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Censorship Your Rights Online

Cory Doctorow Draws the Line On Net Neutrality 381

Posted by kdawson
from the preserving-the-next-google-from-cradle-strangulation dept.
Nerdposeur points out that Cory Doctorow has a compelling piece in The Guardian today, arguing that network neutrality is not only crucial for the future of the Internet, but is what the ISPs owe to the public. He asks, "Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?" "If the phone companies had to negotiate for every pole, every sewer, every punch-down, every junction box, every road they get to tear up, they'd go broke. All the money in the world couldn't pay for the access they get for free every day... If they don't like it, let them get into another line of work — give them 60 days to get their wires out of our dirt and then sell the franchise to provide network services to a competitor who will promise to give us a solid digital future in exchange for our generosity."
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Cory Doctorow Draws the Line On Net Neutrality

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  • by Hugonz (20064) <hugonz&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:15PM (#28018613) Homepage
    "Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?"

    Yes, a black flag in my case.

  • flag-waving? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:17PM (#28018641) Journal

    He asks, "Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?"

    No. I feel like marching in protest. That didn't make me feel more patriotic. It made me feel more willing to express my frustration with the telcos.

    Unless he meant a white flag. In which case I have to say, definitely no. That did not make me want to surrender. Of course, I'm not a telco -- maybe reading that would make them want to surrender -- price-gouging surrender monkeys that they are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He asks, "Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?"

      No. I feel like marching in protest. That didn't make me feel more patriotic. It made me feel more willing to express my frustration with the telcos

      Uhh... Have you ever been to a protest?

      I, for one, have waved the red flag [wikipedia.org] in several protests and would be willing to do so for this too, I guess. I have also seen a black flag [wikipedia.org] waved in some protests and am sure that it would fit in those too.

      Not that there is an issue about net neutrality where I live. Government regulates companies enough that ISPs couldn't threat net neutrality without putting a lot of effort into making it very clear what it's all about and in such case the competition would take care

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer (890720)
        yes, but the generic term "waving a flag" is used to denote patriotism. At least that's how it's used in the US, generally...

        (this offer null and void outside the US)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by maxume (22995)

        I was going to go to a protest and then I found out they weren't serving ice cream.

  • by brasselv (1471265) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:18PM (#28018667)

    As long as a competitive, free market is ensured, this won't happen.
    If a ISP starts filtering, people will move to the next.

    Of course, things may turn out very different if we allow dominant market positions to be built in the ISP market.

    (But this won't happen, right? Just as we never let any dominant market position arise in the OS market, or in the microprocessor market. Now sorry, gotta rush back to my cave).

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by mellon (7048)

      You're kidding, right? The competition is already long dead.

    • by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:29PM (#28018823) Homepage
      What competitive free market? In my neighborhood, there are two options for consumer broadband, just like everyone's, across the nation. Those options increase if you're willing to pay $300.00 for a T1, but the cable/telco duopolies throughout the US prohibit a truly competitive environment.
      • by Laebshade (643478) <laebshade@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:46PM (#28019003)

        Some parts of the country don't even have 2 options. The company I work for, we do tech support for multiple cable companies across the U.S. Some areas, speeds are as low as 256kbps down/128kbps, and that's all that's available. No DSL.

        • by Endo13 (1000782) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:03PM (#28019177)

          You think that's bad? Some of us have to use string and cans you insensitive clod!

          In all seriousness though, some areas don't have real broadband at all, besides satellite. And in some of those areas the phone lines are so old and degraded they max out at around 24kbps down. (And of course, we can go really extreme and bring up the places that don't have any communication lines at all, but then those places usually don't have any other modern amenities either so they really don't count.) But sadly, the max 24kbps down is more widespread than you might think. In fact, where I call "home" right now (about 20 minutes from Columbus OH) up until very recently that was precisely the case. There's still no DSL or cable available, but someone was nice enough to set up a short-range (signal reaches up to about 3 miles or so) wireless ISP that is passably good.

      • by siddesu (698447) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:18PM (#28019399)

        In my neighborhood I have a last-mile fiber provided by a government-regulated monopoly, to which I pay a government-established fee (small).

