×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

FCC Commissioner Urges, Don't Regulate the Internet

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the horse-halfway-out-of-the-barn dept.

The Internet 343

Brett Glass writes "In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell makes a case against government regulation of the Internet, opining that 'engineers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should solve engineering problems.' With state governments pressuring ISPs to pull the plug on Usenet, and a proposal now in play for a censored public Internet, McDowell may have a very good point." McDowell is one of the two FCC commissioners who did not vote with the majority to punish Comcast for their BitTorrent throttling.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

343 comments

Hmmm (5, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377881)

McDowell is one of the two FCC commissioners who did not vote with the majority to punish Comcast for their BitTorrent throttling.

So by 'not regulating' he means that ISP's should be free to throttle whatever they please? Interesting stance.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377943)

That is the gist of what he is saying. The ISPs should be self regulating essentially. This is the beginning of a very slippery slope. What if Comcast decides to ban all torrent traffic? Even with encryption, high usage certainly sends red flags. (perhaps more so) With less oversight this could certainly happen. The service agreement you sign certainly may be subject to change at any moment. The internet is starting to slide into the path of provider approved content. I think a free network is something worth protecting, perhaps even with our very lives. How much is freedom worth to you?

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377961)

BTW....is the internet a right or a privilege? Think about it...

Re:Hmmm (4, Insightful)

Nasajin (967925) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378059)

It depends on whether you believe the people should be granted positive or negative forms of liberty. Should citizens be allowed access to a social system that exists independently of the government or not? I believe they should, as the Internet acts as a complimentary system to already existing forms of human interaction.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

DigDuality (918867) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378117)

Hmmm... considering many of people's tax dollars in many nations went to it's invention (be it the US military, Russia's military, CERN, etc.. ) and considering the tremendous amounts in subsidy telecom companies recieve from many nations... it's the people's IMO.

Re:Hmmm (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378979)

So the people who created it have indefinite right to control it?

Should that apply to patents and copyright too? Or only when it suits you?

Re:Hmmm (0)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379001)

Lots of public money went into building the stuff that makes your computer run. Therefore I say that your computer is the people's. The people want you to give it to me.

It's a right. The chairman is a regulator. (4, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378125)

Because you own the spectrum and there's no longer a valid technical reason to grant it exclusively [reed.com] . Government granted monopolies on spectrum is a primary internet regulation someone that believes in free markets should oppose.

Laying cable and fiber in other people's back yards and public property is a privilege. Those granted that privilege must accept public regulation in return for the public servitude. Think about that for a while and you realize that the Internet is already highly regulated but the regulations do not always serve the public interest. Common carrier and net neutrality is the least the public can ask in return for exclusive use of public property. The public can and should also demand competition in wired service. Someone who believes in free markets would lower barriers to entry and use of wired networks.

Re:Hmmm (4, Insightful)

SlowMovingTarget (550823) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378203)

It is neither right, nor privilege. It is a network of computers.

I believe you were referring to access to the internet, which is also not a right, nor is it a privilege. Access to the internet is a service. The real issue is that there is too much interference on behalf of the service providers at the local level. The result is regional monopolies. We need less government interference and more competition, so that when Comcast pulls crap like like their traffic shaping customers can choose to take their dollars elsewhere.

Driving on public streets is a privilege. Freely voicing your opinion is a right. In the context of governmental authority, Internet access is neither of these, nor should it be.

Re:Hmmm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378605)

except when they all collude to do the same thing at the same time since it is in all of their benefit.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378849)

We need less government interference and more competition...

You can't just will competition into existence. If the "free market" doesn't provide more competition, then we need government interference instead.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378883)

That is ludicrous. Use of the internet is becoming a daily necessity and the lie about multiple wired services is bullshit. Yeah, you are going to have 10 different wires running down the street from 10 different companies providing competitive services, what a lie. Due to the cost of wiring and providing the infrastructure at most you will have three and most often two and sometimes one, that is the reality and perfect for cooperative cartels to exploit.

Which is why it needs to be regulated and controlled so that everyone can access it upon an equal basis, so that people are not discriminated against should they for example voice an opinion that is in opposition to communications provider which one corrupt provider already slipped into their contracts.

What the FCC commissioner is basically calling for is that they should be doing nothing, the perfect job, get paid to control nothing, regulate nothing basically just be a positive publicity spewing mouth piece for an industry they are meant to be overseeing.

Drop the idiotic lie that somehow the government is some alien authority, the government is meant to be an extension of the peoples will. A means by which the people ensure controls are in place so that do not have to fight for respect and the rights every minute of every day. Regulations are forced upon corporations in order to ensure a minimum level of acceptable behaviour is maintained, in order to prevent the corporation to use it fiscal power to destroy individuals with limited capital in court and in order to prevent corporations from arbitrarily denying people access to services.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378965)

So the fact that public funds and public lands have basically been given to create these networks doesn't make a difference? Let's remember here that even the cable companies in many areas are using public right-of-ways for their networks.

Re:Hmmm (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378997)

"It is neither right, nor privilege. It is a network of computers."

Actually the internet is more like a utility, and I think it would be wise if governments viewed it as such. The real problem is corruption, bad people who don't give a fuck about us and incompetnece.

