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ACLU Study Wary of Broadband Providers 242

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the lets-proxy-all-our-users dept.
An anonymous reader says "The ACLU recently had a study done that suggests that broadband access is a threat to internet freedom. Their study focuses on the control available to broadband providers who don't have to deal with the same level of competition or regulation as ISP providers. The result is the ability to radically control internet access combined with the omnipresent corporate incentive for profit, whatever the cost to free speech."
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ACLU Study Wary of Broadband Providers

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's broadband!!! *Hugs monitor and cries*
  • Peekabooty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 1010011010 (53039) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:09PM (#3926111) Homepage

    Maybe on of the primary markets for PeekaBooty won't be China, but the U.S. Reagan denounced the Soviet Union as the "Evil Empire" because of a number of things. They stopped travellers and demanded to see ID/papers/etc. The U.S. is doing that now. They controlled information flow and communications. The U.S. is doing that now.

    On a more positive note, I think I saw a recent article about Time Warner saying they would not be limiting or regulating use of RoadRunner. Let's hope.
    • Reagan denounced the Soviet Union as the "Evil Empire" because of a number of things. They stopped travellers and demanded to see ID/papers/etc. The U.S. is doing that now.

      This has to be one of the greatest /. stretches of belief of all time. Honestly, the USA today and the Soviet Empire are similar? Are you getting moved to North Dakota because you hold a dissenting opinion? Are you getting a state-run occupation given to you? I THINK NOT.

      Does the current US gov't not let you go from state to state without papers? It is a little different, I would say. The only thing that you have to stop for in the US is if you are hauling cargo, and you have to make sure that you don't break bridges and roads with oversized roads.

      They stopped travellers and demanded to see ID/papers/etc.

      Well, do you know of a nation that DOES NOT DO THAT? I went to Cozumel, Mexico, a resort island with a planeload of yankees the other day. A man in green fatigues with a rifle was the first person I saw off the plane. IT IS A RESORT ISLAND FOR TOURISTS. Every nation does this. The USA for one had NO REASON TO STICK MILITARY AT THE AIRPORTS BEFORE SEPT. 11. They do now.

      They controlled information flow and communications. The U.S. is doing that now.

      I am a news photographer for FOX. My best friend at work went to Afghanistan. They could go wherever they pleased IN A WAR ZONE. I have no concept of what you are talking about nor any knowledge of what you claim, but I have videotape in my personal possesion to prove you're lying. If you are saying that the government and I are in bed together, and that I am doing everything in my power to control information to you, then you are a stone cold idiot. I work for an independent news organization.
      I am not their "friend." Both sides understand the issues that we bring up.

      DO YOU EVEN LIVE IN THE USA OR KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE USA ENOUGH TO MAKE THESE KINDS OF STATEMENTS? Apparently not. So take all of your crap karma and pointless, uninformed, anti-USA rhetoric and look up some information before you and your little revolutionista friends start spouting "facts."

      • Dear enraged person, please click here [getyourlicks.com].

        Thank you.
      • They could go wherever they pleased IN A WAR ZONE.

        You, sir, are a liar.

      • The USA for one had NO REASON TO STICK MILITARY AT THE AIRPORTS BEFORE SEPT. 11. They do now.

        Please explain how a military presence at airports would have prevented the 9/11 hijackings.

        Perhaps you're being extremely insightful, in that the USA does have a reason to place military units in airports now, and that reason is to make people feel more secure.
      • I think what happens here is these guys get pointed to some "underground" news site on the internet, and they read some "shocking" story about coverups, and they think;
        "My God, normal Joe Sixpack would NEVER read this site, nobody could find this site but because I have an open mind and such cool friends, *I* found it, and now I know *THE TRUTH* - and everyone else is duped by this huge corporate conglomerate media conspiracy! I MUST get the word out! I know, I'll start with slashdot - - they seem pretty open minded. . . "
  • I've always been a DSL proponent, because of the fact that DSL has regulation in place to create competition. Of course, the bush appointees to the FCC wants to take all of that away and allow for monopolies.

