The Open Internet & the Freedom of Speech

You May Not Claim What Belongs to Me--and the Whole Public

I recently enjoyed Ken Burns' wonderful series on our national parks. As I read today about the question of net neutrality, I was reminded of a man in Ken Burns’ series named Ralph Cameron. Cameron pretty much decided that the Grand Canyon belonged to him. Why? Because he said so! One of his many outrageous offenses was the "toll road" he built at the head of Bright Angel Trail, where he charged visitors a large fee to walk on public land into the canyon.

The fight over net neutrality feels very much like that story. Here we have something that belongs to the public in general--cyberspace--in danger of being wrested from us by a relatively small group who decide it should belong to them. Why? Because they say so! Their claim is no more valid than was Ralph Cameron's.

The ultimate decision, for good or for bad, will have a monumental impact on this country for generations to come. We must make the right decision.


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. Comment

    can we get rid of toll roads nationwide then? Maybe we can get the FCC to talk to the Transporation division...

  2. Comment

    Mike that is as disingenuous a comment as it can get. The "toll collectors" are the Internet Service Providers such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, ATT, Qwest, Verizon, et al. Every time they limit access to a service online, it is exactly as was stated before in the this topic. To limit a user's access to the internet just because it does not conform to a corporation's preferred list of content providers does not an open, or free internet make. Net Neutrality is important, and we need to make sure it is established and enforced!

  3. Comment
    Dave Kliman

    lanetteward EXACTLY correct!

    Worse, the ISPs have the ear of all the legislators and even a populist like Al Franken has been led to believe, by these guys, that they need to be able to police the public internet.

    They have been calling it "their networks."

    I don't think that ANYBODY should be allowed to own any network infrastructure that passes over public rights of ways, except for the public.

    One major way we can get around this problem is to have a much more redundant, mesh like, network topology, that takes away the bottleneck we now have that is the local isp's small part of the network.

  4. Comment

    Are you for or against the proposed "Net Neutrality" bill? This is one of many comments that can be taken different ways, depending on a persons point of view.

  5. Comment

    First, the internet is not free, or public. it never was. It is a collection of hardware and wires, owned by various legal entities that lease access. Just because you use it a lot doesn't make it yours. Just because a lot of people use it doesn't make it "Public"

  6. Comment

    The Internet in its current incarnation was commercialized by many private entities, as you correctly stated. However the underlying infrastructure was made possible in part through a public/private partnership. As far as your comment about it not being "yours" asserting that it is not personal property, that is also correct. But as ISP's and common carriers are using research originally conceived of and implemented by private/public partnerships (and many of those ideas are still created in the same way), the public still has a lot of say in what should and should not be done to protect freedom of speech on the Internet, even as commercialized as it is now.

    Time has not shown corporations to have the public good in mind when implementing their ideas and forcing their products on individuals. In fact the laissez-faire approach the government has taken in a lot of facets in business has created the situation our market is in today.

    Businesses are the epitome of censorship, when free speech does not suit their bottom line... period.

  7. Comment

    It seems like this poster doesn't know what the Internet is, as seen by his attempts to compare it to National Park land. As comguru stated, the Internet is an interconnected series of private networks. Government intervention and oversight simply leads to more problems, as they try to implement what they deem "fair".

  8. Comment
    Dave Kliman

    you are the one who doesn't seem to get that timmy.

    the internet goes through PUBLIC right of ways. The backbone ( the arpanet portion) is PUBLIC. these private networks have been bequeathed with the right to pass their cables over OUR lands and as that is the case, they have the fiduciary responsibility to the public that somebody who has NOT been given public lands to use wouldn't have.

  9. Comment

    Under telecommunications laws Net Neutrality is perfectly legit and it is the moral thing to do. Even with the recent tragic decision by The U.S. Supreme Court on Citizen's United which undid democracy (despite it emboldening big cable and phone company ISPs to suggest Net Neutrality violates their free speech which is bogus -- by the way as the Internet is more interactive than radio or TV ever were -- it encourages participation, dissent, and democracy.) The Open Internet encourages free speech on the part of users. We just pay a monthly fee for access and have unlimited equal access to all Internet websites but big ISPs want to be able to change all of that. They dislike the idea of being forced to deliver every email message even messages by consumer rights groups criticizing them etc. The Open Internet threatens their legacy business model where in the past they would co-op and monetize technologies for corporate gain at the expense of the public interest.

    Big ISPs like Comcast want to be able to censor what we write in our emails and publish to the Web. Let's say I write an email about Comcast criticizing them for anti competitive, and anti consumer policies and I happen to be using Comcast's email service to send the message. Comcast wants to be able to reject my message because they think its unfair for them to be forced to deliver a message criticizing them.

    When the U.S. Postal Service delivers letters every day to mailboxes they cannot filter out and decide which letters to deliver and which not to. If I want to send a letter to someone they cannot refuse to deliver my letter because they don't like what I have to say. They don't have a free speech right to do such a thing. If the Post Office cannot prioritize and discriminate against what mail is delivered ISPs cannot either.

    The Information Superhighway analogy comparing Internet to our national highways run by the federal and state governments most of which are free of toll booths is also a good one and represents the need for why we need to maintain Net Neutrality. While I admit I am concerned with language that would mandate ISPs to act as copyright cops and police the Net to ensure it is only being legally used -- only legal uses should be protected but don't want an unnecessary and vague exemption for Hollywood etc. Net Neutrality should apply to Hollywood as well and if someone is misusing Internet before discriminating against that user and taking action proof should and must be furnished this is indeed the case -- the mere allegation of illegal activites should not be sufficient cause to discriminate.

