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Father of Internet Warns Against Net Neutrality 322

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the my-two-dads dept.
An anonymous reader writes "At a recent talk at the Computer History Museum Robert Kahn, co-inventor of TCP/IP, warned against net neutrality legislation that could hinder experimentation and innovation. Calling 'net neutrality' a slogan, Khan also cautioned against 'dogmatic views of network architecture.' A video of the talk is also available."
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Father of Internet Warns Against Net Neutrality

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  • I don't get it... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ArcherB (796902) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:57PM (#17715132) Journal
    So we should allow the highest bidder to choke off the bandwidth from their less wealthy competitors? Honestly, can someone explain to me how this would be a good idea?

    • by Zonk (troll) (1026140) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:01PM (#17715194)
      It's a good idea for two groups:

      1) ISPs: Extra cash.
      2) Big companies: Lock out potential competitors. (4 Seconds Loading Time Is Maximum For Websurfers [slashdot.org])
      • I guess I get it,... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @06:24PM (#17716342) Homepage Journal
        With all due respect to Mr.Kahn, who I am told invented TCP/IP: Just why should we give any weight to his notion of the best way to keep the Internet from becoming just another channel for corporate interests, instead of the wide-open agora of information and ideas that it has become.

        We have lived during a rare time, when such a powerful medium has somehow managed to keep from being completely commercialized past any recognition of the fragile and open universe it was for its first decade. There may be no way to stop the dictates of the almighty "marketplace" from having its way with the Internet like a brute with a virgin child, but I give credit to those who are trying to think of ways to keep it free for a few more years.

        If we ever see the full-out commercialization and commoditization of the 'net, we will have lost something precious - something that made the turn of the millennium a great time to be alive.
        • by falconwolf (725481)

          We have lived during a rare time, when such a powerful medium has somehow managed to keep from being completely commercialized past any recognition of the fragile and open universe it was for its first decade. There may be no way to stop the dictates of the almighty "marketplace" from having its way with the Internet like a brute with a virgin child, but I give credit to those who are trying to think of ways to keep it free for a few more years.

          And it's amazing all this happened while the internet was un

          • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:49PM (#17717282)
            Pretty easy... just look at cable TV.

            Amazing how all the cable people required monopolies to run cable but no one needed a monopoly to run high speed internet.
            • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000&yahoo,com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:34PM (#17717742)

              And it's amazing all this happened while the internet was unregulated. Imagne what would of happened if it had been regulated.

              Pretty easy... just look at cable TV.

              Amazing how all the cable people required monopolies to run cable but no one needed a monopoly to run high speed internet.

              Actually companies did need, er used a, monopoly to offer broadband. Except for Wifi, WiMAX, ie all landline providers do have monopolies by which they are able to offer broadband. This is true whether the ISP is cable or telco. The only way these companies would be willing to spend all the money to build the infrastructer was if they were granted exclusive rights. They have however outlived their purpose. To tell the truth, though I am a Libertarian, I believe local infrastructure should be locally owned. Either government, coop, or some local organization. The IEEE's Spectrum has a good article on how some communites in northeastern Utah are creating "A Broadband Utopia" [ieee.org]. I'd like to see more things like this. Falcon

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gad_zuki! (70830)
          >With all due respect to Mr.Kahn, who I am told invented TCP/IP:

          An engineer is not an economist. You shouldnt have to apologize when you see an expert use his weight in one field to push his opinions in another. He is at fault here.
        • by McFadden (809368) on Monday January 22, 2007 @08:50PM (#17717918)
          With all due respect to Mr.Kahn, who I am told invented TCP/IP: Just why should we give any weight to his notion of the best way to keep the Internet from becoming just another channel for corporate interests
          Absolutely. Let's face it, although it's a widely used standard, without which the internet wouldn't function, the invention of a network protocol doesn't mean you automatically have some inspirational insight into the future governance of something which affects the daily lives of people worldwide.
          • by jc42 (318812) on Monday January 22, 2007 @10:32PM (#17718836) Homepage Journal
            ... the invention of a network protocol doesn't mean you automatically have some inspirational insight into the future governance of something which affects the daily lives of people worldwide.

            Actually, there's a fairly obvious argument saying that the invention of such a protocol does imply such an insight.

            We can see the natural state of a network without global "regulation" (i.e., standards) by looking at networking equipment invented by manufacturers. We call these LANs now, because they're only workable on a very local level. The reason is that no two of them can interoperate. Corporations don't communicate with their competitors, and they intentionally build equipment that won't talk to their competitors' equipment. The only way to get a world-wide network is to have some sort of governing body that can decree and enforce standards. Otherwise, all you get is a lot of non-cooperating, small-scale networks.

            You can see the difficulty especially well with the cell-phone system. That has the potential to be a universally-accessible world-wide wireless comm system. But it hasn't much happened, because governments (especially the US government) allow the companies to control their own networks. Their natural behavior is to restrict their networks to "locked" equipment that you must buy from them, and which can't communicate well with the competition even when it's the same brand of phone. They also take great pains to prevent us independent software developers from building anything on their networks, because they don't want anything on their network that doesn't directly result in income to them.

            There was a great deal of insight in the creation of the Internet. Especially impressive is the way that they found to use the limited, proprietary systems, by encapsulating them and building a higher-level layer of software that hid all the low-level incompatibilities. This is the primary value of the IP protocol. And they made all their specs and most of the code freely available to all developers, which produced the explosion of user applications of the past couple decades.

            It took insight to appreciate that the commercial world would never do such a thing, so they needed an approach that could use commercial products while insulating the proprietary details from applications. The result was a system that actually encourages communication between unlike hardware from different manufacturers, something that those manufacturers still try to block when they can.

            We should give credit where credit is due here.
    • Who is "we", and who put "we" in the position of being in charge of what everybody else can do? If "we" is the government, I think "we the people" can count on them botching being in charge of the Internet.
      • by ArcherB (796902) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:11PM (#17715332) Journal
        Who is "we", and who put "we" in the position of being in charge of what everybody else can do? If "we" is the government, I think "we the people" can count on them botching being in charge of the Internet.

        Yes, We, as in WE the People who vote.

        Governments, like it or not, are in the best position to provide certain services like roads, water, sewage, defense and so on. If private industries take over these services, bad things happen, like toll roads, dumped sewage and dirty water. Governments are wasteful because they are not bound by profit. Wasteful includes things like repairing roads that are still passable, but need repair and treating sewage before dumping it back into the water supply, even though it is expensive.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by empaler (130732)
          Governments, like it or not, are in the best position to provide certain services like roads, water, sewage, defense and so on. If private industries take over these services, bad things happen, like toll roads, dumped sewage and dirty water. Governments are wasteful because they are not bound by profit. Wasteful includes things like repairing roads that are still passable, but need repair and treating sewage before dumping it back into the water supply, even though it is expensive.


          Or, put in another
        • by XanC (644172) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:18PM (#17715436)

          This is not a democracy, or at least it's not supposed to be. People who vote don't have the authority to dictate arbitrary terms to other people, except where specified in a constitution.

          Okay, you get some of your infrastructure (water, sewage) from the city. How does that translate into the Feds running the Internet again?

          • by ArcherB (796902) *
            Okay, you get some of your infrastructure (water, sewage) from the city. How does that translate into the Feds running the Internet again?

            Think toll roads! I don't want the Internet to look like the Chicago freeway system... Full of tolls! Want to travel on the FREEway, pay a toll. Want to get on another road, pay a toll. Want to get off the FREEway, pay a toll. You can't get anywhere in Chicago without stopping every 5 minutes to pay a toll. I don't want to see the Internet become that way.

            Granted, C
            • by Kadin2048 (468275)
              Not sure that's a very convincing argument.

              I don't live in Chicago. I sure as hell don't want to pay for their highway. Therefore, having toll roads so that it doesn't cost me more in tax dollars sounds like a really good idea.

              After all, having the government pay for something doesn't make it "free" it just distributes the cost among a whole lot more people; people whom, in many cases, will never see the benefit of what they're paying for.

              If you want to show that government funding for something is a good i
              • by ArcherB (796902) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @06:07PM (#17716082) Journal
                Granted, people in Idaho don't care about Chicago's toll roads until they have to pay more for a loaf of bread that had to travel through Chicago to get to their local store. And yes, since many companies like UPS has enormous hubs in Chicago, everything that passes through them gets more expensive. This means that the people in Hawaii are paying for Chicago's toll roads twice: Once because UPS pays local taxes for those roads and again when their trucks pay the toll to get from Midway Airport to the UPS hub.

                This is not about the end-user paying more for faster Internet service. This is about companies paying line owners to give their traffic priority. While a Comcast customer may not want to pay for blazing speed, they shouldn't have to wait longer or pay a toll when their web browsing takes them off of Comcast's lines and onto AT&T's. Internet lines are rarely local.

                Finally, packets will follow the path of least resistance. This means that if Google pays gets priority for Time Warner's lines, most non-Google traffic will be routed around Time Warner, congesting AT&T's lines until AT&T starts giving priority to Yahoo, congesting everyone else s's lines further, which means that my slashdot post will get bogged down.

    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:08PM (#17715294) Homepage Journal

      No, it would not be a good idea.