    Of course, the way phone companies have been screwing independent DSL providers in spite of the law has bankrupted most of them. Its really sick.

    Oh, and to those of you who say that only government regulation can cause monopolies, go fuck yourself.
    • Bleah. I've said it many times before, but I'll say it once more.

      DSL, by its very nature, is really the property of the telcos. The technology is great, but the only people really responsible for keeping it "alive" are the Bells. It runs over their existing copper, and requires repeaters and switches owned and maintained by them.

      As long as federal government hangs onto the idea that the regional Bells need to remain "government protected monopolies" - we'll have this bickering over how many of their services should be freely handed out to their competitors.

      IMHO, the whole thing is insane. It has almost nothing to do with "only government regulation can cause monopolies". It has everything to do with "government regulation can protect a company's monopoly status long after it's useful to do so".

      At this point, who cares about the past? Just let the regional Bells go. End the govt. controls and restrictions on them, but end the monopoly protections too. Whatever is theirs is theirs, and let them sink or swim with it from here on out!

      DSL is *not* the "end all, be all" of high-speed Internet. It's simply one of only a couple reasonably priced options available at the moment. Assuming freedom from govt. interference, anyone can come along and offer alternatives to DSL that work as well or better.

      The long-term answer is not to force Bell to let everyone and their brother resell DSL service. That just creates "shell companies" that do nothing but add an extra layer of "red tape" when you're trying to fix billing or service problems. People with Covad or Northpointe DSL still had to wait for those companies to go crying back to the regional Bell when problems came up. It's inefficient and pointless.
  • not in the UK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@hot ... minus herbivore> on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:15PM (#3926130) Journal
    There are loads of ISP's offering broadband (ADSL) here in the UK some of which explicitly say you can serve anything legel and have as many pc's as you want hanging off you connection and tell you how to setup nats etc...

    The UK regulater makes a hell of a lot of noise, the UK had a public monopoly upuntil a few years ago and the regulator keeps trying to force down prices offered to ISP's for dialup and ADSL access.
    • Re:not in the UK (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tim C (15259)
      There are indeed loads of ISPs here in the UK offering ADSL conncetions.

      However, almost all of them get those connections from BT wholesale. If BT decided to start imposing some draconian conditions, we'd still be screwed.

      Sure, oftel (the regulator mentioned - OFfice for TELecommunications, iirc) are making lots of noise about BT opening up their exchanges and allowing other companies to install equipment (for a suitable rental fee, of course), but it's not really happening. Last I heard, only one company had actually done so, and only at a couple of exchanges. BT are not making it easy (that's the reason for all the noise).

      The UK has plenty of competition amongst residential-level and business-level ISPs, but only really one backbone provider. There are others, of course, but not to homes, the majority of which already have a BT line.

      Cheers,

      Tim
      • I thought BT wholesale only provided ADSL connection not internet connection, SFAIK ADSL could be used for anything e.g. direct connection to the office, not just 'the internet' so BT would have a hell of a job restricting the line.
    • I tried BT's service, but switched to demon [demon.net] (no I don't work for them) as they have a pretty open policy, plus you get a fixed IP (which is a double edged sword I guess).

      Before I signed up I asked about their policy for customers running services on their machines and bandwith limits. I was told I could do anything I liked so long as I didn't cause problems for anyone else.

      Service has been great for me, I could never go back to a modem now ;-)
  • Summary is deceptive (Score:5, Informative)

    by waytoomuchcoffee (263275) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:30PM (#3926189)
    The ACLU did NOT state that "broadband access is a threat to internet freedom". This is a study on the problem of broadband monopolies being created in the cable market only, due to common carrier restrictions.
  • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn&earthlink,net> on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:46PM (#3926241)
    Try it this way instead...
    Monopolies are a threat to freedom.
    Said that way, it seems too obvious to be worth a story, I guess. But monopolies are a threat to freedom wherever they are allowed to exist. That is why they need to be strongly regulated. And who is it that does the regulating? Why the organazition that has a monopoly on the use of force and coercion (the government).