    That is why I signed the Electronic Frontier Foundation's petition to the FCC for Real Net Neutrality!

  10. Comment

    Oh I think Timmy fell in the well again, Lassie. Timmy.Lally- yes, the internet is a connection of interconnected private networks. You win 2 gold stars for taking notes in your computer science class. Now, on to what they were saying about 'public' lands. Without these 'public' lands the 'private networks' you speak of, would still be only that- a collection of 'private networks'. So if you are using public lands then the public should have a say in how that is used. Now don't fall in any more wells, Timmy, Lassie's going out for a milkbone.

  11. Comment

    The FCC Chairman's statements are very cleverly worded to sound positive, but really are just additional rules that could be used to control the Internet. How?

    Firstly, tell me how is Net Neutrality going to increase competition or break the monopoly of AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon? Is the government going to force service provider companies to be created? Is the government going to fund service provider companies that compete with the big companies? They could tax the big providers more than the small, but does that mean that under-served areas will get more bandwidth or will those small companies go to downtown areas and use their tax breaks to provide service to companies?

    The government has never meddled with business in a constructive way. You might say: what about the breakup of AT&T's telephone monopoly. Well, there were already laws in place to fight the monopoly, but AT&T was exempt because they were a utility. All the government did was stop meddling and simply allowed existing laws to be enforced.

    This website is filled with comments which suggest that these rules would be used to end discrimination in terms of broadband access... that the government would force providers to increase bandwidth in under-served areas. The free market already forces providers to do so. Where there's money to be made, businesses invest. Or, do those who support this think that providers should be forced to put in additional bandwidth into areas that don't generate revenue? Does this mean that scarce taxpayer dollars will go to provide another entitlement to citizens? Or does it mean that the government will force providers to invest their own money into areas that will not generate enough revenue to pay for equipment. Either way you look at it, it's redistribution of wealth. Either taxpayer money going to provide service to under-served areas or the premiums paid by well-served areas going to pay for under-served areas. Taken to an extreme, the government could even force providers to become insolvent (and require government rescue because "The Internet is Too Big to Fail").

    Do you see how these two "harmless" additions to the FCC's charter could be used to harm our freedoms?

    I say we need LESS government intervention and the Internet is best without government meddling.

  12. Comment
    Dave Kliman


    One of the most horrible things in the 1996 telecommunications act killed the vast majority of mom & pop isps and left us in the hands of the giant monopolies...

    the law had required, before that, that telephone companies (for example) had to lease equipment, space, and bandwidth to anybody for prices no higher than what they charged their own subsidiaries. it made it possible for an isp to buy bulk connectivity, and then connect to their customer base.

    the 1996 telecommunications act got rid of that and made it possible for the telephone companies to overcharge small isps by as much as they felt necessary to put them out of business.

    leading up to that horrible little bit of legislation, lobbyists from the phone companies were insisting that being allowed to charge whatever they wanted for wholesale connections would "increase competition," even though anybody who really understood the dynamics of the situation would have known quite the opposite would be the case.

    The proof is in the numbers. before 1996, there were hundreds of thousands of isps popping up all over the country, being able to connect into the internet on one end, and able to offer internet service to a large group of customers on the other end. before the advent of broadband, i had at least a few hundred isps just around me, who i could choose from. the competition got to be so fierce that you had isps come along offering unlimited internet for $20 a month, then $10 a month, then with net zero, $0 per month for unlimited connectivity...

    now, 14 years later, in the wake of that law, for the most part, people get to have two isps.. the phone company, and the cable company. all other competition is gone.

    what can we do to address this?

    we have to have real net neutrality that does away with proprietary standards such as DOCSIS, which hobble large chunks of the internet, preventing anybody from connecting anything but approved equipment. we need to make it possible for anybody at any time, to have a REAL connection to the internet... and not some dribble connection that some marketing department in one of these companies decides is safe enough to allow people to have lest anybody compete with their phone or content businesses.

    we have to reverse the 1996 law and let anybody connect and colocate at head ends with whatever equipment they care to put in, without the phone or cable companies being allowed to charge them any more than they internally bill themselves for the same connection...

    people should be able to pay one flat rate for the ability to connect any equipment into the backbone, without their data being counted... in the past, that was known as a "leased line," where the phone company would just lease the right-of-way to run any kind of wire from one location to another. what went in that wire was not and should not be the concern of the phone company... it is when they break into the wire and start counting the data for the purposes of charging money, that all the problems start.

  13. Comment

    This hits a valid point regarding the Internet. The ISP's and their "cables" that connect us to the internet are not, themselves, the internet.

    What constitutes the Internet are the millions of computers belonging to thousands of individuals and companies that are interconnected via those "ISP Cables".

    Those connections do not confer any ownership over those networked computers and their privately owned and developed content.

    One of those many servers is mine. I host web sites for small business ( Each business owns their own site and content and no ISP has a right to claim any part of said content as it's own, thus to determine either the value of or the speed at which it should be delivered.

    This is the basis the demand to retain Net Neutrality as the one true "regulatory" right of the FCC on behalf of all Americans and the world.

    Let the ISP's do what they wish with content they develop and own but do not allow them to exert their control over content I and millions of others have developed and own and host on servers that do not belong to these ISPs.

  14. Comment
    Dave Kliman

    i'll take that a step further and note that all the phone company and cable company networks are paid for mostly by taxpayers and customers who the government allowed these cable and phone companies to charge more so as to do the government's job and build out the network. the network also, as i have mentioned, goes over public right of ways, and public lands.

    also i want to see any isp OUT of the cable laying business. nobody who sells/buys/delivers any service or content should also be vertically integrated with those who build the networks. the inherent conflict of interest is exactly what damages our freedom, innovation, speed, etc.