        The monopoly cannot provide uplink services; these are provided by a ton of ISPs over the monopoly's fiber. I know of about 5-6 such ISPs, and I am sure there are at least a few dozens.

        I am paying a total of about $40 a month for 100Mbps.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by socsoc (1116769)

      Of course, things may turn out very different if we allow dominant market positions to be built in the ISP market.

      That totally hasn't happened.

    • by node 3 (115640)

      As long as a competitive, free market is ensured, this won't happen.

      And other assorted Fairy Tales by Slashdotter brasselv, with an intro by Ayn Rand.

      A free market is not possible anywhere at any time. Some markets are free enough to render this distinction not terribly important for the most part, but the telecom/ISP market is almost the polar opposite of those relatively free markets in this regard.

    • Where do you live where it is possible to just "switch" to a different ISP?

      Everyone I have lived (save one place) has only had one option for high speed internet. One cable company which was granted a sanctioned monopoly to service the area. If you didn't like the way they did business your options were limited. DSL for a majority of locations is not nearly as fast as cable- if you live close enough to the service station at all. If the only other option is dialup and you are protesting slow speeds on non-a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      As long as a competitive, free market is ensured, this won't happen.

      See, this is the kind of silliness that has gotten us here.

      The "competitive, free market" is code for siphoning wealth from the productive middle and working classes and giving it to anti-national corporations who are openly hostile to the very notion of Democracy.

      It's a fiction that's been created by (guess who?) the corporate interests that are the only ones to benefit from the kind of lawless laissez faire we've been subjected to. They

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As long as a competitive, free market is ensured, this won't happen.
      If a ISP starts filtering, people will move to the next.

      Of course, things may turn out very different if we allow dominant market positions to be built in the ISP market.

      (But this won't happen, right? Just as we never let any dominant market position arise in the OS market, or in the microprocessor market. Now sorry, gotta rush back to my cave).

      Good, because you have obviously been in it way too long and there is little hope of your ever b

    • by gidds (56397)

      If a ISP starts filtering, people will move to the next.

      I think many people miss the real danger here. Yes, if your own ISP is doing stuff you don't like (filtering, throttling, prioritising, spoofing, whatever) then you can change them -- in a fair market, at least. So that sort of thing generally won't be in their interests.

      But what if it's not your ISP? What if it's a backbone provider, or some other middleman?

      Suppose an upstream provider threatens to throttle traffic bound to/from Amazon (say) unle

  • More Flag Waving (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:18PM (#28018669)
    Not sure what kind of flag he's talking about, but I'm thinking a red one?
  • Dirt Rental (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:22PM (#28018713)
    How about the opposite... how anout as municipalities, we band together and start charging them rent on our ditches and land that they are running the cable through. They want to screw us on the received end then we will screw then on the intake valve. If we stand firm enough, the fear of being charged billions to use their own lines will put the fear of some sort of ancient evil from beyond the stars into them.
    • Re:Dirt Rental (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:39PM (#28018939) Homepage Journal

      Municipalities do charge them. We just charge too little, and don't ask for much service in return. The last time my city "negotiated" with the cable company, I don't recall it being big news, and I certainly don't recall there being much public debate over what the terms should be.

      For me, it's 8 years until the current contract is up. And yes, I'm going to make a stink.

      • Re:Dirt Rental (Score:5, Interesting)

        by postbigbang (761081) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:50PM (#28019037)

        Instead, make infrastructure part of building codes and get community builders mandated to run decent fiber (not FiOS) drops to each residence.

        Doctorow makes a great point about the abuse and monopolistic attitude that telcos have had for decades-- all bought and paid for at the Legislative Market. These stinking thieves do indeed put out capital for infrastructure, but they're only beholden to shareholders, not ratepayers in their captive markets.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Darkness404 (1287218)
          Thats a nice idea in principle, but it won't happen. Currently few people are buying houses and property because of the media-led housing scare. Because of this scare, some people have simply stopped making house payments leading to foreclosure of many homes, this leads to banks being tight with money, this leads to few people buying houses.

