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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Network Neutrality

Network neutrality is in the news again. I was wondering why stories were popping up about it all over the place. Monday's "The Daily Show" answered my question, which shows the value of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as serious journalists. Jon Stewart's coverage was pro-State trolling, but I didn't see any real coverage of this elsewhere.

According to this article, a group of Congressmen are sponsoring the "Internet Freedom Act". It should be called the "End Network Neutrality and Cripple the Internet Act". It's amusing how evil laws are always given noble-sounding names.

Amusingly, according to this page, there's another proposed law with the name "Internet Freedom Act". This law would make network neutrality on the Internet a law, rather than subject to the whims of FCC regulators. That's very funny. There are two bills in Congress with the name "Internet Freedom Act", and they have opposite meanings. For the rest of this post, I'm writing about the evil version of the "Internet Freedom Act".

Current law gives the FCC regulators the discretion whether to force ISPs to support network neutrality or not. Current FCC regulators are backing network neutrality, but there's a lot of lobbying money spent trying and convince them otherwise. Fortunately, there's also a lot of lobbying money spent trying to preserve network neutrality.

The proposed law would overrule the FCC mandate for network neutrality, ending State-imposed network neutrality. Each ISP would have the free decision whether to offer network neutrality to its customers or not. However, each ISP has a State-backed monopoly/oligopoly, giving them an incentive to collude and end network neutrality. There isn't a free market in ISP businesses.

My father watches the Communism Channel a lot, and this stupid law apparently was not discussed or mentioned or emphasized at all. That's severe negligence, but it's not surprising. There's no way to seriously discuss this law without saying "Those mother****ing Congressmen want to murder the Internet!"

For telephones, network neutrality is enforced by a law. If you have an AT&T phone and I have a Verizon phone, then I can call you and it works. The network administrators at AT&T don't say "This call is from a Verizon customer. Make that scumbag wait five minutes before the phone rings!" This is enforced by a law. Of course, Verizon customers would get very angry if they were unable to call AT&T customers. The net effect is almost the same as what would occur in a really free market, except that AT&T and Verizon have a State-backed oligopoly.

In a really free market, network neutrality would be enforced via market forces. If AT&T didn't support network neutrality but everyone else did, then AT&T would lose all their customers to competitors.

The USA does not have a free market in telephones. Telephone network neutrality is not imposed via market forces, but rather via a law.

It's illegal for me to lay my own wires and start my own telephone business. I need a license from the State to offer phone service. The State has granted the monopoly right to sell telephone service to various vendors. Without a State license, the State-licensed phone companies wouldn't allow me to connect to their network, which means my customers couldn't call someone who isn't my customer.

Originally, voice over Internet (VoIP) wasn't allowed to call regular telephones. Then, an exemption was added to the law, requiring regular telephone companies to interact with VoIP calls. Otherwise, a parallel phone system would have developed over the Internet. People might have switched to that, because it's cheaper!

If I want to buy high-speed Internet access, I have to buy it from the local telephone monopoly (Verizon) or the local cable monopoly (Time Warner). Those are my only two choices. Competition in landline Internet service is illegal.

Current FCC regulations force all Internet vendors to support network neutrality. If the "Internet Freedom Act" passes, then Verizon and Time Warner would be allowed to stop supporting network neutrality. Verizon and Time Warner could sign a deal with Microsoft, allowing Bing and Microsoft's website to load quickly. As part of the deal, Google's websites would load slowly. I would naturally switch to Microsoft's sites, because Google would become slow and unusable.

A pro-State troll says "Won't market forces require Verizon and Time Warner to support network neutrality?" The answer is "no". They have a State-backed monopoly/oligopoly. If both of them decide to not support network neutrality, then I'm SOL. There are no competing vendors.

If I don't like Verizon and Time Warner, it's illegal for me to lay my own cables and offer a competing ISP business. The problem is not that it's technically hard to lay cable and sign up customers. The problem is that Verizon and Time Warner have an explicit State-backed monopoly. It's illegal for me to compete. Armed thugs will kidnap me if I start a competing business.

Consider the mainstream media information monopoly. Only certain viewpoints are permitted. If I want to start my own mainstream media show, I'm SOL unless I can convince a handful of insiders to carry my content. With TV and cable service, there's no network neutrality. A couple of sellers have an explicit State-backed monopoly. It's legal for me to start my own newspaper, but current newspapers receive massive State subsidies. It's hard to compete with that. The costs of an Internet-based newspaper/blog are much lower.

