Saturday, April 2, 2011

New prompt: Piracy

In our earlier unit on copyright, many of you jumped into discussions about piracy and its relationship to copyright issues, especially in the music industry. In this unit, we focus in more specifically on piracy and music and the impact piracy may or may not have on this industry. In particular, you'll watch a movie that investigates lots of issues related to copyright and music. The movie itself was made through crowdsourcing, with footage submitted from all over the world.

It's a fun movie that I'm certain you'll enjoy - please be sure to watch it.

So, for this week's post, discuss how this unit has extended your understanding of copyright issues, and particularly if these new readings and the movie have changed your thinking at all since our earlier study of copyright. Do you see evidence of the music industry being hurt by piracy? Do you see benefits to artists as the result of piracy? Where do you stand on the RIAA's efforts to curb illegal downloading?

Since college students are often the group doing the most music downloading (as many of you noted in your earlier posts!) they are also often the most likely to be hit with lawsuits or fines, so this topic particularly affects you!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Net Neutrality: Self Interest is Power

In the Henry Blodget article we read this week, he puts forth the argument that the net neutrality crowd is just a bunch of self-serving zealots looking out for their own interest. My answer to that, which is the one he used in defending the companies who want to dismantle net neutrality, is, “So what?” Why is it the big corporations can try to advance an agenda consistent with their self-interest, but as consumers we can’t?

The moral foundation for self-interest in a free market goes all the way back to Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in 1776. He predicted that a self-interested free market led to specialization, which in turn led to greater choices for consumers, which in turn led to lower prices and more growth (really, really short version). I feel fortunate to have been able to watch this phenomenon in action over the last 20 years in the form of the explosive growth of the Internet. Here we had a market economy void of a lot of regulations, where people could advance their own self-interested agenda, specialize in a particular task, and by doing so, benefit all. Just think of all the operating systems, coding languages, and other advances in technology that have propelled us along during the last 20 years. The technological wonder that is the Internet is due to self-interest and limited government regulation.

Just as Adam Smith predicted the growth of a free market due to self-interest, he also predicted that the next logical step would be self-interested attempts by large companies to use their money and political influence to change the rules of the free market to benefit them. We see the beginning of this happening now as companies are lobbying the government to stay out of the way, don’t impede the free market, and let the chips fall where they may. This sounds noble, but when big corporations get the unrestricted power to dictate terms in a free market, it’s the consumer who suffers.

To combat the rising tide of corporate control in the Internet market, we must use our self-interest as consumers to balance out their power. Just as they may have the freedom to change prices or terms, we still have freedom of choice. A choice to do business with only those companies that embrace net neutrality. Hopefully, it won’t come to all that, and that the big companies will see the folly of their plans, but unfortunately there is a fine line between corporate self interest and greed, and that line seems kind of blurred together now.

For Being Neutral, You Sure Are Angry

"And so we have to change the business model. And then we don't need to have net neutrality..."

There are two general models followed in the Internet service business, usage-based and unlimited. Under the usage-based model a customer purchases an allotted amount of data that is permitted to flow through his connection every month; very similar to typical wireless phone service (voice only). Once the limit for a month has been reached, much like your wireless phone service, the customer is charged for the excess data transerred over his connection. The usage-based model is used by larger business customers, institutions, web hosting companies, and web service companies (like Google and Yahoo).

Consumers' access to the Internet, on the other hand, mostly follows the unlimited model. Using this model the average consumer pays a flat, monthly fee (it may vary by level of "speed") for access to an unlimited amount of data usage. And until recently this model has worked. Consumers received a speedy connection and the ISPs earned enough of a margin to fund improvements to their networks, which were being increasingly taxed by usage-based customers.

What happened? Youtube, Skype, Google Docs, DropBox, iTunes, [Insert data-rich web service here] happened. Consumer Internet traffic transformed from text, images and email to movies, music, documents and video chats. Did the unlimited data model change? Nope.

The net neutrality debate could quickly fade away if the business model serving the consumers were to change. Think about it, if consumers were to pay for their access based on actual usage ISPs would not have any incentive to throttle access to high-traffic, data-rich sites as those sites would become revenue producers. On the consumer end of things, low data users could see their access costs drop and regions with high-data users could see improvements to network infrastructure as the ISPs work to make it easier for you to use more data.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There's Nothing Free About the Net--We're Losing an Important Freedom

I am stuck on which way to turn in the net neutrality debate.  I certainly agree that ISP's should be able to charge more money for delivering bits at a faster speed.  Companies do this now.  You pay more, you get a little more.  It's just the world we live in where we have become accustomed to paying more for quality regardless of if it is clothes, cars, electronics, etc.  The analogy used in All Bits are not Created Equal was worth thinking about.

"Imagine if the Post Office (or FedEx, or UPS, or DHL, or any trucking or transport company) were legally prohibited from charging more for delivering some stuff sooner than other stuff."

The part I disagree with concerning this debate is being able to block certain sites for personal gain.  By doing so, allies will build with certain ISP's and sites.  At some point, there will be a conglomerate that leaves no room for competition (i.e. AT&T/T-Mobile).  It is not a fair market without competition.  This goes for browsing the internet as well.  If we can't control what we view and we are directed to sites related to our ISP, we can't enjoy the internet like it was meant to be- free.

