Net neutrality for me but not for thee?

To be perfectly clear, I would prefer that 8chan did not exist. At the same time, many of those arguing that 8chan should be erased from the Internet were insisting not too long ago that the U.S. needed to apply Title II regulation (i.e. net neutrality) to infrastructure companies to ensure they were not discriminating based on content. While Title II would not have applied to Cloudflare, it is worth keeping in mind that at some point or another nearly everyone reading this article has expressed concern about infrastructure companies making content decisions.

That is from the excellent Ben Thompson and yes you should pay for his tech email newsletter.


Double standards intended to assuage the amygdalae of leftists? Shocking.

Similarly, the same people who oppose net neutrality, want the government to regulate Facebook to prevent it from making content decisions.

Im not sure that I would argue that the mouth-breather right is the same as the Econ right.

Those two are entirely unrelated. Net neutrality prevents companies from efficiently managing bandwidth, I.e. regulating data hogs. The latter is political censorship.

Bingo. Put a name to it like 'net neutrality' and people think it means all sorts of stuff completely unrelated. It had nothing to do with neutrality.

Let me guess. The pols fooled you with the PATRIOT Act, didn't they?

All you need to know about net neutrality is who is for it.

No you need to know more than that. With the exception of Hazel, the collective intellect of this blog on this issue is a net negative. No offense to Tyler, but he's guilty of this too.

Bingo, the issue of net neutrality was bandwidth utilization.
The net neutrality folks may have figured that out, but they hang on for the talking point value.

Yes, there was strong -- even dominant --data hog faction among the Net Neutralists who seemed to think that bandwidth caps were somehow immoral. And that's why I dismissed the movement as a bunch of baffling Americans upset about crazy things (i.e. business as usual).

But the basic principle that if you pay for a connection to the Internet, then you should get the thing you paid for, rather than some *ad hoc* selection of it is perfectly reasonable.

Here is another way to write your second sentence - 'Net neutrality prevents companies from fraudulently advertising services they have no intention to provide to paying customers.' If a company advertises unlimited data at 500 mps download speeds, someone who pays for that service is not a 'data hog' by using the service precisely as advertised.

What if they advertise unlimited data and 500mbit and note that you can get slowed down if you use 10TB in a month?

Pretty much everyone has fine print saying "we'll throttle your ass if you run BitTorrent and soak our pipes, FFS".

I can't make myself care about that one bit, never have, never will.

Look, people on the left think that the ISPs are going to use their power to limit speech. As in, small, independent, unprofitable, anarcho-socialist propaganda film sites will be limited because they can't afford to pay for the bandwidth that Netflix can afford.
As far as they are concerned, speech that is restricted because people can't pay for access is effectively the same as government censorship. They are concerned about the effect of market forces on restricting content or accessibility of minority leftwing political views in *exactly the same way* that conservatives are concerned about the effect of market forces on regulating minority rightwing views.

'As in, small, independent, unprofitable, anarcho-socialist propaganda film sites will be limited'

Ever heard of youtube? It's free, if you can imagine that, and its global bandwidth seems more than sufficient, along with being accessible to a billion or two more people than Netflix.

YouTube regularly removes videos that it deems inappropriate actually. it's not a free for all. It also shuts of ad placement on videos from disapproved content providers.
The fear of leftists, of course, is that someday YouTube, as part of the evil corporate overlord known as Google, is going to completely expunge all leftist content from the website. It sounds ridiculous, but that's pretty much what they are doing to white supremacists, isn't it? (Not that I have a problem with that). I mean it's absurd because leftism is hip and will never be as unpopular as racism - but some people on the left really do think that.

That fantasy has nothing to do with net neutrality. Platforms have always had total right to self management, and I'd think libertarians would love that.

I do love that. In case you missed it, I don't actually agree with the left's position. My point is that both left and right are arguing mirror image positions of eachother's that are both internally inconsistent. The left wants net neutrality to prevent comcast from shutting down Democracy Now! (say) , and the right wants regulation of Facebook and Twitter to prevent them from banning Milo Yiannopolous.

Maybe you should link me to someone with this left vision.

Because it sure isn't the computer infrastructure vision I link below.

1988. Searching using Google Books, it has some interesting vague things to say about the Internet on page xvi. Mostly about the incentives of business interests an no call for legislation, that I saw.

The point is those ideas have circulated and percolated on the left for 30 years, and motivates much of the argument for net neutrality.

I don't doubt that you can go out and find a liberal who believes a thing, but that doesn't make it net neutrality.

It doesn't make it net neutrality as the internet architects understood it.

Your own link supports my position.

