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How Washington Will Shape the Internet 373

Posted by Zonk
from the new-sheriff-in-town dept.
WebHostingGuy writes "As reported by MSNBC, 'The most potent force shaping the future of the Internet is neither Mountain View's Googleplex nor the Microsoft campus in Redmond. It's rather a small army of Gucci-shod lobbyists on Washington's K Street and the powerful legislators whose favor they curry.' The article examines several pieces of legislation and lobbying initiatives which are poised to affect you and your rights online. Topics covered include Net Neutrality, fiber to the home, the Universal Service Fund, codecs, and WiFi bandwidth usage." From the article: "After years of benign neglect, the Federal government is finally involved in the Internet — big time. And the decisions being made over the next few months will impact not just the future of the Web, but that of mass media and consumer electronics as well. Yet it's safe to say that far more Americans have heard about flag burning than the laws that may soon reshape cyberspace."
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How Washington Will Shape the Internet

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  • by botzi (673768) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:45PM (#15700037)
    .....we won't see ONE permissive regulation. We'll see MANY restrictive regulations. If lawmaking comes to the internet, I for one am looking forward to the next big thing.
    • by elucido (870205) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:11PM (#15700246)
      Soon, the internet will be rendered a privilage in which you need a license to access. We've seen it happen with roads, its only a matter of time before it happens to the net. Also prepare for internet taxes.

      Honestly, I don't understand how a conservative government can increase the size of government this much, and ask for internet regulations, I mean it does not follow the philosophy at all. Am I the only libertarian here?

      When law making comes to the internet, another internet will be invented, just not anytime soon. My advice is, start the planning stages for the next internet, and then when there is the will to bring it forward, bring it forward. Let's just admit once and for all that it must have been Al Gore who gave us the internet, he did not invent it, but he handed it so us. Before that, the masses didnt know what the internet is, and the masses won't know what the next internet us when us geeks invent or find it, hey we mmight already have it.

      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:28PM (#15700398)
        That's the problem with a libertarian philosophy.

        The richer, more powerful libertarians get to decide policy. Big companies have more resources than almost any human will ever have and they protect their interests.

        I was a libertarian until I realized the philosophy breaks down in the face of concentrated wealth and power. If we had lots of people with ten million dollars it would probably work. When we have a few hundred "people" (some human, some corporate) with billions of dollars, it doesn't work.

        You can't even have a fair court system when the power/money becomes too unequal. One person gets the public defender who is falling asleep in court while the other side gets a team of top-notch, well connected lawyers backed up by a firm of bright assistants.

        • I'm confused, isn't there already a concentration of wealth and power? Isn't power/money already unequal? Isn't our court system already corrupted?

          Why/How would a change towards civil liberties and personal freedoms make things worse? We've been failing with the two party system for quite some time now, why can't we just try something different? It can't get much worse at this point.

          I feel wierd saying it, but I'm not proud to be an American right now, I'm embarassed. I love this country and its people

          • I'm confused, isn't there already a concentration of wealth and power? Isn't power/money already unequal? Isn't our court system already corrupted?

            Yes, yes and yes.

            Why/How would a change towards civil liberties and personal freedoms make things worse? We've been failing with the two party system for quite some time now, why can't we just try something different? It can't get much worse at this point.

            I apologize to the poster for speaking for them, but I believe their point was there was no way to m
          • by rhakka (224319) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @05:25PM (#15701480)
            Libertarians don't have a corner on the civil liberty market.

            Greens share those values. Without throwing us all to the wolves for the sake of "indvidual freedom".

            You may not like the idea, but you don't get to just do whatever you feel like because, believe or not, your actions do sometimes affect other people. EVEN MORE SO, if you're rich and powerful. Then we REALLY need to watch you. Because then, as a private individual, you have the ability to do a whole lot of damage to people in all kinds of ways that are not "direct victim crimes". Say, buying all the companies in an area and dropping wages. Sure, some might move. But many won't. And you win.

            People have only two possibilities for fighting power if they themselves don't have the resources. Democratic rule, or revolution.

            If you cripple democratic rule to dissallow the right of a community to establish its own codes of conduct, including some encroachments into your personal freedoms, then eventually, people have to take option number two.

            I'm all about civil liberties. Do what you wilt and all that. But, sometimes there do have to be limits. I'm personally pretty glad that you have to learn a few things to drive a car, for example. It may not be ultimate freedom, but it's pretty freaking prudent.
        • by Shadowlore (10860) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @04:31PM (#15701026) Journal
          I was a libertarian until I realized the philosophy breaks down in the face of concentrated wealth and power. If we had lots of people with ten million dollars it would probably work. When we have a few hundred "people" (some human, some corporate) with billions of dollars, it doesn't work.

          You should have continue following the money as it were. How did htese people get the money? By government. Government provided them with special protections no normal person has. Hiding behind the wall of a corproation is a protection/benefit system designed to produce exactly what you correctly identify as a problem. With these "protections" in place both people and companies who become "corporate entities" become an arm of the government (that is what a Charter effectively does - and it is a Corporate Charter) and gain all manner of advantages an otherwise free market system does not provide.

