Rebooting the Net Neutrality

PIC: Perumalism (CC)

PIC: Perumalism (CC)

The Atlantic on why recent net neutrality foul-ups are really bad for business, especially the small start-ups that fuel innovation.

via The Case for Rebooting the Network Neutrality Debate – ​Barbara van Schewick – The Atlantic.

Entrepreneurs and startups know that the threat of blocking and discrimination undermines their ability to get funding. As legendary venture capitalist Fred Wilson—whose firm Union Square Ventures was an early investor in Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga, and other Web 2.0 household names—pointed out:

“Many VCs such as our firm would not invest in the mobile Internet when it was controlled by carriers who set the rules, picked winners, and used predatory tactics to control their networks. Once Apple opened up competition with the iPhone and the app store, many firms changed their approach, including our firm.”

In 2007, while the FCC was investigating Comcast’s blocking of peer-to-peer file-sharing applications like BitTorrent, many entrepreneurs told me that they couldn’t get funding because investors were concerned their application would be singled out for discriminatory bandwidth management. And when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010 struck down the FCC’s Order that had required Comcast to stop interfering with BitTorrent and adopt application-agnostic methods for managing congestion, entrepreneurs heard the same investor concerns again. The bottom line: uncertainty about how new applications and services will be treated on the network does not create a climate conducive to investment.


5 Comments on "Rebooting the Net Neutrality"

  1. Ted Heistman | May 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm |

    My isp just blocked the pirate bay. Is this related?

    • Maybe a VPN can help with that?

    • VaudeVillain | May 7, 2014 at 9:17 pm |

      Yes and no.

      Yes in that it is discriminatory traffic shaping based on the requested site and your presumed use.

      No in that it probably has less to do with blocking BitTorrent traffic per se than it does with trying to “combat piracy”.

      • Ted Heistman | May 7, 2014 at 10:30 pm |

        I was downloading a movie and the internet shut down. I reset the router and it came back on, my bit torrent resumed downloading, but then when I clicked to open the pirate bay I got a 505 or something like that

        • VaudeVillain | May 8, 2014 at 12:48 am |

          Yeah, there have been protocols in place for copyright holders to contact ISPs and request that your connection shut off for a while now. They’re pretty much a joke: the first request usually comes weeks after whatever they noticed and just results in an ominous letter.

          What it sounds like in your case is that rather than threaten to cut you off entirely, or send you a warning of doom and gloom, they cut off the BT port(s) and firewalled you out of TPB. Technically trivial to do… I have no idea if it’s legal or not.

          Out of curiosity, you don’t use Comcast or Time Warner, do you? Since they’re both vertically integrated producers, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was one of them skipping the FCC middleman in order to abuse your rights without Federal interference.

          On a related note, that last sentence, with its many implications, just made me smile a little.

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