On Net Neutrality
Post from September 17, 2014 (↻ June 8, 2021), filed under Everything Else.
I didn’t build a strong case here (I’m not at all happy looking back at it years later), but I remain a strong proponent of net neutrality.
We need net neutrality, and we need to insist on net neutrality. Everywhere, not just in the United States.
Throttling internet access, or charging select content providers extra, much appears like a brazen combination of profiteering, extortion, and, effectively, censorship.
As consumers we’ve already paid for access. For full unfettered access. Charging content providers for speedy delivery is almost like running a supermarket and blackmailing suppliers to pay a premium for their own goods to be handed over—right after billing the customers.
That there even is a debate about net neutrality, then, is embarrassing bordering on scandalous, for violating net neutrality much resembles a criminal act. (Carriers, though, run enormously successful lobbyism and propaganda efforts.) Courts and parliaments should clamp down on carriers to reprimand and, if necessary, fine them. They should furthermore look closely at carriers for competitiveness, for there are indications that carriers cooperate, in indeed anti-competitive fashion.
We need net neutrality. Nothing else is acceptable.
A word on a specific provider, Comcast. In my time in the United States I was happy with Comcast once I used them through Google, i.e. Comcast’s business program (they were, for reasons unknown to me, often unusably slow before). Later, however, Comcast has on multiple occasions evaded my questions around net neutrality. At the moment, Comcast customers appear to lose on all fronts: At first they get charged, then their access throttled for then content providers to be charged. Until this improves and until Comcast shows a public, tangible commitment to transparency and an open Internet I will not use Comcast again, and I recommend others, you, to also reconsider.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
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