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FCC Commissioner Urges, Don't Regulate the Internet 343

Posted by kdawson
from the horse-halfway-out-of-the-barn dept.
Brett Glass writes "In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell makes a case against government regulation of the Internet, opining that 'engineers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should solve engineering problems.' With state governments pressuring ISPs to pull the plug on Usenet, and a proposal now in play for a censored public Internet, McDowell may have a very good point." McDowell is one of the two FCC commissioners who did not vote with the majority to punish Comcast for their BitTorrent throttling.
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FCC Commissioner Urges, Don't Regulate the Internet

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  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:17PM (#24377881) Homepage Journal

    McDowell is one of the two FCC commissioners who did not vote with the majority to punish Comcast for their BitTorrent throttling.

    So by 'not regulating' he means that ISP's should be free to throttle whatever they please? Interesting stance.

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius@gmTWAINail.com minus author> on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:24PM (#24377943) Homepage
      That is the gist of what he is saying. The ISPs should be self regulating essentially. This is the beginning of a very slippery slope. What if Comcast decides to ban all torrent traffic? Even with encryption, high usage certainly sends red flags. (perhaps more so) With less oversight this could certainly happen. The service agreement you sign certainly may be subject to change at any moment. The internet is starting to slide into the path of provider approved content. I think a free network is something worth protecting, perhaps even with our very lives. How much is freedom worth to you?
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius@gmTWAINail.com minus author> on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:25PM (#24377961) Homepage
        BTW....is the internet a right or a privilege? Think about it...
        • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nasajin (967925) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:34PM (#24378059)
          It depends on whether you believe the people should be granted positive or negative forms of liberty. Should citizens be allowed access to a social system that exists independently of the government or not? I believe they should, as the Internet acts as a complimentary system to already existing forms of human interaction.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by tux0r (604835)

            "Complimentary"?

            Other Human Interaction: Hi there Internet...
            Internet: Wow, you're certainly looking great today, Other Human Interaction!

        • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DigDuality (918867) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:38PM (#24378117)
          Hmmm... considering many of people's tax dollars in many nations went to it's invention (be it the US military, Russia's military, CERN, etc.. ) and considering the tremendous amounts in subsidy telecom companies recieve from many nations... it's the people's IMO.
        • by twitter (104583) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:39PM (#24378125) Homepage Journal

          Because you own the spectrum and there's no longer a valid technical reason to grant it exclusively [reed.com]. Government granted monopolies on spectrum is a primary internet regulation someone that believes in free markets should oppose.

          Laying cable and fiber in other people's back yards and public property is a privilege. Those granted that privilege must accept public regulation in return for the public servitude. Think about that for a while and you realize that the Internet is already highly regulated but the regulations do not always serve the public interest. Common carrier and net neutrality is the least the public can ask in return for exclusive use of public property. The public can and should also demand competition in wired service. Someone who believes in free markets would lower barriers to entry and use of wired networks.

        • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SlowMovingTarget (550823) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:47PM (#24378203) Homepage

          It is neither right, nor privilege. It is a network of computers.

          I believe you were referring to access to the internet, which is also not a right, nor is it a privilege. Access to the internet is a service. The real issue is that there is too much interference on behalf of the service providers at the local level. The result is regional monopolies. We need less government interference and more competition, so that when Comcast pulls crap like like their traffic shaping customers can choose to take their dollars elsewhere.

          Driving on public streets is a privilege. Freely voicing your opinion is a right. In the context of governmental authority, Internet access is neither of these, nor should it be.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            We need less government interference and more competition...

            You can't just will competition into existence. If the "free market" doesn't provide more competition, then we need government interference instead.

          • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

            by rtb61 (674572) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:54PM (#24378883) Homepage

            That is ludicrous. Use of the internet is becoming a daily necessity and the lie about multiple wired services is bullshit. Yeah, you are going to have 10 different wires running down the street from 10 different companies providing competitive services, what a lie. Due to the cost of wiring and providing the infrastructure at most you will have three and most often two and sometimes one, that is the reality and perfect for cooperative cartels to exploit.

