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ACLU Says Net Neutrality Necessary For Free Speech 283

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thanks-for-listening dept.
eldavojohn writes "The ACLU has recently identified Network Neutrality a key free speech issue and said in a lengthy PDF report: 'Freedom of expression isn't worth much if the forums where people actually make use of it are not themselves free. And the Internet is without doubt the primary place where Americans exercise their right to free expression. It's a newspaper, an entertainment medium, a reference work, a therapist's office, a soapbox, a debating stand. It is the closest thing ever invented to a true "free market" of ideas.' The report then goes on to argue that ISPs have incentive and capability of interfering with internet traffic. And not only that but the argument that it is only 'theoretical' are bogus given they list ten high profile cases of it actually happening. If the ACLU can successfully argue that Net Neutrality is a First Amendment Issue then it might not matter what businesses (who fall on either side of the issue) want the government to do."
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ACLU Says Net Neutrality Necessary For Free Speech

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  • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @09:30AM (#33960046)

    We'll all be perfectly free to say whatever we like...on whatever sites our ISP's let us access. And if you don't like what your ISP is doing, you can just switch to one of the hundreds of alternate broadband providers that we all have.

    Wow, I think I just sprained my sarcasm tendon.

    • by Pojut (1027544)

      Wow, I think I just sprained my sarcasm tendon.

      Don't tell your doctor! He'll turn you over to the police!

    • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @09:46AM (#33960216) Homepage Journal

      As long as the back haul is neutral then people are free to start up community co-op ISPs. It's not provider neutrality that I see as most important but backbone neutrality. QoS is one thing but restricting what type of traffic or who the traffic comes from is ridiculous. All connections should permit all legal connections and come with proper management to permit continual usage of the link at an appropriate speed intended to provide the same transfer to all users who are attempting to use it, and to accurately divide the available bandwidth equally (or otherwise appropriately) between the customers who have paid for it.

      With that said, there is literally one choice in my county for internet access, AT&T. Everyone else here resells them. I do not count satellite which is unacceptable in a broad variety of ways. I don't necessarily trust AT&T to carry my packets to their eventual destination. Indeed, immediately after my local WISP was moved from an AT&T reseller to AT&T directly, we were placed on some seriously non-neutral segment where we had fast access to many sites (of course including AT&T, but ALSO including non-AT&T sites, meaning that it wasn't simply fast access to AT&T internal resources) but where we had essentially no access to many other sites including Slashdot and Alternet. After we [the users] complained to them en masse (reportedly) they complained up the chain and we were placed on the "proper" network, which does not [appear to] have this problem. So clearly some AT&T customers are already living on a non-neutral net...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tixxit (1107127)
        Wasn't there a story not too long back about a community co-op ISP that was sued/shutdown by one of the big broadband providers for, essentially, providing broadband to their residents when aforementioned big-broadband-provider refused to provide the broadband themselves?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        >>>It's not provider neutrality that I see as most important but backbone neutrality.

        Precisely.

        In the ideal world the Internet line would be just like the telephone line, where you can choose from dozens of companies for service. Also I'm curious what the ACLU means by "Freedom of expression isn't worth much if the forums where people actually make use of it are not themselves free." Forums, like slashdot, are privately owned. You DON'T have a right to free speech. You have a right to obey the

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rtb61 (674572)

          You do have the choice of thousands if not millions of sites to express your opinion and it has be proven time and time again when sites heavily censor posting to match their marketing and business goals participation dies rapidly and often permanently.

          The internet however always hits numerous choke points starting at possible reasonably priced kerb connections to main backbone trunks and on global issues undersea cables.

          Then there is slowing opposition response for day and, weeks while the for profit

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think you're understanding the word "forum" too net-speak literal... replace the word "forum" with "platform" or "website" and that seems to be more the intent of what the ACLU is promoting.

          The point isn't that Slashot is a freespeach forum for users, it's that the net is a freespeach forum for sites like Slashdot.
        • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

          by internewt (640704) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:44AM (#33960990) Journal

          Forums, like slashdot, are privately owned. You DON'T have a right to free speech. You have a right to obey the rules of the forum sysop, even if he's a tyrant. It's his domain; his rules.