On top of that, it certainly is not acceptable for wireless companies to have more leeway with working around the rules of net neutrality than wireline companies.
"While wireless carriers will be able to block various apps and services, they won’t be able to block basic Web sites or any apps that compete with their own voice and video products." -Brian Stelter
What exactly is the cause to block apps?  What "unique technical issues" do wireless companies have that wireline companies don't have?  It seems it would solve all of our problems if we left things up to the users of the internet.  Keep content free to live up to the expression of democracy.  People will still be willing to pay to use the internet, but paying more to get specific sites will not do.


The web is meant to be open and free! How can companies limit access to something that is put out there for the public to browse for FREE!? how do you limit the WORLD WIDE WEB? In that sense I definitely do not agree that companies have the right to charge for access to certain sites. As far as certain speeds go though, I think that can be understood. I like the example the writer gave in the SFGATE-BUSINESS INSIDER article, about the post office: You pay more for overnight or 2day shipping. If you want the higher speed broadband then you simply pay slightly more. That’s business. That is the Internet providers personal service, not them blocking out someone else’s website/business.

I am not exactly sure how net neutrality should be legally applied to the web. I think the Internet should remain neutral all around–the end. Even after reading all of our articles, I don’t understand why the government would want it either or why companies would try to do this. I just don’t understand WHY. If website content is free then why limit us to that free website by charging us a fee?

I think it is going to be impossible to do this anyway. Seriously, every single day, every single hour, people are coming up with ways to get around websites and emails and viruses and hacking and the list goes on and on…Even if net neutrality was to be triumphed upon, there would be a way around it. The Internet is an open source, the millions of users would just thrash it one way or another. Do we really need to deal with more legal issues with something like the Internet, when we’ve got bigger issues to kill? I mean, they’ve already got us being tracked and privacy issues are being challenged, so much openness with so much blockage doesn’t work. It’s one or the other. You track us or block access. I don’t know, just a thought, the worldwide web cannot be limited. It is infinite.

Doors slammed shut

The Internet has produced great things, things which would be impossible without having full access to its power. Access defines the internet in my mind, it is intrinsic to the web. Without it your web browser would no longer be a door to infinite possibility but rather a locked gate, with only one key: money.

While visiting Thailand, I remember connecting to the web and trying to check something on YouTube, but the government had blocked the site entirely. Aside from being an annoyance, it made me think about how fragile our links are to the wonderful world of web. There are only few channels to go through to access it. Government control is bad indeed, but control by businesses who dictate what they do by how many coins they can snatch up is just short of fascism.

Just because there is potential for profit in something, doesn't mean that something should be exploited for the sake of profits. This may seem naive, particularly to those mired in corporate greed, but naivety is a staple of the internet. The internet may not seem innocent in terms of content, but it is innocent in its nature. It is a passive entity to be use any way one chooses. So, a little naivety is warranted.

ISP pipelines are, at the moment, passive too. They freely allow unaltered information to flow to the their users. The ISPs, like any other corporation would, has seen an obvious money making tool here. The ability to squeeze the pipes, to degrade QoS to force you to find alternative sites, ones they sponsor, or to restrict access all together.

"Closing" the internet will, for lack of a better phrase, piss everyone but the ISPs off. For it to work, any noteworthy websites will have to pay a fee to the ISP for their site to freely flow through their pipes and reach an audience. The audience it reaches, the users, will also have to pay a fee to the ISP to have access to that website, and the websites will now have a better reason to also charge the users because of the money lost from them having to pay the ISP in the first place. Everything gets more expensive for everyone, but only the ISPs really gain.

As it is now, the internet is a great tool for education. Whether you're reading essays on metaphysics or watching a YouTube video on how to open a locked car with a tennis ball, there are benefits to be had. A "closed" internet would be like having library card and only having access to half a dozen classics, while having to pay premiums to get what you actually need.

Needless to say, much innovation on the net comes from user generated content. A "closed" internet would threaten this. ISPs would, of course, not only have a tight grip on what's coming to you, but also what is coming from you. If these practices of a "closed" internet take off, I can see
everything needing to be approved by the ISP. In essence would be another layer of needless censorship. Not only that, the audience of user content will be greatly reduced because only those with the same ISP would be able to view it, they may also have to pay for whatever website the content exists on.

The internet from its conception has always been a tool for information, this takes precedent over all else.

Net Neutrality At Risk? Not Really.

"Boy, I can't wait for the first ISP to abandon net neutrality! I'm going to sign up with them ASAP!" Not exactly the responses you get from most people when they learn about net neutrality and the danger of losing one of our freedoms. Net neutrality is the principle that internet access should not be restricted in one form or another via ISPs or the government. According to "What is Net Neutrality?" (, "Companies want to set up a restrictive fast lane on the internet, but only for their partners and services. Only sites that pay them a huge fee would be allowed to use it." This would be a direct infringement on the current state of net neutrality, and is cause for some concern.

Net Neutrality is an extension of our system of beliefs in the physical world on many levels. For example, in the physical world, we support a free market economy (with some intervention). This intervention is very important, however. For example, anti-trust laws are in place in order to secure customers lower prices of goods, higher quality of the goods, etc. If ISPs were to collaborate and all institute a non-net neutrality policy at the same time, this would probably be a trust.