          Whether that be the ability to pollute w/o risk of penalty, or deploy anti-competition tactics that would otherwise be illegal, or to use the corporation as a source of money and legal defense funding, it is done so by threat of force (death) by the government. As much as many people like to believe otherwise, libertarian principles did not provide for the wealth of Bill Gates or Larry Ellison. To the contrary it was anti-libertarian (i.e. statist) principles that did so.
          • by rhakka (224319) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @05:11PM (#15701355)
            Yet you doubt that free market capitalism leads to the same thing? It's just a slightly different route. Wise up; Money *really is* power. If you have money, and organization, you get things done.

            Companies fit this bill by their very nature. People, in groups.. not so well. That's why we have government. It's the organization of the people without regard for money, where your power comes from your existence as a human being.

            Or, more accurately, it should be.

            Unless, of course, you advocate for plutocracy, which is where libertarianism leads
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:36PM (#15700482)
        Actually, in this case _some_ legislation is needed: the telcos have a government created monopoly on telecommunications, and they need to be held to Net Neutrality. Anything less leaves us at the mercy of telcos and with no power to fix things.

        However, with respect to other things like unenforcable legislation utterly contrary to international law over internet gambling, etc., they need to get a damn clue, or they will screw things up.

        I know that I personally have left the Republican party over the idiotic crap they've been pulling for the last eight years or so. They've made it abundantly clear that the law doesn't apply to them, that they're more than willing to rush blindly ahead when sensible people have doubts, and that they're willing to help screw up things like the internet that they have absolutely no understanding of.
      • Soon, the internet will be rendered a privilage in which you need a license to access. We've seen it happen with roads, its only a matter of time before it happens to the net. Also prepare for internet taxes.

        That's just silly. There is a reason it happened with roads! The government did not build the internet infastructure, and taxes did not fund it. At least not wholly. The road infastructure, however, is funded by taxes and built by the local, state, and federal governments and/or they contract a comp

      • THANK (insert diety name here)! I can't wait!

        I've been saying that we need an internet license for years. The problem with a gov't regulated internet license, is that they haven't the infrastructure to enforce the license. I'm certain that the actual policing will be left up to the select few providers that are pushing for these new laws.

        It doesn't matter anyway....at least, not to me. If a license is required to connect, I can happily submit to that requirement and find ways around the limitations. Th
      • by DanTheLewis (742271) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @04:12PM (#15700846) Homepage Journal
        Honestly, I don't understand how a conservative government can increase the size of government this much, and ask for internet regulations, I mean it does not follow the philosophy at all. Am I the only libertarian here?

        It's not just a conservative government, it's compassionately conservative. Let me point out charitably that Karl Rove has got your number if you think Bush II's government is conservative. You were snookered.

        The truth is that this "conservative" government is crowing today about enormous budget deficits coming down a fraction (when we were balanced under Clinton), while ignoring long-term structural deficits caused by tax cuts for the richest Americans that have only increased the wage gap over the last several years. Throwing cash around like water, paying off Halliburton and Big Pharma and scumbags like Abramoff and on and on... how much evidence do you need of the mendacity involved in labeling the profligate Bush government "fiscally conservative"?

        I will point out, however, that the conservative movement has had free rein to choose its policies. If the ship has run aground, we know who has been at the wheel. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-perlstein/i-did nt-like-nixon-_b_11735.html [huffingtonpost.com]

        If you want a fiscally conservative government, kick out the neocons and vote for some Democrats. Or you could vote for the Greens, it worked in 2000.
      • by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @04:27PM (#15700985)
        Hi. This is the 1930s calling. The republican party has changed a bit.

        The republican party hasn't been fiscally conservative since Nixon. Look at the debt Reagan and Bush 1 drove up. Look at Bush 2. Fiscal conservative is now democratic property- you know, the guys who balanced the budget in the 90s. It hasn't been anything approaching Libertarian since Hoover in the 20s and 30s. It got co-opted by the religious right in the 80s, the cumulation of a slide starting in the 60s (when the formerly democratic southern US switched republican once democrats started supporting civil rights).

        Wake up and face reality- the republican party has *never* been what it claimed it was. For most of this century its been living a lie. You really have two options:

        1)A party run by corrupt rich buisnessmen who use passionate bigoted fringe groups to get into office, then run the country for their own benefit. You can tell this party by its election year tactics- rather than debating real issues it tries to raise emotional issues with those fringe groups- gay marriage, flag burning, "under god" in the pledge of alliegence. This is the republicans.
        2)A coalition of every other group. Some who are just flat out bought by other interests than the republicans, some who are very passioate about specific issues (environment, anti-war, even a few free speachers). THe portion that aren't owned by the big corps do try and look out for their constituents. They typically try to bring out actual issues, rather than rely on flag waving. What you actually get depends on your luck, but you're pretty much garunteed to do no worse than the first party, and perhaps quite a bit better. This is the democrats.

        Until we have some real third parties (which will require changes in how voting is done), these are our choices. Not much to choose from, but option 2 gives you at least a chance.
      • "Conservative" (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dpilot (134227)
        The problem here is in the term, "conservative government". You must realize that in the USA, that's actually an oxymoron.

