But Why Do We Need A P2P Bill Of Rights In The First Place?
from the funny-how-that-works dept
I came close to totally ignoring the news that Comcast has teamed with Pando and announced that it wants to create a P2P “Bill of Rights that would create “a set of rules that would clarify how a user can use P2P applications and how an ISP can manage file-sharing programs running on their networks.” This, of course, is all a part of Comcast’s suddenly very public efforts to deal with the fallout from the company’s rather secretive traffic shaping efforts (and, it hopes, to avoid the wrath of Kevin Martin and the FCC. Of course, this process started with the relationship with BitTorrent — which was woefully short on details.
This “Bill of Rights” plan is, in some ways, even worse. It’s funny how whenever we see companies suddenly declaring a plan for a “Bill of Rights” (which should be about addressing consumer rights), it’s really always about figuring out a way for a company to do the same stuff it had been doing all along without getting in trouble for it. It’s basically a way for a company to tell the government “hey look, we’re self-regulating!” even if that self-regulating is letting them do whatever they want. While it’s nice that Comcast tied this to a relationship with Pando (the same company that’s trying to help telcos deal with file sharing network issues), it doesn’t change that the fact that this is a lot of talk with little action.
While the usual suspects have decried this plan for the press release vaporware that it is (while pointing to Comcasts’ questionable activities when its traffic shaping was first discovered), a much bigger question is why we should even want a “P2P Bill of Rights” in the first place. One of the very reasons why internet access is so valuable (and why Comcast got into the business) is the open nature of the internet that allowed all sorts of new, interesting, unexpected and useful services to spring forth. When you start putting rules on it, concerning how an application can run and what a user can do, you’re effectively shutting down that ability. You’re saying that we have enough innovation, and any new innovation needs to be incremental on top of what we already have and within these well-defined limits. That’s not a recipe for innovation. It’s a recipe for keeping the status quo, while other places, that don’t have unnecessary restrictions, continue to innovate and grow.