On the other hand, what if just a couple ISPs changed their policy? Franky, I'm not worried about this case. The main reason is that the vast majority of people support net neutrality! Here's a scenario: ISP Y decides net neutrality is for the birds and decides to try to make an extra profit by charging websites for increased access speeds (while degrading the speeds of non-paying websites). ISP Z keeps supporting net neutrality. What ISP do consumers choose? With so much net neutrality support (and net anti-neutrality hate), I don't think ISP Y would stand a chance in the (more or less) free market economy of the United States.

The United States and our infrastructure of government and beliefs just does not seem like the proper mix of nutrients to support the growth of non-net neutral ISPs. I'm not saying this might not happen in other parts of the world, but it seems highly unlikely to be coming to any of the 50 states anytime soon.

The Importance of Net Neutrality

"Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies."

After reading and watching this week's material on the Net Neutrality debate, I would have to say that I would agree that keeping the Internet free from regulation from wirless and wireline providers.  By allowing provides to restrict and/or charge for specific internet applications we rob the Internet of what I believe to be its intent-to facilitate the flow of information and to inspire the technological creativity of the public for the betterment of human society.  The Internet has created new avenues of communication and technological innovation that has become invaluable to our nation and the world, both socially and economically, that would never otherwise have been possible.  Allowing users to access the full range of Net applications only advances the growth of the Internet and all of its capabilities without favoring specific sites or applications.  John Borthwick notes in, Neutrality or Bust, that "the lack of basic rules of the road for what network providers and others can and can't do is starting to hamper innovation and growth." If innovators become stifled, valuable creations may remain in the realm of the unknown. Would there be a Google today if such restrictions by providers were implemented in the past?

In his article FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Brian Stelter quotes President Obama as saying that with the passage of new rules protecting the Neutrality of the Net (December 2010) "The Democratic spirit of the Internet remains intact."  If Internet providers are allowed to regulate which programs or applications their customers can use, they effectively take away our democratic right to the free domain of the Internet.  Apparently the FCC and the Federal Government both agreed.  Matthew Lasar, in his article It's Here: FCC adopts Net Neutrality (see 'net neutrality order' link in his article AT&T/TMobile)notes that the new Neutrality laws are "based, in part, on the Telecommunications Act [of 1996] which requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications to all Americans."  Clearly, even in the early stages of the global phenomenon know as the Internet, the powers that be deemed it necessary to protect the democratic rights of people to be able to access all "advanced telecommunications" and, as Borthwick describes, "the freedom to create...and evolve ideas" free from restriction of service providers.  Let us hope that these laws can remain in place.

All Internet Should Be Created Equal

The title of this post sums it up. Now let's say it once more, with feeling: All internet should be created equal. There is so much that is wrong with the idea of ISPs throttling the speed of your connection to drive you away from certain sites, pushing you towards ones in which they have a financial interest. You already pay the ISPs to connect your computer to the web and this would just be milking you for all you're worth. As a matter of fact, we already pay more than most European countries when it comes to internet service. According to John Borthwick, a guest writer for, we pay $40 a month for an average speed of 3.9 Mbps while in France, they pay $45 a month for 20-30 Mbps that includes VoIP and HDTV plus a DVR.

The internet needs to remain open at all costs. Everyone has their own preferences for what search engine they use, which video service they watch Rebecca Black on, and even VoIP, as mentioned in the net neutrality Youtube video. Lets say I prefer to use Youtube, which is true, over other video services and I have an AT&T U-Verse bundle. One day, AT&T and Google have a dispute which turns ugly, not unlike verbal sparring matches between executives at Apple and Google. AT&T decides to create their own video service, and with no net neutrality laws, they begin throttling down download speeds for Youtube videos. It gets to the point where it literally takes a half hour to load up a 3 minute video. Finally, you give in to all of the TV advertisements and postcards from AT&T telling you about their service, and watch David After Dentist 20 times.

This scenario, while theoretical, is the exact type of scenario that could come into play unless the government puts net neutrality laws in place. Steps have already been taken and as the NY Times put it, the FCC passed "net semi-neutrality" laws which block "unreasonable discrimination of websites or applications by fixed-line broadband providers." In that same article, it is mentioned that the FCC law does not ban faster transmissions on sites paid for by companies, which is known as "paid prioritization." While this law specifically applies to wired internet, passing this law and hopefully more that encompass a broader spectrum of net neutrality is a step in the right direction, and hopefully one that leads to the neutrality of wireless internet as well.

Net Neutrality

Before this week's reading assignment I had never heard of net neutrality. I did not realize service provider's were trying to put "bans" or "price tags" on our freedom to search-view-enjoy the web.

Companies should not have the right to ban net neutrality. It does not benefit anyone except the pocket books of these companies who will be profiting from the ban. As far as I can tell, leaving net neutrality open is not harming anyone. This is strictly a money-making scheme set in place for companies.

It is not fair to charge access to certain sights or be told what or when or at what cost you are allowed to view sights. How does this benefit society when it comes to struggling college students who are trying to better themselves and therefore better society, yet may not be able to do so because the bans in place are too expensive? It doesn't!

