I sent the below to some friends when asked to join a letter advocating “Network neutrality”:
I am generally opposed to any federal or state regulation of what internet service providers can do vis a vis routing and BGP, packet prioritization etc. I do think that telcos should continue to function as common carriers, and that all commercial ISP’s should be required to reveal their packet prioritization and bandwidth clamping as part of consumer protection regulation, rather than being allowed to use the “up to 1.5 megabytes per second fast” kind of formulation in advertising.
There is no capital-I “Internet”. And there has not been since the NSF backbone shut down April 30, 1995. There is merely a loose association of networks who have agreed to share traffic over RFC-documented protocols. Each of the networks is entirely autonomous and self-governing.
It is the autonomous, voluntary, and self-governing aspects of the internet which are most important to preserve, not “net neutrality”. Internet freedom means that we allow other people to do things on their network which we personally don’t like (and may not allow on our network).
“We reject: kings, presidents and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and running code”
–Dave Clark, “An Input/Output Architecture for Virtual Memory Computer Systems”, Ph.D. dissertation, Project MAC Technical Report 117, January 1974
Networks belong to the people who own them. There is no reason that I, as a person who owns a network, should have to pay for additional bandwidth charges to say, backhaul traffic for AT&T or Google over my network if they are not clients of mine, or that I should route their packets over my net at all if I don’t want to. Nor should I have to give a non-subscriber equal priority on my network as say, medical imaging facilities for a customer.
“Net neutrality” is a shibboleth; I think we should avoid using the term and talk instead about “common carrier” status for the telcos and large ISP’s and voice carriers.
Links to previous stuff I have posted on my blog regarding “net neutrality”:
I am posting the above comment also to my blog,
Autonomous System (wikipedia)
Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy
The following is written in response to: Comcast: We’re Delaying, Not Blocking, BitTorrent Traffic on the Bits blog at nytimes.com.
The allegation made against Comcast by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and reported by the Associated Press is that Comcast have allegedly been inserting forged reset (RST) packets into the datastream. This is not analogous to delaying a call. It is more analogous to the company disconnecting a call in mid-sentence because they have been listening in and classifying the type of conversation and don’t like what is being discussed or think it is likely a waste of time.
This is unethical if it is being done and also goes against the Internet technical documents, the RFC’s. Further there are several potential legal issues including potential violations of the:
* State statutes such as Michigan statue Fraudulent Access to Computers, Computer Systems, and Computer Networks, MCL 795.791.
Whatever Comcast routing and Quality of Service provisions are in effect should be fully spelled out and transparent to regulators, internet technical experts and the general public so that citizens can make an informed choice about whether they want their internet unsurveilled, uncensored and uninterrupted… or whether they want Internet which is “Comcastic”.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
An Open Letter to Rich Sheridan regarding the proposed insertion of spam by the Wireless Washtenaw Project
The following was written in response to the pricing plan for Wireless Washtenaw.
Rich Sheridan has served on the steering committee of the Wireless Washtenaw Project for some time. Rich is someone for whom I have done work in the past and I am surprised by his poor judgment and lack of knowledge of the issues in this particular instance.
An Open Letter to Rich Sheridan regarding the proposed insertion of spam by the Wireless Washtenaw Project:
Thanks for the interesting conversation today regarding Wireless Washtenaw. You told me, “The Internet was built by business”. When I disagreed and asked you if you had ever heard of Prof. Jon Postel, you finally (after asking the third time) admitted you had not heard of him. Here’s a link to the wikipedia article on Prof. Jon Postel.
When Jon died, he received the some of the most moving tributes from around the world that I have seen for any person, recent or historical. Many of the founders of the Internet are among the eulogists recorded at the Internet Society pages about Jon.
The Internet did not come about through the profit motive. Not at all. The Net is possibly the single most complex and valuable piece of engineering ever accomplished by humans, and it came about through the efforts of selfless individuals working for the betterment of all mankind. People like JCR Licklider, Bob Kahn, Larry Roberts, Steve Crocker, Vint Cerf, and Dr. Postel are the people we should be seeking to emulate personally and professionally.
To take the surplus value in the Net created by all these selfless patriots and try to monetize it in the way that 20/20 is doing through the public face of the Wireless Washtenaw project, is not a good thing. Having third parties who just happen to own one of the dozen or so routers between sender and receiver insert into the datastream their own or third-party ads degrades the Net for both sender and receiver, and breaks the unwritten compact whereby anyone with an upstream router on the Net passes along third-party traffic in a manner similar to a common carrier, without intercepting or interfering by, for instance, adding spam advertising content to that communication. This principle is sometimes referred to as “Net Neutrality”.
There are also legal issues revolving around this approach to funding Wireless Washtenaw regarding the Electronic Communications Privacy Act 18 USC § 2510.
Also pertinent is the General Prohibition Against Traces and Traps 18 USC § 3121.
I also think this deliberate insertion of spam into the network may fall afoul of the Michigan statue Fraudulent Access to Computers, Computer Systems, and Computer Networks, MCL 795.791 et passim.
What you all are talking about doing with this Wireless Washtenaw “free” service is filling the web browsers of people using the free, public service with third-party spam. Adding banner ads to a content provider’s web page without their consent or inserting interstitial ads between content provider and subscriber is leveraging the intellectual property of that content provider without their permission. This is analogous to sneaking into the Washtenaw News warehouse on S. Industrial and slipping additional advertising into the Sunday Times inserts without their permission. This Wireless Washtenaw “free” service with spam added is not a public service at all, but a fundamental attack on the integrity, security and utility of the Net itself.
Henry Edward Hardy
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy