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If the FCC Had Regulated the Internet From the Start 191

Posted by timothy
from the council-of-wise-and-benevolent-men dept.
In the spirit of (but with a different approach than) last week's post "Is Net Neutrality Really Needed?", an anonymous reader writes with this "counterfactual history of the internet, but one that is all too plausible. Unfortunately, I can see this happening under the new 'Net Neutrality.'"
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If the FCC Had Regulated the Internet From the Start

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  • Pure Fantasy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @09:40AM (#34669782)
    If the internet had been regulated under Title II in the first place, as it should have, giving ISPs and upstream providers "common carrier" status, we would not have the mess we have now.

    Deep packet inspection would be illegal "interception" of content, making tiered or discriminatory service impossible. The government would explicitly need a warrant to snoop. Etc.

    It might not be a perfect solution, but it would be a hell of a lot better than what we have now. Sometimes regulation is not evil.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It would have also prevented smaller regional ISPs from being able to participate in the market, as the only businesses with the immense legal resources to comply as common carrier were...wait for it...the Telcos.

      So you'd have been getting your crappy dialup only from AT&T, BellSouth, PacBell, none of whom care about your internet connection like your ISP did, and all of whom have shown a willingness to collude against the consumer.

      Common carrier means a lot more, practically speaking, than you think it

      • Re:Pure Fantasy (Score:4, Interesting)

        by abarrow (117740) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:13AM (#34669860) Homepage

        Yeah, and there's a good chance we would have ended up like some countries that got widespread Internet after the Telcos figured it out, like South Africa. Telekom hired a bunch of consultants from SBC who showed up and told them they had to meter Internet usage.

      • and so ? (Score:3, Informative)

        by unity100 (970058)
        since the line sharing agreement (hellooo regulation) ended in 2006, there are no small regional isps left anymore in the first place ? how that has been any different ?
        • Re:and so ? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:11AM (#34670084) Homepage Journal

          Because it was the small ISPs that pioneered one price, all-you-eat Internet service. Early offerings from the telcos were metered services, priced per megabyte.

          The small ISPs forced the big telcos and cable to offer the pricing structure that's in place today.

          • soooo ? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by unity100 (970058) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:26AM (#34670140) Homepage Journal
            what relevance does this have ? telcos consolidated because of the all you can eat prices ? they werent going to consolidate, if there wasnt such a model ? youre talking as if consolidation didnt happen in ALL other sectors left without regulation.

            let me put bluntly : if you allow it, big dog eats the small dog.
    • by Senes (928228) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:21AM (#34669896)
      This isn't about regulating the internet, it's about preventing private regulation; if you hate people telling you what you can and cannot do then you should support preventing ISPs from being able to decide how your connection can be used.

      As long as people are tied to their service providers then they're at the provider's mercy unless it is illegal to impose such controls. "Regulating the internet" would be telling users what to do; that's exactly what would happen if ISPs could shape traffic and they wouldn't have to release you from your contract.
      • Regulations... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:42AM (#34669986)
        Actually, regulating the Internet could take many forms. For example, you might only be allowed to use certified equipment (or perhaps only certified software) to connect, as is the case with CB radio. Or, more optimistically, ISPs may be required to act as common carriers and not be allowed to turn the Internet into a clone of the cable TV system.

        It is not really a question of whether or not the Internet should be regulated, it is a more of a question of which regulations would be best for the American people. The large corporations that currently control our access to the Internet want to turn it into another cable TV system, with "websites" acting as "channels" and "peer to peer" being a forgotten memory; without some sort of regulation, they will go ahead and do that, and we'll need to establish a second Internet to escape.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ratboy666 (104074)

          I think that, perhaps, you are confused by what the "Internet" is.

          The Internet is the network of networks. When I connect my network, which, for the record, is under my sole control, and not under any other regulation, to another network, we have a piece of the "Internet".

          The Internet is facilitated, but not defined, by the "backbone" -- fiber optic connections (currently). The Internet does not mandate the form of these backbone interconnects. They exist because, simply, there is a need or desire to send t

          • Re:Regulations... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @01:30PM (#34670602) Homepage

            > When I connect my network, which, for the record, is
            > under my sole control, and not under any other regulation,
            > to another network, we have a piece of the "Internet".

            Well you run off the rails pretty much immediately, right here infact. The rest of your rather long rant is just based on this bogus bit of wishful thinking.

            You have to get through your ISP in order to get to the outside world. If they are unregulated, then they are free to mess with you as much as they want too. It's like if all of the surface streets leading to your local highway were controlled by Microsoft or McDonalds. They could control what gets to Target or Walmart or your local grocery store or even your own house via UPS or FedEx.

