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The Internet Government Your Rights Online

Net Pioneers Say Open Internet Should Be Separate 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the digital-segregation dept.
angry tapir writes "The US Federal Communications Commission should allow for an open Internet separate from specialized services that may prioritize IP traffic, a group of Internet and technology pioneers has recommended. The document, filed in response to an FCC request for public comments on proposed network neutrality rules, steers clear of recommending what rules should apply to the open Internet. Among the tech experts signing the document are Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple; Bruce Perens, founder of the open-source software movement; Clay Shirky, an author and lecturer at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program; and David Reed, a contributor to the development of TCP/IP and an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab."
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Net Pioneers Say Open Internet Should Be Separate

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  • by Chas (5144) on Monday November 08, 2010 @07:51PM (#34168130) Homepage Journal

    And exactly how are people on these "prioritized" networks supposed to reach the "open" Internet?

    Oh yeah. Through their prioritized network's traffic-prioritized peering point.

    I summon Picard. Patron Saint of the Facepalm.

    The answer to not liking those who apply such a technical response to a financial situation is NOT always "make another one that's separate and free". Sometimes it is "remove the financial incentive" for those that do.

  • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Monday November 08, 2010 @07:52PM (#34168156)
    I bet your ISP would LOVE to sell you 2 internet connections, they might even let you 'bundle' them together... Of course, the open one would probably cost more.
  • Fence Sitting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swanktastic (109747) on Monday November 08, 2010 @07:58PM (#34168222)

    These guys are all smart and should have known better than to hedge to this degree. They have written a lot but not provided any value with their enormous brainpower.

    Besides, if you split the internet into two pipes, one neutral and one non-neutral, you kill net neutrality because you can prioritize the non-neutral bit over the neutral bit. In other words, you can't be a little bit pregnant.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @08:06PM (#34168276)
    Bruce Perens, founder of the open-source software movement? Are you kidding me??
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Monday November 08, 2010 @08:19PM (#34168360)

    Would you be in favor of throttling electricity (analog: bandwidth) to said neighbor?


    What if the power company started throttling electricity to all grow lamps, even those used for legitimate gardening uses (analog: legal torrents)?

    HELL no.

    My (rather shaky) point is that, although your best interests aren't taken to heart, perhaps someone's best interests are.

    Yah - the CEO and shareholders. Is that supposed to make me feel better?

  • No good answers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Caerdwyn (829058) on Monday November 08, 2010 @08:20PM (#34168366) Journal

    Who pays for a separate "open" Internet?

    • Major ISPs/backbone providers (forced to partition bandwidth on their private networks)? No, they don't. YOU do. These are for-profit companies, and when their expenses go up, your costs go up. If a percentage of their networks are, in effect, nationalized, they will certainly raise their rates to compensate for the losses associated with this seizure.
    • Major ISP/backbone providers (forced to build the "open" internet in parallel)? No, they don't. YOU do. Again, these companies aren't charity and aren't public property. Being forced to build something that is their own competition means they raise their rates to compensate, and again, this is a form of property seizure.
    • A new not-for-profit national company? YOU do. Through regulatory fees, etc... assuming it passes Constitutional muster. It might not. In any event, just how many tens or hundreds of billions of dollars would it cost to duplicate the current Internet infrastructure's capacity, then maintain and grow it? This isn't chump-change. This is hundreds to thousands of dollars per person.
    • The government? No, they don't. YOU do. Through taxes and tarriffs and fees and other bad words (see above for the scale involved). Plus, if the government owns it, you bloody well know they will content-filter it (no porn, access to ammunition-sellers, or websites of uncontrolled news media, grassroots voter-activism sites, etc.), record everything you do and give it to the DHS, have regulatory requirements for "security software" (meaning scour-your-disks-and-record-your-keystrokes software( installed on any machine accessing this "public resource", and turn it off at times of national emergency (cyber-attacks, terrorist incidents, presidential and senatorial electorial victory for third-party candidates).

    Idealism is great until you realize that someone has to pay for it, and that someone is always, without exception, YOU. And there's that annoying Fourth Amendment, and case law that would get in the way. Remember, if the government can muster the power to seize a major industry over ideological reasons, what defense would smaller companies (including yours, for all values of "you") have with the takeover of the commercial Internet as precedent? Ideologies come and go, but powers of regulation and seizure only linger and grow.

    Don't feed the regulation-monster. Don't feed the confiscation-monster. It only makes them stronger.

