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ACLU Says Net Neutrality Necessary For Free Speech

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the thanks-for-listening dept.

Businesses 283

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

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283 comments

Nonsense (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960046)

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

Wow, I think I just sprained my sarcasm tendon.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960156)

Wow, I think I just sprained my sarcasm tendon.

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

Re:Nonsense (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960216)

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

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

Re:Nonsense (2, Insightful)

tixxit (1107127) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960364)

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

Re:Nonsense (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960428)

Yeah. They got an injunction against their plans, and then went ahead and built out their own infrastructure while the community couldn't do a thing to advance the project.

Re:Nonsense (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960384)

All connections should permit all legal connections...

Net neutrality means not having a say in what's "legal". Net neutrality means dumb pipe. That's what our connections are supposed to be. And DNS has to go away. The only restriction needed is a voltage and current limit applied to the line.

Re:Nonsense (3, Informative)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960992)

And DNS has to go away.

That's an interesting take on Net Neutrality I've never seen before. Are you planning to replace it with something? Or just make everyone remember every IP address they want to visit? That should be especially entertaining when IPV6 eventually gets implemented. I can just see the billboards now "Eat at Joes! And visit our website at: 2001:db8:1f70::999:de8:7648:6e80/index.html!" (IP address stolen from example in Wikipedia entry on IPv6. I have no idea where, if anywhere it goes)

Re:Nonsense (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961124)

I think the idea is that a centralized DNS has to go away. But frankly, I think that's stupid. There's NOTHING preventing anyone from simply not using the world's DNS, and attempting to manage on their own. The current means of splitting it up where each nation decides how to handle the problem is the best. If you don't like the results you get, stop using it.

Re:Nonsense (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960458)

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

Precisely.

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

Re:Nonsense (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960842)

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

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

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

No add random regular disconnects and slow downs to drive away users with frustration and even those some tactics for individuals to effectively silence them. Years ago this was too hard to do manually on a large scale but with computers you can silence a population of hundreds of millions automatically, say or write the wrong word and your connection mysteriously temporarily dies, whether it be a local, national or international connection.

So rules are created, laws are legislated to ensure equal access on critical infrastructure, to imprison tyrants not glorify them. So landlord can't extort unreasonable and humiliating demands upon the basis of being the owner and a tyrant and being immediately able to evict you from his property, so the power company can't disconnect you from the grid in the middle of winter because they didn't like your public complaint, so water company can't cut of your mains because they thought it would be fun to do so.

So basically bugger the tyrants, we together make the rules if you don't want to operate within the rules we define for net neutrality then you are not fit for the business, so basically you and your money can get lost and find another type of business to be a little hitler in.

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960888)

'Forums' is here used to mean places where people gather for discussion in general, of which the internet is an important one. Refer to a dictionary for further details.

Re:Nonsense (2, Interesting)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960922)

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

The point isn't that Slashot is a freespeach forum for users, it's that the net is a freespeach forum for sites like Slashdot.

Re:Nonsense (3, Insightful)

internewt (640704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960990)

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

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

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

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

Re:Nonsense (2, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960526)

All connections should permit all legal connections...

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

Re:Nonsense (2, Funny)

Too Late for Cool ID (1794870) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960250)

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

Re:Nonsense (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960392)

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

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

Re:Nonsense (2, Insightful)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960564)

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

I'm sorry MPAA, but my ISP is not a common carrier, so I assumed all data I was able to receive was legal and authorized. You need to sue them *too*. Speaking of which I just got a trojan from a browser exploit on a site they authorized. I need to take them to small claims court to make them fix my computer, since their specifically authorized content damaged it. =)

Re:Nonsense (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960408)

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

Oop, just sprained the other one too.

Re:Nonsense (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960778)

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

Re:Nonsense (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960534)

>>>there's never been a case of a government using its regulatory power to curtail free speech :-\

That isn't even close to accurate. The US and State governments have curtailed free speech (and the right to peaceably assemble) many, many times during the past two decades. I would give you a list, but I'd need a thousand pages to list all of the examples. You're better off to start with "free speech zones" (funny - the Constitution doesn't include any such limit) and expand your research outward from there.

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960870)

See, there's this thing called sarcasm...