          Governments have massive power over the people, and so many states around the world have come to the conclusion that making the government have to tolerate what people have to say is best for everyone. Well, except the people running the government, but that's kinda the point - to reign in the power they wield.

          The most powerful entities in society come and go over time, and this can be seen through the buildings that get built. The most powerful entity in a society tends to build the biggest buildings, to show of their power, assert dominance, whatever. These days corporations build most of the biggest buildings (skyscrapers), but not so long back governments the builders of the biggest places. Further back in history, and huge churches and cathedrals were being built, and during points of history when royal families were at the top, palaces and castles were the biggest buildings around.

          My point is that any powerful groups are a threat to the liberty of an individual, and we are living in a time when corporations are gaining more and more power everyday. Yes, governments may still be more powerful in some ways, but that doesn't cancel out or negate the power corporations have, and so corporations should have to allow some things they may not like for the same reasons that the government has to allow things it may not like.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          The you're for... ok, how am I supposed to communicate freely when the ISPs own the internet and the phone companies own the phone lines?

        • "Forums, like slashdot, are privately owned. You DON'T have a right to free speech. You have a right to obey the rules of the forum sysop, even if he's a tyrant. It's his domain; his rules."

          I do have a right to free speech, even if the forum is privately owned. And the forum owner has the right to remove my message from his board.

          His right to control what is posted does not negate my right to free speech. My Right to Free speech is god given and only god can remove it from me. However, his right to control

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nschubach (922175)

        All connections should permit all legal connections...

        Who's in charge of legal connections? By your argument, ISPs should be able to deny you access to organizations that do not comply with the Government's PATRIOT laws. With such a distinction, you cannot have free speech.

        • All connections should permit all legal connections...

          Who's in charge of legal connections? By your argument, ISPs should be able to deny you access to organizations that do not comply with the Government's PATRIOT laws. With such a distinction, you cannot have free speech.

          If it falls into the realm of the Government's laws dictating what organizations get access, doesn't that allow you to argue for things under the first ammendment, so you don't have to deal with the "Internet is a service provided by a private company who can do what they want with it" kind of stuff?

      • As long as the back haul is neutral then people are free to start up community co-op ISPs. It's not provider neutrality that I see as most important but backbone neutrality.

        I really think the key is to enforce a separation between the infrastructure provider and the service provider. Let's say Verizon builds the actual backbone and the line to your house-- the whole thing-- then they should be absolutely forbidden from acting as an ISP or cable company. They should have to lease use of their lines to other service providers at a consistent rate, with no special side deals.

        In my opinion, vertical integration [wikipedia.org] is the culprit here. You get one company who owns the cables in th

    • Fortunately for the proponents of net neutrality, there's never been a case of a government using its regulatory power to curtail free speech. Only private corporations do that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

        Fortunately for the proponents of net neutrality, there's never been a case of a government using its regulatory power to curtail free speech. Only private corporations do that.

        Unfortunately for the shills and useful idiots there's plenty of cases where the government has used its regulatory power to protect free speech. Like the common-carrier laws which are part of the "network neutrality" we had for land-line telephones.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Schadrach (1042952)

          Speaking of common carriers, why not make it a choice on the part of the ISPs -- let them either accept common carrier status which requires them to be a "dumb pipe" as it were (no restrictions beyond basic QoS) but accordingly frees them from responsibility for what goes over the line, or let them elect to do all the nefarious filtering and such, at which point they are responsible and liable for everything that goes across their lines in both directions.

          I'm sorry MPAA, but my ISP is not a common carrier,

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DavidTC (10147)

            Yeah, ISPs want to have it both ways. I don't see why they're able to get away with that.

            Are they a telephone company, or are they a newspaper? Pick one. Don't get to be both.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        No has there ever been a case of the government using its authority to protect citizens' rights against the whims of private corporations.

        Oop, just sprained the other one too.

        • by nschubach (922175)

          How do you remain standing? One must be rolling on the floor...preferably laughing rather than crying.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by LaughingCoder (914424)

        Fortunately for the proponents of net neutrality, there's never been a case of a government using its regulatory power to curtail free speech.

