Is the Internet in Danger?

Maybe not, however the Federal Communication Commission, in defiance of a court order, and without being given authorization from congress, has started the process of regulating the internet, with it’s ‘net neutrality’ rules.

This thing, called the internet has already morphed into something way beyond what anyone could image when it was first started back in 1969. It is a great example of the free market at work, with very little governmental influence or over-regulation. We have internet telephone systems, web enabled televisions, multi-million dollar internet only companies. The internet has also seen it’s low points, the dot com boom, then bust, hackers, viruses, malware of just about every type. Like a true free market society, remedies have been found, and implemented. The on-line society not only survived, it is thriving.

Now enter Big Brother The mighty FCC, who on their own accord have decided to involve themselves in the business of web access. By simply stating web service providers have to provide equal access to all parts of the web. Calling it net (work) neutrality.

Democrats, who are generally in favor of net neutrality rules, are afraid the internet will be taken over by larger internet companies like Google or Yahoo! Republicans are wary of a governmental take over the internet, thus stifling innovation. ( It should noted that the internet origins were part of a government funded project)

On the surface it sounds fairly simple. The network providing your connection to the internet, shouldn’t care what the data is, where it is coming from or where it is going to. In most cases most providers already do this. Where the problems start when someone wants faster service, or someone is using more bandwidth than other people are. Even the terms might be subject to debate. If you were to ask 10 geeks what is net neutrality, you might get about a dozen or so definitions, all of them technically correct.

This is just the beginning, soon there will be more rules, regulations, fees, taxes, and who knows what else. Do we really want to go there?

The Internet is too much of our economy and our society as a whole to let bureaucrats muck up the works.

Congress told FCC to back off,

The courts told the FCC to back off,

Even FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell said the FCC should back off.

The FCC should back off. Enforce the laws that are already on the books, instead of trying self-make new ones.

Let’s appoint technically minded people to the commission instead of bureaucrats and politicians.

20 Replies to “Is the Internet in Danger?”

  1. anon

    Please explain to me what the technical difficulty is with net neutrality. Is bandwidth a finite resource or is it just not growing as fast as demand? Are there certain services that deserve greater bandwidth–the transfer of medical records for example?

  2. springer

    It isn’t whether the internet will be around for years, it is who has control of shutting the internet down or allowing certain types of posts/uses. You only have to look at Iran and what happened there when they held their last presidential election. There were protests because many people believed the election was rigged, went to the streets in protest, and the gov’t simply shut down all means of communication as it has that power in Iran, We should all be very afraid of a gov’t that seeks that much control, as does this one. They bypassed the will of the people and Congress and the courts to do what they wanted when they couldn’t get the people to go along with their wish. Same thing is happening with cap and trade and the EPA. These should be of major concern to we citizens, but for many in this country they don’t pay attention to political shenanigans as long as nothing in their little bubble of life seems disturbed. The trouble with that philosophy is that by the time they do notice a change in their bubble, it is too late to do anything about it.

  3. caheidelberger

    Free market at work? Ha! The Internet wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the public sector (government, education, military) creating. The “free market” is now trying to take control of it for profit, to the detriment of great public uses like my blog and yours, MC.

    Oldguy, here’s the short form of one aspect of net neutrality: suppose your Internet service provider also sells cable or satellite TV. They notice that you watch a lot of movies by Netflix streaming video and YouTube. That means your eyeballs are on your TV (and on the ads you provider counts on for the big revenue) a lot less. If your cable provider has its network guys type a couple commands into its servers, Netflix and YouTube suddenly come through your Web connection vee-eee-rrr-y slooo-ooo-ooowly.

    Or suppose your Internet provider notices that certain media outlets (like the Madville Times) are lobbying hard for net neutrality and other policies that don’t fit with their plans for profit. Type type type… presto! thousands of Internet subscribers suddenly find it a lot harder to access those media outlets than media outlets that are more favorable toward the company’s corporate agenda.

    Net neutrality is about ensuring that all ideas and content, mine and MCs, enjoy equal opportunity to be heard online.

  4. springer

    What happens, Cory, when the gov’t finds that certain bloggers or news outlets on line are promoting policies that don’t fit with the gov’ts preferences. Then with just “type, type, type” the GOV’T can prevent your access completely or hamper it. Your reasoning works both ways, and at this point in time I distrust the gov’t more than the for profit internet providers.

  5. Les

    Suppose you own the whole internet backbone Cory. I own NetFlix and load your system to the point your generators are running overtime and your original intent when designing the internet was now not able to be met.

    What are your going to do? “More bandwidth” the public cries out, “more bandwidth”.

    Your pockets are deep Cory! Give us more bandwidth. Should you as the owner of some part of the great fiber plant have any say over the costs initiated by NetFlix?

    On the other hand, knowing the human race will decide based upon the largest payoff, behind the curtain that is, who will and who will not benefit from cost factoring the internet bandwidth consumption, is there not a double edged blade cutting at us from both directions?

    This needs more than a quick decision either way.

