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Network Neutrality Back In Congress For 3rd Time 248

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the moving-at-the-speed-of-government dept.
suraj.sun writes "Ed Markey has introduced his plan to legislate network neutrality into a third consecutive Congress, and he has a message for ISPs: upgrade your infrastructure and don't even think about blocking or degrading traffic. The war over network neutrality has been fought in the last two Congresses, and last week's introduction of the 'Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009' [PDF] means that legislators will duke it out a third time. Should the bill pass, Internet service providers will not be able to 'block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade' access to any lawful content from any lawful application or device. Rulemaking and enforcement of network neutrality would be given to the Federal Communications Commission, which would also be given the unenviable job of hashing out what constitutes 'reasonable network management' — something explicitly allowed by the bill. Neutrality would also not apply to the access and transfer of unlawful information, including 'theft of content,' so a mythical deep packet inspection device that could block illegal P2P transfers with 100 percent accuracy would still be allowed. If enacted, the bill would allow any US Internet user to file a neutrality complaint with the FCC and receive a ruling within 90 days."
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Network Neutrality Back In Congress For 3rd Time

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  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by killthepoor187 (1600283) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:43PM (#28932925)

    I'd be a lot happier if the government took back the last mile and opened it up to more third party distributors. I think the real problem is the pseudo-monopolies on broadband services.

    • Re:well (Score:5, Funny)

      by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:45PM (#28932937)

      Same, but given the choice between that never happening and this having a snowball's chance in hell I'll give the snowball a go and warn the rabbis to keep an eye out for flying pigs.

      • This will kill P2P (Score:4, Interesting)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:51PM (#28933703) Journal

        Yeah I know - I'm being pessimistic, but I've seen what happens to new technologies. DAT (digital audio tape) was killed in the 80s because even though it had legitimate purposes, the courts decided it would mainly be used to steal music, so it was blocked from entering the U.S. for retail sale. Only the professionals had access to DAT machines.

        I expect P2P to suffer the same fate as DAT did -

        - "Yes these programs like Utorrent have legitimate purposes, but 99% of the traffic is illegal content, so I've decided it's okay for the Megacorp ISP to block these peer-to-peer packets." - Signed, Judge Clueless

        • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:10PM (#28934379)
          P2P is not a hardware. And if they are dumb enough to try and block it, a new shiny software package will probably be out the same day works around any restriction. It would be an arms race that the ISP is hopelessly out matched and resourced to try and win.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            You're probably right, but it would be a royal pain to keep upgrading to new programs. If the consumer gets frustrated then the Cable company has won.

            BTW the reason folks like Comcast have a monopoly is the same reason your local phone, natural gas, and electric companies have monopolies. It's considered impossible to create a competitive market in these areas, and they are excluded from antitrust laws.

    • Re:well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:46PM (#28932953)

      Agreed. If it weren't for the near-monopoly on broadband, the market would theoretically be able to weed out the bad companies that don't adopt a neutral stance. The problem with this legislation is that, on one hand, we might get a win on the net neutrality front, but on the other hand, the same companies that are in power are going to stay in power and find some other way to abuse their customers.

      • Re:well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:50PM (#28933013)

        The big (legal) win for net neutrality is that it fucks the cable companies good and hard.

        Cable companies are as bad as the MAFIAA. They want to prop up their outdated business model (television content) by blocking video content over the internet (which is vastly cheaper for consumers). Net neutrality stops them from being able to do this, and shatters their control over television markets.

        • by StreetStealth (980200) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:16PM (#28933277) Journal

          You're right on about the cable companies, but don't forget that your DSL provider would gladly do the same thing for your VOIP setup -- degrade your third-party voice service to the point where your only viable option is their first-party service.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)

            And what does it mean in practice ? The way dsl providers and large telco's "discriminate" in traffic is by peering relationships (e.g. with google). If a site is big enough and has enough money, they can get a direct private link into their network, whereas they let cheap content providers who won't pay (*cough* cogent *cough*) have only a single connection and then let it overflow. They refuse to expand that connection, except if cogent pays a large fee, which they simply won't do.

            Does this law mandate th

            • "Does this law mandate that telco's peer with everybody ? Or does it simply prohibit a few types of Qos ?"

              It seems neither of those. By the letter of the news, "Internet service providers will not be able to 'block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade' access to any lawful content from any lawful application or device" they simply need to declare illegal anything they don't like and then ban it from their networks. So, "it's illegal to pass traffic produced on one network to another w

        • Re:well (Score:5, Interesting)

          by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@h[ ]elsonfamily.org ['arr' in gap]> on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:22PM (#28933345) Homepage

          I can understand that the cable companies want to preserve some bandwidth for their own use. However, I think that net neutrality is too heavy handed, and doing nothing is even worse.

          How about this as a compromise: the cable companies have to guarantee a certain "net neutral" bandwidth. Then, this is the bandwidth that they are allowed to advertise.

          Therefore, if they have a 20-Gbps link to your house, but they offer 7-Mbps of open bandwidth, with 13-Mpbs reserved for their own downloadable movies, they can only advertise 7-Mpbs service.

          This would kind of solve the whole thing. The cable companies can partition the bandwidth any way they like. They can reserve bandwidth for their own movie services. The customer still gets what is advertised.

          Makes sense to me... Can anybody poke any logical holes in this (other than "Cable sucks, let's screw them")?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Makes sense to me... Can anybody poke any logical holes in this (other than "Cable sucks, let's screw them")?

            Broadband is sold for speeds "up to" a certain level, it's not guaranteed. Therefore I don't think you would be able to enforce the amount of neutral bandwidth you're getting. The ISP could always just tell you that you're not getting the advertised speeds because of network congestion, while their own services worked well, because they have separate infrastructure for them.

            • "Broadband is sold for speeds "up to" a certain level, it's not guaranteed."

              Hence the "the cable companies have to guarantee a certain "net neutral" bandwidth" part.

          • Re:well (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:39PM (#28933531) Homepage

            Therefore, if they have a 20-Gbps link to your house, but they offer 7-Mbps of open bandwidth, with 13-Mpbs reserved for their own downloadable movies, they can only advertise 7-Mpbs service.

            That's actually more restrictive than net neutrality because it would mean they have to guarantee a certain minimum bandwidth in order to advertise that bandwidth. Which is fairly unrealistic. Even if they actually upgraded their equipment instead of whining about how expensive it is and pocketing all their profits like douchebags, it'd still be the case that cable service would likely be degraded during the prime-time hours when everyone in your neighborhood hops on the same shared connection.

            Net neutrality isn't about guaranteeing a minimum amount of internet bandwidth. Net neutrality is about not discriminating based on type and more importantly source of internet packets. For example, Time Warner doesn't want to degrade the internet in general, rather they'd like to degrade performance for packets from Hulu or Netflix specifically. Degrading the internet in general would make Time Warner look bad compared to DSL, while selectively blocking/degrading Hulu packets would make Hulu look like a bad choice compared to TW cable TV.

            Another commonly proposed non-neutral situation is where TW or other ISP degrades Google's packets unless Google pays them specifically (as opposed to the ISP Google already pays and who has peering agreements with the would-be blackmailing ISP, meaning they're already getting paid once).

            But for Time Warner, it's all about hurting online video services, without hurting their own cable internet business.

            • I think you're totally right, and my solution would be tiered pricing for consumers. Like the GP said, true competition could make this a reality.

              As far as I'm concerned, if I could choose from 10 DSL/Cable/Fiber vendors to provide my Internet, chances are they'd all be clamoring for my patronage, even if I'm a small customer. As such, they'd offer me options ranging from $10/mo to $80/mo in $10/mo increments.

              Each option would allow me to choose my maximum sustained and burst speeds, say 1 Mb/s with
            • Net neutrality isn't about guaranteeing a minimum amount of internet bandwidth. Net neutrality is about not discriminating based on type and more importantly source of internet packets

              This is similar to a problem which is present in health insurance markets; namely, if the insurance companies (or the ISPs in the net neutrality case) cannot charge some people more and some people less depending upon the amount and type of services used then everyone will have to pay the average amount of the cost of those services spread out evenly over the pool of subscribers. Another example is the old "split the check evenly" dilemma when it is obvious that some people in the group have eaten a way

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Chris Burke (6130)

            This would kind of solve the whole thing. The cable companies can partition the bandwidth any way they like. They can reserve bandwidth for their own movie services. The customer still gets what is advertised.

            Again, I just want to make this clear... It doesn't solve the problem. The customer gets what is advertised... unless it's a site TW doesn't like. Because you haven't required them to be packet agnostic (i.e. "net neutral"), they can still do traffic shaping to suit their agenda.

          • by mea37 (1201159)

            Not bad, but three things:

            1) Is it practical? Aren't there cases where, to be useful, network traffic shaping takes place well upstream of a specific end user's broadband link? Can that always be translated into "you have x MB with which to do as you please?"

            2) What about companies that want to sell services that aren't technically "neutral" but which differentiate them in ways that some customers want? Under the proposed law, I guess they can't. Under this proposal, I guess they can, but have to advert

          • Re:well (Score:5, Funny)

            by fwice (841569) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:50PM (#28933683)

            Therefore, if they have a 20-Gbps link to your house, but they offer 7-Mbps of open bandwidth, with 13-Mpbs reserved for their own downloadable movies, they can only advertise 7-Mpbs service.

            Makes sense to me... Can anybody poke any logical holes in this (other than "Cable sucks, let's screw them")?

            For one thing, 7 Mbps + 13 Mbps is not 20 Gbps

            :]

          • Re:well (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:54PM (#28933729) Homepage

            I think that doesn't work for two reasons:
            1) Nothing stops them from offering a really tiny tiny amount of neutral bandwidth
            2) It will still influence the markets
            - Let me clarify this last point. One of the problems with a non-neutral internet is that if a major ISP partners with one content provider, it puts the others at a disadvantage, which impacts the market. Imagine if Comcast decided that Amazon was their preferred MP3 store, so it got a full 20-Mbps; but the iTunes music store only got 7Mbps. People will perceive the Amazon store as faster, and spend more money there. It has unfairly biased the free market system.

            It would be similar to having wider roads go to Home Depot stores than are going to Lowes stores. The fact that there is a guaranteed to be at least some road, at least one lane wide that goes to Lowes, does not fix the problem. Fundamentally, the road system must be neutral. Same with bandwidth providers. Same with transportation (which is where the term "common carrier" came from). Attempts like yours allow loopholes, and create a mess like what the US tax code has become.

        • by The Moof (859402)
          VoIP is also a big one. The FCC investigated Comcast back in January for degrading competitors' VoIP while pushing their own service (which was not degraded). http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/012109-fcc-comcast-voip-management.html [networkworld.com]
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          >>>Cable companies want to prop up their outdated business model (television content) by blocking video content over the internet

          Sorry to break the news, but it's already too late. Comcast, Time-Warner, and Cox have negotiated with the cable channels to put all video content behind a subscriber wall. So if you want to watch Eureka at scifi.com, you can't because it will be locked. Want to watch Mokn on usa.com or Kyle XY on abcfamily.com? Nope. Again you'll be blocked.

          CC, TW, and Cox claim the

          • [Citation Needed]?
            They are already payed royalties by sites like Hulu to rebroadcast the shows. And, by all accounts, Hulu is doing quite well. I can't image they would try to ruin that.
            • Grrr.

              I read it in my local paper about five months ago that CC, TW, and Cox are losing subscribers, because customers are watching shows online for free instead of paying. Therefore they want to lock-up their cable programming (USA, TNT, SyFy, et cetera) behind a wall that only subscribers can bypass. Perhaps if you read YOUR local paper once-in-a-while (or tried google) then you'd already know about it instead of accusing me of making-up lies.

              Anyway here's the best article I could find: http://newteevee. [newteevee.com]

      • Re:well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:07PM (#28933207)

        Agreed. If it weren't for the near-monopoly on broadband, the market would theoretically be able to weed out the bad companies that don't adopt a neutral stance.

        You are making a lot of assumptions here without even stating them, let alone proving them.

        For instance, you assume that the marginal cost of maintaining a neutral network is identical to a non-neutral one, which might not be true. If the non-neutral one has significantly lower upkeep, it might win out as an inferior but cheaper product. That is, even if consumers prefer neutral ISPs to non-neutral ones, that preference only goes so far towards convincing them to pay a higher rate.

        Another important assumption is that the consumer preference function really distinguishes between neutral and non-neutral. For the vast majority of consumers this might not be the case -- especially with less-tech savvy older folks that use the net mostly for email/light web and don't notice any filtering. For those consumers, there is no product differentiation being neutral and non-neutral at all.

        So yeah, if the costs stack up right and the consumer preference actually does favor neutrality, then a free market would deliver it. Those are some pretty big caveats though.

        • Re:well (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Silentknyght (1042778) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:34PM (#28933473)

          Agreed. If it weren't for the near-monopoly on broadband, the market would theoretically be able to weed out the bad companies that don't adopt a neutral stance.

          You are making a lot of assumptions here without even stating them, let alone proving them.

          For instance, you assume that the marginal cost of maintaining a neutral network is identical to a non-neutral one, which might not be true. If the non-neutral one has significantly lower upkeep, it might win out as an inferior but cheaper product. That is, even if consumers prefer neutral ISPs to non-neutral ones, that preference only goes so far towards convincing them to pay a higher rate.

          Another important assumption is that the consumer preference function really distinguishes between neutral and non-neutral. For the vast majority of consumers this might not be the case -- especially with less-tech savvy older folks that use the net mostly for email/light web and don't notice any filtering. For those consumers, there is no product differentiation being neutral and non-neutral at all.

          So yeah, if the costs stack up right and the consumer preference actually does favor neutrality, then a free market would deliver it. Those are some pretty big caveats though.

          I gave up moderation in this thread to reply to this post.

          First, there's nothing to suggest either (a) net-neutrality will present a higher marginal cost or (b) net-neutrality will present a lower marginal cost on the same. Given this, it's logical to assume no change.

          Second, consumer preference is moot if there is no outlet to express said preference. Few consumers--slashdot crowds included--will opt to forego internet to flex their meager muscle against the monopoly; internet is such a necessity that people are going to choose some internet over none, even if it's sole-sourced. Moreover, this point piggybacks on your earlier point, which seems to assume that neutrality carries higher costs, and therefore there is a cost function impacting consumer decisions in a hypothetical neutral vs non-neutral decision.

          Ultimately, lets first get to a free market, and then we can take a look at your points.

          • (1) You are correct that there are no reliable data on costs. I would dispute, however, that this means that the most rational assumption is "no difference".

            For one, a neutrality mandate from Congress can only increase costs or keep them the same since, in the absence of a mandate, the telcos could chose between neutrality and non-neutrality. IOW, if neutrality is cheaper then an FCC mandate makes no difference (since providers would do it already), otoh, if non-neutrality is cheaper then the FCC mandate in

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          For instance, you assume that the marginal cost of maintaining a neutral network is identical to a non-neutral one, which might not be true. If the non-neutral one has significantly lower upkeep, it might win out as an inferior but cheaper product. That is, even if consumers prefer neutral ISPs to non-neutral ones, that preference only goes so far towards convincing them to pay a higher rate.

          Okay, well then at the very least a free market would result in us getting much better and much cheaper service than

      • by Eil (82413)

        The problem with this legislation is that, on one hand, we might get a win on the net neutrality front, but on the other hand, the same companies that are in power are going to stay in power and find some other way to abuse their customers.

        So it sounds like "net neutrality" is basically going to be defined by the FCC. This is the same FCC that bends over backward (and forward, I suppose) to please the mega corporations that they're supposed to be regulating. The one that has sold off almost all of our publi

      • Or... the Feds will put them in irons and abuse us directly

        And they probably will. I was 100% advocating for network neutrality legislation a few months ago, but seeing the stuff they are passing (or trying to) these days, I don't trust the criminals in Washington to pass anything that doesn't screw us all.

