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Net Neutrality Neutered?

Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2010 3:47 AM

Net Neutrality? What's that?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has overturned an FCC ruling prohibiting ISPs such as Comcast from diddling with subscribers' use of the internet, most notably 'torrents' - alleged to be the playground of pirates and hackers.

Telecommunications giants like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast argue that it's their infrastructure, so 'reasonable management practices' - including pricing and moderating traffic - should be allowed.

It is inevitable, however, that our digital lifestyle will come with an increased demand for bandwidth, and that our content will also increase in size. Note, for example, the problems AT&T has had with its 3G network because of the iPhone and an unanticipated demand for apps that stream video/data.

Guess what? That's a torrent, too. So would downloading a season's worth of episodes or past editions of a podcast from the iTunes Store.

So the only way to 'manage' it is to either intercept the data and examine it, or make the internet equivalent of a 'no-fly list' (and we know how well that's worked out for air travel).

It distills down to this: corporations get to decided what content is valid or not, and what kind of usage is valid or not. Corporations will decide whether you have the rights to distribute material, even work to which you hold the copyright/ownership, and can block you if it 'clogs up the system' or charge you a premium to distribute it.

How does that make sense?


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