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Two-Tier Internet & The End of Freedom of Speech 364

Max Fomitchev writes "The proposed Two-Tier Internet bill threatens not only to raise prices on goods and services served online but also to seriously hamper free speech on Internet by allowing telecom providers choking user pages and blogs not associated with major content providers. What a perfect way of censorship..."
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Two-Tier Internet & The End of Freedom of Speech

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  • by beheaderaswp ( 549877 ) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:08PM (#15436183)
    "While Net Neutrality bill sounds like overkill, two-tier Internet bill is ought to be stopped too. If it passes freedom of speech would be seriously hampered, startups and small businesses will take a hit and we will pay higher prices for online advertising as well as goods and services delivered or sold over Internet. Do we really want that? I think not."

    His conclusions in the article are dead on correct. Though I disagree with his opinion on net-neutrality.

    The beauty of the internet, in my opinion, is it's ability to link people together while allowing an even playing field for small business. These have been the greatest social and economic impact points of the new technology era. Sadly, once it becomes tiered it also becomes discriminatory based on economic factors.

    Sure, your blog can be seen, but if it get's too popular you'll have to pay more...

    Sure, you can start a small business, but if it get's too busy you'll have to pay more...

    The idea that no one "owns" the net itself should be inviolate. I already am charged for the bandwidth that comes off my servers because of the cost incurred by my ISP for upstream bandwidth.

    A tiered internet would be the same as keeping the peasants out of libraries. It's a huge step *backwards*.
    • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:26PM (#15436375) Homepage Journal
      "Sure, your blog can be seen, but if it get's too popular you'll have to pay more...
      Sure, you can start a small business, but if it get's too busy you'll have to pay more..."

      Incorrect, that is how it works now. With tiered services it would be:

      Sure, your blog can be seen, but at a slower rate. If you want it to continue to perform at it's current rate or better, you need to pay more...

      Sure, you can start a small business, but your services will be slower. If you want a better QoS you need to pay more...

      The problem with teiring is that it doesn't actually fix any problem. If every company in the world signed up with every teiring opperator, we would still have the same limitations we have right now with a higher price tag for content providers and consumers. The other problem is that ANY non-teired provider will kill your higher teired service. So theoretically, not only will you have to pay the extortion fee to AT&T/SBC and the other back bone providers, you'll also need to pay the fee to all the local ISPs, dial ups, cable/DSL services, WiFi providers etc...

    • A tiered internet would be the same as keeping the peasants out of libraries. It's a huge step *backwards*. I'm not quite sure about your analogy. Under a two-tiered Internet, the content providers pay extra, not the "peasants" who are merely browsing in the "library." In other words, you have to have more resources to publish information, which is how existing print media has always worked.
      • Under a two-tiered Internet, the content providers pay extra, not the "peasants" who are merely browsing in the "library."

        Nope. The "peasants" will pay more. It will cost more to push the information out to the peasants, so the "peasants" will pay more by increased cost for the products or a reduction in information/services.
      • Okay, I'm curious about this.

        I thought originally the point of the tiered Internet was to make sure that when you made phone calls through Skype, which genuinely consume a lot of bandwidth, or when you're downloading video, that extra money was paid to help pay throughout the whole net for the extra bandwidth.

        In other words, let's say I send a phone call through Skype's servers. I'm not paying any more to my telco or cableco for them to do this. I'm just paying Skype and Skype is paying their own ISP, not
        • by 'nother poster ( 700681 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:11PM (#15436834)
          In other words, let's say I send a phone call through Skype's servers. I'm not paying any more to my telco or cableco for them to do this. I'm just paying Skype and Skype is paying their own ISP, not my local ISP, even though my local ISP is carrying all the extra traffic load. This is especially galling for the Telco because this used to be revenue at $ 0.05 a minute and now it's not giving them one thin dime, even though they are providing the bandwidth for it to happen!