      However, is Network Neutrality simply the inverse set of the scheme you refer to, or is it an over-the-top reaction that actually bans many quite legitimate activities an ISP might do (such as providing bandwidth over and above what an end user has paid for, to paying parties. ie you pay for a 256k connection, but it becomes a 1Mbps + 256k connection whenever Apple is sending data to it, because they paid.)

      My reading of network neutrality is it makes all forms of improved service in exchange for money illegal, even when the end user doesn't lose out because of it. I'd rather see lobbying for minimum guaranteed service levels than "neutrality", the Internet equivalent of banning 1-800 numbers.

      • by The Master Control P (655590) <ejkeever.nerdshack@com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @06:51PM (#17716660)
        Which of these do you think is more likely to happen if Net Neutrality is broken:

        1. ISPs maintain the same level of service they do now, and allow some sites to pay more for a faster pipe to you.
        2. ISPs cut your default service to squat, and make sites pay for anything resembling decent bandwidth.

        Pieces of evidence to consider: N.N. wasn't even an issue until certain ISPs figured they could extort money out of sites like Youtube (which use a lot of bandwidth). Number 2 is cheaper.

        What it comes down to it, your broadband ISP sold you an always-on connection that runs at >= 1Mbps but they aren't remotely capable of delivering it if everyone starts doing more than burst-type downloads. And now rather than own up to this mistake, they want to make the guys who made their error apparent (streaming video) pay. ISPs are corporations, which means that they don't care if it will destroy the Internet as we know it, because it's cheaper.

        I'd be more than willing to bet that if legislation requiring minimum service levels passes, we'll see the minimum service level drop to squat, and anyone wanting decent bandwidth pays anyway.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by burndive (855848)

          1. ISPs maintain the same level of service they do now, and allow some sites to pay more for a faster pipe to you.
          2. ISPs cut your default service to squat, and make sites pay for anything resembling decent bandwidth.

          These both amount to the same thing when you take into account that as time goes on, bandwidth for a given price should increase: the definition of "decent bandwidth" will change over time. Net Neutrality seeks to prevent ISPs from freezing the quality of their infrastructure and forcing

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Paulrothrock (685079)

        However, is Network Neutrality simply the inverse set of the scheme you refer to, or is it an over-the-top reaction that actually bans many quite legitimate activities an ISP might do (such as providing bandwidth over and above what an end user has paid for, to paying parties. ie you pay for a 256k connection, but it becomes a 1Mbps + 256k connection whenever Apple is sending data to it, because they paid.)

        That would be just fine, IF I had a choice of more than two packages from more than two broadband pr

      • Re:I don't get it... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by numbski (515011) * <numbskiNO@SPAMhksilver.net> on Monday January 22, 2007 @07:27PM (#17717040) Homepage Journal
        Meh. This is always a mess. From the ISP side, unless I have a business connection or the rare "clueful end user", I do traffic shaping on all connections, basically tossing p2p to the bottom of the stack, VOIP and video services to the top, and everything else to the middle. Now the kicker of Net Neutrality is that *technically*, I become a bad guy if I do this. It's entirely possible for me to decide that someone has paid me additional funds (say the local tv station) to prioritize their video feed above others to make sure it gets a nice clear picture, vs their competitors video feeds.

        Sounds pretty harmless when you're talking about Joe Tiny ISP. It's these big guys that start to give you the willies when you think about the implications of it. Net Neutrality in its purest form is somewhat of a myth these days anyway, given that almost no one runs a perfectly open router. We all firewall, we all segment and exclude, etc, etc, etc. Prioritization of packets is a natural next step in that chain. It just urks me that some PHB got the idea to make that into a profiteering mechanism, so now prioritization is evil, and will either be abused, or outlawed.

        The absurdity of it all abounds. Packet prioritization is not evil unto itself. I guess if I started squelching any and all requests from microsoft.com and msn.com but gave high priority to google.com....pfft, this is all insane.
    • Re:I don't get it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:09PM (#17715312) Homepage Journal
      I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The FCC has already stated that they will fine any company that abuses their ability to Tier bandwidth. So we're covered on that front without having to pass new laws. At the same time, the current situtation allows for ISPs to use the tiering features of their routing equipment as it was originally designed: To provide near real-time routing for time-sensitive traffic such as Voice Over IP.
      • by zipwow (1695)
        Can you cite that somewhere? I think it's a great point, and had heard the same thing, but never from an authoritative source.

        -Zipwow
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by duranaki (776224)
        FCC statement.. those are legally binding right? And won't change with whoever gets put in charge of the FCC in years to come?

        Pretty sure the answer there is no and no. Don't even get me started on how hard it is to define abuse.

