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E.U. Debates Net Neutrality
engine




msg:3866263
 1:59 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

E.U. Debates Net Neutrality [nytimes.com]
As European lawmakers debate how to keep access to the Internet free and equal — so-called network neutrality — they are inundated, not unsurprisingly, by lobbyists.

But the corporate envoys roaming the halls of Brussels trying to make their case, more often than not, do not represent the Continent’s myriad telecommunications and Internet companies, but rather those from the United States. Europe has become the world’s technology regulator. So the AT&Ts and Verizons are pitted against the Googles and Yahoos to shape European law in the hopes that American regulators will follow suit.

“The U.S. companies see the outcome of the fight in Europe as key,” said Jeremie Zimmermann, a lobbyist for La Quadrature du Net, an Internet advocacy group based in Paris. “Each side is hoping to score points on the issue here so they can take it back to the States to influence the outcome there.”


 

Edge




msg:3866399
 4:36 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Europe has become the world’s technology regulator.

Really? I’m am engineering consultant and trainer, I travel all over the world (yes Europe as well) and US technology standards and practices are those which I train and consult with as requested by my clients.

US is the largest economy in the world followed by Japan. Even Japan largely embraces US technology standards and practices.

tangor




msg:3866401
 4:38 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Technology is not the issue: Business and Politics is. Bending US politics is easier (by Americans wanting to do that bending) if they can point to Europe and say: "See, they are doing it, we should be, too!"

MatthewHSE




msg:3866488
 6:14 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Bending US politics is easier (by Americans wanting to do that bending) if they can point to Europe and say: "See, they are doing it, we should be, too!"

For most Americans I know, the fact that Europe is doing something is one of the best reasons to avoid doing it here...

maximillianos




msg:3866494
 6:18 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Let's face it, Europe is better. Better health care systems, better vacation time for employees... Heck, let them have the internet. Who needs it. I'm moving to France... ;-)

taasinge




msg:3866676
 9:20 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

For most Americans I know, the fact that Europe is doing something is one of the best reasons to avoid doing it here...

Contempt for foreign cultures is indeed a very international phenomenon. But so is openness to the idea that something good may occasionally come from elsewhere.

EU is one of those regions of the world where there is a strong political climate for putting limitations on the behavious of large companies. It is completely natural that those US citizens who tend to consider this a good idea, will look to Europe for inspiration. It is also completely natural that large US companies will try to influence EU law.

johnnie




msg:3866704
 9:53 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

US is the largest economy in the world followed by Japan. Even Japan largely embraces US technology standards and practices.

Last time I looked, the EU took over that leading position by leaps and bounds. I know it's not one political entity, but the EU can -and should- be regarded as a single economy.

I've seen both sides of the pond and would dare to say that Europe is currently doing substantially better than its overseas friend. But it's not competitiveness that will propel us forwards; it's cooperation that will help us stay ahead of the up-and-coming billion plus people behemoths in the east. Were it not for religious incompatibility (countryside US is far too conservative to my liking), I would even propone the idea of a north-atlantic superstate to be able to stay ahead of the game.

What happens in Europe affects the US and vice versa. Microsoft will tell you all about that. As will any European aviator.

rehabguy




msg:3866754
 10:52 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Better health care systems

You got to be kidding, maximillianos. Better vacation, yes. Better health care, no way.

I've got friends in both places (Europe and the US), and I've never had a European friend say anything good about their healthcare system. The US is expensive, but worth it.

Ah heck, this is a seperate discussion altogether.

callivert




msg:3866764
 10:58 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

countryside US is far too conservative to my liking

spoken by yet another person who has never spent much time in countryside US.

mack




msg:3866859
 2:33 am on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think we need to move back on topic :)

Its not about who provides the best healthcare, who makes the best cars, who has the highest mountain or the most goldfish its about Net Neutrality.

In this case the debates may be within the EU, but Net Neutrality is a very real topic for the internet as a whole.

Mack.

nomis5




msg:3867062
 10:46 am on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

There's a huge debate going on in the UK about this but it seems to centre on the provision of a minimum standard of broadband to everyone in the UK, even those in sparsely populated areas.