            Imagine Walmart or Apple being able to prevent Amazon or Netflix from delivering to you via UPS or the postal service.

            That's what your local unregulated ISP can do to you.

      • This may not be about regulating the Internet to you, but it is to the FCC and other government agents.
    • Re:Pure Fantasy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JWW (79176) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:35AM (#34669958)

      They have the power to do common carrier NOW. Notice that that is not what they are doing.

      The FCC does not want to make the Internet common carrier.

      They are violating a court decision doing regulation the way they are doing it.

      It is very telling as to what the FCC is more interested in based on how they are going about this.

      I think "fairness" is a big motivator for them, but they're not concerned about packet fairness, I think they're more concerned about content fairness. Thats a path I don't want to see them take.

      • Re:Pure Fantasy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:50AM (#34670022)

        I think "fairness" is a big motivator for them, but they're not concerned about packet fairness, I think they're more concerned about content fairness.

        The fact that everyone is so focused on "content" shows that the suits still do not really understand the Internet, or perhaps they do understand it but they do not like what it means. This is not about "content;" the Internet is not just another broadcasting system. Websites are not just "channels" that you use a web browser to "tune in" to.

        Unfortunately, as you pointed out, the FCC does not see things this way...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by scalarscience (961494)
          Every time I've seen the 'suits' attempt to create 'channels' in an attempt to market something on top of a layer of tech, the technology underneath it moves so quickly that any attempt at a static, controlled form of it winds up being obsolesced rather quickly. Remember having screensavers with feeds pre-rss as if we'd all been waiting for CNN to enter every idle second we had? And apps you could run at the top of your screen (which were early forms of spyware in some cases, logging basic user metrics be
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think "fairness" is a big motivator for them, but they're not concerned about packet fairness, I think they're more concerned about content fairness.

          The fact that everyone is so focused on "content" shows that the suits still do not really understand the Internet, or perhaps they do understand it but they do not like what it means. This is not about "content;" the Internet is not just another broadcasting system. Websites are not just "channels" that you use a web browser to "tune in" to.

          Unfortunately, as you pointed out, the FCC does not see things this way...

          Bingo.

          "Net neutrality" is an attempt at turning the internet into just that: web sites being channels you tune in to. Because the content providers don't like a free-for-all - they want barriers to entry into the content-providing market. The internet has - up until now - dramatically reduced the barriers to entry into the content market. Movie studios, record labels, old-school newspapers - they've all had their apple cart upset by the internet.

          Oh, yeah, and the AD AGENCIES that make billions and billi

        • There's a lot more money in content than in just moving packets around.
    • Absolutely correct. The debate is not about whether internet access service should be regulated, but how to regulate it. For various reasons, the FCC decided initially that it would be regulated as an "information service" rather than as a "communication service." I was involved in the industry at the time, and while I understood the reasons why the FCC made that choice, I argued that this would be a serious mistake in the long term.

      When I had the opportunity to discuss matters with senior management, I
    • by jythie (914043)
      Actually, I would argue that one of the reasons ISP were so diverse originally was that the telcos were regulated. Back when narrow band was the norm you could go with dozens of possible providers and it allowed quite a few companies to grow and get people connected. Compared to countries were telcos had the ability to block people from connecting to ISPs they did not own this gave us a diverse marketplace.

      So I would argue that we would not have the internet we have today if the FCC had not been regulat
  • Not so realistic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @09:42AM (#34669794) Journal

    Ok, its an interesting read, but not every realistic. As draconian and fascist as the US govt has become over the last 10 years, many of the ideas in the article simply wouldn't fly. Not everyone in the US is a sheeple. Again, interesting, but there is no way in hell that it could have happened remotely as they stated in the article.

    • by LordKronos (470910) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @09:50AM (#34669804) Homepage

      Ok, its an interesting read

      Then you're giving it more credit then I would. I didn't find it the slightest bit interesting. As I read it, I was thinking how unrealistic it was, until I got to the section about the FCC not approving the internet because it's beta software, etc. At that point I said 'this is stupid", read a couple more paragraphs, got to the first mention of Microsoft Bob, and promptly closed the page. The level of absurdity in the article is so high, it sounds like it was FUD written by Comcast to rally people against net neutrality.