          Making places even more expensive is not the answer. Even with many homes and properties being sold at a loss there are still relatively few buyers. By mandating tri
          • Re:Dirt Rental (Score:4, Interesting)

            by postbigbang (761081) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:08PM (#28019253)

            Uh, no.

            See several projects, including http://www.llccp.net/asp/Site/LLCCP/AboutLLCCP/Introduction/index.asp [llccp.net] among others.

            And personally, I believe the 'free market' is a sham for 'do what I want cause I got the gold'. Utilities were granted many qualities in exchange for a monopoly. Now that monopoly has turned against us, almost uniformly.

            • Re:Dirt Rental (Score:5, Insightful)

              by InspectorxGadget (1230170) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:14PM (#28019335)

              And the monopoly the utilities have was in every case granted by the state. The free market doesn't enter into it. Arguably, some things are naturally best managed by monopolies. Online services, outside of maybe - and it's a stretch - the cables that carry them, are not best served by a monopoly. Every time someone argues that the free market is responsible for monopoly misbehavior, my blood pressure goes up ten points. Free markets imply competition, which is distinctly lacking in the telco context thanks to government intervention.

              • Re:Dirt Rental (Score:5, Insightful)

                by postbigbang (761081) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:23PM (#28019471)

                Oh that's BS and you know it.

                Monopolies inevitably become excessive. Free markets are just another buzzword for leave me alone, I want to suck as much out of something as I can without regulation or pesky rules to get in my way.

                The states comprised 47 different authorities that the monopolies had to deal with, so they lobbied moving things to a federal level so they only had one jurisdiction to bribe. Now the state utility authorities are almost toothless when it comes to regulating the re-formed giants that are Verizon, Quest, AT&T, etc.

                These guys are very interested in TOTAL domination of their markets and they know they have the cost barrier points in their favor, signed-sealed-and-delivered by the FCC and the Congress. After all, they PAID FOR IT. Go ahead, check out the records of how much the utilities have spent on lobbying and campaign contributions (yes, legal bribes).

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  Monopolies inevitably become excessive

                  Funny, I don't remember my power company becoming excessive at any point. I remember prices going down once...

                  You see, many utilities are best served by local monopolies. If you don't like it, you're welcome to start your own power company... but don't look to me for help when you go bankrupt before you have customers.

                  Now, if internet service were run as a utility, and a minimum connection speed were mandated, then prices wouldn't be so bad, and it wouldn't matter so much if there were only one choice.

    • How about the opposite... how anout as municipalities, we band together and start charging them rent ...

      If government stood for the general population rather than for businesses, we wouldn't have the DMCA, eternal copyright, overly lax banking regulation, or the inability to erase consumer credit card debt via bankruptcy court.

      So as nice as your idea sounds, I'm afraid it's pretty much just fantasy.

    • Or -- and this is just me here -- we could try encouraging a way of doing business that *doesn't* screw *anybody.* The basis of trade is mutual profit, as in, both parties get more out of the trade than they lost. Each has what the other wants. Quid pro quo.

      People are too ready to tear others down to get what they want. It's time to adopt the mindset of building each other up: the businesses and the customers alike. Things work better that way.

      You can call me a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.

  • by selven (1556643) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:23PM (#28018747)
    Ridiculously high upfront cost, is a waste of resources to make multiple sets of them for each competitor, internet cables, like roads, seem like the perfect thing to have under government control. We can have private companies competing for the services they can provide over these lines.
  • I don't think I've ever heard an argument that was serious for the other side of this issue. Am I just ignorant? Or is this a non-issue that people like to discuss?

    Regardless, censorship is a scary thing. Fortunately, the internet is probably bigger than most blacklist-based censorship attempts, and I don't think we're in such a bad position that people would tolerate anything more restrictive (whitelists or graylists). The great firewall of china is obviously the exception to this.

    • Re:Opposing side? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by EdIII (1114411) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:52PM (#28019069)

      The great firewall of china is obviously the exception to this.

      Actually, it is not. Speaking as somebody that has been to China and seen the poorest parts, and the most affluent areas, I can assure you, that you are wrong.