        Huh? I can think of 2 instances without even breaking a sweat: McCain-Feingold (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipartisan_Campaign_Reform_Act [wikipedia.org] and the "Fairness Doctrine" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairness_Doctrine [wikipedia.org].

        I wonder why the ACLU didn't fight those free-speech abrogations? Don't answer, that was a rhetorical question. The ACLU is only pro-free-speech when

        • Actually, though, I am glad the ACLU came out in favor of net neutrality. They are a good litmus test for me. I have been torn on the issue, but now that they have taken a side I now know which position I support.

          If they come out against jumping off bridges, will you jump off a bridge?

          If that seems like a stupid question, consider the context.

        • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @01:39PM (#33963330) Homepage Journal

          McCain-Feingold

          Money is not speech. If it were, the rich would have more right to speech than the poor. We are supposed to be founded on the proposition that all men are created equal, but some men are created rich and most are not. Being rich buys you privilege, but it doesn't buy you rights that others lack.

          Fairness Doctrine

          Again, can I get a TV station? No, there are no open frequencies left. Again, this is not an infringement of free speech rights, just an inftringement of a monied class privilege. These are not free speech issues. The "speech zones" during the last decade are, though, and these "free speech" zones [wikipedia.org] are worrisome. "The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed, with various degrees of success and failure, a number of lawsuits on the issue."

          Sorry, buddy, take your wealth and shove it, I'm on the ACLU's side here. Your money isn't speech, and if you have to pay for speech, it isn't free speech.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by T Murphy (1054674)
      That's not sarcasm- that's what's on the script congressmen will read, as provided by the ISPs, and the conversation will end there so you can't ask about the availability of alternate providers. This isn't speculation- when I wrote to my congresswoman her reply basically boiled down to what you said.
    • by antdude (79039)

      Um, in my area. I only have dial-up ISPs and cable. I can't get DSL, FIOS, etc. IDSL, ISDN, T*, satellite Internet, etc. are too expensive and/or slow.

  • by Pojut (1027544)

    I'm not sure I fully agree. Unless providers would completely block certain websites instead of merely slowing them, there wouldn't be a supression of free speech.

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ledow (319597) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @09:54AM (#33960332) Homepage

      Comcast slows all access to "ComCastSucks.com" to 1 byte per second, as well as all it's competitors websites, any newspaper who it doesn't agree with, and also refuses to share peer traffic with any game-console service / MMORPG except for the Xbox unless the user pays extra. What's the matter?! I didn't *BLOCK* anything!

      There's your problem right there. Being able to shape traffic (which is effectively a temporary denial, but on millisecond-scales) is the same as blocking it for a short period of time.

      The problem with net-biased (what's the opposite of net-neutral?) ISP's is not their ability to block things. It's their ability to make a service 100% unusable in practical terms even if they are 100% fine in theory. If only 1% of my TCP packets get to the destination, that's not technically "blocking" any particular website / protocol / service, but you try forming a reliable connection and downloading a webpage, or a file, or interacting with other users of the service.

      Imagine the net ran through a router with an iptables rule of:

      iptables -A INPUT -p icmp --icmp-type echo-request -m random --average 99 -j DROP

      but ONLY on the websites / protocols that the ISP chooses (and / or is being paid by).

      • by vlm (69642)

        Imagine the net ran through a router with an iptables rule of:

        iptables -A INPUT -p icmp --icmp-type echo-request -m random --average 99 -j DROP

        but ONLY on the websites / protocols that the ISP chooses (and / or is being paid by).

        Yea without pings they'll be a quakin' in their boots.

        Dontcha mean something more like:

        iptables -A INPUT -d 144.160.0.0/16 -m statistic --mode random --probability 0.01 -j DROP

        (that ip block being their "psuedo-competitor" att as in ns1.attdns.att.net etc etc)

        Or were you making it up not knowing its actually implemented in iptables?

        If you're going to be an evil genius, at least do it right, not like Dr Doofenshmirtz

        • by ledow (319597)

          Typo - the icmp stuff was in the example I copied / pasted but I edited it out for something that has [IP you don't like here]. Must've pasted it again over the top without realising.

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        There's your problem right there. Being able to shape traffic (which is effectively a temporary denial, but on millisecond-scales) is the same as blocking it for a short period of time.