        What is our "conservative government" conserving?
        Certainly not conserving natural resources - nothing conservationist about them.
        Certainly not "sound fiscal policy" or keeping a balanced budget.
        Certainly not conservative, in the sense of tried-and-true, time tested policies and practices that work.

        As far as I can see, todays "conservatives" are really conserving a few key things:
        Their we
    • By default you have a right to do practically anything as long as it does not infringe on another's right. To have permissive regulation is self-defeating, as the Internet is already in a state of virtual (HAH!) anarchy. The only thing laws can effectively do IS restrict your freedom.
    • The title of the article should really be "How Washington Will Shape The USA's Access To The Internet".

      Washington can do whatever it wants to servers, bandwidth, and access within the USA. I don't give a shit, because -- like most of the human race -- I don't live there.
  • by kclittle (625128) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:47PM (#15700052)
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is subject to Bigguv'ment trying to screw it up.

    • Any sufficiently advanced technology is subject to Bigguv'ment trying to screw it up.

      Any technology vulnerable to governmental and corporate interference is insufficiently advanced.

      • by botzi (673768) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:54PM (#15700119)
        Any technology vulnerable to governmental and corporate interference is insufficiently advanced.

        Can you please give me an example of a technology NOT vulnerable to governmental interference? It's nice to drop out one liners like that, except when they have no cover whatsoever. If government wants to get involved and regulate a tech field, chance are it will. On my side, I'd rather see a split internet then face regulations imposed by the US on a global network.
  • Flag Burning (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:48PM (#15700063) Homepage Journal
    Yet it's safe to say that far more Americans have heard about flag burning than the laws that may soon reshape cyberspace.

    I don't think it's too cynical to say that's probably intentional. Flag burning seems to be one of those hot-button issues that conservative politicians trot out when they want to (a) drum up votes or (b) distract people from other issues. (Liberals have their own hot-button issues, though these days the conservatives seem to be punching them just fine from the other side.)

    • Re:Flag Burning (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:02PM (#15700173) Journal
      Yep, flag-burning is a wedge issue. The purpose is not only to distract, but to create a meaningless* issue that can will unify (a majority of) people into an us-vs-them voting bloc.

      "Family Values" comes to mind... as does embryonic stem-cell research, etc.

      *Meaningless as in politically meaningless -- I don't mean to deride the value of a lot of these issues on a personal or even local level. When the nuts and bolts are counted, these wedge issues mean nothing in the big picture of what it is that Congress/POTUS actually does.
    • Re:Flag Burning (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zhe Mappel (607548)
      Agreed, and it's not only conservatives who trot out the flag burning crisis. It's also opportunists fishing for right wing votes: there's Hillary Clinton, for instance, bravely defending Old Glory from imminent destruction.

      To bring this back OT, let's not forget it was President Clinton who signed CIPA into law imposing on libraries and schools the duty to block "obscene material," which for some years helped fuel widespread use of censorware. The idea of a free Net has much to fear from all American p

  • Intarwebs (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Doc Ruby (173196)
    It's interesting that now that the Internet is becoming a credible alternative to mass media for news and commerce that the government is regulating it big time [google.com].
    • Re:Intarwebs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Billosaur (927319) *

      Well, the government can't allow just anyone to use the Internet's "tubes" now can they? They might put yucky things like real news and detailed information about the behind-the-scenes fleecing of American citizens by Congress in the "tubes" and then where would we be?

  • by Nos. (179609) <andrew@nospaM.thekerrs.ca> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:49PM (#15700075) Homepage
    but the US implying laws on internet usage will not completely change the internet. The rest of the world won't just follow along, and you'll find hi-tech companies moving to companies that are more forgiving to their line of business.
    • yea that was what I was thinking too. What goes on in China in regards to the Internet is terrible, but appears to have no real effect on the rest of the world.
    • Companies are already moving things out of the US, only right now it's for cheaper labor and getting closer to natural resources in a few cases. But the more legislation there is, and the more we isolate ourselves, the more the rest of the world will simply surpass the US. The US grew to where it was because of competition with little regulation, and with a few exceptions (things like cell phones without GSM) that's worked in our favor. But the more we block immigrants, restrict the internet, minimum wag
    • If you had any idea how this world works, you'd see that the economy is global, and when the economy is global, what is happening in the US is happening everywhere. The new laws get tested on the US population first, and then exported to our trading partners. The countries which don't accept our rules, well we know what happens to them. So I don't see your point.

      I'm not saying the world population will go along with it, but the decision makers are all on the same team, and all profit together. Do you really
      • Wow, I think you should have a look at the rest of the world and realize that we don't "import" laws from the US. Most of Europe and Canada are Socialist countries... you don't see us adapting US education and healthcare do you?

        The Canadian Privacy Commissioner is currently reviewing cross-border data flow because Canadians' privacy is being compromised by the Patriot Act. If anything, we're seperating ourselves from the US, not the other way around.