No, you have rejected the simple words "blocking of (legal) content is of course inexcusable" and invented an improbable cheating scenario that lets someone do the "inexcusable" anyway.

Hazel, you're misconceptualizing this in a false way (partly to do your whole South Park Libertarian "A pox on both their houses" bit ;) ).

This isn't really "The left wants government mandated net neutrality, the right wants mandated free speech on social media carriers".

It's that the broad centre doesn't care about either, while the fringes of both left and right care about both.

The left wing frontier does not want facebook to go around shutting down Marxist pages, and neither does the right frontier really want comcast to force all bandwith towards bland Disney movies and so on, away from *real* culture.

A rare point at which the radical vs centrists schema actually applies! There are some slight differences in which the right cares prefers trad corps and the left prefers startups and media, but this is a question where the frontiers have more in common with each other than the centre.

'YouTube regularly removes videos that it deems inappropriate actually.'

Of course. And Netflix does not buy rights to, or finance, all programs it is offered.

'It also shuts of ad placement on videos from disapproved content providers.'

So? Google has no obligation to provide anyone a profit.

'(Not that I have a problem with that)'

In what sense? As a private company, of course Google may do as it pleases. However, applauding the removal of material you do not agree with is not the same as defending the right of a private company to do as it pleases with its property/services.

I really do think you are conflating the architecture of the current Internet with concerns about media consolidation - they are not the same thing. (That leftists are just as likely to be as confused on this point as Prof. Cowen or Prof. Tabarrok is clear.)

Well, YOU might not think it has anything to do with content, but to my observation a large majority of net neutrality supporters are indeed highly concerned about content and the access that content providers have to the larger internet. If someone gets kicked off of YouTube, then the concern is that they will not be able to afford to pay for the same bandwidth that YouTube can provide so their content will be inaccessible to a broader audience. Concerns about media consolidation are a huge component of it. Net Neutrality supporters think that the ISPs will force small independent website off the net so that the internet will become like the AOL "walled garden" - only certain sites will be accessible and if you aren't on them, nobody will be able to access your content. So the internet becomes once again like newspapers and TV networks 40 years ago, where they were the gatekeepers of who got to have their voices heard.

'but to my observation a large majority of net neutrality supporters are indeed highly concerned about content'

Well, as near as I can tell, those who know what net neutrality actually means do not care about content at all. It is not content at issue, it is the treatment of the data packets that I, a customer, pay my ISP to provide.

'If someone gets kicked off of YouTube, then the concern is that they will not be able to afford to pay for the same bandwidth that YouTube can provide so their content will be inaccessible to a broader audience.'

Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with net neutrality.

You're thinking that "net neutrality" = "not throttling". You're confused. They are actually two really different issues. Net-neutrality is not about regulating packet flow at the user end-point. It's about not discriminating among packets based on the *origin* - the content provider. That's the whole point of paid prioritization - Netflix would have to pay Comcast to have Netflix's packets prioritized over other content.

Hazel has this right in most respects.

I would point out that economists sometimes argue that when you are a monopoly the rules that apply to you should be a bit different for the greater good, and legally the rules are different with respect to a bunch of potential actions. So it's not obvious to me they'd all agree that YouTube should have the same freedom to stomp on customers in support of the political whims of their executives as some small vendor with a lot of competitors. But that's a nit.

Net neutrality is broader than how you just defined it. See the very first line of the wiki:

"not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, or method of communication."

User here means end user or to use your terminology user endpoint. It is not strictly limited to content providers. There were concerns before that consumers would have to pay for "bundles" for their mobile to get favored access to Facebook or Netflix. Otherwise I enjoy your comments on this topic.

If you weren't going to learn what net neutrality was then, you still aren't going to know now, years later.

ACM Perspectives on Net Neutrality and Internet Fast Lanes (pdf)

Zero discussion of censorship or political content. It was, if you recall, about prioritizing delivery.

Network neutrality, often abbreviated as “net neutrality”,
is a phrase introduced by Tim Wu in [1], and refers to the
principle that all legal content flowing on the public Inter-
net should be treated equally (i.e. fairly) by Internet Ser-
vice Providers (ISPs) and other responsible agencies [2, 3].
Specifically, this requires that ISPs should not indulge in
“preferential treatment” of data based on its type (i.e. voice,
video, gaming, etc.), the site hosting the content, the net-
work carrying the traffic, the end-user viewing the content,
or the charges paid by end-users to ISPs for accessing the
content over the Internet. Breaching any of these principles
amounts to violating the notion of net neutrality.

Ah, so you did read it. I did wonder (but did not comment about) whether you would highlight 'content' - you are aware that 'legal content' refers to things like bittorrent traffic in pirated content right? That is, if a web site is serving exclusively illegal material, it is not a violation of net neutrality to not treat that illegal material differently from legal material.