        I worry that this begins to fall apart along the lines of BitTorrent. Some kinds of traffic, running contrary to the design of the network itself, is actually more harmful than the interference by the ISP. So who gets to decide? Nobody? Because that worries me.

        I get the argument that BitTorrent might someday force the ISP to give what they advertised, but in the meantime those same small voices that we're worried about protecting are going to be suppressed by natural causes introduced via upside-down tr

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There's two schools of thought here.

      1) Net neutrality is important to free speech because the ISPs will invariably abuse the rules (without breaking them, of course) laid out if they are allowed to slow down certain types of traffic. They will slow it to the point that it becomes unusable (file sharing, anyone?), or slow down access to competitor's sites (again to the point where they become unusble). The companaies will claim they won't, but history has proven otherwise.

      2) Net neutrality is only good if

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        Net Neutrality should mean that no content of the same type can have different priorities. You can have QoS that put VOIP > HTTP > Bittorrent, but not iTunes MP3 file > Jamendo MP3 file.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        There is this commonly perpetuated myth that you can't do any sort of network management without being "discriminatory".

        It's pretty easy to manage protocols or customers and completely ignore the external endpoints.

        It can also be done in a "blind" fashion that is neutral by any definition of that word you care to come up with.

        Restricting grandpa because he's connecting to Picasa is another matter entirely.

        • by DavidTC (10147)

          Yeah, and this is stupid anyway. It's pretty easy to start connections to sites fast and then gradually slow them slightly, so everyone's web browsing has blazing speeds...until they transfer more than 10 megs in a minute, at which point their speed get slightly slowed, or at least put second in the queue.

          Or, even better, forget IPs...everyone gets QoS'd...except the first X packets every minute, which should be about 1/10th of the total bandwidth they have. The people still on the first 1/10th compete wit

    • by eln (21727)
      At what point do you draw the line between "slowing" and "stopping"? They could easily slow down a particular site to the point where it's practically unusable (limit it to, say, 50 bytes/second). That seems like it would clearly curtail free speech, because nobody is going to wait around for that thing to load. It wouldn't actually "block" the site, though.

      There's way too much gray area and too many opportunities for abuse if you say slowing something down is okay but stopping it isn't. The only pra
      • by Pojut (1027544)

        At what point do you draw the line between "slowing" and "stopping"?

        Simple. Enact legislation (yes yes, I know) that would would say ISPs have to provide a minimum of 1/3rd the advertised speed when throttling technology is used. No muss, no fuss.

        • by vlm (69642)

          Simple. Enact legislation (yes yes, I know) that would would say ISPs have to provide a minimum of 1/3rd the advertised speed when throttling technology is used. No muss, no fuss.

          Whom gets sued when whatever.com gets slashdotted or whatever and speeds drop to 1/3 of the advertised speeds due to poor peering rather than throttling?

          Is it "throttling" if a "tier 1 ISP" in the default free zone decides they will only peer with the pirate bay directly using, say, a 56K DDS connection instead of 10gig ethernet, and forces their traffic thru that link using BGP (trivial)?

    • Because of course once it has become accepted that access to certain parts of the net should be slower because they don't pay, the next step of not providing access if they don't pay for it, or maybe don't meet the approval process... well that just won't enter anybody's head who ain't ... oops who ain't the sexiest man alive that all women crave to have sex with and men want to buy free beers.

      As for, as long as the backbone remains free somebody else comments...

      Yeah, because printing presses ain't restri

  • I can see the talking heads now...

    "Does the ACLU want to allow Muslim extremists the right to terrorize your school's website? Find out more with our special report, Net Neutrality: Government Takeover"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pojut (1027544)

      The ACLU has defended a lot of doucebags in their time, but one can't argue against their impartiality; they generally fall on the side of rights, regardless of how loony the person or group they are representing. Gotta give them credit for that.

      • Of course they deserve credit, and I wouldn't want to sully their reputation. However, I see the US political right as having a generally negative opinion of the ACLU, and I don't want net neutrality to become a partisan issue.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Pojut (1027544)

          I don't want net neutrality to become a partisan issue

          It's a little late for that :(

        • by vlm (69642)

          I see the US political right as having a generally negative opinion of the ACLU

          Responding authoritatively for exactly one former republican, they don't hate the ACLU because they hate four letter acronyms beginning with the letter "A", its much more like that tired old saying "they hate us for our freedom".