  15. Comment

    @Dave Kliman

    Have you read the FCC Chairman's comments?

    Dave Kliman writes:

    we have to reverse the 1996 law and let anybody connect and colocate at head ends with whatever equipment they care to put in, without the phone or cable companies being allowed to charge them any more than they internally bill themselves for the same connection...

    Agreed. Most of the "regulation" put in place is meant to benefit huge corporations who paid for the regulations to be put into place. Most are anti-competition.

    I'm certainly in favor of reversing these laws and regulations.

    Net Neutrality is great as a concept, but if you read the FCC Chair's comments, or even worse, the FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd's comments (and how he praises Hugo Chavez's "Democratic Revolution", you'll see that they simply want to put *additional* regulations on top of the 1996 law.

    It's the chicken and the egg: the Internet is nothing without the content, which indeed is owned by you and me and billions of other people, but the Internet is also nothing if all the computers housing that information can't communicate. I started in computers when you had to do your own routing of email through the network and the public distribution of ideas came through NetNews Newsgroups or BBS's. Look up BBS on Wikipedia, as I suspect you are too young to know what it means.

  16. Comment

    @Dave Kliman writes:

    i'll take that a step further and note that all the phone company and cable company networks are paid for mostly by taxpayers and customers who the government allowed these cable and phone companies to charge more so as to do the government's job and build out the network.

    Where in the Constitution does it say it's the government's job to build the network? Other than police, fire, and defense, the government does nothing well or efficiently. They have enormous overhead, crushing pension obligations, and for every working gov't employee, you've got 9 layabouts. The gov't building of roads and running schools are necessary evils, but why is it that our primary and secondary schools are generally putting out undereducated kids(on average) while our Universities are the best in the world? Because there's competition between private and public schools at the college level. If there were enough private grammar and high-schools to compete with public schools at that level, the overall quality would rise and the cost would fall dramatically.

    No, the less government the better.

  17. Comment
    Dave Kliman


    yep i read his comments. very disappointing, really, when it comes down to it, because after all the hyperbole, the end result would be a worse internet. Obama's "broadband tzar" even said that to him, broadband is 3mbit/sec... to me broadband is a moving target, constantly getting faster, but right now in the 1-10gbit range/sec/up/down. internet2 just is doing an upgrade to 100gbit per user, so that's the new target for now....

    I mentioned elsewhere and will do so again here that i actually want to see anybody in any kind of information service out of the infrastructure business. there lies the main conflict of interest. if the company with the head ends had no content business at all, they would be wanting everybody's equipment in there to do any kind of data service. i really liked george gilder's fibersphere concept the most though, where the network is very dumb and passive... mostly just optical switches and fiber, while all the intelligence is at the periphery, in user equipment.

    sadly i'm quite old enough to have known of bbs's, having run one for a few years in the 1970's, haha. i probably should look it up because by this age one forgets what things mean. I have been on the arpanet since 1978, and if you look through usenet archives, you'll surely find my name as i was an active participant in the 80's and 90's.

  18. Comment

    Korz100: "...Where in the Constitution does it say it's the government's job to build the network?"

    You don't understand the Constitution. That document says nothing at all about what the government CAN do. It's one and only purpose is to tell government what it cannot do. It is designed to protect citizens from government's interference with rights. The government CAN DO whatever it's citizens ask it to do provided they do not violate the constitution.

    Governments are not constitutionally required to DO anything at all EXCEPT protect those rights you have under the constitution. They are not "required" to form an army but we demand they do so and then we pay them for the service. We ask for roads and pay them to build them but the only way the constitution could be involved in those roads is if the government tried to prohibit minorities from driving on them.

    The government is not required to build an internet..but it did under DARPA and we got the benefit of that project. Since rights come from and are protected only by government, if we allow private corporations to run free with no government over sight we thus lose government protection of our rights. Corporations do not give us rights and are under no constitutional obligation to citizens. Their only legal obligation is to their share holders.

    This is the basic reason we need continued Net Neutrality guaranteed by the government because without that we lose any constitutional protections for free speech on line.

  19. Comment


    You are the one who needs a refresher course on The Constitution.

    Let's first address some of your misconceptions.

    You say: "Since rights come from and are protected only by government..."

    Actually, rights come from God and not the government. Since pretty much the same people who wrote The Declaration of Independence are the ones who wrote The Constitution, I think it's fair to quote the Declaration of Independence on this point: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." So, quite clearly, it's God that gives the rights to the people, not the government.

    Second error: "They are not "required" to form an army."

    From the Preamble: "provide for the common defence." Also, from Section 8 - Powers of Congress: "To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;"

    Your third error isn't a Constitutional one, but rather you are misguided about capitalism. I've found a great many intelligent folks on the left are unable to understand how capitalism works. While corporations are not legally obliged to citizens, they must do so to continue to do business. Although I'm sure you believe that Congress had a right and a duty to parade Toyota executives in front of a inquisitorial squad, to prevent them from killing more citizens with their faulty cars, the fact is that it's Toyota's desire to continue to sell cars is what forced them to make engineering changes to their designs and to install safeguards to prevent these problems from occurring again. If Toyota was owned by the US gov't or if the same problem had occurred at GM, you can be very sure that Congress would not have performed this very public witch hunt. If the gov't owned Toyota, they would have encouraged the press to downplay the whole affair and the lapdog mainstream media would have obediently agreed. Engineers would have fixed the problem, eventually, but we the people would have never really heard all the details. Do you think the government created airbags or seat belts or even had any hand in popularizing them? Nope. Capitalism drove these advances. Car companies invented them to have an edge over their competition... in other words, to be more appealing to customers and to sell more cars. Did Soviet-built Ladas have airbags? Nope... in fact, the majority of Ladas, throughout the 1990's (post Soviet-era) didn't have any airbags. The Lada Samara (1997-1999) had only an optional driver's side airbag, whereas the current model Lada Priora (2008-) still only has a driver's side airbag.

