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Net Neutrality: A Letter to My Senators

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I have never written a letter to any politician before today. Here is the letter I sent.

Dear Sir,

I am quite concerned about the stagnation of the Net Neutrality discussions in the Senate. I think that keeping the Internet free from unnecessary regulation is one of the most deceivingly pressing matters that has been raised in a while. It is a complicated issue, but what isn't complicated is what is at stake. What is at stake is the potential innovation, and subsequent revenue, profits, jobs, and shareholder value that could be created with a free Internet.

If this government allows phone companies and other Internet service providers to impose a system of special treatment to the highest bidder on the Internet, then this government has failed its people, because the Internet is like the American dream itself.

Individuals who are willing to tinker around and try to invent things have been able to create a lot of value for the world by having the Internet be free from specialized treatment. Without this freedom, we wouldn't have eBay, Amazon.com, Craigslist, or even Google.

Just think about the amount of value that those companies provide alone. And now think about the value of the dreams that those companies provide to kids learning computers everywhere. Every one of them believes that if they have a good idea, they can help people, and make a living doing it by providing an innovative service on the Internet.

If you allow phone companies and other Internet service providers to designate a "fast lane" for certain types of traffic, you are stifling this potential innovation, potential future shareholder value, and the dreams of these people who might someday create the next great service or product.

I know that the phone companies and ISPs like to claim that there is a lot of innovation and money involved on their end in running their business, but they are clearly outnumbered by the amount of innovation that has taken place on the user side of things. Users think up an idea, implement on a smaller scale, and are then acquired by larger companies to help scale to larger audiences. Without Net Neutrality, these ideas never come to be.

The only result of this is that ISPs will be allowed to segregate the rich companies from the poor ones, regardless of who has the best idea. This isn't good for anyone except the ISPs who stand to put more money in their pockets even though they aren't providing anything different in terms of service.

So please understand this issue and fight to make sure that the Internet stays free. The potential innovators in this country depend on it. This country's competitiveness with the rest of the world depends on it.

I appreciate your time.

Regards,
Craig Lyndall

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About Craig Lyndall

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Craig, I dig you and all, but you’re just completely wrong here. I specifically object to the perverse usage of the word “freedom” here.

    “Freedom” as a political means basically being allowed to do what you want. You propose stifling the freedom of ISPs and telecom to run their own business. Why do you think that government bureaucrats will be more responsive to business and consumers than the free market? Also, why would you presume to even have a right to get up in their business like this?

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Al, the telcos operate as they do with the force of government behind them. With the power of government ensuring limited competition comes the responsibility to use the artificially-created monopoly wisely. If the telcos are not to be regulated on this, then let’s see a refund to municipalities around the country for the subsidized wiring, and let’s have free and open competition in delivering information to houses around the country.

    Since the telcos have highly-paid lawyers and lobbyists ensuring that doesn’t happen, the least they can do is refrain from raping us all using taxpayer-funded tools.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Phil, you do make a better argument for the “net neutrality” nonsense than Craig does in the actual article. I won’t claim any expertise in the myriad layers of regulation and franchise monopolies across the different kinds of companies involved in all this.

    However, there’s a lot more than one company in the country involved, and I’m not seeing the ability to unilaterally screw people. If this net company starts screwing over the users, they’ll go somewhere else.

    I would, moreover, be generally inclined to address your concerns more from the other direction- ending subsidies and franchise monopolies and such.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Al, I agree. A real and complete free-for-all would be best, and would almost certainly result in net neutrality by default. The only reason this is even an issue is that a very, very small group of very, very large companies believe that they will gain more than they will lose, because they hold most of the cards.

    Of course, any move toward a completely open market would run into one issue right away: how to compensate for the enormous advantage the government handed to the big telcos over the last quite-a-few years.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    I wouldn’t even worry about compensating for those advantages. That money’s been sucked up at the trough and gone long ago. Fairness was screwed from that. I’d be happy just to cut them off now. Like Jesus told the woman at the well, go forth and sin no more.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I think that keeping the Internet free from unnecessary regulation is one of the most deceivingly pressing matters that has been raised in a while.

    I guess I’m missing something. You say you want to keep the internet free from unnecessary regulation, but it sounds like you’re supporting the Net Neutrality silliness which would impose massive, unnatural regulation and try to force companies to provide service in a sort of artificially egalitarian way which wouldn’t take natural trends in the telecommunications marketplace or the real needs of businesses into account.

    In an open market telecommunications providers will try to provide the best service for the best price to everyone. Under net neutrality there will be no ability to make service better or offer different levels of service to suit the needs of different types of users. That just seems like a bad idea.

    Net neutrality would stifle innovation and diversity.

    Dave

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    The open market would take care of this whole issue and I wouldn’t be bothering, except we don’t have an open market in this industry. There are many players, but due to the regulations with expansion of cable and phones into certain municipalities, they are regulated monopolies as others have stated here.