          You ARE paying your ISP for the bandwidth already. That's that monthly "unlimited access" fee you pay to your ISP. Skype is paying their ISP, and the person on the other end is paying their ISP, if it's an IP to IP call. Everyone is already being paid for moving IP packets. If you are moving too many packets over your ISP, they should charge you, not Skype. Your ISP knows you want to use Skype, but will leave and go to another ISP if they raise your rates, so they extort money from Skype to be allowed to provide you a service you are already paying your ISP for, moving IP packets from your address to another and vice versa.
        • While google is low bandwidth/page view. At the local ISP level they most likely make up a single percent or more of the entire traffic since so many of their users are hitting them.
        • by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:22PM (#15436943) Homepage
          If there is a two-tier Internet, where video and telephony applications are on the top tier and web sites, email and most other services are on the bottom, it really doesn't seem unfair to me. In fact, it might vastly improve the quality of the top-tier applications to the point where we would be a great deal happier with them than we are now. Surely this is not so bad?

          It's unfair because I already paid for a certain quality of service on my end, and for all the bandwidth I use. If the telcos are having problems filling their end of the contract, they should raise prices to meet their actual costs, not try to extort money from the people on the other end of the connection. When I signed up for an account, I did so with the assumption that I was paying more than enough to cover the bandwidth they promised me, and that I would receive any and all data I chose to request at equal speed (at least as far as they can control). They are now trying to break that contract by delivering data that I request at less bandwidth than I am paying them for, unless the guy on the other end pays protection money.
    • It says something about the issue that 99.9999999% (not a scientifically obtained number of course) of the posts you read on Slashdot are pro-net neutrality... I can't think of any other issue where slashdotters, who usually have opinions ranging from alpha to omega, agree.
    • hmmmmm. The question we have is if limited access is censorship.

      Is it censorship to not have the best access to the front page of the news paper, the best storefront, the best story placement in a newscast? Do these physical universe examples apply to the Internet?

      Is the two tier setup meaning that currently available sites would continue with the current level of bandwidth, and only certain people would get better bandwidth service if they pay for it? or would the quality of their service decrease? If

    • Sure, you can start a small business, but if it get's too busy you'll have to pay more...

      Isn't that the case right now? Bandwidth isn't free. If your site gets too popular, you have to pay more.
      • Isn't that the case right now? Bandwidth isn't free. If your site gets too popular, you have to pay more.

        Yes, I have to get a bigger pipe and so pay more to my hosting provider.

        Now a few questions..

        - How many ISPs are there on this planet?
        - Which of them service one or more of your customers?

        And consequentely:

        - How many ISPs do you have to pay for getting 'fast' service?

        I'll leave it to your own interlect to figure out why exactly this idea is unworkable for any medium/small company, regardless of what the
    • A tiered internet would be the same as keeping the peasants out of libraries.

      Libraries are a public service paid for by taxes and donations. I suppose we could socialize the Web if we REALLY want to fuck it up to a fair-thee-well.

    • by thule ( 9041 )
      The idea that no one "owns" the net itself should be inviolate. I already am charged for the bandwidth that comes off my servers because of the cost incurred by my ISP for upstream bandwidth. ... and the big guys don't pay for all their bandwidth either. I'm surprised that no one on slashdot brings up peering. Yahoo apparently only pays for half of it's bandwidth. The other half of their bandwidth requirements flow over direct peering links to ISP's. Is this unfair? It saves the ISP money and the conte
  • REDACTED (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:08PM (#15436184) Homepage Journal

    This content is not on your Premium Plan.
    • Re:REDACTED (Score:2, Insightful)

      Don't you mean "Sorry, Your IP isnot on your content providers basic subscribers plan. Please urge them to upgrade to the Premium Plus package to be able to serve content to you OUR customer."
    • Re:REDACTED (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CRC'99 ( 96526 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:34PM (#15436445) Homepage
      This strikes a good note with me at the moment... There's a fault with a section of the Southern Cross data cable that connects Australia to the US. This means it currently has limited access. Suddenly, my ISP lost *all* international connectivity. Interestingly enough, when I use a proxy of my ISPs upstream provider, I can get through to international sites.

      This makes me think that there is already a two-tier internet - as this case obviously demonstrates. It seems that their wholesale traffic/customers aren't as important as its own. Nice way to wipe out tens of thousands of users off a network.

      Food for thought.
  • by Illbay ( 700081 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:09PM (#15436190) Journal
    We seem to have a "new class" of "article" light on content, and heavy on the ranting.