    There are some areas in which we do need the government to interfere in business, for example, in matters of anti-trust. If all the airlines combined into one huge airline, consumers would have no leverage to "vote with their wallets." Regulations are virtually always put in place at the request of corporations (read "paid for") to reduce competition. Here's an example, there are regulations in Florida that prohibit bottled beer from being sold in any size other than 12oz, 32oz, and 40oz. Thank goodness that the Florida legislature is protecting citizens from the evil Belgian beers in 11oz bottles or the California beers that only come in 25oz bottles! I feel much safer now. Back to airlines, since deregulation, after adjusting for inflation, airline ticket prices have fallen 50%. It costs half as much to fly than it did before deregulation.

    Net Neutrality, as it is written, has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with redistribution of wealth. There are many things wrong with the current regulations, like the 1996 telecommunications act, mentioned by Dave Kliman above, for example. Unfortunately, Net Neutrality doesn't address any of those.

    Back to my main point. If you care to read it, you will find that The Constitution does say exactly what the gov't is supposed to provide. While it's true that this list may not be complete, clearly I was speaking metaphorically, because there was no Internet in 1789. My point is that building the network shouldn't be the job of the government. They rarely do anything right, it always costs too much, and when they provide something, they can take it away.

    I've found that the fundamental difference between myself and my friends on the left is that the folks on the left trust the government and I don't.

  20. Comment

    I did study Constitutional Law in college. This form is not about religion it is about "written laws" under our chosen form of government and the US is a secular state, not a religious state. Under the constitution which was NOT written by God but by our founders who were mere "men" you are entitled to the religion, or no religion, of your choice. In any case you cannot continue to confuse legal rights with your religion.

    Our framework of LEGAL RIGHTS which is under discussion has nothing to do with whatever God you choose to worship.

    Some how your ranting has strayed a mile off the topic of Net Neutrality so I have no more to say other than you have your religion and it cannot be legislated away because of a Constitution written by men, not gods.

  21. Comment

    If you studied constitutional law in college, either you went to someplace like Liberty College or you are a hundred years old. Law schools no longer teach constitutional law... they teach case law, because it allows the interpretation of the constitution to drift away from the intent of the founding fathers. Frankly, based on your statements about what is and what isn't in The Constitution, I am quite certain you've never set food in a constitutional law classroom.

    For the Progressive agenda to be accepted by the citizens, the Progressives had to make the Constitution, God, and the Founding Fathers irrelevant, something at which they have nearly succeeded. From grade school to college, the Founding Fathers are now all being portrayed as racist, slave-owning, deists, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" has now been corrupted to "the separation of church and state.

    The US was not founded as a secular state. The founding fathers prayed together at the start of every session of the Constitutional Congress. The delegates were not all of the same religion, but virtually every one was very religious and believed in God. There was no Federal religion, that was forbidden by the Constitution, but back in the 18th century, more than half of the states had state religions. Mind you, this did not prevent citizens of those states from practicing any religion they chose. The point is that the founding fathers felt that the citizens should have a right to choose their religion and they could do that by moving from state to state. The Progressives want to push all the power up to the Federal level, so that you have no competition between states on issues such as tax rates and the size of government.

    My point was, that I was disputing your claim that the government bestows rights upon the citizens. This is incorrect. The citizens were given these rights by God and the it's the government's job to protect them.

    Your argument is detracting from my main point. Why don't you actually dispute my main point and if you want to dispute any of my ancillary comments, well then provide some facts to back up your claims. I'll even point you to a copy of The Constitution for your convenience:

  22. Comment

    Oh, and as for Net Neutrality and the lawsuit that was struck down, the question is whether an ISP has a right to block access to a site or a subset of sites for any reason. The lawsuit was about the blocking or throttling of bandwidth to bittorrent sites, which was putting excessive strain on the ISP's ability to provide promised bandwidth to other users.

    As I see it, forcing an ISP to provide un-throttled bandwidth to bittorrent and other very high-bandwidth sites or forcing them to charge the same price for high and low bandwidth users is wrong. The ISP's have to be able to do business.

    Mind you, because there are many ISP's, the correct solution to the problem is for people that want to use bittorrent to change ISP's to one that doesn't throttle those sites or does provide the same price to varying bandwidth users. Competition for customers will eventually force the ISP's to upgrade their equipment to the point where they *can* handle that data and not have to charge extra.

    However, Net Neutrality goes far beyond this single issue.

    First, please read what the FCC commissioner said and then let's have a discussion.

  23. Comment

    Until there is competition between ISP's at a meaningful level, and more diversity in who can provide internet services, then the argument for allowing a "free market" to force businesses to play fair with consumers cannot be more than just wishful thinking and conjecture.

    The 1996 law we can all agree did more damage to the telecommunications industry than it should have, and we saw the aggressive manipulation of both sides of the political spectrum on the part of ISP businesses to make sure that the American public was sufficiently distracted from the slow consolidation of their majority share of the ISP market.