Re:Nonsense (1, Flamebait)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960584)

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

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

I wonder why the ACLU didn't fight those free-speech abrogations? Don't answer, that was a rhetorical question. The ACLU is only pro-free-speech when it's "their kind of speech", just like everybody else on both sides that claims to support the first amendment.

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

Re:Nonsense (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960800)

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

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

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

Re:Nonsense (2, Informative)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960538)

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

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960680)

We would have more choices if the government wasn't creating monopolies through regulation. Of course, to fix the government-made problems the obvious solution is... more government.

Re:Nonsense (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961090)

No, the monopolies in this case come from the physical reality that lines have to be run into your home for broadband. The only way to encourage enough alternatives to get away from the need for government-enforced net neutrality would be to let any Tom, Dick, or Harry bury lines or string lines on any pole of their choosing. And even that wouldn't work very well for most neighborhoods (since only a few providers would be able to afford to run lines, even with the right-of-way). Either your choices would still be severely limited or your neighborhood lines would end up looking like a Baghdad power pole [nytimes.com].

Hmm... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960198)

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

Re:Hmm... (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960332)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Hmm... (2, Insightful)

JeffSpudrinski (1310127) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960386)

There's two schools of thought here.

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

2) Net neutrality is only good if you're the one doing the file sharing or watching the streaming movie. The older folks simply trying to upload pictures of their grandkids or browse to HGTV's site, but it runs slow because the 14-year-old kid next door is sharing his entire 16 GB colletion of MP3's to the world on the same subnet. Is it fair to the ones who aren't sharing (and they don't have any real alternatives to go to)?

That being said, I'm a huge fan of Netflix and I don't want my streaming movies throttled down. I lean more toward neutrality, but would hope that the worst abusers of bandwidth could still be corrected when needed.

Just my $0.02.

-JJS

Re:Hmm... (2, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960634)

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

Re:Hmm... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961104)

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

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

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

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

Re:Hmm... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960390)

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

There's way too much gray area and too many opportunities for abuse if you say slowing something down is okay but stopping it isn't. The only practical way to assure free speech on the Internet in an enforceable way is total net neutrality.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960446)

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

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

Because merely slowing traffic is the last step (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961050)

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

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

Yeah, because printing presses ain't restricted in anyway but it is SO easy to start up a new newspaper. Or a television channel.

We already lost the radio and the newspapers and the tv to mightly commercial intrests. But sure, this won't happen to the internet. Because the powers that be will just sit back this time and let the public run free.

Supression of free speech can be done with a bullet through the neck. That is easy but costly. Far easier to have people restrict themselves.

Compare the US and France. Could the US mount such a massive protest against the government? Hell no. Everyone is to worried about missing a day at work because nobody would pay them and the credit card bills and mortage got to be payed. Make everyone a home and car owner and their loan payments will keep them nice and quiet. Well known tactics. Why do you think conversative right wing governments hate renters? Mobile workforce that isn't tied down to a house. Renters can loose their job and simply move somewhere cheaper. Buyers are locked in.

No, supression of free speech won't happen with a bang, it will happen with a wimper. Everyone locked in to speedy facebook and then all of sudden the internet has turned into yet another medium controlled by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and those that fund him. How do think the first public run radio stations turned into the current commerical crap? Nobody thought it could happen and then it did.

Death by ACLU association. (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960200)

I can see the talking heads now...

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

Re:Death by ACLU association. (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960226)

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

Re:Death by ACLU association. (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960314)

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

Re:Death by ACLU association. (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960366)

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

It's a little late for that :(

Re:Death by ACLU association. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960640)

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

I'm on the right, and I LIKE the ACLU. I hope they keep up the good work of protecting the Constitution and individual rights. Maybe you shouldn't be stereotyping an entire group, simply based on a label? What you said is less onerous than saying, "Jews are generally thieves," but still pretty bad. Stereotyping is wrong. IMHO. :-)

As for net neutrality, a lot of people have confused it with the Fairness Doctrine (for every Rush Limbaugh on AM, there needs to be a Rachel Maddow getting equal time). All that's needed is to educate them that these two things are not the same thing. That net neutrality is about stopping censorship by Comcast, et al.

Re:Death by ACLU association. (5, Informative)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960362)

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

Re:Death by ACLU association. (-1, Troll)

calebpburns (1925438) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960980)

On contrary, the ACLU only thinks you have the right to freedom of speech so long as it coincides with ACLU views (i.e., views far more left than most of us liberals hold).