        Note the liberal use of qualifiers all over the bill:

        ...to protect the right of consumers to access lawful content, run lawful applications, and use lawful services of their choice on the Internet; enabl

    • I think the real problem is the pseudo-monopolies on broadband services

      Maybe - but we already have anti-trust laws on the books. Codifying net-neutrality is definitely a step in the right direction.

    • Re:well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:05PM (#28933195)
      Ask your local government to provide municipal broadband. It's the same thing as taking back the last mile.
    • See the telecommunications act of 1996. This opened up the market for new companies to come in and provide data services over existing lines. Those new companies upgraded the hardware for data, then Greenspan ratcheted up interest rates over 2 points over two years. This helped to start the telco / dot com bubble burst. You then had companies with huge debt from upgrading equipment, a glut in capacity, and their stock prices falling along with the dot coms. One by one, they went out of business, and guess w

      • by R2.0 (532027) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:35PM (#28933499)

        You are forgetting a very crucial point - although the 1996 act "forced" ILECs to open their lines to 3rd party providers, the Ilecs - Verizon especially - fought it tooth and nail. From charging outrageous fees for access ("Your fees are too high". "Really? Compare my fees to the other providers in the area." "There are no other providers." "Exactly.") to "accidentally" disconnecting random 3rd party wires every time a union electrician entered a CO (Oh, no - something broke? Sounds like I'll need some OT to fix it), the ILEC's made sure that, though access was available, it would never really work.

    • Re:well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:30PM (#28934527) Homepage

      I think the key thing should be to disallow the physical infrastructure provider from providing service. I may be wrong, but it seems to me like this could open up competition.

      So what I mean is, right now the telephone company and the cable company have a duopoly (in most places) for the physical infrastructure. However, you can still get 3rd party ISPs under certain circumstances. I have Speakeasy DSL, which runs over Verizon's network. So what I would suggest is this: Verizon be disallowed from providing voice services, ISP services, or video on their network. The cable company, likewise, should not be allowed to offer TV anymore, nor should they be allowed to be an ISP or VoIP provider. Instead, they'd have to open their networks to companies like Speakeasy to provide whatever services they wanted. Pricing for service providers should be required to be uniform, i.e. Speakeasy gets the same deal as every other provider, and the physical infrastructure providers (the telephone company and cable company) aren't allowed to make special deals. I think this should just be the trade-off for being granted the pseudo-monopolies you're talking about.

      I think something like this is necessary because the right to build physical infrastructure must be, by it's nature, limited. We can't have lots of companies digging up the streets, fighting over who's going to run water or electricity to your house. It may be possible to have multiple networks, but we aren't ever going to have enough to have robust competition. Therefore, either they must be run by some level of government (not necessarily the federal government) or they must be pseudo-monopolies granted to private companies. In the latter case, those monopolies should be well-regulated so that service providers can compete openly.

      I'm not sure I've made my case adequately, but hopefully I've made a little bit of sense.

  • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:45PM (#28932935)

    If the summary is accurate (I must be new here) this is probably the best we can hope for from politicians in the US.

    I'm not happy about allowing ANY packet inspection without a warrant, but I don't foresee winning that battle.

    • Deep packet inspection is still circumvented by encryption. What it boils down to is that if you don't encrypt your data, someone will read it. This means unencrypted data on the Internet doesn't have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Basically, the Internet becomes subject to Open Fields.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What it boils down to is that if you don't encrypt your data, someone will read it. This means unencrypted data on the Internet doesn't have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

        NO NO NO NO NO! A "reasonable expectation of privacy" has nothing to do with the feasibility of being spied upon. If it did, then these days telcos could just as easily do speech recognition on all your phone calls in order to help target advertising (like Google does with your gmail traffic).

        The distinction is important because so

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:49PM (#28932997)
    "A mythical deep packet inspection device that could block illegal P2P transfers with 100 percent accuracy would still be allowed." Sorry just had to snicker at that line, especially since nothing is 100% , hell some of us aren't even sure if we exist. We all could be a figment of the creator's imagination or some Matrix existence. One thing I am sure of is that I am babbling .... I think ... err ummm
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bakkster (1529253)
      It doesn't need to block illegal P2P with 100% accuracy, it simply needs to allow 100% of legal P2P traffic. Most likely, this would result in a diminishing returns wild-goose-chase, but as long as it doesn't return false-positives, they're free to try.
    • "A mythical deep packet inspection device that could block illegal P2P transfers with 100 percent accuracy would still be allowed." Sorry just had to snicker at that line, especially since nothing is 100%

      I'd say that depends on who is doing the verification.

      "We find that our own deep packet inspection method blocks only illegal P2P transfers 100% of the time we tested it (1 out of 1). Our techs put a Brittney Spears MP3 on a file sharing service, running the inspector from that very computer instantly verified that the filesharing was illegal, was shut down, and the computer was automatically set on fire, killing the techs running the test. We deeply regret their loss but their sacrifices were not in vain

  • Nice laws (Score:3, Informative)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:50PM (#28933015) Homepage

    But just in case, encryption and protocol obfuscation for EVERYTHING.

  • i may agree, but ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:53PM (#28933045) Homepage
    "This bill will ensure that the non-discriminatory framework that allows the Internet to thrive and competition on the Web to flourish is preserved at a time when our economy needs it the most."...
    President Obama has repeatedly called for Net Neutrality...
    If enacted, the bill would allow any US Internet user to file a neutrality complaint with the FCC and receive a ruling within 90 days.