  6. caheidelberger

    Hey, I’m as opposed to government censorship of the Internet as I am to corporate censorship of the Internet. Net neutrality isn’t about the government picking and choosing which content is allowed online; it’s about the government saying Internet providers don’t get to pick and choose the content they transmit. It’s like laws against religious discrimination. When the government says I can’t refuse to hire you or rent to you just because you are Lutheran, the government isn’t controlling religion; it’s setting rules for business that protect First Amendment rights. If you consider enforcing the Constitution to be malevolent “government control,” then we’ve got problems.

    Les, yes, bandwidth is a problem on any network. I don’t have a quick solution. Can we preserve net neutrality but allow providers to restrict certain high-volume file formats (.mov, .avi, etc.) at certain times (like weight restrictions on county roads during spring)? There we’d be favoring format, not specific content, viewpoint, or author/company.

    Or what if we put the costs not at the supply end but the demand end? If bandwidth is the issue, charge for bandwidth, period, like the limited web plans that charge folks by the megabyte or gigabyte that they download each month. But if my provider promises unlimited downloads, then by gum, they’d better build the servers and fiber to make that possible and not be monkeying with the packets in the background to feed me better access to the handful of sites they prefer to promote or are being paid to promote. Your thoughts?

  7. Les

    You are somewhat wrong in the freedom aspect Cory. The largest push is more about who will control the internet than content. Roles have reversed as the net neutrality issue has matured. Companies such as Verizon were at one time in favor of net/neut thinking they could VOIP some of their traffic, now oppose as they have become providers of content and don’t enjoy their competition running unchecked on Verizon networks without cost.

    Comcast has for several years been in battle with the FCC. They wish to throttle using deep packet inspections to find the culprits of system loading. End user or supplier paying will still be you and I paying the bill so it really doesn’t matter who pays up front.

    Regardless of all other aspects of this problem, if we don’t provide for those who have built the infrastructure which carries our internet, we will see huge potholes develop in our super highway.

    This topic deserves so much more than I could give it and I find few experts that understand it, though some claim to.

  8. DDC

    If Midcontinent Communications throttles back my internet to keep me from watching Netflix, I can switch to Knology. If Knology decides to do the same thing, I can switch to another provider. If all the current providers do the same thing, someone can start up a new company to serve the people that don’t want those restrictions.

    When the government gets involved and screws things up, there is nowhere to turn. They screw up everything. I can’t simply change providers anymore, since they will all be the same.

    Here’s a good article on the subject:
    http://reason.org/news/show/net-neutrality-plan-looks-like-inte

    ISP’s are already barred from blocking legal websites. Taking away their ability to manage their networks as they need makes no sense at all.

    It ain’t broke. There’s nothing to fix. Regulation for the sake of regulation is bad policy.

  9. marylin

    DDC is right above that regulation for the sake of regulation is bad policy. Howev er, this net neutrality thing is not about policy, it’s about control.

  10. Les

    Though I used it and it was used in your link, NetFlix was a poor example of bandwidth consumption Derek. Streaming video is actually fairly efficient.

    Peer 2 Peer and Bit Torrent are bandwidth consumption problems. File sharing loads millions of hard drives of those sharing with Terraabytes of consumption, most of which will never be viewed or used.

    There is more valuable content riding our systems, medical, legal or government data and the real business that depends on an accurate and timely process which should not be hammered by hundreds of millions of computers aimlessly sharing Terra bytes of data as they slug the internet.

    At this point it is still about control and not content at the FCC. Julius Genachowski (Jennakowski) has a think tank of over educated poets designing our new broadband program with his 100 squared program. It will be 100 Meg for 1 million homes and the rest of us settle for 4 Meg as somehow we don’t or can’t count as much or as far, I’m not sure which.

    Comcast has just announced a 250 Gigabyte cap on all broadband customers. Not bad as my business account sits at 12 Gig with Wild Blue.

  11. J Rae

    So how much taxpayer money have the cable companies received to bring broadband subscribers into their revenue stream? That might give a different perspective to the discussion.

    Not everyone has a choice of internet/cable providers so the free market isn’t really at work here.

    Most cable companies were given exclusive rights (quasi monopolies) to cities and towns. Since then some companies have gone in and overbuilt a few of these cities and towns, but only a fraction of them. There isn’t a true choice in many communities.

    Not that Reason Magazine might not be totally impartial in the debate, here’s a good piece from Wired.com that has comments from experts on both sides.

    http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/12/net-neutrality-reaction/all/1

    And another take from Wired for more background for the curious.

    http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/12/fcc-rule/

  12. Les

    For the most part, cable companies have received no money for their broadband before O’s stimulus plan.

    Free market J Rae? How many providers can Blunt, Bison, Phillip….. support? There are multiple choices where the markets can and do support them.

    You are confusing cable and telco’s with overbuilds J Rae. The telco’s that have over built, provide broadband on an unregulated basis so access revenue has not been used though those lines are now becoming somewhat blurred.

    The FCC is still about control J Rae, whether it is Copps or Jennakowski(sp).