The truth is the money men, and men of power fear the internet, because it allows for radical transformation of society especially more towards the left i.e. a kind of consumer socialism is possible with digital goods for instance, we call it piracy, but it cuts both ways, IP is abused willy nilly and public domain is always being extended.

IMHO, companies need to forced to release stuff into the public domain after a fixed amount of time, and it's non negotiable. Right now many companies are simply milking old properties who've longe since paid for themselves, adding no new value to society at all.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378599)

Is food a right? If so, how much food? What kind of food? Think about it...

Re:Hmmm (3, Funny)

deathguppie (768263) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378993)

Is food a right? If so, how much food? What kind of food? Think about it...

depends.. personally I think those frozen party pizza'a are a'right.. but then someone else might think some other king of food is a'right.. so I would have to say at least on my behalf most food is a'right.. but not all..

Re:Hmmm (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379123)

Neither is a job a right or privilege, but lets see how successful you are and how much you can eat without one?

Might as well cut off electricity and plumbing too? Communication is essential to our existence and internet is part of it.

If we had real competition we would not be in this situation. Two sources want to limit freedom on us and that is the magamonopolies and the government. The government needs to stay out and in many ways they created rules to allow this ologopoly to take place with their stupid rules, laws, and major corruption.

How many ISP's could we chose from back in the 1990's? I saw this happening and knew it was going to happen ... sigh.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24379209)

It's a right for business. It's a privilege for experiment and development.

Re:Hmmm (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377983)

Regulation in and of itself can also be a slipperly slow. That is why we need Net Neutrality laws. Yes, it's a form of regulation in a sense, but it's the best we can probably do.

Net Neutrality: anti-regulation regulation.. (4, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378029)

Regulation in and of itself can also be a slipperly slow. That is why we need Net Neutrality laws. Yes, it's a form of regulation in a sense, but it's the best we can probably do.

Net neutrality is to regulation what the GPL is to copyright. It is regulation designed to subvert "regulation" by making the imposition of restrictions on the internet illegal.

Anyone who does not understand this is ignorant, and anyone who opposes it is willfully corrupt.

Re:Net Neutrality: anti-regulation regulation.. (1)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378261)

Do not confuse regulation of "the internet" with regulation of "communications technology." No one in their right mind seriously supports regulating the internet (basically censorship). What the telcoms want is to make more money off of the technology they deployed. Do not confuse the two arguments, they are very different.

Just saying someone is "willfully corrupt" does not make it true. The telcoms have a legitimate right to do whatever they want with their backbones. They payed and continue to pay for them. What the telcoms do not own is the information on running on their backbones and the government needs to reconcile "free information" with non-free transmission. Simply telling the telcoms that they no longer control what happens on their backbones is not an option, and the sooner everyone gets on the same page with this whole issue the better off we will all be.

Re:Net Neutrality: anti-regulation regulation.. (5, Informative)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378419)

Just saying someone is "willfully corrupt" does not make it true. The telcoms have a legitimate right to do whatever they want with their backbones. They payed and continue to pay for them.

no they didnt. They were given heavy taxpayer grants which heavily subsidized their lines, and they also failed to deliver the capacity and market coverage they promised (e.g. rural areas are still dark).

Insisiting the telcos "paid" for those lines is like insisting the transcontinental railroad was privately funded, when in fact it would not exist if the government didnt give away wide tracts of land on either side of the tracks across the entire country.

Re:Net Neutrality: anti-regulation regulation.. (4, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378545)

The telcoms have a legitimate right to do whatever they want with their backbones. They payed and continue to pay for them.

Actually, the telecoms have been very, very heavily-funded by public funds and huge tax breaks to provide services.

Simply telling the telcoms that they no longer control what happens on their backbones is not an option, and the sooner everyone gets on the same page with this whole issue the better off we will all be.

Why? The telecoms have been heavily-regulated in just about every other area of their operations and services except this one, and for many of the same reasons. If they took the publics' money then they are obligated to put the interests of those taxpayers (their customers) at the top of their objectives. That they have failed is the reason to apply laws/regulations designed to make sure the customers' interests are not lost in marketing and monetization plans.

Cheers!

Strat

Re:Net Neutrality: anti-regulation regulation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378417)

It is regulation designed to subvert "regulation"

So if the problem is too much regulation, we just need more regulation--but this time, the *right* regulation, of course.

Re:Net Neutrality: anti-regulation regulation.. (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378579)

I oppose Net Neutrality on the prohibition of ISPs to sell different services for different QoS like high-bandwidth high-latency vs. low-bandwidth low-latency. And I'm not willfully corrupt either.

It's just the kind of 'removing want through legislation' bullshit that doesn't work in the real world. Some people just don't need low latency, why should they pay for it? Same for the other side.

The way to keep a a market free is by not regulating it and further removing restrictions on it as much as possible. _Not_ passing anti-regulation regulations. The whole Net Neutrality thing has degenerated into a nice buzzword for politicians to use and the means whereby they will effectively control the Internet through a law idealized to keep it free of regulations.

The consumer interests would be much better served by keeping the market - ISPs in this case - free to operate.

