Friday, September 25, 2009

The net neutrality debate reconsidered

I spent the morning at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation at their symposium, Designed for Change: End-to-End Arguments, Internet Innovation, and the Net Neutrality Debate.

The presenters discussed net neutrality from different perspectives, but they all, to one degree or another, characterized net neutrality advocates as religious and even according to one of the speakers in the dark ages.

All the speakers characterized insistence on net neutrality as a threat to the sort of innovation necessary to manage the ever increasing traffic loads on the Internet.

The ITIF is engaged in a high risk strategy. If they succeed in characterizing advocates as hysterical and anti-science, they can marginalize them and control the terms of debate. If they can succeed in goading advocates of net neutrality, or even a significant number into extravagant flaming they will score a great victory in their effort to marginalize them.

On the other hand, this strategy could backfire. It wouldn’t be so difficult for advocates of net neutrality to characterized the ITIF as engaging in ad hominem rhetoric and failing to address their concerns about equal access. There was a certain amount of anti-government rhetoric, nothing over-the-top, but plenty of unsubstantiated allegations of how the FCC might stifle innovation if they insist on net neutrality. By engaging in the rhetoric of insult they have precluded any sincere dialog with advocates of net neutrality.

There is a new player in this debate. Let’s see how they handle themselves.

Edit -
Rob Pegoraro: The Internet has grown and prospered because of a principle built into its core design -- it's open to your imagination -- and that principle is worth defending.

1 comment:

Stuff That Splatters said...

This article from The Register seems somewhat relevant: Australian Pirate Party sets sail

We're here to actively change the landscape of Australian politics forever, by advocating freer copyright and protection of our civil liberties
... a growing gulf between governed and governing classes, with a sense that those in power do not listen, that the existing party political structures produce parties that are too similar, and the present political process excludes the voice of many ordinary voters.

A Westminster Hall debate by MPs who make up the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the UK Parliament provides strong support for this point of view: what astounded then was not merely the degree of ignorance displayed by parliamentarians who were supposed to be specialists in topics relating to IT and new technology, but the sheer arrogance with which they displayed it.

In Australia, this divide has been given form by ham-fisted government attempts, led by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, to implement blocking across the whole of the internet. It is not merely the attempt to impose a single moral agenda on the whole of the Australian population that has caused uproar: it is also the sense among ordinary internet users that those in power really do not "get" the internet. They do not understand how it works technologically or, more importantly, culturally.