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politics technology

Net neutrality paranoia

Once again, the specter of government regulation of the internet rears its head under the banner of net neutrality. Once again, people seem to have their stories confused as to why this is an important topic. We are told that corporations are plotting to give priority to certain types of information speed-wise over others. The networking companies claim this is the only way they can efficiently use their networks, by separating VOIP, streaming video, and email from each other and then charging people for the bandwidth they actually use. Somehow, this is supposed to lead to them filtering information so that people only get what the corporations want them to get.

Tell me that doesn’t sound paranoid, go ahead. It also doesn’t make any sense. It actually does make sense from the networking end of things to give different types of traffic different priorities, but let’s ignore that for a second. Are the companies greedy or not? Do they try to make as much money as possible, do they try to outdo their competition for subscribers?

My question is this, who would subscribe to a service that blocks content? Or to put a different spin on it, how long would it take for a company to advertise that they do not block content or restrict speeds regardless of content? Do you think that would give them a competitive advantage?

See, that’s the thing, net neutrality laws are totally unnecessary assuming that there are at least a couple of companies actually competing for subscribers. As long as one company offers non-discriminatory speeds, all of them have to. As long as one of them does not restrict content, none of them can. I say go ahead Comcast, try to implement some content filtering and see what happens. Verizon/cox/everyone else will be licking their chops waiting for your ex-customers.

On the other side of things, allowing congress to get a foothold in the workings of the internet is a very dangerous precedent. Would you want Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, or Jesse Helms mucking around with the internet? No? Then you can’t allow Pelosi, Franken, and Frank mess with it either. Leave the internet alone. We will be taken care of, not because the companies want to, but because they have to in order to survive and beat the competition.

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