A while back the FCC brought down the hammer on Comcast telling the not-loved-by-anybody company they could not throttler or filter traffic. Well the courts decided that the FCC didn’t have that authority so Comcast is free to go back to their games again. This has been a major topic of discussion with geeks as of late because it pretty much rips the teeth right out of the idea of net neutrality. Or does it?
The Internet is an interesting creature. It’s predecessor was created during the Cold War as a mechanism to ensure the country didn’t have a single vulnerable point in it’s military communications network. The idea was to create a decentralized system that couldn’t be taken down by one or a handful of nuclear strikes, thus allow us to coordinate a counter-attack. Eventually this research lead to the public Internet that you’re using right now.
From the get go the government has been involved in the Internet. Likewise most of the major ISPs are companies that evolved from the breakup of Ma Bell which was a government sanctioned monopoly over all telecommunications in the country. Needless to say the entire system is infected with government interference. Until a short while ago the rules dictated to the ISPs was they had to allow all traffic to flow across their network without prejudice. This mean they could not throttle traffic crossing their lines that was emitted by or destined to another ISP. These ISPs also couldn’t throttle or filter traffic in any way. Now that this is no longer the case people have been clamoring for the government to enforce net neutrality again.
A lot of people are stating how scary it is to think about these companies have the power to filter traffic and how the only solution available to us is for the government to make laws that prevent this. You know what I find scarier? The government have more control over the Internet. Why? No current representative that I’m aware of has a background in technology, specifically networking. Likewise the government always managed to find the least qualified people to head committees and regulatory groups. Remember, “The Internet is a series of tubes” Ted Stevens from Alaska? Guess what. He was in charge of Internet regulation.
Do we really want people like this making laws that will regulate the Internet? I don’t. But I’m also a fan of net neutrality so what could possibly be done to ensure the Internet stays neutral while the government stays out of it? There are actually several options available.
In order to setup an ISP you need two items controlled by private entities. The first is a block of IP addresses while the second item is one or more domain names. Both of these are controlled by a private company called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). A potential option available would be for ICANN to require ISPs to agree to a series of rules that would in essence be net neutrality. If the ISPs won’t sign the agreement ICANN simply won’t allocate IP addresses or domain names. Simple. If an ISP really doesn’t want to play by these rules they can create their own Internet (you can create multiple global networks separated from one another thus having multiple Internets) and of course nobody will use them.
I’m not suggesting this saying it’s the right solution. This suggestion is being made as a potential mechanism of enforcing net neutrality while also keeping
morons government out of the equation. But the idea of putting an entity who put Ted Stevens in a situation to made any regulations on the Internet is frightening.