        Not that I disagree with the notion... I'd rather not let the government get any more involved in our Internet than they already are. I just don't trust the FCC any more than legislators or big ISPs.
        • FCC statement.. those are legally binding right?

          No, but neither is a new Federal law if it doesn't get enforced. And guess who's on the hook for enforcement?

          I'd rather have the FCC enforce a reasonable set of guidelines than a draconian reaction from Congress. (Also known as the opposite of "progress".)
      • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday January 22, 2007 @06:27PM (#17716370)
        At the same time, the current situtation allows for ISPs to use the tiering features of their routing equipment as it was originally designed: To provide near real-time routing for time-sensitive traffic such as Voice Over IP.

        They can do that now, and they can do that after Net Neutrality is passed. It seems that most of the complaints (on both sides) are about what they think could happen (but is illegal before and after, or legal before and after), not what is actually changed by it. About the only thing done now that *might* be illegal after would be restricting of P2P and servers housed in people's homes. My reading of the bill would make DNS filters and SMTP filters designed to stop DDOS and spam illegal. However, since these can affect performance for all and are not legal otherwise, those restrictions could probably remain, though a court would probably have to be consulted.

        If you have a problem with the bill, please point me to the section you have an issue with. If you don't know the section you don't like, then you obviously don't know enough about it to object. The particular part I don't like is that many CLECs could be put out of business with Section 12 (d) of the draft bill. Oh, all right, here is one place you can take a look at a draft: http://dorgan.senate.gov/documents/newsroom/net_ne utrality.pdf [senate.gov] (yes, it's a PDF) Now read it and tell me what in particular you think will bring the Internet to its knees, or shut up (and no, this isn't specifically aimed at the parent, but anyone out there talking about it without knowing what it is).
    • Since internet bandwidth has limits (it can be clogged with enourmous amounts of material) those paying the most money can get the biggest chunk of that bandwidth. If the demand for bandwidth is high enough, that means the people on the low end of the scale get 'choked' for bandwidth.

      I find it fair that people who pay more get more bandwidth and less latency. What would be unfair is if the phone companies claimed to give customers a certain bandwidth and latency and then didn't- something that falls u
    • Yes, we should (Score:2, Insightful)

      by HighOrbit (631451) *

      So we should allow the highest bidder to choke off the bandwidth from their less wealthy competitors

      Did you sleep through Econ 101? That's called Allocative_efficiency [wikipedia.org] via the Free Price System [wikipedia.org]. The market price allocation of goods and services is the best that humankind has come up with in the last 4,000 years of recorded history, and the only one that matches production to demand, because it is the only scheme that accounts for human nature and motivations. Price allocation means people will pay for a

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by 4e617474 (945414)
        Did you sleep through Econ 101? That's called Allocative_efficiency via the Free Price System.

        Did you sleep through the 90's? The reason every geek on Earth was excited about the Internet and extolled its virtues to a critical-mass of non-geeks was that it delivered information and innovation to you as fast as it could be generated, and by anyone who could express it - not that "goods and services" were being delivered.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ArcherB (796902) *
        Did you sleep through Econ 101? That's called Allocative_efficiency via the Free Price System. The market price allocation of goods and services is the best that humankind has come up with in the last 4,000 years of recorded history, and the only one that matches production to demand, because it is the only scheme that accounts for human nature and motivations. Price allocation means people will pay for a good if the good is worth the price and other people will produce the good if the selling price is wort
      • Re:Yes, we should (Score:4, Insightful)

        by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @06:24PM (#17716332) Journal
        The current economic system does not account for human nature. It assumes humans are driven by pure self interest. Modern economic research shows that people are more motivated by notions of fairness and reciprocity. This research (google "fairness reciprocity economic research") shows that most people act fairly when they have the ability to punish unfairness or non-cooperation. The entire system is based on a falsehood and promotes selfishness by assuming it.

        In addition, the system has well known modes of failure. Natural monopolies, imbalance of information, and externalities all cause the market to fail to rpovide optimal distribution of resources. The best system we have come up with in the past 4,000 years is one that includes some level of government regulation of trade. Even Adam Smith realized that, in order to remain free, the market must be regulated. Read Wealth of Nations.

        All in all, the free market is a remarkeably effective system. But that system is known to fail in certain circumstances, and thus, a larger system incorporated managed oversight of the market through elected representatives has proven to be the most effective. Lassez Faire failed as badly as communism.
    • by mc6809e (214243) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:36PM (#17715674)
      So we should allow the highest bidder to choke off the bandwidth from their less wealthy competitors?

      That's like saying someone can go to Ford or Honda and buy up all the cars, and thus deprive all others of automobiles.