  • Inside perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

    by andrewman327 (635952) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:50PM (#15700083) Homepage Journal
    I interned for a congressman last year. My former boss is in charge of a lot of the tech stuff coming out, but I can tell you that most congressmen could not care less about most tech. For example, I heard a congressman ranting about how consumers don't have a right to choice in telco providers. I have also seen that many policies are nothing more than clunky attempts to maintain the status quo of regulation in an era of never before seen change. It is nice to see government trying hard to catch up with the times, but the minority of uber-users, hackers, and /.ers need to watch out to maintain what we love doing. I do not see any major problems (like China's level of Internet control) coming, but there are issues that could prove quite annoying at least. The most important thing that we can do is vote. Early and often. :)
    • While I'll agree that a lot of things will be more annoyances than most, I think it's not a good idea to call Net Neutrality minor. As it is right now, ISP's really don't let people do web hosting from home, and specifically sell their products in a way to stifle this. This is why you can get a 300mbit downstream and 128kbit upstream on your cable connection. Up until now, most people haven't noticed this big problem but over time I think more and more people will become net savvy and will want to run th
    • by elucido (870205) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:46PM (#15700588)
      You can vote as much as you want, I'll tell you this. If you are a consumer, you only have the right to consume. Thus the label consumer, because you consume and consume. Your opinions do not matter, if your opinions mattered the politicians would be meeting with you and asking you for your opinions.

      If you really worked for a politician like you say, you'd know that the average voter has little to no influence on what deals are made between leaders. If you want in, then get in, join the club, work for the company, invest! If you want, start an investment club.

      Just talking about politics will change absolutely nothing. Politicians do not care about our opinions. The have experts to tell them what to care about, they have pollsters to tell them what our opinions are, and they can shape our opinions when they don't like what our opinions are. In the end, it's ultimately just about money. You can buy influence, you can buy politicians, you can buy just about any favor. It's about favors.

      Teleco companies are VERY VERY powerful, they have infinite leverage over any politician. The telecos know everything, and had these abilities before the whole NSA wiretap scandal, so what politician is going to challenge the big telcos, or big oil? I wouldnt, you wouldnt, and a politician wouldnt for the same reasons we wont.

      The best thing you can do is work with these big powerful corporate entities, and try to make policies which in a give and take fashion, where you make deals. If you expect to be a politician, it's a dirty business, it's a VERY dirty business, but ultimately it is a business, and the way to be successful is to do business with big business.

      If you actually think you can be involved in politics, and that Google has more influence than telephone and oil companies, you are insane. The hardware companies have more influence than the software companies. The phone companies have more influence than the hardware companies. The energy companies have influence over ALL companies.

      If you were smart, take an economics class and see how society is organized.

      • The political process may not be anything like a true democrocy, but citizens have more power then you think. I know how Sen. Arlen Specter, one of hte most powerful men in congress, almost lost his primary because of conservatives who labeled him "too liberal." Where were the corporate interests there? How did Arnold become the governator? Large groups of people can change things more than even Comcast or Verizon. Comcast really does not like my old boss, but that doesn't change his opinions. He stil
  • Down the Tubes (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:50PM (#15700085) Homepage Journal
    Your Republican Congress wants to remix the Internet [alternet.org].
  • But I thought the place to be if you wanted to make a difference in Internet legislation was out in San Francisco?

    That's what the EFF told me...

    Hey, wait a minute! Didn't the EFF *used* to be based in DC, but then moved to the west coast? That can't be right, makes no sense, I must be confused...

    Anways, I guess we're all lucky these guys [cdt.org] stayed behind.
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:54PM (#15700120)
    So we got rid of our freedom.

    But they also hate us for our Internets.

    "The ministry of communication is duty-bound to make the use of the Internet impossible."
    - Taliban official [totalobscurity.com], less than three weeks before 9/11.

    Hey, be thankful that Congress doesn't exactly turn on a dime. We got to keep sending Internets to each other for another 5 years before they pulled the plug.

  • I despise Verizon, I hate Comcast, those are my only options for landline based services. Now, If verizon is allowed to start sending media down that fibre line, I think it should be fair that any other Company or Startup (new Media Broadcaster??) should be allowed to do the same to complete, unlike cable, who like to hoard their lines and not allow anyone else access to them. Also, last I checked, doesn't the gov subsidise the majority of the costs to lay the initial infrastructure, so the telcos should
    • Now, If verizon is allowed to start sending media down that fibre line, I think it should be fair that any other Company or Startup (new Media Broadcaster??) should be allowed to do the same to complete

      Theoretically that is the case now. It is one of the things that they are trying hard to change. Realistically, unless you have big bucks to fight it out in court, the phone company will refuse to comply with smaller businesses requests to use the lines. After much work I had the provider I chose for DSL t

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:06PM (#15700204) Journal
        Yes, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars to date.Not just direct subsidization... government also subsidizes them by granting them monopoly rights. This allows the telcos to charge more to the consumer than we'd likely have to pay in a competitive market.

        It's one thing to pay for the infrastructure out of tax dollars. It's quite another to then have no choice of who uses that publically-financed infrastructure.
        • It's one thing to pay for the infrastructure out of tax dollars. It's quite another to then have no choice of who uses that publically-financed infrastructure.

          Which is why my contention has been all along to nationalize the communications infrastructure of the country, mark it a national resource, then force the telecoms (or anyone else) to play by one set of rules. Mind you, I know this means letting the Federal Government run the nation's communication systems, but despite partisan politics and big mo

          • I'll agree with you there. The big downside I see, though, is that the federal government has even MORE intertia than the telcos, and I fear we'd be using today's technology in 2050 (if we're lucky).

