The Hostile Takeover Of The Internet by Obama — More Taxes, More Regulation, More Control of Freedom of Speech, More Government Intervention into Business — Abolish The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — Do Not Mess With The Internet — Videos
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Story 3: The Hostile Takeover Of The Internet by Obama — More Taxes, More Regulation, More Control of Freedom of Speech, More Government Intervention into Business — Abolish The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — Do Not Mess With The Internet — Videos
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The Truth About Net Neutrality
Advocates say that Net Neutrality means guaranteeing free speech on the Internet. Without it, big telecoms could control what you see and how you see it. But what is the truth about Net Neutrality?
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 Henderson: ‘Net Neutrality won’t work’; Ebeling: ‘The Fed distorts resource allocation’
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The Fallacy of Net Neutrality: Thomas Hazlett on the FCC & Consumer Protection
“I’m very confident a hundred years from now we won’t have an FCC,” says Thomas Hazlett, Reason contributor and George Mason economics professor.
Internet service providers are coming under scrutiny from both the FCC and net neutrality supporters who want to ensure unrestricted consumer access to the Web. However, Hazlett points out that the fear over ISPs limiting Web content is unfounded and government “has no idea what the optimal business model is” to effectively regulate.
Hazlett sat down with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss net neutrality, the Internet, and and his Encounters Broadside book “The Fallacy of Net Neutrality.”
Hank vs. Hank: The Net Neutrality Debate in 3 Minutes
On Net Neutrality, Time to Regulate the Regulators
by THE EDITORS
The Federal Communications Commission’s decision to effectively convert broadband Internet providers into regulated utility companies, stifling both technological innovation and consumer choice, is the latest example of the footrace dynamic that will dominate national domestic politics from now until January 2016: The Obama administration — or one of its purportedly independent enablers in the FCC and other federal agencies — announces sweeping and unilateral regulatory change, and the Republican-controlled legislative branch hustles to outmaneuver it. Given the respective timelines involved in executive fiat and lawmaking, the administration will almost always have a head start — but that should not stop Congress from catching up as quickly as possible.
At issue here is the question of “net neutrality,” an increasingly elastic term describing how an Internet service provider (ISP) treats any given packet of data moving through its network. On one side of the ideological divide, partisans of “neutrality” insist that every packet be treated in precisely the same way as every other packet, that none be given priority. On the other side is reality, in which the bandwidth demands of sending an e-mail from a home computer are different from those of streaming live video to a wireless device. That Netflix, for example, should be permitted to pay an Internet service provider to fast-lane its videos is, for the ideological neutralists, the first step toward another one of those science-fiction corporate dystopias that the anti-capitalists keep promising us, in this case one in which every Internet service provider becomes a “walled garden” in which consumers are hostage to the self-interested caprices of their ISPs, and therefore customers of an ISP that has an arrangement with Facebook might be relegated to pokey service when trying to use Instagram — or be blocked entirely from accessing certain Facebook competitors.
Internet users will notice that that hasn’t happened, and hasn’t shown any likelihood of happening, despite the absence of FCC regulations forbidding it. Even in the settings that most resemble “walled gardens” — for example, in-flight Internet services that do allow providers to enjoy absolute monopoly, for the duration of the flight at least — the trend has been in the opposite direction: When consumers made it clear that they were annoyed by Gogo’s unwillingness to support YouTube and streaming-video services, new products (notably services provided by the airlines themselves) came into the market to meet consumers’ demand for being able to while away that ORD–JFK segment watching funny cat videos.
The FCC’s move, then, is a typical federal regulatory enterprise: a non-solution to a non-problem.
While mainly motivated by a naïve ideological enthusiasm, net-neutrality activists fear, not without some reason, that the dominant operating model for ISPs will be something like that of cable-television providers. (Indeed, many cable-television providers are ISPs.) Specifically, they fear that ISPs will come to resemble cable companies circa 2010. The irony there is that it is the Internet itself — without any enabling regulation from the FCC — that has provided the beginnings of a solution to the problem of the general awfulness of the American cable company, with gleeful “cord-cutters” replacing their cable services with AppleTV, Hulu, and the like.
Neutrality as an operating principle has largely prevailed among ISPs in the absence of a federal mandate largely because consumers like it that way. But consumers may not always like it that way: For example, those who want faster service for downloading movies at the moment are largely restricted to paying for faster service across the board rather than paying for faster service when they want faster service — imagine the FAA’s insisting that if customers want to fly first-class on one trip, they have to fly first-class all the time. The FCC’s new rules are not aimed at preserving the effective neutrality that prevails today — they are ideologically informed measures aimed at preventing innovations in the marketplace that consumers might prefer to the current model.
To accomplish this, the FCC is reclassifying broadband providers as “telecommunication services” under Title II of the Communications Act . . . of 1934. The FCC’s recourse to a law passed during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt should give us all an idea about the sort of cutting-edge thinking that is at work here.
