Thursday, June 08, 2006

Arguments against the Network Neutrality Act

Conservatives and libertarians have tended to oppose network neutrality legislation. ISPs would have a nagging concern about downstream liability issues, and properly handling these issues is the right way to prevent regulation of individual subscribers and publishers. Here is an explanation from "Freedom Works": http://www.freedomworks.org/uploads/20060526.pdf

A major site arguing against this legislation is http://www.handsoff.org. One observation is that already search engines accept payments for preferred placement, yet non-paying sites still are easy to find on Google and may other engines. A similar result could occur for access speed itself.

Another site is http://www.wewantchoice.org
This site talks mainly about increasing competition in the cable industry, which regulation interferes with.

There is a piece by Tom Giovanetti "Network Neutrality: Welcome to the Stupid Internet" in the San Jose Mercury News, June 15, 2006, that argues that a totally indifferent Internet cannot adjust to sudden increases in bandwidth for one particularly popular event (like the Super Bowl). It is at http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/14778336.htm
(You may need an online subscription to that paper to see this content.)

See Timothy P. Carney's website and book "The Big Ripoff", too.

Some observers note that Network Neutrality laws could interfere with future (low cost) constructive steps to prevent abuses of the Internet, such as charging micro amounts for sending emails (to prevent spam), or content labeling (in lieu of possible censorship). The bills, however, appear to allow these developments.

The Washington Post came out with an editorial arguing against requiring neutrality on June 12, 2006, at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/11/AR2006061100707.html

The viewer may need an online subscription) The editorials emphasizes that hardware and infrastructure innovation receives less valuation from investors than does Content provision, and loosing regulation would encourage more hardware regulation.

In the mid to late 1990s, it was common for individual entrepreneurs to start shared hosting services. I used a stable service (virtualnetspace.com) hosted by a friend in Minnesota from 1997-2001. In more recent years, it has not been as profitable an idea for individuals to provide infrastructure; content development and applications (or games, for example) may seem more attractive. My impression is that shared web hosting has tended to become consolidated into larger companies, which may be better able to offer stability and economies of scale.

Timothy B. Lee has an op-ed "Entangling the Web: Regulating service providers won't help consumers" in The New York Times, Aug. 3, 2006, p. A23. The op-ed compares Internet companies today to the railroads, the high tech companies of the late 19th Century.

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