            Which is why it needs to be regulated and controlled so that everyone can access it upon an equal basis, so that people are not discriminated against should they for example voice an opinion that is in opposition to communications provider which one corrupt provider already slipped into their contracts.

            What the FCC commissioner is basically calling for is that they should be doing nothing, the perfect job, get paid to control nothing, regulate nothing basically just be a positive publicity spewing mouth piece for an industry they are meant to be overseeing.

            Drop the idiotic lie that somehow the government is some alien authority, the government is meant to be an extension of the peoples will. A means by which the people ensure controls are in place so that do not have to fight for respect and the rights every minute of every day. Regulations are forced upon corporations in order to ensure a minimum level of acceptable behaviour is maintained, in order to prevent the corporation to use it fiscal power to destroy individuals with limited capital in court and in order to prevent corporations from arbitrarily denying people access to services.

          • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:01PM (#24378965) Journal

            So the fact that public funds and public lands have basically been given to create these networks doesn't make a difference? Let's remember here that even the cable companies in many areas are using public right-of-ways for their networks.

            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by mosb1000 (710161)

              But if these companies comply with the requirements placed upon them at the time, and hey built the infrastructure with the understanding that they would not change, is it really fair to add new requirements?

          • "It is neither right, nor privilege. It is a network of computers."

            Actually the internet is more like a utility, and I think it would be wise if governments viewed it as such. The real problem is corruption, bad people who don't give a fuck about us and incompetnece.

            The truth is the money men, and men of power fear the internet, because it allows for radical transformation of society especially more towards the left i.e. a kind of consumer socialism is possible with digital goods for instance, we call it p

          • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Assembler (151753) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:37PM (#24379433)

            It is neither right, nor privilege. It is a network of computers.

            I believe you were referring to access to the internet, which is also not a right, nor is it a privilege. Access to the internet is a service.

            1st: Taxpayers paid for large parts of the internet's development and infrastructure. Denying them access would be stealing if we're going to seriously consider adopting a free market.

            2nd: The startup costs are too high for an ISP right now. The only option in a free market would be to string their own cables on their own telephone poles. Government forcing the current monopolies to lease lines at cost is a good thing. The startup costs (and oligarchic competition) are the real reason why there are regional monopolies.

            Also: You think new rights can't be added? More restrictions certainly can. Why is it a one way street? Access to an unrestricted internet today is just as important as free speech was yesterday because it is the modern day equivalent.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            Access to the internet is as much a privilege as driving on public streets.

            The only difference is that most people seem to take it for granted that the government ought to pay for the upkeep and construction of roads, whereas there's debate about the government paying to maintain and lay the wires for the internet.

          • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

            by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @01:29AM (#24380909)

            Fine but the government on the municipal level and on the state level gave Comcast a monopoly in my town. There's no free market in this circumstance. There's no one else to turn to with my dollars. What a naive worldview you have.

            People want some kind of federal regulation to offset the corruption on the state level. Basic stuff like when you advertise unlimited internet at 4mbps then I actually get unlimited internet at 4mbps. Not comcast's legalese version of that along with tons of RST packets.

        • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:25PM (#24378599)

          Is food a right? If so, how much food? What kind of food? Think about it...

          • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

            by noidentity (188756) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:48PM (#24378813)
            Is posting on Slashdot a right? If so, how many chara
          • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

            by deathguppie (768263) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:04PM (#24378993)

            Is food a right? If so, how much food? What kind of food? Think about it...

            depends.. personally I think those frozen party pizza'a are a'right.. but then someone else might think some other king of food is a'right.. so I would have to say at least on my behalf most food is a'right.. but not all..

          • by TubeSteak (669689)

            Is food a right? If so, how much food? What kind of food? Think about it...

            I'm not really sure that I get your point.

            Water*, food, shelter, and clothing are considered the basic human necessities, in that order.
            You can't really compare them with anything besides each other.

            You could alternatively use the bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs [wikipedia.org] which essentially covers the same material, but with more specificity if you don't want to take things like breathing, sleep and excretion for granted.