I don't see any great public debate here about ISPs and / or different technologies having an impact on who gets what data the quickest / most efficiently.

I'm not really clear how ISPs and cable companies could actually restrict or influence what I view on the internet. I'm not sure that the general public sees this as a potential danger. You type in a URL and you get to see a site, how will they restrict / influence that?

JS_Harris




msg:3867076
 11:28 am on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

If a hosting provider slows down the connection to my websites I'm done with that provider.

If an internet provider slows down the connection my base demographic has in accessing my sites I'm going to write an article informing my visitors of such and link it from every site footer.

This shouldn't even be a discussion honestly, when a website slows down it's up to the webmasters to reduce it's size, not the governments.

I fear that this debate may lead to an internet that begins charging webmasters and hosting providers access fees, driving the cost of owning a website through the roof.

History teaches us that when powers begin discussing neutrality, peace, goodness... freedom is the cost. How many webmasters will have to close down sites so the rich can monopolize further?

The net should remain neutral, always. Paying to slow down the competition should be illegal, it's not fair practice.

kapow




msg:3867087
 11:56 am on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

- Who can publish what?
- Who can profit from published material? - and it what way.
- Who can access what? (who can see your emails? who can access pirate software sites?... etc)
- Standards for service providers (speed, billing, descriptions...)
- Who is responsible for illegal things (offence, plagiarism...) on a website (the host, site owner, poster...?)
- Under what circumstances can your: emails, web viewing history, posts on social networking sites... be accessed/used by: Police, Insurance, Employers... etc

The fledgling legislation for this stuff is vague and incomplete. The web moves fast and law develops slowly. Its big news when a judge rules about a major web issue. There must be laws for the web, the problem (debate) is the difference of conflicting powers desperate to influence new legislation: governments, military, marketing, public, commerce, service providers...

In the uk lately parliament seems to get any freedom-restricting law through on the basis that it will protect us all from terrorism. Then they use such laws to spy on say mothers driving their kids to a school that is further away than the council recommended school.

I used to think governments should be free to legislate because they know best, i.e. "if you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to fear". Now I reolise governments and authority must itself be regulated because they are not as neutral (or as competant) as their rhetoric. Now I think "if authority did nothing wrong, we'd have nothing to fear". I'm all for governments and legislation, but these guys are just people too - and have weaknesses and biases.

Does anyone know who is overseeing this lawmaking debate in the EU?

johnnie




msg:3867090
 12:03 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

spoken by yet another person who has never spent much time in countryside US.

I guess one shouldn't generalize, but last time I checked, the majority of central and (mostly) mountain time states were still red.

But back ontopic; the 'net is the perfect example of how freedom fo speech can lead to massive creativity and networking. I don't think the 'net should - or can in any way - be regulated.

webdoctor




msg:3867132
 1:38 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't think the 'net should - or can in any way - be regulated.

Some might say that breaking a law online is (and should remain) just as illegal as breaking it offline :-)

kapow




msg:3867179
 2:34 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't think the net should - or can in any way - be regulated.

Really!? What if someone:
- Steals your content,
- Hacks your site,
- Publishes offensive material about you or your family,
- Hacks your computer, and steals your bank access passwords,

What if your ISP
- Sells your net activity info to: advertisers, your insurance company, your employer, the government, the mafia... (without your knowledge, so you can't leave your isp because they don't have to declare this activity because you don't want such laws)

You really think all that needs no legislation?

johnnie




msg:3867212
 3:08 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not talking about criminal offenses like copyright infringement. What I mean by regulation is restriction of freedom of speech. I always thought net neutrality is more a political theme than it is a criminal one.

Shaddows




msg:3867218
 3:22 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I thought it was about avoiding traffic prioritisation on one hand, and de-politicising admin (think ICANN) on the other.

The whole point is that MS, for eg, could pay to make their traffic traverse the net quicker. Amazon could pay for more bandwidth across the net. Other Big Brands cold do the same, creating barriers of entry for others.

The pro-prioritisation camp are generally Carriers and ISPs, who argue the net will grind to a halt as spammers and iPlayer clog up the tubes. Those with valuable (read: monetised) content can pay to make sure they arent affected by these leeches, while simultaneously funding developement in the infrastructure of the next 100 years.