Re:Net Neutrality: anti-regulation regulation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24379057)

I oppose Net Neutrality on the prohibition of ISPs to sell different services for different QoS like high-bandwidth high-latency vs. low-bandwidth low-latency.

Then you don't know what net neutrality is, or you're deliberately muddying the waters. Net neutrality means Joe Public's ISP cannot go to Google and demand a fee in exchange for not degrading Google's link with Joe Public. What they do with Joe's connection on the whole (i.e. not to a specific other host) is between the ISP and Joe, but they cannot tell Google to give them extra money.

The way to keep a a market free is by not regulating it and further removing restrictions on it as much as possible. _Not_ passing anti-regulation regulations.

Sure, why not get rid of anti-trust regulations while we're at it? Then we can remove regulations dealing with false advertising, and hey, why not go all the way and remove requirements of merchantability and fitness for purpose?

Re:Net Neutrality: anti-regulation regulation.. (2, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379053)

Net neutrality is to regulation what the GPL is to copyright. It is regulation designed to subvert "regulation" by making the imposition of restrictions on the internet illegal.

Regulation is not the same as restriction. Regulation is something imposed by the government. Net neutrality is a regulation which forces ISPs to remove certain restrictions. There's no subversion taking place here, just government asserting its authority over private companies.

Anyone who does not understand this is ignorant, and anyone who opposes it is willfully corrupt.

And this is the kind of idiotic bullshit which has made modern American political discourse the equivalent of a third-grade sand-kicking match. "You're either with us or you're against us" didn't sound reasonable when W said it and it doesn't sound reasonable coming from you. On almost any issue you care to name, it is possible to disagree with you without being ignorant or corrupt. If you do not understand that intelligent people can legitimately disagree with you then you are either an asshole or a moron, or quite probably both.

Re:Hmmm (4, Interesting)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378287)

Exactly. Internet service is provided to most people in a similar fashion to phone service.
The only regulation that we need for BOTH "internet" and "phone" should be total separation of content from service.
Cell phone companies can sell bandwidth and for chrissake quite counting each individual text message.
Untie the ringtones and make them like any other sound that you can download.
Internet providers should be held to the same "regulation".

If you provide bandwidth in any way at all it should be neutral to all content, uncensored, unfiltered, etc.

The law could be a very simple one: If you provide any sort of bandwidth for sale you are prohibited from messing with any content whatsoever.
You are also prohibited from partnering with any business that does "mess with" content. End of law.

I don't even think Comcast or whoever should be allowed to have a "Start Page" on the internet. It's anti-competitive bundling. It's bad. Everyone knows it.

I'm sure of the above, but truth be told I don't think (not sure) bandwidth service should even be a part of the free market. It's a utility. Just like electricity and heat.
We all know how well anti-trust efforts and deregulating the phone companies worked out: http://youtube.com/watch?v=I6nuwQmhrZ8 [youtube.com]

If it's going to be just 1 or 2 giant companies screwing us over, removing our ability to vote with our dollar, then I'd rather it just be government run, so we can vote with ballots.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378433)

"perhaps even with our very lives"

Let me get this straight. Diebold fixes the election, and all you Americans do is point at them and whine a bit, then Comcast takes away your pron and all of a sudden you're willing to fight to the death?

Boy, do you have one messed up set of priorities :P

Re:Hmmm (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378677)

I disagree. After all, was it not the great patriot Patrick Henry who said: "Give me boobies, or give me death!"

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378791)

Let me get this straight. Diebold fixes the election, and all you Americans do is point at them and whine a bit, then Comcast takes away your pron and all of a sudden you're willing to fight to the death?

Without the internet how many people would even know about Diebold?

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378863)

I get my pron from Comcast, you insensitive clod!

Re:Hmmm (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378835)

Simply using torrents doesn't imply one uses the line all the time, torrents can be used for single downloads to lessen the load on company servers.

People downloading ISOs of various things don't use 50gb in a week, esp not stuff like Ubuntu. Same goes for high def podcasts.

Re:Hmmm (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379139)

Playing the devil's advocate, what if you could filter out all of the illegal traffic from a particular network? Assuming that the 70% P2P traffic is accurate, and assume that a perfect illegal material filter existed... how many people would pay 20 dollars for 10mbps FiOS, but without the illegal traffic? If you don't fileshare, would you rather be on a network that was twice as fast?

There are certainly enough legal uses for bittorrent to warrant usage (basically all broadcast file transfers should use the protocol). However, being a file transfer protocol, bittorrent (and FTP) perhaps should have a lower traffic priority than realtime applications like network gaming, movie streaming, hypertext, IM, and the like. If an ubuntu transfer takes 1:35 instead of 1:25, it will hardly be noticed compared to if every 5th packet of Team Fortress 2 hits a 400 ms ping.

I'm not saying this is necessarily the correct view. I'm just saying it is a defensible one.

P.S. "Slippery Slope" arguments are themselves a slippery slope. We should simply ban all discussions, lest an ungood idea take hold.

Re:Hmmm (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378057)

His stance is probably just that the government shouldn't be regulating it. It's on the customers to prevent the ISPs from telling you what you can and can't download. The vote seems completely consistent with that. Regulating the internet as the government (in this case slapping down comcast) and then saying the government shouldn't have a part in it would sort of be contradictory.