            The only place you could get close to equating food and internet access is Article 19 of the [un.org]

          • by mooingyak (720677)

            Is it a donkey show? If so, is it a male or female donkey? Think about it...

          • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Omestes (471991) <{omestes} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @04:08AM (#24381731) Homepage Journal

            No, its not, and I find this rather shameful. I'm about to veer dangerously into flamebait, so feel free to ignore me, or mod me down.

            On /. we scream about how property is a right, this always strikes me as very odd, since it usually is levied against providing more important services towards others, like denying health care and welfare to those less fortunate, since taxation is denying our "right" to property. To me this is bizarre, why should property be a right, if health and survival aren't? The latter two preclude the former, and thus I would see it as far more important than an overly broad right to property.

            This is not to say I believe in communism, or classically construed socialism, to bar impending straw men. Nor is this to say that the poor should be living in state sponsored mansions and seeing plastic surgeons to have perfect breasts. But the rudiments of survival and life should be considered a basic right, and as such each person should have the right to water, health care, and rations of enough calories to survive.

            I would like to see an argument against this, that doesn't resort to the neo-Darwinian fallacy.

            It just seems odd to scream "my money is mine!" while people starve in the streets, it seems almost sociopathic.

            That said, I don't think that broadband should be a basic right (and it is available for free to all, see your local library), but I do think some regulation is necessary for the reasons that some have brought up here, there is no free market for it. And as one poster astutly said (sorry, too lazy to find the post), corporations shouldn't have the right to choose who gets to participate in modern discourse, though again, the library system can be seen as filling this gap.

        • Neither is a job a right or privilege, but lets see how successful you are and how much you can eat without one?

          Might as well cut off electricity and plumbing too? Communication is essential to our existence and internet is part of it.

          If we had real competition we would not be in this situation. Two sources want to limit freedom on us and that is the magamonopolies and the government. The government needs to stay out and in many ways they created rules to allow this ologopoly to take place with their stupid

          • by KGIII (973947)

            I saw it happening and knew it would happen but, unlike you, I remained hopeful that it would turn into something reasonable. If you pick the "average American" (which I am one, I think) and ask him to name off some "third world countries" we can find some of those on the list of places more connected at less expensive rates. I'd remained hopeful that there would never need to be a statement like "network neutrality" ever. WTF? The very idea of that as an idea just boggles my mind. Err... It is DATA. Nothin

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Brett Glass (98525)

              Comcast was throttling based on behavior, not content. (And it was doing something very reasonable. BitTorrent is a bad actor; its purpose is to hog bandwidth.) It's the FCC, on the other hand, that has proposed blocking content. (See the link about sanitized public Internet above.)

              By this I do not mean that corporations should always be trusted, but in this case Comcast appears to be far more trustworthy than government.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by KGIII (973947)

                Comcast was throttling based on behavior, not content.

                I'm not sure if you're responding directly to me or this got misthreaded but remember that I'm still so unsure of what to think that to me the difference between content and behavior is moot. To me the idea is simply the ISP option to raise or lower (or stop) the content entirely.

                Let's take a bit of a presumptive trek though imagination land, if you will permit. If not then skip to the bottom where I conclude my idiocy.

                If you owned an ISP and you were aware of the security implications of the various operat

      • Regulation in and of itself can also be a slipperly slow. That is why we need Net Neutrality laws. Yes, it's a form of regulation in a sense, but it's the best we can probably do.

        • by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:31PM (#24378029)

          Regulation in and of itself can also be a slipperly slow. That is why we need Net Neutrality laws. Yes, it's a form of regulation in a sense, but it's the best we can probably do.

          Net neutrality is to regulation what the GPL is to copyright. It is regulation designed to subvert "regulation" by making the imposition of restrictions on the internet illegal.

          Anyone who does not understand this is ignorant, and anyone who opposes it is willfully corrupt.

          • Do not confuse regulation of "the internet" with regulation of "communications technology." No one in their right mind seriously supports regulating the internet (basically censorship). What the telcoms want is to make more money off of the technology they deployed. Do not confuse the two arguments, they are very different.