There is much that is unnecessary in these rules. For example, the regulation against blocking access to lawful websites addresses a situation that is largely unknown. (Some providers that serve customers of businesses open to the public do block pornographic sites, which does not seem unreasonable.) Likewise, the call for greater transparency in protocols speaks to a desirable end, though one that is hardly crying out for federal intervention.
On the other hand, the ban on creating “fast lanes” for services that would benefit from them forecloses what might be a fruitful avenue of innovation. More worrisome still is the vast, open-ended powers that federal regulators have granted themselves: The FCC has — with no congressional mandate — just given itself a mandate to forbid anything that it believes to be other than “reasonable,” or anything it judges will “harm consumers or edge providers.” (“Edge providers” essentially means those who create or distribute content.) And, of course, there is cronyism: As Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune reports, Internet-based pay-television services of the sort being contemplated by Sony (and possibly by Apple) would be specifically exempt from the fast-lane rules.
As an Internet-based concern, National Review Online has a strong preference for an open, rambling, largely unregulated Internet. We believe that intense FCC oversight is as likely to undermine those freewheeling ways and “permissionless innovation” as to preserve them — look at any other industry in which the FCC stands athwart commerce. There are measures that can and should be taken to increase competition among ISPs, and, as Julian Sanchez of Cato points out, in the event of truly cumbrous and destructive collusions between ISPs and content providers, then the prudent response would be case-by-case intervention carried out by the Federal Trade Commission rather than preemptive blanket regulation by the FCC. It takes a certain kind of crackedness to believe that “free and open” and “under heavy federal regulation” are synonymous.
Congress has the authority to legally limit the FCC’s ambitions in this matter, and it should do so, even though such efforts would probably run into an Obama veto. That’s a fight worth having. It is high time to regulate the regulators and remind the bureaucrats who in this republic is in fact empowered to make law. Likewise, Jason Chaffetz’s initiation of an Oversight Committee investigation into whether the White House improperly colluded with the FCC in formulating these new rules is to be encouraged — if only for the potential amusement in learning whether improper collusion was instrumental in this crusade against improper collusion.
Far from being dysfunctional, the Internet is one of the critical aspects of life in these United States, one that is brilliantly functional and wonderfully innovative in no small part because of the laissez-faire approach that government has historically taken toward it. Why anybody would want to make it more like a utility company is a mystery — unless one appreciates that, for those suffering from a certain progressive inclination, federal regulation is thought to be desirable in and of itself, and that the freewheeling ways of the Internet are a standing rebuke to those who would regiment and regulate practically every aspect of life.
Republican lawmakers investigate White House net neutrality push
Congressional Republicans are demanding to know how much the White House influenced the Federal Communications Commission while the agency crafted net neutrality rules.
The FCC has until Monday afternoon to produce unredacted email messages, focused on net neutrality rules, between FCC staff and officials with the Obama administration, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz said in a letter to the FCC Friday. The Utah Republican is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Chaffetz’s committee is “investigating the potential involvement of the White House” in the creation of proposed net neutrality rules that the FCC is scheduled to vote on next Thursday, he said in the letter. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will propose regulations that would reclassify broadband as a regulated telecommunications service instead of a lightly regulated information service.
An FCC spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment on Chaffetz’s letter.
Several congressional Republicans have accused the White House of improperly influencing the FCC net-neutrality rule-making process, after Obama called on the agency to reclassify broadband as a regulated public utility in November. Wheeler appeared to change his position and embrace that idea after the president urged the independent agency to do so, critics have said.
But U.S. presidential administrations have repeatedly weighed in on FCC proceedings during the past 30-plus years, net neutrality advocate Public Knowledge has noted.
Chaffetz’s letter to the FCC came just two days after Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Wheeler they were expanding an investigation into agency rule-making processes.
The Energy and Commerce Committee’s probe covers a wide range of FCC process concerns beyond net neutrality, but new reports detailing White House contact with the FCC on net neutrality raise “additional concerns about whether the commission is managing its affairs with the independence and openness required by its mandate,” committee leaders said in a Wednesday letter to Wheeler.
Republican concerns about Obama administration influence over the FCC were fueled by a Feb. 4 Wall Street Journal report saying the White House last year had set up a “parallel version of the FCC” to push for regulation of broadband providers.
Chaffetz’s letter asks for specific email messages sent by Obama administration officials to the FCC in April. On Friday, Vice.com published an exchange between administration officials and FCC staff that the website obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
GOP, tech industry mostly out of step over net neutrality issue
By NOAH BIERMAN AND EVAN HALPER contact the reporters Politics and Government U.S. Congress Federal Communications Commission John Thune Ted Cruz Rand Paul
- Silicon Valley executives and activists are increasingly irritated by the feeling the GOP is not on their side
- GOP lawmakers argue that FCC net neutrality proposal amounts to a government takeover of the Web
- GOP lawmakers in Congress are unified in opposition to the administration approach on net neutrality
Thee intensifying debate over how to keep the Internet open and ripe for innovation has heightened tensions between Republican congressional leaders and tech entrepreneurs they have been trying to woo.