Of course, a middle road approach of "the government should prevent limitations on the internet by buisness and should not limit the internet itself for consumers" is probably the best approach.

Re:Hmmm (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378123)

And, of course, thanks to telecom immunity, that means that the government is free to tell the ISPs when to throttle. It's regulation without regulation laws!

Re:Hmmm (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378141)

That's quite a conceptual stretch. The immunity has already been granted; the Telco's have no reason to kowtow to their employees(Congress) until the next round.

Re:Hmmm (1)

ween14 (827520) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378725)

They have not had an official vote on the matter yet. From the Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] article:

The Wall Street Journal reports tonight that commissioners Copps, Adelstein, and Martin have decided against the cable giant, paving the way for an official vote when the order is publicly voted on next Friday.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Pher9999 (916080) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378825)

Having worked up through the ISP industry to the Telcom world. Yes, Comcast should be allowed to throttle their network to keep it going. Just as any other company has the "right" to. However if Comcast, they provide me Access, Was to limit my connection to where I can go or see. I would drop them immediately and pick up DSL, If ATT does the same then I go back to dialup. When more and more people leave to go elsewhere the model changes. This is what did AOL in back in the day. People got wise to AOL network and the rest of the world. The Network has a way to work itself out. If comcast limits their backbone service then you will see peerings show up with other companies and Comcast start to loose that way.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378973)

Duh! Of course that's what he means! What part of "not regulating" do you not understand? If they weren't free to do what they please, then they would be regulated. Apply a little thought, here!

Unfortunately (5, Insightful)

Stickerboy (61554) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377893)

If the government doesn't step in, it won't be engineers regulating the internet either. It will be Sales and Marketing managers (or maybe someone higher up the food chain) trying to squeeze every last drop of profit from their paying customers.

Realistically... (2, Insightful)

pagewalker (1286802) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377921)

Realistically, we want some middle ground between regulation and lack of regulation. Obviously we don't want the government to do something overly obstructive and bureaucratic, or something that makes it difficult to have a web presence, but we also don't want to have so much power in the hands of a few telecoms and providers that essentially they can do whatever they want, including stifling competition, charging twice for bandwidth, or taking billions of dollars in government subsidies to lay unneeded cable.

(To pick a few examples.)

Similarly, we want enough anonymity that people can report corruption anonymously, but not so much anonymity that it's impossible to track down people who abuse kids and post videotapes of that on the web. Web regulation is a complicated issue.

Re:Realistically... (1)

lazycam (1007621) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378607)

The place for regulation in this society is to ensure coordination and fair usage. As far as I am concerned any argument used as a basis for regulating the primary mechanism people use to share information is tantamount to censorship. The internet is a continuously evolving medium and any regulation not aimed at expanding its reach is diservice. The place for regulation in this society is to ensure coordination and fair usage.

It's government or corporate, choose your devil. (3, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377959)

One or the other will be regulating the internet. There is no perfect solution, but at least with government there is a chance of some accountability. If it's left to comcast, ATT, etc al, there is zero chance.

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378051)

yes there is a perfect solution: net neutrality laws.

Net neutrality is a government imposed regulation making it illegal for anyone (the state, the MAFIAA, or the telcos) to regulate the internet.

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378167)

Net neutrality is a government imposed regulation making it illegal for anyone (the state, the MAFIAA, or the telcos) to regulate the internet.

Net Neutrality is the Constitution of the Web.

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (1)

Brett Glass (98525) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378379)

Actually, "network neutrality" -- as defined by the inside-the-Beltway lobbyists, such as Free Press (AKA "Save the Internet") -- involves massive regulation of the Internet. It would regulate and constrain ISPs' acceptable use policies and pricing schemes. In some cases, it even amounts to a requirement that ISPs meter service by the bit! The fact is that any definition of "network neutrality" that goes beyond prohibitions on anticompetitive behavior is not neutral at all.

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378443)

I don't see anywhere in any net neutrality draft that requires they charge by the bit.

This is not a requirement.. metering is the isp's being greedy, and they don't need net neutrality laws as an "excuse" either. They're already trying to impose it with "pilot communities".

Metering by the bit (1)

Brett Glass (98525) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378589)

The requirements advocated by the meddling lobbyists and lawyers at "Free" Press amount to a requirement that ISPs meter by the bit... and they admit that.

The reason is simple. Bandwidth costs money. If you don't constrain the amount of bandwidth people use implicitly (by prohibiting bandwidth hogging behavior such as P2P) or explicitly (by throttling), the only way to ensure that a user does not cost the ISP more than he pays per month is to charge by the bit. They try to soft pedal this and instead make bogus claims that Comcast is limiting "free speech," because if consumers realize that Free Press is trying to raise their bills and put them on a meter, they'll rebel. But it's the truth.

See the section on this, near the end of my testimony before the FCC, at http://www.brettglass.com/FCC/remarks.html [brettglass.com] .

Re:Metering by the bit (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378897)

The reason is bullshit you mean.

If their network can't handle the speeds, they need to light up or lay more fiber to actually handle that capacity.