            Just saying someone is "willfully corrupt" does not make it true. The telcoms have a legitimate right to do whatever they want with their backbones. They payed and continue to pay
            • by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:08PM (#24378419)

              Just saying someone is "willfully corrupt" does not make it true. The telcoms have a legitimate right to do whatever they want with their backbones. They payed and continue to pay for them.

              no they didnt. They were given heavy taxpayer grants which heavily subsidized their lines, and they also failed to deliver the capacity and market coverage they promised (e.g. rural areas are still dark).

              Insisiting the telcos "paid" for those lines is like insisting the transcontinental railroad was privately funded, when in fact it would not exist if the government didnt give away wide tracts of land on either side of the tracks across the entire country.

            • by BlueStrat (756137) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:22PM (#24378545)

              The telcoms have a legitimate right to do whatever they want with their backbones. They payed and continue to pay for them.

              Actually, the telecoms have been very, very heavily-funded by public funds and huge tax breaks to provide services.

              Simply telling the telcoms that they no longer control what happens on their backbones is not an option, and the sooner everyone gets on the same page with this whole issue the better off we will all be.

              Why? The telecoms have been heavily-regulated in just about every other area of their operations and services except this one, and for many of the same reasons. If they took the publics' money then they are obligated to put the interests of those taxpayers (their customers) at the top of their objectives. That they have failed is the reason to apply laws/regulations designed to make sure the customers' interests are not lost in marketing and monetization plans.

              Cheers!

              Strat

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Net neutrality is to regulation what the GPL is to copyright. It is regulation designed to subvert "regulation" by making the imposition of restrictions on the internet illegal.

            Regulation is not the same as restriction. Regulation is something imposed by the government. Net neutrality is a regulation which forces ISPs to remove certain restrictions. There's no subversion taking place here, just government asserting its authority over private companies.

            Anyone who does not understand this is ignorant, and anyone who opposes it is willfully corrupt.

            And this is the kind of idiotic bullshit which has made modern American political discourse the equivalent of a third-grade sand-kicking match. "You're either with us or you're against us" didn't sound reasonable when W said it and i

        • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Strange Ranger (454494) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:56PM (#24378287)
          Exactly. Internet service is provided to most people in a similar fashion to phone service.
          The only regulation that we need for BOTH "internet" and "phone" should be total separation of content from service.
          Cell phone companies can sell bandwidth and for chrissake quite counting each individual text message.
          Untie the ringtones and make them like any other sound that you can download.
          Internet providers should be held to the same "regulation".

          If you provide bandwidth in any way at all it should be neutral to all content, uncensored, unfiltered, etc.

          The law could be a very simple one: If you provide any sort of bandwidth for sale you are prohibited from messing with any content whatsoever.
          You are also prohibited from partnering with any business that does "mess with" content. End of law.

          I don't even think Comcast or whoever should be allowed to have a "Start Page" on the internet. It's anti-competitive bundling. It's bad. Everyone knows it.

          I'm sure of the above, but truth be told I don't think (not sure) bandwidth service should even be a part of the free market. It's a utility. Just like electricity and heat.
          We all know how well anti-trust efforts and deregulating the phone companies worked out: http://youtube.com/watch?v=I6nuwQmhrZ8 [youtube.com]

          If it's going to be just 1 or 2 giant companies screwing us over, removing our ability to vote with our dollar, then I'd rather it just be government run, so we can vote with ballots.
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:09PM (#24378433) Homepage

        "perhaps even with our very lives"

        Let me get this straight. Diebold fixes the election, and all you Americans do is point at them and whine a bit, then Comcast takes away your pron and all of a sudden you're willing to fight to the death?

        Boy, do you have one messed up set of priorities :P

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          I disagree. After all, was it not the great patriot Patrick Henry who said: "Give me boobies, or give me death!"

        • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:46PM (#24378791)
          Let me get this straight. Diebold fixes the election, and all you Americans do is point at them and whine a bit, then Comcast takes away your pron and all of a sudden you're willing to fight to the death?

          Without the internet how many people would even know about Diebold?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by compro01 (777531)

          Boy, do you have one messed up set of priorities :P

          No more so than 235 years ago [wikipedia.org].