            I haven't yet seen a good proposal that would incorporate both government control of the pipes and opportunity for multiple providers to compete to offer services on the same pipes.

            The other big problem I see is potential for abuse. It's hard enough keeping my packets private with a layer of separation betwe
  • Shallow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:57PM (#15700135)

    This article was broad, but shallow. It buys into and repeats a whole lot of common misconceptions. For example, it phrases the net neutrality debate as wanting to charge different prices for "complex" and "simple" data, using VoIP and e-mail as examples. This is completely wrong. This is about charging money to people who are not your network peers for not intentionally slowing down traffic from particular, wealthy, people, groups, or organizations despite the fact that that traffic is otherwise identical to other traffic. Networks 5 peers away want to extort money from google for not intentionally crippling traffic to them and not to MSN search or Yahoo.

    They also parrot the whole DRM as an anti-piracy measure. Everyone knows it fails miserably in that area. It is a content access control, so they can use differential pricing using regions and so they can charge you for the same content for different locations and devices. Anyone can point a camcorder at a TV screen and then upload it to the Web or make DVDs. Then, the masses can download it or buy it. What they can't do is easily move music they paid for from their Creative player to their iPod, car stereo, and CD player.

    It is pretty sad that marketing dollars can speak loudly enough that even supposed technically competent reporters just spew out the same crap that they have heard over and over again. What ever happened to critical thinking and investigation?

    • It is pretty sad that marketing dollars can speak loudly enough that even supposed technically competent reporters just spew out the same crap that they have heard over and over again. What ever happened to critical thinking and investigation?

      It's pretty simple, journalists are being lobbied the same as congresscritters. Some of them begin to repeat sensationalist claims about hundreds of billions of lost dollars (from the industry that barely gets 10b a year in total) or starving artists robbed by thievi

  • by Ludedude (948645) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:57PM (#15700136)
    All your base are belong to U.S.

    "After years of benign neglect, the Federal government is finally involved in the Internet -- big time."

  • Question... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by a_karbon_devel_005 (733886) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:57PM (#15700141)
    On "Net Neutrality:"
    It pits network owners such as Verizon and AT&T against the companies who buy their bandwidth, such as Google and Amazon, and it hinges on whether the network owners can charge extra to deliver certain kinds of bits -- bill more for streaming video, for example, than simpler data like text e-mail.
    ...If the Googles of the world win, the network owners will undoubtedly figure out some other way to raise prices. No matter which way it goes, it means a new element of government regulation. And as far as who pays to build out the networks -- in the end, one way or another, most of the costs will still be passed on to the consumer.


    My question is this, if it's simply about building and upgrading networks and the costs will be ultimately be passed on to the customer, why not just raise rates to those that purchase bandwidth accross the board? Why add the overhead of lobbying Congress to COMPLICATE the process of selling bandwidth?
    • My question is this, if it's simply about building and upgrading networks and the costs will be ultimately be passed on to the customer, why not just raise rates to those that purchase bandwidth accross the board?

      The network market has two components. The core is a free market with a lot of competition, although heavily government subsidized. The edge is government enforced local monopolies and in no way a free market. The edge does not really compete so they charge very high rates compared to their cost

      • Re:Question... (Score:5, Informative)

        by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @04:07PM (#15700795) Journal

        Not at all. The market has three components. The core is an oligopoly with only a couple of major players. They get paid either way. The end user edge is a bunch of local or regional monopolies or oligopolies with millions of users. The content provider edge is a bunch of local or regional oligopolies that rarely overlap with the end user edge.

        End users <---> End-user-heavy ISP <---> Backbone ISP <---> Content-provider-heavy ISP <---> Content providers

        As I understand it, traffic billing from one backbone to another is based on the balance of incoming versus outgoing connections. Making an outgoing connection costs money, while receiving a connection gets money back. The theory is that the content provider is not the one benefitting from the content. With advertising, that's not always the case, but it certainly makes sense from a network utilization perspective that the party that causes the traffic to be introduced into the network should pay for it.

        If two networks are fairly comparable in terms of how many outbound requests they spew into the other network, they set up an unmetered peering agreement in which the two parties don't bother keeping up with who makes more requests. It's just easier that way. If the two networks are imbalanced, the larger (generally more backbone-ish) network generally gets more requests from the smaller one than it sends to it, and thus, the other network ends up having to enter into a metered peering agreement.

        Now the problem is this: most content providers do not introduce a large amount of traffic into the backbones. With the exception of outbound email, almost all content providers return data in response to a request. Thus, ISPs with a higher percentage of content providers tend to have more favorable peering arrangements, while ISPs with a higher percentage of end users tend to have less favorable peering arrangements, since they generally produce the vast majority of requests. The ISPs that have a greater percentage of end users don't like this arrangement.

        The solution proposed by largely end-user ISPs is that they should be able to charge the content providers themselves for preferential access to their users, and that companies that didn't pay would get lower speed access. You will note that those content providers are not customers of those ISPs. They are customers of a different ISP that peers with a backbone provider, which in turn peers with those ISPs. You should quickly see why this is silly.

