Lots of discussion about the latest Google and Verizon agreement on Net Neutrality in an attempt to avoid government regulation. Even our NDP government has commented. I recall a discussion a years ago about creating a ‘new Internet’. The idea was that it would be a separate network that would be paid for. Think back prior to the Internet to the days of AOL, and many dial-up BBS where you paid to access content on their systems.
If the big ISPs are thinking about creating separate premium networks, they need Google to index them and provide a method for people to find this premium information. Google wants to index ‘everything’ and be the place to go to find information, so it only makes sense they work with the ISPs to not be left in the cold.
It is too bad Google has backed down on their net neutrality stance. Their rationalization includes the need to get government and industry to move forward, need to create a position of compromise. No matter, at the end of the day, Google has backed down and changed their position period. This unfortunately has large ramifications for Net Neutrality.
To me, the answer is simple.
An ISP should be in the business of moving data quickly. Who originates that data, what the packets of flows contain does not matter to an ISP. The ISP routes the data to its destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. They charge appropriately in a competitive and open market for the service. Using this revenue, they can upgrade and provision their networks accordingly. This should be legislated as a requirement and enforced and they should have to justify if asked by government why they are doing what they are doing and provide appropriate proof as required.
An ISP should charge accordingly. Enough of the excuses that people won’t pay the appropriate amount of money required so we can upgrade the infrastructure to meet demands. You are just scared of competition. If all the ISPs charge for usage (like electrical companies), people will pay it. They will have to if they want to use the Internet, and I’d argue the Internet is considered a required service, just like electricity. I’ve read studies showing people will forgo TV service and phone service to keep their Internet. If you can’t cover your costs and expenses, then go out of business. There is always competition waiting to service the customers you are not able to.
An ISP should NOT be permitted to be involved with or own any type of content providing service. This should be legislated. You route packets, monitor links, and manage the network. That is what you do best. That is all you are permitted to do, so do it well. This should be legally enforced. You do not provide any content, content providers do that. Just as my electrical company doesn’t provide me with anything more than electricity to my home. Other business provides services that use the electricity, not my electrical company – they provide me with electricity and charge accordingly.
An ISP does NOT monitor content and are not law enforcement. ISPs are experts at moving data not investigations. Law enforcement and private companies that specialize in investigations and criminal activity do the investigations. ISPs never act as law enforcement. Questioning the legality of the data or activity is not the ISPs responsibility and they do not care (and should not be held accountable). Similar to an electrical company where a house is using way more electricity than other typical houses – you provide and charge them accordingly. If law enforcement is investigating criminal activity (what they do best) and provide you with a warrant to obtain the usage at a particular location you service, you may provide that information to law enforcement but that is it. Law enforcement takes that information and does the investigation – that is what they do best.
Is it more complicated then that? Personally I am doubtful it is.
What do you think an ISP should be legally permitted to do?
Update (Aug 13, 2010 @10:22): Kenneth David (@kennethDavid) wrote a response to my post. You can read it here.