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LaskoVortex (1153471)

          Diebold fixes the election, and all you Americans do is point at them and whine a bit, then Comcast takes away your pron and all of a sudden you're willing to fight to the death

          Look, if Diebold fixed the election, they only had to skew it one or two percent. It didn't take much the past two elections--and it won't take much this time either. So, if the hypothetical 40,000 or so disenfranchised voters took a stand on this one, they'd get crushed by the 45% that actually voted for the incumbent. You can't have a coup in a country as nominally democratic as America without a close race--and the current 1.2371455 party system ensures that.

      • Simply using torrents doesn't imply one uses the line all the time, torrents can be used for single downloads to lessen the load on company servers.

        People downloading ISOs of various things don't use 50gb in a week, esp not stuff like Ubuntu. Same goes for high def podcasts.

      • by cgenman (325138)

        Playing the devil's advocate, what if you could filter out all of the illegal traffic from a particular network? Assuming that the 70% P2P traffic is accurate, and assume that a perfect illegal material filter existed... how many people would pay 20 dollars for 10mbps FiOS, but without the illegal traffic? If you don't fileshare, would you rather be on a network that was twice as fast?

        There are certainly enough legal uses for bittorrent to warrant usage (basically all broadcast file transfers should use t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jlarocco (851450)

        That is the gist of what he is saying. The ISPs should be self regulating essentially. This is the beginning of a very slippery slope. What if Comcast decides to ban all torrent traffic? Even with encryption, high usage certainly sends red flags. (perhaps more so) With less oversight this could certainly happen. The service agreement you sign certainly may be subject to change at any moment. The internet is starting to slide into the path of provider approved content. I think a free network is something wor

      • This is the beginning of a very slippery slope. What if Comcast decides to ban all torrent traffic?

        Then take your business elsewhere. Is that so hard for the average Slashdot reader? Many people seem to be totally unaware that they are the invisible hand.

    • His stance is probably just that the government shouldn't be regulating it. It's on the customers to prevent the ISPs from telling you what you can and can't download. The vote seems completely consistent with that. Regulating the internet as the government (in this case slapping down comcast) and then saying the government shouldn't have a part in it would sort of be contradictory.

      Of course, a middle road approach of "the government should prevent limitations on the internet by buisness and should not l

    • And, of course, thanks to telecom immunity, that means that the government is free to tell the ISPs when to throttle. It's regulation without regulation laws!
      • That's quite a conceptual stretch. The immunity has already been granted; the Telco's have no reason to kowtow to their employees(Congress) until the next round.

    • Duh! Of course that's what he means! What part of "not regulating" do you not understand? If they weren't free to do what they please, then they would be regulated. Apply a little thought, here!

  • Unfortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stickerboy (61554) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:19PM (#24377893) Homepage

    If the government doesn't step in, it won't be engineers regulating the internet either. It will be Sales and Marketing managers (or maybe someone higher up the food chain) trying to squeeze every last drop of profit from their paying customers.

    • by Benaiah (851593)

      Perhaps its time the US had a look around the world to see what other countries are doing right.

      In Aus our telco's are forced to sell bandwidth at wholesale rates. They still gouge for line rental, but we are working on this. We seem to have better competition and choice then the US but nothing on the standards of Japan or Ireland. All of our ISP's have dumped unlimited plans and there is very little competition for the heavy user.

      All ISP's here just want the monthly connection fee and hope that you dont a

  • Realistically... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pagewalker (1286802)

    Realistically, we want some middle ground between regulation and lack of regulation. Obviously we don't want the government to do something overly obstructive and bureaucratic, or something that makes it difficult to have a web presence, but we also don't want to have so much power in the hands of a few telecoms and providers that essentially they can do whatever they want, including stifling competition, charging twice for bandwidth, or taking billions of dollars in government subsidies to lay unneeded ca

  • by clang_jangle (975789) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:25PM (#24377959) Journal
    One or the other will be regulating the internet. There is no perfect solution, but at least with government there is a chance of some accountability. If it's left to comcast, ATT, etc al, there is zero chance.
    • yes there is a perfect solution: net neutrality laws.