Of course, recentstudies [slashdot.org] have shown claims the internet is "running out of bandwidth" are utter bullcrap.

This mentality of yours reflects a complete misunderstanding of flat rate all-you-can-eat services.

Some use high bandwidth, and they are counterbalanced by the light users, and because the light users are "light users", they don't experience an appreciable degradation of service.

If your outlook were actually true, then all the buffets in my area of town in one of the fattest states in the union would be bankrupt because they don't charge a-la carte.

Re:Metering by the bit (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378939)

Well, I found this bit:

Some parties claim that we should meter all connections by the bit.

What I can't find is the bit where you cite that. At all. So who's saying this?

But while we're on the subject:

Firstly, users tell us overwhelmingly that they want charges to be predictable.

Yeah, and I'd like my gas, water, and electric to be predictable, too.

But you know what? They are. If I leave the water running, or the lights on, they'll be high. Otherwise, they'll be low. And it's entirely my responsibility (and under my control) whether this happens.

Secondly, users aren't always in control of the number of bits they download.

Bullshit.

Users may not always have the skills to control it. But this is exactly the same as any other utility -- should I be penalized because I use, say, incandescent light bulbs instead of compact fluorescent, thus drawing more power? I may not have the skills to change a light bulb, or to tell one light bulb from another, after all.

And, in fact, unlike the power in my house, we have much more sophisticated instrumentation for analyzing and interfering with IP traffic.

From one central place in my house, I can, maybe, check how much power the house as a whole is using. If I turned on and off individual devices, I could find out how much they're using. I could probably buy some sort of device to attach to individual outlets, to find how much is being drawn from them.

But from one central place in my house, I can measure precisely how much bandwidth is being used, and what it's being used for. I could even set my own limits and throttles. I could completely block that nightly virus update, if I was skeptical about how much it uses.

And finally, a requirement to charge by the bit could spark a price war.

GOOD! This is what we call "competition".

All Internet providers will compete on the basis of one number, even though there's much more to Internet service than that.

Like what, exactly?

You could cite reliability, or responsiveness, but these can be reduced to numbers, too -- uptime and latency, respectively.

For once, my signature is relevant -- it doesn't matter to me much one way or the other. But why, exactly, is price per bit a bad thing?

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (2, Interesting)

norminator (784674) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378147)

Some people (read:ISPs) say that laws protecting Net Neutrality are regulation which will stifle innovation and mess up everything, but laws which exist to safeguard freedom still need to exist...

Like the Bill of rights... Maybe Net Neutrality shouldn't be a regular law, maybe it should be an ammendment.

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378175)

One or the other will be regulating the internet.

There's another option other than government and companies: the free market.

If you don't like your ISP's handling of the internet, pick another ISP. Vote with your wallet. It's not hard.

And there's plenty of competition if you actually go looking for it. Sure, you might get only one cable provider and only one phone provider, but there are far more ways to get online than just two. Look it up.

Allowing the government to regulate the internet is what got us into this mess in the first place. The reason you only get to choose one cable company or one phone company is due to government regulation. Get rid of that, allow the free market, and all this "net neutrality" crap goes away.

Mod parent DOWN!!! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378321)

There's another option other than government and companies: the free market.

STFU and go get an education. Goddammit, I am so sick of you "free market" wackos. For the LAST FUCKING TIME: A truly free market requires regulation, otherwise it's only free for rich entities. It takes a real moron to not see that. And we have far too many of you real morons in the US already.

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378411)

One or the other will be regulating the internet.

There's another option other than government and companies: the free market.

The free market requires regulation. Think of what would happen in a market with absolutely no regulation.

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378267)

You seem to be forgetting the concept of open source governance [wikipedia.org] .

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378393)

You seem to be forgetting the concept of open source governance.

No, I haven't forgotten. That's very nice and all, but no teeth == no power == meaningless. Don't get me wrong, I am watching hopefully. But it is no solution to actual problems of today. What are they going to do, send an RMS clone out to slap comcast around? On second thought, while perhaps less than effective, it sure would be fun. If y'all do that, can I go along? :)

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (1)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378685)

There is no perfect solution, but at least with government there is a chance of some accountability.

Think long and hard whether these are the folks you want governing the Internet.

Iraq.

Warrantless wiretapping.

Torture.

Habeus corpus.

Vote fraud.

DoD contracts.

What accountability?

Re:It's government or corporate, choose your devil (2, Funny)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379205)

Think long and hard whether these are the folks you want governing the Internet.

After that, think long and hard about the alternative.

Cinas "Golden shield" now copied in USA and Sweden (5, Insightful)

viking80 (697716) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377969)

It looks like USA and Sweden is copying Chinas "Golden shield" to protect its citizens. Sweden with the new FRA law, and US censoring Usenet.

I really hope we can stop this before the politicians try to "protect" me too.

Most muslim states are of course already "protecting" its citizens heavily.

Re:Cinas "Golden shield" now copied in USA and Swe (3, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378413)

The USA isn't censoring Usenet... it's encuraging ISPs to drop an area that has become too much of trading point for illegal files. The ISPs are complying willingly because it's not been profitable for them to run, and most users won't miss it.