And see how easy it was to switch from 'content' to 'material'? After all, an Avenger's Endgame ISO is not legal to distribute, but that is not based on its 'content' as much as it is based on the copyright status of that image file - which Disney is free to distribute how it chooses, even if other web sites are not allowed to do so without Disney's permission.

If you wish to insist that a media theorist like Chomsky was thinking about packet based networking when writing Manufacturing Consent, fine enough.

(And whatever PDF tool you are using works much better than Okular.)

Look, the idea that political content will end up being restricted is a secondary effect that some people argue will happen without net neutrality. That is, if paid prioritization is permitted that monopolistic tendencies in the market will lead to a few big media providers dominating the internet and small, independent websites being crowded out. Thus resulting in a narrowing of the public sphere and the exclusion of minority (their) political views. It's not just about throttling or people not wanting to pay an extra $10 for Netflix - it's about people not wanting to go back to the media landscape of the 1980s where there were just three big TV networks.

It's simple, per that document, "blocking of (legal) content is
of course inexcusable."

Yes, net neutrality is about NOT discriminating based on content.
The idea is that if we *don't* have net neutrality then ISPs will eventually become media conglomerates with enough power to squeeze disfavored political views out of the internet - by making them run so slowly that nobody will want to visit them.


The whole controversy was about *prioritization* by content.

No blocking whatsoever.

Yes, and that small websites that couldn't afford to pay for prioritization would be crowded out by larger companies who would buy up all the bandwidth.

Never happened, and in a hyperconnected multiple vendor mesh, pretty much impossible.

No shit. That's why I'm not a net neutrality supporter, but try telling that to some of the net neutrality advocates I've talked to. That's what the part about ISPs being heavily consolidated relates to. In general Marxist theory about economics holds that capitalist economies will tend towards monopoly. Thus overtime, you won't have a "hyperconnected multiple vendor mesh" you will end up with 1-3 giant corporations that own the whole internet. If you think like a Marxist, that is what you are going to think.

Hazel, why are you arguing with the trolls? They know full well that net neutrality was heavily advertised by its supporters as protection against political censorship by private companies. They're lying and shifting ground to derail the discussion because that's what trolls do.

Yeah, lying by linking the ACM. Genius.

You get "of course inexcusable" don't you Tom?

From that:

"While blocking of (legal) content is
of course inexcusable, traffic prioritization (paid for by the
CSP) need not necessarily be against societal interest .."

"not necessarily" == "sometimes might be"


"blocking of (legal) content is
of course inexcusable"


"traffic prioritization need not necessarily be against societal interest .."

Are you not getting it?

What I'm "getting" out of this is an overwhelming concern about whether packets are discriminated against (either blocked or deprioritized) based on their content or not.

Now you're just cheating.

I document the honchos at the ACM saying "blocking of (legal) content is
of course inexcusable" and you just ignore that. And pretend blocking and prioritization go together.


I've never said that net neutrality was only about blocking or not blocking. It's about "discriminating" - prioritizing some packets based on content is a form of discriminating among packets based on content. ISPs could effectively exclude certain websites by deprioritizing their packets so that they run so slowly that people don't want to use them. That was the fear as well with Netflix - that Comcast would disrupt it's streaming so that it would not be as enjoyable as watching comcast's own cable.

Never happened.

It didn't happen, but people think that *it could happen*, if we didn't have net neutrality.

Goes to show how everyone is riled by the outcomes they do not like. Even if they are ignorant to what is going on. Outrage culture is the in thing.

None of the whiners seem to care if ISIS/Al Quida/etc propaganda is censored or privately blackholed.

Waiting for the 8chan defenders to get right on that one, because we know they're nothing if not ethically consistent.

You are deeply confused.

When we defend people's rights, we are not defending the person or what they say or do.

This principle used to be universally known and accepted. ACLU, Voltaire, all that good stuff. The only ones violating these principles are leftists. All they care about is victory by any means, legal or illegal, ethical or unethical, right or wrong, fact or fiction.

"The only ones violating these principles are leftists."

I'm glad you kept to The High Ground and didn't go completely partisan or anything.

"Republicans committed the Watergate breakin" is not partisan, it is an objective fact.

Leftists are alone in violating the principle that people's rights must be protected is not partisan, it is an objective fact. Clearly not 0% of conservatives or 100% of leftists, but close enough. I'm talking headline policy planks, not every conceivable situation.

So the people who tell me to shut up in these pages are all leftists?

Leftists just quietly cringe when they read your comments.

Nope. Thiel destroyed Gawker for outing his gayness. The right clearly does it too. They love to destroy their enemies by any means at all costs even if it means destruction of free speech and the freedom of the press.