      Net neutrality is a government imposed regulation making it illegal for anyone (the state, the MAFIAA, or the telcos) to regulate the internet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by norminator (784674)
      Some people (read:ISPs) say that laws protecting Net Neutrality are regulation which will stifle innovation and mess up everything, but laws which exist to safeguard freedom still need to exist...

      Like the Bill of rights... Maybe Net Neutrality shouldn't be a regular law, maybe it should be an ammendment.
    • There is no perfect solution, but at least with government there is a chance of some accountability.

      Think long and hard whether these are the folks you want governing the Internet.

      Iraq.

      Warrantless wiretapping.

      Torture.

      Habeus corpus.

      Vote fraud.

      DoD contracts.

      What accountability?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by epee1221 (873140)

        Think long and hard whether these are the folks you want governing the Internet.

        After that, think long and hard about the alternative.

  • by viking80 (697716) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:26PM (#24377969) Journal

    It looks like USA and Sweden is copying Chinas "Golden shield" to protect its citizens. Sweden with the new FRA law, and US censoring Usenet.

    I really hope we can stop this before the politicians try to "protect" me too.

    Most muslim states are of course already "protecting" its citizens heavily.

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:07PM (#24378413)

      The USA isn't censoring Usenet... it's encuraging ISPs to drop an area that has become too much of trading point for illegal files. The ISPs are complying willingly because it's not been profitable for them to run, and most users won't miss it.

      Still, services like Google Groups and EasyNews are still up and running. There's no threat to those as of yet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The very notion of "illegal files" is the essence of censorship.

        Copyright may be called by propaganda terms like "intellectual property", but it is censorship (which can be performed by anyone, not just government, BTW) at its core.

        • by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:35PM (#24378705)

          The very notion of "illegal files" is the essence of censorship.

          Copyright may be called by propaganda terms like "intellectual property", but it is censorship (which can be performed by anyone, not just government, BTW) at its core.

          I couldn't have said this better myself.

          The notion of owning and controlling the distribution of information is antithetical to a free society. The fact that the "progress of science and the useful arts" clause is so brief comes from heated contention of the merits of allowing copyright to exist in the first place. Our founding fathers were pretty fresh and raw from the old copyright cartels founded and abused by the crown.

          I'm sure if you brought them all forward in time to today, and gave them the last year or two of the YRO section to read, a few would turn around to the others and scream "I TOLD YOU SO!"

  • by norminator (784674) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:26PM (#24377981)

    engineers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should solve engineering problems.

    If the problem was only an engineering problem, I might agree... but since this has vast political, economical, and social consequences, and could undermine the entire Internet as we know it, I think governments should step in and pass a law that simply states "don't discriminate against traffic based on the source/destination."

    I know government regulation can make things messy, but I don't know why it has to be any more complicated than that.

    • by flaming error (1041742) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:21PM (#24378543) Journal

      This is not an engineering problem. TCP/IP is pretty robust.

      In fact, there is no inherent problem.

      But carriers see an opportunity to squeeze more profit out, so they're trying to, and in the process they create a problem for users and content providers.

      And governments see stuff they (or those they'd pander to) don't like, so they want to control it, and thus create a problem for users.

      This can be solved by limiting carrier meddling to contractual SLA issues, and preventing government from censoring users.

      The internet isn't broken; it's carriers and government that need fixing.

  • by xxdinkxx (560434) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:29PM (#24378009) Homepage
    But if ISPs are found messing with the neutrality of the connections, then they should be held liable for all content that comes across their lines. It would establish one of two senarios. A) they leave the traffic flow alone and thus avoid a ton in liability. B) they go into complete china lockdown mode and allow nothing even slightly questionable through. If B occurs, then there will eventually be enough resentment to eventually re focus on why telecom is a big monopoly. Right now average joe doesn't care. As long as average joe can watch Utube and porn, the status quo remains. This whole net neutrality issue wouldn't even exist if the free market wasn't botched/hijacked in this country.
  • Who's doing what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by loraksus (171574) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:49PM (#24378227) Homepage

    With state governments pressuring ISPs to pull the plug on Usenet

    Wrong. Lets get this clear - The recent push to shut down usenet access is being led almost solely by Andrew Cuomo - the Attorney General from NY - some guy who you probably never voted for. In fact, you've probably never even seen his name on a ballot.