Net Neutralists say this is a load of money grabbing tosh, that people should be able to have equal rights in content availability, that Big Business should not have an implicit advantage, and that those who run our infrastructure have been asleep at the wheel. They think funding for infrastructure should come from someone other than content providers- quite often ISPs or tax payers.

ISPs already advertise "unlimited broadband" when official responses to traffic-shaping objections indicate something like 5% of users take 95% or resources, begging the question of what would happen if 20% of theri customers adopted similar usage patters.

Tax payers... well why not, we seem to be paying for everything else

grelmar




msg:3867266
 4:40 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not really clear how ISPs and cable companies could actually restrict or influence what I view on the internet. I'm not sure that the general public sees this as a potential danger. You type in a URL and you get to see a site, how will they restrict / influence that?

What some of the ISPs would like to do is to be able to overtly practice traffic shaping. Certain types of traffic, and traffic from certain sites, would receive higher allocations and priority than others.

YouTube/Streaming video is one example. Streaming video is bandwidth intensive, and utilizes a lot of resources. Many ISPs also have a piece of the cable TV market. Certain ISPs have argued that because streaming video places "undue" demand on their infrastructure, they should be able to shape the traffic (specifically, put a big tourniquet on the pipe to slow the flow of data), so that users of streaming video don't "Adversely affect the quality of the experience for the internet user community at large." Alternatively, they'd like to be able to charge a premium to the sites that offer up these services (like YouTube, Hulu, etc.) to cover the increased cost to infrastructure.

And it's all a load of codswallop. It's a cash grab, on one level, and a way of protecting their vested interests in old school cable TV.

My personal opinion of this: I pay good $$ for the highest residential bandwidth available in my area. Gimme my bandwidth. It's not up to my ISP to determine when and how I get that bandwidth.

There are other technologies that are severely threatened by network shaping and a lack of neutrality on the net.

Online multi-player gaming is often used as another example of an activity that is bandwidth/resource intensive.

And again, my attitude is, I pay for the bandwidth, so give it to me.

BitTorrent is a favorite case used by the ISPs, who can easily detect the types of traffic associated with Torrents, even if they can't really see the content of the traffic (thanks to encryption in most current Torrent clients). The ISPs argue that this is a huge drain on resources (and, granted, it is), and also that it primarily supports piracy.

A) I'm not going to make the argument that most torrent traffic is legit. It isn't. Most torrent traffic is associated with piracy.

B) It doesn't matter. Because of encryption, the ISPs are unable to determine what's within the torrent traffic. They can only detect that certain traffic patterns are associated with torrents. And not all torrents are about piracy. Torrents also happen to be a fantastically economical way for the FOSS community to distribute ISOs, and large software packages. For an independent publisher who doesn't charge directly for their software, this distribution model can make the difference between profit/bankruptcy. Paying for dedicated hosting to distribute software packages can be freaking expensive (as I'm sure most people here are aware of), and it can be difficult to manage spikes in demand. Torrenting your software avoids these limitations, both technical and financial.

And having lots of independent developers out there coming up with creative, innovative applications can do nothing but good for the industry as a whole.

Net neutrality matters, on a great many levels. This is one case where the government should get involved, and set up massive punitary fines for ISPs that try and shape traffic. Private companies with the legal ability to shape traffic will use it, and they will use it to their own monetary advantage, not to the benefit of the end user.

Relying on the market to sort the issue out is foolish. It is incredibly difficult for the end user to determine when this is happening. At the same time, the ISPs have a large incentive to engage in the practice and try to cover their tracks.

[end rant][breathe][/breathe]

CWebguy




msg:3867288
 5:07 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

and they are talking about this why?

CWebguy




msg:3867320
 5:31 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

they must be bored.

Edge




msg:3867330
 5:39 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

and they are talking about this why?

New revenue streams - from the website themselves. How much would you pay to ensure users can visit your site if not given a choice?

CWebguy




msg:3867337
 5:45 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

sounds like the mafia

nomis5




msg:3867546
 10:24 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

sounds like the mafia
.

That's the point. Maybe sounds like a joke, but there are mega-bucks involved in this.