      • by Goody (23843) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:03AM (#34669836) Journal
        And what's worse is the conservative media and blogosphere will cite this article and quote it and their viewers will eat it up and be regurgitating it everywhere. It's quite unrealistic and is really just a lame attempt at comedy. TCP/IP and the Internet were in use in other countries before 1993 when the article's timeline starts. If the FCC would had done any kind of blatantly bad regulation, the Internet would have merely evolved outside of the US. The fact is the FCC didn't regulate it, and net neutrality (however currently defective/insufficient) doesn't come close to any sort of heavy-handed regulation. But that doesn't support the right wing narrative of an out of control fascist state.
      • by hvm2hvm (1208954)
        I closed it in 10seconds when I realized it's not a bullet list of the form
        o <date>: "real event" would have been "something else"
      • by WWWWolf (2428)

        got to the first mention of Microsoft Bob, and promptly closed the page. The level of absurdity in the article is so high,

        Oh, yeah. Ridiculous noob mistakes like this undermine the credibility of the article. The service was actually called The Microsoft Network [wikipedia.org] (MSN). Urrrgh. (Yes, I actually remember one prominent Microsoft supporter hyping how much better MSN was compared to the Internet and how it was not at all a mistake for Microsoft to put Internet connection tools to Windows 95, because obviously everyone would be using MSN, the technically superior network built right into Windows.)

      • Re:Not so realistic (Score:4, Informative)

        by runningduck (810975) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:38PM (#34670950)
        Oddly enough the government did regulate the Internet in the early years. It wasn't until the early '90s that commercial activity was allowed on the Internet. Prior to that only academic and research entities were allowed. It could be argued that the early restrictive regulations of the Internet created an incubation environment that allowed the Internet to mature and surpass the offerings by commercial providers such as CompuServe and AOL.
      • by sjames (1099)

        I can translate TFA if you like and even invoke Godwin in the process.

        Anti-jaywalking laws are more evil than Satan. If not for anti-jaywalking laws, a young Adolf Hitler would have been hit by a car back in 1937 and all of the evil that followed could have been avoided. Yes folks, you read it here first, those crosswalks caused the Holocaust! Unless you support genocide, you'll call your congressman today and demand that the crosswalks be painted over and the walk lights be removed immediately. You may now

      • Here's my summary of the article:

        First off, the article misinterprets (or misrepresents) net neutrality (via FCC regulation) as regulation of the Internet, rather than regulation of Internet connections. So it was off the rails from the start, beating on a strawman. Which is also sort of a dead horse. A dead straw horse you might say. Anyways the article uses a Randian "world is holding back the supermen" storyline combined with Beck-ian tinfoil-hat and backwoods-militia conspiracy theories about net neutra

    • by ultranova (717540)

      Ok, its an interesting read, but not every realistic.

      What, a fictional scare story submitted by an anonymous guy which just happens to align with the interests of some Big Corporations is unrealistic? How can that be?!?

    • Article not realistic at all. The FCC do not want to regulate the Internet, they only want to regulate the service providers.

      • by JWW (79176)

        Sure, because they've never regulated content for the communications they currently manage.......

    • Perhaps you've missed out on the federal takeover of student loans, much of the banking sector (by force!), the TSA, the auto industry, health insurance. Sure we've seen the protests (alright maybe not against obscure things like student loans though that was in Obamacare so I guess it counts), but that didn't change anything. Have you read any of the writings of the FCC chair? The FCC will grab whatever powers it doesn't have and use them for whatever purpose it likes, sheeple or not. The only thing really

    • by lennier (44736)

      Not everyone in the US is a sheeple.

      Wouldn't the singular of "sheeple" be "sherson"? Or "peep"?

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @09:56AM (#34669818)

    "In late 2010 the last act of the democratic congress was to pass a massive legislative coup giving the FCC all the authority it required to enforce Net Neutrality and a mandate to bring america's infrastructure up to par with the rest of the first world.

    Over the next two years the FCC rolled out a series of reforms which led to the end of the stagnation and abuses of the monopolies and duopolies in charge of access to the internet in america, began a campaign to run fiber straight to the home in all major american cities creating a massive number of public works jobs, and singlehandedly raised speeds, lowered prices, and improved the quality of american internet connectivity."

    See? I can play the "lets make up a fantasy scenario that perfectly supports my position" game too.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @09:57AM (#34669822) Homepage

    but basically it's a fairy tale about if the FCC had started regulating interstate electronic communications in 1993, and how it would have mandated Minitel [wikipedia.org] compatibility for electronic devices.

    It's amazing how many people have gotten taken in with the misconception that the FCC is "taking over" the Internet. The simplest analogy is toll roads: they're built by private companies, but the government doesn't allow the operators to favor or ban traffic of competing contractors (or anyone else, for that matter).

    • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:11AM (#34669848)
      You must not have gotten the memo. Anytime that a government agency does something which might theoretically affect a business in some indirect, but negative, way, it's an unwarranted abuse of government power and an example of Nazism, Fascism and probably Socialism.

      Not to mention that it makes Jesus cry, kills puppies and forces ceiling cat to urinate from on high.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160)

        You must not have gotten the memo. Anytime that a government agency does something which might theoretically affect a business in some indirect, but negative, way, it's an unwarranted abuse of government power and an example of Nazism, Fascism and probably Socialism.