Re:Death by ACLU association. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33961038)

On contrary, the ACLU only thinks you have the right to freedom of speech so long as it coincides with ACLU views (i.e., views far more left than most of us liberals hold).

[citation needed]

Re:Death by ACLU association. (5, Informative)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961150)

As sibling says "Citation needed". The ACLU defended Rush Limbaugh. They've defended both the KKK *and* the Anti-Defamation league. Show me an instance of them turning down a legitimate freedom of expression case. You've been told that they only defend lunatic left wing causes, but so far as I've ever seen it's simply not true. A lot of their cases defend people with extremely liberal views, but that's mostly because right now the country itself, on the whole, is rather conservative. Most of the people asking the ACLU for help are left leaning, because they are most likely to both a) trust the ACLU and b) have need of the ACLU.

Stop "helping" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960218)

The internet has never been "free" and it's not so much about freedom of expression, but freedom of markets. To allow incumbents to start dictating by fiat what services get a better ride we will quickly raise the cost of entering the market since access will not just depend on securing a pipe, but then negotiating with each and every ISP for reasonable terms.

Despite the rhetoric that some ISPs are spouting Net Neutrality does not prohibit them from securing their network, it just says how you can and can not deal with non-malicious traffic. When dealing with congestion or prioritization you can not decide based on destination, only on protocol or flags.

Summary is kind of...off (1)

webheaded (997188) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960244)

"If the ACLU can successfully argue that Net Neutrality is a First Amendment Issue then it might not matter what businesses (who fall on either side of the issue) want the government to do."
The only way making it a 1st Amendment issue would actually matter is if the government actually regulates them, which it continually shies away from doing. As they are in fact private businesses, we can only hope that the government actually goes through with regulating their government mandated monopoly and stops letting them cry about fairness and all that kind of crap they've been lobbying about. Even if I DID have competitors to choose from, this kind of behavior is ridiculous. No one should have to put up with it. Period. You can bet your ass that without it even the DSL and cable companies will collude on this stuff as soon as possible. You think you're going to be able to leave your cable or DSL company for greener pastures? No. They'll all be doing the same thing...that's always the way this stuff works. Look what happened in Canada when Bell implemented bandwidth caps...it just rolled right on through. I don't want ridiculous bandwidth limits, discriminatory QoS, companies paying more for their website to load faster...I just want the internet to work as it always has which is quite honestly the best way it can work. I'm getting tired of this shit.

Hell, I don't even have a problem paying a little more for my connection since I do use quite a bit more bandwidth than most people. I usually have the most expensive plan for my ISP anyway.

Who's definition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960256)

Who gets to define what "Net Neutrality" means? There are competing definitions and they do not mean what most of us think of when we hear the term.

"I do not think it means what you think it means."
-Inigo Montoya

Inconceivable!

This is a defining moment in our social evolution (1)

BlankStare (709795) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960264)

I am all for freedom of speech and Net Neutrality. Having said that, I see real practical problems here. Freedom of Speech is an inalienable right. If we tie that to an infrastructure that costs billions of dollars to create and maintain, who will pay for it all? Should we all be taxed to provide the access (implying that it belongs to Government)? Do for-profit corporations just have to "suck it up" as a price of doing business?

Re:This is a defining moment in our social evoluti (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960318)

Well...a lot of the infrastructure that's currently being used was funded by taxpayers, and ISPs are already granted "legal monopoly or duopoly" status, so...

Re:This is a defining moment in our social evoluti (1)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960410)

And taxpayers helped pay for the roads to your house and work, does that mean they get to dictate what happens in either one? ISPs are paid to deliver information, believing they will deliver less information is a bit of paranoia and is bad business. Awareness is more prudent here than handing they keys over to the FCC.

Re:This is a defining moment in our social evoluti (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960532)

And taxpayers helped pay for the roads to your house and work, does that mean they get to dictate what happens in either one?

Yes, they do. It's called voting for a representative.

are paid to deliver information, believing they will deliver less information is a bit of paranoia and is bad business

Right...because no ISP has ever blocked traffic, right? [torrentfreak.com]

Awareness is more prudent here than handing they keys over to the FCC

Us: "We're aware that you're throttling and charging extra for certain sites!"
ISP: "Awesome! Glad you're paying attention. By the way, here's your bill."