    ... how much more is this gonna cost me? i don't think i even want to imagine how many tax dollars would need to be spent to actually have enough staff and resources to rule on every compliant within 90 days.
  • by megamerican (1073936) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:57PM (#28933101)

    That's all you need to read and it should be obvious that this bill is not net neutraility. That means that any ISP that has good connections inside the government will be exempt from any rules.

    which would also be given the unenviable job of hashing out what constitutes 'reasonable network management' â" something explicitly allowed by the bill.

    The word reasonable doesn't show up in the Constitution yet the Supreme Court always rules the government can reasonably restrict your right to bear arms. The 2nd amendment is something which is a very touchy subject to a large portion of Americans and they still are able to trample all over it.

    What do you think will happen with net neutraility, a topic which the vast majority of Americans simply don't know they should care about?

    This is simply going to codify the large corporations ability to shape traffic, block p2p, etc... The only thing Congress could do to ensure a neutral net is to get out of it completely and break up any monopolies these companies now enjoy and let the people to directly dictate what they want from their ISPs.

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:08PM (#28933219)

      That does seem like a truck-sized loophole. I think some variety of loophole will end up in any bill that gets passed, though, because at this point the idea of at least some traffic shaping is accepted pretty widely. It is still possible to concede that while insisting on neutrality with respect to sites--- say that, sure, they can prioritize email over bittorrent, but they can't prioritize foo.com traffic over bar.com because bar.com failed to pay for the high-tier service. I see that sort of source/destination discrimination as more insidious than per-protocol discrimination.

      • by Locklin (1074657)

        Except that cable companies can provide their IPTV or VOIP on their own proprietary protocol (unshaped), and shape the competition's protocols -especially those non-commercial or low-budget ones that use p2p.

        • by Trepidity (597)

          That's true, but the regulators don't have to be blind. There are plenty of existing industries in which bad-faith attempts like that to circumvent restrictions are regulated.

      • by The Moof (859402)

        I think some variety of loophole will end up in any bill

        Well, yea! It's not polite to put in stuff explicitly saying "except for my campaign donors and lobbyists" these days.

    • by raddan (519638) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:24PM (#28933357)
      Network management is a fact of life. Many automatic mechanisms (e.g., load-balancing of circuits) need to know the state (e.g., load) of a particular circuit in order to balance traffic across another one. This is 'reasonable'. Other measures are 'reasonable' too.

      People may disagree with me, but I also think that it is reasonable to make sure that jitter-sensitive data (like VoIP) is treated differently than Bittorrent traffic, which is not at all sensitive to jitter. The IP suite of protocols are extremely limited when it comes to flow control-- they can only do congestion prevention or egress rate limiting. If you're at the point where congestion is a problem, everyone is going to suffer. If that means that someone's Bittorrent traffic needs to be capped, I'm OK with that.

      So the only other solution to 'reasonable' traffic management is overprovisioning. I know that your average Slashdotter thinks that ISPs should not 'oversubscribe' their lines, but saying this reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the way packet switched networks work. I run networks. They're always oversubscribed. That's what makes them better than the POTS network-- the realization that most of the time, you don't need all that bandwidth for everybody. This is why packet-switched networks are cheaper, and counter-intuitively, more reliable (there was a paper in the '70's that showed that pooling memory resources vs statically allocating resources made out-of-memory errors orders of magnitude less likely; sorry don't remember the cite of the top of my head, but, same idea). Overprovisioning to the fantasy-level of a Slashdotter is very expensive because you're not just talking about extra bandwidth in the endpoints-- you're talking about bandwidth at the core.

      The Internet always has had, and probably always will have growing pains. Right now VoIP, video-on-demand, and Bittorrent are competing for scarce resources. Until then, operators need to manage traffic. I will leave how as a discussion point for every else.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        It's bizarre that you are using euphemisms like overprovisioning and oversubscribing, all the damn companies need to do to avoid that whole game is to advertise what they are actually willing and able to sell for $25 a month.

        If it isn't unlimited transfer over a guaranteed 2 Mbps pipe, stop trying to convince me that it is in your advertising.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AK Marc (707885)
          If it isn't unlimited transfer over a guaranteed 2 Mbps pipe, stop trying to convince me that it is in your advertising.

          What advertisements are you looking at with "guarantees" to Internet sites at line speed? Or is it a case where you don't understand what "best effort" Internet access is?
          • P.S..

            Maybe we should eliminate ALL negative feedback - for both buyers and sellers. Just have nothing but mandatory positives for everyone. But you wouldn't support that would you? No because you like to screw it to the sellers, because you HATE sellers. You love ruining sellers reputation because it makes you feel like a Big Bad Buyer screwing it to the man. You probably laughed when you you heard my stories about the woman who stole eighty dollars from me, or the guy who couldn't read the word "VHS" and l

            • by AK Marc (707885)
              Maybe we should eliminate ALL negative feedback - for both buyers and sellers. Just have nothing but mandatory positives for everyone.

              Again, you are a lying sack of shit. Either feedback is eliminated, or it is left in with mandatory positives. Eliminating it wouldn't allow for mandatory positives, it would just disappear. The problem is that I'm fighting your lying whines with facts and logic, and it's hurting your head. Take an advil and go to a more appropriate site for your maturity level, like s
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday August 03, 2009 @05:06PM (#28933823) Homepage

        People may disagree with me, but I also think that it is reasonable to make sure that jitter-sensitive data (like VoIP) is treated differently than Bittorrent traffic, which is not at all sensitive to jitter. The IP suite of protocols are extremely limited when it comes to flow control-- they can only do congestion prevention or egress rate limiting. If you're at the point where congestion is a problem, everyone is going to suffer. If that means that someone's Bittorrent traffic needs to be capped, I'm OK with that.

