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Net Neutrality: Canadian Style

SAN JOSE, CA – I would like to draw your attention to a recent academic paper penned by Craig McTaggart, a senior regulatory counsel at TELUS, a Canadian communications company. The paper was prepared for the 34th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy George Mason University School of Law Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.His paper begins: “A new net neutrality rule cannot be justified as simply a codification of”the way the Internet has always been.” If the Internet was ever predominantly ‘neutral,’ it was at a time when the public was not allowed to use it. Since then, the requirements of Internet users have necessitated changes to many aspects of the Internet’s design and operation, with many of those changes requiring divergence from the Internet’s early customs and architecture. The examples of non-neutrality explored in this paper -preferential content arrangements,distributed computing, filtering and blocking to control network abuse, differential interconnection and interconnectivity, and the impact of resourceintensive applications and users -demonstrate that the Internet and its use are far from neutral or egalitarian. (Italics are mine). Those advocates who would like to see the Internet forced into the mould of a regulated public utility bear the heavy onus of justifying rejection of competitive market outcomes in favour of a stylized vision of public internetworking that prohibits or reduces the incentives for innovation within the network itself. The types of uses to which users are increasingly putting the Internet, as well as the subject-matter of current architectural research, suggest that the incongruity of a net neutrality rule with the interests of mainstream Internet users will only continue to grow. Instead of trying to prejudge what kinds of data service offerings consumers will find attractive in the future, the user-driven evolution of the Internet should be allowed to continue.”Read the full paper here. (.pdf document)

Verizon’s PoliBlog: Welcome to the Blogosphere

SAN JOSE, CA – I would also like to welcome Verizon to the blogosphere with their new PoliBlog. They started their policy blog to add to the debate and lend their expertise to matters of communications and telecom policy…something that this blog has tried to do since its inception of February 2005. Welcome, Verizon!poliblog.jpg

Blogging: 34 Million Chinese Can’t Be Wrong

SAN JOSE, CA – The Chinese News Agency, Xinhua, has published an article that says that there are now 34 million bloggers in China. “In August the number of blogs in China hit 34 million which is 30 times more than only four years ago when the on-line writing craze started to sweep the country. More than 17 million people in China consider themselves blog writers and offer personal insights and opinions on any topic they wish, according to a report on China’s blog market which says 75 million people regularly read blogs.”There is a debate currently in some circles that says that some companies who supply equipment or services to the Chinese Internet are proactively helping the Chinese government from allowing Chinese citizens from utilzing Internet services or information. IMHO, when the Chinese News Agency says that blogs have risen 30-fold in four years and it is a popular medium, published by the people, for the people then it would suggest to me that more and more Chinese are using the Internet. Exchanging information. Exchanging ideas. That seems like a good thing to me. Full story.In related news, China Daily reports that “foreign journalists covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be able to travel freely throughout China and have unrestricted access to the Internet…”We’ve no restrictions on travel for foreign journalists in China,” Sun Weijia, head of media operations for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), told the Olympic World Press Briefing. “They can travel anywhere in China.” Looks like this is more positive news for reporters, bloggers and all in China.

Net Neutrality “Quote of the Week”

SAN JOSE, CA – With regards to the current debate in Congress on the telecom bill generally and net neutrality specifically, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) is quoted in today’s National Journal’s Tech Daily “People” Column “in responding to a question about whether he might alter his telecom bill to strengthen language on network neutrality in an effort to move his legislation”: “There’s no way you can appease these people. It’s a fetish — it’s really something that doesn’t exist. But they want to stop this bill because it might exist.” — Sen. Ted StevensA previous blog entry on this site followed very similar logic.

Pew Internet Project: “Internet Here to Stay”

SAN JOSE, CA – Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the entire thrust of one of their latest reports, but it does have some interesting findings on what many think the web will look like in 2020. Yesterday, the Pew Internet Project announced the release of its second report on The Future of the Internet and analysts and experts shared their views. I offer my expert opinion after each of the highlighted findings.Among the findings: A survey of internet leaders, activists, and analysts shows that a majority agree with predictions that by 2020: 1. A low-cost global network will be thriving and creating new opportunities in a “flattening” world; (Earnhardt prediction: the use of “flattening world” will never be overused.)2) Humans will remain in charge of technology, even as more activity is automated and “smart agents” proliferate. However, a significant 42% of survey respondents were pessimistic about humans’ ability to control the technology in the future. This significant majority agreed that dangers and dependencies will grow beyond our ability to stay in charge of technology. This was one of the major surprises in the survey; (Earnhardt prediction: “Blade Runner” – which is set in 2019 – will still be a good movie and one of Darryl Hannah’s finest performances.)Daryl_Hannah_Blade_Runner.jpg3) Virtual reality will be compelling enough to enhance worker productivity and also spawn new addiction problems; (Earnhardt prediction: I’ll still want to go outside to play golf rather than playing it on my “virtual reality” environment.)4) Tech “refuseniks” will emerge as a cultural group characterized by their choice to live off the network. Some will do this as a benign way to limit information overload, while others will commit acts of violence and terror against technology-inspired change; (Earnhardt prediction: Ted “Unabomber” Kaczynski will still be in jail.)5) People will wittingly and unwittingly disclose more about themselves, gaining some benefits in the process even as they lose some privacy; (Earnhardt prediction: If a marketer sends you something based on what your likes are, you don’t mind. If someone sends you something based on what your SECRET likes are, you mind.)6) English will be a universal language of global communications, but other languages will not be displaced. Indeed, many felt other languages such as Mandarin, would grow in prominence. (Earnhardt prediction: China will continue to be a populous nation.)Click here for the full survey.