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August 2, 2005
Battle Brewing Over Network Neutrality
Susan Crawford provides a short history of "acrimonious acronyms" in the copyfight -- bad laws like the notorious "Hollings bill" (or CBDTPA) -- and proposes adding another to the list: the "Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act" (or BICCA):
Indirectly, [BICCA] aims to do the same thing that SSSCA, CBDTPA, and the [Broadcast Flag] tried to do. ...The whole point of BICCA is that it dismantles any interconnection obligations for broadband providers. These obligations go upwards -- so there's no requirement to allow all applications or content to be permitted or carried on the network. And they also go downwards -- so there's no requirement to allow all user devices to be attached to the network.
Unauthorized devices (such as untrustworthy PCs) would quickly become very unattractive to users. What's the point of owning something that isn't authorized to connect to any broadband network?
The missing link here is, of course, the incentive of the broadband providers to allow only authorized devices to connect to their networks. Why would they want to frustrate their customers? Well, if the only way they can get access to really great big media content (the kind of thing they think consumers really want) is to make deals with content companies to have "mini-Hollings" terms of service, I bet they'd do it. And law enforcement would like to have a regime of locatable, authorized devices in place as well. Gradually, incrementally, the world of "authorized devices" might narrow.
Public Knowledge has been taking the initiative, post-Brand X
, on getting people up-to-speed on why they should support network neutrality. For much more on the issues at stake, check out PK's Broadband Policy
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