    Isn't it cool how some douchebag elected in a different state gets to dictate national policy?
    Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

  • Most self-regulating industries operate by requiring (by government and competitor pressure against non-conforming companies) a company to join the independent (but private) regulating agency. The agency can then regulate the members; members in violation are fined, threatened with expulsion (putting them out of government shield that is the regulation agency and all alone in front of Uncle Sam), etc.

    Self-regulation does not mean "the corporation will do the right thing out of the goodness of its heart"
  • Will turn the internet into one firewalled zone and turn it into censored version of TV(brainwashing).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The problems with regulation of the internet are not really liberal or conservative issues. It just does not break down along those lines. It is not exactly liberal or conservative policy to deliberately screw over their constituent. (Really, it isn't.)

      Liberals are generally for freedom of expression (and hence will want little regulation with the internet) and Conservatives are for freedom of market (and hence will want little regulation with the internet). No reasonably popular political view when
  • by daemonburrito (1026186) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:05PM (#24378397) Journal

    Here is the trade association (read: telecom lobbyist group) that he served as assistant General Counsel and Vice President: http://www.comptel.org/ [comptel.org].

    From his bio [comptelascent.org]:

    McDowell is extensively involved in civic and political affairs. He has served on numerous boards and commissions. He was appointed by Virginia Governor George Allen to the Governor's Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug-Free Virginia, and to the Virginia Board for Contractors, to which he was reappointed by Governor Jim Gilmore. Also he is a veteran of several presidential campaigns, serving as counsel to the Bush-Cheney Florida Recount Team in 2000 and leading advance teams for President and Mrs. Bush in 2004, among many other endeavors.

    Libertarians, I know he's speaking your language with this regulation==evil talk, but he does not have your interests at heart.

    I totally fail to see how allowing ISPs to inspect and mangle data passing through their system is "pro-competition" or even "anti-regulation". These people want to destroy the internet as we know it.

  • The only factual error in his article was a minor, technical one regarding the response to the "Internet meltdown" back in the 80's. (Van Jacobsen's kludge did not prioritize traffic.) But he understands that Comcast wasn't censoring, or trying to (contrary to the lobbyists' bogus claims). He understands that network management is necessary to keep the bandwidth hogs from taking over. He recognizes how bad things can get once the nose of the camel of regulation is allowed into the Internet tent. And while h
    • Interesting as that all is, he still falls for the typical reaganomic pitfall of "the free market" correcting abuses when internet service provision is not a free market.

      Sure, the idea of discouraging the government from "regulating" the internet is appealing when viewed through the lens of copyright issues (especially given UK events), BUT.. with telcos carrying this much market power, they might very well do it themselves (see the elimination of the alt.* heirarchy and the forging of bit torrent RST packe

      • Internet service is a free market with lots of competition -- at least right now. There are currently more than 4,000 independent ISPs in the United States -- that's 80 per state, on average.

        Not that this free market could not be destroyed. If government pursues policies that kill off all but the cable and telephone companies, or does not act aggressively to stop anticompetitive behavior, there will no longer be a free market. The FCC and the courts, by failing to enforce the provisions of the Telecommunic

    • I have some questions for you.

      Do you stand by the following statements in your 2008-09-20 letter to the FCC [brettglass.com]?

      • ISPs should block SSH

        [...] when I attempted to retrieve my e-mail, I discovered that the virtual private networking protocol I was attempting to use to secure the transaction - the SSH or "secure shell" protocol had been blocked. The FCC's network adminstrators - following best industry practices [emphasis added] - had decided to open only certain specific TCP ports to users of the service which

      • You are trolling... and intentionally misrepresenting what I said.

        In my letter, I asserted that it is a best practice (and excellent security policy) to ban all activities which are not explicitly permitted. This is the reason why UNIX is secure and Windows isn't.

