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UK ISP and Mobile Networks Snub Net Neutrality Pledge 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the acting-in-somebody's-best-interests dept.
nk497 writes "UK ISP Virgin Media and two of the largest mobile networks, Everything Everywhere and Vodafone, are among the high-profile absentees from a new voluntary code of conduct on net neutrality, set to be unveiled tomorrow. The code requires those who sign it to give users access to all legal content and not to discriminate against content providers on the basis of a commercial rivalry — but Virgin has refused to sign because it isn't tough enough. 'These principles remain open to misinterpretation and potential exploitation so, while we welcome efforts to reach a broad consensus to address potential future issues, we will be seeking greater certainty before we consider signing,' a company spokesman said."
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UK ISP and Mobile Networks Snub Net Neutrality Pledge

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:28PM (#40760591)

    It's like asking people to voluntarily ban guns.

    • Indeed, but the UK (to me in my short lifetime) seems to work like this: We offer them something voluntary to sign up to which basically gives them far more freedom if they all agree.

      Failure for everyone to agree generally leads to something becoming an official guideline; and then a law eventually if they still don't get in line.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, but we don't have the same problem with lack of competition between ISP's in the UK that they have in the US, so it's less of an issue. If your ISP isn't neutral, and you want one that is, it's extremely easy to change ISP.

      Af if someone does want service that's cheaper because it's been subsided by Google and Facebook to give preferential access to those sites, I don't really see why there should be a law against their being offered that service.

      • by Dan Dankleton (1898312) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:45AM (#40761911)
        There are a whole bunch of problems with net biasedness (or whatever the opposite of net neutrality is):

        1) It creates a barrier to entry for new websites. They don't need to just technically match the competition, they also need to pay the ISPs not to throttle them.

        2) It's easy enough to say that changing ISP will work, but that's only the case if net biassedness doesn't become required for ISPs to survive as a business. It is possible that every ISP would end up having to strike deals with sites in order to be able to charge something in the same ballpark as the competition.

        3) If (2) happens, then I could definitely foresee the problem for consumers where it is impossible to get a single ISP with acceptable connections to all the sites you'd want to visit. Imagine if one condition of the BBC's bias agreement was that you weren't allowed to have a similar agreement with Netflix; one condition of Sky's agreement was that you couldn't have a similar agreement with the BBC; one condition of Netflix's agreement was that you couldn't have a similar agreement with Lovefilm (which would mean Amazon)... can you see where this would end up? Customers being forced to sign up to several different ISPs in order to get good connections to all major sites.
      • Note that Vigin is an ISP, Mobile Network, Cable TV provider, etc ...

        and Everything Everywhere are what were Orange and T-Mobile run by Deutsche Telekom and France Télécom and are the main carriers of virgin Mobile traffic

        This leaves O2 and Hutchison 3G as the only mobile carriers to sign up ...

    • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @05:17AM (#40762231)

      It's not even a net neutrality pledge anyway. It's got far far too many get-out clauses that ISPs can use as an excuse to not enforce net neutrality on their network.

      Still, at least some ISPs such as Virgin and Vodafone had the decency to admit outright that they wont sign the pledge because they wont even enforce a semblance of network neutrality. I'm not sure if that makes them better or worse than the ones who signed it pretending they care about net neutrality when they know full well they intend to use any of the many get-out clauses when it suits anyway.

  • Translation (Score:5, Funny)

    by sconeu (64226) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @12:09AM (#40760789) Homepage Journal

    We haven't found a loophole we can use yet.

  • Whups (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @12:23AM (#40760863)

    The code requires those who sign it to give users access to all legal content...

    Yes, because asking them to not block on the basis of ethics or morality would be too much. Fun fact: Everything is illegal somewhere. In Minnesota, driving a red car down Lake street is illegal. Elsewhere, wearing saggy pants is a crime. ISPs can't be expected to police for only "legal" content, because what's legal varies from city to city, state to state, country to country... and then there's interpretations of what's legal, and the fact that entire libraries -- libraries -- are filled with books listing only the laws. And that's just in this country. I suspect you could easily fill a small city's buildings with all the laws ever written. And let's not forget company policies, military, etc. The reason why we ask the police to enforce laws instead of countries is because (a) they're primarily tasked with doing what's in the public interest, and so they tend to focus on crimes that actually hurt people, and (b) the average person is poorly equipped to even know the law, much less the interpretation of the law that's politically popular right now.

    Asking companies to monitor all personal communications for signs of illegal activity gives them de facto police powers, and worse, unlike the police, there's no legal recourse if their interpretation is wrong. Because if companies were liable for their enforcement actions, then they'd quickly be sued out of existance or bog down the judicial system with so many lawsuits as to do the same thing. That's why class action lawsuits were outlawed -- it wasn't because they weren't built on solid principles of justice, or that they were useful in maintaining harmony and all that... it was because it was the only real method of making a company pay a large enough penalty to change their behavior.

    Companies shouldn't be looking at private communications -- period, end of discussion. That's the job of the police. And if it's inconvenient, well too fucking bad. The alternative is so toxic and dangerous to democracy that anyone who would suggest it should be put on some kind of internet 'no fly' list and barred from connecting to the network.

    • Re:Whups (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @12:49AM (#40760933)

      Yeah, wonderfully insightful I'm sure, but none of that is relevant here. They'renot being asked to police illegal content, they're being asked NOT to throttle back on legal content. Whether they look for or do anything with illegal content is up to them.

      Also, it's worth noting that this is the UK we're talking about, which has a much more homogenous set of rules than the US, so your comment about things being differently legal in different places is also irrelevant.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Companies shouldn't be looking at private communications -- period, end of discussion. That's the job of the police. And if it's inconvenient, well too fucking bad. The alternative is so toxic and dangerous to democracy that anyone who would suggest it should be put on some kind of internet 'no fly' list and barred from connecting to the network.

      True... and only the police should be able to hunt and bring the offender in from of justice for the expression of such an opinion (not any companies, nor the public). In fact, Google should implement some filters to restrict searches about companies looking at private communications.

      (grin)

  • hello, we all need to stop using the word 'neutrality' or versions of it, as ANY move to do ANYTHING that changes the flow of data on the internet stops the internet from been neutral. EG. ISP/GOV don't 'like' illegal/immoral content (mainly because they cannot charge for it or tax it) so they change how our 'free thinking ' minds wish to consume such things. they censor it - the net is no longer neutral EG. GOV don't like political views so they ban Blackberry Messenger/Social network for a period of time
  • Virgin has refused to sign because it isn't tough enough. 'These principles remain open to misinterpretation and potential exploitation so, while we welcome efforts to reach a broad consensus to address potential future issues, we will be seeking greater certainty before we consider signing,'

    Well, Virgin, which would you prefer: relatively lenient voluntary guidelines, whose spirit you would probably weasel out of anyway, or legislated regulation? Worried about misinterpretation and potential exploitatio

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