    To say the "progressive" or "conservative" method of legislation, and government did this or that is always a point of divisiveness and a favorite tactic to distract everyone from the core discussion.

    @Korz I would like to know how much you understand technically regarding traffic control, and manipulation of Internet traffic, specifically regarding traffic shaping, QoS, and classification of traffic. Furthermore, I would like to know if you understand the implications of allowing ISP's to throttle traffic, and the requirements to break into secured communications flows to determine the nature of traffic. If I knew your position there better, we could possibly come to an agreement regarding the management Internet traffic ingress and egress the ISP peerage points.

    @paul and @Korz: Injecting views regarding God and other non-technical topics in my opinion does not further the discussion, and leads to theological debate. A technical view approach regarding the situation would be a far less contentious approach at discussing Network Neutrality.

    These are my opinions, and those who don't agree, well thanks for reading anyways.

  24. Comment


    I have no familiarity with current traffic Internet traffic control, but out of my 25 years as an Engineer, around 16 of them were as a Software Engineer, so I have a conceptual knowledge. I could come up with several methods of data rate control that would be independent of the content and one of the ends (source/destination).

    I believe that even if there were only two ISP's available to every consumer, as long as there wasn't collusion among those two ISP's (which would be illegal under current laws), we would have some level of competition and therefore they would compete for customers. I agree that competition among ISP's at a more meaningful level would be even better. As long as the diversity is not legislated or mandated, I agree there too.

    I contend that legislation should be focused on things such as repealing the bad parts of the 1996 law. Barriers to inter-business competition should never be instituted. One might argue that anti-trust laws already on the books prevent this, but *most* administrations and certainly every Congress don't have any interest in enforcing them.

    I think you are right about the telecommunications industry manipulating both sides of the political spectrum. I'm pretty sure we can agree that the telecommunications industry isn't the only one doing this. Repealing the 17th amendment would help solve this problem. For those unfamiliar, the 17th amendment changed the selection of US Senators from being done by state legislatures and making it by popular vote. It should be immediately apparent that this makes it far easier for corporations and special interest groups to have Senators indebted to them, making it possible for these corporations and groups to steer legislation. Both sides of the aisle have made speeches about reducing the influence of corporations and special interests, but Congress has no interest in cutting off this enormous supply of money to themselves. Ironically, the runaway Federal spending and the brazen ignoring of public sentiment by the current Congress may be their undoing. The states are the ones who have the power to call for a Constitutional Convention (which can be a limited one, called to perform a specific task, like repealing an amendment). Get the people and the state legislatures mad enough and they'll literally take the Federal bureaucracy to task.

    My introduction of God to the discussion was because @paul had brought us to the point of discussing government responsibility and incorrectly stated that the government creates rights. The rights government erroneously creates, it then can then control, take for example, "the right to health care." *It is fundamental to this discussion.*

  25. Comment
    Dave Kliman

    before the 1996 telecommunications act ruined it fore everybody by allowing phone companies to gouge wholesale users of bandwidth, there were so many isps to choose from that there had to be ratings websites to sift though the THOUSANDS of choices everybody had.

    furthermore you didn't even NEED an isp to be online. you could run your own DNS or choose one of many online, as well as all the other types of servers... that's how it is supposed to be.

    the companies that lay the cables and build the infrastructure have no business being in any kind of information or data business. the inherent conflict of interest is extremely bad. yes the simplicity of only one choice is very convenient, just as a computer display with only one pixel would be very simple to understand as well. But personally i want there to be enough competition... and that means thousands or more choices, that meaningful innovation becomes the norm rather than the very very rare exception.

  26. Comment

    "...we would have some level of competition and therefore they would compete for customers."

    Net Neutrality has nothing to do with competition for customers among ISP's. Neutrality has to do with how all ISP's treat data sent from content providers to users. It would remain the same argument if you had 500 ISP's in your area or only one. The "customers" that are affected on the head end of the neutrality issue are those own web sites and provide content to web surfers. That same content goes over every ISP at once regardless of the areas they serve.

  27. Comment

    @Dave: You and I agree on Network Neutrality, but let me clairify a point in the discussion. You actually do need an ISP, or a peering agreement with the major backbone providers before you are able to access, or provide online access to others. And having run a BBS before, I am sure you know some of the costs of even running a small amount of equipment serving a group of people in an area. A peering agreement, and the basic equipment to

    provide basic access is none too cheap.

    The telecom companies do provide infrastructure, but you are right Dave, they also are trying to provide content which happens to sit on their networks. And if they prioritize that above all others. That is a big problem, and as has been stated before a HUGE conflict of interest.

    Just for anyone who is not familiar with the concepts of traffic shaping, and packet shaping, I will flesh out some of the more arcane concepts of networking. None of this is intended to be patronizing, but simply a definition for those who might browse this discussion and not understand what is being discussed.

    Traffic/packet shaping, for those that are unfamiliar, is simply analyzing the kind of communications data (structured in packets over the Internet), and artificially slowing down their delivery, or speeding up delivery based on a pre-defined set of rules, or dynamic algorithms. Traffic shaping can be based on source or destination of the communications, as well as the kind of traffic (Skype, Youtube, World of Warcraft, FTP, HTTP, SSL etc...). Traffic shaping is a form of advanced QoS (Quality of Service), which by it's very definition is prioritizing traffic at the detriment to other kinds of traffic.

