Monday, August 06, 2018

Recent competition for full cable, and then banning of "extremist" or "fake news" sites on social media, may cause telecoms to see a business advantage to throttling



Although I certainly support competition and streaming services offering low-cost packages that consumers want if they don’t want to pay for full cable plans, I do see how this could affect the net neutrality issue with the formal restrictions gone (except for notification).
  
Consumer Reports latest issue has a guide to other services, and earlier CR had an article on how to negotiate with cable companies. But there is a potential dark side to all this.

Telecom companies (as well as streaming companies) could play this game to. In some countries (without net neutrality) smart phone plans sometimes offer certain video and social media platforms without the full Internet already, at low cost. If more consumers really want this, telecoms could gradually find that it makes business sense to offer reduced access to the Internet or parental controls, and gradually get away from letting everyone “legal” connect (as is the case now)

The banning today of Alex Jones by YouTube and Facebook and Apple, as well as Amazon’s recent cutoff of sales of Nazi materials, and past incidents involving white supremacy sites (Daily Stormer), it’s pretty easy to imagine activists pressuring telecom companies to cut off sites like Alex Jones.  That could again lead companies into thinking more about throttling. Blacklisting can spread like the Spanish flu.   The ban seems to have started with Apple and spread.  Should Tim Cook (or David Hogg) have so much power?  YouTube says it followed its community standards strikes policy with Jones. 


The more radical part of the Left has a very mixed idea about free speech. They need it to organize their own groups and recruit.  But they see individualized speech as a tool of the privileged to oppress minorities, and big Tech is more sensitive to these arguments than you would think. (Think about Google and James Damore.)

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