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Google Affirms Net Neutrality, Britannia Doesn’t

December 19th, 2008 by Dean Jansen

Unless you’ve been stuck in an ice storm this week, you probably saw the Wall Street Journal article pronouncing Net Neutrality dead (and claiming that Google and Obama were dancing on its grave). The authors seemingly mixed up Net Neutrality with edge caching; it’s the difference between holding subscribers hostage —by charging creators for access to consumers—, and storing multiple copies of your website (or content) on servers around the world, so viewers can quickly fetch the nearest copy. The latter is not a violation of Net Neutrality principles.

Google shot down the WSJ article in a blog post, claiming that the article was just plain wrong. Much of the blogosphere joined in the fight, the majority being none too happy with WSJ’s article or their condescending response to the fiasco.

While the dispute received little mainstream coverage, it was still of use to the Net Neutrality movement. We reaffirmed the importance of Net Neutrality, reassessed our definitions, and made it clear that if there’s ever a serious breach of Net Neutrality, a lot of people will hit the ground running.

Meanwhile, over in the UK, Net Neutrality is mocked wholesale by the ISP’s themselves. Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media (an ISP), has been quoted as saying, “This net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks.” Torrent Freak reports that Virgin Media, along with a slew of other British ISP’s, have opted to filter, throttle, or otherwise degrade certain protocols, notably Bittorrent.

This belligerent attitude, by the very people we pay to run our internet, is very disturbing, especially as the market becomes more consolidated. It’s one thing to be able to boycott your provider if you have a viable alternative, but entirely different when you’re dealing with a powerful duopoly or monopoly. Should UK internet users revolt? Seek regulation? Move to where the internet flows free (I’d like to go there too)?

Anyone from the UK (or elsewhere) care to weigh in here?

28 Responses to “Google Affirms Net Neutrality, Britannia Doesn’t”

  1. jeff rica says:

    i dont get it

    • wil says:

      You don’t get it? Your ISP must be filtering your data already!

    • Mark H says:

      Jeff, do you want your ISP to control what you can do with the service you pay for? Even to the extent of redirecting you from say Amazon or Ebay to their own shady web store? Do you want AT&T to block Skype from crossing their parts of the internet? If you answered no to any of these, you really want net neutrality.

  2. twojeanonse says:

    Nice to see so good informations. Very good blog.

  3. Dave Good says:

    This is just another case of the companies telling their customers what they are gonna have and also here in England the authorities not letting the people have free speech by closing the reply buttons

  4. Kaihsu Tai says:

    European Commissioner Viviane Reding’s (Information Society and Media) view on net neutrality: http://www.webcitation.org/5ds9y650t

    European Parliament debate on net neutrality: http://www.webcitation.org/5ds9yzkKB

  5. Kaihsu Tai says:

    An earlier question (and answer from Commissioner Reding) on net neutrality in the European Parliament: http://www.webcitation.org/5dsBA0KWm

  6. toyer says:

    посмотрите на это с другой стороны..

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  11. Phill says:

    I live in the UK and yes, we get a lot of throttling here, the only thing that saves your bacon is using encrypted protocols, ISPs aren't throttling encrypted connections because business would scream about VPN, and then the Gov't would be forced to legislate against the ISPs. On the other hand, by throttling anything they can identify as consumer orientated they can clean up on the profit margins, most of the complaints about excessive bandwidth use here come from resellers operating over the BT network. In my view, they should stop whining and actually try investing in their own infrastructure, but I can't see that coming any time soon. For those aware of the LLU progress here, sure its a start, but too slow, incoherent and most LLU providers (with Be as the notable exception) wrap their customers in FUP and AUP terms, the bottom line of which is often 'do anything other than surf a few web 1.0 sites and send email, and we'll either ban you or charge you extra per GB transferred at a scary rate. Some ISPs are also writing letters to their customers when they catch them torrenting and the EU and UK Governments have been discussing various ways of legislating to make your average teenager a criminal before leaving their bedrooms. Now, the last time I checked, most people did a days work and got a days pay, but should you happen to sing a song, you do a days work and get paid for 50 years. Oh, my last rant before I go are asymmetric connections, at the carrier level your ISP isn't buying a 1Gb down 100mbit up connection, they are buying them full duplex like most normal network connections, but by the time that cable/dsl service reaches your home there is a serious imbalance in the upload/download ratio. I wonder where all that capacity is going, whilst they continue to cry about profit. The answer is their hosting businesses, where they get to charge the provider for access to you, and you for access to the provider. Bet I'm not the only one who is pissed off eh :)

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