As the ongoing debate about network neutrality gets more and more ridiculous, at least we're starting to see a few more creative ideas show up. The real issue, again, is the lack of competition in the broadband space -- due mostly to the FCC allowing the telcos to get away from promises made in exchange for monopoly rights of way. The problem is that regulation isn't a great solution either -- which too many net neutrality supporters brush over. The telco arguments in favor of breaking net neutrality are flat out ridiculous and easily disproved, but that doesn't mean that regulation is the answer -- especially if the regulations are to be managed by the same FCC. New technologies could help alleviate the competitive situation, but those won't be ready for some time, which could make things messy. Andy Kessler's idea of scaring the telcos straight is a fun one, but not likely to actually get much support. Now Cory Doctorow has another suggestion on ways to keep network neutrality without regulations (all the way at the bottom). His idea is for a distributed peer-to-peer system that constantly monitors the internet to try to catch any indication that the telcos are breaking net neutrality (or even if there's just a glitch in the network). While the article doesn't indicate it, the idea then would probably be to name and shame the company -- and force any breakage of net neutrality to stop. This is similar to the naming and shaming being done in the Craigslist/Cox situation that actually has absolutely nothing to do with net neutrality (though it's continually, wrongly, trotted out as an example). Of course, it's not clear how such a system would help in cases of new and different services being crippled -- such as VoIP networks or video over IP. It is important to better monitor the networks and try to keep the telcos honest, but when they're just going to come back and make bogus claims about network stability, it's not clear the naming and shaming will be all that successful. It still seems like a better idea is going to simply be to encrypt all traffic so the telco has no idea what to degrade.
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