    Just because you don't see a good alternative to something, doesn't make it a good thing. Monopolies are inherrently dangerous. Every monopoly is a threat to freedom. Some monopolies push this aggressively, and others don't, but threat analysis isn't about how some group wants to act, it's about how they can act. And even a benign monopoly is subject to a change in policy.

    Broadband is easier to monopolize than dial-up. That's because the ISP and the bandwidth provider are either the same company, or are tighly linked together (with the bandwidth provider usually being the dominant party). Dial-up monopolization involves the phone compnay, and the phone companies are closely regulated to prevent the accumulation of tie-in monopolies. So AT&T dial-up can't keep out Earthlink, and it also can't keep out your neighborhood ISP. But AT&T broadband can. That's the way the regulators have set things up, and we know that we can trust them to do what's best for us.

    • You're correct that monopolies threaten freedom. You are however completely off base with regards to the solution, and indeed the origin of the problem.

      Monopolies are CREATED by government, not checked by it. Adam Smith decried the evils of monopoly way back in 1776. Except that in 1776, "monopoly" meant "government-chartered/sanctioned/privileged business" not "single seller in a market".

      Anti-trust sounds good on paper, IF you know jack shit about economics. If you look at the history of American anti-trust, particularly the political rhetoric employed in establishing it, you'll see how intellectually bankrupt the entire concept is.
      • Monopolies are CREATED by government, not checked by it. Adam Smith decried the evils of monopoly way back in 1776. Except that in 1776, "monopoly" meant "government-chartered/sanctioned/privileged business" not "single seller in a market".

        I hate it when people quote Adam Smith who clearly don't know a lot about him. He was not against all government regulation - he was against monopolies, both government created and not government created.

        I look at the history of American anti trust. My phone service got much better after the government broke up the AT & T monopoly. (The cost of my long distance calls went down by, literally, 3000%) When Teddy Roosevelt broke up the trusts, the country became a much better place.

        I know "jack shit" about economics. Anti trust laws are necessary, and when applied correctly, make the country a better place. AND because I know "jack shit" about Adam Smith, as opposed to the people who invoke him as a deity, I know that Adam Smith would not necessarily disagree with me.
      • So, the concept of reigning in the power of monopoly corporations with government regulation and/or lawsuits is "intellectually bankrupt"?

        I suppose you also think that anyone who doesn't agree with your peculiar understanding of so-called "free market economics" (ha! Free markets with a monopoly?!) is "intellectually bankrupt" too.

        At a Noble-prizegiving ceremony, a Physics prizewinner once turned to the Economics prizewinner next to him and asked "Say, I'm not real familiar with your field - how exactly do you go about experimentally verifying your theories?"

        The economist quickly changed the subject.

        (Well, at least he didn't try to argue that "The worldcom collapse proves that capitalism works!!" or "The strength of the Tiger Economies proves that free markets work ... no wait, the collapse of the Tiger Economies proves that government regulation doesn't work, and that's what I've always been saying!" and other such inanities as we frequently see from self-styled "economic experts".)

  • by H3XA (590662) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:59PM (#3926279)
    ... broadband in China or broadband in Australia

    *** CHINA ***
    Broadband is taking off in the country. It is fast, cheap, unlimited downloads but government controlled firewall to prevent access to certain sites which is partially meant to prevent "freedom of speech" from what is seen as "troublemakers" or political dissidents. Internet access is also monitored without the user's knowledge as part of this prevention.

    *** AUSTRALIA ***
    Broadband access is being "withheld"... you are lucky if you can even get broadband as it covers a very limited geographic area in the more densely populated areas of Australia. When you can get it, it is expensive and download capped with the excess usage being even more expensive. No nationwide firewall but government want ISPs to be more proactive in filtering porn and other "unsavoury" content. Still means you can access almost anything that you want without being blocked access.