Still, services like Google Groups and EasyNews are still up and running. There's no threat to those as of yet.

Re:Cinas "Golden shield" now copied in USA and Swe (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378461)

The very notion of "illegal files" is the essence of censorship.

Copyright may be called by propaganda terms like "intellectual property", but it is censorship (which can be performed by anyone, not just government, BTW) at its core.

Mod parent up, it needs to be "not zero" (4, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378705)

The very notion of "illegal files" is the essence of censorship.

Copyright may be called by propaganda terms like "intellectual property", but it is censorship (which can be performed by anyone, not just government, BTW) at its core.

I couldn't have said this better myself.

The notion of owning and controlling the distribution of information is antithetical to a free society. The fact that the "progress of science and the useful arts" clause is so brief comes from heated contention of the merits of allowing copyright to exist in the first place. Our founding fathers were pretty fresh and raw from the old copyright cartels founded and abused by the crown.

I'm sure if you brought them all forward in time to today, and gave them the last year or two of the YRO section to read, a few would turn around to the others and scream "I TOLD YOU SO!"

Re:Cinas "Golden shield" now copied in USA and Swe (0, Offtopic)

viking80 (697716) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378573)

What do yo mean by "illegal"?
I believe "illegal" is a term used in criminal law, and referring to things like illegal drugs.

Or are you referring to work under copyright or products that are not "Genuine" as in Microsoft "Genuine" products?

What type of problem? (4, Insightful)

norminator (784674) | more than 5 years ago | (#24377981)

engineers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should solve engineering problems.

If the problem was only an engineering problem, I might agree... but since this has vast political, economical, and social consequences, and could undermine the entire Internet as we know it, I think governments should step in and pass a law that simply states "don't discriminate against traffic based on the source/destination."

I know government regulation can make things messy, but I don't know why it has to be any more complicated than that.

Re:What type of problem? (5, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378543)

This is not an engineering problem. TCP/IP is pretty robust.

In fact, there is no inherent problem.

But carriers see an opportunity to squeeze more profit out, so they're trying to, and in the process they create a problem for users and content providers.

And governments see stuff they (or those they'd pander to) don't like, so they want to control it, and thus create a problem for users.

This can be solved by limiting carrier meddling to contractual SLA issues, and preventing government from censoring users.

The internet isn't broken; it's carriers and government that need fixing.

Or have the internet BE the government (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24377985)

Little national governments trying to regulate a huge global internet seems a bit silly doesn't it?

Shouldn't we instead be looking at having one internet government? Oh, right, we already are [metagovernment.org] .

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378679)

Why offtopic? The idea of "small nation, big internet" is a valid point.

The Internet shouldn't be regulated... (4, Insightful)

xxdinkxx (560434) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378009)

But if ISPs are found messing with the neutrality of the connections, then they should be held liable for all content that comes across their lines. It would establish one of two senarios. A) they leave the traffic flow alone and thus avoid a ton in liability. B) they go into complete china lockdown mode and allow nothing even slightly questionable through. If B occurs, then there will eventually be enough resentment to eventually re focus on why telecom is a big monopoly. Right now average joe doesn't care. As long as average joe can watch Utube and porn, the status quo remains. This whole net neutrality issue wouldn't even exist if the free market wasn't botched/hijacked in this country.

Geeez (1)

jflo (1151079) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378037)

This is almost like the time the High Council at the Klingon Empire forced Worf into secrecy about his fathers trechery, but at the end of the day, the information was still made available. It is not logical to assume that even with such firewalls in place to sensor content that the unsensored content will become unavilable. This debate is similar to the fight about what children watch when in front of the television, and honestly, a more in home solution is ultimately the winning choice....

Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378099)

But let's start with government de-regulation of the last mile pipes that lead to the internet first.

What's that? You've changed your mind?

Who's doing what? (5, Informative)

loraksus (171574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378227)

With state governments pressuring ISPs to pull the plug on Usenet

Wrong. Lets get this clear - The recent push to shut down usenet access is being led almost solely by Andrew Cuomo - the Attorney General from NY - some guy who you probably never voted for. In fact, you've probably never even seen his name on a ballot.

Isn't it cool how some douchebag elected in a different state gets to dictate national policy?
Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Re:Who's doing what? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378387)

Isn't it cool how some douchebag elected in a different state gets to dictate national policy?
Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Actually, it makes me want to throw up. But hey, that's just me.

Self-regulation (1)

intx13 (808988) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378333)

Most self-regulating industries operate by requiring (by government and competitor pressure against non-conforming companies) a company to join the independent (but private) regulating agency. The agency can then regulate the members; members in violation are fined, threatened with expulsion (putting them out of government shield that is the regulation agency and all alone in front of Uncle Sam), etc.

Self-regulation does not mean "the corporation will do the right thing out of the goodness of its heart" - that's no regulation! Self-regulation might (I'd be skeptical, given the tiny number of major ISPs out there and the close cooperation between companies in the upper-tier ISP industry) be an option here... but what McDowell is suggesting is not self-regulation.

Of course what McDowell is literally saying is that engineers should be the policy-makers for ISPs... I would fully support legislation to that effect!

The liberals and right wing extremists (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378335)

Will turn the internet into one firewalled zone and turn it into censored version of TV(brainwashing).