    There are problems that have to be solved, but there are no functional answers which don't involve imposing expenses on other people or allowing the government far, far more powers over Internet content and monitoring than it already has. It's quite possible that, warts and problems and all, what we have right now may be the least of evils. Please keep an open mind to that possibility.

    ...oh, wait. Slashdot. Never mind!

  • by molo (94384) on Monday November 08, 2010 @08:22PM (#34168376) Journal

    Why should video or VoIP be treated differently? How do you differentiate voip UDP from video game UDP? No deep packet inspection, please. Packets are packets and bits are bits. Just deliver them without regard to content. Is that too much to ask?


  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Monday November 08, 2010 @08:34PM (#34168472)
    No, I propose that the electric company upgrade their infrastructure to handle the capacity.

    Of course, this creates problems. What if one guy is running an MRI machine or something that sucks up insane amounts of juice? Obviously the electric company shouldn't be required to upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate that load. So where do we draw the line?

    The issue is that we're not talking about one guy on the block "using up all the internet". It's the fact that bandwidth usage is increasing for EVERYONE. Games are distributed electronically, movies are streamed, music is streamed, web pages have more and more content that you can download, etc. This isn't one guy with grow lamps causing a brownout. It's everyone on the block that wants to turn on their lights at reasonable times that's causing the problem. This more closely models internet usage.

    Also, there's no talk here of guaranteed electricity or bandwidth. ISPs promise "up to" such and such a limit. This means that they can give you absolutely no service because 0kb/s is still "up to" 30MB/s (or whatever the fuck they advertise). This would be like the electric company promising you "up to" some power and then not giving you enough to even run your lights. If the electric company did this, people would be rioting until it was fixed. (It's happened before)

    In either case, the solution is not to implement throttling.

    We can debate all day about whether or not the government should regulate the internet, but I think we can all agree that competition would result in better service for everyone. Once some company actually makes good on a plan that contains a real SLA (including minimum speeds and uptime) they'll start raking in money like none other. The problem is that there is no competition. The barrier to entry is huge, and you have large companies like comcast that have monopolies in large areas of the US and lawyers to make sure it stays that way.

    Thus, I propose that the government needs to regulate the internet only to the point that it spurs lots of competition. Congress needs to introduce laws that make it easier for new ISPs to start up and limit how much control a single company can have regarding broadband service in any given area. That way, the free market takes over and we can finally get some good fucking internet service.
  • Re:No good answers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NapalmV (1934294) on Monday November 08, 2010 @08:34PM (#34168476)
    Idealism is great until you realize that someone has to pay for it, and that someone is always, without exception, YOU.

    Sure. My local library is paid from my taxes and has a nice assortment of books and I can discuss with them what they carry or not. They don't bundle advertising and spam with the goods either. Would I want a commercial for profit library instead of it? Hell no. Just imagine what it would be about. Oh wait. We have "adult video rental" shops already.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @08:47PM (#34168562)
    Really? Your house is getting brownouts due to over usage from a neighbor who, although zoned residential, is using light commercial amounts of electricity. And you are OK with this? I would say throttle the guy, fast. I don't want my power impacted. Now, would I like to see more power brought in? Sure. But that is a pricey, long term solution which may take years even if the power company wanted to do it. Permits, road rip up and reconstruction, tower construction, etc. take time.
  • Re:No good answers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:16PM (#34168796)
    The problem is we ALREADY paid for it, and now they want to seize it and bundle it with a nice bow and hand it to their shareholders. We paid for it in direct taxes, we paid for it in subsidized rates, and we paid for it by allowing a telecommunications duopoly to develop. We have a natural monopoly/duopoly situation going on and we have two valid options as I see it, we can either have the government run the infrastructure and allow all comers to provide open service on a competitive basis or we can have tightly regulated monopolists. Going down your distopian path to corporatism run amok will only lead to America becoming a technology backwater gheto where corporations only service the most profitable customers and spend as little as humanly possible to maintain their existing subsidized infrastructure while maximizing shareholder profits and CEO bonuses until things get so broken that they get another multi hundred billion dollar handout from the government.
  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:19PM (#34168820) Journal

    It isn't illegal to use commercial amounts of electricity in a residential zone in any place in the USA, even if it is for commercial purposes. No zoning laws cover electrical usage. Car traffic, noise, pollution, perhaps, but not electrical use. If you have a 200 amp main (typical) you are invited, yet ENCOURAGED to saturate it with use, as you are charged by the kWh. They will be thrilled you did. Need more transformer? No problem, one is on the way. Have a really old house with only 100 amp mains? They will gladly upgrade you to 200 amp service (or higher), often at little or no charge, excepting you paying your electrician to put in the new main panel. You don't even need to prove you need that much amperage.