    Modern traffic shaping appliances are able to take advantage of devices which are capable of looking into secured communications (e.g. secured websites such as encrypted Bank websites, mail sites, encrypted Bittorrent communications). The process they have to use essentially exploits the process of communications between these sites and the end-user's computer without the end-user's knowledge. Because they are able to do this for identifying traffic... they can also use this technology for other purposes as well. They can literally look at what is being sent, regardless of content. It is just as scary as it sounds. And because ISP businesses can leverage this kind of technology (they already do), they can do whatever they want with the traffic on top of slowing it down.

    @paul: I agree with your comment regarding what the original concept of Net Neutrality is supposed to accomplish. In these discussions we also have to understand that regardless of what we want government to do, (or not to do depending on what you believe in this discussion), we have to understand where the business position is on this. Due to their large amount of resources, and paid commentary regarding their opposition to the concepts, we must acknowledge this.

    In order to diffuse conflict, one must seek to understand it, then acknowledge it, and find compromise or defeat it's reasons for being, and eliminate the foundations upon which it's positions lie.

  28. Comment


    Competition for customers has everything to do with what Net Neutrality alleges to be for. You only looked at my last post. You should have read my last *two* posts. I don't disagree, by the way, with the *concept* of Net Neutrality, but what I do know is that I don't want the government legislating what my ISP does or doesn't do (apart from enforcing anti-trust laws). I simply don't trust the government to not abuse their power over the ISP's.

    Competition among ISP's, I contend, is all that is needed to achieve what Net Neutrality is alleged to do. The free market will shift customers away from ISP's that intentionally slow certain types of traffic towards ISP's that are "Net Neutral" *without* any legislation, policing, lawsuits, bureaucracy, fines, or abuses. Word among bittorrent users will spread quickly that, say, Gomcast is throttling bittorrent traffic, but that BT&T is not... get it?

    Let me give you an example of the kind of use of Net Neutrality laws I fear. One part of Net Neutrality is ISP's being required to provide high-speed Internet access to under-served communities. The government could force ISP's to install millions of dollars of equipment and spend millions of dollars on laying fiber and copper into under-served communities. Now, do you really think that these currently under-served communities are filled with people whose pockets are bursting with cash that they are eager to spend on 20Mb/s broadband service? I suspect they aren't, because if there was a huge demand for high-speed access, ISP's would already be there. What are the chances that the ISP's will actually recoup their investment?

    What about rural customers? The Net Neutrality laws, as described by the FCC Commissioner, would ensure that even the most remote citizens could get high-speed access. How is that going to happen? The government will force ISP's to run miles of fiber and copper to remote homes, under threat of penalty. Millions of dollars, again, spent to install equipment and run connections, with absolutely no chance of recouping the investment.

    Now, when these ISP's start to have financial difficulties, what will happen? Well, the small ones may be bought by large ones, but even the large ones will have difficulties. But the Internet is "too big to fail," right? So, in rides the government to the rescue and bails out the ISP's, but at what cost? Not only more of our tax dollars going to prop up businesses (redistribution of wealth), but also the government will also have more direct control of the ISP's, just like they did with GM, Chrysler, AIG, and Citigroup.

    Ultimately, if the government wanted to, they could shut down huge parts of the Internet.

    Okay, so that's the absolute worst-case scenario. How about something more likely? Tell me, suppose Net Neutrality legislation is passed... how is the government going to determine which ISP's are traffic/packet shaping and which are not? Don't they have to monitor the traffic to see that?

    Again, the difference between me and the small number of liberal friends I have, is that they trust the government and I don't.

  29. Comment

    "...Let me give you an example of the kind of use of Net Neutrality laws I fear." These also are not involved in the function of Net Neutrality. People keep adding things off the top of their heads then claim they are part of "neutrality" then make themselves "scared" of their own thoughts. This is kind of like being a hypochondriac who is sure he has every disease he hears about.

    You "fear" government forcing ISP's to run fiber...that is not about neutral treatment of data packets, that is about availability of internet. Government has already provided funds to assist in this just as they did to assure rural deployment of electric power and telephone lines to remote America. Still has nothing to do with the ONE ISSUE of assuring everyone's data is treated equally.

    Any other topic injected is irrelevant to the neutrality issue and should be addressed in another venue. The FCC would have nothing to do with deployment of new fiber optics or the "lighting up" of thousands of miles of existing dark fiber.

    Net Neutrality has been the norm since the inception of the internet and it has always worked so why are people suddenly trying to fix something that is not broken?

    Corporate Greed. Only those who would turn the internet into their own private pipe line for cash want to do away with our current neutral internet in order to impose corporate censorship based on the ability to pay for some one else's content.

    I say ONE regulation only. Everyone's data treated equally.

    All that other crap is another topic and not within the FCC's area of interest so long as no one, including corporations, can censor or otherwise tamper with our freedom of expression online. Those rights we can enforce ONLY by having a government position in the form of Net Neutrality. Take the government out of the equation and corporations have no constitutional duty to anyone including to respect our freedom of expression on line.

    It's not broken....don't fix it. Just make sure no one else can break it.

  30. Comment

    "... how is the government going to determine which ISP's are traffic/packet shaping and which are not? Don't they have to monitor the traffic to see that?"

    No, no more so than they do now. Actually citizens on the net do that just as they did when they caught Comcast violating neutrality rules over peer-to-peer networking.

    What the legislation does, assuming it just assures that what was the standard remains so, is provide a legal recourse for net users to challenge the ISP. It should place no monitoring duty on government, but it does provide us with legal protections of our freedom of speech, something private corporations have no duty to protect.

    The whole issue of a new law is not to create some new government intrusion but to prevent a corporate intrusion into something that belongs to the people. All those many millions of web sites do not belong to the ISP's they belong to people like myself and my web host customers and reside on servers that belong to people like me.

