"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Net Neutrality Guidelines Created

Yesterday, the FCC issued new guidelines that are an attempt to at least move somewhat forward in a codified version of net neutrality. For those that may only get their info from Fox News, the idea behind net neutrality is real simple - all bits are created and should be treated equally. By this it means those that help get the data from point A to point B shouldn't have the ability to charge more for one type of bit over another, charge to get bits faster than others or anything else that results in some types of data being treated differently than others. By the way, not discussed is if want to treat data differently, that means the telecoms have to monitor and track what the data is for, in effect they will have to know everything you do online. Everyone, especially Americans should be for net neutrality then right? Ironically, the rules passed have basically angered everyone.

For the huge telecom (AT&T, Verizon, etc), they want it gone badly as they can start introducing tiered systems. In effect, other companies would pay them to deliver their content faster than other competing websites. Also they would be able to completely block data they may not want to distribute such as Netflix, bit torrent or say porn. Keep in mind that most telecoms current method has been to not improve their networks to be faster and handle more traffic but actually do as much as they can to encourage people to use their networks as little as possible with pricing schemes that throttle use. There is a reason that America's network speeds are one of the slowest in the western world.

Republicans, of course, are against it because anything that doesn't help the rich get richer is a bad thing. They claim something about it impacting innovation but fail to provide specifics even though the telecoms currently do mostly follow net neutrality guidelines, it’s just that they don't want to anymore. If they had praised it, then would have a huge red flag of a problem.

However, Net Neutrality folks are not happy most because it doesn't go far enough. The rules basically say that telecoms can throttle their networks, can treat data differently, charge for data delivery and other schemes but now are required to be honest about it and inform people when and how they are doing it. In addition, the rules do not apply to mobile devices so if the telecoms wanted to create pricing schemes for data delivered to your phone vs. computer; they can (and probably will). It is a step, but sadly only a tiny step.

So back to why should you care? The internet, since nearly its inception has followed the guidelines of "all bits are created and to be treated equally". It has clearly worked in practice for many years. What Net Neutrality is asking for is to have that codified and protected by law. If need personal motivation the ask yourself these questions. Do you want AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc to know exactly what you are doing on the internet? Do you want them to choose what to charge you for (say more for using Netflix, but not so much if only use to check email)? Do you want them to be able to, with pricing schemes, dictate what websites load faster than others, what content you are allowed to get and so forth? In other words, do you want them to treat the internet like they did when cells phones first started with the equivalent of charging by the minute (or byte in this case)? I know I don't. You need to tell all representatives, but especially Republicans, that you don't either.

No comments:

Post a Comment