Monday, June 19, 2006

The internet and the free-market

Ok… here’s the scenario: you live in an area with 2 … maybe 3 high speed internet service providers (ISPs). You’re ISP of choice – in fact, all of them in your area, have an agreement with Yahoo! – as their “gateway service provider of choice”. Unbeknownst to you however, is what that really means.

Of course, you like to use Google for you web searches.

Here’s what it likely means: You go to Google to do your search, but that URL seems to always load slowly… that’s because your ISP is throttling your access to non-preferred sites. It’s part of the agreement you ISP has with Yahoo!

What other scenarios can you come up with? Maybe you ISP is owned by a Fundamentalist… so somehow those porn sites just don’t seem to load.

Or worse, maybe he’s a staunch Republican… in which case most of the net doesn’t load: except the RNC website of course.

Fare? Sure it is… this is free-market capitalism at its “best”… Don’t like your service, the market will fill the void. Except it really isn’t easy to break into the ISP market… oh well.

Of course, there’s the progressive argument: The argument that states open, unrestricted access to ALL information is what the internet is all about… and regulations should be put in place to make sure that part of the internet ISP playing field isn’t “competed” (i.e. screwed with).

That’s exactly what a bunch of progressive (mostly Democratic) congress-people proposed. Of course, the “market economy solves all problems” crowd would have none of that. The House passed a version of telecommunications reform June 8, after rejecting the Democratic proposal to establish network-neutrality requirements for broadband providers. The proposal, which barred blocking, impairing, degrading, or discriminating against lawful content, was rejected by 211 Republicans and 58 Democrats.

Amazingly an incredibly diverse set of groups has come together to champion just such a bill in the Senate. Groups ranging from the Christian Coalition, Gunowners of America, and Moveon.org want the government to ensure "network neutrality."

Do you? Doesn’t government have a role here? … in protecting the “public interest”.

Well, most of the Republican’s in congress don’t think so. They think pandering to Ma-Bell and the big cable companies makes better public policy.

6 comments:

bombsoverbaghdad said...

The House of Reps is a complete joke. They'd sell America for hard cash in a minute if they could. This shet is Orwellian!!!!!
I think they are starting to feel that the internet is providing Americans with too much anti-Bush information too quickly. Bush is very anti-net.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

The internet is the last bastion of real democracy in the world. Without it, power could be consolidated so much quicker and easier.

Reign of Reason said...

Its true: selling the internet to the highest bidder and essentially giving "regulatory" power over it to corp America is a "good" in this administration's eyes.

It reminds me of the bill Rick Santorum proposed several months ago... to make weather ONLY available via a pay service... and I quote: "NOAA's actions threaten the continued success of the commercial weather industry"

Nevermind that timely access to weather information saves lives: in the tornado prone mid-west and in aviation just to cite a couple examples.

These guys have literally been bought and paid for by corp interests.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Canada is looking better each day. :-)

Reign of Reason said...

Anywhere else is looking better each day...

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