Most of us "whiners" are consistent that advocating a position - be it pro-ISIS, pro-white supremacy, pro-AQ, whatever - is protected speech, and FB should respect that, whereas calls to commit violence are already covered by law and should be prosecuted and dealt with appropriately. I'd argue most of the fascist left making these false equivalencies view me refusing to call someone by their preferred pronoun to be morally equivalent to ISIS cutting someone's head off on video and calling for others to do the same.

Free speech means the government can't stop you from saying certain things but there are still restrictions on speech in the USA. Insult a judge and you will get a contempt charge, for example. Free speech does not apply to private actors. Private individuals have the freedom to say no to hosting other people's soapbox (aka deplatforming). If you come to my house and insult my family. I can kick you out.

With all that said, I'm not anti-8chan but it should be harder for children and mentally ill to access. Law enforcement should love the fact that potential criminals are broadcasting their intentions and motives even if odious to us normal people.

Its indelible in the hippocampus.

yesterday, did you see how the smith college white ladies made the african american fella fella apologize for math!
can we get a ruling from the bias response unit?

why not make it a free! ruling
from the bias response unit

Do we really want to hold transmission of data requests across the internet to the same standards as hosting the data? An analogy in the world of atoms: we don't require any home or hotel to host a traveler, but we expect that he not be unduly harassed or detained while traveling. Another: we do not force Amazon or any retailer to sell an objectionable product, but if they do we do not expect USPS or any delivery service to prohibit its delivery.

'Do we really want to hold transmission of data requests across the internet to the same standards as hosting the data?'

This distinction is completely (and one would assume in the main intentionally) blurred, to the point that Prof. Cowen, again, is simply demonstrating that many of those opposed to net neutrality have absolutely no idea what net neutrality actually is in the first place.

Total lack of self awareness. See Willits above for a clue.

No, he's right. Formal net neutrality is about the freedom to join the network, not that everyone has to like you, or partner with you, once you are there.

Now, if you were talking about kicking someone off DNS for their views, that would violate neutrality. I don't think that has ever happened. They do crack down on scammers and spoofers.

It has happens all the time though rarely makes the MSM. Stormfront for example was kicked off DNS until they could switch providers. To make that worse IIRC that is against the rules of IANA but no sanctions ever happened because ... well they publicly committed wrongthink.

Ah, I forgot about Stormfront, dropped by Network Solutions.

I guess it is complicated when DNS as a service has multiple private vendors, introducing the question of their rights to decline customers.

Still, I'd think if we define neutrality at DNS/IP level, and a server for anyone, there's gotta be a way for anyone to get on.

'Stormfront for example was kicked off DNS until they could switch providers.'

Details would be nice. Are you saying that a registrar simply made stormfront unavailable as a name record (admittedly, no clue the proper ending)? Which is not true, according to this link using .com - Here is the basic information - Expires On 2020-04-25 Registered On 1995-04-24 Updated On 2019-02-24 Since I really don't care enough to check further, that 'updated' just might be what you are referring to - however, that was not being 'kicked off DNS until they could switch providers,' it was most likely not having a host address until they could switch to another host.

But if you have more information, please do post it.

Oops - bit more checking, and it appears that Storm Front Studios is not the same as the organization being discussed

But, Cloudfare is sitting in the role of USPS and the delivery service in your analogy. Cloudfare doesn't have the right or practical ability to control the content that their customers place on their service. In fact, I suspect every one of their customers would be outraged if Cloudfare admins were found to be poking through their content.

CDNs like Cloudflare are nodes, not edges, in the internet delivery system. To be clear, I am talking about edges with regards to "transmission" across the internet. E.g. the undersea cables connecting Hawaii with the US mainland. I agree the distinction is a bit arbitrary, but it is in the world of atoms as well.

> I agree the distinction is a bit arbitrary, but it is in the world of atoms as well.

IMHO, the line is not even visible here. Personally, I'd put it where at the point where the company is question's value add is explicitly providing/curating content. That is, even something like Twitter is just a service.

Circling back to your analogy, we don't make retailers sell things because the whole value-add of retailing is to curate items. We expect the USPS to deliver everything because their value-add is moving things.

'Cloudfare is sitting in the role of USPS and the delivery service in your analogy'

Nope, Cloudflare is basically providing security - think of it being a Brinks escort. There is no question that 8chan/Daily Stormer can find a hosting service right now. The problem is that they would be crushed instantly without the sort of services that companies like Cloudflare or Akamai provide. (This being its own discussion, admittedly.)