Yup. Awareness would solve everything.

Re:This is a defining moment in our social evoluti (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960656)

I've always wondered why communities don't run their own fiber optic/power cables and provide a several connection points where cable/telecom/electric companies hook into. People in the community can then buy services from any company that is able to connect to any of those access points. Of course it means funding access nodes as well as the cable with tax dollars, but if it encouraged competition in services I would sign on for that.

Re:This is a defining moment in our social evoluti (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960734)

Less than 0.1% of the network was funded by taxpayers. Most of the burden (i.e. trillions of dollars) came from corporations expanding the network over the last 90-100 years, first as analog lines, then 56k-capable digital, and more recently copper, coaxial, and fiber (CATV and internet).
.

>>>Do for-profit corporations just have to "suck it up" as a price of doing business?

The FCC Broadband Plan is to create an additional tax, similar to the Universal Service Fund for Phones, that would be collected by companies and used to extend 2 Mbit/s lines to 99.9% of rural households.

Re:This is a defining moment in our social evoluti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960476)

I do believe it is cheaper to have net neutrality anyway. The more "filtering" devices and QoS devices you place on your network, the more money you spend to run and keep those devices up to date. If you have to just allow all traffic pretty much evenly (at least per-protocol), then it should not cost quite as much to run your network.

Not again. (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960268)

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

Re:Not again. (2, Insightful)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960324)

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

Re:Not again. (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960468)

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

Re:Not again. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960600)

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

Do you even understand what the word "rights" means? Providing internet access means just that: connecting you to a network which is in turn connected to other networks in ways worked out between all of the people that run those networks. Your ISP has to obey the laws of physics, and has to negotiate peering connections to other networks, as well as bear the cost of traffic that comes wandering through. Are you saying that they should have no ability to influence those arrangements in a manner that serves their customers, at the price point they're trying to provide? Should you be able to tell Verizon that you demand equal treatment and unlimited bandwidth on their network for packets going to a torrent operation in Latvia, while they do the same for the five-nines worth of the rest of their traffic that is trying to check their gmail account on a nearby network? Do you imagine all networks to have infinite capacity, and administrative costs that never change?

Re:Not again. (2, Insightful)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961120)

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

Re:Not again. (1)

thynk (653762) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960696)

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

Now, that said, while I generally disagree with the Feds sticking their nose in any private business, I do agree with the idea of a free (as in speech) internet and if they do have to regulate net neutrality then so be it.

Re:Not again. (2, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960840)

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

I don't have a choice of ISP. The vast majority of people who do have a choice have only two choices, usually Verizon/Comcast, AT&T/Cablevision or some other combination of gigantic, shitty companies. They can go fuck themselves if they want to restrict which sites are available through the pipe they provide; it's not their business to be doing so. I pay for X speed, give me X speed - that's pretty much the limit of their power IMO. Throttling Fox or NBC is shit that will not fly. This isn't cable TV, where there's all sorts of agreements between the providers and the network, and (originally was) limited bandwidth of X channels to broadcast in an area. This is the internet, built for anyone to send information anywhere at any time. Fuck you if you think Bing is a better search engine than Google because M$ paid you off, so you're giving better speeds to Bing.

Re:Not again. (1)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961162)

I agree, throttling is unacceptable, but why do we need NN? We just need customer awareness. Customers will not accept weird corporate throttling when educated about it... and trust me, it doesn't take many customers ditching an ISP or voicing public displeasure to get them to change. Businesses want to make money and they need customers to do that. We need to educate the customers, not empower the government.
We don't need the Government to step in and enforce NN like they have with the physical roads. (*gulp* Toll roads!)

Re:Not again. (2, Insightful)

Lluc (703772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960444)

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

Re:Not again. (2, Insightful)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960488)

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

Re:Not again. (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961184)

That doesn't necessarily mean that companies will compete. All they need do is not invade each others territory. They can then strangle, over charge, and under serve their market while reaping in huge profit. Sherman Act anti-trust problem, you say? Good luck damn near proving your case at the pleading stage. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).

