Thursday, September 12, 2013
Cecilia Kang has a story in the Washington Post Thursday to follow right along the short film reviewed here yesterday. Telecommunications companies like Verizon, Comcast and ATT want Congress to shift regulation of them from the FCC to other, presumably more lenient, agencies. The story on p. A15 of today’s Washington Post is here. On the Switch blog, the headline referred to “neutering” the FCC.
Consumer advocates maintain that we need a strong FCC because telecomm companies lack competition and lack incentive to develop their infrastructures in areas where there is less big business use and less easy profit.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
"The Internet Must Go": Mockumentary short film makes a business case for network neutrality, through the back door
Recently, Electronic Frontier Foundation tweeted a link to John Wooley’s 30-minute short film on Network Neutrality, a spoof titled “The Internet Must Go.” The basic link is here.
Wooley pretends he has been hired by a consortium of Internet Service Providers to write a report countering the political support for network neutrality. The ISP’s say that they can’t give unlimited access to ordinary people; it you want an express freeway, you need an EZPass or enough business (riders) to justify the HOV lane.
Wooley talks to countless business and Internet experts: John Hogman, Tim Wu, Fanner Brown, Gigi Sohn (whom I know from DADT battles). He talks to the founder of Zipcar and people at Reddit. He talks to “avaaz.org” which reported on the floods in Myanmar. Everyone says that network neutrality, which treats telecommunications as a neutral utility like basic electricity and phone, is necessary for business and innovation.
Wooley travels to rural North Carolina, one of nineteen states who yielded to lobbyists and passed state laws blocking setting up community broadband service. He claims that rural areas don’t have good wireless access and travels to “Death Hill” in North Carolina (reminds me of the horror movie “Silent Hill”) where kids risk getting hit by cars to get a 3G connection for their homework. Wooley says that cable and wireless companies are kept apart artificially (I’m not sure that’s really true). Law professor Susan Crawford says network neutrality is very difficult sell to politicians, given their campaign indebtedness to telecomm companies.
The telecommunications companies face the business and ethical questions about investing in infrastructure when they don't have enough competition. I would say that electric utilities face the same issues in hardening the power grid against possible major disruptions from solar storms or even terrorists (EMP attacks).
Wooley also begs an interesting ethical question about journalism: should you be hired to represent one party’s point of view – like a lobbyist – since you, as a real person, have real bills and maybe a family to support?
The style of filmmaking is a curious mixture of Morgan Spurlock “Inside Man” journalism and the mockumentary technique of Reid Ewing’s “Reid.ing” series where the “Rainbow Man” looks at what is actually “free” in life. Technically, the film looks sharp and professional. Should the three of these collaborate in film?
I’ll mention and list this short film on my main Movies blog soon so that it gets found there easily.