Efforts to protect net neutrality that involve government regulation have always faced one fundamental obstacle: the substantial danger that the regulators will cause more harm than good for the Internet. The worst case scenario would be that, in allowing the FCC to regulate the Internet, we open the door for big business, Hollywood and the indecency police to exert even more influence on the Net than they do now.
Begins A Review of Verizon and Google's Net Neutrality Proposal published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on August 10, 2010.
This Legislative analysis was written by Cindy Cohn. In 1995 Cindy Cohn led in EFF's second big case Bernstein v. United States. This was the case that eventually established the law that software source code was speech protected by the First Amendment. This international organization, first formed in 1990 in part with money from Mitch Kapor and Steve Wozniak, has been at this sort of thing for a long time, so what they have to say is worth a listen.
The paper continues:
On Monday, Google and Verizon proposed a new legislative framework for net neutrality. Reaction to the proposal has been swift and, for the most part, highly critical. While we agree with many aspects of that criticism, we are interested in the framework's attempt to grapple with the Trojan Horse problem. The proposed solution: a narrow grant of power to the FCC to enforce neutrality within carefully specified parameters. While this solution is not without its own substantial dangers, we think it deserves to be considered further if Congress decides to legislate.You should follow the link above and read the entire article as I can not include it here. It is well worth the read.
Unfortunately, the same document that proposed this intriguing idea also included some really terrible ideas. It carves out exemptions from neutrality requirements for so-called "unlawful" content, for wireless services, and for very vaguely-defined "additional online services." The definition of "reasonable network management" is also problematically vague. As many, many, many have already pointed out, these exemptions threaten to completely undermine the stated goal of neutrality.
In yesterday's blog I made a joke out of Free Press lobbyist Ben Scott's comment to Tom Powers of the NTIA:
Ive been in the Net Neutrality sausage making business for some years now, and Im hopeful that I can be useful to you.Now I would like the reader to take another look at that statement in light of EFF concerns that net neutrality might be used to as a Trojan horse for measures that would actually suppress freedom on the Internet.
Of course Ben Scott was referring to that old adage that there were two things that you didn't want to see made, laws and sausages. And we all know why, because you will find that the have put in a lot of 'ingredients' that you won't like. Now at base, net neutrality is a very simple concept. I have given a one sentence definition many times already. Why should it be so complicated? Why does Ben Scott think of himself as a "Net Neutrality sausage maker" and what sort of "Trojan horse meat" does Free Press want to help put into the Net Neutrality Sausage they are cooking up for all of us?
UPDATE: Ben Scott has since moved on. He was still with Free Press at the time he made the comment above. In the revolving door that is Washington, DC., he left Free Press May 27th, for a job at the State Dept. I guess if the U.S. is attempting to take over the Internet, his sausage making skills are most needed over there.
UPDATE: New statement from Google. Richard Whitt, Google's Washington, D.C., telecom and media counsel, wrote on the company's public policy blog:
"Google has been the leading corporate voice on the issue of network neutrality over the past five years, No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet. But groups pushing for formal net neutrality rules have made little progress for several years now.
At this time there are no enforceable protections -- at the Federal Communications Commission or anywhere else -- against even the worst forms of carrier discrimination against Internet traffic, with that in mind, we decided to partner with a major broadband provider on the best policy solution we could devise together. We're not saying this solution is perfect, but we believe that a proposal that locks in key enforceable protections for consumers is preferable to no protection at all."
Now let's all jump down their throat. They're dirty capitalist pigs!