It also will effect the economy. Small businesses that cannot afford to out-bid the bigger companies will not be the sights people are directed to. Which could lead to losses of small companies and jobs. Not to mention, online shopping may change a great deal if you are only capable of viewing certain sights.

In my opinion it is a bad idea to ban net neutrality. Lets not help the already rich companies become richer and in the process give up some of our freedoms.

Net Neutrally: What are you buying?

But it's worth calling out the tech industry's passion for the latest cause, "net neutrality," for what it is: self-interest.

This quote I picked from Are Bits are NOT Created Equal. I agree it is self interest. I do not get why we are going to all this grandstanding on Congress about net neutrally.

When really why we cant keep things the way it is?

The internet will continue to get bigger and sites are charging for content. So if companies are making money why want more for the same information?

If it this happens it seems to me that it starts a windfall of controlling behavior. I do not want to say it is 1984 or anything but I liked one of the comments I saw on a article. It says this.

1. Start an ISP and offer services based on your own principles of network management.
2. Buy shares in an existing ISP and implement your own principles of network management.
What you don't have the right to do is to tell a company which you don't own, what kind of product you must offer. Imagine what kind of can of worms that would open up. HP could ask the government to force Apple to sell HP computers in Apple stores, based on "neutrality" and Peet's could force Starbucks to sell Peet's coffee in Starbucks based on "neutrality" and so forth. Heck, government could choose our spouses, because if we made the spousal choice ourselves, we would be biased, as opposed to a government bureau which would be "neutral" about the matter.

It is a scary thought.

Net neutrality

The internet is political. This is why net neutrality is critical: the net isn't just about streaming video entertainment and time-wasting flash games. To hearken back to our early readings, the original purpose of the internet had defense in mind. Now it's used for a variety of activist purposes. For every frivolous Facebook conversation, there's the potential for a tweet that helps bring down a malevolent dictator. The Open Internet nails it in simple language: "A free and open internet protects the freedom of speech." I certainly don't trust the few big ISP's we have to monitor political discourse by manipulating traffic, and to make things worse, our selection of ISP's is extremely small.

You might say that ISP's would have no more control over politics in a tiered pricing system than they do now. But the restrictions on innovation this kind of system would cause can still be subtly political. Most people wouldn't claim Twitter is a "political" site, but it's frequently used as an activist platform. What happens when Comcast throttles traffic to it to redirect traffic to their inferior proprietary Twitter clone? Who knows what kind of impact this could have on the unpredictable activist usage of the web. Rather, a free and open internet can allow activism to thrive much better by presenting a broad range of potentially more innovative choices. This is why Blodget's argument fails: price weighting by ISP's for purposes that seem solely commercial can still have wide-ranging effects. Additionally, his postal delivery analogy is haphazard at best. Unlike packages, bits are always the same size, and there is far less variance in the ways they must be treated during delivery. Of course, this doesn't mean that ISP's shouldn't be able to charge more for faster all-around access. As long as the content in a subscription plan is still equally weighted and open, ISP's have the right to charge exorbitant prices for high-bandwidth connections.

The FCC's current attempt to enforce net neutrality was encouraging, but the outcome has stooped too much to the ISP's. We need what Verizon (ironically) called "solid statutory underpinnings." Yet these rules don't have to be complex. Ideally, they will be separate from the architecture of the internet, as that (along with the ways we access the internet) is bound to change. These laws should unambiguously protect against pricing models and traffic restrictions that inflict a bias toward certain content. They should make it clear that any such content biases are potentially political and potentially violations of our right to free speech.

Net Neutrality What?


Per the Wikipedia, Net Neutrality; is a principle proposed for users' access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms. This freedom has already been taken away to a certain degree from each of us.

As we already pay a fee to use the internet at our home, and depending on how much bandwidth and what service provider each user wants is already a different price. As noted in the article "Just like the Post Office (or FedEx, or UPS, or UPS, or any trucking or transport company) were legally prohibited from charging more for delivering some stuff sooner than other stuff." It is no different; there are some sites already that charge you to get full access. The question is Do we want to have to pay for every site we go to or every YouTube videos we watch? How often we go to that site?

The Neutrality Of Money

I view net neutrality as thus: no website, piece of content, game, etc., gets VIP treatment by ISPs. All content on the Internet is viewed as equal in terms of how an ISP lets you access it. This does not include the speed of access that you, the client of the ISP, pay for. I like the comparison that Henry Blodget made between package delivery and ISPs ( Everyone has a basic, cheapest version of package delivery speed that they get access to. If someone wants their package to arrive faster than this basic speed then they pay extra money for it. This is currently how ISPs work. If you want faster Internet access you pay more than the person who doesn't want or need that much speed. This also applies to bandwidth even though providers have been making a lot of money charging for large amounts of bandwidth that people couldn't come close to using up until recently.

I believe that net neutrality is important to have. If we think about it like businesses along a road, then the road is the Internet and the businesses the content. The road itself doesn't discriminate against any business and ISPs should not discriminate against content. Sure, parking spaces and land design might give one business an advantage over the other, but that advantage is being paid for with money. This relates to the Internet access and bandwidth for websites and such that a business might pay for.