          Back when the statists mostly hung out with the Ds and the libertarians mostly hung out with the Rs it wasn't so bad, but the religious loonies expelled all of us out of the R party hence my "former" self description. Then the statists invaded the Rs, so we really only have two sid

        • by sorak (246725)

          Their reputation has been sullied by the mere fact of who they are. I am a huge supporter of them because they understand that the same rules that apply to unconvicted pedophiles, murderers, rapists, and terrorists also apply to every other US citizen.

      • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @09:55AM (#33960362) Homepage

        I often find it ironic how conservative talking heads bash the ACLU as defending "commies and left wing nuts", but when *they* want free expression they're happy to get the ACLU involved to help. The ACLU is a one issue group. They think you have a right to say... whatever stupid, crazy, brilliant, inspired, idiotic, hateful, useful, useless, or wonderful thing you want to say. Period. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum. I can respect that.

  • "If the ACLU can successfully argue that Net Neutrality is a First Amendment Issue then it might not matter what businesses (who fall on either side of the issue) want the government to do."
    The only way making it a 1st Amendment issue would actually matter is if the government actually regulates them, which it continually shies away from doing. As they are in fact private businesses, we can only hope that the government actually goes through with regulating their government mandated monopoly and stops let
  • Not again. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @09:49AM (#33960268)
    Why do people confuse the first amendment's prohibition against the government limiting free expression with somehow mandating that private people and/or the companies they form being obliged to provide a platform for everything that everyone wants to say? The first amendment isn't about forcing a guy with a printing press to do what you say, it's about preventing the government from stopping you and the guy who owns the printing press from doing what you like on whatever terms you arrange between the two of you. Same thing goes with the guy who owns the DSL line you're using, or the WiFi hotspot and the network it's wired up to. And just like the printing press, if you don't like the terms of use, build your own or shop around.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Batmunk2000 (1878016)

      Agreed. The First Amendment affirms your right to speak but not the right to demand a publicly-supplied soap box. On a side note, it's odd that all kinds of interest groups are pushing NN... Right Wing and Left Wing alike. The radicals realize NN can guarantee them an audience by law - not by earning it.

      • Branding something "internet access" gives you the rights to get on the internet. The internet is free and open, therefore "internet access" must be free and open. Get it?
        • by ScentCone (795499)
          Branding something "internet access" gives you the rights to get on the internet. The internet is free and open, therefore "internet access" must be free and open. Get it?

          Do you even understand what the word "rights" means? Providing internet access means just that: connecting you to a network which is in turn connected to other networks in ways worked out between all of the people that run those networks. Your ISP has to obey the laws of physics, and has to negotiate peering connections to other network
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Batmunk2000 (1878016)

            Well put. "Rights" does not mean other people are slaves to your desires and wishes. It is an abused concept.

        • by thynk (653762)

          Hmmm, does your ISP have a TOS? If so, then by using that service you are agreeing to the idea that they have the right to set terms for your service, that connecting to their pipes can come with limitations. Branding it "internet access" doesn't convey any special protected rights to you, only that you can access the internet, in accordance with their terms. Your TOS probably doesn't even spell out that you will be guaranteed access to the entire internet. As long as they are providing you access to pa

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I'm fairly sure they can claim jurisdiction using the interstate commerce clause. Most ISPs aren't state-specific, and they're accessing a nationwide network.

            I don't have a choice of ISP. The vast majority of people who do have a choice have only two choices, usually Verizon/Comcast, AT&T/Cablevision or some other combination of gigantic, shitty companies. They can go fuck themselves if they want to restrict which sites are available through the pipe they provide; it's not their business to be doing so.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lluc (703772)
      One could argue that in the case of the monopoly or near-monopoly that is broadband for most of the US, the government *is* limiting free expression unless they advocate net neutrality.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dredd13 (14750)

        The answer to THAT is to end the franchise monopoly system, and allow real competition in the local last-mile marketplace. Free-markets for the win.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ScentCone (795499)
        One could argue that in the case of the monopoly or near-monopoly that is broadband for most of the US, the government *is* limiting free expression unless they advocate net neutrality.