    Both countries have a main, large telecommunications company that controls most access within the country. Australia seems to have more competition but a less "lucrative" population base to get revenue from. Australia doesn't stack people on top of each other which means more infrastructure outlay needed for a similar amount of revenue back.

    Once you experience broadband.... you never want to go back. With all the "problems" of Chinese internet.... I would much rather have this fast, cheap access. I don't do anything online that causes the Chinese government alarm.... "freedom of speech" controls have no relevance to me.

    - HeXa
    • Internet access is also monitored without the user's knowledge [...]

      Actually, I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of Chinese Internet users are aware that they're being monitored. Indeed, it would encourage people to monitor themselves, so as not to get "caught" and is probably more effective than the firewall is in reality.

  • For a study that is supposed to address the concept of Internet freedom, it appears only to address the poor quality of cable Internet access. It addresses the issue as if cable were the only way to get online. Obviously it is not. I am all for everybody having cheap "high speed" Internet access, but the reality is that Internet freedom is more under threat from governments using laws like the DMCA to restrict speech, expression and innovation and rullings that say linking to controversial content can be illegal.

    Technically speaking freedom exists to use the Internet any way you choose. If your cable provider sucks, get DSL, if DSL is not available, get a dial-up, and if your dial-up ISP sucks, there are many more to choose from. You can always make a long distance call if both the national and local providers offer restrictive service. Sometimes the level of freedom you desire comes at a price.

    This study should be titled something to the effect of "The Poor State of Cable Internet Access" as that is all it seems to address and not the real reason freedom on the Internet is really being threatened. This kind of mis-titling cheapens the issue of Internet freedom while simply restating what we already know about the horrible service provided by many (most?) cable companies.

    I am truly disappointed.
  • I'm From Tacoma (Score:2, Interesting)

    by medeii (472309)
    ... and as the article says, I pay about $30 a month (plus $5 for a static IP, which AT&T won't let you buy) for cable service. I get 2mpbs down, 256kbps up.

    My friend, who lives about 15 miles away in the nearby city of Lakewood, has two choices: Qwest DSL, or AT&T cable. The cable option (which is the lesser of two evils, trust me) is 1.5mpbs down, and 128kbps up, for $42 a month. It used to be 256kpbs down, until last month, when they dropped it in favor of having "comparable rates" across the country.

    I've had a lot of people ask me why I like Tacoma as opposed to Seattle. Besides the decreased traffic and the near-ubiquitous availablility of parking (I'm sorry, but I've got something against paying for uncovered parking!), there's just the broadband. Click is the *only* provider in the area that doesn't charge obscene rates for access through their ISPs, they're the only one that allows me a static IP address on consumer-level pricing, and they're the only ones who don't care if I run a server (provided I don't eat up insane amounts of traffic, of course.) I host three low-traffic URLs on my server, and I've never had a complaint from them-- whereas my friend got a nasty e-mail from AT&T the day after he installed Apache.

    As a side note, the service is stellar. I've only had one unplanned (meaning I didn't hear about it before) outage in nearly eight months, it lasted less than three hours, and I only had to reboot my cable modem before everything was back online. Installation was totally free. And I get a discounted rate for paying a year in advance.

    IMHO, Tacoma is no better case study to see how much of a monopoly cable services have over broadband. The price and quality differences are just insane.
  • The report's assertation that Cable companies are a threat to freedom of speech is absurd. It's the same tired old BS as "There is no freedom of the Press because everybody dosen't own a printing press", or freedom of speech because everybody dosen't own a TV or Radio station.

    Freedom of speech or the press only means one thing, that the government can't stop you from speaking or publishing. It dosen't mean that you have a right to force others to provide you with a Printing Press, or a TV station, or a Broadband connection.