      It won't work for the simple reason that Ford and Honda can make more.

      No one will pay big money to monopolize all the bandwidth, because the more money they spend trying to do it, the more incentive there is for providers to make more.

      And keep in mind that it's easy right now to choke off bandwidth. Simply open a huge number of simultaneous TCP connections to overwhelm all others. All other things being equal, if someone has 1 TCP connection moving data and another person has 16 TCP connections, the latter person will grab 16/17ths of the bandwidth.

      Or maybe recruit thousands of zombie computers to ping flood a destination IP in a DoS attack. In effect network neutrality means those with the most bandwidth and most servers will win.

      One solution to these problems would be to set up queues for all destination IPs and use prioritization to implement fair-queuing. The only trouble is that, under certain net neutrality proposals like that of Markey, fair-queuing would actually be illegal since it uses a prioritization scheme not among those allowed.

      Think about that. It would actually be illegal in to fairly allocate bandwidth.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ArcherB (796902) *
        That's like saying someone can go to Ford or Honda and buy up all the cars, and thus deprive all others of automobiles.

        No, it's like someone buying up all the lanes on the freeway and then dictating who can drive and how fast. And they wouldn't even have to buy all the roads, just a few "choke points". Actually, a bit more accurate would be that a company would pay the "road-company" to dictate who can drive what, to where and how fast. Of course, as each company owns different stretches of roads, I see
    • by RexRhino (769423)
      Right now, saying "Net Neutrality" is like saying "Power to the people, man!". It is a nice slogan, but it doesn't mean anything until there is some real understanding and consensus on what Net Neutrality really means.

      Right now, you don't have the vaugest idea of what any sort of Net Neutrality legislation would entail, because no sort of legislation has been written up. And right now, without any sort of Net Neutrality legislation, companies have yet to choke off bandwidth of less wealthy competitors. It c
    • There are smarter, more determined, more knowledgeable people out there than you. That's basically it.

      If the ISPs choke off their neighbours, the said smarter/more determined people will become upset by poorer bandwidth and will come up with ... something ... which will make internet access faster, cheaper and more pervasive than it is now. What that something is, no idea but I'm sure it's out there.

       
  • Man (Score:5, Funny)

    by malkir (1031750) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:00PM (#17715182)
    Fuck the internet, I'm going back to throwing rocks with notes attached.
  • by hotrodman (472382) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:00PM (#17715186)

        I wonder, if net neutrality falls apart, and we end up with people charging more for high-speed pipes to certain places, will that generate a big boom in building VPN/GRE/IP tunnels to attempt to work around it? If so, that could become a very lucrative business for Cisco or any other tunnel-equipment maker/provider. Hmmm..makes me wonder if there is a new conspiracy about to brew....
        - E
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      I think what will happen is that you will be charged for services on the Internet on top of your usual connection charges.

      A couple of examples:
      Google has to pay AT&T, the company that owns the lines in your area, a premium to get higher bandwidth. Google passes the charges onto you and charges you $0.10 a search.
      Google pays AT&T a large premium to block all bandwidth to Yahoo. Google passes the charges onto the consumer by charging $0.25 per search.

      • Google has to pay AT&T, the company that owns the lines in your area, a premium to get higher bandwidth. Google passes the charges onto you and charges you $0.10 a search.

        Then Google finds out that people would rather use Yahoo or MSN Search for $0.00/search than Google for $0.10/search.

        Google pays AT&T a large premium to block all bandwidth to Yahoo. Google passes the charges onto the consumer by charging $0.25 per search.

        Then Google and AT&T discover that colluding to keep a competitor out of
    • Cox has already tried to ban VPN traffic in their AUP according to several reports.
      • by DShard (159067)
        The Cox AUP [cox.com] seems to disagree. I thought it did say that, but it doesn't. I also thought NAT's were also banned, but there not. Though "servers" are banned. Which irks me, but what are you gonna do.
  • Main Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravesb (967413) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:01PM (#17715196) Homepage
    I don't think he's against neutrality, just legislation as a means to enforce it. Because, then, if someone does come up with a better system later, it will be hard to implement. However, the telecom's current proposal isn't really better, and does need to be dealt with somewhere.
    • by redelm (54142) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:16PM (#17715412) Homepage
      Agreed on the difficulty/undesireablity of legislation: it almost always has unexpected and unintended consequences are people adapt.

      A law is advocated to stop behaviour some people see as undesireable. The perpetrators have no such opinion. Whatever impels them to do the undesireable act continues to operate, and they just find a way around.

      On net neutrality, in a competitive market, premium services will result in lower prices for bulk services. What do I care about 2000 ms latency when I'm downloading ISOs? I just increase RWIN.