        Well, sure, one could argue that. But it would be a bad argument. The state of broadband provisioning is in constant flux, and is still in its relative infancy. It would be insane to upend the entire meaning of the most important amendment to the constitution just because it's temporarily expensive to string up a new netwo
    • Re:Not again. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:03AM (#33960498)
      My grandad used to tell black people who came in his restaurant the same thing. Damned government has no right to force private businesses to observe people's "civil rights." The niggers are always free to go to another restaurant if they don't like it.
      • My grandad used to tell black people who came in his restaurant the same thing. Damned government has no right to force private businesses to observe people's "civil rights." The niggers are always free to go to another restaurant if they don't like it.

        Sounds like your granddad was a bigoted asshole. And correct about property rights.

        "I hate what you say, but I would die for your right to say it."

        (if the private business adopts corporate formation, all bets are off, of course)

      • Re:Not again. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @11:02AM (#33961192) Journal

        Did you Grandad also take their money THEN refuse them service?

        Because thats what ISP's are doing.

      • I have mod points that I wanted to use in this thread, but I decided I'd rather comment.

        From a legal perspective, your grandad was right as far as I am concerned. I don't see anything in the constitution that grants the government the authority to enforce non-discrimination laws. The interstate commerce clause is laughable, as most of the discriminatory behavior is related to intrastate commerce. Application of the 14th amendment argument is also limited, as it only applies to cases where certain actions ag

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by IDarkISwordI (811835)

      Because in this case, the government contibuted a great deal of your tax money to building the network structure that stretches across the nation today. if we paid for it as a country then the first amendment applies fully and reduces an ISP fom being a 'platform'' to being a means to access the platform.

      • by ScentCone (795499)
        if we paid for it as a country then the first amendment applies fully and reduces an ISP fom being a 'platform'' to being a means to access the platform

        Nonsense. If that were true, then you could say that every private print shop that has its physical operations reachable by public road must print anything that anyone demands they print. After all, if the taxpayers didn't maintain that road, the print shop could never have set up shop, right? Do you really think that's what the first amendment is about?
    • by nschubach (922175)

      The same mentality was going around when the company I work for told people that they basically could be let go for revealing internal operation details on social networking sites.

      Some people think that having a Right means you are entitled to have it given to you ... thus my signature. (Though, some people have confused it for other meanings...)

    • Re:Not again. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by still cynical (17020) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:31AM (#33960846) Homepage

      Why do people confuse the first amendment's prohibition against the government limiting free expression with somehow mandating that private people and/or the companies they form being obliged to provide a platform for everything that everyone wants to say? The first amendment isn't about forcing a guy with a printing press to do what you say, it's about preventing the government from stopping you and the guy who owns the printing press from doing what you like on whatever terms you arrange between the two of you. Same thing goes with the guy who owns the DSL line you're using, or the WiFi hotspot and the network it's wired up to. And just like the printing press, if you don't like the terms of use, build your own or shop around.

      Why? Because the Internet was created by "the government", is regulated by "the government", and subsidized by "the government". The lines that carry Internet traffic are run on public ("government"-owned) land using right of ways granted by "the government". Wireless carriers are granted licenses to use public airwaves, and must provide a public service to do so (not just rake in money). At the local level, most of the carriers are monopolies granted by "the government". These monopolies are free from having to worry about competition because "the government" has agreed to lock out anyone else from access to these same right-of-ways.

      THAT'S why it's a First Amendment issue. You want to be free of government rules? Get off the government tit. The government has provided a source of huge income to these companies. If they don't like "the terms of use" associated with being a government-subsidized monopoly, they are free to "build their own" Internet and run the lines over their own land. The wireless carriers can just "build their own" airwaves, I guess.

    • Then the solution is that there needs to be some form of ammendment or additional legislation that prohibits anyone from limiting free expression on the internet along those 4 guidelines by the FCC*.

      Much in the same way I as a person or private company cannot park my vehicle in an intersection to filter or deter traffic through a certain point - neither should any Internet Service Provider have the ability to discriminate against their traffic if the people are paying for the service. Or if they want that a

    • by Voline (207517)
      I really don't have the time right now to explain the concepts of "natural monopoly" and "common carrier" to you. But I suggest you do some Googling on those just to get you up to speed.
  • It's working just fine the way it is, so why change it?

