Are we going to lose net neutrality?

Is there any reason they wouldn’t remove these regulations, and if they do could it mean censorship of, or more difficulty in accessing, certain political viewpoints?

I would hope that, if some of the big providers were to start to do that, there would be some maverick startups that people could turn to. Of course, the less politically savvy may not even notice, or care, and stick with their current providers, strengthening the bubble they live in.

One ray of hope is the fact that some big corporations strongly support net neutrality. Google supports it and they are a huge and powerful presence on the internet.

It’s kind of sad to think that we may have to depend on big corporations battling each other over our rights.

I think this’ll go better over in GD. I’ll move it there.

Which rights do you believe are at stake?

Given that what we have is simply an unregulated free for all where individuals hide behind firewalls of anonymity to conduct their nasty business, somehow I think that net neutrality will end up being compromised by the need to ‘protect’ individuals and business from the worst effects of internet misuse.

The fact is, either from a legal or social point of view, you cannot say just what you want in normal social face to face discourse, so why should the ‘internet hero’ be able to get away with threatening life with little fear of being held to account merely because of the medium which they choose?

It is interesting because the spread in depth of internet usage for social interactions across national boundaries might eventually require an international alignment of legal systems and warrants for agencies to cooperate, and that will tend to converge certain judicial standards across the globe.

The internet is effectively the ultimate multi-national, and we have not yet truly understood how to deal with corporate multi-nationals which at least do have physical assets that can be held to account, the social internet not so much.

Unless I’m missing your point, none of what you are talking about here really has much to do with net neutrality, which concerns discriminatory charging, or throttling, not anonymity. I can see how in certain circumstances there’s a relationship, but I don’t think it’s the main issue.

It’s not a right that we would lose so much as it is a common good. Companies that own the internet connections to our dwellings are currently prohibited from offering faster access to a content-provider who is willing to pay, or who is owned by the ISP. I think there are legitimate concerns that losing that prohibition would lead to a sort of censorship and would also stifle innovation.

Is the internet a public utility? If companies aren’t allowed to profit from the assets they own then you will see less innovation not more.

ETA: what incentive would there be for ISP providers to improve the internet to be capable of higher speeds, larger bandwidth, etc.?

Since we are just doing rants:

Entrepreneurs on the internet have been very good at developing solutions to prevent people from being victimized. This is because property rights are strong on the internet (“IP” is not legitimate property).

The government is not good at preventing crime. Their standard reaction to crime is to commit wholesale aggression against all people, especially politically unconnected people. This takes the form of police action and also aggression by agencies like the IRS. Entrepreneurs on the internet disable evil-doers without initiating aggression and in self-defense. They cannot tax and they cannot lock you up.

Let’s take a social problem that many are concerned about: racism. The government’s response to racism is to initiate widespread aggression against businesses and some individuals. They force these companies to meet regulations by threat of fines and other punishments.

The internet’s response to racism is simply for sites to prevent racist individuals or groups from using the property of the sites. Google could effectively destroy businesses and individuals and even movements by simply turning a cold shoulder. Anti war libertarians would likely be among the first groups to be disabled by a mega-corporation like Google, but even I am not afraid. Net neutrality is another opportunity for progressive school marms to wag their fingers at people they don’t like: evil providers of services. They do not like consumers to satisfy their wants without a quasi-religious atonement. Pleasure is sin for the ultra-authoritarians that support net neutrality and countless other acts of aggression.

Because the downloaders want it.

Under the current system, they can charge you and I whatever they choose to get their internet service, and we watch Netflix or whatever else we choose at the same speed through the ISP’s tubes (obviously different content providers’ own servers may be slower or faster). What they cannot do is apply discriminatory charging to content providers, or apply discriminatory throttling of different content.

There are many people who believe that the internet ought to be treated as a public utility in the US. And the companies who own the pipes into our houses are profiting from the oligopoly that exists in their market.