'In fact, I suspect every one of their customers would be outraged if Cloudfare admins were found to be poking through their content.' Their customers are web sites who pay to have Cloudflare/Akamai serve their content - it is meaningless to say that a content hosting platform is not 'poking through' content they are paid to serve, to the extent that all of that content is hosted on the systems Cloudflare's admins are responsible for.

We can imagine a different world in which a government monopoly guaranteed safe delivery on the internet, but that is not our world.

of course it's a fundamental constitutional power of the Federal government to 'regulate' communications 'infrastructure' to ensure there is no "content discrimination".

imagine the horrible societal impacts if book/newspaper publishers and radio/TV stations were free to choose the content that they communicated.

Totally, we might end up with a bunch of media conglomerates employing mediocre Millennials and closet socialists to distribute leftist talking points in lieu of journalistic work while pretending that they are the vanguard of civilization.

Indeed, some of these people do it in the same thread, within minutes of themselves, and without a hint of irony.

Prediction of where I think the equilibrium will be:

Net neutrality completely dismantled due to regulatory capture. Netflix goes bankrupt or is bought out.

Section 230 repealed. Websites will be held legally liable for user posted content. Application of the law will be based on which party is in power, and be equally outraged when “their side” is targeted

'Websites will be held legally liable for user posted content.'

They already are - 'Section 230 immunity is not unlimited. The statute specifically excepts federal criminal liability and intellectual property claims.'" The DMCA adds another layer to safe harbor protections involving user posted content, as long as the provider stays within the law's provisions.

The same has been true for other forms of common carrier communication - this term is not unfamiliar, one assumes. 'Wire fraud is a crime in which a person concocts a scheme to defraud or obtain money based on false representation or promises. This criminal act is done using electronic communications or an interstate communications facility. These can include a phone call, a fax, an email, a text, or social media messaging, among others.' Obviously, any common carrier provably aware of fraudulent activity is not immune, it is simply they are not held liable when unaware of fraudulent activities.

I thought that exception was implied. Apparently not.

To be clear, they will be treated as direct publishers in terms of content on their sites.

Trump v. Facebook (or Harris v. Reddit) are the frivolous lawsuits of the future.

To be clear, they are perfectly within their rights to do this, just as Cloudflare is perfectly within its rights to shut down anime message boards and ISPs are perfectly within their rights to regulate traffic on their own networks. The Journolist droids are just so gosh darn smug about it, though.

Cloudflare is not an ISP and doesn't host anime message boards. The ignorance here is astounding. The

I'm not sure your analogy works because ISPs own the physical infrastructure to deliver the internet to your home. Imagine if the NY Times owned the road to your house, and you want the Washington Post delivered to your door. Not too bad a situation, you say? Now suppose Vice owned the road.

And note that this is already behind the times — the new DNS provider that 8chan went to has itself been booted offline by pressure on its cloud infrastructure company.

A second and slightly less glib thought: this especially highlights the sheer banality of the mob's mentality on these types of complex issues. Implications on free speech and diversity of thought of shutting down a surprisingly good example of an open message board attracting many different types of posters? Boring! No one cares. Private company, can do what it wants with its property, etc., etc. But don't you DARE charge me more to access Netflix.

But Twitter is a monopoly which employs a socialist politburo to enforce intellectual conformity online.

Correct. And Gab gets shut down by its hosts.

As blockchain microblogging and P2P video streaming get rolled out it will be interesting to see how the mob reacts to decentralized networks. The only practical way to shut these down is through ISP regulation, i.e. the opposite of net neutrality. Can social justice do to these networks what even the mighty music industry failed to do to Limewire and BitTorrent? That is, force ISPs to block their traffic? Stay tuned.

Who needs Gab when the decentralized Mastodon network exists.

Apart from those hoping to profit from Gab's business model, that is.

Whoa, 2018 called, they want that hot-take back! Gab is on the fediverse now, standalone service folded.

Interesting. This link is not from 2018, but such is my interest in whatever Gab is up to -

Hopefully, Gab users will now stop whining about being censored.

(Personally, I have as much use for Mastodon as I do twitter or facebook - that is, none.)

The only practical way to shut these down is through ISP regulation, i.e. the opposite of net neutrality.

Ladies and gentlemen, this here is a rare form of cognitive dissonance. Observe!

You keep flirting with me but you haven't indicated yet what exactly you find objectionable about what I said (other than that you disagree with it).

The old quip, "where you stand depends on where you sit," is pretty accurate.

And sadly nowadays, the 'where you sit part' tends to limited to the next 3-6 months. Short termism: it's not just for corporations anymore.

Is Internet content "more lifelike" or "less lifelike" depending on whether the content is "regulated" or "unregulated"?

We have long since passed the point where "the Internet" is judged by standards of "real (mere) life": our Tech Tyrants demonstrate plainly for us that life possesses and deserves no meaning whatsoever unless or until commercial values color EVERY HUMAN SOCIAL TRANSACTION.

Or: has the Internet itself become an instrument of state-sponsored terrorism insofar as Tech Tyrants and the Tech Tyrannized are pleased to treat it as a "social conformity enforcement mechanism"?

Some explanatory power is yet to be discovered when we see NO substantive non-tech opposition to Tech Tyrants' discourse management hegemony.

Who needs a political system for "the real world" once the real world has been dissolved with Tech Tyrants' proffered stultification, infantilization, anaesthetization?

'to infrastructure companies to ensure they were not discriminating based on content'

Um, no - net neutrality has nothing to do with content, it simply means treating all bytes equally. It does not mean - and has never meant - that anyone has an obligation to provide hosting services in the first place.

'in mind that at some point or another nearly everyone reading this article has expressed concern about infrastructure companies making content decisions'

Guess it depends on what means by 'infrastructure companies.' Should Verizon be able to decide the speed at which data is transferred to its customers based on origin? This has nothing to do with content, which is one of the egregious misrepresentations made in connection with net neutrality. Content is not the point of net neutrality, and never has been.

And let us be completely honest - if the 8chan/Daily Stormer types want to communicate, Mastodon is available, and beyond the reach of 'infrastructure companies' (at least if the censors are not using Great Firewall techniques). The only thing is, there won't be any profit involved.

Potato, potatoe ,

"treating all bytes equally" == "not discriminating based on the content of bytes"

'"treating all bytes equally" == "not discriminating based on the content of bytes"'

Nope, not even close. But as many comments here demonstrate, awareness of what net neutrality actually means is of no relevance.

I don't think you actually know what net neutrality actually means.

Well, there is no question that I most certainly do not agree with your interpretation that net neutrality relating to a packet switched network is mainly the province of leftist media theorists.

So, here is another link - 'Network neutrality—the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services—is a principle that must be upheld to protect the future of our open Internet. It's a principle that's faced many threats over the years, such as ISPs forging packets to tamper with certain kinds of traffic or slowing down or even outright blocking protocols or applications.'

"certain kinds of traffic" == "content".

Actually content has ALWAYS been the central point about net neutrality. The whole point is that people are worried that smaller content providers will be crowded out of the internet because they can't afford to pay for the bandwidth needed to make their sites run as smoothly as the big providers. I.e. that Comcast would crowd out Netflix, by charging netflix so much for access that netflix would become uncomeptitive vs. Comcast's own cable services.
Or, in a larger and more insidious sense, that all internet content providers would then eventually become incorporated into large media conglometares that restrict speech in the manner that people like Noam Chomsky complained about (wrt television networks) in Manufacturing Consent. This is a really, really long-standing theme going back at least 40 years on the left - that leftist political views would be crowded out of a public sphere controlled by big corporate interests.

'Actually content has ALWAYS been the central point about net neutrality.'

No, the central point was that a number of large American ISPs, using the gym membership sales concept, sold services to customers that those ISPs never had any intention of actually providing. When Netflix showed up, those ISPs had a choice - to actually build out their infrastructure so as to provide their customers what those ISPs had already sold them, or to use the government to escape that obligation.

Oddly, there are no net neutrality debates in Germany, because if an ISP sells a 400mps unlimited download plan, that is what they have to provide to any 'data hog' that buys that service. Anything else is considered fraud.

Net neutrality is about your packets being treated equally, regardless of what your ISP thinks about you using the bandwidth they sold you.

Uh, no. Net neutrality is NOT about throttling. You're deeply confused. That's a side issue. Net neutrality is about discriminating based on who the packet comes *from*, not based on who it goes *to*.

'Net neutrality is about discriminating based on who the packet comes *from*, not based on who it goes *to*.'

Of course it is about where it goes to. I pay my ISP to deliver data packets to me, after all. You did read the link above, right? Here is the first paragraph from the introduction - 'Network neutrality, often abbreviated as “net neutrality”, is a phrase introduced by Tim Wu in [1], and refers to the principle that all legal content flowing on the public Internet should be treated equally (i.e. fairly) by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other responsible agencies [2, 3].

Specifically, this requires that ISPs should not indulge in “preferential treatment” of data based on its type (i.e. voice, video, gaming, etc.), the site hosting the content, the network carrying the traffic, the end-user viewing the content, or the charges paid by end-users to ISPs for accessing the content over the Internet. Breaching any of these principles amounts to violating the notion of net neutrality.'

