As of June 2016, there appeared to be nothing but storm clouds gathering over the issue of Internet liberty. Then, in January, out of nowhere, came a ray of hope…
Whenever you hear the word “neutrality” thrown around by politicians and “experts,” especially when talking about the need for new regulations, you should automatically think “is a myth.”
Conversations about net neutrality can become complex. Writers throw around technical terms, like “traffic shaping” and “over-provisioning.”
Not only that, but articles seem to describe the topic differently. Some refer to net-neutrality laws as “preserving the open Internet,” as if they are defending the present system as it exists now. That sounds like what we want, right?
Others claim the laws are bad because they will benefit large companies at the expense of small ones. Well, wait, that is not what we want…right?
WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY
Wikipedia gives the definition of “net neutrality” like this:
Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.
It provides a specific case as an example of a violation of the net neutrality principle:
A widely cited example of a violation of net neutrality principles was when the Internet service provider Comcast was secretly slowing (colloquially called “throttling”) uploads from peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) applications by using forged packets.
What that means in practical terms is that Comcast slowed down the speeds of some its users. They were the ones who were uploading and downloading large movies and games on file-sharing networks. Those users tend to be the major consumers of bandwidth. Most people don’t download files that large, or as frequently.
I suspect it follows the 80/20 principle, also called Pareto’s law: 20% of Comcast’s users were consuming 80% of the available bandwidth. The other 80% of its Internet users were probably only consuming 20% of its bandwidth.
The FCC didn’t like this. They censured Comcast. The Republicans on the commission at the time dissented. They disagreed with the FCC’s invasion into Comcast’s business practices.
The Obama administration almost struck the final blow for those of us who support Internet freedom, but then something unexpected happened…