    • there is a difference between "providing every one broadband" and not cencoring the broadband people are already buying.
      • Censorship is government action to forbid you from publishing or speaking on Any outlet. Editorial control is exercising control over a single area that you own. If the Newspaper dosen't print you letter to the editor that is Editorial control. If A TV Station dosen't grant you airtime on a community forum that is editorial control. If the cable company dosen't allow a certain use of the servers that they own that is exercising editorial control and is no different than the actions of the Newspaper or the TV station. Buying a Newspaper dosen't give you the right to exercise Editorial control over it's pages. Why would buying bandwidth give you editorial control over the cable companies servers?


        • the only thing a cable company is really doing is renting out pipes. Pipes are channels of communication. Thats it.

          If they start looking into those pipes and permitting some information and not other, based on the content of that information, they are excercising censorship.

          Censorship does not have to be an action of the government.

          your newspaper analogy does not apply. The internet is not a broadcast (one to many) media like a newspaper, even though so many people wish it were.
          • One end of those pipes are connected to their equipment. They have the right to control that end. You would scream bloody murder if the cable company started using your computer as part of a distributed computing network without your permission, yet you want to use the cable companies equipment in ways they don't want to give permission for.

            Don't like the rules?, get a T1.

    • Freedom of speech or the press only means one thing, that the government can't stop you from speaking or publishing.

      The government stops me from speaking over the radio because the FCC refuses to open new application filing windows for low-power FM radio stations.

      The government stops me from publishing over the Internet because municipal governments have granted exclusive last-mile franchises to the telcos and the cable companies.

  • Freedom? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by dada21 (163177)
    Our Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantees us freedom from government trampling on our rights.

    Individuals, corporations, etc have the freedom to do what they please to do, and the market and consumers will decide if they can deal with those issues.

    The ACLU are a bunch of morons, all they do is advance socialists race-balancing theories, not protect freedom.

    The only organization that actually DEFENDS freedom is the Institute for Justice [ij.org].

    Argh.
    • The ACLU is responsible for so many of the freedoms and rights that you now enjoy.

      What i like a lot about the ACLU is that they protect everyone's liberties, including people that obviously dont deserve them, like you.

  • I think that companies have to get one thing into their head. The internet is not the next big place to make money. The internet is the equivilent of a phone, paper mail, and a library, all of which are extremely personal and non-commercial. I really don't think that people want corporate interests to pervade every aspect of their lives. At some point, people's interest in keeping a vital economy and strong commercial sector have to come to a balance with people's interest in maintaining perspective and sanity. The current situation on the Internet is ridiculous. It is so overly commercialized that what once had the promise to become a powerful medium of information exchange has increasingly become a method for corporations to make money, just like T.V. and mass-market clothing and movies. I'm not saying we should all be communist and kill those evil corporations. All I'm asking for is for people to realize that maybe the current value of the NASDAQ isn't the most important thing in the world, and that keeping corporate America in a constant state of growth does not take precedence to maintaining peoples' quality of life.
    • Of course the internet isn't the next big place to make money, because as we've discovered the last couple of years, making money is much harder than just getting on the internet. Lots of the free services we all like are subsidized by that mass-market advertising you're disparaging, like the Slashdot you're reading right now, and the real problem is that they've been getting better estimates of how much the ads are really worth :-) But meanwhile, the amount of human-to-human communication on the net has gone up as well, and unlike TV and Movies-in-commercial-movie-theaters, that fact that there's more commercial noise doesn't mean there's less signal or that it's harder to find what you want.

      And phones, paper mail, and libraries are all _highly_ commercial as well as personal. The contents of your mail should be private, and who you get mail from should be private, and in a free market they would be, but the government monopoly lets the post office open your mail to inspect it for politically incorrect plants and sexually incorrect pictures, and doesn't require a warrant to give the police records about who you got mail from. Some libraries are tax-funded, some are privately funded membership-based, some are run by other kinds of organizations for their members, and some are purely commercial - Borders and Blockbuster Video and the wonderful independent bookstores we have in the San Francisco Bay Area are just as much in the library business as your town's library, and the books your library buys are mostly byproducts of the commercial publishing business (Authors may write books for artistic reasons as well as financial reasons, but publishers pay for the cost of printing and distributing them purely because they're trying to make money....)