Re:The liberals and right wing extremists (2, Interesting)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378659)

The problems with regulation of the internet are not really liberal or conservative issues. It just does not break down along those lines. It is not exactly liberal or conservative policy to deliberately screw over their constituent. (Really, it isn't.)

Liberals are generally for freedom of expression (and hence will want little regulation with the internet) and Conservatives are for freedom of market (and hence will want little regulation with the internet). No reasonably popular political view when taken as a whole would back heavy internet regulation. (No, fascism isn't reasonably popular).

The problems arise from politicians (hiss, boo) who have something to gain from pushing for such regulation and either don't understand the repercussions or don't care. It really does not matter what label they've slapped on themselves. It does not matter what party you're from, Saving The Children is usually viewed as a Good Thing, and directly opposing it is political suicide.


I know, I know, don't feed the trolls. Sorry.

Re:The liberals and right wing extremists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24379299)

Conservatives are for freedom of market (and hence will want little regulation with the internet)
They're fine with regulation of the internet as long as it's done by corporations rather than government.

This is... (1)

Stevenovitch (1292358) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378345)

Just another clever attempt to get people who are normally for "regulating the internet"(Net Neutrality people) to contradict themselves. You can be against the Usenet bans without making this joker credible.

How remarkably disingenuous (5, Insightful)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378397)

Here is the trade association (read: telecom lobbyist group) that he served as assistant General Counsel and Vice President: http://www.comptel.org/ [comptel.org] .

From his bio [comptelascent.org] :

McDowell is extensively involved in civic and political affairs. He has served on numerous boards and commissions. He was appointed by Virginia Governor George Allen to the Governor's Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug-Free Virginia, and to the Virginia Board for Contractors, to which he was reappointed by Governor Jim Gilmore. Also he is a veteran of several presidential campaigns, serving as counsel to the Bush-Cheney Florida Recount Team in 2000 and leading advance teams for President and Mrs. Bush in 2004, among many other endeavors.

Libertarians, I know he's speaking your language with this regulation==evil talk, but he does not have your interests at heart.

I totally fail to see how allowing ISPs to inspect and mangle data passing through their system is "pro-competition" or even "anti-regulation". These people want to destroy the internet as we know it.

McDowell gets it! (1)

Brett Glass (98525) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378477)

The only factual error in his article was a minor, technical one regarding the response to the "Internet meltdown" back in the 80's. (Van Jacobsen's kludge did not prioritize traffic.) But he understands that Comcast wasn't censoring, or trying to (contrary to the lobbyists' bogus claims). He understands that network management is necessary to keep the bandwidth hogs from taking over. He recognizes how bad things can get once the nose of the camel of regulation is allowed into the Internet tent. And while he's a Republican, he shows that he's above the nasty partisanship that has infected Washington, DC by quoting Bill Clinton. Finally, he calls for cooperation rather than constant feuding and head-butting such as have been going on during the whole proceeding. This shows a level of perspective and maturity that we haven't seen from the other Commissioners. Good for him!

Re:McDowell gets it! (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378811)

Interesting as that all is, he still falls for the typical reaganomic pitfall of "the free market" correcting abuses when internet service provision is not a free market.

Sure, the idea of discouraging the government from "regulating" the internet is appealing when viewed through the lens of copyright issues (especially given UK events), BUT.. with telcos carrying this much market power, they might very well do it themselves (see the elimination of the alt.* heirarchy and the forging of bit torrent RST packets).

Unfortunately for me, the end result of unregulated oligopolies colluding with the MAFIAA (with government or attorney general pressure) is about the same as congress directly stepping in.

Net neutrality is designed to thread that needle. If you want to use the "camel" analogy.. it uses a camel to carry an 'anti-camel' fence up to the tent for installation.

Re:McDowell gets it! (1)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379109)

I have some questions for you.

Do you stand by the following statements in your 2008-09-20 letter to the FCC [brettglass.com] ?

  • ISPs should block SSH

    [...] when I attempted to retrieve my e-mail, I discovered that the virtual private networking protocol I was attempting to use to secure the transaction - the SSH or "secure shell" protocol had been blocked. The FCC's network adminstrators - following best industry practices [emphasis added] - had decided to open only certain specific TCP ports to users of the service which they provided to the public within the building.

  • ISPs should inspect traffic and block applications

    An application (a technical term for any computer program which is not an operating system) encodes and embodies behavior - any behavior at all that the author wants. And anyone can write one. So, insisting that an ISP allow a user to run any application means that anyone can program his or her computer to behave any way at all - no matter how destructively - on the Internet, and the ISP is not allowed to intervene. In short, such a requirement means that no network provider can have an enforceable Acceptable Use Policy or Terms of Service.
    This is a recipe for disaster [emphasis added].

This is the wrong commission anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378541)

This should be before the Federal Trade Commission. These companies are simply taking money for services they do not deliver.

If I pay for X MBs of bandwidth, that's what I expect to be able to use. If Comcast throttles that bandwidth, regardless of what I'm doing with it, they are not delivering what they said they would when they took my money.