      The average Chinese person does not understand what the "Great Firewall" is. Those that do understand (which is a small percentage of the population), also know the ways around it. The firewall itself is largely ineffective against anybody with a reasonable level of skill. Personally, I think the firewall was created to maintain an image.

      What is more effective, and instills more fear, are the government workers that are actively looking for undesirable (local) content and then "censoring" it. Of course, China's censorship can get pretty hands on.

      Even with such hands on censorship being performed, the people are fighting back making sure the information is getting around. The milk contamination is a great example. Not only were people still able to get their hands on foreign articles, but there was movement inside the country to disseminate the information and confront the government. It took time, and you most likely did not hear much in the foreign news.

      The Chinese people are not willing to "tolerate anything". If anything, the tolerance you speak of is just ignorance. Those that understand they are being censored, are by no means taking it lightly.

      From my experience, for every regulation or law in China, there are 10 different ways to get around it. 100 ways if it involves bribes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chefmonkey (140671)

      "I don't think I've ever heard an argument that was serious for the other side of this issue."

      Over here in the states, the counter arguments generally run something like, "Good day, Senator So-and-so. Here's a pile of cash the size of Rhode Island. We would encourage you to let ISPs run roughshod over consumers. Sound good?"

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:24PM (#28018755)

    Cory Doctorow is working his ass off to come out of obscurity.
    http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/14/why-publishing-shoul.html [boingboing.net]

    It's a shame that he's turning into a loudmouthed pundit rather than an author I'd care to read.

    I drove down the highway today and was stuck in traffic for a long while. There were lots of cars zipping in and out, but the main problem was a group of long-haul trucks taking up a mile of roadway. The amount of road we have is finite, so the addition of these large trucks is fine for a few, but once you start getting more than a handful of trucks on the road, all traffic is affect.

    But Net Neutrality is a tough issue. Yes, clearly, as users we want as unfettered a line as possible. However, the ISP also needs to balance the needs of all the users against the needs of certain special users.

    If it weren't for some users flooding the network with massive filesharing packets, this would all be a non-issue. Actually, for most users it still is since most users are not affected at all by bandwidth strangling.

    • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:33PM (#28018877) Journal

      the ISP also needs to balance the needs of all the users against the needs of certain special users.

      As youtube and hulu and other online distribution sites like itunes or steam or the playstation store get more and more popular, "all of the users" need more bandwidth. Either that, or more and more users become "special".

    • by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:34PM (#28018885)

      That's not what net neutrality is about. That's QoS or usage tiers. What net neutrality is about is making sure that toll road owners are not charging more for trucks carrying company A's stuff than trucks driving company B's stuff. ISPs want to be able to degrade performance from certain internet services, such as Skype and Hulu, in order to "encourage" you to use their own services. That is, unless those services pay your ISP an extortion fee.

      In other word, net neutrality is about not discriminating against the source of the traffic. It says nothing about discriminating based on the type of traffic and amount. Comcast should not arbitrarily degrade my Skype traffic because they prefer me to use their VOIP service and Skype refuses to pay them a kickback. I should be able to choose how I use my connection, so long as I am not infringing upon other users.

    • by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:35PM (#28018899)

      If it weren't for some users flooding the network with massive filesharing packets, this would all be a non-issue. Actually, for most users it still is since most users are not affected at all by bandwidth strangling.

      So hulu, youtube, and itunes (not to mention spam) are going to go away if filesharing is turned off on the entire Internet? Riiiight.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eclectro (227083)

      At the same token, if government (or corporations for that matter) fail to provide for more than a single lane of traffic, then there are going to be traffic jams. However, if the road is wide and broad, then the line of long haul truckers are no longer an issue. Likewise, if there is fiber to every home in the US, suddenly the packet hogs are no longer an issue.

      The US has continuously fallen behind [slashdot.org] in broadband rankings, as corporations wallow in their greed [nytimes.com]. The fact is, government (as Cory starts to all

  • Didn't Google buy up all the dark fiber lines to build out a monopoly when the economy turns around?
    • Didn't Google buy up all the dark fiber lines to build out a monopoly when the economy turns around?