  • Cable and other broadband suppliers are worried about two things:
    • Getting sued
    • Bandwidth hogs

    The getting sued problem is solved by making the law clear that anyone supplying internet access is a "common carrier" NOT a publisher. Web hosting services, newgroup etc.. are a bit of a grey area, but the law should make it very difficult to sue the hosting company, and have clear protections against frivolous charges of copyright infringement.

    As for bandwidth hogs - stop advertising unlimited bandwidth unless it IS unlimited. This isn't as much as a problem for the adsl providers, but for the cable guys where many customers are basicly sharing a big star one hog can cut into a lot of customers bandwidth.

    My ISP (adsl) gives me X bytes up/down for a flat rate. If I go over this generous limit then I pay extra. Wouldn't this solve the hog problem for the cable guys too?


  • I am a network engineer and sysadmin by trade.

    As a consumer, I am very distressed with the state of broadband. I just can not find broadband providers that meet the needs that I desire. The only option that I seem to have is getting a DS1 or fractional DS1 at extreme cost to get what I want.

    What do I want?

    Broadband is made up of two things -- latency and capacity. Low latency is important. Anything over 100ms is high and can cause problems with time sensitive applications such as voice communications, shell usage, and action game playing. In regards to capacity, this is the pipe width of your circuit, be it 128Kbps or 1.5Mbps.

    But it is also made up of other things. Does your service provider allow you to use servers? Will their mirror your reverse DNS files since they hold the masters? What about in and out port and protocol filtering? What about quality of service? Uplink costs are about $1000 per 1Mbps -- that is $1 per Kb! In order to make money and provide a good service to their customers, they need to oversubscribe, and also deal out the bandwidth fairly.

    I have no sympathy for the P2P copywrited material sharing fools out there who are upset that they can not pirate software -- that is not what the Internet is for. The Internet is not TV -- you do not just watch things. The Internet lets you publish, touch, interact, and exchange information on an International scale.

    Companies who do not let you run servers on ANY connection, be it dialup or DSL, are NOT providing Internet connectivity. They are providing browse-only-Internet, Read-Only Internet, or just plain TV-like crap.

    Companies that do not provide quality of service mechanisms are also doing a poor job. Implementing a QOS scheme with modern equipment is very easy and works, but nobody wants to rock their big dumb ISP boat and say that they need to do something like that.

    Offering only an OSI layer 2 (bridged) network connection is NOT acceptable. This means cable providers, LRE (long range Ethernet), and PPPoE/PPPoATM providers that do not provide point to point circuits. If you want to provide this kind of service, then that is okay, but not as an only option.

    Any ISP that does not provide for IP allocations is no ISP at all, period.

    I do not need a 1.5Mbps upstream and 128Kbps upstream DSL line. I would much rather have a 384Kbps bidirectional ADSL or SDSL line (yes, you can have a balanced line with ADSL, there is no technical excuse) and be able to use it.

    I do not mind paying a little more for these services, but overcharging me for things like a small IP allocation, or reverse DNS on the allocation, or using servers, is unacceptable. How much work does it take to do a SWIP and enter a configuration line in your RDNS pull system? I KNOW how much work it takes because I used to do it -- about two minutes AT MOST, almost zero resources, does not have to be done by an engineer, and is easily automated.

    AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hate modern broadband providers, and I hate the people who use them blindly. Why does nobody care?

    In Denver I was paying $150 a month for a 640Kbps PPPoATM ADSL line with a /29 IP allocation from Qwest. They permitted me to request and return IP allocations from a web based system, and I could do my reverse DNS from this web based system (not as good as pulling from my DNS server, but acceptable). I almost always got the full 640Kbps if I needed it and my line had uptime of months between occasional DSLAM reset. My first hop out was 45ms, which was kind of high, but consistent and acceptable.