As tech firms and cable companies prepare for a fight that each says will shape the future of the Internet, Silicon Valley executives and activists are growing increasingly irritated by the feeling that the GOP is not on their side.
Republican leaders have struggled to explain to their nascent allies in the Bay Area why they are working so hard to undermine a plan endorsed by the Obama administration to keep a level playing field in Internet innovation, enforcing what the administration and its allies call “net neutrality.”
FCC chief seeks to treat Web as public utility in net neutrality fight
Arguments from the GOP that the plan amounts to a government takeover of the Web — “Obamacare for the Internet,” as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called it — are falling flat with many tech innovators.
“This is one of the most prominent moments in Internet freedom,” said Julie Samuels, executive director of Engine, a nonpartisan advocacy group that brings policymakers together with tech start-ups. “I don’t think any party can afford to be on the wrong side of this conversation.”
But Republicans, she said, are on the wrong side.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote this month to adopt the net neutrality plan proposed last week by the panel’s chairman, Tom Wheeler. The plan would regulate Internet service providers, such as Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc., as public utilities and would ban them from offering high-speed lanes to companies that pay more.
Republicans have promised to push legislation to overturn any such move, but most high-tech companies support it.
The fight comes at a time when Republicans had been making gains in Silicon Valley, a constituency of well-heeled donors and coveted millennial-generation voters who have generally been loyal to Democrats.
Prominent Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), have taken members of Congress on listening tours of tech companies. Tech money has begun flowing into GOP campaign accounts. Presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have made an aggressive case that the GOP better understands the values of privacy and freedom in the digital world.
GOP leaders had hoped to build on those gains at an event in Washington called Reboot Congress, which started Wednesday evening, where top Republican lawmakers plan to join Silicon Valley business leaders to discuss the future of the Internet.
Republicans have hoped to seize on recent Democratic policy moves that riled tech companies, including a push for strict anti-piracy rules and the Obama administration’s continued backing of National Security Agency surveillance of Internet users.
The FCC makes a breakthrough on net neutrality–but the battle isn’t over
But the hot issue in Silicon Valley now is net neutrality. And on that issue, the GOP and the tech industry are mostly out of step.
Republicans argue that intervention by a big government agency is the wrong approach to leveling the playing field for companies that depend on the Internet. That’s especially true now, as conservatives accuse Obama of a broad pattern of regulatory overreach in healthcare, the environment and immigration.
“As is often the case in Washington, those who want more power create the specter of a false threat that is not occurring in the marketplace today,” Cruz said in an interview in which he warned that new regulations could lead to new taxes and put a chill on innovation. “The power of regulation is like a camel’s nose under the tent,” he said.
In Congress, GOP lawmakers are unified in opposition to the administration approach.
That includes tech-savvy California Republicans such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who warns that the administration approach “will result in over-regulation and years of fruitless litigation.” McCarthy joined his House leadership colleagues in warning regulators that imposing net neutrality rules would “deter investment and stifle one of the brightest spots in our economy.”
Many Internet entrepreneurs disagree.
“The argument is a red herring,” said Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights alongside GOP lawmakers on privacy and surveillance issues but is helping lead the attack against them on net neutrality.
“Nobody is talking about wanting the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the Internet. That would be terrible,” McSherry said. “All they would be doing is putting in rules of the road for broadband providers.”
Republicans, she said, are essentially helping big corporations squeeze out innovation. “Politically, this is a real mistake,” she said.
It is unclear to what extent the issue will overshadow other Silicon Valley priorities. But it is certainly making the GOP a tougher sell.
“It is close to a litmus test,” said Paul Sieminski, a Republican who is the general counsel to Automattic, the company that operates Web-making tool WordPress.com.
“It’s such a fundamental issue for the Internet,” said Sieminski, who has been active in fighting for net neutrality. “I guess it is a proxy on where a candidate may stand on a lot of issues related to the Internet.”
The fight goes beyond wealthy entrepreneurs making or seeking their fortunes in start-up companies. Silicon Valley is adept at mobilizing consumers eager to protect what they see as a core value of the digital age.
The FCC received nearly 4 million comments on the net neutrality rules — most urging them to enforce stricter regulations — before Wheeler announced his proposal last week.
Groups such as Fight for the Future, whose donors include technology companies, said they have helped initiate tens of thousands of calls from their members to regulators and lawmakers using technology that bypasses switchboards.
Polls also showed overwhelming support for the concept that big carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast should not be allowed to charge more to companies that want a fast lane.
That may have propelled a shift among some Republicans, who once questioned the need for any new regulations.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is proposing a bill that would let Congress, rather than regulators, set the terms for net neutrality. In establishing the concept, however, the measure also would take away the FCC’s authority to make any new regulations in the fast-changing broadband marketplace.