If we lose net neutrality (and wireless access is getting closer to it) then we lose a huge part of what the Internet is: freedom. With our Internet access so slow and fractured compared with the rest of the world we as a country can't afford to slow down any further. Would small websites be able to function at all if they didn't pay so their patrons could have decent access? Would the price be prohibitively large? Who decides what a good price is? I'm sure most ISPs would balance out their prices with the competition and denying access to content would certainly make them less popular, but they're still businesses: it's all about the money.

Net Neutrality

I believe the net should stay neutral, however I fear it will not. I can see it being like the story of TV. At first you didn't have to pay anything to get every channel in the area. Then cable came out and charged you to see more channels. Eventually you would have to pay for your local channels, national channels, premium channels, and music channels. With each addition it would cost you more. I can see this happening with the net, right now everything you can access is free. In the future you may have to pay for additional features, like Youtube, VoIP, Netflix, or even Facebook.

The basis behind net neutrality is should the protocols by which you receive information be changed per website. Like if Bright House gets paid by Microsoft to have Bing as the preferred search engine, BH might in return make Google slow enough to the point you'll go to bing or another search engine.

Right now the Net is working well without any interferences. If it comes to a point where you'll have to pay different rates for different activity most likely we'll just say ok and pay. We do now when it comes to speeds of the internet. When I first got HSI it was 7Mpbs, after a couple of years the internet at home seemed slower than at school or for my father, at work. So we ended up paying $10 more a month to get speeds up to 20Mpbs and now they have 40Mpbs for another $10. lol

Save the Internet

Net neutrality is very important to the public. Allowing ISP's to control your bandwidth will limit your ability to use the internet too much. By slowing down the use of big sites that everyone spends a majority of there time is unfair. People use the internet to be open and allow them access everything that they want fairly. Limiting the use of higher traffic sites is ridiculous and should not be allowed. Doing this will cause a outrage among people who have no clue about this happening. If the public was made to know about what could possibly happen then i think that congress would care more about passing the law and keeping the population happy.

Network Neutrality: Fine As It Is!!!

Having the freedom to use the internet as much as anyone wants should be a Constitutional right.

Not only is the internet a major highway of information shared between millions of people worldwide, but it has been engraved and etched into cultures and connects people to sites in ways unimaginable.

For example, imagine an avid YouTube user being forced to pay just for viewing videos when that stipulation didn't previously exist. It would change their entire online experience. Therefore, axing net neutrality doesn't only seem unethical, but wrong as well.

According to Henry Blodget, "Tech folks are up in arms at the thought that new laws might allow Internet Service Providers to charge more to deliver some bits than others--including offering "premium" tiers in which some folks can pay to have their bits delivered faster than other bits."

Because I use the internet on a daily basis, I couldn't help to think why someone would want to make money charging people to roam certain websites at certain speeds.

Then I thought... greedy business owners, corporate CEOS, and conglomerates alike.

For one, it's already a hassle for some people to acquire and have internet access in the first place, and now the idea of charging for site access (when this already occurs) just adds another level of absurdity to the mix. Since many of these owners and CEOs are already banking a ton for the success of their businesses, it doesn't seem right just because they simply want to add more dollars to their accounts.

They need to take a chill pill and understand that stipulating net neutrality would also increase the burdens on people who already struggle paying for internet, especially when they may need the internet (i.e. to work, etc). It would be a burden to those who use the internet for daily leisure since their lives would be altered drastically too.

In today's world, free use of internet is a way of life for many people. Why change it? It's like making someone pay for brushing their hair, cleaning their shoes, or even going to sleep.

Network Neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet for a reason. It only makes sense that Internet service providers (ISPs) may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. Guaranteeing a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies, net neutrality should be sustained for an encyclopedia of reasons. The internet was designed as an open medium. Let's leave it that way.

Watching online video, listening to podcasts, searching, e-mailing and instant messaging is a fundamental enjoyment of the web. Making our online experience better is something internet users already pay big bucks to do (i.e. upgrading internet plans, buying modems, routers, etc).

It's clear that we, the people, can handle it. Network owners should leave it be.

As Blodget said, "It's worth calling out the tech industry's passion for the latest cause, "net neutrality," for what it is: self-interest."

Self-interest never gets anyone anywhere. All bits are NOT created equal!

Net Neutrality Must Stay!

People ask me all the time, "What did you do before Facebook?" I think about it, and what did I do? Then I remember, "oh yeah, I had a Myspace, and before that it was AIM and used my AOL email address." I used to spend all of my time on AOL. Thank God I wasn't in college before the Internet was so easy to access. What would I have done when it came to researching?! Or when I would have to sit through a lecture without being able to use the Internet on my cell phone? It is so crazy how much we all rely on the Internet. If the service is slow, or we don't have a good connection, we become beyond annoyed and get very irritated. Most websites we visit are free. There are some websites that if you want to view certain photos or read certain information, you will have to pay a price. I don't think that users should have to pay to just use the Internet. If you want to access a site that may be private, than you will have to pay for that, but to make someone pay for just surfing the Internet, I don't agree with that. We have to pay for the connection of the Internet, and sometimes it isn't even that great of a connection. So then we will be paying for a crappy connection and paying to use the Internet when it isn't even going as fast as we would prefer it to. Overall, I think that the Internet should remain free. If certain providers are going to block certain websites, or not run as fast as others, I think the public should know this information. We are allowed free speech, and I think if the Internet starts monitoring what is available, they are beginning to slowly take away that right. I found this helpful when trying to figure out the real meaning of Net Neutrality.

