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<nettime> L. Gordon Crovitz: Trying (again) to Freeze the Internet (WSJ)
Patrice Riemens on Wed, 18 Sep 2013 12:39:42 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> L. Gordon Crovitz: Trying (again) to Freeze the Internet (WSJ)

OK, I (& you probably too) thought I/we understood the frontlines on
the issue of Net Neutrality: IETF (Engineers), academics, the informed
public (you & me): in favor - in fact: non negotiable. Against: uggly
capitalists and assorted running dogs of big corporations. Unsure
(yet): political decision makers - most of them.

Well, not! learn here that (i) IETF/ engineers are against & that (ii)
actually there was never such thing as so-called net-neutrality. And
anyway won't you want your medical emergency info travel faster thru
the pipes than FB 'cats with sunglasses' ping pongs?

Yeah, yet another fine piece of FUD, or maybe time for the David Niven
in 'Murder on the Nile' quote ...

Meanwhile the WSJ has reappeared on the 'grab'm, they're FREE'
displays of the Amsterdam university's economic faculty (where else?),
so ...

Cheers, p+5D!


original to:

Trying (Again) to Freeze the Internet
Judges keep telling the FCC to back off, but the regulators won't stop.

Innovation is alive and well on the Internet, even though courts
keep invalidating "net neutrality" regulations. Make that because
courts keep invalidating those regulations. It's time to drive a stake
through the idea of net neutrality. The Internet should be left free
to be run by engineers, not set upon by government bureaucrats.

Net neutrality was once a hot political issue. "We can't have a
situation in which the corporate duopoly dictates the future of
the Internet," Sen. Barack Obama said in 2006, referring to cable
and telephone companies, "and that's why I'm supporting what is
called net neutrality." He made good on that promise as president,
only to be thwarted by the courts, which have held that the Federal
Communications Commission has no authority to dictate how the Internet
operates. The Communications Act of 1996 forbids the agency from
managing the Internet as a "common carrier," the regulatory approach
the commission took toward telephones during the AT&T monopoly era.

The latest case drew a standing-room-only crowd in federal court in
Washington last week to see whether the FCC will get away with its
regulatory willfulness in trying to regulate the Internet after the
appeals court already slapped it down.

In 2008, the FCC determined that Comcast CMCSA +0.07% was wrong to
slow down the music-stealing service BitTorrent in order to keep
other Web traffic flowing. In 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in Comcast's favor and held
that the FCC didn't have the authority to second-guess how companies
regulate networks. Later that year, the FCC issued new net-neutrality
regulations supported only by Democratic commissioners?a rare
party-line vote. It called these rules "prophylactic" because
regulators had found only a handful of cases in which Internet service
providers actually discriminated against content providers, as in the
Comcast-BitTorrent dispute.

Verizon is now challenging the 2010 regulations, under which the
FCC claimed broad oversight of the Internet?while at the same time
acknowledging that not every data packet on the Internet can be
treated the same way. The agency grandfathered in the nearly a dozen
"nonneutral" technologies, protocols and business terms. Among them:
blocking spam, giving priority to medical monitoring data, and
Amazon's special deal to deliver Kindle e-books quickly.

The exceptions are so numerous as to make a mockery of the idea of net
neutrality. But any further exceptions to net neutrality would have to
be approved by bureaucrats. As Verizon argues, the regulations would
freeze the Internet in place: "End users successfully accessed the
Internet content, applications and services of their choice literally
billions of times." The free market and technological innovations have
kept the Internet open?by making sure it is not "neutral."

The unsung innovators are the engineers who set technical standards
via groups like the Internet Engineering Task Force. They have
adjusted how packets of data are routed as new needs arise. As the
predomination of text gave way to time-sensitive voice and video,
the new content received preferential treatment. An entire industry
of content delivery network companies keeps the network functioning
smoothly, and not neutrally.

If allowed to stand, the FCC's 2010 rules could scuttle promising
new technologies. Driverless cars can become a reality only with
quick access to data. Real-time traffic information needs more
reliable delivery than, say, your latest photo on Facebook. Other
innovations needing highly reliable Internet connections include new
digital devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration, such as
real-time mobile electrocardiograms and blood-glucose monitors that
work through iPhones.

Political support for net neutrality has faded over the years, as
more people understand how the self-regulating Internet functions.
The alternative is the FCC claims to the power once held by the
now-defunct Interstate Commerce Commission, which set prices and other
terms for railways as common carriers, just as the FCC now wants to
set prices and other terms for the Internet. The ICC is remembered for
creating railway monopolies and suppressing innovation. No one wants
such a dreary fate for the Internet.

The best hope for the open Internet is that judges keep invalidating
net neutrality regulations. The engineers who run the Web have proven
that they need no interference from Washington.

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