Thune and others frame their disagreement with Obama and federal regulators as one over process, asserting that Congress would better protect openness on the Internet yet avoid burdensome regulations.
“I worry that online innovators will be subject to the Mother-may-I system in which startups have to hire regulatory lawyers before they hire engineers,” Thune said Wednesday night as the Reboot conference began at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington.
Silicon Valley activists are unimpressed. They don’t trust the GOP-controlled Congress on this issue.
“They’re cynical attempts,” Evan Greer, campaign manager for Fight for the Future, said of the legislative proposals, “last-ditch efforts by cable lobbyists who know they’ve been beat in the court of public opinion.”
|Topics and issues|
Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providersand governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier.
There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law, particularly in the United States. Debate over the issue of net neutrality predates the coining of the term. Advocates of net neutrality such as Lawrence Lessighave raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, and protocols), and even to block out competitors
Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms. Prominent supporters of net neutrality include Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, and Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web.
Examples of net neutrality violations include when the internet service provider Comcast intentionally slowed peer-to-peercommunications. In 2007, one other company was using deep packet inspection to discriminate against peer-to-peer, file transfer protocol, and online games, instituting a cell-phone style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom value added services, and bundling. Critics of net neutrality argue that data discrimination is desirable for reasons like guaranteeingquality of service. Bob Kahn, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, called the term net neutrality a slogan and opposes establishing it, but he admits that he is against the fragmentation of the net whenever this becomes excluding to other participants. On 31 January 2015, AP News reported the FCC will present the notion of applying (“with some caveats”) Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the internet in a vote expected on 26 February 2015.Adoption of this notion would reclassify internet service from one of information to one of telecommunications and, according to Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, ensure net neutrality. The Obama administration said that it would not let the public see its 332 page net neutrality plan until after the FCC voted on its implementation.
Network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. According to Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, the best way to explain network neutrality is as a principle to be used when designing a network: that a public information network will end up being most useful if all content, sites, and platforms are treated equally. A more detailed proposed definition of technical and service network neutrality suggests that service network neutrality is the adherence to the paradigm that operation of a service at a certain layer is not influenced by any data other than the data interpreted at that layer, and in accordance with the protocol specification for that layer.
The idea of an open Internet is the idea that the full resources of the Internet and means to operate on it are easily accessible to all individuals and companies. This often includes ideas such as net neutrality, open standards, transparency, lack of Internet censorship, and low barriers to entry. The concept of the open Internet is sometimes expressed as an expectation of decentralized technological power, and is seen by some as closely related to open-source software.
Proponents often see net neutrality as an important component of an open internet, where policies such as equal treatment of data and open web standards allow those on the Internet to easily communicate and conduct business without interference from a third party. A closed Internet refers to the opposite situation, in which established corporations or governments favor certain uses. A closed Internet may have restricted access to necessary web standards, artificially degradesome services, or explicitly filter out content.
The concept of a dumb network made up of dumb pipes has been around since at least the early 1990s. The idea of a dumb network is that the endpoints of a network are generally where the intelligence lies, and that the network itself generally leaves the management and operation of communication to the end users. In 2013 the software company MetroTech Net, Inc. (MTN) coined the term Dumb Wave which is the modern application of the Dumb Pipe concept to the ubiquitous wireless network. If wireless carriers do not provide unique and value added services, they will be relegated to the dumb pipe category where they can’t charge a premium or retain customers.
The end-to-end principle is a principle of network design, first laid out explicitly in the 1981 conference paper End-to-end arguments in system design by Jerome H. Saltzer, David P. Reed, and David D. Clark. The principle states that, whenever possible, communications protocol operations should be defined to occur at the end-points of a communications system, or as close as possible to the resource being controlled. According to the end-to-end principle, protocol features are only justified in the lower layers of a system if they are a performance optimization, hence, TCP retransmission for reliability is still justified, but efforts to improve TCP reliability should stop after peak performance has been reached. They argued that reliable systems tend to require end-to-end processing to operate correctly, in addition to any processing in the intermediate system. They pointed out that most features in the lowest level of a communications system have costs for all higher-layer clients, even if those clients do not need the features, and are redundant if the clients have to re-implement the features on an end-to-end basis. This leads to the model of a minimal dumb network with smart terminals, a completely different model from the previous paradigm of the smart network with dumb terminals. Because the end-to-end principle is one of the central design principles of the Internet, and because the practical means for implementing data discrimination violate the end-to-end principle, the principle often enters discussions about net neutrality. The end-to-end principle is closely related, and sometimes seen as a direct precursor to the principle of net neutrality.
Traffic shaping is the control of computer network traffic in order to optimize or guarantee performance, improve latency, and/or increase usable bandwidth by delaying packets that meet certain criteria. More specifically, traffic shaping is any action on a set of packets (often called a stream or a flow) which imposes additional delay on those packets such that they conform to some predetermined constraint (a contract or traffic profile). Traffic shaping provides a means to control the volume of traffic being sent into a network in a specified period (bandwidth throttling), or the maximum rate at which the traffic is sent (rate limiting), or more complex criteria such as GCRA.