        To some extent, that's fine. Different uses need different quality of service -- VoIP is low bandwidth but latency sensitive, while Bittorrent is bandwidth intensive and latency insensitive. There's no reason to cap bandwidth, just use a different router scheduling policy for the two different packets. VoIP gets priority but by its very nature this shouldn't hold up the Bittorent for long. If it does and the "VoIP" app starts eating bandwidth like it's a file transfer, then de-prioritize it.

        Honestly, just implementing a multi-level feedback queue like they've had in OS schedulers for decades (though admittedly it's easier to implement wrt processes vs connections) would do what you're asking for, and fairly so without having to "cap" or otherwise actually degrade Bittorrent or any other specific app. As congestion increases, everyone's bandwidth-intensive applications would degrade proportionately as expected during prime-time hours, while the latency-sensitive applications would still be serviced reasonably well.

        The most important part of net neutrality is not about preventing any kind of QoS based on packet type. It's about discriminating based on source. It's about degrading a movie file that came from Hulu vs some site Time Warner approves of.

        Net neutrality doesn't prevent them from doing what you're asking. It just means they can't do it in a discriminatory way that is ultimately designed not to make life on the network better, but to protect their other businesses.

        The Internet always has had, and probably always will have growing pains. Right now VoIP, video-on-demand, and Bittorrent are competing for scarce resources. Until then, operators need to manage traffic. I will leave how as a discussion point for every else.

        Easy. It's a two step process:
        1) Implement source- and type-neutral management policies that are based on actual usage, not assumptions that certain kinds of traffic, or certain sources of traffic -- who coincidentally are always competitors of the ISPs' media business -- are "evil" and must be slowed down or blocked.
        2) Invest the ludicrous profits these fuckers are making into increasing capacity, so prime-time degradation isn't a very big deal.

        Net neutrality doesn't prevent this. In fact it probably makes it more likely.

        • by raddan (519638) *
          For the record, I am not at all opposed to Net Neutrality. In fact, Ed Markey was my Congressman until very recently, and I've written him a number of times to give him my opinion on the matter.

          You're right about discriminating on the basis of source, too. That is the key part of the Net Neutrality debate. Unfortunately, the uninformed information-wants-to-be-free file-sharers jump in there and confuse the issue a bit.

          Unfortunately, this part:

          Honestly, just implementing a multi-level feedback queue like they've had in OS schedulers for decades

          is spot-on, but also not possible with our current Inter

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sandbags (964742)

      1) they left the definition of reasonable to the FCC, for which standards already exist thanks to the case against Comcast, and which those requirements can be further refined.

      2) Apparently you;re unfamiliar with the original drafts of the constitution, often used by the supreme court and others to determine the mindset of those who wrote it. You see, the constitution was revised multiple times, much of it in order to make it fit to a small number of pages for simplicity of replication and distribution to

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by R2.0 (532027)

        "and for if and when the local government or state called you to arms in defense of self, town, god, and country"

        Given that the founding fathers had recently fought a war where they were defending themselves FROM their own government, I think they may have had a broader view than you attribute to them. Maybe Jefferson's wording was ditched, not to save space, but ebcause a majority of the other founders didn't like it?

        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday August 03, 2009 @05:13PM (#28933873) Homepage

          Given that the founding fathers had recently fought a war where they were defending themselves FROM their own government, I think they may have had a broader view than you attribute to them. Maybe Jefferson's wording was ditched, not to save space, but ebcause a majority of the other founders didn't like it?

          Maybe. But more likely given all of Jefferson's writings on the subject, is that the GP's reading of the 2nd Amendment as not supporting the idea of armed rebellion is simply wrong. Egregiously so, considering his admonition to read the Founder's writings. Hello? Jefferson was constantly on about the need for the people to remove governments that don't represent them, and do so through organized rebellion. And that explicitly included the government he helped create, should it become necessary.

      • for if and when the local government or state called you to arms in defense of self, town, god, and country

        Which is becoming an increasing problem these days for military recruitment, especially with urban west coast recruits from states like California. If a recruit has never held or fired a weapon in his or her entire life then it requires substantially more training in order to bring that recruit up to a minimal level of competence with rifles, machine guns, and other modern projectile weapons than someone who grew up around guns and using them for hunting and target shooting. In fact, there is even evidence

        • by cdrguru (88047)

          I would think inner-city youths have plenty of exposure to guns and many have experience firing them as well. All sorts of bad gang-banger habits with guns that it requires lots of training to help them overcome. Illegal weapons are very common in cities in the hands of children as young as 10 or 12.

    • by Lendrick (314723)

      Get a screenshot of this comment -- I'm about to side with a libertarian.

      I'm a liberal. I agree that Net Neutrality is something that ought to be codified in law. However, I don't believe that this law does it as written. This whole "reasonable" thing smacks of "let's throttle bittorrent because it *might* be used for piracy".

      How about mandating absolute network neutrality (no throttling, shaping, blocking, etc) and then enforcing the laws we already have? The days where the Supreme Court keeps VCRs leg

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:04PM (#28933183)

    So if I get internet on my cellphone, does this make my cellular provider an ISP, if so would they legally have to allow tethering?