        Of course, the scaremongers are helped quite a bit by the fact that the theory is so often true in practice. For "exhibit A" consider the security apparatus. Because they could, the Department of Homeland Security took over airport security in the US and has everyone who flies on a commercial plane doing all sorts of humiliating things. For "exhibit B" consider the Commerce Clause [wikipedia.org] in the US Constitution and how it's been used over the past century or so to justify any regulation of any commerce (be it inter

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Your point is very valid, but you're missing something. All of your exhibits of regulatory over-reach or worse have one thing in common: some corporation/cartel/sociopaths profit big time by each of them--the War on Drugs in particular, but also the whole mess with the TSA which of course relieved airlines of three things: the cost of security implementation (another tax giveaway), the negative publicity from the crap the TSA always pulls, and the responsibility when something actually goes wrong. Great

          • by khallow (566160)

            Regulation by itself is not always bad, but regulation where the regulators are in bed with those being regulated, which is pretty much what we have in the US now, is almost always bad. The only thing worse is usually no regulation at all

            That does not follow. In the former case, it is easy to create rent-seekers.

            • Regulatory capture [wikipedia.org] is the relevant mechanism.

              To which I humbly ask, for an organization which result is easier to achieve: success or failure?

              Now, given the fact that we tend to elect as representatives those who openly subvert the intentions of the standing institutions of government, then as they twist the already plunged keys-of-good-faith from our nation like a dagger in the side, proceed to sell short public opinion in the very organization they swore to uphold, all the while riding the 24/7 rating-mak

        • by sstamps (39313)

          There is also precedent for private action being much more harmful than expected.

          1) Standard Oil cartel price-fixing
          2) Ma Bell before the breakup (pretty much a government-backed, yet *private* monopoly -- very similar to many ISPs in the US right now).
          3) The entire broadband industry in the 90s, taking hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money, mandated to deliver state-of-the-art broadband across the US, but instead giving us ISDN and DSL.
          4) Microsoft monopoly. Whether you consider the merits of th

        • I'm sorry, but specifically which part of the War on Drugs are you referring to? While there are parts of the War on Drugs I disagree with, broadly I would argue it's legally permissible.

          If you agree that the FDA is constitutional, then the government clearly must have the power to regulate harmful substances. Illegal drugs are illegal because they've been judged to be harmful. (Some, like marijuana, arguably incorrectly - doesn't matter; there's a difference between overstepping your authority, and mak
          • by dryeo (100693)

            Why did the war on alcohol need a constitutional amendment to start and end?

          • by khallow (566160)

            If you agree that the FDA is constitutional, then the government clearly must have the power to regulate harmful substances.

            We have established that there are circumstances under which regulation of speech is constitutional. Then the government clearly must have the the power to regulate speech which (imagine a hidden "I think" here) is harmful. See what I did there?

            Just because government has some power to regulate food and drugs(and I don't think all of the FDA's activities are constitutional and/or beneficial, such as its regulation of experimental drugs), doesn't mean that it should have the power to seize your property o

  • by krygny (473134) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:00AM (#34669828)

    While I don't agree with some of the scenarios in the article (a bit simplistic), I have always been astonished at the laissez-faire approach the Federal Government has always had toward the internet and the WWW. I can only explain it by their ineptitude. Not their libertarian philosophy. As a whole, the Government really never "got it" nor understood the potential until it was too late. Now that it's too late, their hoping that it's not too late. Typical.

    • by hvm2hvm (1208954)
      It's not too late, it just has more momentum that will take longer to reverse and let the government transform the internet in whatever they want.
    • by rokkaku (127052)

      If you by "laissez-faire approach", you mean, "created it from scratch with millions in DARPA, and then NSF, funding," then, yeah. And, if you'll remember, there were pretty strict content restrictions on the NSFnet. Thank goodness some small part of the government "got it" and fostered the Internet, or the scenario outlined in the (really crappy) Slate article might've been more likely.

    • by kisak (524062)
      The US Federal Government played the central role to create todays internet with federal fundet research on ARPANET [wikipedia.org]. And true visionaries in the Federal Government like Al Gore [wikipedia.org] saw the potential of the open "information highway" and acted on it very early in the internets history. This makes the comment about the Fedral Governments "ineptitude" strange. It is hard to imagine how the "free market" on its own would have created the sucess story todays open "net neutral" internet is, both commercially and for
    • While I don't agree with some of the scenarios in the article (a bit simplistic), I have always been astonished at the laissez-faire approach the Federal Government has always had toward the internet and the WWW. I can only explain it by their ineptitude. Not their libertarian philosophy. As a whole, the Government really never "got it" nor understood the potential until it was too late. Now that it's too late, their hoping that it's not too late. Typical.