If the core of a network has more bandwidth than is permitted to enter at the edges, then good QoS can be obtained without policing. For example the telephone network employs admission control to limit user demand on the network core by refusing to create a circuit for the requested connection. Over-provisioning is a form of statistical multiplexing that makes liberal estimates of peak user demand. Over-provisioning is used in private networks such as WebEx and the Internet 2 Abilene Network, an American university network. David Isenberg believes that continued over-provisioning will always provide more capacity for less expense than QoS and deep packet inspection technologies.
Discrimination by protocol
Favoring or blocking information based on the communications protocol that the computers are using to communicate.
On 1 August 2008, the FCC formally voted 3-to-2 to uphold a complaint against Comcast, the largest cable company in the United States, ruling that it had illegally inhibited users of its high-speed Internet service from using file-sharing software. FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin said that the order was meant to set a precedent that Internet providers, and indeed all communications companies, could not prevent customers from using their networks the way they see fit unless there is a good reason. In an interview, Martin said, “We are preserving the open character of the Internet”. The legal complaint against Comcast related to BitTorrent, a transfer protocol that is especially apt at distributing large files such as video, music, and software on the Internet. Comcast admitted no wrongdoing in its proposed settlement of up to US$16 dollars per share in December 2009.
Discrimination by IP address
During the early decades of the Internet, creating a non-neutral Internet was technically infeasible. Originally developed to filter malware, the Internet security company NetScreen Technologies released network firewalls in 2003 with so called deep packet inspection. Deep inspection helped make real-time discrimination between different kinds of data possible, and is often used for internet censorship.
In a practice called zero-rating, companies will reimburse data use from certain addresses, favoring use of those services. Examples include Facebook Zero and Google Free Zone, and are especially common in the developing world.
Sometimes ISPs will charge some companies, but not others, for the traffic they cause on the ISP’s network. French telecoms operator Orange, complaining that traffic from YouTube and other Google sites consists of roughly 50% of total traffic on the Orange network, reached a deal with Google, in which they charge Google for the traffic incurred on the Orange network. Some also thought that Orange’s rival ISP Free throttled YouTube traffic. However, an investigation done by the French telecommunications regulatory body revealed that the network was simply congested during peak hours.
Favoring private networks
There is some disagreement about whether peering is a net neutrality issue.
In the first quarter of 2014, streaming website Netflix reached an arrangement with ISP Comcast to improve the quality of its service to Netflix clients. This arrangement was made in response to increasingly slow connection speeds through Comcast over the course of the 2013, where average speeds dropped by over 25% of their values a year before to an all time low. After the deal was struck in January 2014, the Netflix speed index recorded a 66% increase in connection.
Netflix agreed to a similar deal with Verizon in 2014 after Verizon DSL customers connection speed dropped to less than 1 Mbit/s early in the year. Netflix spoke out against this deal with a controversial statement delivered to all Verizon customers experiencing low connection speeds using the Netflix client. This sparked an internal debate between the two companies that led to Verizon obtaining a cease and desist order on June 5, 2014 that forced Netflix to stop displaying this message.
Legal enforcement of net neutrality principles takes a variety of forms, from provisions that outlaw anti-competitive blocking and throttling of Internet services, all the way to legal enforcement that prevents companies from subsidizing Internet use on particular sites.
Arguments for net neutrality
Proponents of net neutrality include consumer advocates, human rights organizations such as Article 19, online companies and some technology companies.Many major Internet application companies are advocates of neutrality. Yahoo!, Vonage, eBay, Amazon, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Microsoft, along with many other companies, have also taken a stance in support of neutrality regulation. Cogent Communications, an international Internet service provider, has made an announcement in favor of certain net neutrality policies. In 2008, Google published a statement speaking out against letting broadband providers abuse their market power to affect access to competing applications or content. They further equated the situation to that of the telephony market, where telephone companies are not allowed to control who their customers call or what those customers are allowed to say. However, Google’s support of net neutrality has recently been called into question.
Individuals who support net neutrality include Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf, Lawrence Lessig, Robert W. McChesney, Steve Wozniak, Susan P. Crawford, Ben Scott, David Reed, and U.S. President Barack Obama. On November 10, 2014, President Obama recommended the FCC reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service in order to preserve net neutrality. On November 12, 2014, AT&T stopped build-out of their fiber network until it has “solid net neutrality rules to follow”. On 31 January 2015, AP News reported the FCC will present the notion of applying (“with some caveats”) Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the internet in a vote expected on 26 February 2015.
Control of data
Supporters of network neutrality want to designate cable companies as common carriers, which would require them to allow Internet service providers (ISPs) free access to cable lines, the model used for dial-up Internet. They want to ensure that cable companies cannot screen, interrupt or filter Internet content without court order. Common carrier status would give the FCC the power to enforce net neutrality rules.