      Labled as "troll", but what about it? Didn't Google buy up scads and scads of "dark fibre"???

    • Didn't Google buy up all the dark fiber lines to build out a monopoly when the economy turns around?

      Parent was referring to the somewhat recent Google April Fool's joke, not actually trolling. See: http://www.google.com/tisp/ [google.com]

      My God Slashdot, have we gotten to the point where people just mod as "Troll" anything they don't understand?

      --bornagainpenguin

  • Beware (Score:4, Funny)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:28PM (#28018807)
    This is ploy to sell shovels. The rumor has it that he's been piling up options on Ace Hardware shares.
  • If this is about phone companies, then I think I'd rather just end the monopoly they enjoy anyway. Asking a committee or government to decide what forms of Internet access are equal to others (and thus require neutrality) is just asking for trouble.

    End the monopoly and let me pay my own way.

  • by brit74 (831798) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:36PM (#28018903)
    A few points to consider:

    (1) If you treat Cory Doctorow like he's relevant, then he will believe he is.
    (2) Yes, it is important to preserve NetNeutrality, but I'm surprised anyone is writing up an article so late in the game.
    (3) "Finally, there's the question of metered billing for ISP customers." This has nothing to do with net neutrality. I don't see what the problem is. He's arguing that people don't know how much internet they're going to use. But, please don't try to fool us into thinking that we have *no idea* how much internet we use. The only way you're going to end up in the top 2% is if you're downloading massive quantities of information (not webpages!) Metered access to the internet isn't much different than cell-phone minutes. (Oh! We have NO IDEA if we're going to use 10,000 minutes a month, or 50 minutes a month - therefore telecoms can't charge us by the minute!) How absurd. I'd be pretty unhappy if they started changing a lot per MB, but in the real-world, I don't see this being much of a problem at all unless you're uploading/downloading Gigs of data. And, isn't this how companies pay for internet service anyway? A company's internet usage will vary significantly based on factors like "number of employees". So, they simply charge by bandwidth.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you treat brit74 like he's relevant, then he will believe he is. Just saying...
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      (Oh! We have NO IDEA if we're going to use 10,000 minutes a month, or 50 minutes a month - therefore telecoms can't charge us by the minute!) You haven't met my wife, have you? She has been known to exceed her 1500 minute per month allotment and run up hundreds of dollars worth of airtime at $0.30/minute. The only safe plan for her would be the 43,200 minutes per month plan.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lupis42 (1048492)

      Paying $/Gig is all well and good, but that usually isn't what tiered pricing is. Tiered pricing usually involves a minimum price that's unreasonably high for the amount of data included, and then very expensive chunks of overage. (Just like old cellphone plans, or the texting plans that are widely being objected to). Now if someone offered me unfiltered, unfettered, (meaning I can serve whatever the hell I want, for example) internet access, at 20/20 or better speed, with static IP, for $2/Gigabyte tran

      • by EdIII (1114411) *

        Tiered pricing usually involves a minimum price that's unreasonably high for the amount of data included

        THAT is a problem that arises when there is no competition. I absolutely believe we MUST move away from unlimited. It's insanity to keep it.

        Businesses pay for their bandwidth in tiered pricing packages sometimes combined with metered billing. The difference is, there is PLENTY of competition. Colo A charges 180$ per Mb/s (symmetrical) on their bottom tier which is up to 10 Mb/s. Colo B charges 75$ pe

    • "(Oh! We have NO IDEA if we're going to use 10,000 minutes a month, or 50 minutes a month - therefore telecoms can't charge us by the minute!) How absurd."

      Almost everybody understands the concept of a minute and how long it feels like. If they use 100 minutes in a given day, they know it's not 15 minutes and they know it's not 500 minutes, even if they didn't time themselves. But most internet users don't have any idea of what it means to download a gigabyte or 100 gigabytes, if they even know what a giga

    • by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:30PM (#28019555)

      I don't know how many games I'm going to download over XBox Live, PSN, and Steam (and yes, I use all three) in a given month, and I don't know how many hours of Hulu I'm going to watch in a given month. I also used to use an MSDN account quite extensively. So no, I don't know how much internet I'm going to be using. The ISP doesn't really give me a convenient way to find out, either (since they'd rather hit me with overage fees).

