Monday, October 3, 2011

a fight over tubes

Those of you who know me know that at times I get a bit heated over net neutrality. It would however be more correct to say that I get exasperated at peoples lack of understanding. A lot of geeks, nerds, and other netizens have a clear idea of what net neutrality is and what it means, the problem is that the vast majority of people do not understand what it is or why it should be important too them. This has allowed ISP's to make claims that further confuse the issue even going so far as to demonize the FCC as an evil agency that is trying to ruin the Internet with over regulation. Even better this has turned into a political issue on par with the health care debate, which I think suffered from some of the same problems ( in other words most of the people getting angry on both sides had no idea what any of it really meant). The thing is that at least for far as I understand it, the whole thing is about either keeping the Internet the way it is for better or for worse, or allowing individual providers to prioritize traffic as they see fit. This is an over simplified explanation, and there is a great deal more too it but in my mind this is the basic principle.

So this is what got me started on this topic this morning; it appears that last Friday Verizon filed suit to over throw the rules. The ISP is claiming that the FCC is over reaching its authority in enforcing the rules, and that the rules will create "uncertainty in the market that will ultimately harm innovation." (full post here). In their statement on the issue Verizon said "We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself."

The thing I find most amusing by this statement is that they are claiming that simple and clear rules ( which the rules are) are some how confusing and going to cause uncertainty. the only real uncertainty I see is this constant fighting against these rules. To really make matters worse the FCC is also being sued from the other direction by a group called Free Press. This group; which supports an open and neutral Internet feels the rules do not go far enough, the policy director going so far as to say that the rules are flawed and not strong enough.

To me this is a sign that the rules are just about right, it appears no one on any side of the issue is happy with them. While I feel there is room for improvement I am not sure that there will be any progress. Too many people are getting red in the face shouting over this, and too few of them actually understand what the issue is. Add in lawmakers who are relying on special interests to tell them what it all means and the noise gets louder.

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