Net neutrality Helps Capital Expansion

The openness of the internet has allowed for business, creative, and democratic growth. Openness is what has driven the internet to being such a useful tool for everybody, not just the financially able. Net neutrality is central to keeping the openness that has allowed the worldwide connectivity that characterizes the info age. This openness to information has allowed for business, creativity, and democracy to flourish. By eliminating net neutrality the info world would de-evolve, and become just another service like cable TV. It will also affect business growth sparked by the web.

The massive content and openness of the internet changed the way we used to receive information, communication, and entertainment. The internet wasn't just another service like cable TV or the newspaper. It was a revolution of information, access, and outreach. This revolution allowed for business access online. In the status quo you are able to pay your bills online, order from far-away companies, and reach overseas customers. Facebook and ebay are great examples of how the internet has advanced business. Needless to say, net neutrality allowed for business growth. Further, sharing information enabled ideas and information to expand creativity. For example, forums, videos, and info websites have allowed further creations to emerge. Youtube has helped spread ideas about music, political systems, and even ecological innovations. Creators are able to use the openness of the internet to share ideas and also to acquire them. This creativity also helps business growth. Lastly, the internet has allowed freedom of speech to become a worldwide phenomenon, even in censoring countries. Although having to go underground, citizens of oppressive nations are able to share their experiences and ideas and rally against their governments. Even in the U.S., the internet has allowed groups to find each other and unite for common causes affecting them. Net neutrality has allowed democratic values to spread around the world, even if at a dangerous pace.

If net neutrality is eliminated business, creativity, and democracy will suffer at the expense of a few companies. The restriction of having to pay to have access to other business would deter people from becoming potential customers or entrepreneurs of online business. This damages business growth. Creative ideas would not be able to be shared to further creative pursuits. Thus, inventions in all realms would potentially be undermined. Creators without the financial means to be paying for each service would lose opportunities that have the potential of being capitalized. Due to restrictions of access countries with repressive governments and without democratic values may take longer if at all to open to the capitalist market. Protesters or people interested in bringing about change in these countries would have a harder time gathering support from the global community. Companies lobbying to eliminate net neutrality will enjoy greater profits, yes. However, at their expense lays the opportunity for unprecedented capital growth in other areas such as small businesses, creative ideas and inventions, and the spread of democratic values, which, in and of itself, could allow for even more business expansion. As a result, eliminating net neutrality is more damaging to a capitalist market than a few monopolies not enjoying greater profits.

Net Neutrality is Essential to Progress

The U.S. telco's have had it good, collecting massive monthly payments from millions of Americans, while finding ways to convince their customers that they are getting lightning fast speeds. The truth is that, "The US is now 22nd in terms of downstream broadband speed, behind Latvia and the Czech Republic," according to John Borthwick in the article entitled, "Neutrality Or Bust."

Certainly the current tiered internet speed packages offered by telco's are over priced for the amount of bandwidth used by the average consumer. With the increase in the number of consumers using high bandwidth sites like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, telco's are kicking and screaming because people are actually starting to use what they have been paying for this whole time. Offering different speeds for different prices is totally fair, however charging different prices for parts of the internet is not fair. Splitting the internet into different brackets is absurd and as Borthwick stated, "An uneven experience across various platforms will fragment innovation and promote gatekeepers’ ability to tax applications." Net Neutrality will stop telco's from discriminating against small internet businesses based on their high bandwidth usage and whether the services offered create competition.

From Neutrality Or Bust:

"Now imagine that you take your iPad to the park and fire up the same application through a 3G or 4G wireless connection and all of a sudden the videos won’t work? Not that they are slow—they just wont work given the plan you are on."

The scariest part about the recent FCC ruling is that wireless providers are exempt from most of the new regulations passed. With the rapid growth in the wireless internet category, consumers shouldn't be gouged over using sites like YouTube so that wireless companies can continue their oligopoly fueled reign. Telco's already charge outrageous prices for basic TV packages that force consumers to pay for much more then they would ever be able or want to enjoy. Forcing a similar package model on internet service would put an end to the openness of the internet today.

Allowing telco's to pick and choose what bits are allowed to be transferred could heavily impact the freedom of speech found on the internet today. Verizon was already caught blocking pro-choice text messages sent on their network recently. There would only be more self-interest driven uses if filtering the internet became acceptable. The lack of competition in the telco industry presents serious doubts that telcos would handle their new powers fairly.

The S.F. Gate article entitled, "All Bits Are NOT Created Equal -- You "NET NEUTRALITY" Zealots Are Just Looking Out For Your Own Self-Interest," was outrageous on many levels. The analogy of shipping services like UPS to telco's is not accurate. UPS is generally responsible for the entire start to finish process of delivering packages, where the internet is much more complex and no single company delivers packets from start to finish. Currently, the internet only works rather smoothly because of the lack of gatekeepers. If there were checkpoints through the entire internet, there would certainly be more problems delivering and hosting content because of the new complexity.

