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October 30, 2006

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Chertoff reminds me of this famous quote:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
- H. L. Mencken

In reference to Mr. Mencken's quote, the "imaginary hobgoblins" in this debate seem to be coming from the supporters of net neutrality who throw around claims of the end of the internet with no evidence to back it up.

Yes, I am obviously opposed to the so called net neutrality regulations and I work with the Hands Off the Internet coalition.

This isn't about ISPs deciding which website works best for you or blocking access to sites (2 common misconceptions that I have seen). This is "net neutrality" regulations sounding like a decent idea, but in reality severely restricting the how the internet operates. There is no threat to the internet today nor would there be without net neutrality regulations in place. Also, there are already means in place to address any potential anti-competitive actions should the ISPs attempt anything, like the FCC, FTC and antitrust division of the DOJ.

Richard Bennett certainly has more knowledge on the subject and better articulates opposition to net neutrality regulations;

“But the bottom line is that the Internet is fundamentally healthy, and anybody who tells you otherwise probably has a personal agenda because the only way to sustain the ‘Internet at Risk’ argument is to give more weight to the future than to the present. And as we’ve been hearing “Internet at Risk” arguments for ten years (if not longer) and nothing of that nature has come to pass, it’s simply crying wolf at this point.”

http://bennett.com/blog/index.php/archives/2006/10/30/does-the-internet-need-saving/


Who is Richard Bennett and why is he seemingly devoting all of his time fighting the Net Netrality Movement? There is nothing on his free blog about his credentials regarding this topic.

Want to understand the issue? Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZSKsSTX-i8

I'll go with Lessig over this Bennett character.

"Tim Berners-Lee on Net Neutrality: “This is serious”
One clue to this Net Neutrality debate is to watch what kind of souls are on each side of the debate. The pro-NN contingent is filled with the people who actually built the Net — from Vint Cerf to Google to eBay — and those who profit from the competition enabled by the Net — e.g., Microsoft. The anti-NN contingent is filled with the entities that either never got the Net, or fought like hell to control it — telecom, and cable companies. (The one clear exception to this is Dave Farber, who has been described as the “Grandfather of the Net.” I’ve never understood either what that description could mean, nor have I understood how he gets from the premises in his argument to its conclusions. But to be fair, this is an exception to the rule I’m describing.)

Here’s the latest confirmation of this pattern. Tim Berners-Lee has blogged before about this issue. But here’s a video he’s now down to emphasize its importance.
http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/003438.shtml

Yes, I have seen the ninja before. Unfortunately it's the ninja, the 'we are the web' video and Moby that most proponents cite as to why they support net neutrality. As I mentioned before, these gimmicky tactics, while effective in making people aware of the issue, don't help in furthering a meaningful debate on net neutrality. These doomsday scenarios aren't backed by evidence only by the stereotypical notion of the evil phone and cable companies. Even Vint Cerf, Google's VP and internet guru, whom Lessig references above has said their isn't any evidence of wrongdoing.

"If we are not successful in our arguments," Cerf said, "then we will simply have to wait until something bad happens and then we will make known our case to the Department of Justice's antitrust division."

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/07/google_neutrality.html

Attacking the messenger is fine, but if the net neutrality argument is so foolproof, why not addresses the facts, that there is no evidence for "the end of the internet" claims. As I said before there are government agencies with authority to address and potential anti-competitive behavior, so why do we need net neutrality regulations.

As for Richard Bennett, my apologies, I should have prefaced the link with some more information. While Lessig is intelligent and accomplished lawyer, Bennett is a network architect and software engineer who contributed to the internet as we know it today, so to me his word on this issue means something. Here is an interview with Bennett for more information;

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/17/net_neut_slow_death/

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