiter at 10:15 PM on February 5, 2006

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