Imagine… An Internet With Potholes That Never Get Fixed

from the who-edits-the-editor dept

Just as Mike predicted, the fallout from the Level 3-Cogent peering fight has lead to calls for more government regulation of the Internet. Now, the executive editor of has written a rather unconvincing treatise on why the US government should own the Internet and treat it like a utility. It’s hard to know where to start taking his argument apart, but the premise that the government can do a better job of running the Internet than private companies is pretty intrinsically flawed: witness the Net’s rise over the last 10 years, all on the back of private industry. The author tries to liken the Internet to the federal interstate highway system, saying that it’s something that can only be run effectively by the government — this doesn’t hold at all, as there are an endless supply of examples of privately owned roads around the world that are, pretty much without exception, better maintained than the average US interstate. Also, look at a problem that plagues US highway legislation: pork. Imagine replacing pet highway projects with pet Internet projects, where you get higher speeds depending on who’s Congressional district you’re in. Finally, the biggest issue is that the Internet doesn’t belong to the US government, regardless of what it thinks. Witness the big push from the EU and other nations to de-centralize DNS control from ICANN and the warning that the Net might splinter if they’re unsuccessful. While it’s possible that heavy US government control of the Internet might prevent another peering spat, it’s more probable that it would cause even more problems.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Imagine… An Internet With Potholes That Never Get Fixed”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
dusty says:

not quite...

He’s not really arguing that the government needs to control the internet. He’s making the arguments for the government funding access on a large scale as a public utility. No one is required to drive (using public roads) but it sure does help you get to work, just as no one would have to use the government-funded broadband access.

When I get free wireless at Panera Bread, should I be worried about them imposing all sorts of restrictions on my access? I’d say I’m happy enough just enjoying the internet for free.

B Wade says:

Re: No Subject Given

Anybody remember who actually created the thing in the first place? Anyone? What kills me is that some people have NO IDEA how the Internet came to be and don’t seem particularly interested in learning about it. That’s what bothers me about the position of America not having at least a majority control over the Internet as a whole. Besides, what is the EU/UN/EveryoneAgainstAmerica gonna do? Hijack the entire DNS structure? Switch to something other than TCP/IP overnight? I mean, how, exactly, do those diploids in government think this thing works?

xtc says:

No Subject Given

are you out of your mind. youd rather have gov. regulating the internet? they already regulate/control you as it is. The internet is an unrestricted zone. the people rule the internet and thats the way it should stay. Can you imagine a regulated internet. Content would be restricted. You would no longer be able to do free p2p downloads or torrents (and dont tell me you havent done it once before). There would be no free speach and you’d basiclly be stripped of your rights much like you are now w/ this patriot act B.S. Think about it. And if money is the issue, you would probably be better off with companies competing for your interest, which leads to better deals and because of competition with one another. another thing is that if the gov. starts impossing a tax for wireless internet in your city, how is that fair for people that are simply… not using it? they would be charged for something that doesnt pertain to them. the whole idea of the gov. having any kind of reg control over the internet seems like a bad idea. Much the way law inforcment was once for our protection, now they have become more of a nuisance than any help.

Bernhard Adalem says:

Internet was NOT "all on the back of private indus


That is just factually untrue.

The internet was financed by the US federal government from it’s inception as a DARPA project to the now infamously ridiculed bill sponsored by Al Gore to subsidise the first public backbone connections.

However, since there is no limited public resource required, making it a “public utility” is just as ridiculous an argument.

OTOH regulation o interstate and international commerce is clearly withing the Federal Government’s domain under our constitution.

lardball says:

well, take a look..

private companies were happy when there was money flowing at them like water. now that things are different, they couldn’t care any less unless there are dollar signs attached. This Cogent & Level3 issue is a good example. Money pops up, customers get screwed, service levels drop.
Deregulation has made a few people rich and screwed the rest of us.

maybe having some of the internet as a utility would be a good thing.

Only roads I’ve seen with potholes are the ones here in California. Nevada has *great* roads. So does Minnesota, and North Dakota… and, oh pretty much every other state I’ve driven in over the past year.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...