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  • Author: Adriana
  • Published: Jun 11th, 2006
  • Category: Events
  • Comments: 5

Net neutrality

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Just spoken at vloggercon on the net neutrality panel. It was organised and chaired by the guys from blip.tv - Charles Hope and Mike Hudack, who was recently on PBS NOW programme debating the issue. The panel discussion was heated at times and only reinforced my opinion that this is one of the most important issues affecting the future of the internet these days. The points below reflect my position:

  1. The telecoms and cablecos are heavily regulated and their cries for free market are false. The industry is already warped and the argument against net neutrality based on the desire to keep government out of ‘markets’ is misplaced.
  2. The distinction between consumer and user is gone. It is in fact the ‘content’ produced by many individual vloggers that put the social media cat among the old media pigeons. The media industry has smelled the wealth of content and feels the urge to control it.
  3. A network that is heavily regulated and not very innovative is being used as a model of control and regulation for a network that is amazingly open, innovative in a historically unprecedented manner. So the government is imposing regulation from a closed and cumbersome industry to an agile and dynamic space.
  4. Nothwithstanding all of the above, net neutrality legislation is not the answer – it is more like ‘casting out a devil with the devil’. There is no fundamental understanding of the internet as a space, marketplace, world or a frontier (for more on this see Doc Searls’ article on Saving the Net). The debate should not be about the internet as a sum of pipelines and wires and content and packets delivered across an infrastructure. It should be in terms of protecting the space in which the individual has been empowered and the emergent benefits of interactions among those individuals that are having an increasingly sociall impact.

There was more but this is what I can think of whilst sitting in the middle of vloggercon still in full flow.

vloggercon_NNpanel.jpg

Update: In the heat of the moment, I forgot to mention my ’solution’ – deregulate telecoms and cablecos so we have something resembling a real competition at the pipelines and wires level. Then the pipeline takers will not have a case to control content and what goes through. Susan Crawford sums it up well:

Think of the pipes and wires that you use to go online as a sidewalk. The question is whether the sidewalk should get a cut of the value of the conversations that you have as you walk along. The traditional telephone model has been that the telephone company doesn’t get paid more if you have a particularly meaningful call — they’re just providing a neutral pipe.

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5 Responses to “Net neutrality”


  1. Ray
    on Jun 12th, 2006
    @ 1:36 am

    But of course, your arguments make extraordinarily good sense. There’s the irony in your invitation for government to dictate freedoms, even electronic freedoms. But you’ve addressed that with your explanation that the “market”, such as it is, is already warped by regulation. So, yes, the devil must cast the demon, though the demon be the devil’s child too. Gotta love it.


  2. Pajamas Media
    on Jun 12th, 2006
    @ 13:30 pm

    Net Neutrality @ Vloggercon

    Adriana Cronin @ Media Influencer blogs right after speaking on the net neutrality panel at Vloggercon in San Francisco….


  3. Richard Bennett
    on Jun 13th, 2006
    @ 10:47 am

    You were doing pretty well until you fell through the open manhole down to the sewer where Susan Crawford lives.

    Before we go casting about for solutions, let’s make sure we know what the problem is. At this point, the Telcos say they’d like to offer richer service options than they have in the past, in order to support applications that need Quality of Service guarantees from the network. That’s not an evil plan, and it’s been common in commerical Internet connections for a long time.

    The trouble with the bits and pipes and wires it that they’re the actual subject matter of telecom regulation, but I agree with you that Free Speech! and free content are separate issues from telecom regulation.

    Unfortunately, Susan Crawford and her dim-witted pals have confused the two realms of regulation, most likely because they have no clue about how the bits move through the wires.


  4. Socially Speaking
    on Jun 15th, 2006
    @ 0:16 am

    Greenhouse Effect

    On Saturday I attended Techdirt Greenhouse for the second time. It was, again, a great gathering of intellect, talent, opinion and creativity. The format and methodology is what attracted me in the first place: brain jamming, if you will. Interesting c…


  5. Michael Meiser
    on Jul 2nd, 2006
    @ 19:37 pm

    Bummer, I missed you at vloggercon. I would have really loved to sit down and chat with you over a beer. Vloggercon was just to crazy and to short. I was so busy I missed 90% of the sessions including Net Neutrality. There was just to many people to talk to and meet. In fact I haven’t been home for two days since, so I’m still trying to find the time to watch all the videos of the sessions that ryanne posted on vloggercon.com.

    BTW, Ray, makes a great point.

    I’d also like to make another point. While I’m pleased the Net Neutrality debate has gotten beyond ridiculous bipolar debate the common depiction by astroturfers was that passing a bill mandating net neutrality was “pro-regulationism” and that the net hadn’t had any regulation before so it need not have it now. This is untrue. Up untill about May 2005 the last mile of the internet was protected under common carrier laws that specifically protected anything that ran over phone lines… this included DSL of course. The FCC (under Michael Powell I believe it was) removed all those regulations when dealing with internet connectivity. Net Neutrality is just a reinstating of this regulation. BTW… there is the question of wether such a law is even necissary… see AOL’s failure and “the network effect”… services that are not open loose tremendous value… however… there’s NO transparency in the marketplace… meaning services like VOIP could be degregated without your even nowing what the problem is. QOS, yeah right… that’s exactly what they’d want you to think when they upsell you to their own VOIP because you can’t get Skype or Vonage working well. The lack of transparency may be the real issue.

    BTW, there were a couple of good NPR debates dealing with the issue in podcast, one of them had Siva Vyanathan(sp?) from NYU. It’s been so crazy lately that might have been more than a month ago. But it should be easily google-able.

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