        I also asserted that ISPs should always monitor networks for abuse (which does not mean that they should "inspect" all traffic, but that they should have automatic mechanisms that are triggered by behaviors which violate their Terms of Service

        • That's not an answer. And yes, we all love Unix, but pandering to us isn't going to help your cause.

          Do you think that ISPs blocking SSH traffic is an industry "best practice"?

          Do you believe that subscribers running their own applications is a "recipe for disaster"?

  • He's almost right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Percy_Blakeney (542178) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:24PM (#24378595) Homepage

    I agree with McDowell with one giant exception: the laissez-faire approach will only work if there is competition in the last mile. Given that most people only have 1 or 2 choices (huge telecom and/or huge cable company), I really don't think the conditions warrant a completely hands-off approach by the FCC. Once I have several high-speed ISP options, then I'll agree with him.

    Also, does anyone know what exactly Mr. McDowell is referring to when he talks about the Internet bandwidth crisis and solution of 1987?

  • It's not 1987 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ultraslacker (597588)

    Millions endeavor each day to keep it open and free. Since its early days as a government creation, it has migrated away from government regulation.

    If ISPs aren't required to keep the internet open and free, then they can work in collaboration to charge for access, slow down or block access, and in short destroy the Internet as we know it. It's great if your idea of the Internet is a medium dominated by corporate interests. If so, than you can lap up this latest from lobbyist cum chairman McDowell, and s

  • The internet must be regulated. Either by the government or competition. Right now it has neither in some places.

    If we decide it should not be government regulation, then no broadband monopoly can be permitted in any location so that competition can regulate it.

    And by "the internet", I mean "the internet in the US" because, I'm pretty sure that's all we're talking about here, and that's all the jurisdiction the FCC has.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dimeglio (456244)

      I wouldn't want my highways owned and administered by companies having an interest in transportation. Imagine private traffic cops stopping all competing vehicles for various random safety inspections and allowing the companies own vehicles to travel beyond the speed limit. Doesn't make sense for roads. Doesn't make sense for the Internet. In my opinion, content providers should not administer the Internet nor be allowed to interfere with its traffic.

  • Since the US seems to be in a constant grip of government granted monopolies when it comes to broadband access (you can aparently choose between one cable company or one phone company), there is already regulations - monopoly.

    You can't have an unregulated monopoly (maybe duopoly) situation and expect free market competition to solve all problems, since you can't just vote with your wallet.

    To me it's rather obvious what must be done to avoid regulations: Remove the forced monopoly. If you can't do that, then

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:05PM (#24379005) Homepage

    I used to think that any kind of government regulation of the Internet would be a bad thing, according to the "slippery slope" principle. Now, after reading about the concept of "net neutrality", I've decided that some regulation is probably a good thing, and that there's a difference between regulating speech and regulating utility.

    I want the FCC to keep out of other people's business with regard to content, but I also want them to ensure the internet remains "neutral" with regard to protocols and routes.

  • " Robert McDowell makes a case against government regulation of the Internet, opining that 'engineers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should solve engineering problems."

    "McDowell is one of the two FCC commissioners who did not vote with the majority to punish Comcast for their BitTorrent throttling. "

    So do we love him for his "hands off" governing philosophy, or do we hate him for his "hands off" governing philosophy?

  • That's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:18PM (#24379199)
    'engineers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should solve engineering problems.'

    .

    That's a nice sound bite (typical of bureaucrats nowadays), but an engineering problem (bandwidth utilization of P2P networks) has been turned into a business opportunity -- restrictively low caps with excessive overage charges --- by the ISPs.

    So, in effect, the lack of regulation due to "engineering problems needed to be solved by Engineers" has evolved into "engineering problems being solved by accountants".

    I'd rather have regulation.

  • Do we really want to allow the government to move into regulating the internet just so that a few companies can't throttle torrents? Really!? Because when I think of the government regulating the internet, it reminds me of things like the FCC trying to fine CBS over Janet Jackson's boob. Or the fact that you can't say a swearword over the radio without risking a fine.

    What does net neutrality really accomplish? What are the people pushing net neutrality trying to accomplish? People like to talk about nob

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