Backlash

by on July 13, 2006 · 6 comments

An extremely smart blogger at Without Bound points out another problem with Bill Herman’s critique of Ed Felten’s paper:

Yes, as Herman says, the issue is currently in the public eye. But why? A few ill-advised comments from a telecom CEO and a bunch of wild speculation and exaggeration. It doesn’t appear that there have actually been any serious violations of network neutrality yet. (One dinky ISP in North Carolina blocked rival VoIP services, but the FCC stopped that with current regulations.)

So if the issue is this hot based only on a theoretical threat, I can only imagine that if ISPs actually started violating network neutrality principles, the grass roots would be even more outraged. There would be plenty of political will to enact regulations at that point, if necessary.

This is especially true because (as Jim Gattuso has documented) the pro-regulatory coalition is hardly getting by on a shoestring budget. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and company are currently swearing up and down that they won’t discriminate against Internet content or services. If they break their word, I bet Microsoft and Google would be happy to pony up a few million dollars for a nationwide media campaign highlighting their hypocrisy.

And remember the public outcry over the FCC’s minor tweaks to media ownership rules? It’s just not that difficult to generate a populist backlash against the abuses of media companies.

  • http://www.sabreean.com Constance Reader

    I believe that you have both missed the point of Felten’s paper — that discrimination could take the form of induced/maintained jitter in the network, but it is almost impossible to determine if jitter is a natural occurring phenomenon of the network architecture, or artifically induced to degrade service. Or more ambiguous yet, a naturally occurring phenomenon that the ISP takes no steps to correct because the result is degradation of service, which benefits the ISP.

    And while it is perhaps true that the ISPs have not attempted discrimination — but again, we can’t possibly know for certain, given the above — the cell phone companies most certainly have. Hit the web on your internet-enabled cell phone, and make note of the sites and service that you can NOT access. Say, Vonage, for example.

  • http://www.sabreean.com Constance Reader

    I believe that you have both missed the point of Felten’s paper — that discrimination could take the form of induced/maintained jitter in the network, but it is almost impossible to determine if jitter is a natural occurring phenomenon of the network architecture, or artifically induced to degrade service. Or more ambiguous yet, a naturally occurring phenomenon that the ISP takes no steps to correct because the result is degradation of service, which benefits the ISP.

    And while it is perhaps true that the ISPs have not attempted discrimination — but again, we can’t possibly know for certain, given the above — the cell phone companies most certainly have. Hit the web on your internet-enabled cell phone, and make note of the sites and service that you can NOT access. Say, Vonage, for example.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Obviously, if the telcos start discriminating in a way no one can prove, there’s nothing we can do about that. But that argument cuts in both directions: we won’t be able to do anything about it with or without regulations, right?

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Obviously, if the telcos start discriminating in a way no one can prove, there’s nothing we can do about that. But that argument cuts in both directions: we won’t be able to do anything about it with or without regulations, right?

  • enigma_foundry

    And remember the public outcry over the FCC’s minor tweaks to media ownership rules? It’s just not that difficult to generate a populist backlash against the abuses of media companies.

    No, there is nothing MINOR about the continuing corruption of our media.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    And remember the public outcry over the FCC’s minor tweaks to media ownership rules? It’s just not that difficult to generate a populist backlash against the abuses of media companies.

    No, there is nothing MINOR about the continuing corruption of our media.

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