Obama and the internet

What are Obama’s plans wrt the internet? How would the changes he envisions affect the ordinary end user at home? I’ve tried reading up on it, but my eyes start glazing over at any explanation of “net neutrality”. I like it just the way it is, although it would be nice if it was a little cheaper :slight_smile:

The arguments are ideological, not technical. Which also means they’re pretty simple, at least at the high level.

Net neutrality is what we have today. But what we have today is a matter of industry custom, rather than law.

Some big companies, like Netflix & Google, want the right to be able to buy priority handling for their traffic. Which is another way of saying everybody else would get second class treatment.

The debate is whether to pass laws to enforce what we have now (i.e. net neutrality), or stand aside and let *laissez faire * rule with the result that the giants of the internet create a multi-tiered system where the biggest get bigger and the smaller get crushed.

Meanwhile the carriers are sorta divided. They like the idea of tiers because then they can charge everybody a premium. Just different levels of premium. But change is expensive. They’re also afraid that any legislation affecting the net is the thin edge of a wedge o rules they ultimately won’t be able to control. When in doubt, big business generally favors the absence of laws controlling their behavior.

You also need to remember that the FCC is an independent agency. In theory, its decisions are made outside of the normal political process. In practice, the individual commissioners are Democratic or Republican and usually vote that way. But they are appointed to five-year terms and subject to Senate approval. Therefore, they can’t be removed by the President.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Obama state plans for the Internet. It’s a misunderstanding of the status of the FCC to say that anything they are doing are Obama’s plans, or that what they do after the new President takes office will be his or her plans. Independent agencies are not sacrosanct by any means, but their independence is still normally respected by both parties.

That’s my take on it. I’m not sure how to state this in GQ without getting into politics which is a pain since all discussion of these plans has been purely partisan. I can say that Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai publicly claimed that FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler is a just an Obama puppet. I have not read any evidence backing up this claim. Anything more than that needs to be said in another forum, where this should be moved to.

I believe you have it exactly backwards.

The large content providers, like Google and Netflix, want neutrality because they want to be able to sell attractive content to the maximum number of consumers.

Most carriers and ISPs want to be able (“free”) to differentiate traffic so they can make their favorite content artificially attractive and extract ransoms from large content providers.

Exactly wrong. Netflix and Google are the ones who want net neutrality, which is to say they want to pay the same price for the same service as everyone else. The companies that don’t want net neutrality are the phone and cable companies: The cable company, for instance, is losing cable business to people who are just going to Netflix to watch TV, and so they want to charge Netflix more for the same bandwidth to make up for it, and to make Netflix less competitive.

Oops. :smack: Thanks to **Heracles **& Chronos for a good correction.

Heracles & Chronos sounds like a good start on an epic poem of ancient Mediterranean exploration.