Washington Post Op-Ed: Who Should Solve This Internet Crisis?<br><br>In this editorial, Robert M. McDowell has laid out a very compelling case against the government acting in the interests of what has been called 'net neutrality'. I think it is one of the more interesting things to be written about net neutrality so far and it is a compelling case against government action.<br><br>The basic premise is that industry, academic, and consumer groups have been successfully regulating how the Internet has operated since its inception. That's a hard thing to argue against. Except for the issue with broadband penetration, the hodgepodge public-private trust of technology firms, academic institutions, and government institutions has worked very well. Just take ICANN for example. The United States government at one point could have really ruined it. It is indeed a flawed organizations sometimes, but it has done pretty well and kept prices low enough to allow everyone into owning a decent domain name.<br><br>There are however a few points in the op-ed where Mr. McDowell gets his points wrong. <blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr><p>Just as Napster produced an explosion of shared (largely pirated) music files in 1999, today's P2P applications allow consumers to share movies. P2P providers store movies on users' home and office computers to avoid building huge "server farms" of giant computers for this bandwidth-intensive data. When consumers download these videos, they call on thousands of computers across the Web to upload each of their small pieces.<p><hr></blockquote><p>I think this passage demonstrates a misunderstanding of the difference between technologies and applications. Napster (the one we all used to know and love) was a very specific service. It was arguably used most of the time to steal music. It does not bare comparison to Bittorrent because Bittorrent is not only a company (as the article erroneously calls the technology), but a whole technological platform that other companies are using to implement new business models.<br><br>There is another problem with Mr. McDowell's argument when he describes the call for the FCC to rule against Comcast for throttling Bittorrent traffic and says the following:<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr><p>The allegations boil down to a suspicion that Comcast was motivated not by a need to manage its network but by a desire to discriminate against BitTorrent for anticompetitive reasons.<p><hr></blockquote><p>It is strange that he uses the word anticompetitive and then leaves it at that. When one company controls the last mile to a huge subscriber base with as little competition as Comcast does, there is a valid concern over anticompetitive maneuvers. I don't like that Mr. McDowell gives such short shrift to what Comcast might be allowed to do to Vonage, T-Mobile, Hulu, Apple, and Google in the interests of its own telephony and cable television concerns.<br><br>That said, I do grudgingly agree with what he is saying. We should not go looking for solutions before finding a problem. I do, however think that the FCC has an important job ahead of them and they need to make clear to the cable and telecom companies the following:<br><br>1. Any anticompetitive behavior will be forwarded immediately to the justice department anti-trust division for prosecution. Let's assume for a moment here that the DoJ can be cleaned of all the partisan political hacks that George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzalez, and John Ashcroft put there for a moment and assume that they can handle it if AT&T decides that T-Mobile @home calls should have mysterious bandwidth issues or if Comcast makes it impossible to use the higher-end Hulu streams.<br><br>2. Internet service providers must provide detailed descriptions and accounts of what they are and plan to do about network traffic to customers before and after signup. No customer of Comcast should have to look through the financial statements of Sandvine Inc. to find out what kind of Internet service they are buying. That's fraud ad it should be prosecuted as such.<br><br>3. The FCC needs to make sure that while Internet service providers aren't messed with, neither are local concerns looking to compete with what is already available. Local municipal fiber and public Internet access proposals should be allowed under the watchful eye of the FCC.<br><br>4. The FCC also needs to take care and make sure that local access to the prevailing communicative medium is preserved. Yes, if that means making sure that a terrible local band can show their video on channel 19, it means protecting the right of local nutballs to have badly-focused, static camera shots of weird talk shows. It also means making sure that C-SPAN stays on the air.<br><br>-- Cee Bee Double-U
This is one place I want no regulation except for people caught cheating others.<br>PayPal and many other services reduces that to a minimum... IF you use them.<br><br>What kills me is the number of fraudulent radio ads... man I've heard some doozies. They can just say anything- make any claim... no body nails them !!<br>where's the regulation there ??<br><br>David (OFI)
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