You name the day, the grounds could be neutral
September 21, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

"The key to the internet's success has been its openness. But the FCC needs your help. That is why we have created openinternet.gov [beta]. I hope you'll take advantage of this opportunity to share your ideas on (net neutrality)." FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday outlined his plan for requiring Internet service providers to keep their networks open to legal content and external devices. Some are enthused. The large telecommunications companies who could profit, are not.
posted by cashman (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
But I thought Nobama was trying to get the ability to turn off the internets?

/s
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:59 AM on September 21, 2009


Oh, and this is new to me. Looks like somebody socialized the internet while we weren't looking. Will Free Republic be shut down? Will we no longer have to deal with right wing trolls on Digg?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:02 AM on September 21, 2009


ICANN must be loving all these new fangled .gov registrations. I imagine ICANN's sales department for the .gov section was a bunch of people sitting around in office chairs throwing paper airplanes, gossiping at the watercooler, and shooting rubberbands around during the Bush years. Now that Obama is in, it's like the floor of the NYSE, papers flying around and people running and shouting, using hand signals to register NewGovernmentAgency.gov.
posted by msbutah at 9:13 AM on September 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


For clarification, The Progress & Freedom Foundation lists it's supporters, who oddly include GoDaddy.com, Inc. next to AT&T and CBS. Other supporters who are primarily internet-based include Google and VeriSign, Inc. To be honest, that's a more diverse (seeming) group of supporters than I was imagining.

ICANN doesn't appear to get involved with .gov registration, according to wikipedia.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:43 AM on September 21, 2009


I heartily support this product or movement.
posted by DU at 9:43 AM on September 21, 2009


I'm all for network neutrality, but I can't think of a more perfect poster child for regulatory capture than the ever-corrupt revolving door bluenoses at the FCC.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:49 AM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can not view this from behind my government agency's firewall. Seriously.
posted by HumanComplex at 10:14 AM on September 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


CC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday outlined his plan for requiring Internet service providers to keep their networks open to legal content and external devices.

This is a classic example of how regulatory capture actually works. "Legal content?" There is no such thing as illegal content. What is illegal are acts. Duplicates are legal. Unauthorized duplication and/or distribution are not.


If you are for net neutrality, you are for the government determining what is legal content and how to enforce it. All of the content on bittorrent that is available through the Pirate Bay is legal, depending on who you are. Likewise, all of the content at Blockbuster is illegal depending on what you do with it.

Maintaining the status quo is never an option, have you noticed that? If Comcast wants to throttle services, block sites, and redirect traffic, let them. If consumers don't like that, they can switch providers.

The argument over net neutrality is essentially an argument over losing some rights or losing a lot more rights. Losing some access or losing a lot of access. But you lose regardless of the outcome.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:47 AM on September 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


If Comcast wants to throttle services, block sites, and redirect traffic, let them. If consumers don't like that, they can switch providers.

Like dial-up? Maybe satellite? In much of the US, if not elsewhere, there is only one significant player in town. What if that one big provider demands you rent a new dongle to access their sites, or access certain sites (like Gmail or ComcastSucks.com)? Net neutrality is more than access to bittorrents and video on demand.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


There is no such thing as illegal content.

That's a disingenuous comment at best. It took me no time at all to think of an example of illegal content that no one would argue: child pornography.

Whether or not "unauthorized duplicates" are illegal content or not is a legitimate argument (which I would step aside for), but stating there is no category of illegal content is silly. Societies have always censored and will probably always censor.
posted by napkin at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2009


Putting the US internet in the hands of the jackasses who are STILL going after CBS - 5 years later- over Janet Jackson's left tit doesn't seem like a terribly great idea.
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2009


If Comcast wants to throttle services, block sites, and redirect traffic, let them. If consumers don't like that, they can switch providers.
Er? Switch to whom? Back in the days when dialup was viable, there was competition. Now, some communities have as many as *two* providers, mostly it's one.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:59 PM on September 21, 2009


If you are for net neutrality, you are for the government determining what is legal content and how to enforce it.

Say what now?
That may be the FCC's broken version of network neutrality, but it's not mine. Allowing the government and businesses to frame it that way is a big mistake in my opinion.

My version of network neutrality is much simpler.
- While you enjoy a government granted monopoly (like, for example, the cable and phone companies in my town), you get to carry the bits. Period.
- You don't get to look at the content of the bits nor decide which type of bits you will allow or not allow.
- You may look at the origination or destination of the bits insofar as you have a technical reason for doing so, e.g., you suspect a DOS or other network infrastructure problem.
- You may look at the type of bits for purposes of network management only, e.g., to prioritize real-time traffic over other traffic, however if any actions are taken outside of normal network management, say throttling or disconnection, they must be done in accordance with published procedures and provide a clear resolution path.
- You must also be able to provide a consistent percentage of your stated "up to" connection speed(50%? 75%?) and connections must be within a certain range of symmetrical.

I'm sure there are other versions out there as well, but I fear this may be a conversation that most people don't notice, even while they are getting screwed over by their provider.
posted by madajb at 1:40 PM on September 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Say what now?
That may be the FCC's broken version of network neutrality, but it's not mine. Allowing the government and businesses to frame it that way is a big mistake in my opinion.