Consider the current situation, where there's network neutrality. If I want to start a website, all I have to do is pay $20/month for a Linode and I have a website where I can run whatever code I write. I'm not leeching off of telecom companies. Linode is charging me for a specific upload/download usage limit. I can use Blogger free hosting until I get enough traffic to justify buying a website, like I'm doing now.

Suppose that Verizon and Time Warner are allowed to end network neutrality. If I want to start a website, I'd have to also negotiate a contract with them to carry my content. Otherwise, my website would be crippled and slow and unusable. This gives Verizon and Time Warner a veto over what Internet businesses succeed and which ones fail. Insiders could afford to buy favors, but I'd be shut out. Without network neutrality, I wouldn't be able to bootstrap a small web-based business.

There is no free market in ISP service. In each city, a small handful of vendors have a State-backed monopoly/oligopoly. If they all collude to end network neutrality, then customers are SOL.

In a really free market, market forces would force ISPs to support network neutrality. If an ISP stopped supporting network neutrality, then it would lose customers. If all ISPs stopped supporting network neutrality, then someone would open an honest ISP and steal customers.

In the present, it's a fake free market, because it's illegal for me to lay wires and start my own ISP business.

A pro-State troll says "The FCC network neutrality requirement is a violation of the free market. Verizon and Time Warner are private business and should be allowed to do as they please." That is false, because they have a State-backed oligopoly. If the network neutrality law is repealed, then to be fair State parasites also should repeal the law making it illegal to start your own ISP business.

Verizon and Time Warner don't have a legitimate ownership claim to their business. They are the recipients of a massive State subsidy via laws declaring competition illegal.

There's an evil law, the one that makes it illegal for me to start my own ISP business. There's a law that partially compensates for this evil law, forcing ISPs to support network neutrality. Network neutrality makes it very easy to start a web-based business. Network neutrality makes it easy for someone to start an Internet-based store, creating economic growth and creating more wealth for parasites to leech. Network neutrality also makes it easy for me to write a blog saying "Taxation is theft!" You can't cripple one without also crippling the other.

The evil law that makes it illegal to start ISP businesses will not be repealed. Parasites want to repeal the network neutrality FCC regulation which compensates for this evil law. The parasites want to repeal the network neutrality law, which offsets the evil State-backed ISP monopoly laws.

Mainstream media corporation executives want to eliminate network neutrality, because their information monopoly is threatened. Telecom corporation executives want to eliminate network neutrality, because they think they will make greater profits by selling "Your website will run faster!" favors. Many parasites want to cripple the Internet, because they realize that their scam is threatened. The main reason the Internet is interesting is that someone can start a website for only $20/month. The parasites don't want an open Internet where anyone can publish anything. The parasites want the Internet to be a walled garden, where only content they approve is published.

Executives at corporations like Google want network neutrality to continue. Anyone can cheaply create a website. This creates lots of content for Google's search engine. This increases the value of Google's search engine. Everyone who publishes on the Internet is partially contributing to the quality of Google's search engine.

Executives at mainstream media corporations and telecom corporations are lobbying against network neutrality. Executives at Google are lobbying for keeping network neutrality. With lots of money spent on both sides, the issue will probably be decided on its merits. Network neutrality should stay. However, you never know what parasites will do.

Even if parasites win this round, the scam of the State is ending soon. Even if network neutrality is crippled, the parasites probably won't completely block a text-based blog like this. If you use an RSS reader to read my blog, then it won't matter if the page loads slowly, because the RSS reader caches the content locally.

The technology that underlies the Internet is in the public domain. If necessary, some skilled hackers will create a completely parallel Internet with no restrictions. If necessary, skilled hackers will go back to BBSes and dialup modems to communicate.

The correct way for a customer to view an Internet purchase is "I'm purchasing a certain upload rate and a certain download rate. It's immoral for the vendor to place any additional restrictions on what I can and cannot do. In a really free market, if my vendor is a jerk, I'll find someone else. In the present, I can't do this, because my ISP vendor has an explicit State-backed monopoly/oligopoly."

The "Internet Freedom Act" is really the "End Network Neutrality and Cripple the Internet Act". As usual, an evil law is given a noble-sounding name. That's a common evil fnord.

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