Re:Not again. (1, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960514)

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

Well, sure, one could argue that. But it would be a bad argument. The state of broadband provisioning is in constant flux, and is still in its relative infancy. It would be insane to upend the entire meaning of the most important amendment to the constitution just because it's temporarily expensive to string up a new network in some small towns. I don't think that most people grasp the enormity of Law Of Unintended Consequences when it comes to this topic.

Re:Not again. (1)

Lluc (703772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960758)

Broadband is in its infancy when compared to something like the rail or highway network, but I'd rather not wait 30-50 years for someone to roll out a new wired network or for some mystical (price & speed competitive) wireless network to appear. I don't think we need to amend the First Amendment, so to speak, to fix net neutrality or broadband. For example, plenty of countries have been more successful than the US by using tighter regulations, and I'd think restricting the ability of broadband and network owners from generating content (i.e. Comcast + NBC) would be advantageous.

Re:Not again. (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960498)

My grandad used to tell black people who came in his restaurant the same thing. Damned government has no right to force private businesses to observe people's "civil rights." The niggers are always free to go to another restaurant if they don't like it.

Re:Not again. (-1, Troll)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960658)

Damned government has no right to force private businesses to observe people's "civil rights."

Really? You're really implying that network providers are shaping traffic based on protected classes defined within Civil Rights statutes? You're suggesting that networks are de-prioritizing things like huge torrent traffic use by small numbers of users because of the skin color of those users? What's it like to have absolutely no perspective, whatsoever?

Re:Not again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960852)

This is not as far a stretch as you imagine. Private hospital emergency rooms can not deny access to individuals without insurance on economic grounds because it disproportionately affect minorities. The motivation is that some private product and services are so critical to the "general welfare" of society that they must be provided fairly. Perhaps internet access falls into that category.

Re:Not again. (2, Insightful)

IDarkISwordI (811835) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960908)

What's it like to read a compelling hypocrisy claim only to be able to apply a literal meaning to this situation rather than an analogous intent?

It's clear that corporations get a pass an are able to do whatever they want in this country with little consequence. Most in fact build into their budgets, money they expect to have to pay out in fines for violating regulations they don't want to observe. These fines are the equivalent to a late movie fine or a late book for these companies leaving them basically to do what they wish, the country be damned.

It is entirely obvious this is a civil rights issue. Not one of race or gender or age, but one of every persons right to expression without oppression from the corporatations obsessetion to controlling this country.

Re:Not again. (1, Troll)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961058)

It is entirely obvious this is a civil rights issue. Not one of race or gender or age, but one of every persons right to expression without oppression from the corporatations obsessetion to controlling this country.

So, just to clarify, here. If I form a publishing company in order to print a newsletter that I will distribute in my neighborhood, I must allow anyone who wants me to print their own communication - no matter what I think of it - to tell me how I should use the pages of my publication? And I must allow, as I walk around the neighborhood dropping off my newsletter, anyone who demands that I also distribute their publication? And if my company starts into the business of delivering one person's publications, I therefore have to deliver anything that anyone else insists that I deliver? This is your take on what the first amendment is about? This is what you think "civil rights" is about - the ability of one person to force another person to do something?

Re:Not again. (1)

discojohnson (930368) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960806)

Your point is very strong, but at the same time the color of one's skin and appearance isn't something you can just change and doesn't affect who an individual is as a person. If your grandad was a patron at another restaurant instead, he could be put out the door for exercising his freedom of speech. I think more to the point though is the real answer is that the government should own the lines. Lease them to others to maintain and use, but it's in the people's (and thus government's) best interest that communications lines, on US soil at least, are safe from these sorts of things. Plus I'm sure they'd love to have easier access to spy on Americans.

Re:Not again. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961102)

My grandad used to tell black people who came in his restaurant the same thing. Damned government has no right to force private businesses to observe people's "civil rights." The niggers are always free to go to another restaurant if they don't like it.

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

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

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

Re:Not again. (2, Informative)

IDarkISwordI (811835) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960660)

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

Re:Not again. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960700)

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

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

Re:Not again. (1)

IDarkISwordI (811835) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960982)

You are confusing a destination with a means to access. The means to access in your example is the road which is paid for by tax payers and accessible to all. Using your example, think of the ISP as a property management company that owns your parking lot that you park in. Do they get to tell you how fast you get to drive to the print shop or that you can no longer go to the print shop?

