01.28.14

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Net Neutrality is Dead in the West. Now What?

Posted in Law at 4:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Summary: Final thoughts about the fall of net neutrality in Western nations, notably the UK and US (creators of the Web and the Internet)

NETWORK capacity for the Internet is not an issue, especially not in the West. Today we upgraded to fibre, raising download speeds to 80Mbits/second after new infrastructure had been installed in our area (and promotional offers combined with bargaining over the phone for one hour made it as inexpensive as copper). When capacity is lacking/insufficient, then additional wiring/improved wiring kicks in. So why can’t we all have net neutrality (equal utilisation, irrespective of requester and protocol)? BT appears to be throttling Internet traffic, but it’s hard to tell for sure although my contacts at BT management suggest that it’s true. It seems safe to say that in the UK we have lost net neutrality and it may never come back. The public is apathetic; the vast majority of people here don’t even know what net neutrality is. Heck, I received promotion of Internet censorship by BT this afternoon. BT recommends “parental controls” for adults too. It would be absolutely hilarious if it wasn’t true. Extensive Internet censorship will be on by default here soon. Who needs to worry about net neutrality (soft censorship) when the British public already accepts full censorship with open arms?

Coverage about the death knell of net neutrality in the US (setting the trend for other nations) has pretty much died down since it made headlines. The FCC is not doing anything substantial [1] and corporations mostly let it be even if it hurts them [2]. It’s defeatism all over the place [3] and the petition to the White House is very far from the goal [4] (where the White House is obliged to respond). The FCC’s Chairman, Tom Wheeler, is not even in favour of net neutrality on the face of it [5]. No surprise there given his background. We called him a mole as soon as he was appointed.

Solutions are still being put forth [6-8], noting the nature of the Web [9,10] and its history [11], but judging by public discussion in the press (or lack thereof) we now need a movement like that which defeated SOPA and ACTA. Anything else would help preserves the status quo, where net neutrality is basically seen as a faraway dream for idealists.

As long as political systems are dominated by corporate power we are unlikely to see things improving, and any time the public shoots down attempts of corporate landgrab (by shaming politicians who support ACTA for instance) they will just try again later, under more euphemistic names like TPP, and of course in secrecy (as long as they can get away with it).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Make ISPs into “common carriers,” says former FCC commissioner
  2. How net neutrality shenanigans could put the hurt on Netflix

    Will ISPs block and degrade video traffic? It wouldn’t be the first time.

  3. Why Advertisers Will Survive Just Fine Without Net Neutrality (But Should Support It Anyway)
  4. Restore Net Neutrality By Directing the FCC to Classify Internet Providers as “Common Carriers”.
  5. Why FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler isn’t big on net neutrality rules

    After yesterday’s appeals court decision that rendered the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules useless against Internet providers like Verizon, the country is up in arms about whether the concept of an open Internet will remain intact.

    Well, newly appointed FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is only fanning the flames of the fire with repeatedly vague responses regarding net neutrality. People are up in arms because Wheeler doesn’t view net neutrality as a communication issue, but rather a network (technical) issue, which aligns with yesterday’s court decision.

  6. Back to the drawing board on ’net neutrality’ rules
  7. Losing Net Neutrality Is The Symptom, Not The Problem: Now Is The Time To Focus On Real Competition
  8. Solving the Net Neutrality Problem Is Actually Simple

    The Federal Communications Commission is sitting on a mess. This week the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. decided in Verizon Communications v. the FCC (pdf) that the commission didn’t have the authority to impose its open Internet order on Verizon (VZ) or anyone else. There is a simple fix for this mess. It does not require any new laws from Congress. It already has the support of the Supreme Court.

  9. Keep the Internet free and open

    To ensure net neutrality and maintain the Internet’s crucial role in commerce, education and public safety, the FCC needs to reclassify service providers as Title II telecommunications services.

  10. Net Neutrality and the Ghettoization of the Internet

    The definition of “ghetto” per Merriam-Webster online: a part of a city in which members of a particular group or race live usually in poor conditions.

  11. How Policymakers Enabled The Internet

    The Internet has become so integral to our everyday lives that it is easy to forget how young it is. Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, came out in 1993. Since then, the Internet’s phenomenal growth has transformed the way billions of people around world communicate, learn, work, trade, campaign, mate, protest, plot and form communities.

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