Give Me Net Neutrality or Give Me Blue Screen of Death

     It’s funny before this week’s readings I had no idea what “net neutrality” even was.  I live it every day but the term was unfamiliar. I think the average Internet user is also unfamiliar with net neutrality.  The problem with that is now clearly visible.  We take for granted this wonderful technology.  The ability to acquire information a light speeds for close to free.  I couldn’t imagine opening my browser and having Google blocked!  I couldn’t fathom the idea of being forced to use BING as a search engine.  Isn’t that fascist?  Organizing us (the user), according to corporate perspectives, values, and ideas is what will happen if net neutrality is eliminated! 
     It seems as though the FCC is moving in the right direction.  At the commission meeting in Washington, Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman, said the steps were historic. “For the first time,” he said, “we’ll have enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness.”  I am not that concerned with browsing via a cell phone.  I have an I PHONE and my provider is AT&T.  Am I scared to lose net neutrality in this form of media?  No!  I rarely surf the Internet from my cell phone, so as of now this a non-issue.  I do realize the world does not revolve around me, and that people rely on their cell phones to conduct business via the Internet.  At this point I will remain selfish and not care!    
     But it's worth calling out the tech industry's passion for the latest cause, "net neutrality," for what it is: self-interest. Tech folks are up in arms at the thought that new laws might allow Internet Service Providers to charge more to deliver some bits than others--including offering "premium" tiers in which some folks can pay to have their bits delivered faster than other bits. Such a practice, tech folks say, will lead to favoritism and will stifle innovation, as the ISPs cut sweetheart deals with rich companies and penalize poor ones.  
     See if this comparison makes sense.  You are issued a debit card from your particular bank.  If you choose to withdraw money from your banks ATM, it’s free (no service charge).  If you take that card to a different ATM, another bank, gas station, mall, chances are you are going to pay an outrageous service charge.  Yes, a charge to withdraw your money! So why would you do the later?  Why would you perform an action that is normally free, and then suddenly switch to an action that requires payment? I wouldn’t, and the same applies to the Internet.  We should preserve net neutrality! 
     When I think of America, certain words come to mind: freedom, choice, free-will, and option. 
The choices should be left to the consumer with a series of options provided by their ISP, and it should be the consumer’s freedom to act on these choices and options.  Sound confusing? Offers for more bandwith, faster rates, and access to certain websites could be presented as option, but not mandatory for the consumer.  Ultimately, the consumer (user) should not be required to pay more for certain perks!

Evil Capitalists!

The article from the SFGate really got me thinking- why shouldn't an ISP be able to charge different prices just like the postal services do? Oh yeah, because everything that is running through their super expensive(yet still dated when compared with the rest of the planet) fiber optic lines is all the exact same thing, little pulses of energy. Unlike physical mail which needs to be treated carefully, packages even more so, and depending on the contents only delivered in certain climates or conditions, data has no such restraints. 1s and 0s all cost the exact same to transmit, whether they be for facebook, pirating media, or personal blogging.

All I see from the perspective of those opposing net neutrality are the viewpoints of pure capitalists. They don't give a shit about freedom of information, ethics, or what people really want. They have an obligation as CEO or whatever else to get more money. Period. If they can get away with creating outrageous pricing schemes for the shoddy and already overpriced internet we get in this country, they certainly will.

They key word for all of this is hegemony. These corporations have the money, they control the cell towers, cable lines, and internet service to every single one of us. Why wouldn't they want to exercise their power to dominate us even further? They're milking us for all we're worth, and now they want to begin filtering what we can and cannot access on the internet. You know as well as I do it won't be "fair" or "equal". It will be all business deals between massive wealthy interests with ideologies to perpetuate and propaganda to pawn off on us.

Yes, in the end, they own the networks because they paid for and built them, and by capitalist ideals can do whatever they want with them. I can't help but think that capitalism itself is partially to blame here. We live and die by this system. Now it's killing our freedom of information.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is a rule proposed for users’ accessing the Internet.  All Internet content must be treated alike which implies the owners of the Internet’s connections can’t discriminate.  This is the Internet’s best feature because it is a powerful force for true free speech and economic good.  Without net neutrality, the Internet would become TV with a handful of companies distributing content.  They would decide what we get to see and the price we would pay for it.  The Internet would lose the “end-to-end” principle and its appeal to users.

The fact that people may use more bandwidth doesn’t matter, ISPs use optical cables anyways.  This means data is transferred near the speed of light, disregarding propagation, processing, and transmission delays.  Everyone shares bandwidth, but that is not the main problem with page loading times.  The problem lies within round trip transmission rates.  If we can decrease RTT rates, web pages would be loaded much faster regardless of bandwidth.  Reducing even RTT rates from 150 milliseconds to 100 milliseconds would have more effect on load times than increasing present bandwidth to even 1 Gbps.  However, I do not disagree with companies charging for access to their online services.  If you need a specific web service, the creator of that web service has a right to charge you for using the service, but no right to charge you for the bandwidth you share.  In my opinion, there is absolutely no problem with charging for a web service.  Depending on the web service, it might be better to have free access, such as Facebook.