    And by the way, your “different levels of service” is a way that these companies want to stomp Vonage out of existence. They could easily start marking certain types of internet traffic and limiting it when it competes with their other businesses like television and phone.

    So some new video on demand service that could pop up? If you have a cable modem maybe it wouldn’t be available because your cable company wouldn’t allow it. Use Vonage or Skype to save some money on phone bills? Maybe not because the phone company values that business and won’t allow those bits to fly over their DSL lines.

    I am the last one to get in the face of businesses. If you want proof, look up some of our discussions on Blogcritics of municipal smoking bans around the country as it relates to business owners rights.

    This seems different to me, where the business owners want monopoly powers.

    On top of that, they already offer levels of service on the customer side of things. You can get a little bit faster or slower on my cable modem for a little bit more or less money. What they shouldn’t be able to do is the same thing on the customer side of things where people like Google, Yahoo, and even Blogcritics pay large amounts of money for back-end servers and traffic already.

    Craig

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    ok..first you need to understand exactly how the egalitarian process fo the Net works. Since it’s inception as ATPAnet, the entire Concepr has been packet neutrality.

    the various routers and switches do NOT care where a packet is coming from, or going to..all get treated the same. this is due to the very nature of TCP/IP coding, which takes the data to be transferred and breaks it into smaller packers, these packets have “headers” which state where they are coming frmo and where they are headed to.

    the nature of the open Network is such that when a packet hits a router, all that is looked at is the destination, the router than passes the packet along to the next routers closer to the eventual goal.

    this means that in all practicality, no two packets take the same path to their destination, this was done DELIBERATELY by the design of TCP/IP so that if 3/4 of the routers/fiber/phoneline were destroyed…packets woudl still get to their destination as if nothing had happened.

    what is being proposed by the telecoms is similar to a toll road, on a road that YOU have already paid for multiple times

    each and every user pays for their bandwidth, as does each and every content provider, even the telecoms gain advantage by neutrality since their packets can travel across any network just like any other package

    it is ONLY this “neutrality” that allows the Net to operate as it does, with the efficiency and equality for ALL users and providers

    what is being proposed is nothing short of special treatment for some “packets” based on EXTRA money being paid to siad telecoms for the dubious right to have priority across their network, thus slowing down some traffic while others speed up…notably those who have paid for the extra speed at the cost of the users and providers who have alread PAID for their bandwidth

    bandwidth is bandwidth , kiddies…and under the coding of TCP/IP no packet is any greater or lesser than any other

    THIS is the way that the System was designed from day one

    any change in said structure woudl involve proprietary coding rather than the open code of TCP/IP…and if the traffic stayed on a single Netowrk (like your phone calls) that woudl be one thing…but as soon as a packet passes off of one network’s fiber and onto that of another Netowrk, then you have a problem.

    if telecom A gives their customers priority and slows down others, then what happens when telecom A has to cross the fiber and routers of telecom B whose traffic was slowed?

    this lead to breaking down the Net from something world wide, to small, less efficient , proprietary networks…to the detriment of EVERY PERSON connected to the Net at large…

    imagine fi you will what would happen here at BC…the owners are not really making money as it is, they pay for hteir bandwidth like the rest of us…but if this passes with no Neutrality provisions, their provider could arbitrarily up the cost of their pipe, or force them into the “slow lane” …thus diminishing the speed and value of their service…for which they have ALREADY paid!!

    i pay a fixxed amount for a 2mb per second bandwidth speed…no matter what i surf, or game i play, or service i log into…my bandwidth is the same…my packets stream along to and from their destination treated the same as all others, limited only by the bandwidth i pay for

    THAT is the way the System was set up, and it also is the way the original contracts were written concernign these matters when ARPAnet was being designed

    the telecoms have been subsidised for running the fiber backbones as well as for settign up the routers and switches

    they get paid monthly by each and every user as well as content providers

    and now they want to change the very nature of the Net itself by altering the protocols it runs on to establish “priorities” at their discretion and for their particular profit..which woudl be over and above that which was agreed upon in the original ARPAnet contracts?

    That’s not right, and any who argue against Neutrality are either unAware of the facts, or have vested financial interests in those who want to charge more

    if Neutrality is not enforced, say goodbye to the democratic freedom of the “press” and open expressions such as here on BC…because they will slice up the virtual “pie” and monopolize regions in the same manner as cable and telecoms already have done for years

    Excelsior?