    The only thing the ISP's should be doing is connecting their broadband customers to the network and letting people decide what pages they want to visit. ISPs seem to think it is fine to charge extra for some sites, perhaps my own, even though they do not own or contribute in any way to my content and have no intention of paying me a royalty to let someone read what I place on line.

    This is the crux of what corporations create slow and fast lanes and based on a fee charged to either or both broadband users or web content providers, access to content that is not even theirs, thus being able to "kill off" those sites who can't afford to pay the toll including personal blogs and other resources. This reduces competition and availability of content including dissenting views. Amazon and eBay have enough cash they won't care but smaller businesses online could be driven off line leaving fewer more costly choices for surfers.

    It is anti-competitive and anti-small business because in the end, absent neutrality, the internet will become a Pay to Play environment for the rich.

    Only an open and neutral internet protects all users and their content. As it always has so far.

  31. Comment
    1603932472 the way you HAVE to trust your government because when it comes to your rights, those are insured only by Uncle Sam. Corporations cannot violate your constitutional rights because they have no obligation to obey them with regard to private citizens. You only have a legal right to challenge something when the government gives that right via law or regulation. No regulation or law, then nothing a corporation (ISP) does to you is illegal and you can't do a thing about it but disconnect and hope you have another choice of broadband who treats you better than the first. Don't count on that.

  32. Comment
    Dave Kliman

    we wouldn't have problems with traffic shaping if the companies in the isp business were not in the infrastructure business. that way there would be so much competition once again, that people could do an end run around any bad isp.

    That will be the best way to solve this problem.

  33. Comment

    Not all are...many of the "long haul" backbone providers are not in the business of selling broadband to individual customers. Those primarily do what we expect of them by providing the infrastructure that cris crosses the world carrying data without caring about the content. When they hand the ends of those pipes over to more local and big ISP's is where the game playing takes over. These are the people who want to redirect that data based on a profit model.

    Of course some of the backbone providers are also in the ISP business so they have an extra competitive advantage. Sprint, Verizon, AT&T for instance are both backbone and broadband companies. Comcast is not a backbone provider though I would not be surprised to see they hold stock in them.

    Smaller ISPs like my telco, Windstream buys their bandwidth from one or more backbone providers.

    Here is a list/map of backbones.

  34. Comment

    I want to be very clear. I'm not paid to fight against Net Neutrality by AT&T or Comcast or some conservative think tank. I'm just a Computer Engineer working for a Medical Device manufacturer. I have formerly been a Systems Engineer (requirements, FMEA's, risk management, etc.) and a Software Engineer. I've got a bachelor's and a master's degree in Electrical Engineering.

    I, like virtually everyone else here, want an unrestricted Internet, where, as @paul says, "Everyone's data is treated equally."

    It's been several months since I've read the FCC Chairman's statement and I'm looking for a particular interview where he explained his vision. In that article, I clearly remember him saying that part of Net Neutrality was to ensure that under-served citizens would get the same high bandwidth that folks in major cities have available. He also made statements that may have been meant to say "ISP's can't charge extra for ultra-high bandwidth users" but could also be read as "ISP's must give rural customers the same 20Gb/s service that folks in Manhattan get, for the *same* price."

    These are the statements that I'm concerned about. Remember, we currently have an administration that has said (to Joe the Plumber) that "It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too… My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off [...] if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody."

    You can see how any government official who says they want to "level the playing field" or "redistribute resources" is going to alarm me. I believe that the $69/month I pay for 12Mb/s is enough and I don't want to pay an additional $20 or $30 to pay for fiber to be run to a town of 20 people, only one with a computer, somewhere in the middle of the Arizona desert.

    This is from the FCC Chairman on Sept 21, 2009:

    "I also recognize that there may be benefits to innovation and investment of broadband providers offering managed services in limited circumstances. These services are different than traditional broadband Internet access, and some have argued they should be analyzed under a different framework. I believe such services can supplement -- but must not supplant -- free and open Internet access, and that we must ensure that ample bandwidth exists for all Internet users and innovators. In the rulemaking process I will discuss in a moment, we will carefully consider how to approach the question of managed services in a way that maximizes the innovation and investment necessary for a robust and thriving Internet."

    The two scary statements are "...ample bandwidth exists for all Internet users..." and "...maximizes the innovation and investment necessary..." These are not the statements that alarmed me initially, but I think that they are the root of his later statements, and they are the closest I could find in a hurry. These two statements, I believe, were paraphrased by the Chairman in a later interview, to state that the ISP's should not be allowed to only invest in the most profitable areas and that they *must* provide *equal* access to low-income neighborhoods and rural communities. This is *far* beyond any "Everyone's data treated equally" legislation.

    Also from the Chairman on Sept 21, 2009:

    "This is not about protecting the Internet against imaginary dangers. We’re seeing the breaks and cracks emerge, and they threaten to change the Internet’s fundamental architecture of openness. This would shrink opportunities for innovators, content creators, and small businesses around the country, and limit the full and free expression the Internet promises. This is about preserving and maintaining something profoundly successful and ensuring that it’s not distorted or undermined. If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late."

    Does anyone really believe this? Are you familiar with the writings of Saul Alinsky? "A crisis is imminent!" "We must act now!" "If we pass this $787billion stimulus, unemployment won't exceed 8.5%, but we must act now!"

    Did you know a recently passed law included the requirement that companies must submit a 1099 form to the IRS for any sale over $600? Must have been the financial reform bill, right? Nope, it was the healthcare bill!