You've gotta take PB's analysis in this thread with a grain of salt. He's on record as an opponent of Net Neutrality, so don't expect him to be giving Obama's pro-Neutrality position--or anyone's for that matter--a sympathetic reading. This is great policy, from my standpoint. I'm excited to see Obama again actually delivering on his campaign pledges. But take that with a grain of salt, too, as I am on the record as an Obama advocate and frequent defender.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:51 PM on September 21, 2009


"Hutchison added an amendment to an Interior Appropriations bill that would ban the FCC from spending money to craft and implement regulatory changes. It is co-sponsored by Senators John Ensign of Nevada, Sam Brownback of Kansas, David Vitter of Louisiana, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and John Thune of South Dakota, all Republicans."
posted by KatlaDragon at 2:06 PM on September 21, 2009


From the FCC statement:
And this principle will not constrain efforts to ensure a safe, secure, and spam-free Internet experience, or to enforce the law. It is vital that illegal conduct be curtailed on the Internet. As I said in my Senate confirmation hearing, open Internet principles apply only to lawful content, services and applications -- not to activities like unlawful distribution of copyrighted works, which has serious economic consequences. The enforcement of copyright and other laws and the obligations of network openness can and must co-exist.
So it starts to look like network neutrality, unless big campaign donors come knocking (for Democrats), or somebody downloads a porno (the other guys). In other words, the FCC becomes the arbiter on when it's appropriate to "manage" your connectivity, and they have about the worst track record on this imaginable.

Madajb, your vision is great, and I'd prefer it- but it isn't the one that the FCC is angling for.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:17 PM on September 21, 2009


With the goal of making the simple complex: different countries have different definitions of what a "child" is when it comes to pornography (age of consent and whatnot). But it should not be the role of an ISP to find out when a picture or video is legal content or not: that's the same mess as getting phone companies to work on warrantless wiretaps, filtering all messages for warning signs of illegal activities.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:54 PM on September 21, 2009


He's on record as an opponent of Net Neutrality, so don't expect him to be giving Obama's pro-Neutrality position--or anyone's for that matter--a sympathetic reading.

Well, if the term "Net Neutrality" comes to mean "lawful content" then I can't say I blame him.
A policy that says providers have any control over the content of the bits is not Neutral.
posted by madajb at 4:53 PM on September 21, 2009


jenkinsEar -

No, it's not what the FCC is shooting for at all, which is why I hate to see this being sold as an "open and free" internet, as if the FCC's version of Net Neutrality is the one we should all accept.
The fight is not to get ISPs to accept the FCC plan, the fight is to get the FCC to craft a truly Neutral plan.
posted by madajb at 5:00 PM on September 21, 2009


You're hanging onto one word that doesn't really have nearly as much significance as you're suggesting and using it to sow confusion and uncertainty about the intent of the FCC's policy. I've seen no credible source suggesting the FCC has any interest whatsoever in encouraging or requiring broad band providers to sniff packets to root out illegal content. Nor any that suggest anyone but the broadband providers and the other usual suspects are raising concerns about the policy changes.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:00 PM on September 21, 2009


He's on record as an opponent of Net Neutrality, so don't expect him to be giving Obama's pro-Neutrality position--or anyone's for that matter--a sympathetic reading.

I love all these self-appointed monitors of my political opinions. I'm on record as an opponent of Net Neutrality? Why don't you tell me exactly, specifically what net neutrality is? Identify the legislation by number for me, without looking it up. I assume you can quote the text from memory, especially considering you capitalized it, as if it was sanctified.

But you can't do that. Because you are a fucking pawn. You support your definition of net neutrality, which is different from everyone else's in this thread, which in turn is different from the actual legislation being discussed, because you allowed your critical thinking to shut down the moment you heard the doublespeak phrase "net neutrality." Who doesn't want a neutral internet, right? Ask this guy.

And why the hell should I give the President of the United States's proposal for a new law that will restrict my right a sympathetic reading? What has he done to earn it? Or are you only critical of the President when he's from a political party other than yours? Doesn't that make your opinin biased, and therefore immediately dismissable?

As I said before, the debate isn't net neutrality because that doesn't mean anything, or more specifically, it could mean anything. The debate is over an internet controlled by Verizon or one controlled by Google and Microsoft. Don't forget that when you search Google, you aren't searching the internet, you're searching Google's indexed copy of it. A copy indexed in a way that maximizes their financial interest, btw, not your political interests.

This subject is like the health care threads. Everybody loves health care reform, but no two people are discussing the same reform. If you say you are against "this health care plan," the assumption is that you are against all reform. That's why they chose the magic words in the first place. So in those threads I have people, similar to Hall Monitor Saul Goodman, telling me what my positions on the record are and getting them bafflingly wrong.

And then the actual legislation shows up, and suddenly everyone joins with me in hating it.

