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WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  House, Senate get separate bills to kill net neutrality

Author Topic: House, Senate get separate bills to kill net neutrality  (Read 505 times)

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Offline DaBees-Knees

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House, Senate get separate bills to kill net neutrality
« on: October 31, 2009, 08:27:12 am »

Real argument about "network neutrality" is fascinating stuff, provocative and well worth anyone's time if they care about the Internet. Unfortunately, Congress isn't great at having intelligent arguments, and net neutrality is rapidly on its way to becoming the latest victim of the Sound Bite Wars.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have each introduced an anti-net neutrality bill into their respective chambers. McCain's is known as the "Internet Freedom Act of 2009," but Blackburn's is billed as (seriously) the "Real Stimulus Act of 2009" (PDF).

This "real stimulus" consists of a single line, which is identical in both bills: "The Federal Communications Commission shall not propose, promulgate, or issue any regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services." While the bills target network neutrality, they appear to go much further by banning any sort of new rules on all IP services.

It's clear why that is: McCain and Blackburn both see broad and nefarious implications to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski's attempt to codify network neutrality into rule. Blackburn, for instance, says that net neutrality "ironically would make the Internet less neutral by allowing the FCC to regulate it in the same way it regulates radio and television broadcasts." She also says that the rules are akin to "the imposition of a fairness doctrine on the Internet." And there's more irony: "ironically, government intervention would hamper industry’s ability to protect intellectual property online and crack down on piracy."

McCain went even further in a recent op-ed, calling net neutrality "a government takeover of the Internet." It's not clear what this means, since the government isn't taking a new stake in any part of "the Internet" and is proposing to regulate Internet access, not content.

McCain also charges that "the administration can't resist imposing regulations on the Internet—particularly since Google Inc. and other Internet content providers were promised the imposition of such regulations as these companies seek to control what consumers see and don't see on the Internet."

And he praises "the light-touch regulatory approach toward the Internet that was put forth by previous administrations," which "has brought Americans social networking, low-cost long-distance calling, texting, telemedicine and over 85,000 almighty 'apps' for the iPhone." This light-touch regulatory approach would include the Republican-adopted Internet policy statement (the "four freedoms" that Genachowski wants to codify into rules), the Republican-led effort to censure Comcast for interfering with P2P transmission, and the Republican preference for case-by-case decision-making rather than detailed rules (an approach kept in the current draft of the neutrality rules).

The last part of the op-ed calls "an open and unfettered Internet" the "real stimulus during these difficult economic times," which probably explains where Blackburn picked up her bill's tagline this week.

"Regulation kills innovation," McCain ends. "Let's not kill the Internet."

We certainly agree; let's not kill the Internet. But let's have a better public debate about it, one that (for instance) honestly wrestles with the chart below. Produced by Harvard researchers for the FCC (but funded independently), it graphs the costs and speeds of the fastest broadband offerings of providers from all over the world. The high-priced, low-speed options are in the lower-left, while the low-priced, high-speed options are in the upper right. We have highlighted the US ISPs on the chart with red boxes just to drive the point home.

Regulated ISPs, especially those in forced line-sharing agreements, tend to be much faster and offer better value. "Regulation" certainly doesn't mean "automatic awesomeness," but to say that "regulation" in the abstract always threatens to destroy innovation is simply belied by the facts on the ground.

I have mixed feelings on the subject of regulation. Unfortunately, regulation rarely helps in the case of the internet as can be seen by certain people wanting to ban all p2p.  8)

WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  House, Senate get separate bills to kill net neutrality

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