      We had a conservative congress for the Internet's whole adolescent phase. How can you blame the government for not being progressive enough? Just my two cents. Blaming "the government" for something that takes place over the course of a decade is a tad dishonest. "The public" either really does know better than you, or you're doing a woefully inadequate job of educating them.

  • by stevesh6 (1018130) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:14AM (#34669864)
    And if someone in a position to do so had gone before Congress in 1990 and testified that in ten years or less, every 12-year-old in the country could have a box in his bedroom which would provide him with 24/7 access to unlimited, free hard-core pornography, the Internet would have been smothered in its crib. Politicians aren't the people to be making these decisions.
    • The internet is a worldwide network. If one country banned or censored it, it would make almost no difference to everyone else - expect that the amount of spam might be down a little.
      • Re:Only in america (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Culture20 (968837) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:07AM (#34670064)

        The internet is a worldwide network. If one country banned or censored it, it would make almost no difference to everyone else - expect that the amount of spam might be down a little.

        Now it is. What about in its infancy? Without the US, would Finland house the ICANN lookalike?

        • by WWWWolf (2428)

          The internet is a worldwide network. If one country banned or censored it, it would make almost no difference to everyone else - expect that the amount of spam might be down a little.

          Now it is. What about in its infancy? Without the US, would Finland house the ICANN lookalike?

          Literal answer to a rhetorical question: Finland has had a very good electronics industry with curious innovations, there's been interest in computer science in academia for a long time, the businesses have been very enthusiastic about applied computing, and politicians have been fairly supportive of technological advances. So hell yes. ICANN was founded in 1998, and by then, Finnish internet infrastructure was already pretty good. (Remember the Penet remailer? Fucking with Scientology since nineteen friggi

        • by Urkki (668283)

          The internet is a worldwide network. If one country banned or censored it, it would make almost no difference to everyone else - expect that the amount of spam might be down a little.

          Now it is. What about in its infancy? Without the US, would Finland house the ICANN lookalike?

          Most likely, yes (well, maybe not Finland precisely, but not impossible). The need to network computers is real (or as real as any IT related thing can be). As an example of technology rising to meet this need was FidoNet [wikipedia.org]. Universities would have networked, drawing in technology companies, drawing in regular people and other kinds of companies, and being linked to hobbyist systems (like that fidonet). HTML/Web-type hypertext-based information sharing system would also have risen naturally as soon as home an

        • Well, FCC or no FCC, the basics were already in existence long before the fictional timeline sets in, many universities around the globe already adopted it, so yes, it would have evolved.

          I give you that the mass acceptance came in the US first, but mostly due to flat phone rates for local calls enabling you to be online 24/7 for like 10 bucks a month to your phone co (we paid about 5 bucks per hour for local calls at that time).

          Without the US and the mass phenomenon, the internet would probably be less publ

    • And if someone in a position to do so had gone before Congress in 1990 and testified that in ten years or less, every 12-year-old in the country could have a box in his bedroom which would provide him with 24/7 access to unlimited, free hard-core pornography, the Internet would have been smothered in its crib.

      They failed trying to do just that twice in the 90s. What finally was passed as constitutional was that if you got federal funds in the form of E-Rate discounts (for schools and libraries), you had to

  • Most people don't realize that draconian rules and totalitarian environments don't happen overnight. They happen over several years of incremental changes that fly below the radar until there comes a point when people wake up and cry "How the hell did this happen?!?!" What's worse is that these incremental measures are instituted "for our own good" and those who place a higher value on emotional reasons for doing things rather than the practicality of the measures and blindly accept these measures. They

    • by hercubus (755805)

      Your ISP is going to scale back or cancel any rollout of faster service or they will lower everyone's speeds or they will charge everyone more money.

      That sounds an awful lot like the Net we already have.
      What will it be like after regulation? I'll have to let some federal bureaucrat touch my junk so I can be cleared to download torrentz of people touching each other's junk. Sounds kinky. I'm down with it, right down on it. W00t!

    • Your ISP is going to scale back or cancel any rollout of faster service or they will lower everyone's speeds or they will charge everyone more money.

      So be it. Because they would do all those things anyway out of "responsibility to the shareholders", unless there is more regulation dictating speed and price. Which is distasteful, but how else can you respond to monopolies?

    • Your cable and telephone companies have guaranteed monopolies in most municipalities. They can set prices wherever they want because it is actually illegal to compete with them.

      Make it illegal to give a company a local monopoly and you will solve some of this problem.