    So no, Virginia, there is no Electrical Zoning Police in your neighborhood. Use all you want, as long as you can afford it.

    The interwebs works pretty much the same way. There is no such thing as "commercial internet zones" or "residential internet zones".

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:24PM (#34168862) Homepage Journal


    This proposal is like relegating the whole stack to a newsgroup-level of relevance.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <> on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:55PM (#34169494) Homepage Journal

    If you want to do that, you buy a 400-amp service. Or however high you need. Each home has a particular number of amps in the service that has been purchased for it, and that is the absolute maximum it can use, and that is set at a fair level that is regulated by the state public utilities commission. If you can't get service powerful enough where you live, you have to buy one where you can, and that's an industrial area.

    The service actually does discriminate between resistive and reactive loads (see Power Factor). But they give you technical means to transform any reactive load into one that looks close to a resistive one. They don't say you can only have Republican electricity or Democratic electricity. That is what some folks want to do with the internet, and which we object to.

  • by grcumb (781340) on Monday November 08, 2010 @11:07PM (#34169570) Homepage Journal


    This proposal is like relegating the whole stack to a newsgroup-level of relevance.

    I suspect that if it were actually acted on, you'd be dead on the money.

    But I also suspect that the submission was deliberately provocative, designed to make the contrast between a Neutral Internet and what ISPs want as stark as possible. In effect, it seems to be saying, "What they want is not Internet, so we should quit calling it that." Right at the outset, it says:

    While we have diverse views about the overall policy approach that the assurance of the open Internet entails, we note here that separating the Internet from specialized services is a dramatic advance in the discussion, one that is very helpful on its own terms to understanding the implications of various concerns surrounding this issue....

    As a rhetorical stance, I like it. As a policy position, not so much.

    As you rightly note, the vendors will do everything in their power to twist the definitions in order to make their proprietary model look more attractive and to subvert the influence of a truly open Internet. The authors of this work may believe that an open Internet will succeed on its merits alone. I don't. However we arrive at it, Network Neutrality is simply not negotiable [].

    Bemoan the ineffectual nature of government regulation as much as you like; the fact remains that, left alone, most commercial Internet providers have every financial incentive to lock down their networks.

    (According to the dominant business perspective in North American and Europe, anyway. One can make compelling arguments about network effects and the collateral benefits that derive from open, end-to-end networks, but most MBAs don't -and don't want to- get it. They're all about controlling the market and sucking it dry. Profit, alas, beats planning every time.)

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @12:17AM (#34170046) Homepage Journal

    Shirky's no "Net Pioneer", he's a hack burped up by the "Silicon Alley" ripoffs central to what caused the .com Bubble to collapse.

    Woz isn't a "Net Pioneer", either. By the time Apple was on anything like the Internet, Woz had already spent several years since his last worthwhile pioneering effort at Apple, and hasn't done anything technologically interesting since then.

    None of those people really can claim any demonstration that they know what they're talking about today.

  • by hey (83763) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:56AM (#34171512) Journal

    Don't forget Facebook.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:54AM (#34173708)

    I remember those days. Before the Internet took off, the talk was how TV set top boxes would be the main way people would communicate with each other, with IR keyboards and sending E-mail for a dollar per send, perhaps more if it has to leave Compuserve to go to an AOL user.

    Cable had their plans for making their own "internet", which was offering features at a snail's pace for large fees. However, the Internet put those plans on hold until recently, when with the monopolies for ISPs, they can start tiering and charging more for the same services.

    What the big companies want is another CompuServe. Before anyone gets on, they have to put in a userID (easily hackable), and with numerous fees applied, such as time spent online, amount of data transferred, type of data (extra charges for going to a non "sponsored" website), etc.

  • by formfeed (703859) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @12:56PM (#34175250)

    Of course, the open one would probably cost more.

    No,I think you'd get the open Internet for free. But:

    1. It would of course be slower, because after all it is just an added courtesy freebie.
    2. "Appropiate usage" terms will prevent you from doing high speed video on the free internet. But of course, you can use Premiumnet for that.
    3. The cool stuff will move to the new controlled net.
    4. Certain things that need more throughput won't work anymore on the free internet.
    5. After a while only spammers, trolls, and fringe stuff will be on the open-internet.
    6. Noone cares if you shut it off. Err, I mean "not include it in the standard home package"

    End of unregulated free speech and happy controlled customers (formerly citizens).

Committees have become so important nowadays that subcommittees have to be appointed to do the work.