An Honest Debate On Net Neutrality (Too Bad It's So Rare)

from the finally! dept

After so much dishonesty from both sides on the whole net neutrality debate, a DC think tank decided to put internet/networking pioneers Vint Cerf and David Farber into the same room and let them debate the issue. The debate isn't that interesting to those who have been vehemently pumping up one of the various propaganda campaigns about net neutrality that are designed more to appeal to emotions rather than the actual situation. That's because the debate is quite reasonable from both sides -- with both sides working to dispel the slogans and misleading statements that have been thrown around, mostly by lobbyists. That is, there's no talk of the "death of the internet" or "clogged pipes" (or "tubes," if you want). Instead, it's a much more reasonable debate that focuses on the lack of competition in the broadband world, countered by a reasonable fear that opening up the internet to regulation from Congress or the FCC is going to lead to further problems down the road. Both speakers are focused on the best way to help grow the internet and increase innovation for users (not companies) -- but just disagree on the ways to do so, and how involved the government should be. They both admit there are tradeoffs involved in all of the choices. It's never been a black and white issue -- and it's nice to hear that being recognized. For folks actually interested in network neutrality, this is a debate worth hearing. Unfortunately, most people will focus on "hurling bumper stickers back and forth at each other" rather than this useful debate. One highlight, hidden in the middle of everything: Vint Cerf's suggestion that he might create a "Congressional internet comic book" as an effective way to communicate the issues to folks in Congress.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Search Engine WEB, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 6:54pm

    Interesting Audio Debate

    Thankfully, they included and Audio MP3 link of the debate


    Cerf and Farber were not really debating - they were basically in agreement on many issues.

    But Farber's overall position was somewhat hard to exactly pinpoint it appears he was trying to advocate Less Gov't involvement in Technology as being anti competative .

     

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  2.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 17th, 2006 @ 6:57pm

    Re: Interesting Audio Debate


    But Farber's overall position was somewhat hard to exactly pinpoint it appears he was trying to advocate Less Gov't involvement in Technology as being anti competative .


    I don't think Farber's position was that hard to pinpoint. He basically was noting that putting in place vague regulations would open the door to a host of new problems -- an argument that has lots of history backing it up. For the most part, the FCC has had little to no say in regulating the internet. Opening that door might lead to a lot more problems down the road.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 6:58pm

    On using sequential art to communicate complex iss

    I wonder if Van Cerf was thinking of this set of publications from "The Fed".

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 9:00pm

    Re: Interesting Audio Debate

    Hi Mike! Apropos hosting, when does net neutrality also mean that telcos cannot bar their customers from fully participating in the freedoms of the Internet, for example by banning customers' web servers, e-mail servers, you name it? Both experts claim the goal is to protect consumers’ rights. What rights, the right to be participants, or the right of a life as couch potato Internet consumer?

     

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  5.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 17th, 2006 @ 10:41pm

    Re: Re: Interesting Audio Debate

    Hi Mike! Apropos hosting, when does net neutrality also mean that telcos cannot bar their customers from fully participating in the freedoms of the Internet, for example by banning customers' web servers, e-mail servers, you name it? Both experts claim the goal is to protect consumers’ rights. What rights, the right to be participants, or the right of a life as couch potato Internet consumer?

    I'm really not sure what argument you're making, or what argument you're accusing me of supporting here...? I'd answer if the question were clear.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 11:48pm

    Re: Re: Interesting Audio Debate

    No accusation! I am glad for every issue to put on the table. Just the simple question to you, and everybody else: when does net neutrality also mean that telcos cannot bar their customers from running servers? Since broadband customers pay for the line, shouldn't they also have the right to decide what they do with it?
    Would we accept if a telco said no to your answering machine or your fax machine?
    Do we accept that Verizon modifies firmware so that they get a monopoly on ringtones?
    Why not make free bidirectional Internet access part of the equation?
    Do I have to explain the matter into a comic book? ;-)

     

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  7.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 18th, 2006 @ 1:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Interesting Audio Debate

    Just the simple question to you, and everybody else: when does net neutrality also mean that telcos cannot bar their customers from running servers? Since broadband customers pay for the line, shouldn't they also have the right to decide what they do with it?

    Indeed, it's a good question. I still feel that it's pretty silly that many ISPs ban servers, but again is it worth having Congress get involved?

    I honestly don't see why servers should matter. It should simply be a question of bandwidth -- and if the user is paying for the bandwidth there shouldn't be any questions as to what they're doing with it.

     

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  8.  
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    Geeb, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 1:31am

    More reasoned debate

    In case anyone's missed it, El Reg is running another fairly non-inflamatory piece on Net Neutrality here:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/17/net_neut_slow_death/

     

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  9.  
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    PopeRatzo, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 4:15am

    Be very careful when you hear a non-confrontational, reasonable discussion of an issue that comes down to what's best for consumers vs what's best for a single corporation.