      • Telephone isn't much of a monopoly anymore. You can tell your land-line provider to go pound sand and switch to one of several cellphone providers or VOIP providers. Cable at the moment only has two satellite competitors but with increasing access to internet-based video, this won't last too much longer.

        With increased government regulation comes a lot more lobbyist activity to give targets of the regulation an exemption to the regulation. Witness the number of companies that already have exemptions to ma

        • by bigtrike (904535)

          Awesome, so I can start my own telephone or cable company and run my own lines on the US government owned telephone poles, then?

          • Missing the point here. Wireless technology eliminates the need and value of rights-of-way. In theory, if you extrapolate mesh technology out several orders of magnitude, you may not ever need the "last mile" again. One big reason why Tesla's wireless power transmission was killed off is because JP Morgan knew he couldn't put a meter on the consumer's end and bill him for the power.

            Government systems are rarely if ever efficient often because of the thousands of people involved each with an enormous ego

    • by Urkki (668283)

      So you're saying... if ISPs were allowed to freely limit the most bandwidth-intensive uses as they please, then they'd be able to invest in infrastructure to provide more bandwidth for the... uses that don't use a lot of bandwidth, and won't be paying anything extra if they get more bandwidth?

      Also, government regulation doesn't change the inherent need of a company to maximize their profits, even if it means "ass-f*cking" their customers. But regulations can make it go in less deep, especially if competitio

  • by Trinn (523103) <livinglatexkali@gmail.com> on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:30AM (#34669938)

    What's up with the anti-NN articles lately? Smells of astroturf if you ask me, to be honest, though I'm wondering how it got past firehose stuff. This article is just the usual FUD approach, I thought slashdot was a bit more capable of recognizing such. The article boils down to some simple appeals to partisanship, fear of being on the "losing side" (when we all are unless you happen to be one of the F500 CEOs or something else equally silly), fear of oppressive government control / fear of the government 'breaking' the internet (the Order and Report is actually very specific and focuses merely on anti-competitive cartel/monopoly tactics)...

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)

      It's pure FUD. It hits all the hallmarks of the current fearmongering deployed by right-wing conservatives and wanna-be vertical monopolies like Comcast: putting any regulation on the Internet will lower innovation, increase costs, reduce offerings, reduce service and turn the US into a communist concentration camp run by liberals.

      Here's why I actually like reading them: only if you know your enemy will you know how to defeat them. I hear these arguments repeated quite often at work (ironically, a web devel

  • by FourthAge (1377519) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:30AM (#34669942) Journal

    On Slashdot it's mostly imagined that regulation is a wholly good thing, at least in principle: the government siding with the people against the corporations.

    Any reminder of the problems that can be caused by regulation is therefore worthwhile.

    This is not to say that regulation is a wholly bad thing, either. But it can easily make things worse, by closing out competition, for example.

    Wherever you see corporations colluding against the public, you may be tempted to suggest regulation as the solution. If so, don't be surprised to discover that their industry is already heavily regulated, and (perversely) regulation is exactly what is enabling the collusion.

    And what is the inevitable solution to that collusion? Why, more regulation, of course. The existing regulation must be inadequate, so we need more of it.

    In other words, we have only a hammer, so every problem must be a nail. There is a cycle here, and it's not the virtuous sort.

    So, if you wish to call for regulation, you should consider the regulation that's already in place. Why is it inadequate? And how is your proposal immunised against the same problems? Because you will not be the first person to suggest regulation - those who came before you had similar ideals, and despite their good intentions, they created the current mess.

    • I consider the calls for patent and copyright reform to be against regulation, or least arguments for regulation that primarily benefits people - not corporate interests. However, yes - regulation is like law. Any law or regulation should present a benefit to the general public that demonstrably out-weigh the consequences of a reduction in liberties. There must also be accountability. Not always easy to gauge - and I sure as hell don't trust state bodies to be intrinsically benevolent or in any way competen

    • by hercubus (755805) <hercubus.yahoo@com> on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:56AM (#34670252) Homepage

      So, if you wish to call for regulation, you should consider the regulation that's already in place. Why is it inadequate? And how is your proposal immunised against the same problems? Because you will not be the first person to suggest regulation - those who came before you had similar ideals, and despite their good intentions, they created the current mess.

      What regulation? What can my carrier currently do or not do with my content? Is traffic shaping okay? Can this or that ISP throttle and or choke my Netflix streaming? When they start doing it who do I call to complain?

      Ever flip on a light switch? I do it all the time and it works pretty good. There's a highly regulated monopoly that works okay. How did regulation of old school utilities turn out okay despite the involvement of government? Can we look at that success and apply it to the ISPs? When the power company wants more money they have to present to a board that checks the numbers. Not perfect, but what is? When my ISP wants more money they just change their name and say we now have an X in our name and your bill is going to go up X dollars! Isn't that GREAT!!!

