Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time to let the process unfold

This morning, the FCC voted unanimously to begin consideration of proposed rules that would protect and promote open broadband pipes to the Internet. Over the next several months, an official rulemaking proceeding will take place, along with public workshops and technical advisory discussions, allowing everyone to provide feedback before the Commission adopts a final set of rules.

There's been a lot of noise out there, but let's review what's at stake: The Internet was built and has thrived as an open platform, where individuals and entrepreneurs -- not network owners -- can connect and interact, choose marketplace winners and losers, and create new services and content on a level playing field. No one seems to disagree with that fundamental proposition. This new proceeding is aimed at opening a national dialogue on how best to protect that unique environment. For our part, we fully support the adoption of "rules of the road" to ensure that the broadband on-ramps to the Net remain open and robust.

This is a critical debate for the future of the Internet, and no doubt there are different viewpoints on how to move forward. Some detractors unfortunately have gone so far as to work behind the scenes to try to derail the start of an open and transparent process at the Commission. But as Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam showed in last evening's joint blog post, stakeholders can work together with mutual respect to find common ground, even as we acknowledge and defend important policy differences.

We will be weighing in with our thoughts starting in mid-January. We hope you will do the same.


irvn said...

Anything that forces providers to do anything outside of the agreement with the customer is coercion.. and the equivalent of slavery.. are providers (and customers) wards of the state and legally incompetent to make their own judgements?

DarLin|{ said...

Google became what it is today due to lack of goverment regulations it is so in favor today!It follows then that in a near feature,you will "google" Glenn Beck and get 0 results because "The Goverment" regulations will restrict your content.Or maybe Google will pass to "The Goverment" list of sites you visit often and if your choice is not mainstream, your internet access itself will be restricted!How about we - the individuals - boycott all of the companies -Ebay,Amazon,Google,etc. ? I myself will work hard to close my google email account and use alternative search engines.After all, it is a free market...for now

Joe said...

I'm glad the FCC is stepping in to keep the internet open and keeping crony capitalism at bay.

David said...

Be careful of what you ask. You do not want government to get its ham hands on my/your internet. It is not the govt's tool to do with as they please. Google, et al, it's not your internet either!

Drew said...

"The Internet was built and has thrived as an open platform, where individuals and entrepreneurs -- not network owners -- can connect and interact, choose marketplace winners and losers, and create new services and content on a level playing field."
How does the exclusion of network owners equal a level playing field?
How can the network support innovative services and content without the freedom to innovate themselves?

macbeach said...

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt favors net neutrality, but only to a point: While the tech player wants to make sure that telecommunications giants don't steer Internet traffic in a way that would favor some devices or services over others, he also believes that it would be a terrible idea for the government to involve itself as a regulator of the broader Internet.

"It is possible for the government to screw the Internet up, big-time," he said. Google is strong enough as a company to weather any possible outcome on the issue, he said. But what he worries about "is the next start-up."

A little late to be worrying about that now in my opinion. We have a hypothetical law that has only been violated a few times, if at all, but will now serve as yet another excuse to expand the federal workforce. Those newly enfranchised enforcers of the law are going to be looking diligently for law breakers. And if they can't find any they will happily make the law more stringent until they do find some.

Mr. Schmidt now sheds crocodile tears for start-ups after campaigning for a President that would secure Google's position as a major Internet force (and I say this as a fan of Google, so far).

Once these "rules" are in place there will be no going back to a time when the feds kept a "hands-off" stance in how the Internet was run.

Messrs Schmidt and Cerf have help push this concept to fruition through the election of a President that is technology minded in only the most superficial of ways. It is not only possible for the government to "screw the Internet up big-time", thanks to your politicking, it's almost inevitable at this point.

You've made your bed (and ours), now we all have to lay in it.

Susan said...

If you feel you have been "gotten" by a conspiracy, please email me and give me the date, time, place, and particulars of your being "gotten." Results will end up in my upcoming book.

Jason said...

We might all love the internet so much because it's one of the few things Government doesn't strictly regulate.

Free markets work because if a business gets dopey with pricing, all that's needed is another company to provide sobering prices.

And if you say big business is greedy. Put on your entrepreneur shoes and get to work.

Cori said...

If the market was actually free, we wouldn't need net neutrality.