    Only the government can "censor" anyone. ISPs routinely "censor" content, and have no restrictions on doing so.

    Remember: Your right to "free speech" does NOT come with a corresponding right to be heard.

    Else why don't I have my own late-night talk show on a major network?

    • I hear you ranting, but just what is it that you are saying?
    • by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:17PM (#15436283)
      Editorializing in Slashdot articles is new? That cave you've been living in all this time must have been cramped.

      The very concept of the two-tiered Internet destroys what the Internet has been for years, which is a tool for global collaboration. With a two-tiered Internet, the entire multi-billion-dollar network basically just becomes a vehicle to serve corporate advertising to the plebes, as the "lower tier" sites become slow and unreliable.

      This is nothing but a money grab by access providers that will blow up in their faces. Most people use the Internet for social networking these days, and if those sites either essentially get shut down (by being part of the crappy lower tier) or are forced to charge users (because they have to pay exorbitant access charges to get on the upper tier), many people will simply drop offline, which will end up hurting these access providers in the long run.

      Content neutrality among backbone providers must be maintained in order for the Internet to continue to be useful to the public. Segmentation will kill the Internet.
    • then ...

      Because 2 mean the same thing. Same goes for "having a brain does not guarantee that you might be allowed to think" too.

      If you do not protect your rights, there are always people who will not hesitate to reap you off of them.
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:21PM (#15436325)
      > Remember: Your right to "free speech" does NOT come with a corresponding right to be heard.

      Yes it does -- every human being on the planet has a right to be heard every time they speak. Not just Americans! Every human being on the planet has this right.

      NSA is out there, burning billions of dollars and quadrillions of exaflops of computing power, all in a valiant effort to defend your right to be heard. And you just knock 'em off like that. Such ingratitude!

    • Yes, you are correct.

      However, I think the point is that the Internet started out with the liberating quality that it encorporated both the "right to free speech" _and_ the "right to be heard." You don't have your own late-night talk show on a major network because you can't write up one of those in vi beginning with "" and ending with "."

      It's this very quality that people are seeking to preserve when they rail against tiered internet plans. Not to mention the fact that these plans appear to be based
    • So where is the defining factor between government and private business? And before you answer, see At&t and the NSA.
    • Only the government can "censor" anyone.

      Really? I censor my children. Does that make me the president of the United States?
    • Only the government can "censor" anyone. ISPs routinely "censor" content, and have no restrictions on doing so.

      You're mistaken. The government and agents acting on their behalf can censor. ISPs are not just private companies. They are private companies subsidized by taxpayer dollars, granted special immunity for breaking certain laws, and who are granted monopolies in geographical regions enforced by the government using the police.

      In most localities only one phone and one cable company are granted the

    • Remember: Your right to "free speech" does NOT come with a corresponding right to be heard.

      What the article is saying -- and what it's hard to argue against in practical terms, rather than the abstract principle you're invoking -- is that we currently have the ability to publish affordably, and it's a good thing. If you assume that free speech is not only a *right*, but has *value* to society (if for no other reason than allowing good ideas and dialogue to emerge), it's easy to see we're in a positive state
    • Remember: Your right to "free speech" does NOT come with a corresponding right to be heard.

      True, but it does come with the right to be reachable. Free speech is meaningless if no one can get to you and hear it. If the government (or a powerful corporation) can lock you in a windowless, soundproof, RF-shielded room and they tell you "go ahead and say whatever you like" while you're in there, is it still free speech?

      Implicit in the right to free speech is the right of others to listen if they wish.

  • Since many a blogger rails hardest against corporations and their associated ilk, it makes sense for them tot ry and limit it. What is in the interest of business is a society whose information comes from marketers.
    • Bad mod, bad.

      A troll that was not. I don't believe the GP was suggesting that's the way it _should_ be, by any means. It was simply a statement that shows what kind of thought process is required to come up with an idea like this!
  • Blogger with crap beard rants incoherently about Freedom.