      And before we talk about stifled innovation, I'll consider real innovation and not some imagined future innovation. The rest of the world has innovation, we don't, and we're currently ever so not regulated...

      • Ever flip on a light switch? I do it all the time and it works pretty good. There's a highly regulated monopoly that works okay. How did regulation of old school utilities turn out okay despite the involvement of government?

        Of course it works! You expect me to argue about that?? The argument is not, and has never been, that regulation prevents everything from working. (Although this has happened in particularly severe cases outside of the USA.)

        No, what I am saying is that it could be even better. There was

  • by Ltap (1572175) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:34AM (#34669954) Homepage
    This shows not just an obvious hatred for regulation, but a lack of knowledge about the beginnings of the Web beyond a few names and dates. While showing that any high level of regulation would be used to the advantage of the big companies like Microsoft, it ignores the fact that companies like Microsoft would use their market share to try to create their own standards and to try to force out their competition through incompatibility -- just like they did in the real 1990s with IE.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:38AM (#34669962) Homepage

    Wish I had some cream and onions to go with that tasty red herring.

    The fact that one can envision scenarios in which FCC regulation would be bad is no more convincing than scenarios in which the monopoly and n-opoly service providers hamper innovation -- except to the extent that we have evidence of one or the other actually happening. As it happens, we do have such evidence with the service providers. Evidence that they will engage in anti-competitive content restriction which inhibits new business models. The broad and rich exploration of new business models is absolutely critical to being a dominant economy during the advent of sea-change new technology.

    If the FCC were inhibiting new approaches to communication by the citizens, consumers, and entrepreneurs (as suggested by the fantasy editorial), we would be well advised to spank them. They are not. If the n-opolies are inhibiting such new concepts, we are equally well advised to prevent that behavior. Government exists, in the business world, to ensure that we as a nation can compete and ideally dominate. In new technology fields, that ability is fundamentally premised on exploring unproven business models. Leaving the governance of the Internet exclusively in the hands of existing profit-maximizing corporations is a perfect formula for optimizing existing business models.

    Established corporations are very proficient at analyzing what already exists, and making such things more efficient. That is an important component of our economy. New technology demands the more experimental path trod by entrepreneurs in an unrestricted market exploration space. The FCC's role in this new realm of economic opportunity is to ensure that the market remains unrestricted to those entrepreneurs.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      The fact that one can envision scenarios in which FCC regulation would be bad

      Lets be honest here. We can just point to existing FCC regulations in other industries for all the examples of "bad" that we need.

      You want Net Neutrality? Great. So do I. Do you honestly believe that the FCC gives a fuck about Net Neutrality? I do not.

      I know for sure that the FCC doesnt give a fuck about Net Neutrality. As has been pointed out time and again, the ISP's could be rolled up into Common Carrier status by the FCC today.. but thats not happening.

      The FCC doesnt want your packets to be treat

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        We can just point to existing FCC regulations in other industries for all the examples of "bad" that we need.

        We can also point to existing FCC regulations in other industries for examples of "good" that we need. You mention common carrier as the ideal solution to this problem. I agree. Common carrier is an FCC regulation. Clearly the FCC is capable of doing both good and bad, just as corporations with sufficient power to bias the market are capable of doing good and bad. Perhaps it is unfortunate that this

  • "If the Government had regulated the roads from the start!"

    Meh, what a poorly written and scaremongering article.

    • ...you might now have roads without potholes that can swallow trucks?

      I am appalled every time I'm in the US. The roads are in a generally very sorry state of repair, with lots of important roads not even in a sensible, usable state. Hell, the sideways here are in a better state than most of the highways in the US!

  • by mbone (558574)

    Sorry, this is tiresome idealogical Bullshit. It's not close enough to a plausible alternate reality to be interesting.

  • It is interesting that the private companies killed off the walled garden without intervention. It's an example where companies didn't think long term and went for short term advantage that *happened* to luck out for the consumers. If they had thought long term business, they would've emphasized exclusive content and explicitly not granted internet connectivity (maybe allowed email, but no routable IP address to the home), making it hard to move from one service to another. We are very fortunate things d

  • by DCheesi (150068) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:09AM (#34670074) Homepage

    In the early days, internet service did not require regulation because there was plenty of competition. The barriers to entry were low; anyone could set up a modem bank and T1 service and start serving dial-up customers. My provider was a local one-man operation, with service just as good as (and cheaper than) the big names.

    But with the transition to broadband, the incumbent phone and cable providers gained immense power. Their existing physical infrastructure gave them a largely insurmountable advantage over potential new entrants. This created an effective duopoly, one that still persists today in many markets. In such a situation, the free market cannot function, and government regulation is required to prevent abuses.