Unfortunately the government gave the telcos a virtual monopoly some time ago, so net neutrality is the government's way of saying, "Whoops! We messed up!"

If the current regulations on telcos didn't make it so difficult for natural competition to flourish, we wouldn't need anything so heavy-handed as net neutrality.

As it is now, though, with the big telecom giants controlling most of the routers and fiber that make up the structure of the Internet, we either allow the government to enact this bandaid regulation or we watch as businesses and consumers alike suffer the greed of telecom companies with a virtual monopoly and no way for real competition to happen.

Talking about free markets is always interesting, but America isn't a capitalist nation. What would work in a truly free market economy will fail spectacularly in this "crony capitalism."

Jake said...

In my opinion, it's obvious that Google is creating rules to preserve its own interests at the expense of others' freedoms -- in this case, ISPs and their customers (people like me).

As Drew pointed out, network owners are somehow excluded from the "level playing field" analogy.

I suspect the post's author, Richard Whitt, endorses the "rules of the road" and "on-ramps" metaphors to imply that the physical infrastructure of the Internet is public property, as roads are. In fact, such infrastructure is owned by ISPs . . . for now.

If Google and their FCC allies have their way, ISPs will increasingly become treated as "public" utilities, ie, owned by no-one, ie, controlled by Washington.

Michael said...

I'm not too computer savy, but I do remember reading an article about how AT&T was maybe limiting their customers use of VOIP and proposed to "Throttle" down their data usage. This in my mind is ok as they are a private company and the consumer does not have to use them as a cellular provider if they don't like what they are provided. That's the beauty of capitalism and no government intervention. The AT&T customers complained and the policy was changed for fear of losing customers to another carrier. No regulation is necessary as the internet is truly capitalistic.

Aristotle said...

Might I remind those that so vehemently criticize government regulations. "THE INTERNET IS A DIRECT RESULT OF GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS"

Alex said...

Net Neutrality is in Danger Worldwide

Spain just tried to pass a law in secrecy that will create a censorship commission with members pointed by the government with power to close and or block access to internet pages based on claims of infringement of intelect property. All this without a legal process in a court room under a judge.
This law was discovered by internet users that tried to defend their fundamental rights as citizens and to defend Net Neutrality by creating a Manifesto in just one night using Google Wave as a collaboration tool.

Here is a good post about the events:

In the interview with the Minister of Culture, a technicial from the ministry mention something about the creation of a "super portal" on internet.

The link to the Manifesto in English:

The link of the people that sign the Manifiesto on Facebook with more than 120000 people on Dec 5th @ 13:33h:

Twitter Hash Tag:#Manifiesto

After hearing some rumors that the US Embassy in Spain called yesterday PSOE and PP (main political parties from Spain) to pressure about passing the law, I did some research and found some answers:

We must work together if we want to keep internet as we know it.

Matt Thomas CFII, Roger Dodger Aviation said...

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed new regulations that would define how Internet Service Providers may manage lawful content their networks (the FCC is currently accepting public comments). On one hand, pure Net Neutrality would mean the ISP's may never slow down some content to favor others. All content is equal. On the other hand, the ISP's would argue that management of Internet traffic would enable them to slow down the few users that are using large amounts of bandwidth so that the remainder of the customers may continue to enjoy speedy Internet.

The proposed regulations bring up some troubling issues. Some ISP's are no longer just service providers, they are also content producers. These ISP's, like Comcast, have a vested interest in the success of their own online content. They could possibly slow down or block access to other online content (like mine or yours) in order to provide bandwidth for their own content. They could do this under the auspices of "reasonable network management." So then, how to prevent unfair discrimination, and how to define "reasonable" and how to ensure transparency?

The proposed regulations also address the possibility that ISP's could charge content providers certain fees for using the Internet. Who is a content provider? We are all content providers. Everyone who adds a picture to Facebook, or uploads a video to YouTube, or writes a blog, or posts a book review on Amazon, or uploads a song to Myspace, or posts on a forum, or uses a webcam, or sends an email is a content provider. In all cases, people are communicating with each other. How would this communication be affected when a fee structure is placed between people?

The way we access the Internet and the quality of the experience can affect how we interact with each other, or if we interact at all. The final regulations will be the "rules of the road" for the information superhighway and will impact what we do with the Internet in the future.