      Breaking a forerunner of "net neutrality" is how the Internet got it's international costs so low. Going from channel-switched [voice] to packet-switched [data].

  • well (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:03PM (#17715220) Homepage
    At a recent talk at the Computer History Museum Robert Kahn, co-inventor of TCP/IP, warned against net neutrality legislation that could hinder experimentation and innovation.

    Well, as a genetically engineered superhuman, you might want to listen to him. He's a lot smarter than you.
    • I feel comfortable with good ol' Vint on my side. [senate.gov]

      He's the other guy responsible for TCP/IP and, in my opinion, a bit more deserving of the title 'Father of the Internet' - although it really is more of a "founding fathers" situation.
      • by schwaang (667808)
        Interesting read. I didn't realize that Cerf is now a VP and "Chief Internet Evangelist" at Google. This quote (emph. mine) nails it, IMHO:

        The best long-term answer to this problem is significantly more broadband competition. Ideally, physical layer problems merit physical layer solutions. While the prospects for such "intermodal" competition remain dim for the foreseeable future, Congress should ensure that the FCC has all the tools it needs to maximize the chances for long-term success in this area.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:03PM (#17715224)
    ...Robert Kahn, co-inventor of TCP/IP...

    Um, how does this make him the "Father of the Internet"?

    Co-inventor of TCP/IP, OK, but "Father of the Internet"?!? What about the CERN guys, what about the router folks, what about the...everyone else who co-invented a piece of technology that enabled the existence of the internet?

    Just ranting because I'm kind of sick of hyperbole.

  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:07PM (#17715278) Homepage
    Wouldn't net neutrality help to stop the ridiculous arbitrary blocking of ports that many ISPs impose, which basically keeps people from using the Internet as it was intended?
    • Wouldn't net neutrality help to stop the ridiculous arbitrary blocking of ports that many ISPs impose, which basically keeps people from using the Internet as it was intended?

      Not as I understand it. Net Neutrality means not allowing your provider to take cash from Microsoft to speed up MSN and slow down Google (for example, but using the typical white and black hats that slashdot so loves). It's about treating traffic that I as a user request without regard as to WHO sends it. I don't take that to mean

      • by corbettw (214229)
        Net Neutrality means not allowing your provider to take cash from Microsoft to speed up MSN and slow down Google (for example, but using the typical white and black hats that slashdot so loves).

        Except that's not what the telcos want to do. They want to charge more for MSN to go faster, and if Google doesn't pay extra, they don't get the extra service levels. Sure, to the unwashed masses, it appears that Google is being punished, but to technologically sophisticated types like you and me, it's obvious that M
  • I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyoShin (610051) <.tukaro. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:10PM (#17715316) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps I don't understand "Net Neutrality" as well as I thought, but Kahn's (KAAAAAAHHHHNN) statements confuse me.

    "If the goal is to encourage people to build new capabilities, then the party that takes the lead is probably only going to have it on their net to start with and it's not going to be on anyone else's net. You want to incentivize people to innovate, and they're going to innovate on their own nets or a few other nets,"

    "I am totally opposed to mandating that nothing interesting can happen inside the net," he said.
    If anything, I would think that allowing corporate entities to throttle bandwidth for whichever site or service they choose, then hold that service's customer availability up for ransom would do far more damage to "encouraging capabilities" and "inventivize innvation". After all, money that might have gone into R&D from these companies (see: Google, Microsoft) might have to be used just so they aren't impeded from their customer.

    It would also stall innovation on the end of ISPs- if they note that their current systems can't handle traffic from a certain site or service, they just throttle back that site/service, make them cough up dough, then use that dough to get more systems to handle the bandwidth (or just release the throttle, upgrade nothing, and screw the consumers; depends on which ISP we're talking about). So instead of handling it with improvements, they'll just look to throw more money for more of the same solution. (Which, granted, could be what they do now.)

    Perhaps he's saying that the government shouldn't get involved on pro- or con-neutrality, which I can understand more, but then that opens the door for the greedy corporations to start throttling away.

    A side thought on net neutrality: If an ISP decides to limit access to such sites as Microsoft.com, thereby hampering the Windows Update service, and the computers that can't get updated turn into botboxes (for spam or virii- or both), would the ISP then be liable for any damage caused by the spam/virii?
    • What net neutrality always fails to take into account is that ISPs don't exist on an island. If my ISP starts making things unusable, I will complain loudly and vocally... I will tell my friends. Other customers get pissed. If enough of us get pissed and they refuse to take action, we'll be lobbying our towns to get rid of the local franchise.

