Net Neutrality Legislation Expected In January

from the wasting-no-time-at-all dept

This probably won't come as a big surprise to most folks, but Sen. Byron Dorgan, has made it clear that he intends to reintroduce net neutrality legislation early next year. While the issue of net neutrality used to not be a partisan issue, somehow it became one a few years ago, with many Democrats lining up in favor of net neutrality regulations, and many Republicans against them. President-elect Obama's platform included network neutrality legislation, and with more Democrats being elected to both the House and Senate, it's no surprise that such a bill would quickly find its way to being introduced.

While we're strong supporters of keeping the internet's end-to-end principles intact, that doesn't necessarily mean legislation is the best way to do it. Once again, we'd urge anyone supporting the legislation to at least carefully read Tim Lee's paper on the subject. Yes, it's important to keep the internet working under these principles, and yes many internet providers would like to start double charging some providers for traffic, but this particular piece of legislation may not be the best answer -- and could, in fact, create more problems.


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  1.  
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    Joe the Pundit, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 6:53am

    Not Partison?

    When exactly was Net Neutrality not partisan?

    Republic Powell absolutely resisted open access and network neutrality. His economic approach was the Chicago School which was dereg, create economic incentives for companies to build infrastructure, and then have intermodal competition. When forced into a corner because his intermodal competition was not panning out too well, he announced a "statement" (not a reg, not a law) known as the "Four Freedoms". It had no legal standing and it was a bone to get the Dems off his back.

    In comes Martin who essentially adopts the same approach. The proceeding was whether DSL was a telecommunications service subject to Title II of the Comm Act. He wanted to say that DSL was free of regulation. To get Dem buy in and under pressure from C. Copp's staffer Jessica Rossenworsel, Martin agreed to another "statement" of broadband principals - again, not a regulation, not a law, has no legal teeth.

    In the last days, Martin has changed his approach and affirmed Net Neutrality against his enemy, cable - but the two other republicans have voted against it. Martin formed a block with the two Dems on the Commish.

    So again, how is this not a partisan issue?

     

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  2.  
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    jonnyq, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 7:01am

    Hmm.. the article is weak on details. All it really says is "bar Internet providers from blocking Web content". Well, that sounds good, but I agree that legislation is a crappy way to do that.

    I've been thinking about what would be a better way to do that. From the article, AT&T says "The public would not pay for its Internet services if AT&T discriminated against content" (quoting the article, not AT&T). Ok, but the public likely wouldn't know which sites are being given the fast lane or the slow lane, or even if certain protocols are being blocked. So, how can we force ISPs to give full disclosure on what they're doing? How can we prove they're telling the truth?

    Would advertising laws be enough? For example, say you can't advertise "unlimited Internet" when traffic shaping is taking place or when certain protocols are blocked. Would that work?

    I hate the idea of slipping down a slope where a regulatory body is in charge of monitoring ISPs. I believe that free market forces will do their job. But I only believe that competition works when the public knows exactly what they're paying for and when information is easy to find.

    (Of course, there also needs to be more competition among ISPs, but as long as municipalities grant near monopolies in areas or until a truly competitive wireless infrastructure is in place, I don't see what happening. That's a different issue altogether. But if we all had 5 or 6 real ISPs to choose from, net neutrality wouldn't even be an issue.)

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 7:35am

    All net neutrality legislation is going to do is tell ISPs what they CAN'T get away with. They just have to learn to bend the rules a certain way that benefits them, and that only takes time. Bandwidth caps are one of the first things we have seen ISPs try. I can't figure out what they're going to try next, but I had to guess.... Something like "you don't count towards your bandwidth cap if you go to site A instead of site B" sounds reasonable.

    "But if we all had 5 or 6 real ISPs to choose from, net neutrality wouldn't even be an issue"

    Agreed johnny q

     

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  4.  
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    The Watcher, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 7:53am

    Pay attention peeps.

    This is how those slithering snakes behind all this "more legislation" bs get away with it. They're not going to make the huge changes they want in one fell swoop because they know it will attract major attention followed by an uproar. So to stay under the radar they take very small steps in the changes they make. The avg. American thinks along the lines as #3 did thinking "all it's going to do is this or that". Next thing you know it passes and then everyone adjusts to it and they then introduce another piece of legislation and so and so. Over time they have one big piece of legislation controlling exactly what they want how they wanted to. Pay attention folks...read between the lines...what may seem small and harmless is just as potent as a black widow.

     

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  5.  
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    chris (profile), Nov 14th, 2008 @ 8:03am

    rather than a law, why not a stimulus package?

    the phone companies are where they are because of govt. subsidies.

    why not just subsidize a competitive product?

     

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  6.  
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    alternatives(), Nov 14th, 2008 @ 8:30am

    Ignore History

    I believe that free market forces will do their job.

    Ahhh, but non-free forces are at work.

    1) The taking of rights of way - expressed as the places where cables go hither and yon.
    2) The incumbents have existed under a protected monopoly status for years.
    3) Because of population density/resource utilization - if you live in a rural area there is no competition. Sometimes no service.

     

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  7.  
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    Overcast, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 8:36am

    It's best if Government just leaves it alone.

     

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  8.  
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    Joel Coehoorn, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 10:06am

    Expiration

    I get your arguments that new regulation is probably not the best way to go. However, I think that because the current environment lacks adequate competition something needs to be done, and new legislation seems to be all politicians want to do.

    With that in mind, this might not be such a bad thing if they set up an expiration date, such that it must be either renewed after, say, seven years or it expires.

    In fact, I think _most_ regulations should be set up this way. It not only makes it easier to allow bad regulations to day, but will force bodies to better consider whether they need to create the regulation at all, since they are now also creating a new burden on themselves to evaluate it again later.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    Re: Not Partison?

    "So again, how is this not a partisan issue?"

    Reading comprehension. Please look into it for your own sake if for no one else.

    He did *not* say it wasn't a partisan issue now, but that when it started out it wasn't one. Which is true. It started as an academic debate and it became a partisan issue because the Dems and Repubs need something to differentiate themselves.

     

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  10.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 14th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    Re: Not Partison?

    When exactly was Net Neutrality not partisan?

    Prior to 2005. There were widespread discussions in technology and policy circles around the issue of net neutrality, but neither party had taken a position on either side, and you could find politicians on both sides who supported either position.

    It was only in early 2006 that partisans lined up on the issue.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2008 @ 2:18pm

    Re:

    I can't figure out what they're going to try next, but I had to guess.... Something like "you don't count towards your bandwidth cap if you go to site A instead of site B" sounds reasonable.

    Ummmm, they already do that. You can use their on demand services that still use bandwidth without it counting against your cap, but you can't use a competing service such as netflix.

     

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  12.  
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    chris (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re:

    Ummmm, they already do that. You can use their on demand services that still use bandwidth without it counting against your cap, but you can't use a competing service such as netflix

    how is that not tiered service? how is that not anti-competitive? how is that not what net neutrality is against?

     

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