    Film at 11.
  • Two steps to anarchy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by packetmon ( 977047 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:14PM (#15436243) Homepage
    telcos argue that they want to curb proliferation of online video and other types of data-hungry streaming that allegedly taxes their networks they think imposing traffic fees on content providers would be a fair solution. So ISP's (not TELCO's since not all ISP's are necessarily TELCO's) want to impose sort of a private highway fee for passing bandwidth through their networks... Its surprising to see which one of these clowns will be the first to stick it to the next one. Since all networks rely on another one to pass their information through their pipes (peering), I wonder how long before one de-peers with another and breaks the Internet again (see: Who broke *.org []).

    I wonder what idiotic government officials while having their pockets greased will do their emails no longer come in but instead they receive a hostage notification from their provider: Dear Mr. President, under subsection 1(a)(b)(c)(d)(e) of the Draconian Telecommunications Act, we cannot deliver today's messages. Please pay the sum of a) bandwidth b) tax fees c) attorney fees d) greaser fees in order to release your messages.

    • I think the ISPs will extend professional courtesy to the other backbone carriers. What ISPs really want is to charge content providers (who are not their bandwidth customers) for speedy access to their retail customers. Things would have to get pretty nasty for them to throttle bandwidth to the point where text content like HTML or SMTP becomes unusable.
      • The problem lies in that the content providers are customers of the other peers, so they're intending on pretty much BREAKING the peering agreements with this BS. They should just flipping drop the subject- their customers paid the price for the bandwidth; it's not the content providers' fault that the losers are overselling the bandwidth in question.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:15PM (#15436247)
    There are quite a few people out there - not just representatives of the telecommunications industry - under the impression that "Government Intervention Is Bad", hence we should all oppose network neutrality legislation. But this bill underscores the fact that government intervention by itself isn't necessarily bad - it's how government intervenes that determines whether the right or wrong thing is being done.

    So let's all drop this nonsense about claiming that the government shouldn't be intervening in how the Internet works, and get back to the core of the matter - which is whether the telecommunications industry should be allowed to leverage its oligopoly position in the broadband ISP market to extract profit from content providers that don't even connect to them directly, and whether the industry should be allowed to discriminate based on traffic type and content, rather than pricing by bandwidth consumption alone.

    • whether the industry should be allowed to discriminate based on traffic type and content, rather than pricing by bandwidth consumption alone. There is nothing written that states a provider has to pass traffic for another. Providers with their peering agreements agree to pass X through their networks as a means of allowing their traffic to traverse a competitors. While I see their arguments for bandwidth consumption when it becomes extreme, I see this as a ploy to eliminate competition and charge higher pri
    • I wouldn't mind AT ALL if government intervened to enforce network neutrality.

      The problem with government intervention, though, is that it can't be stopped. Once government make one internet intervention, it will make more - and the next time it's rather probable that it won't be something that helps you to get uncensored web access, but it'll probably by something backed by Big Industry (or when was the last time any government intervention was really pro-people and contra-industry??).
  • Put the fear of god in them. Do not let them take this lightly. For this is YOUR ass on the plate.
  • Unless you have not heard, Verizon, AT&T, Bell South and other telecommunications giants are lobbying Congress to establish a legal basis for charging website owners for traffic with the help of two-tier Internet.

    Sweet. So as long as we haven't heard about it, they're not actually doing it??? Then WTH is Slashdot doing, posting this crap and ruining the Internet for all of us?
  • You'd think the telecos would have more pressing things to be worried about []. Perhaps the perception the public has of them no longer matters to the machine.
  • Two Questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thunderstruck ( 210399 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:17PM (#15436278)
    1. From a "free speech" point of view, how is this any different than than your local newspaper's editorial policy? Some newspapers just won't print some kinds of content, even if the author is willing to pay for the service.

    2. Does this form of content limitation take away any of the rights you had before the dawn of email? Back in the day, we wrote pen & paper letters because it was the only option. Today, although letters are (probably) more secure, because they are not subject to the kind of keyword data mining that can be conducted on electronic communications, we seem stuck on email. Do we need to be?

    • I believe that if you see the Internet as a public space that all have equal access to, your questions are answered.

      In a public space one isn't charged to state an opinion. Other visitors to that space aren't obliged to listen to that opinion, yet the economic and political freedom to speak one's mind exists.