Engineers? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378585)

FTA: "Each time, engineers, academics, software developers, Web infrastructure builders and others have worked together to fix the problems"

Simply but, this is no longer the case as there is profit to be had. There is some benefit in creating artificial scarcity. They have absolutely no reason to allow the most bandwidth possible, because as simple economics would tell you, if supply goes to infinity than the price goes to zero. In most cases I would even argue that they want to not meet demand fully.

Just like the California "Energy Crisis". If you consider the scenario that if you provide enough power for everyone they will pay $1/kW, but if I only provide 90% they will suddenly pay $10/kW. I just found a way to increase my profits by 10x and actually reducing my costs.

He's almost right (4, Insightful)

Percy_Blakeney (542178) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378595)

I agree with McDowell with one giant exception: the laissez-faire approach will only work if there is competition in the last mile. Given that most people only have 1 or 2 choices (huge telecom and/or huge cable company), I really don't think the conditions warrant a completely hands-off approach by the FCC. Once I have several high-speed ISP options, then I'll agree with him.

Also, does anyone know what exactly Mr. McDowell is referring to when he talks about the Internet bandwidth crisis and solution of 1987?

No Regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24378809)

I suppose next we should not regulation presidential elections. Another brilliant idea from a mind of a Republican.

Let us impeach Bush already. My ISP's Korean engineer is more American than Bush.

It's not 1987 (2, Insightful)

ultraslacker (597588) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378823)

Millions endeavor each day to keep it open and free. Since its early days as a government creation, it has migrated away from government regulation.

If ISPs aren't required to keep the internet open and free, then they can work in collaboration to charge for access, slow down or block access, and in short destroy the Internet as we know it. It's great if your idea of the Internet is a medium dominated by corporate interests. If so, than you can lap up this latest from lobbyist cum chairman McDowell, and sit back eagerly as he and others work to turn the Internet into a version of television. Corporations want profits and control of content, officials want funds and control of content, everybody wins (or at least those who matter).

We are a decade or so past where we can just say, let the engineers decide, and trust that some PHB isn't going to step in and make a bad policy. The importance of the Internet as alternative mass media is too vital to not protect through a little bit of regulation. McDowell tries to make his regulation = death to innovation FUD pitch, but net neutrality would spur innovation.

You can prioritize traffic in a neutral fashion, that's all many of us are asking, and that's all the regulating that is required.

The internet must be regulated (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378959)

The internet must be regulated. Either by the government or competition. Right now it has neither in some places.

If we decide it should not be government regulation, then no broadband monopoly can be permitted in any location so that competition can regulate it.

And by "the internet", I mean "the internet in the US" because, I'm pretty sure that's all we're talking about here, and that's all the jurisdiction the FCC has.

Re:The internet must be regulated (2, Insightful)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379179)

I wouldn't want my highways owned and administered by companies having an interest in transportation. Imagine private traffic cops stopping all competing vehicles for various random safety inspections and allowing the companies own vehicles to travel beyond the speed limit. Doesn't make sense for roads. Doesn't make sense for the Internet. In my opinion, content providers should not administer the Internet nor be allowed to interfere with its traffic.

Big problem in non regulation (1)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 5 years ago | (#24378969)

Since the US seems to be in a constant grip of government granted monopolies when it comes to broadband access (you can aparently choose between one cable company or one phone company), there is already regulations - monopoly.

You can't have an unregulated monopoly (maybe duopoly) situation and expect free market competition to solve all problems, since you can't just vote with your wallet.

To me it's rather obvious what must be done to avoid regulations: Remove the forced monopoly. If you can't do that, then regulate the damn thing so your citizens (not consumers) get an actual reasonable product.

Not all regulation is the same (2, Interesting)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379005)

I used to think that any kind of government regulation of the Internet would be a bad thing, according to the "slippery slope" principle. Now, after reading about the concept of "net neutrality", I've decided that some regulation is probably a good thing, and that there's a difference between regulating speech and regulating utility.

I want the FCC to keep out of other people's business with regard to content, but I also want them to ensure the internet remains "neutral" with regard to protocols and routes.

Verdict? (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379143)

" Robert McDowell makes a case against government regulation of the Internet, opining that 'engineers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should solve engineering problems."

"McDowell is one of the two FCC commissioners who did not vote with the majority to punish Comcast for their BitTorrent throttling. "

So do we love him for his "hands off" governing philosophy, or do we hate him for his "hands off" governing philosophy?

That's nice (3, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 5 years ago | (#24379199)

'engineers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should solve engineering problems.'

.

That's a nice sound bite (typical of bureaucrats nowadays), but an engineering problem (bandwidth utilization of P2P networks) has been turned into a business opportunity -- restrictively low caps with excessive overage charges --- by the ISPs.

So, in effect, the lack of regulation due to "engineering problems needed to be solved by Engineers" has evolved into "engineering problems being solved by accountants".

I'd rather have regulation.

what is internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24379201)

if u think internet has ur own jurisdicktion......
then go make laws......but make sure u have the nuclear weapon to destroy the whole world before ur sexy pics get blown.....

if u mean free as in freedom , not free of charge...
then u should embrace it.....

don't try to think of 'control' or 'possession'...politicians....u never know what 'counter attack' can be done when u go online

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...