Yeah, and they talk about "content" four times in that paragraph. Can you not read? It ALL ABOUT content. They literally state explicitly "he principle that all legal content flowing on the public Internet should be treated equally " .

I mean a few comments up I paraphrase that as "not discriminating based on the content of bytes". And you objected to that!

This threading is getting extremely unwieldy, but there is a response above to the point about 'content.'

I think at this point it is best to simply disagree. To me, by 'legal content' they mean things like Linux ISOs in contrast to pirated DVD ISOs. Nobody cares what the 'content' of the DVD ISO is, since it is being illegally distributed and is thus 'illegal content' - regardless of whatever the movie is about.

However, at this point, the flipping back and forth is really getting to be too much.

I'm fine with ending this discussion. I think arguing over what "legal content" means is getting semantic.

Well, sure - saying 'legal data packets' just sounds a bit too technical, even if it is exactly the accurate term.

when you have to preface your argument in favour of a long-standing principle of western democracy (shorthand) so uncharitable opponents don't accuse you of defending racism, you've already lost.

either the adults stop worrying what the morons think of them and seize power or this is going to get much, much worse.

Using extreme examples to make general points is bad argumentative practice. Believing strongly in free speech or net neutrality is perfectly consistent with thinking that occasional exceptions to those rules may be appropriate. It is reasonable to discuss whether the exceptions are in fact appropriate, or whether a purist approach would be better; but it is nonsense to question a person’s commitment to net neutrality because they want to shut down a website that has been directly connected to multiple mass shootings.

Poe’s law strikes again.

Ah, another case of an 18th century political philosophy stretched beyond its breaking point to deal with a 21st century social and now political problem. We need some new thinking and we are not getting it in this discussion. (Or on the left, for that matter.)

So it would be more productive to go deeper, back to fundamentals. We are not there. The fundamentals are that we are faced with the rise of a "cancer" of murderous fundamentalism that is destroying the social order from within, be that society Muslim or Western. And is used by various parties for their own ends.

We live in a world that has outstripped our institutions due to "always on" technology. French philosopher Jacques Ellul leads us toward the truth: Technology used to be contained in society. Now, societies are contained in technologies. So in significant measure, this problem is about society catching up to the world technology has wrought. Is it The Matrix? That series did not really lead to profoundity. But we must.

We need to get back to the true fundamentals, the ideas that are more fundamental than free speech, the ideas that free speech is in service of, and figure out how the **** to fix this problem. It's not an easy one, it is on the scale of society, perhaps on the scale of civilization. It's an all hands on deck situation, not a situation in which falling back comfortably on existing shibboleths is particularly helpful.

The atmosphere in which this will be solved will be more like Eisensteinian concentration and seeing from new points of view, and less like intellectual combat between established points of view.

I don't want to read that a 2-month-old baby survived the Walmart shooting with broken bones because his mother shielded him from an 8chan-esque inspired gunman (possibly self-radicalized) and fell on him. There is something bigger at stake here that we need to find a way to embrace.

Seriously? No "+1"s or responses to this one? Fantastic post. By far the most thought provoking.

To be honest because she didn't say anything other than, to paraphrase, "we in this time unique snowflakes smarter than everyone before us so must find new progressive solutions because our technology of the era is magical!!!". Mass murder for anger is as old as cavemen and will still be with us when our descendents explore the stars. The story of a parent saving their kid happens thousands of times a day, it's as banal and uninteresting as mass murder.

There is no reasonable problem to fix here. Society is always the tyranny of the empowered majority and some marganlized people will always push back. General no political power base has any actual interest in liberty in any system hence that is also a dead issue outside railing. Dem the bones.

We clearly have an unintended consequence of a new media without gatekeepers. At least I hope it's unintended, and no one wanted a constellation of crazy silos causing harm to themselves (anti vaccine) or others (terrorists).

It's obviously an easy partisan response to say our loons aren't that bad, yours are.

But that doesn't really speak to the overarching problem of new media, silos, and escape from reality.

I don't know what the answer is, but free speech absolutism, up to and including incitement of violence isn't really working.

It may be a "group mind" but no longer a sane one.

By the way, technically it is a distortion of both free speech and net neutrality and libertarian principles to claim "Cloudflare, a private company, must help anyone.

Net Neutrality just says 8chan gets a domain and IP. It's up to them to put up cyber defenses, or find a party ready to do it for them.

Basically they have "no shirt, no shoes" and want to be seated anyway.

Yet why do I imagine if Cloudflair adopted a policy against providing it's services to blacks you and the very people cheerleading this would cry foul

lol, you should have thought that one over a bit more before hitting submit.

Yes, I do see a difference between prejudice by race, color, or creed, and the problem of active and violent terrorists in the US.