Re:Not again. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33961144)

Still not a good analogy. There is no internet in the way that most people think of it. There are just networks. Self-contained, stand-alone networks. They are interconnected only through the deliberate, case-by-case agreements set up between those network operators that establish peering connections between them. To use your analogy, it would be like having a bunch of adjoining parking lots, owned by individual operators, and they only act like a road because of agreements between them to allow some parts of the lots to be used in that way (as a way to get from one lot to another non-adjoining destination lot).

Re:Not again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33961174)

I like that interpretation because it makes sense. Only property huggers fail to see it. No I'm *not* being sarcastic.

Re:Not again. (1)

wile_e8 (958263) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960666)

And just like the printing press, if you don't like the terms of use, build your own or shop around.

And that's the problem here. If the ISPs competed in a free market, this could work. However, since the market isn't free and we're artificially limited to a couple of local ISPs, regulation is necessary to prevent abuses that would normally be limited by competition.

"Letting the market decide" doesn't work when the market isn't free to make a decision.

Re:Not again. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960722)

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

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

Re:Not again. (4, Insightful)

still cynical (17020) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960846)

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

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

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

Re:Not again. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960938)

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

Much in the same way I as a person or private company cannot park my vehicle in an intersection to filter or deter traffic through a certain point - neither should any Internet Service Provider have the ability to discriminate against their traffic if the people are paying for the service. Or if they want that ability, they should need to have a 3 month advanced notification system, much like how landlords can't just evict tenants on short notice (at least thats how it is in most provinces in Canada).

The problem with "Shopping around" is that it's either publicly owned lines or owned by the bigger guys, even the smaller ISPs have to rent the bandwidth off the big guys and they'll get their traffic filtered just as much as a customer I'm sure. There's no real way around it. When you sign up for internet service, there's no contract you have to sign, and they don't even ask you to read the terms of services on the website, its just "How much money do you want to pay? Okay whats your credit card number?" over the phone.

Right now the system is horribly stacked to favour the ISP's over the customers, we appear to have no rights on the internet, the internet seems to be simply a subscription based service which can be disabled at their discretion any time they like, even if you've PAID THEM for the service. Is my car dealer allowed to program an auto-shutdown feature in my car if I drive it on roads they don't like?

There's a reasonable amount of control that all companies have when running their business: they all have the right to refuse service, but not after taking the money, or without refunding it. Simply put: if they are going to cut someone off, they should have to give last month's bill back.

If you're going to treat the Internet as a service provided by a company, at least hold that company to the same standards that the rest of the world has. If you're going to treat the Internet as some sort of public international right, then you need to constantly check on those in control of the system, and punish the offenses.

I don't really care which way we go, but seriously, no more of this cake eating and having for ISPs. They run around like they're untouchable because they're providing what is considered a basic need in todays society.

*1. access any lawful content
2. use any applications or services
3. connect any devices that do not harm the network
4. benefit from competition among network providers

Re:Not again. (1)

Voline (207517) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960948)

I really don't have the time right now to explain the concepts of "natural monopoly" and "common carrier" to you. But I suggest you do some Googling on those just to get you up to speed.

Re:Not again. (1)

heathen_penguin (1441455) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960958)

The first amendment isn't about forcing a guy with a printing press to do what you say, it's about preventing the government from stopping you and the guy who owns the printing press from doing what you like on whatever terms you arrange between the two of you.

agreed

Same thing goes with the guy who owns the DSL line you're using, or the WiFi hotspot and the network it's wired up to.

I disagree.

There are two extremes (I will use over the air as an example):
1) No regulation. Everyone is free to set up their own transmitters/receivers. This is the true free market way and is perfectly fair.
2) Total regulation. The government itself controls all aspects of transmission with "equal access" and so forth. In theory perfectly fair.

The difference is in what happens to the rights of the people. With 1) all rights are retained. With 2) some rights should be retained (e.g. free speech).

We currently have a compromise. A select few have control. So unless you are among the few, your rights have been curtailed, e.g. you can not set up your own transmitter. Thus we are regulated, but with some free market ideas. To me the issue centers around the rights of the people. If we are going to curtail freedom for the privilege of a few, then these freedoms should be curtailed as little as possible. Under this system you would treat communication pathways as just that, "pathways". The select few can benefit from providing them (at the expense of individual rights), but not from controlling their use (limiting the loss of freedom). Then we have an ordered system (not the wild west scenario of (1)), but without the total governmental control of (2).