SaveTheInternet.com accuses cable and telecommunications companies of wanting the role of gatekeepers, being able to control which websites load quickly, load slowly, or don’t load at all. According to SaveTheInternet.com these companies want to charge content providers who require guaranteed speedy data delivery…to create advantages for their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video services – and slowing access or blocking access to those of competitors. Vinton Cerf, a co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and current vice president of Google argues that the Internet was designed without any authorities controlling access to new content or new services. He concludes that the principles responsible for making the Internet such a success would be fundamentally undermined were broadband carriers given the ability to affect what people see and do online.
Digital rights and freedoms
Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney argue that net neutrality ensures that the Internet remains a free and open technology, fostering democratic communication. Lessig and McChesney go on to argue that the monopolization of the Internet would stifle the diversity of independent news sources and the generation of innovative and novel web content.
User intolerance for slow-loading sites
Proponents of net neutrality invoke the human psychological process of adaptation where when people get used to something better, they would not ever want to go back to something worse. In the context of the Internet, the proponents argue that a user who gets used to the “fast lane” on the Internet would find the “slow lane” intolerable in comparison, greatly disadvantaging any provider who is unable to pay for the “fast lane”. Video providers Netflix and Vimeo in their comments to FCC in favor of net neutrality use the research of S.S. Krishnan and Ramesh Sitaraman that provides the first quantitative evidence of adaptation to speed among online video users. Their research studied the patience level of millions of Internet video users who waited for a slow-loading video to start playing. Users who had a faster Internet connectivity, such as fiber-to-the-home, demonstrated less patience and abandoned their videos sooner than similar users with slower Internet connectivity. The results demonstrate how users can get used to faster Internet connectivity, leading to higher expectation of Internet speed, and lower tolerance for any delay that occurs. Author Nicholas Carr and other social commentators have written about the habituation phenomenon by stating that a faster flow of information on the Internet can make people less patient.
Competition and innovation
Net neutrality advocates argue that allowing cable companies the right to demand a toll to guarantee quality or premium delivery would create an exploitative business model based on the ISPs position as gatekeepers. Advocates warn that by charging websites for access, network owners may be able to block competitor Web sites and services, as well as refuse access to those unable to pay. According to Tim Wu, cable companies plan to reserve bandwidth for their own television services, and charge companies a toll for priority service.
Proponents of net neutrality argue that allowing for preferential treatment of Internet traffic, or tiered service, would put newer online companies at a disadvantage and slow innovation in online services. Tim Wu argues that, without network neutrality, the Internet will undergo a transformation from a market ruled by innovation to one ruled by deal-making. SaveTheInternet.com argues that net neutrality puts everyone on equal terms, which helps drive innovation. They claim it is a preservation of the way the internet has always operated, where the quality of websites and services determined whether they succeeded or failed, rather than deals with ISPs. Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney argue that eliminating net neutrality would lead to the Internet resembling the world of cable TV, so that access to and distribution of content would be managed by a handful of massive companies. These companies would then control what is seen as well as how much it costs to see it. Speedy and secure Internet use for such industries as health care, finance, retailing, and gambling could be subject to large fees charged by these companies. They further explain that a majority of the great innovators in the history of the Internet started with little capital in their garages, inspired by great ideas. This was possible because the protections of net neutrality ensured limited control by owners of the networks, maximal competition in this space, and permitted innovators from outside access to the network. Internet content was guaranteed a free and highly competitive space by the existence of net neutrality.
Preserving Internet standards
Network neutrality advocates have sponsored legislation claiming that authorizing incumbent network providers to override transport and application layer separation on the Internet would signal the decline of fundamental Internet standards and international consensus authority. Further, the legislation asserts that bit-shaping the transport of application data will undermine the transport layer’s designed flexibility.
Alok Bhardwaj argues that any violations to network neutrality, realistically speaking, will not involve genuine investment but rather payoffs for unnecessary and dubious services. He believes that it is unlikely that new investment will be made to lay special networks for particular websites to reach end-users faster. Rather, he believes that non-net neutrality will involve leveraging quality of service to extract remuneration from websites that want to avoid being slowed down.
Some advocates say network neutrality is needed in order to maintain the end-to-end principle. According to Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney, all content must be treated the same and must move at the same speed in order for net neutrality to be true. They say that it is this simple but brilliant end-to-end aspect that has allowed the Internet to act as a powerful force for economic and social good. Under this principle, a neutral network is a dumb network, merely passing packets regardless of the applications they support. This point of view was expressed by David S. Isenberg in his paper, “The Rise of the Stupid Network”. He states that the vision of an intelligent network is being replaced by a new network philosophy and architecture in which the network is designed for always-on use, not intermittence and scarcity. Rather than intelligence being designed into the network itself, the intelligence would be pushed out to the end-user’s device; and the network would be designed simply to deliver bits without fancy network routing or smart number translation. The data would be in control, telling the network where it should be sent. End-user devices would then be allowed to behave flexibly, as bits would essentially be free and there would be no assumption that the data is of a single data rate or data type.