      Removing Net Neutrality really amounts to privatizing the Internet. Just as one can be chased out of a private space like a shopping mall because the ownership doesn't want one there, so can network own
    • 1. From a "free speech" point of view, how is this any different than than your local newspaper's editorial policy? Some newspapers just won't print some kinds of content, even if the author is willing to pay for the service.

      ISPs are not content creators, they are content carriers. It is like city traffic department saying to the paper: "Because your paper is so popular and you have lots of delivery trucks, you have to pay extra to use the roads."

      2. Does this form of content limitation take away any of

    • Re:Two Questions (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Haeleth ( 414428 )
      1. From a "free speech" point of view, how is this any different than than your local newspaper's editorial policy? Some newspapers just won't print some kinds of content, even if the author is willing to pay for the service.

      Does your local newspaper prevent you from subscribing to a different newspaper? No? Then that's the difference: it's trivial to switch newspapers, but it's very difficult to switch ISPs, particularly if you live in one of the many parts of the world where there is practically no comp
    • 1. From a "free speech" point of view, how is this any different than than your local newspaper's editorial policy? Some newspapers just won't print some kinds of content, even if the author is willing to pay for the service.

      Yes, because the Internet is not a distributed system, i.e. one company or organization delivering all its content. Anyone with server space, an IP address, and/or a domain name can carve out a chunk of territory, post whatever they want, and let people read it or not. As with anyth

  • I'm not going to say that the ISP CEOs aren't going to take a little off the top and get a little richer with this scheme, but who says customers are going to pay higher prices? If the ISPs are bringing in more capital, they will be able to *cut* prices for consumers. Assuming that you're in a free market economy, it's bound to happen as ISPs cut prices to gain your business.

    The whole thing is really a tradeoff - lower prices for targeted, sponsored content. It's like TV - you can pay for commercial-f

    • Re:Higher prices? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dnixon112 ( 663069 )
      Assuming that you're in a free market economy

      See that's where you're assuming wrong. The ISP market is not competitive and free. It's an oligopaly. The only choice customers will have is to either get broadband or not.
    • Re:Higher prices? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tinkerghost ( 944862 )
      Um, buy a DVD lately. How about watch Comcast's on-demand - the 'free offerings' you pay for as part of your digital package ... yeah they added commercials to the start of them and I don't recall the price of either coming down.
      By the way, not once have I seen anything from a telco on 2 Tier internet where they are garaunteeing anything but best effort even if you pay. So technically, they can flag you high QoS priority at the peerpoint and ignore you after that. You pay them more, they give you a nifty f
    • How free is the market when your ISP decides what you see?
      When the price of goods goes up, it will be more then the possible discount your ISP will give you.
      Lets say the cost of goods goes up, which they will because the cost to do business has gone up. Let's say the cost for goods goes up 5%

      Lets say the ISP is free. this would save me 15 bucks a month on my DSL line.

      Bases on my online purchases, my annual money spent would be higher. Take into account my ISP wont be free, it is even worse.

      All that is assum
    • The whole thing is really a tradeoff - lower prices for targeted, sponsored content. It's like TV - you can pay for commercial-free content, or be cheap about it and be forced to watch commercials.

      You're still getting gouged.

      Public memory is short. You may not remember this, but when cable TV was first introduced, the whole idea was that you were essentially paying for the privilege of not watching commercials. After all, cable was supported by you, the viewer, and not advertisers. They've since introduc
  • by Pranjal ( 624521 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:20PM (#15436310)
    What happens if I happen to access a US server? Will my ISP be charged extra for the services offered by the website? If yes I think all US centric websites are screwed. The content will just move to international waters like most US MNC's who are incorporated in tax free zones. The internet does not revolve around the US you know.
  • So, is there some sort of online petition against this? Emails or lists of Congress people who support and oppose this?

    I mean, we all know Congress is working soooo hard for us....
  • Sorry, but a rambling and unsubstantiated opinion piece, and a short one at that, hardly qualifies as a call for action.

    Commerce in action ensures that bandwidth providers will want to be paid more, and bandwidth consumers will want to pay less.

    Will prices go up for popular stuff? Probably, but this is hardly news or even unexpected.