        A more fair solution would be for both ends of the communication to pay equally, as both are equal parties in the communication. In such a scheme, an ISP pays if either endpoint of a connection is within their network. This money is paid to the first backbone. Because the backbones are all considered somewhat equal and all pass traffic for each other, no additional transfers are needed. In effect, this would work the same way as the internet does now, only the backbone providers would get paid in part by both ends.

        The net effect of such a design would be that content providers would pay more of their fair share of the cost of operating the backbones, while end users would pay a less disproportionately large share of the cost. The most important part of my suggestion here, however, is that ISPs should only be allowed to bill their customers and peers, not the customers and peers of other ISPs. In other words, I am in favor of net neutrality laws, albeit laws that are more carefully crafted not only to prevent the end user ISPs from following through on their threat but also to reduce the disparity between the proportion of costs paid by end users and those paid by content providers.

        • Re:Question... (Score:3, Informative)

          by dgatwood (11270)

          Slight correction: the content provider edge does overlap significantly with the end user edge, but most ISPs tend to heavily favor either end users or content providers, depending on which market they primarily cater to. For example, Comcast is heavily biased towards end users, while AT&T is probably biased more heavily towards business (though admittedly less so since the merger with SBC).

        • Not at all. The market has three components.

          Well, I suppose we could break this up any number of ways, and there is a lot of overlap in any classification. Lets just agree that some of the market (peering arrangements) looks like a poster child for free markets, while others, customer edge, are monopolized all to hell.

          As I understand it, traffic billing from one backbone to another is based on the balance of incoming versus outgoing connections.

          Actually is priced by transit (traffic from a peer goi

  • Perrilous time... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doormat (63648) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:59PM (#15700148) Homepage Journal
    Its a very worrying time (as someone who makes his lving doing web-related stuff) when it comes to the net and government regulation. Its frought on all sides with peril - government letting corporations do whatever they want can be just as dangerous as governments coming in and dictating what goes on. There is a narrow path on which government can walk and not hurt innovation and consumers. I dont think they'll be able to pull it off.

    What astounds me is how bad google, MS, etc. are at lobbying. It seems like google and MS should be winning and not losing (as my current perception leads me to believe).
    • What astounds me is how bad google, MS, etc. are at lobbying. It seems like google and MS should be winning and not losing (as my current perception leads me to believe).

      True dat! This very thought has been disturbing me for a while now. Exactly how messed up does the government have to be if the bald, pigheaded ignorance of a guy like Senator Ted Stevens seems do be winning out over the piles and piles of money of the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft combined?

      I am only half joking here. A lot o

  • ...... Someone says "I for one welcome our new overlords," but I guess they've been around since 9/11 haven't they and this is just an extension of that.
  • Un huh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by finkployd (12902) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:01PM (#15700169) Homepage
    Yet it's safe to say that far more Americans have heard about flag burning than the laws that may soon reshape cyberspace.

    Congratulations, this is the single most useless comment in a /. writup this week. It is truly shocking that more Americans have heard about an issue that has existed many times longer longer than the word "cyberspace" than the recent goings on in congress related to the latter.

    Yes, more people should be aware of and care about this, but this is a ridiculous way to word it. Also in the news, more people have opinions on school choice than IPv6 adoption. Shocking!

    Back to the issue at hand. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking that our elected representatives will have a say in this any more than any other issue. The reshaping of the internet will be done SOLELY by Microsoft, AT&T/SBC, Verizon, Google, Cisco, Amazon, Hollywood, and the usual suspects. They will be writing the laws and casting the votes. There is no reason to even pretend otherwise anymore. Sure they will be be doing this via proxy with the elected representatives, but those reps (almost without exception) have no clue what they are talking about and just repeat the talking points given to them by their corporate masters. These issues will be determined exclusively by how money and favors are allocated.

    I know as Americans it feels better to pretend that corruption and corporate ownership are the exceptions in government, but to do so hurts as a nation. EVERY person currently in congress has been bought and sold to a special interest or company (no expections, don't even try to parade your favorite one out and claim them to be virtuous and pure, you are wrong). When it comes down to it, they will ALL vote they way they are told and the opinion of the voters matters not one bit.

    Finkployd
    • Re:Un huh (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Trouvist (958280)

      I know as Americans it feels better to pretend that corruption and corporate ownership are the exceptions in government, but to do so hurts as a nation. EVERY person currently in congress has been bought and sold to a special interest or company (no expections, don't even try to parade your favorite one out and claim them to be virtuous and pure, you are wrong). When it comes down to it, they will ALL vote they way they are told and the opinion of the voters matters not one bit.

      Welcome to America... the

    • ... It is truly shocking that more Americans have heard about an issue that has existed many times longer longer than the word "cyberspace" than the recent goings on in congress related to the latter.

      Number of people who will be directly affected by a flagburning amendment in their day-to-day activities: roughly 0.
      (note that I'll be seriously tempted to do the civil disobedience thing if such a stupid amendment was passed)
      Number of people who may be directly affected by internet laws: roughly 50% of the US
  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:03PM (#15700178) Journal
    Dear Legislator/Senator/Governor/President/Court Memeber/.....,

    PLEASE LEAVE THE INTERNET ALONE. You will only screw it up, if you start messing with it.