Contrary to this idea, the research paper titled End-to-end arguments in system design by Saltzer, Reed, and Clark argues that network intelligence doesn’t relieve end systems of the requirement to check inbound data for errors and to rate-limit the sender, nor for a wholesale removal of intelligence from the network core.
Arguments against net neutrality
Opposition includes the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Goldwater Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Ayn Rand Institute. Opponents of net neutrality include hardware companies and members of the cable and telecommunications industries, including major telecommunications providers, such as Comcast and AT&T.
A number of these opponents created a website called Hands Off The Internet (which no longer exists) to promote their arguments against net neutrality. Principal financial support for the website came from AT&T, and members included technology firms and pro-market advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste.
Network neutrality regulations are opposed by Internet engineers such as professor David Farber and TCP inventor and Qualcomm Director Bob Kahn.Robert Pepper is senior managing director, global advanced technology policy, at Cisco Systems, and is the former FCC chief of policy development. He says: “The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content. That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn’t exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer”. Bob Kahn, another computer scientist and Director at Qualcomm, has said net neutrality is a slogan that would freeze innovation in the core of the Internet.
Farber has written and spoken strongly in favor of continued research and development on core Internet protocols. He joined academic colleagues Michael Katz,Christopher Yoo, and Gerald Faulhaber in an op-ed for the Washington Post strongly critical of network neutrality, essentially stating that while the Internet is in need of remodeling, congressional action aimed at protecting the best parts of the current Internet could interfere with efforts to build a replacement.
Financing infrastructure improvements
Some opponents of net neutrality argue that prioritization of bandwidth is necessary for future innovation on the Internet. Telecommunications providers such as telephone and cable companies, and some technology companies that supply networking gear, argue telecom providers should have the ability to provide preferential treatment in the form of tiered services, for example by giving online companies willing to pay the ability to transfer their data packets faster than other Internet traffic. The added revenue from such services could be used to pay for the building of increased broadband access to more consumers.
Conversely, opponents say that net neutrality regulation would make it more difficult for Internet service providers (ISPs) and other network operators to recoup their investments in broadband networks. John Thorne, senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Verizon, a broadband and telecommunications company, has argued that they will have no incentive to make large investments to develop advanced fibre-optic networks if they are prohibited from charging higher preferred access fees to companies that wish to take advantage of the expanded capabilities of such networks. Thorne and other ISPs have accused Google and Skype of freeloading or free riding for using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build.
Counterweight to server-side non-neutrality
Those in favor of forms of non-neutral tiered Internet access argue that the Internet is already not a level playing field: large companies achieve a performance advantage over smaller competitors by replicating servers and buying high-bandwidth services. Should prices drop for lower levels of access, or access to only certain protocols, for instance, a change of this type would make Internet usage more neutral, with respect to the needs of those individuals and corporations specifically seeking differentiated tiers of service. Network expert Richard Bennett has written, “A richly funded Web site, which delivers data faster than its competitors to the front porches of the Internet service providers, wants it delivered the rest of the way on an equal basis. This system, which Google calls broadband neutrality, actually preserves a more fundamental inequality.”
Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims that the current Internet is not neutral, because its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time sensitive traffic over real-time communications.
Prevent overuse of bandwidth
Since the early 1990s, Internet traffic has increased steadily. The arrival of picture-rich websites and MP3s led to a sharp increase in the mid-1990s followed by a subsequent sharp increase since 2003 as video streaming and Peer-to-peer file sharing became more common. In reaction to companies including YouTube, as well as smaller companies starting to offer free video content, using substantial amounts of bandwidth, at least one Internet service provider (ISP), SBC Communications (now AT&T Inc.), has suggested that it should have the right to charge these companies for making their content available over the provider’s network.
Bret Swanson of the Wall Street Journal wrote in 2007 that the popular websites of that time, including YouTube, MySpace, and blogs, were put at risk by net neutrality. He noted that, at the time, YouTube streamed as much data in three months as the world’s radio, cable and broadcast television channels did in one year, 75 petabytes. He argued that networks were not remotely prepared to handle the amount of data required to run these sites. He also argued that net neutrality would prevent broadband networks from being built, which would limit available bandwidth and thus endanger innovation.
Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims that the current Internet is not neutral as its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time-sensitive traffic over real-time communications. Generally, a network which blocks some nodes or services for the customers of the network would normally be expected to be less useful to the customers than one that did not. Therefore, for a network to remain significantly non-neutral requires either that the customers not be concerned about the particular non-neutralities or the customers not have any meaningful choice of providers, otherwise they would presumably switch to another provider with fewer restrictions.
