Monday, June 12, 2006

Bennett on Free Press net neutrality "facts"

Richard Bennett at the Original Blog has criticized Free Press's list of network neutrality facts, arguing that most of them are fictions, e.g.:

PSEUDO-FACT #1: Network Neutrality protections have existed for the entire history of the Internet.

REAL FACT: Actually, there is no legal precedent at all for the anti-QoS provision of the Neutrality regulations, and many commercial Internet customers use QoS today. Even the Internet2 Abilene network tried to use it.

This pseudo-fact is one I've repeatedly criticized network neutrality advocates for falsely asserting. The Free Press folks are the people managing the "Save the Internet" campaign.

The whole list is well worth reading, as are a couple of other recent posts at Bennett's blog. One is a note he wrote to Senator Barbara Boxer, which includes this bit:

The Snowe-Dorgan and Markey Amendments contain a poison pill that will stifle the evolution of the Internet, in the form of a prohibition against a Quality of Service surcharge:

If a broadband network provider prioritizes or offers enhanced quality of service to data of a particular type, it must prioritize or offer enhanced quality of service to all data of that type (regardless of the origin or ownership of such data) without imposing a surcharge or other consideration for such prioritization or enhanced quality of service.

The argument in favor of this provision says that it’s needed in order to prevent the formation of a two-tier Internet, where one tier has Quality of Service and the other doesn’t, and this is somehow bad for Daily Kos and Google.

This is a false claim, because the engineering math behind Quality of Service says it can’t be applied to every stream from every user. In Lake Woebegon all the children are above average, but on the Internet all the packets can’t be above average.

Another is his comment on tomorrow's Senate hearing where Ben Scott of the Free Press will be representing the "pro-regulation side of the neutrality debate" which he suggests is "a good choice" because he's "easily confused." In the same post, he reports on Matt Stoller's (of MyDD) presentation at the Yearly Kos event, in which Stoller "had to admit that he knows nothing about the issue of Telecom policy, which was interesting because the regulations he proposes don’t actually relate to telecom policy. They’re a new and unprecedented intervention into Internet routing and service plan regulation, a totally virgin territory for government regulators. Stoller admitted that it’s just a good guys vs. bad guys issue for him, one that’s lots of “fun”."

Bennett asks, "So my question is this: “should the US Congress take advice on virgin regulatory territory from someone who admits to knowing nothing about the subject matter?”"

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