The innovation that is most often cited as a casualty of a loss of net neutrality would be any startup that relies on the internet to deliver its product and which would compete in or disrupt a market in which the ISP or a deep-pockets customer of the ISP is involved.

Right. The loss of net neutrality would give a large advantage to businesses owned or favored by major ISPs. This could lead to essentially shutting out startups, plus it could lead to the minimization of political viewpoints not supported by the ISP.

Some claim that it could lead to something analogous to cable companies and their tiered pricing, illustrated by this image:

Combine these concepts and you have the possibility of a world where “conservatives” subscribe to ISPs that offer Brietbart, Drudge, Conservapedia, etc. and “liberals” subscribe to ISPs that offer this board, Wikipedia, scientific publications, Snopes, and sites like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos.

No one knows how much, if any, of that would happen, but at the very least the throttling of competitors seems likely.

The current FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, was very involved with the commercial telecommunitions industry before becoming chairman (nominated by Obama), yet, he, against many predictions, came down on the side of Net Neutrality as the best way to go. His original plan was turned down by SCOTUS, but he eventually came up with a scheme to make it work.

I suspect that just because someone, now, is against Net Neutrality, doesn’t mean that they will continue to be when the subject is studied (hopefully, at least).


True, we can hope that will happen. The big ISPs have political clout, but so do a lot of the big content providers.

There is a big shift in getting video content from cable to the internet (notice the threads every few weeks about cord cutting…). Net neutrality mostly has to do with these video services consuming a huge amount of bandwidth like Netflix–not the small discussion forums like Straight Dope.

That depends on the wording of any regulations. If you give ISPs the legal right to throttle as they see fit then there’s no guarantee that they won’t abuse it. In fact they almost certainly will.

What do you think? The fact that it may not be regulated as a public utility in some jurisdictions is just a stupid anachronism. It’s absolutely a public utility because it’s an essential public resource, the 21st century equivalent of the telephone only much more significant in its impact.

Companies are free to profit from the assets they own, including telecommunications assets. No one has a problem with that basic principle. What they should not be free to do is engage in discriminatory practices against content providers, especially providers that happen to compete with their own content businesses or the businesses of “preferred” clients. How would you feel if you called Giovanni’s Pizzeria to order your fave, but got routed to Fred’s Crappy Pizza instead because the telephone company had a vested interest in Fred’s business, or if Giovanni’s line gave a busy signal 90% of the time (even when it wasn’t) but calls to Fred’s were automatically routed to phone company operators if not answered immediately, because the phone company owned part of the business?

Same incentive they’ve always had: demand – leading to new revenue opportunities, and competition. Remember ISDN? It was supposed to be the future of digital telephony. Basic-rate ISDN, the kind homes were expected to have, had two 64kbps bearer channels, nominally one for the voice channel and one for data. That would have made the data line about the same speed as a dial-up modem. I distinctly remember when the first broadband cable Internet pilot was started in this area, and then when it went commercial. It was limited to just 3 mbps at the time, but almost overnight it seemed that the telcos discovered that they could do at least 1 mbps over existing copper using this new thing called DSL. The rest is history, and the history – at least where I live – has been one of constant one-upmanship with more or less the same offerings at exactly the same prices between cable and telco. Plus, both have competition from their own resellers, to whom they are obliged to sell bulk bandwidth by regulatory decree, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

I would also note that it wasn’t long after Google introduced what was then an unprecedented 1 Gbps service on a trial basis that speed offerings seemed to skyrocket everywhere, and 1 Gbps or something approaching it is now becoming quite commonly available.

This is a good point. In my circles, it seems like most of the people who have been against net neutrality held that viewpoint simply because they didn’t really understand the issue.

And if they do people will flock to their competitors. Nothing enrages a user more than taking away his/her Netflix.

Competitors? There are plenty few competitors as it is in a lot of places, let alone when anti-competitive regulation is likely laxed. The choices might be “pick a company that throttles Netflix or a company that throttles Amazon Streaming, you get to pick one but not both.”

Then pretty soon there will be competition.