    I have recently moved to the Orlando Florida metro area, and while looking for apartments have found that I am really screwed. I just can not get what I need. Almost all of the apartment complexes here used digital line compression on their phone lines, which kills DSL. There is nothing wireless, and only RoadRunner cable modem service is available, and I hear very oversubscribed.

    I hate everybody! Die.

  • From page 2:
    "4. Cable broadband is not restrained by competition
    5. Cable broadband has not been restrained by regulation"

    These statements are mutually exclusive. Allow me to elaborate. It is partially true that cable is not subject to competition. The reason for this is that it has indeed been "restrained by regulation". Throw a rock in a room full of US cities and you'll hit one with a legally-protected cable monopoly. My city sure has one. If you don't allow multiple cable companies to operate, how can you chide them for lack of competition? It makes no sense. It's also preposterous to suggest that the solution is MORE regulation rather than less. You cannot produce the effects of competition by writing laws. The failure of socialism proved that one.

    But this logical breakdown hardly matters, as the entire premise of their concern is faulty.
    From page 1:
    "The danger is that the Internet will come under private control. Core American liberties
    such as freedom of speech are of no value if the forums where such rights are commonly
    exercised are not themselves free."

    I don't know what country these guys have been living in, but it ain't the USA. Every avenue through which free speech is exercised is under private control. Newspapers, TV, radio, even if you just stand on a soapbox and shout, the ground you're standing on is owned by someone. Even our precious internet runs on cables and computers owned by individuals. Quite simply, "free speech" on the internet doesn't exist. You can only post on Slashdot what the Slashdot owners will allow you to. It's the same at ArsTechnica, Shacknews, SomethingAwful, or any other online forum system or moderated usenet group. And unmoderated usenet only acts "free" because the designers and operators of the system and the individual groups decided it should be so. There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING "public" about the internet, and that changes not regardless of whether you use dial-up or cable.

    And didn't we address this already recently, in the story on making 'net access a public utility? There the fear was that it's in the competitive interest of providers to limit access. As I said re: that story, that's bullshit. If what consumers want is unfettered access to anything and everything, then providing that is what gives competitive advantage. Limiting access is how you /give up/ your competitive advantage.

    The value of the internet is in how decentralized it is in terms of content provision. The value of the web isn't on Yahoo or MSN.com or anything owned by AOL/TW, it's on Geocities, lonestar.org homepages, stupid Tripod sites, small community forums, etc etc etc. It would only ever be in the interest of providers to limit access if they could limit access to just things that they own. But no provider could ever own enough of the internet to be useful on its own.
    • Sure another company could compete. But they have to lay down an entire new infrastructure. If you want to pick a different phone company, you use the same phone line system, regardless of wether its PacBell, GTE, or whoever else. If you have a choice of power providers, they all use the same power lines.

      This is not the case with cable, and gutless corrupt politicians aren't helping. Either require the same fair conditions for multiple cable companies to prosper, or regulate the hell out of cable, starting with the rates they can charge.

      There are a few overbuilders out there: RCN, Winfirst, that are trying to deploy new systems over the top of existing ones. Winfirst deployed such a system in Sacramento, but they are in financial trouble now do to a lack of venture capital. Fiber to the curb, integrated phone/cable/net in one package, etc.
  • Palladium scares the shit out of me. Not for its restrictiveness on x86 hardware but the possible implicantions of it on the internet. Cringely [pbs.org] has an interesting article on this. Palladium will replace tcp/ip with tcp/ms with encypted keys on every packet that will require a copy of windows to read. I believe Microsoft and not the broadband providers will own the web, our computers,and all of our data.

  • Only in America, eh!

    Ahem.

    I mean, this is a threat to internet freedom only in one (increasingly reactionary) country, the US of A.

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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