in Geeklife, Gubatron, Opinions, Random Stuff

Pass it around – Net neutrality

As seen on hacker’s mailing lists all over the web.

US plans to ‘fight the net’ revealed (2006-01)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4655196.stm

From influencing public opinion through new media to designing
“computer network attack” weapons, the US military is learning
to fight an electronic war.
The declassified document is called “Information Operations Roadmap”.

Wrecking the Internet: Turning Gold into Lead (by Robert Storey 2006-05)
http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20060508#opinion

The COPE Act would do away with the requirement for net neutrality, thus
turning America’s Internet into a “private network.” This would permit
ISPs and telecom companies to dish out Internet access to the highest
bidder. Under such a regime, AOL could, for example, block access to
MSN, or Verizon could throttle your Skype bandwidth because it competes
with their own voice-over-IP service. Even worse, a wealthy political
party could pay ISPs to block access to a rival party’s web sites and
blogs. Emailing lists could also be throttled. It’s not hard to imagine
proprietary software companies paying to block access to DistroWatch, or
prevent you from downloading the latest Ubuntu or Fedora release. […]

Opposition to the COPE Act is being coordinated by Save the Internet.
http://savetheinternet.com/

The telecom/cable industry is pulling out all stops to polish this turd.
Their “coalition” has the Orwellian title Hands Off the Internet – their
thoroughly misleading web site can be found here.

The telecoms have lots of cash, and are handing out campaign
contributions (otherwise known as “bribes”) by the bucketful in order to
get the COPE Act passed. Geeks of the world – especially US-based geeks
– need to put down their cups of espresso for a moment and get busy
fighting this thing. […]

Kind regards Philippe

http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20060508#opinion

Not everyone realizes that the USA invented the Internet. Even fewer
people realize that the USA is on the verge of wrecking it. This is not
an exaggeration. Some nasty new legislation currently under debate in
the US Congress could make the Internet as bland as day-old yogurt.

Those who do not live in the USA should not be smug. There is a famous
old saying that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches
pneumonia. The USA has a history of exporting its bad laws. Most geeks
are familiar with the notorious DMCA and software patents. Thanks to the
DMCA, DVDs are region-coded and it’s illegal to buy mod-chips for an
Xbox. Thanks to software patents, most Linux distros do not have video
codecs or an MP3 player. The fact that this execrable legislation
originated in America did not prevent its rottenness from spreading
around the world.

To understand what is at stake, you should become familiar with the term
net neutrality. The basic concept of net neutrality is that Internet
content should be dished out in a non-discriminatory fashion. Thus, your
ISP should not be preventing you from accessing DistroWatch, nor should
your bandwidth be throttled when you try to use BitTorrent or Skype. In
this sense, the network is neutral – it does not play favorites.

All this would change (for USA residents) if the US Congress passes the
Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act of
2006. This odious new law is the brainchild of telecom and cable TV
companies. Chief ogres include Verizon, Comcast, BellSouth and AT&T.
Their incentive for pushing this legal abomination is the opportunity to
make a lot of money.

The COPE Act would do away with the requirement for net neutrality, thus
turning America’s Internet into a “private network.” This would permit
ISPs and telecom companies to dish out Internet access to the highest
bidder. Under such a regime, AOL could, for example, block access to
MSN, or Verizon could throttle your Skype bandwidth because it competes
with their own voice-over-IP service. Even worse, a wealthy political
party could pay ISPs to block access to a rival party’s web sites and
blogs. Emailing lists could also be throttled. It’s not hard to imagine
proprietary software companies paying to block access to DistroWatch, or
prevent you from downloading the latest Ubuntu or Fedora release.

COPE

“If we fail, the Internet will deteriorate to the point of near
uselessness.”

If the COPE Act is passed, the USA – which likes to boast of being a
“bastion of freedom” – could ironically wind up with an Internet
befitting a Third World dictatorship. However, the damage would not be
limited to residents of the USA. The fact is that about 50% of the
content on the Internet originates in America, even more if you’re
talking only about English-language content. Do a Google search on
almost any topic – from “motorcycle repair” to “allergies” – and see how
much of the hits are American-based web sites. The web sites themselves
could be hosted on servers outside the USA, but server location is not
the issue. Rather, deprived of their US-readership or US-based
advertising revenue, many sites would have to fold. Would the Internet
be as useful to you if Wikipedia or Google folded? For that matter, it’s
hard to see how DistroWatch (which is not US-based) could survive if we
lost our American audience and advertisers.

There is a lot more I could write about on this topic, but there are
others who have already done so (and do it better than me). Some
excellent articles about this brewing fiasco appeared recently in The
Nation, Raw Story and The Free Press. Sadly, I have seen nothing
mentioned on the popular geek web sites that I visit everyday (which is
why I’m writing this article).

Can anything to done to prevent this disaster (especially since the COPE
Act seems to have the support of the Bush administration)? Fortunately,
in this case I believe there is hope, though it’s going to be a bitter
fight. Although we are up against powerful, well-moneyed lobbyists from
the telecom industry, we also have some heavyweight supporters, among
them Amazon and Google. Opposition to the COPE Act is being coordinated
by Save the Internet. If you are a US resident, you should visit their
web site and sign their petition. Even more important, they also have a
neat little form for sending a message to your representatives and
senators – just type in your message, zip code and address, and it will
get sent to the proper person (you needn’t even know who your
representatives are). All such messages should be short and to the
point. Basically, what I said in my message was:

1. I oppose the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and
Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006 in its present form.
2. I support the efforts to amend the act by Representatives Markey,
Boucher, Eshoo and Inslee, and Senators Olympia Snowe and Byron Dorgan.
3. I am in favor of Net Neutrality.

The telecom/cable industry is pulling out all stops to polish this turd.
Their “coalition” has the Orwellian title Hands Off the Internet – their
thoroughly misleading web site can be found here.

The telecoms have lots of cash, and are handing out campaign
contributions (otherwise known as “bribes”) by the bucketful in order to
get the COPE Act passed. Geeks of the world – especially US-based geeks
– need to put down their cups of espresso for a moment and get busy
fighting this thing. If we fail, the Internet will deteriorate to the
point of near uselessness and we might as well put our computers in
storage. In that case, we’ll have to all find new hobbies. Possible
candidates include knitting and flower arranging.

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