    Will ISPs and their upchannel bandwidth suppliers charge more for increased badnwidth consumption? Sure, but this is hardly new or unexpected either.

    Really folks, this is old ne
  • Moving to China (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
    Is it just me, or does communist China have a better grip on the overall "issue" of controlling the internet than the Democratic Peoples Republic of The United Sta....Errr I mean the USA.

    I really wish the government could just let well enough alone instead of completely fucking up the economy by way of fucking up the internet.

  • by briancnorton ( 586947 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:24PM (#15436353) Homepage
    Why is it assumed that the internet is the common property of all mankind? Certainly the infrastructure owned by governments around the world is held to one standard, but why do we assume that verizon, quest, etc somehow "owe" us? The internet is a commercial entity. Laying all that fiber was paid for (mostly) by companies expecting a reasonable ROI. The way to voice your opinion is with your wallet. Cancel your service.
  • you've always been able to say whatever you wanted to as long as you were willing and able to pay the price. Challenge the King? Die. Challenge the Empire? Die. This time all they want is cold hard cash. I'd say the price of speech has gotten cheaper.
  • by fortinbras47 ( 457756 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:30PM (#15436417)
    All kinds of people are coming out with these parade of hypothetical horribles, but WHERE IS THE CURRENT PROBLEM??!?

    I don't know about you, but I am HIGHLY suspicious of the government's ability to do anything sensical when it comes to technology, and I can think of nothing worse than a law being passed to correct some theoretical problem that DOESN'T CURRENTLY EXIST and might never exist.

    What would happen if Congress tried to pass some Net Neutrality Law? Since there isn't any kind of ACTUAL problem now, I'm sure the bill would undoubtedly screw stuff up through the law of unintended consequences.

    Congress would insert all kinds of special provisions that would benefit some group at the expense of others, all kinds of new technology would become illegal, and lawsuits would proliferate. Who knows what would happen, the point is that when congress acts on technology (eg. the DMCA) they are likely to create a huge mess and things better be PRETTY DAMN bad before Congress can do more good than harm.

    • Concentrate more on promoting than on demoting. The real goal here is to find the juicy good stuff and let others read it. Do not promote personal agendas. Do not let your opinions factor in. Try to be impartial about this. Simply disagreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to mark it down. Likewise, agreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to mark it up. The goal here is to share ideas. To sift through the haystack and find needles. And to keep the children who like to spam Slashdot in check.


      • Is it POSSIBLE to disagree with net neutrality and not get modded down?!?!?!?

        Hey, you think you have problems? Try pointing out that Macs are overpriced, ugly, unreliable, badly made pieces of plastic crap which are almost impossible to get repaired when they breakdown yet again. Then you'll see moderation!


  • by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:33PM (#15436435) Homepage Journal
    That's it. I'm sending in the ninjas [].

    -Grey []
  • by NetSettler ( 460623 ) <> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:35PM (#15436454) Homepage Journal

    I've got to say, I have trouble with charging content providers even once, so I completely agree with this criticism of the proposed "revenue enhancing" technologys for the megacorps.

    I used to post commentary to Salon's TableTalk [] until they changed their revenue policy to charge people who posted stuff for the right to post. People who posted stuff? They're a magazine. It seems absurd to charge writers but not subscribers. So I left. Obviously it didn't bring the empire down, but my point was to say "look, I'm not going to pay two ways: one by providing content and another by providing money to have that content delivered". People come to the site to read posts, and they charge advertisers for that. Getting readers is enough payment for me.

    Similarly here, I think it's amazing that if you have a web site that is full of content, the internet has no mechanism to make sure you are economically rewarded. The promise of micropayments for having put up very elaborate sites full of information was never carried through because the big portal sites realized they could just take all that money for themselves--why pass it through? No one cares that it's my or your commentary that people are getting out of their browser. They just thank AOL or MSN or Google for finding it for them. And we who provide the myriad little details, blogs, maps, lists, and other things that make up the real fabric of the internet are not only not rewarded but are charged.