    Thanks,

    Archangel Michael (on behalf of most of the Slashdot crowd)
  • WORRY. DETAILS IN LETTER

    Or so the introduction appears. The Gucci-clad evil people our out to steal the Internet (and Christmas).

    "Reshape the Internet" sounds much like the recent "Great Internet plug-pulling by Congress" and the not so recent "Vote or Die!" attempts at fear-mongering.

  • by E++99 (880734) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:04PM (#15700188) Homepage
    It's all part of God's plan to move all successful business to India.
  • Aggressive telecom lobbying is the main reason that the consumer broadband market is not competitive right now. Most places in America have at most two choices for broadband. After seven years of having broadband (A LONG TIME when talking tech) prices, performance and choice have yet to improve significantly, with the exception of "special introductory rates" that revert back to the same high prices when the introductory period is over.
  • To try and get their sweetheart legislation through before their sweethearts get the bum's rush out of office. The K Street project bearing fruit for all the millions Bellsouth and friends have sunk into the Republican party.

    And don't try to blame the Democrats. This is bought and paid for with large cash donations, the vast bulk of which go to Republican lawmakers, who close the loop by hiring K Street lobbyists as staff. You can try to deflect blame by suggesting that if Dems were in power they'd be

    • Mod parent up. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by postbigbang (761081)
      He speaks the truth.

      Armies of lobbyists and lawyers go into the Rayburn building and across the hill to cow legislators. It's not a partisan issue-- it's a Jack Welch/We're Big And Here's Our Army To Prove It posture.

      Look at where the lobbying dollars and perks are spent, and by whom. Then mod the parent up as he/she's absolutely on target. This isn't about common sense, this is about re-writing the Telecom Act of 1935 (as amended) and pulling back decades of consumer-focused legal decisions and legislation
  • Once again we have a bunch of clueless fools that may destroy something wonderful we've created.
    The solution is to remove them from the picture. Vote them out.
    If they won't let themselves be voted out, kill them.
    You think I'm kidding, what do YOU call someone who won't leave power?
    A tyrant
  • Burn flags as you please, but touch my net and DIE!

    Unfortunately, as long as there are more flag-wavers than geeks, the world will continue to spin the way it does.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:16PM (#15700278) Homepage Journal
    to avoid damaged segments, such as any US restrictions.

    In an interconnected world where China has more Net users than the US, and so does the EU, one country standing in defiance of the Net is like a small earthen dam trying to constrain the massive tsunami that will either go around it, go over it, or crush it beneath its massive weight of inevitability.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:16PM (#15700284) Homepage Journal
    Only one kind of regulation and enforcement is needed out of the Fed: Combating online fraud (spam and phish, primarily). Everything else is pretty much working as it's supposed to.

    Oh, look. Online fraud is the only thing they're not planning on strangling in the crib. Shock, surprise...

    Schwab

  • This is why we need people who understand technology to run for office. This is one reason I am running and I hope you either run yourself or support a candidate who does have a clue. Don't leave these decisions to the people who think the Internet is a "series of tubes" [peteashdown.org].
  • One word: pretzel

  • Here's my attempt to rock the universe although the idea may not be original, I'm trying to universify it. It's called the "No Limit" label. Just take the GNU license and port it over to everything else. Music Record Label: No Limit Sounds, Co. - Specializing in letting you buy and copy as much as you damn please. Movie Studio: No Limit Moving Picture, Co. - Specializing in letting you distribute 'fantastic' independent films across the globe. Technology: Freedasonic, Co. - HD-NL (Hi-Def No Limit player) Le
  • by zogger (617870) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:37PM (#15700485) Homepage Journal
    Really...the anything goes wild wild west anarchy internet is a *complete total threat to governments all over the planet and large corporations*. Everything about the current and past model is a threat to them. It's a threat to their rule, (they call it governing but it really is rule-technofuedalism) a threat to their money(your money is their money by default), the way they want power over you politically or economically, etc. All of it. So..apply occam's razor and some extrapolation-what do you think will happen? What this article says-and more.

      It is about inevitable they will slice it up into something that looks like a combo of your cellphone bill and cable TV bill. You'll be seeing a large number of "nets" and be forced into "subscribing" to one or another-think a lot of different closed up walled garden type AOL experiences. And be paying through the nose to go outside that area-or be denied totally. And they'll be completely happy if 95% get herded into their control more, they'll pick off the other 5% at their leisure and when it suits their purposes. No one is completely leet enough to avoid it if they get a notion to mess up your day. No one.
  • by tlabetti (304480) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:48PM (#15700612) Homepage
    The telcos seem to be setting themselves up for lawsuits down the road. Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president for public affairs, said today in a press release that all of this is about "hypothetical business plans" and thus shouldn't be addressed now.

    If Net Neutrality isn't addressed proactively then we will see it end up in the courts where some activist judge could potentially really mess up the internet.

    The best thing that could happen at this point would be for the telcos to come out and openly debate the merits of their Tiering plans instead of using front groups and lobbyist, short of that the next best thing might be some form of legislation.