      My problem with tiers is that they're inevitably structured so that its inconvenient or impossible to use my connection for entertainment without hitting their overage fees. In other words, the point of the tiers always seems to be to prevent or discourage me from using services that compete with the cable companies', and that justifiably pisses me off.

  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:47PM (#28019015) Homepage Journal

    I dislike Cory. I hate Creative Commons. I detest copyright, public-use rights, public utilities, and anything related to non-market forces for real property. Intellectual property is a dying term, long dead in my dictionary (note, I am a writer and I get paid to write).

    I want to see municipal allowances for duopolies destroyed. Let residents who own property rent it to whoever wants to take the time to rent it. Let competing companies, even at the local level, battle for access to the last mile. They'll get good international uplinks, they'll battle each other on service and price and performance.

    Today, we have public funding across the board, regulations that restrict competition, and people afraid of seeing 500 internet lines over their house (note, they won't).

    Cory should roll over and retire. He's a geek's dream, and a capitalist's nightmare. Capitalism will save the web, net neutrality won't.

    • And yet, he continues to be a successful writer and sought after futurist.

      People pay money for his stuff. There's a market for Cory's works and thoughts. He's good at making it happen.

      I'd say Cory is a capitalist's vindication -- he positions his stuff to build wealth from it, and doesn't rely on government intervention to do it. He uses his own methods and madness, and it works in the market he plays in.

    • by mustafap (452510)

      Some of us *enjoy* reading what he writes. I do. I suspect I wouldn't read anything you write.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:06PM (#28020001) Journal
      Oh where have you been, dada21?

      I've missed your ideological diatribes against anything smacking of non-anarchical systems.

      Today, we have public funding across the board, regulations that restrict competition, and people afraid of seeing 500 internet lines over their house (note, they won't).

      That's right, they'll see one or none. Because no one is going to build out the infrastructure if they can't be assured they'll have a near-captive market.

      It's the natural barriers to entry that make monopolies in telecom exist. It's the regulation of monopolies in telecom that should prevent those monopolies from abusing their position.

      Competition is not the natural consequence on unregulated markets. Monopolies are the natural consequence of unregulated markets, since there is no such thing as an ideal free market.

      Even the Austrian school of economic theory recognizes the need for intervention to keep monopolies from limiting the efficient allocation of resources, and that monopolies are the natural result of largely imperfect markets (like this one, where the huge *natural* barrier to entry makes it so).

      Of course, you may be perfectly fine with serial monopoly, but in that case you must be unfamiliar with the sunk costs involved in serial monopolies, which represent inefficient allocation of resources.

      We've been over this before, I'm just not sure if you recall the discussion.

      • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @03:48AM (#28022661)

        I'm not a supporter of the Austrian school, but

        Even the Austrian school of economic theory recognizes the need for intervention to keep monopolies from limiting the efficient allocation of resources, and that monopolies are the natural result of largely imperfect markets (like this one, where the huge *natural* barrier to entry makes it so).

        is, I'm pretty sure, flat-out wrong. According to the Austrians true monopolies only arise if government mandated or protected. Thus intervention in the marketplace, according to them, by the government is what gives rise to monopolies, not that intervention must stop them.

        Additionally,

        Monopolies are the natural consequence of unregulated markets, since there is no such thing as an ideal free market.

        is a non sequitur; the conclusion is not following from the premise in any way I can see.

  • Umm, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @06:56PM (#28019115)

    "give them 60 days to get their wires out of our dirt and then sell the franchise to provide network services to a competitor who will promise to give us a solid digital future in exchange for our generosity."

    What generosity? The city owns the land they're using, not you.

    In exchange for the huge capital outlay of installing the infrastructure, the city gives them certain rights. It's a win-win.

    Let's see if I can summarize the gist of most Slashdot articles recently:

    - Screw any internet provider that wants to cap any users or charge a lot more for heavy users.
    - Screw any internet provider that wants to give more weight to some traffic over others.
    - Give me my P2P

    Sorry, something has to give. It's basic economics.