  • http://silverstarhawk.livejournal.com Jared

    In the end, it comes down to the consumer. Either the consumer is forced to accept slower speeds from a product who’s maintainers don’t have the funds to line the TelComs’ pockets, or they accept lesser service from a company who’s bought their way into the fast lane of ISP’s and now can just let that bring them their business. It’s like saying the new pizza place in town can only drive half as fast to deliver their pizzas as big, rich Pizza Hut can to deliver theirs. Sure, the idealists will suck it up and deal with the slower speed for the quality of service, but most people will take a lesser product that will arrive more quickly. With net neutrality, these larger companies would still have to push out a better product. It’s not so much regulating the market as it’s forcing people to provide the best possible service and not allowing funds to make them apathetic towards serving their customers. Yes, a lack of net neutrality would benefit some folks. A neutral internet would benefit far more. And in that group would be Mr. End Consumer, who I feel is the most important of the whole lot.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Both #7 and #8 have good points, but as I understand it, this legislation although labelled ‘net neutrality’ does not primarily address the issue of all data packets being treated equally, but instead tries to impose equality of access and service offerings on a much more meta scale in the marketplace. It may have started out as a net neutrality bill, but apparently ended up as a free-trade restraining bill. Explain to me how that is not true.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    simplicity itself, the Bill as proposed allows for a two tier system of packet handling…which woudl mean either changing the automatic headers in TCP/IP packets or creating a new and proprietary protocol whcih would allow different handling of packets depending on origin point and destination

    this is greed trying to play 3 card Monty and claim that they need to do this to provide service…the Truth is that they woudl need this to block competitors service

    ni Reality the equation is

    bandwidth = bandwidth

    what they want is (company) bandwidth > (public) bandwidth

    when such is NOT the case based on the conditions and contracts written and agreed upon when the mega-structure was subsidised and built

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    So gonzo, you’re confirming my suspicion that the bill labelled ‘net neutrality’ in fact is nothing of the sort, right?

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    that would depend on which version of the Bill in question we are looking at

    so far, what i have seen appears to have been written by established telecoms and cable providers , and the language is specifically to stifle innovative companies like Vonage and Skype from operating

    there had been an earlier Amendment to a bill which placed the actuality of packet neutrality , correctly definied, into the language of the Bill…but that was struck down

    i woudl need to read the final language of any bill in Question to determine the accuracy of the technical information

    but let me put this out there, anythign proposed by a lobbyist in this field is more than likely restrictive to pure packet neutrality for the advancement of an established corporation which desires to triple bill for “preferred” access

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    So my original belief is essentially correct that we should just leave the situation the hell alone, because anything congress does is just likely to make it worse…

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    very close…what needs to be done is to formalize the fact that *every “packet” is equal and must be treated so by any and all routers hooked to the Net*

    which is the current status quo

    just put the bit inbetween the *’s in the paragraph above into Law and yer all set…

    anything else breaks the Net as we know it, for both functionality and equality of access and content

    Excelsior?

  • RedTard

    I didn’t realize Nalle and Barger had become such complete sellouts until this point.

    Access to the internet should be treated as a utility and controls should be placed on vertical integration. The government created the internet, the government gave the telco’s the initial monopolies that allowed them to be in the position they are today, that gives the government the right to regulate their power.

    For a mental exercise let’s pretend that the same treatment was given to electric companies, they removed ‘electrical neutrality’. Electric companies could then open convenience stores all over their area and place a special $25000/month surcharge on competing stores electric bill. Pretty soon WaWa, 7-11, Chevron et al would be out of business. Unregulated, electric companies could take over any industry they wanted within months.

    A few very large corporations could probably afford their own electric grid, but say bye-bye to all small and medium size competition. That’s essentially what will happen online if net neutrality is removed.

    I think electric companies should not be able to charge you based on how much money you’re making with your Kilowatt’s or put up competing services and charge you more, neither do I believe interent providers should be able to charge based on how you use your GB’s. By all means let them charge whatever they need to provide service, but that service should be equal in price and quality whether you’re their partner or competitor.

    It’s ashame that there are so many technologically ignorant, or willfully ignorant sheep, to allow this to happen.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    Red sez…
    *It’s ashame that there are so many technologically ignorant, or willfully ignorant sheep, to allow this to happen.*

    Quoted for Truth

    and my personal Thanks and Appreciation for your words here Red…

    it gladdens me that there are still some honest to goodness paleo-cons out there who operate from Principle rather than partisanship and the willingness to sell-out for the short term quick buck rather than the long term benefit

    /golfclap

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Red, you seem to have misunderstood my position here.

    First off, I’m not familiar enough with the topic to have a fully formed opinion I’m just going with what others have said here.

    But it seems to me that whatever situation would develop naturally with minimall government control and natural competition is desirable as a matter of principle.

    Companies should have the right to charge more for higher bandwidth users and content and access to bandwidth should be free, open and unregulated. I’m entirely against monopolies or situations which would reduce natural competition.

    Given this viewpoint, should I or should I not support proposed net neutrality legislation? My understanding to this point has been that the legislation actually does the opposite of keeping the net neutral. Tell me how I’m wrong.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    my take, as simply as is possible…

    Net Neutrality = Digital Democracy

    pay for your bandwidth, and ALL packets are created Equal

    nuff said…

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    I’m entirely against monopolies or situations which would reduce natural competition.

    But what to do when they exist and were created by the government apportioning the world between phone and cable companies.

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