So I suppose a third tier dedicated to the NSA is out of the question?

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to ban the nation’s phone and cable companies from creating a two-tiered Internet where they could charge additional fees for priority or unimpaired delivery of content. The committee voted 20-13 to approve H.R. 5417, the “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act,” which requires that network providers: "1) interconnect with the facilities of other network providers on a reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis; 2) operate their network in a reasonable and nondiscriminatory manner such that non-affiliated providers of content, services and applications have an equal opportunity to reach consumers; and 3) refrain from interfering with users’ ability to choose the lawful content, services and applications they want to use."

Now government involvement in matters like this is always a risky proposition. Lack of governmental regulation is precisely the reason the Internet has thrived, and some argue that legislation like this will inevitably hamstring the Net’s further development. Market forces are what should govern here, not Congress. Trouble is, in this case market forces have established a monopolistic (OK, oligopolistic) infrastructure. AT&T, along with Verizon and Comcast, dominate the U.S. market for residential high-speed Internet service and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Who’s going to unseat them? Can we really trust market forces to prevent companies like these from using their networks to discriminate against other companies?


Share this Post

  • dagama

    No, of course we can’t trust oligopolies from using their market share to discriminate against other companies, which is to say de facto, the consumer. There is absolutely nothing wrong and everything right with government (the consumer’s representative) interceding to prevent just such an occurrence. After all, for a democracy to flourish it requires a mulitplicity of original voices. The ologopolists seek greater shares of our revenues and as unconscionable organizations they are by their natures unconcerned with the social-political ramifications of their profit hunger. Screw them, folks. In this case, our government’s intercession is not only necessary, it is very much in order.

  • Bill Webb

    So, could you trust them *before* the legislation?

    Guess you need something to write about.

  • dagama

    Bill, regardless of the unnecessary snideness of your comment, it still proves no point, illuminates no subject. The original post asked, “Can we really trust market forces to prevent companies like these from using their networks to discriminate against other companies?” Perhaps you might explain what bearing on the issue does it have to ask “So, could you trust them *before* the legislation?” The direct answer to your question is, no, corporations cannot be trusted. I mean, in a true free market economy with a healthy number of players in a sector it’s not our government’s task to trust or distrust any of those individual corporations. Yet, when the number of corporations dwindles, while their influence increases in a matter of acute importance to the health of our democracy, then it IS necessary for our government -the very government that provides the framework for those corporations to securely operate in – to intercede on behalf of the citizen. Is there some part of protecting our democracy which is unimportant to you? Let’s not duel – just what is your point?

  • James

    I think the question is an interesting one, and dagama’s comment even more so. “…the very government that provides the framework for those corporations to securely operate …”

    Is it possible that it is government interference in this market that has created this problem to begin with? Is government force somehow more trustworthy than market force? Sometimes I think that they are the same thing … or rather, that government force is *included* in the term ‘market force’, as this phrase essentially describes human interaction.

    I would add also that it is not the job, nor is it in the interests, of government to protect democracy. Even a ‘democratic’ form of government is peopled by those who put their own personal interests first. It is the job of the people who live in a democratic society to protect and insure that democracy.


    You talkin bout WIRED connections. Haven’t you heard of VERATCOM?

    You will when our buddies start shipping those wirless gizmos from PRC permitting us to reach the net for nada.

    The catch? heh, heh. (Still don’t get it, do you?)

  • Robert D Hansen

    Boy!! With people like Bill Webb and Stuart (note that he is so well know that he needs only one name! Or is he just hiding?) you don’t get much more than a pre-school comment. This vote was a rare and wonderful thing. Thankfully VERY rare, but in this case VERY necessary. Just keep in mind that “they” (the phone companies) will be back again, so keep a watchful eye on any legislation pertaining to the net. One of the countrys biggest problems are the Public Service Commisons that are nothing more that a rubber stamp for any and all desires of the Telephone, Electric and Gas companies, so it is good to see this got stopped here rather than trying to do it at the state level.

  • Adrienne

    I agree with Robert Hansen. The huge phone companies will stop at nothing to take over the world of communications including buying out/forcing out smaller companies and spending billions on legislation to bend the laws their way. This was a necessary legislation – even if we don’t like the government to get involved in technology development.

    As a response to “James,” it is absolutely the government’s job and interest to protect democracy. You said: “It is the job of the people who live in a democratic society to protect and insure that democracy.” What do you think congress is?? People who live in a democracy electing representatives to protect their democracy.