    So when you talk about double-charging for that privilege, not single-charging, at some point I have to say everyone should go read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged [], in which something very similar occurs, and what amount to "content providers" eventually say "enough is enough". Ayn Rand is controversial for her overall broad philosophy of Objectivism, which lots of people don't buy into wholesale. But I'm not advancing Objectivism here. I'm just saying the basic premise of the book, that sometimes enough is enough, is worth considering. The book is an interesting read regardless of your position on her larger scale philosophies.

    And I'm all for creating reasonable fees on the Internet. I just don't think authors and other content providers should be charged for doing so. That's the very definition of not reasonable. Sort of like having kids charge their parents for raising them. Or charging teachers for the privilege of teaching. If no one reads the content someone provides, the cost of that content approaches zero since it's just a few bytes on an unused disk. If lots of people read them, then by definition the content contributes a lot to the world, and the world should contribute by each consumer chipping in, not by each consumer contributing to the content provider's eventual bankruptcy (or in less severe cases just negatively contributing to their financial success).

    Also, I like Jesse Ventura's "government should do for people what they cannot do for themselves". The big portal companies are already capable of a great many sins; the mere presence of money enables that. What the law needs to protect are the individual content providers, who are not capable of protecting themselves because often they are denied (or made to work unreasonably hard for) any revenue stream from their efforts. If there's a need for a law, it's to protect the little guy, not to enable the big one.

  • Hyperbole (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:37PM (#15436477) Homepage Journal
    Freedom of speech is violated when there are legal consequences from government for saying what you think. This is not that. We had freedom of speech before the internet even existed, I don't see how we're losing it with a tiered system. Don't misunderstand, I don't agree with or like the "tiered" internet approach, but this hyperbolic language about what is and is not a loss of basic human rights is not conductive to the debate. It trivializes TRUE abuses and suspensions of human rights, and clouds the issue in people's minds. When people don't understand what something is, they can't make intelligent decisions about it.

    • I agree. And further... whenever a company does anything to alienate it's customers (no matter what that happens to be), another company will rise up to take those customers away.

      Slow service? Too expensive? Restrictive? That lean, hungry, bend-over-backwards-to-please new company over there will take care of you.

      BTW, and OT: The sig quote ("I have never won a debate with an ignorant person") has got to be one of the most insightful bits of wisdom I have read in quite some time.
  • ISPs have a small, but measurable desire to keep their own customers happy through means such as not blocking off all their favorite sites. I doubt they'll spend much time trying to squeeze blood from turnips before realizing the futility of it.
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:46PM (#15436559) Journal
    There's nothing wrong with paying more for better service, for example a connection to a bigger pipe. That being said, this isn't what's happening. Rather, it's that you would be forced to pay for a transit-party (between you, your own ISP, and the client connecting to your site) to not degrade the regular connection. The problem is, that the connection has already been paid for. On the end of the client... to their ISP by them. If they don't want to pay for a higher-speed connection, then with dial-up or low-speed they will get overall lower performance. Fair enough

    On your end, you have bandwidth and pipe limits imposed by your ISP. If you want more, you pay for the bigger package. Again, it depends on what service contract you choose.

    What should not happen, is that the client's ISP will bill you (after the client is already paying for service) not to choke off your access. This also applies to the midpoints in the connection, and somebody has already footed the bill.

    It's double-dipping, and it's extortion. It also strays far from the concept of an ISP being somewhat of a common carrier, and shows blatently that the can (and will abuse the ability to) monitor and/or restrict specific traffic.

    If this passes it will be a dark day for the internet indeed... but if it does my hopes are that the first ones to try it will be hammered so mercilessly (lost customers, complaints, legislation, and banner ads everywhere proclaiming to existing customers that their ISP is evil) that the idea will quickly lose it's appeal.

    That being said, perhaps we can create a master-pool of ISP's that use said service. In that case we could create something similiar to an anti-spam list wherein customers will get a memo stating "connections to this site will suffer extremely slowness and loss of quality because your ISP 'ASSHATINTERNETCO' is limiting your connection. Click here [link] for more information". I'd be happy to pop those up on my site, and it's easy enough with SHTML, etc.