Are you saying blacks and terrorists are both threats?

A more realistic scenario in the long term is China forcing the Dalai Lama and Uighur militants off the Internet. Not just in China, but worldwide.

Western countries are already setting the precedent that infrastructure services companies cannot simply be neutral common carriers. It matters little what the letter of the law says when irresistible pressure can be brought to bear. And Western courts are already setting the precedent of ruling that search companies like Google must scrub "right to be forgotten" content and "illegal" content not just from searches within the country of the court's jurisdiction, but worldwide.

But conversely we may have a grace period where some country somewhere is willing to host anyone.

bake the cake!

If someone got "providing internet services" grouped with "accommodations" you are part way there, but only part way. Accommodations may refuse rowdy, dangerous, or disruptive people. They do all the time. Those are not a protected class.

No one should refuse service to all Republicans, or all conservatives. That would be bigotry, and they would be a protected class.

On the other extreme, terrorists and their friends are bad, not protected, may be excluded.

So, what's the middle ground? It looks like in practice you can be a white nationalist and keep your spot on Fox (joking, not joking) but if you become too rowdy, dangerous, or disruptive you start to get deplatformed.

That might actually be a fair place to make the split.

Are you trying to say that internet forums are like "accommodations" and that they should be allowed to refuse "rowdy, dangerous or disruptive people?"

Internet forums are not like these accommodations because someone posting "bad think" on it does not interfere with my enjoyment of the forum, I can simply not view it, or block it or block the poster. I don't see how some third party can just remove the entire resource from the public just because they object to speech posted by a single individual, or group of individuals. If i don't like the message, I can simply navigate away or close the browser, Who is "cloud flare" to tell me I cannot view this (otherwise legal material).

BY your logic, Twitter should be deplatformed for hosting the Dayton shooter's internet postings.

Because ISPs are private companies, they can platform and deplatform whomever they wish. CloudFlare is not the only place to view 'this legal material' if they choose not to host it.

The crazier the content, the more likely the money-chasing ISPs will choose not to host it, so as to keep their customers happy. If you're 8chan or whomever, gotta find someone who doesn't care. Or just email your buddies.

So the “money chasing” ISP should be allowed to prioritize certain content to keep their customers happy. Verizon could just e-mail their content. Gotcha.

"Internet forums" can be implemented and governed a lot of ways. You can do it encrypted and distributed. You could do it on a blockchain. But in the case of Twitter, and many others, there are companies making their own decisions.

FWIW I think the interesting thing about Twitter is that it supports so many, thousands, of silos mostly talking past each other. Vegan Twitter and BBQ Twitter. Now and then someone crosses the streams and flare-ups ensue.

Sexual orientation is a protected class. Racism and terrorism aren't.

Speech is, and far more protected than any sexual peccadillo.

Inciting to violence is a crime, so is conspiring to shoot people up.

The remedy for ISPs favoring their own content is anti-trust litigation, not net neutrality. The former requires evidence of anticompetitive actions while the latter assumes it. Rule of Reason vs Per Se illegal.

Net neutrality covers way more ground than just ISPs favoring their own content. It is closer to issues relating 'common carrier service' than anti-trust.

I am shocked to see Tyler Cowen point this out so bluntly. I am not at all surprised to hear that the political left is hypocritical.

The whole net neutrality push seemed completely absurd to begin with. Of course ISPs should have more flexibility in pricing the bandwidth that they sell. The hysterical opposition to repealing net neutrality seemed staged for political reasons. And the premise that AT&T and Comcast and Time Warner are these giant filthy rich ogres with huge political lobbying clout and companies like Google and Apple are these tiny scrappy upstarts without money or political influence seemed absurd.

And after a full year of net neutrality repeal, where is the damage? Given all the hysteria, I expect to see some large damage.

People who suggest hypocrisy in others frequently insist on using their own model and not that of the alleged. This is wrong.

For my part, I wouldn't censor chan8 and am ambivalent on net neutrality. But its not hard to see the non-hypocritical model.

If A is a subset of B, and C is a non overlapping subset of B as well, my position on A does not require a particular position on B just because there is a superset to which they both belong. All objections here will be some form of insisting A and B do not overlap.

Some may be contrived. Those that draw the distinction between through-put providers and hosters are probably justifying after the fact. But I would agree that market based allocation and qualitative discrimination are quite different, regardless of their respective merits.

Would you be confused by and so dismissive of anyone who would be appalled by Harvard dropping qualitative assessment and just selling all their seats to the highest bidder?

If I told you I was against the death penalty, and later that I was for voluntary euthanasia, and you said tut tut tut, in the past you have expressed reservations of medically administrated death, I would not be impressed.

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