    I'm willing to concede that if Net Neutrality simply prevented traffic/packet shaping and truly only treated everyone's data equally, I would be willing to support it. It would require a 1-page bill. Call me cynical, but I'm sure we'd get a 250-page or 2500-page bill which would include all kinds of new ways for the government to meddle with the ISP's and Internet.

  35. Comment

    @paul writes:

    " the way you HAVE to trust your government because when it comes to your rights, those are insured only by Uncle Sam. Corporations cannot violate your constitutional rights because they have no obligation to obey them with regard to private citizens. You only have a legal right to challenge something when the government gives that right via law or regulation. No regulation or law, then nothing a corporation (ISP) does to you is illegal and you can't do a thing about it but disconnect and hope you have another choice of broadband who treats you better than the first. Don't count on that."

    If the injustices of the 1996 law were repealed, we'd all have more choices of ISP and we could vote with our wallets. That puts far more fear into corporations than any legislation, which they can often afford to circumvent.

  36. Comment

    korz100: The net effect of no protection for your data is to lessen competition not increase it. When you have only two choices for broadband and they are both manipulating content you have no recourse left. This is where having a legal protection for your speech is created by regulation.

    I will repeat this once again. No corporation has a constitutional obligation to anyone and they can censor by direct action or by fees anything they choose and you have no recourse if there is no regulation they have violated. Your wallet and my wallet combined mean nothing to them.

    You cannot expect any rights if you give the whole internet over to for profit corporations. It was created with tax payer money. It will be expanded to more rural areas with tax payer assistance so it stands to reason we the taxpayers have a right to demand it remain neutral.

  37. Comment

    My sole support re. Net Neutrality is single minded and involves ONLY a single regulation/law that mandates all persons data be treated equally. This is all the FCC needs.

    Anything else needs to be addressed to your elected representatives because I can't answer for them. I have contacted them and the above is what I asked for. Nothing more and nothing less. It is all we need to protect freedom of speech on line and equal access for consumers and business alike. It is all we need to provide a legal vested constitutional interest in free speech.

    I don't have an argument about expanding availability to areas currently under served but this should not be involved in the neutrality issue at all. Those relate to business decisions about providing services which should be delivered in a neutral manner to anyone receiving those service.

    Once neutrality itself is assured, we have our necessary protections in place then it is up to us to keep companies in line through the courts.

  38. Comment

    "...we have to have real net neutrality that does away with proprietary standards such as DOCSIS, which hobble large chunks of the internet, preventing anybody from connecting anything but approved equipment."

    I am currently using DOCSIS modem. Since the other side is transparent to me and since my side is standard gigabyte Ethernet, I have no issue with any connected equipment I may need to connect. My third party VoIP works fine and I can watch my NetFlix to my hearts content etc. Since the ISP provides the modem and since packets on the net do meet standards, the only thing proprietary is within the ISP's own network...and I could care less. I can even buy any DOCSIS modem I like but why when paying a few bucks a month means they are responsible to keep it working or replace it.

    The "network" we are talking about is over the same cables that provide television, telephone and even security monitoring and home shopping. Cable broad band providers are "multi-tasking" a single infrastructure. Even DSL providers share with voice and some video.

    They have no "neutrality" issues with entertainment for which they are the content provider and have a vested interest in keeping that fast and reliable because they generate most of their income from happy customers. The internet which is riding piggy back does not carry just their own content. It carries mine as well as anyone else who is a content provider.

  39. Comment

    I love how people use these absurd analogies to support net 'neutrality'. I do not want Google deploying a massive bandwidth hogging application and profiting off another companies hard work who deployed and operated the networks so well over the past 30 years. The net neutrality brainwashing is threatening to destroy the internet. I don't want to see any company abusing our network and net neutrality is promising just that. If you want to watch gigantic video files stolen from Hollywood, the least we can do is ensure you pay for clogging up my internet. We certainly don't want a stupid law giving them legal rights to steal with impunity.

  40. Comment
    Community Member

    This is kind of ill-informed. You do realize that "cyberspace" isn't like a magical void through which bits pass (and battle each other on light cycles), right? The internet is made up of the networks on which information travels and is hosted. So if they own the lines and the gateways, that section of the internet really is theirs.

    There's a bigger issue here, but this isn't it.

  41. Comment
    Dave Kliman

    @"community member" there is no "their section" of the internet... that would be like having a road paving company's section of the federal highway system.

    You do not know the history of the internet if you say that... but to be a proper netizen anybody ON the network CONTRIBUTES to the network... if you contribute infrastructure, you share that freely... in return you get to freely share other infrastructure used by everybody else. that is the basis and the foundation of the internet. once you start to gate off sections of it, it is not an INTERnet anymore, but just private networks. we already had that before the internet, and it wasn't pretty... $.75 each for emails... $1.50 per minute to be logged in... $.25 per kilobyte transferred... $.06 per minute to dial up ($.25 for the first minute, and that's if you were lucky to be making a local phone call to a server)

    simply put, if we did it the way you imagine, there never would have been, google, youtube, twitter, or just about any of the major disruptive innovations that the internet has brought us.

    furthermore, these large swatches of network infrastructure have been paid for by US, the users... either through taxes, or subsidies, or just paying the bill to a company... these are natural monopolies in different regions, using public rights of way, and public infrastructure to bolster their own bottom line, at the expense of the rest of us.

    that is why the internet needs a MAJOR upgrade, and it needs to be decentralized COMPLETELY so that nobody can become powerful enough to impede communication and progress (which sadly is the current state of affairs)