    It usually means that money has changed hands and we're all about to lose.

    It's one reason why the congressional "bi-partisan" agreement sends shivers down my spine.

    Here's the debate in a nutshell. "Are we going to work for the big telco or are they going to work for us?"

     

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  10.  
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    ebrke, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 6:49am

    Re:

    PopeRatzo, you'd better find a parka, because along with just about everything else, our online experience will be sold to the highest bidder, namely the telcos, since they have the influence produced by l-a-r-g-e contributions to our congresspeople. The 'net is going to become a pipe used primarily for feeding monetized content to consumers, and anything that is not a value-added proposition is just going to drop off the radar.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 7:00am

    Remember that whats good for Google is good for America.

     

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  12.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 7:08am

    I'd go even further


    The 'net is going to become a pipe used primarily for feeding monetized content to consumers, and anything that is not a value-added proposition is just going to drop off the radar.


    Not just fall off the radar. It will be deemed unbeneficial (i.e. not generating lots of money for the owners of the pipe you speak of) and forcibly taken (i.e. lawsuit) off the radar, complete with media spin to trick people into thinking it really is unbeneficial.

     

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  13.  
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    HGJ, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 11:12am

    Net Neutrality: 1 + 1 - us

    Mike, we are talking about Net Neutrality, because the telcos are trying to double-charge Internet customers and misuse their monopoly (some customers can deal with a duopoly - great competition). Right now the discussion is only about 1 + 1 (e.g. Google + Verizon). But it really should be about 1 + 1 + 1, which includes all broadband customers. Customers who pay for their Internet connection should also be allowed to use it as they please. It is not up to a monopoly like Verizon to bar them from technologies so that Verizon can resell the same resource again.

    Let's have a look at an example: e-mail. Google and Verizon offer e-mail services. Right now, a limited service from both sites is available, at no extra charge. For how long, we do not know, but we do know that Microsoft is trying to make money with Hotmail and MSN. Google makes money with ads, Verizon charges their customers. What choices do customers have? Google or Verizon? No, they can also run their own mail server at home - if Verizon would not prohibit such shameful competitive behavior. Every cheap PC can do that with plenty of disk space available for mail messages. Even people who do not want to run their server in a 24*7 mode can run an mail server (SMTP server) thanks to wake-on-LAN (computer resumes operation whenever a network package wakes it, goes back into standby after a time period of inactivity). Dynamic IP addresses are no problem either, thanks to dynadns.org (a feature which all ISPs should offer at no extra charge). Broadband customers could also check their e-mail en-route. Just take a notebook and connect to your server at home, if your ISP allows such evil doing. It would be the customer's task to block unwanted mail messages (spam), not Verizon's. People were quite pissed all over the world when Verizon started to block mail messages from outside the US (despite the fact that the US is still spam producer #1). Too bad that some journos got hit, too, and reported about it. It is not up to a company like Verizon to decide where freedom of speech ends. So, why should customers have only the choice between Google and Verizon when they already have everything available to run the service themselves? Telcos should not be allowed to prohit the operation of servers or to block access.

    Instant messages service is another example. People have exchanged instant messages on AN/FSQ-32 in the 60's. Unix talk on a DEC PDP-11 is legacy. VMS used PHONE (still works fine via DECnet V over IP). RFC 1459 (IRC) and others were written in the early 90's, documenting a status quo which was more than a decade old. We can run a server for instant message communications on any computer, even on a notebook. Add dynadns.org again, and you can reach your friends anywhere in the world, as long as their computer is running (otherwise they could not talk to you anyway). So, why did the IT media celebrate the recent announcement by Microsoft and Yahoo that their instant messaging software could now cooperate? We do not need these companies, we have already have everything at hand - if we could run servers on our computers.

    "Webspace", that is another "product" from the telcos and the googles. It is vaporware! Verizon offers a few MB "webspace", sells more for big bucks, controls everything, and at the same time the telcos bar customers from running web servers on the customers' own computers via the Internet connection paid for by the customers. Talk about abuse of a monopoly! It is a long time ago, but when Microsoft introduced Windows 98, they included a web server, because they envisioned that people would want to run one on their computer. BSD, Linux, VMS, they all have their web server solutions, available for free. It is just amazing to see for how long the telcos can undermine every effort to build a truly free world wide web.

    Why should we be in the position to force the telcos to open the net? Because the telcos are regulated corporations. They operate in a special environment that is vital for the whole nation. And the telcos get a lot of tax money! http://www.teletruth.org/

    I have no problem with any service from Google, Verizon, or any other company, as long as they give the people a fair choice, including the possibility that customers implement their own solution.

    Enough reasons for Congress to look at the matter? I think so!

     

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