    But the worst thing to do would be to do nothing and wait for lawsuits.
  • Washington should not shape the Internet. (Without using all the vitriolic statments or acrimony to say this:) the basic issue is that Washington is politicians and bureaucrats - they don't really understand the fundamentals behind Internet technology or its ebb and flow.

    Business (particularly, well-funded business) has always had the ear of our bureaucrats - they're called lobbyists. In general, the Telcos (and other communications giants) are very good at lobbying. As with any business, they are looking
  • by Run4yourlives (716310) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @05:00PM (#15701265)
    that the internet exists outside of the US of A already, right?

    As important an issue as net nutrality is, and as much as is will affect the internet, it will hardly matter to people in say, the EU, where many lawmakers are moving away from internet regulation.

    Just a point, is all.
  • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @05:03PM (#15701291)
    Anyone read about this scandal here through Teletruth [newnetworks.com]? This is both shocking and makes me sick. Why hasnt the government done ANYTHING for high speed internet at a relatively fair price? Why is it that we lack innovation in this area? In most places that either have DSL or cable you usually have a few DSL providers but hardly ever if any, but one choice if you go the cable route. I have Comcast and there isnt any cable company within 25 miles of here I get 5 mbps down and 386k up for $42.95 a month. Either i want the 45 mbps or i want a check for $2,000 US as stated from a low estimate of how much we have paid in but have got nothing in return..
  • what we really need (Score:3, Informative)

    by lordvalrole (886029) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @05:32PM (#15701529)
    We (America) needs to shift priorities. There are too many priorities in the wrong things. The last election was won by Bush because of something as stupid as gay marriage. Some where along the line America has lost it's way and priorities shifted. Why are athletes, actors, actresses, ceo's, etc make insane amounts of money..where the people who actually do real work and benefit society make squat. Tell me why these people get paid millions to do very little amounts of work? Our system has become a two party system that just doesn't work any more. American's are fooled when going to the elections because there really is no choice in who they have to vote. Election campaigns have grown to be a huge shit fest on each other and they don't focus on things like what they can do to help society, not of just the US but of the world. There are too many rich, ignorant, selfish people in our government today. It isn't about serving the people any more. It is about what bids can I get, or how many votes I can get with the signing of this bill. It is absolutely appauling.

    I would like to see our government completely wiped out from top to bottom and start from a bunch of young people who actually do give a shit about our country and our future. There is a huge damn generational gap that is happening. All the old people are making decisions that they have no idea what the consequences will be or they just don't care completely because they will be dead by the time those consequences happen (ie. global warming, internet, pirating, etc.)

    The problem with America is that there is too much business. Because people are rich, they seem to have the most pull, which is bullshit because being rich doesn't make you intelligent. Too many things get passed through our congress and our senate because these assholes don't read anything, why? because they are on their damn big ass boats fishing or doing something other than coming up with new ways to help society. I hope all of our politicians burn in hell if there is one...because they are all evil....every single one of them. No one has the balls to stick up for what is right any more.

    You know, we could of have been atleast one step closer to getting a better energy source. You take the worlds top scientists and stick them in a lab and give them whatever they want, and you will have your new, cleaner, better energy. How do you think the atom bomb was made? exactly the same way. We could of spent that $300 billion it is costing us for the fuckin retarded ass war in Iraq for R&D of new technology to HELP society on a global level instead of hurting society. I will be damn surprise if humans will make it another 100 years because of the retarded people in high up places will do something like nuke another country, which will set off a huge train wreck through out the world. How do we have the power to wipe the human race over and over again, and the person at the helm is no other than the guy who choked on a pretzel, the guy who fumbles words constantly, the guy who says he will not change his path even though everyone says he is a moron and he is wrong, the guy who probably doesn't know what 10 x 10 is?

    Something needs to be done. We really need a good revolution of our government. Even though it won't happen, we really need one. This is what our second amendment right is for, to stand up against this bullshit when our government gets out of hand. Hell I am sure some of our military would even fight for the people, well whats left of it here in the US. I honestly don't think America could take another huge attack on American soil, and it shouldn't. Too many people in America are comfortable in their life driving their damn H3 hummers and as long as they can have their gas we are alright. I won't even go into all the BS oil and how that is going to end. America better get its act together or it will end up a 3rd world country in no time. And it all starts now with this damn goverment we have. This government has shifted America in a dir
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:31PM (#15702567) Homepage Journal
    >If so[nationwide telco video franchises], then fiber optic cables to the home are going to happen far more quickly than anyone would have predicted five years ago -- a major upgrade to the U.S. information infrastructure.

    Yes, and if Lucy holds the football I can come running up to kick it. Telcos have spent *decades* saying "give us this break and we'll lay fiber', "give us that break and we'll lay fiber", then taking the money and doing nothing.

    >abolition of the USF altogether -- but that seems unlikely, as that would impose an immediate and costly burden on many rural Americans.

    The USF money is not accounted for and when rural areas get service the telcos raise the rates by the amount of the subsidy [pulver.com].

    At least this one isn't telco propaganda:
    >electronic versions of anonymous cash
    That was the cypherpunk dream from the previous millenium, but if you look around at all the anonymous payment systems that used to exist they've all been shut down by the requirements of USAPATRIOT.

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