    Cheap internet. Open internet. No usage caps.

    Pick 2.

    • Re:Umm, yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:34PM (#28019593) Homepage Journal

      Cheap internet. Open internet. No usage caps.

      It's entirely possible to provide three. The actual triangle is "Cheap, fast, good. Pick two." In this case, I'd rather see "good" as a given, and let people decide between "fast" and "cheap". That way, the average consumer would have a cheap connection that's open and has no caps, but might be a little slow. Then if you want to use BitTorrent on that connection, it works, but it's slow. If you want 20Mbps speeds, to increase your BitTorrent performance, or enable faster NetFlix downloads, or upload family movies faster, or whatever, you pay extra.

      This isn't about throttling types of traffic, this is about throttling based on the source of the traffic. To copy an analogy from up above, net neutrality isn't about tollbooths charging more for trucks than cars; this is about charging more for trucks owned by Staples than trucks owned by Office Max.

    • Re:Umm, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EdIII (1114411) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:15PM (#28020079)

      What generosity? The city owns the land they're using, not you.

      Who owns the city? Last time I checked I thought the idea was the public owned everything and the city was the "property manager" supposedly operating in our best interests.

      Sorry, but you make it sound like it is operating in an ideal fashion with no corruption or nepotism involved at any level.

      In exchange for the huge capital outlay of installing the infrastructure, the city gives them certain rights. It's a win-win.

      A win for the city officials. A win for the company. A big loss for the citizens.

      There is not enough competition, and that is a problem. It's not like gas, electric, or water. I'm tired of people equating the two, since the Internet is far different than other utility. It *has* become as important the other utilities, but it is not the same.

      - Screw any internet provider that wants to cap any users or charge a lot more for heavy users.

      I share your sentiment. This is a stupid and shortsighted mentality. Unlimited must be removed for any sanity to be introduced back into the system. I am vehemently opposed to caps, but I am in favor of a different pricing model that includes throttling once you have reached your agreed upon "cap". Basically, I want to be charged at home the same way I am charged at my data center for bandwidth. There is no technical reason why it cannot be accomplished, it's all just opposition from the MBA's and POS executives.

      - Screw any internet provider that wants to give more weight to some traffic over others.

      What are we talking about here? QoS based on traffic type or traffic source?

      QoS is a technical solution that can work well when implemented end-to-end. Nothing sinister about it. Voice traffic, Real time gaming traffic, etc. need to get there first before somebody's FTP and torrent traffic. Most people don't have a problem with that.

      Where is gets very concerning is when companies "penalize" traffic because it directly competes with one of their own products and services. The Internet, as a utility, has become to important to be malevolently twisted in such a damaging way.

      Local telephone companies are not degrading, stopping, or interfering with your communications if it interferes with their business, or the business of their affiliates. Like another poster stated, it would be like being put on hold when calling Pizza Hut with a message saying, "Press 1 to be connected to Domino's our preferred pizza partner". I paraphrased, but I think you get the point.

      The Internet is special, in that it has an unprecedented amount of information concerning every little tidbit of communication passing through it. It can certainly be abused, and there are people drooling to do so.

      I fully support the idea of net neutrality. ISP's should stick to ONLY providing the Internet. Nothing more allowed by law. Traffic shaping based on the source of the traffic, or it's content should be disallowed by law in the strongest language possible with very serious consequences. In return, the ISP's get blanket immunity for all traffic passing through their networks.

      This whole circus where bandwidth "abuse", P2P, and Piracy are being mixed up with the Net Neutrality debate is just bullshit designed to distract us and create inflammatory environments in which intelligent dialogue becomes impossible. Which is what Big Media and some the ISP's want.

      Net Neutrality is about ONE THING ONLY. Making sure the source and content of a communication is never used to give preferential/detrimental treatment based on financial motivations. That's it. It's in our best interests as a society, all societies, to make it happen as quick as possible.

      Sorry, something has to give. It's basic economics.

      Cheap internet. Open internet.