Shaddows




msg:3867881
 11:24 am on Mar 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm a net neutralist, but I AM concerned what the answer is to the fundamental question:

Who is going to pay for the massive infrastucture investments needed to keep the net ticking over while multimedia content explodes?

I mean, ISPs should do it, but frankly their business models are broken. They were chasing market share, not revenue. Now they have the users, the content they are accessing is more bandwidth-intensive than was forseen. As mentioned before, TRAFFIC SHAPING is already employed, as 5% of users take up 95% of the ISPs' avialable bandwidth during peak times. Clearly its not fair on the vast majority, but this unfairness is caused by the misselling of the ISP in the first play, not the people who bought the service and are tryig to make full use of it.

But the ISP bandwidth advertising is another issue. The question here is WHO WILL PAY, not WHO SHOULD PAY.

Edit- fixed tags

[edited by: Shaddows at 11:26 am (utc) on Mar. 11, 2009]

piatkow




msg:3867982
 1:24 pm on Mar 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

The fair way would be to simply meter bandwidth and charge for what is used rather than offering packages that can't be delivered if everybody uses them to the full.

Of course if I was paying per megabyte I would be reading a book not wasting time here.

kapow




msg:3868027
 2:07 pm on Mar 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Great post Grelmar, that made it clearer.

ISPs can just say: Service X is ŁY per month and you get Z-mb of traffic. If you want more upgrade.
Any ISP that doesn't do this will go out of business. My ISP limits me to 11GB per month.

Shaddows




msg:3868054
 2:51 pm on Mar 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

ISPs can just say: Service X is ŁY per month and you get Z-mb of traffic. If you want more upgrade.
Any ISP that doesn't do this will go out of business. My ISP limits me to 11GB per month.

Yeah, and if they made it easy to monitor your usage, that would be a good start.

However, your thinking a bit short-term. Capping your limit helps manage their current resources, but does NOTHING to improve future capacity. An analog of Moores Law applies here- we need to double capacity every couple of years. Who's paying?

If its broadband users, expect bills to go through the roof.

Its a serious question that needs addressing. Simply saying the hosts, carriers and ISPs should be traffic-agnostic is pointless. The non-neutral POV suggests the people with cash should pay. Its a Free Market solution, but means the little guy gets stomped.

ratel




msg:3868073
 3:17 pm on Mar 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

For the UE debate, check-out the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs [europarl.europa.eu] commission of the European Parliament, which assumes the leading role in it.
The current hotspot is France, with the "Creation & Internet" bill of law starting discussion today, mainly. (But not only, as the government as been pushing those last weeks for imposing white-list filtering on public wifi access points, among other things, like suggesting Google should rank legit or approved -by French governmental agencies - pages higher than unapproved ones; you can guess how this one was received by Google France.)
To make it short, the "Creation & Internet" law would set up an administrative body which, upon request by IFPI representatives (to whom is recognized the right and given the power to spy on the network), would order the ISPs to cut-off and blacklist the legal users of an IP to which has been illegally downloaded copyrighted materials. The sanctionned misdeameanor is not illegal downloading, but not having made it impossible to use that IP for downloading. Charge of the proof lies on the accused party; it is receivable if that party has installed approved close-source spyware and can produce its logs. As this is an administrative and not judiciary action, appeal does not suspend the sanction, nor does the sanction extinguish judiciary prosecution for the same acts.
No, I'm not joking... You can check [numerama.com ] if your french is not too rusty.
Sorry for the long post and hesitant english.

Edge




msg:3868086
 3:37 pm on Mar 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Who is going to pay for the massive infrastructure investments needed too keep the net ticking over while multimedia content explodes?

I don't know about the countries over the big ponds, but here in America most fiber and cable infrastructure is not owned by the ISP's. I have a buddy whom is an independent Project Manager for internet (cable and fiber) installation and upgrades. The ISP's purchase access to the infrastructure from municipalities and others. Note that there is currently an excess of available infrastructure for internet access in most major metropolitan areas within America.

In America this is simply a maneuver to charge for traffic coming and going.

Business has deeper pockets than consumers. $$$$$

[edited by: Edge at 3:40 pm (utc) on Mar. 11, 2009]

This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >
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