    • by Chyeld (713439)

      Depends on the nebulous definition of 'network management' I would imagine. If it means your carrier can go "Oh noes! Tethering = unstable network" then no.

  • GNU-THINK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jameskojiro (705701) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:12PM (#28933253) Journal

    Kinda like new-think instead it is GNU-Think. Call a Bill "Net Neutrality" and people will sign it even if it does the opposite.

  • Would this apply to the app store? Apple has been actively blocking certain applications from the market for some time now, just wondering how this applies to that market.

    Additionally, there was a long time where I could not access AIM services through my Verizon blackberry, it was blocked by Verizon, but has since been lifted and I'm able to use the service fine. I'm curious how this will play out with cell companies and their practices of blocking applications and protocols that compete, or make it easier

  • Seems like this would also cover the oubound SMTP port 25 blocks that ISPs use to prevent direct-to-MX spam. It is an illegal activity, but SMTP is a legitimate protocol. Thoughts?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Atti K. (1169503)
      My ISP does it like this: outbound port 25 is blocked (probably inbound too, never tried) by default, you can use only their SMTP server. But if you need it, you can ask them to open it up for you, explaining shortly why you need it. The whole thing is done online, within their website. They specifically state there that if you're sending spam, they will block it again. Disclaimer: I'm in Europe, but I think such a solution would be legal even under the net neutrality act, and still prevent large amounts of
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      What's illegal about it? Spam may be undesired and unwanted but there are plenty of ways it can be sent legally.

      Also, with ISPs not cooperating (much) how many spam convictions have there been? Two or three, maybe. Without the ISPs getting on board, which they are loath to do right now, there can be no enforcement and almost all "enforcement" is vigitante action.

  • "CAN-SPAM" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oneiros27 (46144) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:25PM (#28933375) Homepage

    Internet service providers will not be able to 'block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade' access to any lawful content from any lawful application or device

    I'll have to read the bill, but if this is like the last ones, I have my same complaints -- spam is legal under CAN-SPAM (so long as it meets certain requirements), and this will make it illegal for ISPs to block it unless it's 'illegal'.

  • Does this mean that Apple can't discriminate between wifi and regular internet connection? Can they be taken to court for not allowing Skype to use regular Internet Server over EDGE? What about Google Voice? Does this sort of legislation ensure that carriers can be treated as "dumb pipes"?

    Hoping against hope here...
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      If you want a cell phone that has data rates subsidized by voice charges, you are going to have to live with the carrier blocking ways around voice charges.

      If you want a cell phone with data that isn't subsidized in this manner, you aren't going to like the bill. You can get a cell modem for around $60 a month with a 5Gb limit on it. After the first 5Gb the rates go up. This starts to show where the billing is going to go with unsubsidized cell phone data plans.

      Today, I have unlimited data at $19.95 with

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:31PM (#28933451)

    The most effective way to address this problem and foster competition is to break up the existing structure and excessive regulation that makes it next to impossible for new competitors to enter the market. If this means wresting control of the last mile from providers, so be it.

    This wont necessarily guarantee quality, but at least it should ensure that you have a number of competitors to choose from when you want to switch. When I was overseas the quality of the cable service I originally had was utter crap, barely better than dialup. I then switched to DSL, which was a good deal better, but still not as good as I have now. But at least, I had options which forced these companies to lower prices or improve service. I don't remember what I was paying now, but I think it was in the range of $15 a month or so, which is a far cry from the $50 I pay now.

    What always happens with these damn regulations? The government steps in to regulate something obvious to appease the masses and then turn around and make concessions to companies in some other way which ends up screwing people up in the long run. And the irony here is that a lot of this is done for the sake of the "small guy" but the end result is that it really ensures that those already established have the resources to survive and thrive. It pretty much helps guarantee monopolistic control for some companies.

    At least I happen to be living in an area where there is some level of competition, which basically means one provider for cable and one provider for DSL. So like most other service providers it's like they compete in a vacuum and basically only acknowledge each other by ensuring their prices match. Which reminds me, one thing I'd like to see abolished is this bullshit with contracts.

  • 'Up To' (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Odin_Tiger (585113) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:46PM (#28933637) Journal
    Net Neutrality is important and I hope it succeeds, but I what I would really like to see - that is, what would have the greatest impact on me personally - is requirements for reasonable QoS and limits on the 'up to X speed' marketing. That would be in keeping with the 'upgrade your hardware' statement. I'm tired of paying for a certain level of service, only to discover that between 3:30pm and midnight or so, my bandwidth / latency are utter shit because the ISP has more customers than it's hardware can handle during prime use times, but they get away with it because, on average (figuring in non-prime time hours), their service looks pretty good.
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Sadly, for the US the only solution is for someone to come in an eliminate the neighborhood nodes. You have X bandwidth to the node and 1000 homes connected to the node. When all 1000 are trying to download music, movies and watch Hulu you have a serious bottleneck that was never completely thought out.

      You also have the economic realities of connecting 1000 homes in 500 neighborhoods. They were never going to run a 100Mbit dedicated fiber to each and every single home. They were always going to use some

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:51PM (#28933693)

    ESPN 360 [dslreports.com] blocks access to anyone visiting it's site from any ISP that didn't pay ESPN a subscription fee. I don't mind ESPN charging me for access to their content in fact I expect to pay for quality content but throwing up a page saying something to the effect of oops! looks like your current internet provider isn't one of our subscribers. You should switch to one of our "partners" below. isn't what I would call neutral. IMHO it's a direct attempt to turn the internet into just another cable provider. What do you think your internet connection will cost as more & more sites start charging the ISP a subscription fee?