  • by InterGuru (50986) <<jhd> <at> <interguru.com>> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:04PM (#28019195) Homepage

    In 1994 I worked for a company setting up an ISP. We called in the phone company to order 50 lines. (Dial up was all there was then ). The company was not happy, especially that we were ordering business lines, with a low cost, 15 cents for each outgoing call but no cost for incoming calls .

    As an ISP we only had incoming calls. They had no choice, since phone systems had to sell lines to anyone ( oh the joys of regulation! ). Had the phone version of net neutrality not been in place, the phone companies would have throttled or taken over the internet - and we would not have the open net we have now.

    Bookwormhole.net [bookwormhole.net] -- over 11,000 published book reviews.

  • by thule (9041) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @07:12PM (#28019301) Homepage

    Take filtering: by allowing ISPs to silently block access to sites that displease them..

    Does anyone know of an ISP that is actually blocking a competitor's site?

    ISPs would also like to be able to arbitrarily slow or degrade our network connections depending on what we're doing and with whom. In the classic "traffic shaping" scenario

    Careful! Some QoS is good! I *want* my ISP to QoS VoIP traffic. If they QoS their internal VoIP traffic, but not traffic that goes outside their network, it that their fault? Will stupid laws prevent them from providing quality VoIP services within their network? What if the ISP routes VoIP traffic to special links? Is this a form of QoS that violates the spirit of the Internet?

    Finally, there's the question of metered billing for ISP customers.

    I think it is unfair for me to have to pay more for my bursty usage just because some guy wants to torrent 24/7. If you want more expensive Internet service, then by all means, pass a law that prevents capping. The funny thing is that a law like that will just help the big telcoms that have plenty of peering. The smaller, local ISP's will die because they won't be able to support the costs of their transit links.

  • by macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:40PM (#28020297)

    The truest form of "'Net neutrality" is for We the People to force the telcos - at gunpoint if necessary - to sell us back the "wires" and shared public infrastructure that they built for us. Cory seems to have *almost* identified the problem, but not quite, and so doesn't identify the correct solution.

    The telecom industry should have been nothing more than contractors to the public interest, just as road construction crews are contractors; we don't allow road crews to retain ownership of the asphalt they lay down, and neither should we have allowed AT&T and its imitators to own the telegraph wires and everything else that has followed. We should have paid them ONCE for that work, and then perhaps kept them on as maintainers of that network, but at no point should they have been allowed to own the wires. That is where we screwed-up. Those wires belong to all of us, just as do the roads and the "airwaves" and the air we breathe. Those are all things shared by everyone that lend themselves perfectly to a bit of socialism... in this case public or (*gasp!*) "state" ownership.

    The result of public ownership of the wires would be the inability of the telcos to blackmail us - or each other - for right of access. We the People would be in the driver's seat; if we didn't like the antics of one or more telcos, we could use our ownership of the wires to force them to shape up or ship out.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @03:04PM (#28029455)

    In Canada, back in the good ol' socialist days of a Single Phone Company, if Bell did something greedy and stupid, all you had to do was call up the CRTC, (the Canadian Radio & Television Commission) and lodge a complaint. I'd done it a couple of time, and the problems magically vanished. That was back when I didn't mind paying taxes quite so much, because my government was actually doing something useful.

    Then the Public Relations people for some greedy corporate start-up told everybody that a single phone system wasn't competitive and that we were in danger of all becoming communists or some stupid air-head shit, and the idiot masses were manipulated into pressing for Bell's system to be opened up to the glories of competition. And because people are fucking stupid in large numbers, easily swayed by emotional messages, I now have several awful phone services to choose from all of which charge too much and calling the CRTC no longer holds the kind of wonderful powers it once did.

    Overarching governmental powers don't fit well for every situation, and in some cases they are downright bad. But when it comes to vital systems, like communications and medical care, I want a really big hammer to smash greedy, lazy, stupid assholes with. I USED to have that big hammer AND an efficient, affordable phone system, and now I don't. So thank-you very much for making my life that much more crappy with your stupid social experiment which I told you was going to fail back when you first jumped on the bandwagon in the heady, wide-eyed days of your first year at some ass-hat university where your young minds were molded. You know who you are.

    -FL

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