DOJ OKs Killing Net Neutrality

Imagine you and a friend are driving down the highway. Both of you are going the exact same speed and you are headed to the same Mall. On the way, you decide you are going to go to Sears and your friend decides that she wants to go to Barnes and Nobel–still at the same Mall. Mysteriously your car drops from 65 miles an hour to 35 miles an hour but your friend, she is still going full speed ahead. When you get to Mall, you find out the reason your car slowed down was because the Sears hadn’t paid a fee to the municipality that owns the on ramp to the highway but Barnes and Nobel did.

Absurd, isn’t it?

This is exactly the scenario that will play out except online if something isn’t done soon. The Department of Justice ruled today that it would be OK to scrap Net Neutrality.

The phone and cable companies are drooling at the opportunity to control content and how it is served up over the Internet. This is precisely what happened to radio and to tv–do you see much independently created content on radio and tv anymore?

Wired Reports:

The agency said providing different levels of service is common, efficient and could satisfy consumers. As an example, it cited that the U.S. Postal Service charges customers different guarantees and speeds for package delivery, ranging from bulk mail to overnight delivery.

This argument is absurd as it is the consumer–me, who decides the speed at which I want to send my package. This scenario is more akin to me, paying my ISP for a faster connection to my house. Every site I go to is accessed equally as slowly or as quickly.

The real scenario here would be, I buy postage to send two cheques to pay two different credit card bills. I choose to pay to expedite delivery. The two company’s have offices in the same building. Each costs me $2.50. But Citi hasn’t paid the postal service the, "good service" package while Wells Fargo has. The cheque to City takes a week to arrive but the cheque to Wells Fargo arrives the next morning. This fundamentally unfair to the consumer.

The Department of Justice is giving the nod for the Telecom industry to charge protectionism money.

Indeed, even those who run Web-sites can choose to lease bigger or smaller pipes from server to Internet. But the point is that every bit of information that is requested by a user (the person pointing the browser) is currently treated equally. If I make a request first, my request is handled first. I can choose to personally pay for a fast connection or a slow connection.

To add insult to injury, the cable and telcos were paid large amounts of money by the Government–tax dollars–to buff up infrastructure. This never came to pass. They pocketed the cash and then dragged their collective heels. Now the cable and telcos are pushing to control what can be seen on what is supposed to be a public commons.

If this pushes through all the way to becoming law, it will have the effect of mangling nonprofits who provide Web services. It is just bad policy.

I am deeply disappointed in the DOJ.

If you care (and you should), contact your Congress people. Let them know what you think.