BitTorrent Shows You What The Internet Looks Like Without Net Neutrality; Suggests A Better Way

from the change-things-around dept

If you've been following the whole net neutrality fight for a while, the following graphic may be familiar to you -- showing what a potential "cable-ized" world the internet would become without strong protections for net neutrality:
At some point, someone created a similar version, that was specific to AT&T:
A little while ago, however, someone took the joke even further, and set up a website for a fake broadband provider, asking people to Join the Fastlane!, and it was pretty dead on in terms of what such a site might look like:
I particularly like this bit:
It's now come out that this campaign (along with some associated billboards) has been put together by BitTorrent Inc., not all that different than the company's billboard campaign against the NSA. Along with this, BitTorrent has put out a blog post explaining, in part, how we got here, but more importantly how we need to start thinking about a better way to handle internet traffic to avoid the kind of future described above.

The key issue: building a more decentralized internet:
Many smart researchers are already thinking about this problem. Broadly speaking, this re-imagined Internet is often called Content Centric Networking. The closest working example we have to a Content Centric Network today is BitTorrent. What if heavy bandwidth users, say, Netflix, for example, worked more like BitTorrent?

If they did, each stream — each piece of content — would have a unique address, and would be streamed peer-to-peer. That means that Netflix traffic would no longer be coming from one or two places that are easy to block. Instead, it would be coming from everywhere, all at once; from addresses that were not easily identified as Netflix addresses — from addresses all across the Internet.

To the ISP, they are simply zeroes and ones.

All equal.
There's obviously a lot more to this, but it's good to see more and more people realizing that one of the fundamental problems that got us here is the fact that so much of the internet has become centralized -- and, as such, can be easily targeted for discrimination. Making the internet much more decentralized is a big step in making it so that discrimination and breaking net neutrality aren't even on the table.

Filed Under: centralized, decentralized, discrimination, fast lane, innovation, net neutrality, open internet, spoof
Companies: bittorrent


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  1. identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 10 Jun 2014 @ 1:40pm

    The fundamental rift between decentralization and control

    And this, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, is where network neutrality collides head-on with the MPAA and the RIAA and their cronies.

    The BitTorrent folks are right: there's no technical reason why content couldn't be pulled to network endpoints and then re-pulled from there, alleviating the necessity to drag it down from centralized servers again and again and again and again. (If you think this sounds like a torrent: you're right.)

    But that would require giving up the one thing that (some) content creators absolutely, positively do not want to give up: control.

    They want their timed release windows. They want their DRM. They want control over what gets delivered, how it gets delivered, when it gets delivered, what can be done with it, how long it persists, they want EVERYTHING.

    And they're not going to give up for anyone.

    So Netflix can't send back a response to your "Download the latest Michael Bay atrocity" request that translates to "Nah. Someone on who is topologically 1 hop from you has it, download it from them, it'll be much faster". Even though this would be better for Netflix, better for you, better for your ISP and even better for your neighbor (when their turn comes). It's not better for Hollywood so, well, fuck all of you very much.

    Observers who are observing will notice that net neutrality didn't become a technological and political football UNTIL the content in question acquired two properties: (1) it's large and (2) it's owned by Hollywood. Nobody cared when it was a few web pages flying around or some email messages or Usenet articles or instant messages or DNS queries or FTP transfers or any of that. But now...okay NOW, it's a big deal. And while everyone is -- rightly so -- pummeling Comcast and Verizon et.al., it would be good to remember that Hollywood could make a lot of this problem vanish (nearly) overnight.

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