    • by billcopc (196330)

      No, eventually you will migrate to a cheaper ISP that's not being blackmailed by all these content providers. Switching ISPs, for most residential users, is extremely easy. You call up the new guy, give him your credit info, then call the old one and cancel your service. There is no loyalty in the ISP business, people jump ship all the time to score a better deal or faster service.

  • scary sounding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gogo0 (877020) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:57PM (#28933745)

    'Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009'

    sounds great! who would vote against a bill that preserves freedom?!

    so... what did they hide in it?

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday August 03, 2009 @05:00PM (#28933775) Homepage

    Internet service providers will not be able to 'block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade' access to any lawful content from any lawful application or device

    No, Mr Markey, you don't fucking get it. Back to the drawing board, please!

    IANAL, but I am wise enough to know that the bolded words are a LOOPHOLE. Every single bit of data should be transmitted without obstruction by the ISP. If they can't be trusted as judge, they certainly can't be trusted as executioner either. Let law enforcement do what law enforcement does, and keep the ISP out of it. The only thing this bill will cause, if succesfully passed into law, will be to spur the introduction of many more bills to codify a slew of "unlawful" things the telcos want to police. It's not like they have any shortage of lobbyists and contribution money. Take the whole thing out of their grasp.

    If a highway construction guy barricaded a highway, by his own whim, because he suspects "his" highway might be used by drug traffickers, is he legally permitted to do so ? Or is that considered vigilante behaviour ? Then why should we allow ISPs to be vigilante internet cops ?

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Then why should we allow ISPs to be vigilante internet cops ?

      Because (a) nobody else wants the job, (b) nobody else can do the job, and (c) the job really, really needs doing.

      Wouldn't it be nice if botnet's were declared to be illegal? They aren't for the most part today. And because of that botnet traffic can't really be interfered with. Kicking a clearly infected computer off a network just raises a firestorm of protest because today it is not something that is clearly sanctioned. So small ISPs just watch as a few customers consume the network while saying "Loo

  • Wouldn't the mythical deep packet inspection mentioned by the summary interfere with and degrade lawful traffic? It seems like only tactics which do not degrade legitimate traffic would be admissible from my uninformed understanding of this legislation.
  • I'm confused. The bill is called Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009, but having read the bill, it looks like it would actually do the OP says it will. I was beginning to think that there was a rule that a bill's title has to be antithetical to its true intent (e.g., the PATRIOT Act and Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act)

  • I'll repeat the same thing I told both the FCC (re: National Broadband Plan) and Rep. Markey regarding his bill:

    The only true form of 'Net neutrality is the kind where the physical medium - the wires or "tubes" - is collectively owned by the public. Our network of roads is almost entirely publicly owned, and the companies that build and maintain them are contractors... we don't allow them to own the stretches of asphalt they lay down. Contractors are exactly what AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and all the others in the telecom infrastructure ownership business should be, rather than owners.

    We made an error in judgement when AT&T began laying the first telegraph wires, and we failed to recognize the future import and insist that they deed the wires to the public trust. We perhaps had a second chance to correct our error when AT&T was hauled into court for antitrust issues: we could have forced AT&T to sell back the wires to We The People at that time, as a part of the judgement, or perhaps transitioned it into a non-profit pseudo-governmental agency like the USPS, rather than breaking it into smaller entities which STILL owned the wires in their respective fiefdoms.

    We're still paying - dearly - for that original error in judgement and our continuing failure to recognize the error and deal with it, even belatedly. It appears that it might now require a revolution with guns to get the wires back into public hands, because the only way any of these corporations' CEOs are going to relinquish this profit-making control is by forcibly prying the wires from the vise-like grasp of their cold dead fingers.

    As a result, we now talk about kludges and band-aids for the problem, in the form of laws and regulations, and we call these band-aids "Net neutrality" even though they're really nothing of the sort.

    Does the FCC have the spine and "guns" to finally create true telecom network neutrality? I doubt it, but I suggest that perhaps you should try. If not, please do not entertain any of these legislative band-aids: in this case covering the wound with a band-aid will not actually aid in healing, rather only hide the wound from view and defer the surgery necessary to finally heal it. LET IT FESTER IN THE OPEN - in other words let the telecom companies section and "tier" the network - until it becomes so noxious that we're collectively ready to agree to the surgery.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:09PM (#28934369)
    Would be nice if the bill simply said that:

    Customer pays for a given level of service and a given maximum number of bits transported each month. You must declare what those numbers are and not impede them in any way. False advertising of either number is punished severely. Ranges of numbers are not acceptable.

    Does it need to be any more complicated than that?
  • The opposite number of Rupert Murdoch in Australia for many years, Kerry Packer [wikipedia.org] once said that he loved it when the government tried to legislate for his interests to behave a certain way as the more legislation that was made the more loopholes there would be to allow him to do exactly what he wanted to do.

    I suspect the same thing will happen here.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:32PM (#28935047)

    ESPN360 has been pulling a reverse on the "charge for access" BS the ISP's whispered about to start this whole movement.

    They offered it free to colleges to hook people, then demanded cable style "bulk license fees" from ISP's.

    One by one they have been caving. Complaints to the FCC regarding this practice, which forces every customer to pay for services they likely don't want or use, have been slow producing results.

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