Why Obama is wrong about net neutrality

“Net neutrality” sounds like a noble concept, doesn’t it? But it’s another example of one political position co-opting language in a way that mislabels the underlying agenda.

In this case, net neutrality is a struggle over who should control the Internet. Some describe the contest as between government and free markets, while some think it’s between two competing set of corporate interests.

It shouldn’t be a surprise as to who President Obama believes should control the Internet.

Other resources on this topic:

Save the Internet
‘Net Neutrality’ Is Socialism, Not Freedom
The Durable Internet: Preserving Network Neutrality without Regulation
AT&T, Google Battle Over Web Rules
Net Neutrality: A Brief Primer

4 Comments

  • scott owens -

    Not just Obama,
    Most everyone who has/had anything to do with the establishment and continued development of the “Internet” are in favor of Net Neutrality laws including the people who wrote the Operating System your desktops run and your hosting providers use, the sites you visit and the sites you buy from.

    Don’t like Obama – thats ok – The FCC Chairman in favor of Net Neutrality laws was appointed by President Bush and given a 2nd term under President Bush when Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House … and they still picked him to lead and he is in favor.

    Here is what Net Neutrality is all about:

    What is Net Neutrality?
    Net Neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet.
    Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies.
    Net Neutrality is the reason the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation and free speech online. It protects the consumer’s right to use any equipment, content, application or service without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network’s only job is to move data — not to choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

    Who wants to get rid of Net Neutrality?
    The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable — want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all.
    They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. And they want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking services offered by their competitors.
    These companies have a new vision for the Internet. Instead of a level playing field, they want to reserve express lanes for their own content and services — or those of big corporations that can afford the steep tolls — and leave the rest of us on a winding dirt road.
    The big phone and cable companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality, putting the future of the Internet at risk.

    Isn’t this just a battle between giant corporations?
    No. Our opponents would like to paint this debate as a clash of corporate titans. But the real story is the millions of everyday people fighting for their Internet freedom.
    Small business owners benefit from an Internet that allows them to compete directly — not one where they can’t afford the price of entry. Net Neutrality ensures that innovators can start small and dream big about being the next EBay or Google without facing insurmountable hurdles. Without Net Neutrality, startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay for a top spot on the Web.

    What’s at stake if we lose Net Neutrality?
    The consequences of a world without Net Neutrality would be devastating. Innovation would be stifled, competition limited, and access to information restricted. Consumer choice and the free market would be sacrificed to the interests of a few corporations.

    Who else supports Net Neutrality?
    The supporters of Net Neutrality include leading tech companies such as Amazon.com, EBay, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Facebook, Skype and Yahoo. Prominent national figures such as Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig and Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps have called for stronger Net Neutrality protections.

    You can’t get better support cross the board support for a common goal than from these companies or people.

    Go here to see some independent thinking on this topic –
    http://www.savetheinternet.com/

  • scott owens -

    Someone wrote earlier –
    “In this case, net neutrality is a struggle over who should control the Internet. Some describe the contest as between government and free markets, while some think it’s between two competing set of corporate interests.”

    Its not like that. Its so no one controls the Internet – its between one set of corporate interests that align 100% and EVERYBODY who uses the Internet.
    Show a group of individuals who are not related, employed, lobby for or dependent by the “corporate interests” who are not in favor of Net Neutrality.

    We just happen to have a group of companies sticking up for us too. Yes, Amazon is in favor of Net Neutrality because in its absence they will lose customers and you and I will pay more. And not have anything WE can do about it except stop it now from happening even more than it does now.

    Today I can buy a GM truck and drive to Saint Louis on I-70
    With the absence of Net Neutrality unless I owned a Ford truck I might not be able to drive in the better maintained left hand lanes. I might even have to drive down to Springfield and then up to Saint Louis because neither GM nor I paid the extra tolls or I might have to carry and pay for (cable bundling here) extra passengers I don’t care for but that the people who own the road ( my Internet provider ) want to pawn off on me.

    To make it worse in most cases today Internet access for home is via cable providers who are granted monopolies from local governments restricting our ability to vote with our feet – I can’t change from Time Warner to ANYone else, they are the only provider in my part of the City due to contract with City. How am I or my family going to change service providers ? Move ? That is kind of drastic.

    I am in favor of business; I have started and worked for successful and failed ones – I own stocks, bonds and real estate; I want profits to be made but I want and need the playing field to be level for ALL involved or we may never get the next Amazon, Ebay or Facebook. Bad decisions made over the next 5 years will be with us for life. It’s not like you or I could start our own toll road to Saint Louis. The people who are against Net Neutrality would never allow it – they own the on and off ramps to the highways and side streets and are very effective at controlling those.

    I wan to be able to drive my Fiero to grandmas without sneaky tolls getting in my way. Net Neutrality will help keep it that way.

  • scott owens -

    Google is going to make Net Neutrality a non-issue.
    They are going to build fiber to your home bypassing the incumbent telco/cable companies.
    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/think-big-with-gig-our-experimental.html
    Why ?
    “Openness and choice: We’ll operate an “open access” network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we’ll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.”

    Here is a question from a technology blog:

    Why would Google want to get into Fiber?

    Among many other reasons, its a net neutrality insurance policy. Google favors net neutrality, but if net neutrality foes succeed (and that’s an ongoing threat, because they don’t tend to back off even as the FCC reiterates its support for net neutrality principles) it needs its own links directly to consumers as a hedge against other big network providers (particularly those that are also trying to compete with other Google services, whether video offerings that compete with YouTube, phone offerings that compete in some ways with Voice, or something else) — impairing access to Google’s services. If Google can position themselves as a competitive fiber-to-consumer provider, it puts them in a position where such actions by competing service providers that are also fiber providers are riskier because of the potential for retaliation.

    Google has a strategic investment in not making the internet into a set of disjoint walled gardens, but ultimately the best way of insuring that is to guarantee that if its competitors try to convert it into such a system, those competitors will lose.

  • scott owens -

    If you folks haven’t read / seen on TV there are cities in Kansas that are trying to get the next-gen fiber connections from Google to there city. Topeka even named themselves Google Kansas for a day to try to move to front of line.

    funny.

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