    • by hercubus (755805) <hercubus.yahoo@com> on Sunday December 26, 2010 @12:20PM (#34670330) Homepage

      ... created an effective duopoly, one that still persists today in many markets. In such a situation, the free market cannot function, and government regulation is required to prevent abuses.

      This is the part that the Libertarian loudmouths ignore. There is no market. Their magical invisible hand that solves all problems just turns into a choking fist when you have too few competitors.

      The only sane solutions are government owned pipes (think water/sewer) or highly regulated privately owned pipes (think electricity/gas).

      I like my local city utility monopoly. I like my power and gas monopolies. I despise all two of my choices from the Net duopoly camp.

      Every city knows they have to "do" sewer/water/trash. Every state knows they have to "do" power and gas - even if it's just to set up a framework for local co-ops. Wish some state was willing and able to "do" Internet and fight off the corporate douchebags. Maybe next generation...

      • You're right that there is no free market. The solution is not to take away even more freedom to fix the problems caused by government intervention in the first place. One more chain will not set you free.

        • There is a flaw in your reasoning, though. A monopoly (On duopoly, or cartel - they function the same way) is a very stable situation. No new competitors can enter the market, because the existing companies make sure the barrier to entry is extremally high - remember that laying new cables is very expensive. They also have the option of dirty economic tricks, such as offering service for a loss-making price in order to drive smaller local operators out of business. Once a stable monopoly is formed, the only
    • That's essentially the flaw in the free market system. Once the bar to enter into a market as a seller becomes too high (as it is now with, well, pretty much EVERYTHING), you cannot "let market sort it out". Market, or rather the big players, will crush any emerging competition.

      To give an example an MBA might get, imagine a huge forest. At first, there is no forest, there's a few ferns and a small layer of humus. Let's compare that to the infrastructure to build your business on, gas, power, water, roads, e

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:21AM (#34670114)
    The scenario described in TFA is but one of millions and millions that could have transpired. Yet that one was chosen because it fits into the author's agenda.

    .
    GMAFB

  • by shoppa (464619) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:39AM (#34670188)

    We already had "the internet" regulated, tarriffed, and adopted by the suits.

    It was called X.25.

    In retrospect it was the best possible scenario. All the standards writers, and the big business suits, and the government, and the telcos, were chasing X.25. Giving hackers the freedom to do TCP/IP and SMTP and FTP and the web etc.

    BEST POSSIBLE SCENARIO!

    • The government was moving to require the OSI stack. The standards were called Government OSI Profile (GOSIP) and the Industry/Government Open System Specification (IGOSS). The standards would have cost thousands of dollars, not be freely downloadable as the IETF standards are. X.25 was a possible part of it, although there were OSI standards for the network layers as well. One additional problem was that there was no guarantee that after adoption the standards would work. The IETF, at least formally, r

  • by mapkinase (958129) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @12:13PM (#34670288) Homepage Journal

    In late 1993, AOL and Delphi become the first online services to offer the Internet. The FCC orders both to drop the feature until the FCC's labs approve it.

    Where does this come from? Current sizzling fresh regulation does not say anything about that as far as I know.

  • So, the Bulletin Board Systems just up and disappeared?

    I find it near impossible for the FCC to gain the authority to regulate a computer running in someone's basement, even under this unrealistic scenario.

    Sorry, Usenet still evolves under this scenario, it's just more like FidoNet.

  • by sstamps (39313) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @01:26PM (#34670584) Homepage

    Seriously, I had to check which site I was on when I started reading that article.

    If the FCC was as evil as it is painted in that article, BBSs would never have come into existence. Instead, FCC regulation ENABLED BBSs to exist, and at a level that could be afforded by most anyone.

  • I have been sending emails sence 1984, pre-DNS with email servers identified by IP.

    My first email address was like ohabcdef@IPv4.

    The referenced article is a fictional spin that would be reasonably probable with a FCC regulated Internet.

    The wild-wild-west is always best for innovation.

    Corporate-Draconia/Welfare will always support oppression of competition, in favor of sustaining customer-hostages, with little or no innovation.

    • by Guy Harris (3803)

      I have been sending emails sence 1984, pre-DNS with email servers identified by IP.

      What, they didn't let you have a HOSTS file?

  • What this leaves out of the perspective at all is that the FCC doesn't regulate jack in the rest of the world.

    Imagine Google, Amazon, EBay and all the other "first tier" internet giants emerged in the UK or somewhere else in Europe (Switzerland comes to mind, considering their tax policy), do you think the FCC could hold back the 'net for long?

    Comparing the internet with telephone has one fundamental flaw: A company that wants to sell to the US by phone pretty much HAS to be in the US because you won't orde

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