While not wanting to get political, I’d like to talk about something before it becomes a “thing”: “Net Neutrality”. While I confess I’ve not studied this in detail, I am following it, as I am very net-involved: I have been programming web pages for over twenty years, and since I also provide services in this area (selling domains and hosting), you might say I’m directly affected as an ISP. Whatever is that reality, here are my thoughts — and attempt at clarity on this issue:
First, Some Internet History
In the late 60’s, the Internet was invented by the military to maintain communication if atomic or other war took out communications. No more, a single phone line from place to place that could be severed. Now multiple connections, like a roadmap of the United States, with an infinite number of ways to get from one place to another. Some more efficient; all go. So, if a massive bomb took out DC area, for example, communications continue by instantly rerouting message distributions. My first recollection of Internet usage was “bulletin board”, where someone would post a thought or comment, and people would comment minutes or days later. Then websites. Email was in this period as well, and likely the first use. This was all a very long time ago.
“Net Neutrality” rules (laws) came into existence seven years ago — and were immediately challenged in court. The court case was finally settled (allowing these new laws) on June 14, 2016 — like, a year ago. Does anyone really believe the Internet was broken all the time before that? That this is now some major crisis that went back for all of time? One of the strategies of despots is to use catchy phrases, that instantly appeal to everyone — regardless of the (usually darker) realities. So all the uproar now is that the Internet will be “controlled”. The reality is, that law was the one to put controls on an open system. This simply rolled that one back.
There are some who think that more and more, and exponentially more laws are a good thing. I am more of a “hands-off” person. Society has long regulated itself without interlopers (who usually carve themselves out a profit for the interloping). Anyway… Back to the discussion:
The Law Actually Empowered Censor
So, “Net Neutrality” was a wicked misnomer: As I understand it, it required the providers (Verizon was the one to bring suit against the initial law) to not restrict services based on usage — another misnomer, meaning that bandwidth (usage) could not be charged differently. If I’m a utility company selling water, I need to sell it by the gallon, not the day. Otherwise, the person filling swimming pools for a living pays the same as the household drinking a few glasses of water. Netflix is the first person to cry loud and long about this rollback. No surprise, they are the big dog on the first teat. For sure, they want the free milk.
So, this has not been at all broken for thirty five years, and now that they’re rolling back a (bad) law that ultimately went into affect two years ago, everyone is up in arms. But it does have a catchy title. And that was part of the intent in the first place: promise openness, when the actual law was just the opposite.
Moreover, when the ill-informed believe their ill-informedness = wisdom, they next convince themselves that violence is a good thing. (Yet they are ill-informed.) So, an entire society of people are now threatening and advocating KILLING the FCC Chairman. Where does that come from? Beneath, if you’ve not figured that out. If there’s ANYTHING we should be societally indignant about, it’s this.
Thanks for your thoughts on this, Don. I’ve followed the “net neutrality” controversy only slightly, enough to be more or less convinced that the Internet will survive even the heavy-handed intervention of the federal courts. But I’d much prefer to keep the law’s hands off it. You make a good case for that.
And it only makes perfectly good sense that people who want to download swimming pools of data fast without annoying little delays should pay more than those who don’t need that sort of service.
But as you imply in your last paragraph, this issue is one of many these days that have become not matters of logic, reason, and compromise but of perfervid belief. That’s a pity.