While the network neutrality debate continues, network providers often enter into peering arrangements among themselves. These agreements often stipulate how certain information flows should be treated. In addition, network providers often implement various policies such as blocking of port 25 to prevent insecure systems from serving as spam relays, or other ports commonly used by decentralized music search applications implementing peer-to-peer networking models. They also present terms of service that often include rules about the use of certain applications as part of their contracts with users.
Most consumer Internet providers implement policies like these. The MIT Mantid Port Blocking Measurement Project is a measurement effort to characterize Internet port blocking and potentially discriminatory practices. However, the effect of peering arrangements among network providers are only local to the peers that enter into the arrangements, and cannot affect traffic flow outside their scope.
Jon Peha from Carnegie Mellon University believes it is important to create policies that protect users from harmful traffic discrimination, while allowing beneficial discrimination. Peha discusses the technologies that enable traffic discrimination, examples of different types of discrimination, and potential impacts of regulation.
Quality of service
Internet routers forward packets according to the diverse peering and transport agreements that exist between network operators. Many networks using Internet protocols now employ quality of service (QoS), and Network Service Providers frequently enter into Service Level Agreements with each other embracing some sort of QoS.
There is no single, uniform method of interconnecting networks using IP, and not all networks that use IP are part of the Internet. IPTV networks are isolated from the Internet, and are therefore not covered by network neutrality agreements.
The IP datagram includes a 3-bit wide Precedence field and a larger DiffServ Code Point that are used to request a level of service, consistent with the notion that protocols in a layered architecture offer services through Service Access Points. This field is sometimes ignored, especially if it requests a level of service outside the originating network’s contract with the receiving network. It is commonly used in private networks, especially those including Wi-Fi networks where priority is enforced. While there are several ways of communicating service levels across Internet connections, such as SIP, RSVP, IEEE 802.11e, and MPLS, the most common scheme combines SIP and DSCP. Router manufacturers now sell routers that have logic enabling them to route traffic for various Classes of Service at “wire-speed”.
With the emergence of multimedia, VoIP, IPTV, and other applications that benefit from low latency, various attempts to address the inability of some private networks to limit latency have arisen, including the proposition of offering tiered service levels that would shape Internet transmissions at the network layer based on application type. These efforts are ongoing, and are starting to yield results as wholesale Internet transport providers begin to amend service agreements to include service levels.
Advocates of net neutrality have proposed several methods to implement a net neutral Internet that includes a notion of quality-of-service:
- An approach offered by Tim Berners-Lee allows discrimination between different tiers, while enforcing strict neutrality of data sent at each tier: “If I pay to connect to the Net with a given quality of service, and you pay to connect to the net with the same or higher quality of service, then you and I can communicate across the net, with that quality and quantity of service”. “[We] each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me.”
- United States lawmakers have introduced bills that would now allow quality of service discrimination for certain services as long as no special fee is charged for higher-quality service.
Alok Bhardwaj has argued that net neutrality preservation through legislation is consistent with implementing quality of service protocols. He argues legislation should ban the charging of fees for any quality of service, which would both allow networks to implement quality of service as well as remove any incentive to abuse net neutrality ideas. He argues that since implementing quality of service doesn’t require any additional costs versus a non-QoS network, there’s no reason implementing quality of service should entail any additional fees. However, the core network hardware needed (with large number of queues, etc.) and the cost of designing and maintaining a QoS network are both much higher than for a non-QoS network.
Broadband Internet access has most often been sold to users based on Excess Information Rate or maximum available bandwidth. If Internet service providers(ISPs) can provide varying levels of service to websites at various prices, this may be a way to manage the costs of unused capacity by selling surplus bandwidth (or “leverage price discrimination to recoup costs of ‘consumer surplus‘”). However, purchasers of connectivity on the basis of Committed Information Rate or guaranteed bandwidth capacity must expect the capacity they purchase in order to meet their communications requirements.
Various studies have sought to provide network providers the necessary formulas for adequately pricing such a tiered service for their customer base. But while network neutrality is primarily focused on protocol based provisioning, most of the pricing models are based on bandwidth restrictions.
|This article or section may be written in a style that is too abstract to be readily understandable by general audiences.
Please improve it by defining technical terminology, and by adding examples. (February 2015)
Some opponents of net neutrality legislation point to concerns of privacy rights that could come about as a result, how those infringements of privacy can be exploited. While some believe it is hyperbole to suggest that ISPs will just transparently monitor transmitted content, or that ISPs will have to alter their content, there is the concern that ISPs may have profit motives to analyze what their subscribers are viewing, and be able to use such information to their financial advantage. For example, an ISP may be able to essentially replicate the “targeting” that has already been employed by companies like Google. To critics such as David Clark, a senior research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the proper question is “who has the right to observe everything you do”?
Framing of debate
Former Washington Post columnist, and Fox News commentator, Jeffrey Birnbaum, who currently works for the BGR Group (a lobbying firm which is employed byComcast) has called the debate “vague and misleading.”
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