    A tiered internet is just another way for greedy businesses to further suck money out of their customers, that's it.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      why change it?

      another way for greedy businesses to further suck money out of their customers

      I think you just asked and answered your own question.

    • It's working just fine the way it is, so why change it?

      So you like the way Comcast and other ISP's have the ability to filter traffic with impunity? Because that is basically whats happening.

  • None of the network neutrality efforts really are focused on increasing competition. I have no doubt that that is why a lot of libertarians and conservatives see this as a naked power grab, rather than as a misguided effort to protect the status quo. They see an effort focused almost entirely on telling businesses what they can do, rather than one that is simultaneously taking a chainsaw to local, state and federal laws that impede competition.

    One of the arguments I've heard against abolishing local and sta

  • ... free speech was impossible before the internet?

  • Seriously, what's wrong with a little bit of capitalism and money changing hands to give preferential treatment to companies willing to pay for it?

    Let's say that I have a 10 Mb Comcast connection. Under net neutrality, I can use that bandwidth however I want. There's no QOS, so maybe my Netflix streaming stutters a bit or the resolution drops here and there. Now suppose Comcast enters into an agreement with Netflix (yes, they're arch enemies; this is just an example) whereby Netflix pays Comcast to reserve

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      So basically, you want net neutrality only when it's beneficial to you.

      What if you were accessing one of Netflix's competitors?

      Read the PDF, it explains it well.

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      Ahhh young padawan, you have much to learn.

      What if you want to watch Hulu? Stuttering.

      Or, the more likely scenario, what if Comcast launches a web-based video on demand service, and that gets the 4Mbit priority whereas Netflix is always relegated to stuttering speeds?

      This is the real danger and it's already starting to happen. The large ISPs which have an effective oligarchy on the US market can reduce the internet to essentially a set of "preferred" sites by prioritizing the traffic, not based on load bala

    • Like you pointed out, Netflix is seen by Comcast as the enemy. You say you'd be a happy customer if Comcast dedicated 4MB of your connection to Netflix while you're streaming. How will you feel when Comcast decides to throttle Netflix to 1 bit per second while injecting advertisements for their cable TV service over that episode of Dexter you're not able to watch? Given the behavior of ISPs in the past, that's a lot more likely than striking deals with other companies that are good for customers, IMHO.
  • The ACLU report addresses the pro-net-neutrality arguments. The other side of the coin is the revenue requirements of the ISPs and their business models. Nobody can fairly judge this issue without consideration of both sides.

    A few months ago, I got a Droid phone. I also downloaded a tether app (forbidden by Verizon's non-net-neutral terms) but I got it anyhow. I used them to catch up on a few TV programs I like (I don't have access to regular TV). I think I watched for 5 hours. It worked great and I

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      The ACLU report addresses the pro-net-neutrality arguments. The other side of the coin is the revenue requirements of the ISPs and their business models. Nobody can fairly judge this issue without consideration of both sides.

      There's a constitutional protection of free speech. There is no constitutional protection of corporate profits. Are you suggesting that corporate profits should trump constitutional protections, because if that's true then Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court should close up shop and just let a bunch of guys on Wall Street run the country.

      Are there any win-win scenarios that maintain net-neutrality and also provide the vast amount of capital needed for wireless infrastructure? I don't see them.

      That argument would hold water if AT&T and the other ISPs weren't immensely profitable already. So option 4 is: impose net neutrality, prices remain at or ne

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by T Murphy (1054674)
      You're off in your understanding of net neutrality. Neutrality in a nutshell means "all packets are created equal". Neutrality is being violated if the ISP sees that you are streaming video and throttles that. Neutrality is not being violated if the ISP has a policy to throttle your connection if you exceed 2GB in 24 hours (or whatever content-neutral usage policy). ISPs love to conflate neutrality and "breaking the internets" as a scare tactic- they really have nothing to do with each other.

      My internet
  • It seems like the stated goals of Net Neutrality are to impose lots and lots of regulations about what you can and can't do :-)

Money doesn't talk, it swears. -- Bob Dylan

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