And now for a car (actually road) analogy. If I build a private road network, then I can charge a toll. But I cannot restrict your origin or destination on that network. I have been given privilege (the right of passage), and freedoms have been curtailed (citizens' right of passage), but the curtailing of freedom has been mitigated (I can't tell you where to come and go).

More than just free speech: free democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960312)

It may not sound like a crucial issue now, but if you think about it, it is absolutely inevitable that over time we will move our human governance systems to the internet. [metagovernment.org]

(Unless it makes sense to you that we will forever send Senators to a building to make deals with lobbyists behind closed doors?)

As we do move online with governance, net neutrality will of course be essential.

Leave the internet alone (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960360)

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

A tiered internet is just another way for greedy businesses to further suck money out of their customers, that's it.

Re:Leave the internet alone (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960966)

why change it?

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

I think you just asked and answered your own question.

Not a free speech issue (1)

tomkost (944194) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960388)

People who provide a forum are not required to let everyone talk who wants to. Try to force the local TV station to let you air your views and they likely will not. I'm in favor of net neutrality, but it's not a free speech issue. BTW, the amount of content most people would send to post to a blog or some such is so small it wouldn't even be noticed. The argument basically assumes there is a widespread intent to limit speech on the internet, and that seems unlikely given the current status is exactly the opposite.

Re:Not a free speech issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960686)

It seems it's more like you have a soap box and they decide to put up a wall around you so nobody can hear you.

sensitive topics (1)

zerointeger (1587877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960460)

I recently began writing an article for web developers on implementation of symmetrical and asymmetrical client side (JavaScript) encryption techniques and it seems like it will never get published due to the bureaucratic bullshit plaguing our nation today. I understand concerns of misuse, I understand needs for wiretaps... but to stifle an article that helps with education and addresses security concerns plaguing todays on-line shopping charts to prevent the defrauding of others? Our tax money hard at work...

And yet (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960472)

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

One of the arguments I've heard against abolishing local and state regulations is that competitors will screw up each other's infrastructure. That doesn't have to be the case at all. In Virginia, it is my understand that the fine for not calling Miss Utility or a similar service and then even accidentally damaging such infrastructure is $10k/incident with no limit for any region. Meaning if they damage 1 neighborhood 15 times, the government slaps them with a nearly impossible to beat $150k fine even if all they do is shut off your power for 1 hour before Dominion can fix the damage. There is no reason that this couldn't be the norm and a policy in place to let anyone, at their expense, lay new infrastructure.

Line Sharing Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960520)

Net neutrality is still just a distraction that obscures the real elephant in the room. Give me line sharing so that I can actually CHOOSE an ISP that is neutral rather than slapping this small bandaid on the bigger problem of carrier monopoly.

Clearly they don't believe in Free Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33960548)

if they are talking through a PDF.

I'm missing something in this debate... (1)

Balthisar (649688) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960578)

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

Let's say that I have a 10 Mb Comcast connection. Under net neutrality, I can use that bandwidth however I want. There's no QOS, so maybe my Netflix streaming stutters a bit or the resolution drops here and there. Now suppose Comcast enters into an agreement with Netflix (yes, they're arch enemies; this is just an example) whereby Netflix pays Comcast to reserve 4 Mb of that connection for streaming. That's a *good* thing for me as a customer (even if I now have to pay an extra $1 to month to Netflix). When I'm streaming Netflix, my QOS is guaranteed, and I still have 6 Mb that's "net neutral" for other things. And when I'm not streaming, I still have my whole 10 Mb pipe.

As far as I can tell, the managed aspects only come into play when I'm accessing a service that has an agreement with the ISP. When I'm not accessing one of those services, there's no difference.

Of course you could say that being non-net-neutral would give Comcast (in my example) the right to limit my P2P traffic. That's an aspect that I don't agree with, after all, it's still my 10 Mb pipe. But if they want to limit it to 6 Mb while streaming my 4 Mb Netflix, that's a good thing for me. Note that this is *not* the same as a implementing QOS in my router, since the router only implements QOS for my LAN, not for Comcast's connection to upstream providers.

Re:I'm missing something in this debate... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33960814)

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

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

Read the PDF, it explains it well.

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