In conclusion, net neutrality needs to remain intact because the Internet was created with this in mind and this is its prominent feature.  To rid the Internet of neutrality would be equivalent to ridding democracy from the United States of America.


ISP Controlling Access to Websites? NO WAY!

What exactly is net neutrality? Net neutrality gives us the freedom to use whatever websites we want without restrictions by our internet service providers. Are you asking yourself, "Wait, my internet service provider can restrict what websites I go to?" Yes. What it is should be considered a scam. It allows your internet service provider to decide what websites you go to based on what websites they make money off of. Like the video we had to watch for this week, it showed that your internet service provider has the option to block you from going to a particular site, such as a search like Google or Yahoo. An internet service provider has the power to block a certain website in order for their users to go to a different website that they could possibly be making money off of. What is my opinion on not enforcing net neutrality rules? NO WAY. How is this even legal in our country? Why do we let companies and businesses decide our freedom? As Americans, we have the right to our privacy and freedom. We should have the right to go to whatever website we want to go to and it shouldn't be decided by our internet service provider. I never realized that this was even possible until this weeks readings. I honestly wasn't aware that my internet service provider had the power to block me from a particular website.
In John Borthwick's article, "Neutrality or Bust" he talks about the importance of the FCC and the importance of allowing internet users to be able to "drive" and decide what websites that they want to go to. Borthwick says that, "There is a natural evolutionary path through which a large company becomes less likely to let edge-based innovations flourish and more likely to preserve the status quo." Large companies that are internet service providers want their companies to flourish over edge-based innovations. They want their users to go to websites and use search engines that will benefit their company. I understand that companies want to make money, but isn't this taking it a little far? Don't you think people should have the choice to go to whatever website they want? Don't you think people should be able to use a certain search engine that is more easy and convenient for them? I know I certainly do.

After watching the video "Understand Net Neutrality" by Public Knowledge, it got me thinking on specific instances when I couldn't access a particular website. I sat here thinking and thinking and finally it popped into my head. I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT!!! I have the internet on my phone and my provider is Verizon Wireless. Whenever I go to my internet browser to search something, it always goes to Bing is a search engine, like Google or Yahoo, where you can search different topics by just typing in the keywords. However, I am not a fan of Bing because of the setup and organization of the website. Whenever I type something in, it always tries to take me to a website that is either an advertisement or has nothing to do with my topic. Then, if I ever try to use Google as a search engine on my phone it comes up as, "There was a problem. Please try your search again later." Like seriously? I am not allowed to use Google because my phone provider has a business agreement with Bing? Net Neutrality rules should not be set into place to make sure that our internet service providers aren't blocking our access to websites. If we are personally paying for internet service, then we should be able to use whatever search engine we want.

David Coursey from PCWorld talks about the different counter-arguments that go with net neutrality. He talks about how the FCC needs to enforce stricter net neutrality laws but at the same time, he talks about "a law intended to protect one set of freedoms at the expense of another." Like I said before, as an American, I would like to know that I have the freedom to go to whatever website I want. I don't believe that my internet provider's firewall should be blocking access to a website just because I am not using the kind of site that they want me to use. Check out the link that gives good, detailed points of enforcing net neutrality laws and arguments against it.

What do you guys think? Do you agree with me? Or do you believe that our internet service providers have the right to restrict certain websites? Should ISPs have more flexible in the way they manage their networks?

Monday, March 28, 2011

If you choke the internet, what color does it turn?

     I am a firm believer in freedom. Net neutrality protects that freedom. It allows me to open up my web browser, type in any URL and visit any website my heart desires. I'm not limited, and I'm not charged extra by my internet provider.
     I think it should always be that way. It is incredibly important for free speech that the internet remain open. If we can't access the sites we want with any service provider, then it isn't free, which violates the FREE in FREE SPEECH. If, for example, Comcast doesn't allow access to Google just because they have a contract with Yahoo, then we would have limited access to the materials that show up when searched. Yes, Yahoo does provide searches, but they won't bring up the same results as Google every time. Having those differences allows for a much more full and detailed search.

     “There is a reason that so many giant phone and cable companies are happy, and we are not. These rules are riddled with loopholes,” Andrew Jay Schwartzman, the policy director for the nonprofit Media Access Project, said in one representative statement. “They foreshadow years of uncertainty and regulatory confusion, which those carriers will use to their advantage.” from F.C.C. Approves Net Rules and Braces for Fight
     New rules have recently been put into place, protecting net neutrality. But the above quote tells us why those rules were so easily accepted by the major providers: loopholes. The rules are also weak when it comes to governing wireless providers, such as Skype, which can still block access to certain apps.
     Because of these loopholes, I've tried to come up with a way to justify a major internet provider wanting to choke the internet. I'm not a business major, but the only thing I can come up with is that providing internet is a business. You have to buy and sell goods/services, and the goal is to make the most money and have the most customers. It would make sense for the biggest ISP and search engine to team up, blocking out use of other search engines. For example, ATT teams up with Google, ATT blocks Yahoo and all other related search engines, which will frustrate the user because they are so slow, causing them to search out the fastest engine. While this argument doesn't bode well for the customers (higher prices and limited access is in our future), it does seem to make sense from a business standpoint, and that is the only way it makes sense to me. Otherwise, give me freedom!!!