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The Internet

Congress to Debate Net Neutrality 227

evw writes "The NYTimes is reporting that legislation was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday in support of Net Neutrality. It is bipartisan legislation introduced by Olympia Snowe, R-Maine and Byron Dorgan, D-N. Dakota, however the article notes that Senator Snowe is one of the few Republicans that supports it. "Senior lawmakers, emboldened by the recent restrictions on AT&T and the change in control of Congress, have begun drafting legislation that would prevent high-speed Internet companies from charging content providers for priority access." This isn't the first attempt. Last year a similar amendment was blocked. However, conditions placed on AT&T in its merger with SBC have emboldened supporters of the legislation."
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Congress to Debate Net Neutrality

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  • by shirizaki ( 994008 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:33AM (#17539842)
    C'mon congress, learn from history. The second internet companies are allowed to make tiered internet is the day internet and porn dies. Do you want to be on the receiving end of THAT backlash?

    This is a step to limit the internet companies from rippnig the money from my wallet, but letting AT&T regain itself from a century of being split was a mistake. The evil has respawned, and threatens my porn.
  • Re:I find this funny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:58AM (#17540304) Homepage Journal
    You viewpoint is naive. Read some American history about the period 100 years ago. Standard Oil wasn't created by government 'interference'.

    The intense competition of the marketplace creates great incentive to cheat and deal with people unfairly in order to get ahead. A truly free market will be taken over by powerful monopolies who will work to *remove* competition. Corporations have no incentive to tell us the truth or to use less hazardous manufacturing methods if it makes them more money. They have no incentive to pay people decent wages if they could have child laborers working 80 hour weeks, or even serfs or slaves. The slaves were freed through government 'interference' in the marketplace. Children were taken out of factories and mines by government 'interference'. Workers were given 40-hour work weeks with overtime thereafter, lunch breaks, bathroom/coffee breaks, and retirement accounts by unionization and government 'interference' which allowed unions. Read some history about how labor organizers were beaten up and killed by private 'security' services employed by corporations.

    The role of government is to keep the marketplace fair by creating the rules through law, and punishing cheaters. Otherwise a free market will simply reward cheaters and strongmen. Part of keeping the marketplace fair is ensuring competition. This involves breaking up monopolies. We are a democratic republic, and we have the rule of law. In order for the government to legitimately regulate the marketplace, law must be passed.
  • Libertarian stance? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by august sun ( 799030 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @12:02PM (#17540380)
    Dear /.

    I have a confession to make, I haven't been following the net neutrality issue closely at all. The extent of my understanding is that its proponents are calling for federal legislation ensuring that the private companies who do some infrastrutural magic to make the net possible, aren't allowed to discriminate or otherwise let business decisions apply to how they treat network traffic.

    As I see it, this should give rise to a philosophical point of contention:

    Namely, how do you reconcile libertarian free-market capitalism with legislation that at the end of the day will still be restricting the free-market actions of private companies.

    To distill the point, let's put it this way:

    /.ers tend to have strong libertarian leanings. /.ers are also vehemently and overwhelmingly in favor of Net Neutrality, which anyway you slice it still amounts to federal regulation of a free market.

    Any good answers to this? I promise there will be many +informatives/+insightfuls in it for you...

  • Re:Idiot. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @01:16PM (#17541840) Homepage Journal
    This is patently untrue. For thousands of years, if you wanted to be a shopkeeper, all you needed was your dad to keep shop. If you wanted to be a blacksmith, all you needed was your father to be blacksmith. That's why we have family names like Smith, Miller, and Farmer. Occupations were something that belonged within a family.

    For most of human history, there was an upper class of elites, about 10% of the population, who ruled over the other 90% who grew food and served the elites. There are variations throughout the world, but this is the basic pattern. There was no free market or middle class or political freedom. Wikipedia says this [] about free markets: "The consensus among economic historians is that the free market economy is a specific historic phenomenon, and that it emerged in late medieval and early-modern Europe". It gets a little convoluted in places like Europe and India, where what emerges is a system of classes or casts: the religious/priest group, the warrior/nobility, and the mercantile class. But don't think that there was a free market. Kings had absolute power; they could levy fines, confiscate assets, fix prices, etc. etc. What emerged out of the class struggles of Europe was the idea of liberty -- freedom -- where nobody, not a King, not a priest, could tell you want to do. Applied to economics, the conclusion is the free market. You don't need the church fixing the price of apples, claiming that changing prices was a challenge to Go'ds natural order. Applied to politics, we get the idea of political freedom and the rights of man.

    Hunter gathers do/did live in a society with greater political and economic freedom, but technically, that's before history, since history is the recorded word. Furthermore, those societies are ruled by complex system of obligations to kin, so you can't really say that they have absolute freedom. As far as taxes, they have been part of business for as long as we have recorded history. The very first writings were receipts for business transactions. You needed these so that the King's tax collector wouldn't demand more than you owed, and the tax collector wanted to see that you weren't cheating him.

    So basically you're taking this libertarian fantasy of a free market and applying it backwards into history where it never really existed.
  • Re:Idiot. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Itchyeyes ( 908311 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @01:35PM (#17542232) Homepage

    Hunter gathers do/did live in a society with greater political and economic freedom, but technically, that's before history, since history is the recorded word.
    It's easy to live in a society with greater economic freedom when you're society doesn't have an economy. For a society to have an economy there has to be some form of trade, which in turn implies some form of division of labor. In a hunter gatherer society nearly everyone performs the same function to support themselves. Once agriculture enters the picture you begin to see these things, however you also begin to see the beginnings of governments that restrict and control trade.
  • Re:IPTV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by creysoft ( 856713 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @02:04PM (#17542778)
    So, your argument is that we should give ISPs carte blanche to turn the internet into their own personal profit wagon, just so you can watch HBO without glitches?

    Network Neutrality simply means that the ISP is either not allowed to set up that dedicated network connection to the content provider, or if they decide to do it, they have to eat the cost (and by "eat the cost", we mean, "pass the cost onto the consumer").

    And since that would jack your IPTV bill up beyond reason, nobody will buy IPTV. Hmmm... You know, having read all of the comments to this point, I'm coming to one undeniable conclusion: Maybe IPTV just isn't a good idea right now? If we had the bandwidth that's considered "normal" in most of developed Europe, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. But no, we live in a place where a 5Mb/s burst on a typical home connection is considered phenomenal.

    Why don't we let the ISPs who want to roll out IPTV so much actually build the infrastructure that we paid them billions in tax dollars to build for us? Then perhaps we'll have enough bandwidth that they can roll out all their nifty services without needing to destroy the way the internet currently works.

    I'm sorry, but if I have to choose between handing a bunch of obviously crooked corporations unfettered access to turn the Internet into their own, personal plaything, and letting Joe Sixpack suffer through some lag on iHBO.... so be it. I choose the internet.

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