      Similarly, outside interests will see a market to serve by providing what the current provider isn't. We could very well see Google or another major player offer an
      • by RyoShin (610051)
        I agree that the less government involvement, the better, but you're assuming that the average consumer cares enough to do anything if they are hampered by their provider. While people on Slashdot such as you or myself may become active enough to fight against the ISP, I have to wonder how many Joe Sixpacks would stand up and scream with us.

        Now, in an ideal market, we would be able to switch ISP service. Unfortunatly, too many areas, especailly the smaller ones (not even going into the rural area) are rest
    • by mc6809e (214243)
      A side thought on net neutrality: If an ISP decides to limit access to such sites as Microsoft.com, thereby hampering the Windows Update service, and the computers that can't get updated turn into botboxes (for spam or virii- or both), would the ISP then be liable for any damage caused by the spam/virii?


      The question is: would they have any customers left?

    • by melikamp (631205)

      Perhaps he's saying that the government shouldn't get involved on pro- or con-neutrality, which I can understand more, but then that opens the door for the greedy corporations to start throttling away.

      I think that's what he is saying. I tend to agree with him. After all, what's the worst they can do? Take their cables and go home? Well, guess what, we'll just find another way to connect our networks! They (telcos) will be left to rot with their tv-cable-like internet, while the rest of us will happily u

    • You bring up an interesting point about the ISPs becoming liable for critical services not being delivered. However, I doubt it will happen since as it stands now, no one is liable for bot-laden boxes except perhaps the criminals who created them, assumig they are ever caught. If MS can get away with no culpability for easily exploited systems then it would be difficult to impossible to try to pin the blame on an ISP blocking access to an update, especially if there are other exploits not patched by the upd
      • by RyoShin (610051)

        If MS can get away with no culpability for easily exploited systems then it would be difficult to impossible to try to pin the blame on an ISP blocking access to an update, especially if there are other exploits not patched by the update - who would be held responsible for botnets created through those open holes?

        I'm not a huge fan of Microsoft (though, for the time being, I do prefer Windows over Linux/Mac), and while I do blame them for being lax about software security, I don't believe that they should h

  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:12PM (#17715342)
    I agree with this guy. We can't even begin to imagine what our children are going to invent after growing up in this early phase of the internet culture. I, for one, am not excited about letting the geriatric politicos shackle our kids from innovating in ways we cannot anticipate today.
  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:23PM (#17715488)
    Net neutrality IS just a slogan, and not a very good one because it means different things to different people. To Robert Kahn it obviously means locking network protocols, which obviously he is against.

    But the central issue already has a name--it's called "common carrier." ISPs need to be held to a standard that is content- and author-neutral. My Web site or e-mail or video should not be able to be blocked or slowed based simply on what it says or who wrote it. I don't care about the technology that gets it there--just get it there and don't let me be discriminated against.

    Common carrier is so important, and so ingrained in our way of thinking, that to some people it's impossible to imagine that it can't exist. But the fact is that it must be specified by legislation, and right now for Internet services it is not. This is the essence of the issue.

    Network protocols, frankly, are not. The network protocols used on telephone and cell phone networks change all the time, but the right to have your call delivered remains. Trucks and tracking technology are improved all the time, but the right to have your package delivered has not changed in over 100 years. There is no shortage of models for how common carrier can be enforced without hindering innovation.
  • by g00z (81380)
    100:1 On an Al Gore Joke
    6000:1 On a "Kahhhhhhhn!" Posting

    Anybody want to post over/unders for number of posts on above subjects?

    So much cliche fodder in one article.
  • Don't Legislate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:40PM (#17715698) Homepage Journal
    My stance is that, since the experts are disagreeing over the issue, the worst thing to do is to write something into law.

    In fact, I believe the only reason the issue is so important is because too many things have already been written into law. Specifically, existing laws make it difficult to set up ones own telecom operation. This is what makes the incumbents so powerful, and this is why we need to be worried about them locking people out or providing suboptimal service.

    If the barriers to entry were lower, perhaps we could have different carriers for different niches, rather than what is basically a yes/no proposition.