    Anyone in?
  • The pro-freedom approach would be to let fiber owners (telcoms) charge whomever and whatever they want to use the lines that THEY OWN. If these telcos start charging content providers, the cost may be shifted to users, but new companies would start laying more fiber to grab some of the profits, and the increased competition would bring prices back down in the long run. Plus, there'd be a lot more line capacity out there, which would not happen with "net neutrality".

    If it were up to this guy, bookstores coul
  • Let's not forget that the Internet, and computers in general, have all been developed almost exclusively at public expense for most of their lifetimes, and by all rights should remain in the public sector.

    "As Andrew L Shapiro, a contributing editor of the Nation, wrote in July, 1995: ``You probably didn't notice, but the Internet was sold a few months ago. Well, sort of. The US Federal Government has been gradually transferring the backbone of the US portion of the global computer network to companies such
  • When the telcos/cablecos can charge higher rates to other content or service providers than their own competing departments, and/or reduce the performance of those competitors over the Net, those Net operators will choke the competition out of existence.

    That divide and conquer tactic has been the favorite telco strategy since forever. Remember what happened to competing DSL providers? Say goodbye to independent content/service providers.
  • I just got this letter from our favorite, Rick Santorum:

    Dear Mr. Zhrodague:

    Thank[sic] for contacting me regarding a tiered Internet system. I appreciate hearing from you and having the benefit of your views.

    As you may know, on March 2, 2006, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced S. 2360, the Internet Nondiscrimination Act of 2006. This bill would prohibit the interfering with, blocking, degrading, altering, modifying or changing traffic on the Internet. S. 2360 would also prohibit the creating of a
  • by KarmaOverDogma ( 681451 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:12PM (#15436840) Homepage Journal
    and here is the link: tml []

    IMO, the New York Times says it better, but, hey, that's just me.
  • "Net Neutrality" is an attempt by the Telcos to shift their problem to the backs of content providers and end users, leaving nothing but profit for them.

    Let's take an example. Verizon and Google seem to be popular. Let's say Google is hosted with AT&T. So now we have Verizon's customers using their bandwidth to access Google on AT&T's network, and not getting any money for it. This in and of itself is false. The customers pay for the access, and if they didn't use it for Google then they would use i
  • by SiliconEntity ( 448450 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:31PM (#15440291)
    This is not an issue of your rights online. It is a battle between two enormous business groups: Internet providers and content providers. Neither of them has your interests at heart! Both groups are primarily motivated by maximizing their own profits. They are using you and manipulating you in order to try to further their business goals.

    I don't love my ISP any more than the next guy, but let me make a brief counter to all the propaganda from Google and Ebay and MSN about the "greedy" ISPs (of course, Google etc. are just in business to extend love and butterflies and puppies throughout the world).

    The way people pay for and get charged for the Internet has changed over time. It used to be that many of us had to pay by the minute, or even by the byte. That has mostly disappeared, but we still pay more for better service. Not everyone has the same options for Internet access, and even if they do have the same options not everyone can afford the same access. Internet access is a business, and a relatively new one. Business models are evolving and there is no guarantee that today's model is the perfectly optimal, best possible way that people could pay for Internet access.

    It might be that if ISPs could get some money from content providers, they would charge their customers less. Of course, they would not do this out of the goodness of their hearts (they have no hearts!), but rather for the same business reasons that they stopped their per-minute and per-byte charges. ISPs exist in a competitive business environment like other companies and ultimately they need to satisfy their customers.

    It might even be that in the future, Internet access could be free. It would effectively be subsidized by the big content companies, which ultimately get their income from ads. Free access to Internet content could be supported by advertising. It has worked with other media and it's possible it could work for the net too. But the only way it can happen is if ISPs, which bear the cost of end-user access, are able to get some of the revenues from the companies that are offering the ads.

    That's really what this battle is all about. I don't know how it will come out, but I do know that when good ol' Meg from Ebay suddenly wants me to write my congresswoman about an issue that, coincidentally, would protect the huge profits Meg is earning, her motive is not to benefit me. Meg doesn't actually ask my opinion all that often. She's not on the phone wishing me happy birthday or asking how's the family. No, her interests are not mine. She is looking to protect her company's profits and she is trying to influence me and use me in this political battle against Comcast and other ISPs.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.