How long will it be before you stop reading about policies and start reading the actual policies? How long before you realize they pick names like Net Neutrality and Health Care Reform specifically to soften your brain and convey the impression that it is something you already want so you won't look into the actual details. Everyone is against Death Taxes, but only wealthy people are against Estate Taxes, because the impression is that only wealthy people have Estates, but everyone dies. Of course, they are both referring to the same exact taxes, payable by everyone, because even the homeless leave an estate when they die.

That's a disingenuous comment at best. It took me no time at all to think of an example of illegal content that no one would argue: child pornography.

No one would argue? If teenagers send scandalous pictures of themselves to their boyfriends or girlfriends, I suppose that would be technically be child pornography. But be honest, that's not at all the kinds of photos you were thinking about, right? The problem isn't the photos, the problem is the people doing the thinking, or not doing it.

The truth is that people argue it all the time. In courts. Like the Supreme Court. Because the current standard, which amounts to "I know it when I see it", is completely fucked up and subjective. But you're right. Let's go ahead and ban "child pornography." So when a parent takes a picture of their kid in the bathtub, or a high school artist paints a picture of his girlfriend silhouetted against a window, the Hall Monitors will make sure that picture never gets distributed to the intended recipients, but does make it's way to the FBI.

Oh and one more thing. I'm "on record" as having voted for the unqualified hack currently holding the Office of the President. So what do you think of that?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:16 PM on September 21, 2009


Let's go ahead and ban "child pornography." So when a parent takes a picture of their kid in the bathtub, or a high school artist paints a picture of his girlfriend silhouetted against a window, the Hall Monitors will make sure that picture never gets distributed to the intended recipients, but does make it's way to the FBI.

Are you seriously arguing that pictures of adults fucking children should be legal because sometimes prudes call pictures of kids playing the bath tub child porn?

You seem to be arguing against the entire concept of the rule of law.

Oh and one more thing. I'm "on record" as having voted for the unqualified hack currently holding the Office of the President. So what do you think of that?

I think you thought you were voting for an anarchist.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:52 PM on September 21, 2009


I've seen no credible source suggesting the FCC has any interest whatsoever in encouraging or requiring broad band providers to sniff packets to root out illegal content.

I'm not suggesting they have an interest in that either.
I'm saying that any policy which allows providers to care one way or the other is not neutral.
posted by madajb at 9:28 PM on September 21, 2009


No one would argue? If teenagers send scandalous pictures of themselves to their boyfriends or girlfriends, I suppose that would be technically be child pornography. But be honest, that's not at all the kinds of photos you were thinking about, right?

I wasn't thinking about photos at all, but classes of content. You seem to think the idea of making content illegal is wrong. Well, I have news for you, that makes you an ideologue, and, like I said above, every society has censored content it deems harmful.

Again, like I said before, arguing what constitutes illegal content and what doesn't is perfectly legitimate. Try going before the Supreme Court and arguing that no child pornography should be illegal at all, however, and see how far you get.

And dinging "I know it when I see it" for subjectivity is naive. The entire justice system is constructed with subjective judgments. In my opinion, the value in "I know it when I see it" is that it allows the definition to adjust to the times. Victorian era judges would have had a much more prudish value system. Would you rather they made their opinion more clear and left no room for change?
posted by napkin at 11:44 PM on September 21, 2009


But you can't do that. Because you are a fucking pawn.

Yes. I'm a fucking pawn. That was a penetrating insight you laid down for us there. Look, maybe I shouldn't have gotten personal, but I've noticed that whenever this topic has come up in the past, it seems you've always been pretty firmly on the anti-Net Neutrality side of the argument on principle. That's fine, it's a reasonable position, but you could just acknowledge that's your position, instead of leading into this deceptive debate about who really has the best insight into what Net Neutrality is or should be about, and concern trolling by pretending to suss out hidden gotchas that expose the official lie for what it is.

But I shouldn't have engaged you on this topic anyway, because I don't for a second believe you have a good faith interest in honestly discussing this issue. Your aims here, in my best estimation, are more persuasive than dialectical. I'll forget and forgive the incredibly stupid insult this time, because I know that in a cooler headed moment, you'll realize it was a mistake, both tactically and substantively.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:32 AM on September 22, 2009


madajb keeps saying the right things. SaulGoodman seems to dismiss them casually, like someone who has paid little attention to how government and law work, or isn't really following the point.

To say: "I've seen no credible source suggesting the FCC has any interest whatsoever in encouraging or requiring broad band providers to sniff packets to root out illegal content." rater ignores the reality of the written words, in the law/regulation. Words in laws and regulations are important. By adding the adjective "legal" to the noun "content", they create two classes of content. One is called "legal". The other is left open to definition, for anyone who cares to define.

Oh, it could be trivial. I, for one, would prefer that it is! However, even if it is trivial today, next year it might be the basis of who-knows-what sort of control nonsense from ISPs.
posted by Goofyy at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2009


http://blog.openinternet.gov
posted by cashman at 12:21 PM on October 17, 2009


Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Others Outline Support for Net Neutrality Rules: http://www.openinternetcoalition.org/index.cfm?objectID=69276766-1D09-317F-BBF53036A246B403
posted by cashman at 11:40 AM on October 19, 2009


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