    If you _really_ want to know my opinion about whether there should be net neutrality or not, I would say there has never been, nor will there ever be net neutrality. There are always some who get better service than others, even if nobody is making a specific effort to make it that way. While I think ensuring everyone can have a certain minimum level of access to information has some merit, network neutrality is either a misnomer or taking things waaaaay too far.
  • Seriously, who is the "father" of the Internet. You have the guy who developed HTML, you have everyone who worked on ARPANET, you have everyone who worked on TCP/IP. So who is the father? People need to stop using the name father to refer to people who were in on the early development of the Internet. It is confusing. Besides this guy is an engineer. What does he know about regulation and best business practices?
  • by SpiceWare (3438) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:42PM (#17715742)
    John Hodgman and Jon Stewart explain Net Neutrality [youtube.com]

    I'm not looking forward to PneuMail.
  • Neutrality? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Truman Starr (949802)
    This came up last time I was following a Net Neutrality-related thread. I'm not sure everyone is using the same definition of NN. The definition I generally go by is that Net Neutrality would force ISPs (at all tiers) to offer their full resources to everyone. That is, they cannot give any certain clients/sites preferential treatment. Imagine if "the tubes" were all clogged up with tons of traffic - the companies that paid their ISP a "protection fee" would see their packets moving before the rest of th
    • Re:Neutrality? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pashdown (124942) <pashdown@xmission.com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:58PM (#17715952) Homepage
      You want low latency in your game traffic? How about smooth VoIP conversations? Would you like your ISP to block the spambot from filling your email with nonsense? There are good reasons for prioritization and blocking, none of which any of our current legislators can comprehend. Please keep them out of the decision making process and let ISPs run their business. If you don't like your ISP's policies, find another. If you have no choice, go talk to your local city council about laying municipal fiber and you'll have plenty of choices when that is done. If they don't listen to you, move to a city that is in the 21st century.

      • Re:Neutrality? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mmurphy000 (556983) on Monday January 22, 2007 @06:55PM (#17716694)
        You want low latency in your game traffic?

        Yes, so long as it is all game traffic, not just whoever's game traffic a man-in-the-middle ISP decides to grant low latency.

        How about smooth VoIP conversations?

        Yes, so long as it is for all VOIP systems, not just the one offered by an ISP.

        Would you like your ISP to block the spambot from filling your email with nonsense?

        Not particularly, since I don't use my ISP's mail servers.

        Please keep them out of the decision making process and let ISPs run their business.

        I'm fine with that...

        If you have no choice, go talk to your local city council about laying municipal fiber and you'll have plenty of choices when that is done.

        ...except that ISPs are suing to block muni broadband. As far as I'm concerned, if there's a way to build an Internet that bypasses ISP stupidity as needed, ISPs can be stupid. But, if ISPs are going to block build-outs like muni broadband, then the ISPs have to follow a code of conduct (e.g., "common carrier") that offers a level playing field to all. They can't have their cake ("we'll charge arbitrary content providers arbitrary amounts or turn off the tubes") and eat it too ("and no, you can't stop us by building a municipal network").

  • And just when you thought he was going to be campaigning global warming for the rest of his career, here comes the father of the internet, Al Gore to warn us about this disastrous net neutrality!
  • by Mignon (34109) <satan@programmer.net> on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:56PM (#17715918)
    And the mother of the internet warns that the internet better get this room cleaned up and that trash taken out before its father gets home, young man.
  • by endianx (1006895)
    When people talk about Net Neutrality, do they mean ISPs can't do any packet shaping at all?

    I am, for example, all for ISPs giving lower priority to VOIP if they need to. What I am not OK with is some VOIP company paying an ISP to give them greater priority priority, while the company that can not afford to pay gets shafted.

    Working in this article like "the ability of systems engineers to improve latency and jitter issues" make it sounds like no packing shaping at all is allowed. Is that right?
  • I saw TFV... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Monday January 22, 2007 @06:20PM (#17716276) Homepage
    And what I get is two answers, that in my view are opposing. On one hand, he says he thinks "the net" should flourish with innovation, not just on the edges of the net, where things have traditionally happened, but inside the net as well. And then he goes on to say that he's opposed to anything that fragments or otherwise exclude players in the net.

    I'm with him on the latter, but I fail to see where or how any commercial entity operating for profit will care anything about the network's integrity if they can make profit from limiting the performance of others. "Competition" is often defined in exactly that way, after all.

    Ultimately, it comes down to either trusting commercial, for-profit entities not to interfere with internet traffic at large or legislating a prohibition against such activity. Ideally, any such legislation should essentially say "innovate all you like, but you cannot reduce the performance of competing traffic." Wisdom illustrates that no commercial can be trusted not to interfere with competing business without requirement of contract or law.
  • Mr. Kahn seems to be completely overlooking the fact that ownership of the national network backbones is very concentrated, and that these owners are pushing hard to use their virtual monopoly position to maximize ROI. They have no incentive or stated intention of innovating or adding significantly more capacity until they've rung every last dollar out of what they've got.

    It's common practice for various industries to sponsor economists, attorneys, academics, and engineers at non-profit think tanks, so it would be all too easy to suspect a hidden agenda in this case. However, a few minutes of Googling Mr. Kahn and the CNRI didn't turn up a smoking gun, so it may be that he's just being native about the market conditions.

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