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Net Neutrality – Rearranging the Deck Chairs

The Net Neutrality ship continues to sink with the recent removal of wording from legislation that would have removed the right of carriers the to tariff based on application.

I’ve always felt Net Neutrality is a concept that expropriates the property rights of carriers in order to allow media and content companies a free-ride on their infrastructure. Google, Yahoo and other media and content companies lack ownership of a layer-one digital right of way to the consumer- so the easiest approach is to legislate the theft of it.

Anyone who thinks this is a reactionary opinion should consider what Rep Ed Markey said about the failure to pass the bill. From the CNET article:

There is a fundamental choice. It’s the choice between the bottleneck designs of a…small handful of very large companies and the dreams and innovations of thousands of online companies and innovators.

What if this debate was over a privately owned road? Would Mr. Markey feel the same way?

The good of the many is more important than the good of the few. But there are laws that cover the taking of private property rights – if you determine the greater good requires that the few forfeit their deed of ownership then you should compensate them for it.

When it comes to “fundamental choice”, I’ll go with property rights over government re-appropriation any day.

Additional Observation: Note the title of the CNET article – “Republicans defeat Net neutrality proposal“. As it’s prospects wane, the debate on Net Neutrality is moving from a technical and economic argument to a political one. Never mind that 4 of the 11 Democrats on the committee voted against the provision – nothing like a little political fire-stoking to keep debate rolling.


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  1. Andrew, companies are OF COURSE free to charge anybody they want for anything they can. Customers are OF COURSE also free to take their money elsewhere. The trouble with my ISP trying to charge Google and/or Yahoo is that Google and Yahoo aren’t their customers. I am their customer, and I’m already paying once to access Google and/or Yahoo. I cannot see any reason why my ISP should be able to double-dip — charge me for a service AND charge the service provider for serving me. That makes no sense.

    For example, I’m using your blog right now. Should you have to pay extra to my ISP?? No, of course not — *I* am paying my ISP; you are paying your ISP; and Google and Yahoo are paying their ISPs. Everybody gets paid — everybody should be happy. Unless … they’re greedy, and see a way to hole me hostage against payments from Google and Yahoo.

    Posted by Russell Nelson | April 13, 2006, 1:30 AM
  2. Well, we could go back and forth about whether companies should or should not execute certain business practices. However, the question in this debate is whether we want to grant unprecedented latitude to our legislators to control how providers do business. For me, I would rather have a free Internet than rope in government in an effort to resolve squabbles between major corporations. The free market deserves the benefit of the doubt, in my view.

    Posted by lessgov | April 15, 2006, 5:55 PM
  3. Why are Google and Amazon and Ebay and Microsoft, etc. consistantly portrayed as victims of the telcos? It’s absurd. The financial strength of those companies dwarf that of the telcos. I think much more likely than the telcos holding the software giants hostage, the giants will hold the telcos hostage…carry my service for free or suffer the consequences. The telcos know very well that they’ll lose customers en masse if we can’t Google or Ebay etc. There is no reason to think that the market won’t sort this issue out on its own.

    Posted by oldhats | April 17, 2006, 5:52 PM
  4. What we’ve got here is an old-fashioned show down between competing businesses. What we need is an old-fashioned solution. Let the customers decide. If they like one over the other, well, let them spend their money. Why get the government involved when we don’t need to?

    Posted by pkp646 | April 19, 2006, 1:14 PM
  5. Readers of this comment thread should know that oldhats, lessgov and pkp646 are part of a tag-team of industry shills who invade blog comments on net neutrality to argue against any government regulation of the Internet. Other names who run with this crowd are John Rice, AJ Carey and Paulaner01. (Google any of these names in combination and you’ll see how their game works).

    By tag-teaming the blogs, this small handful of individuals gives the false impression of broad popular support for an industry-friendly position.

    What they fail to point out is that Net Neutrality has been the rule that has governed access to the Internet since its inception. It’s the reason that the Internet has become such a dynamic force for new ideas, economic innovation and free speech. What they really want is for Congress to radically re-write our telecommunications laws so that companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth can swoop in and become gatekeepers to Internet content — in a way that benefits no one except the largest ISPs.

    I’d like these people to tell us how it is that they appear together (usually one after the other) praising one another’s comments and spouting identical industry talking points across the blogosphere.

    What gives fellas? Are you being paid to do this? And by whom?

    Posted by sagecast | May 21, 2006, 8:05 AM
  6. FYI, all three had separate IP addresses.

    However, sagecast’s IP appeared to be at the center of three posts that I suspected of being ‘plants’.

    While I don’t agree with your viewpoint on net neutrality, I do agree that this type of activity is ridiculous and is one of many reasons I believe in some form of personal authentication on the internet.

    Also, there are no laws guaranteeing net neutrality. It’s Google and others that want to swoop in and disenfranchise owners of private property.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | May 21, 2006, 1:53 PM