John Markoff interviewed Sir Tim Berners-Lee on his favorite topic, and got the same tired old claims as before. In case you don’t know,
SIR TIM BERNERS-LEE was a software programmer working at the CERN physics research laboratory in Switzerland in the 1980’s when he proposed the idea of a project based on hypertext — linking documents with software pointers.
Some people say perhaps we ought to be able to charge more for this very special high-bandwidth connectivity. Of course that’s fine, charge more. Nobody is suggesting that you shouldn’t be able to charge more for a video-capable Internet connection.
But actually they are, and that’s the rub. The Snowe-Dorgan, Markey, and Wyden bills say the ISPs can’t charge more for video- and audio-capable Internet connections:
(5) only prioritize content, applications, or services accessed by a user that is made available via the Internet within the network of such broadband service provider based on the type of content, applications, or services and the level of service purchased by the user, without charge for such prioritization;
So once again, Berners-Lee says he’s in favor of net neutrality at the same time that he declares himself opposed to its central tenet. I guess he’s a pretty busy programmer these days, but after all this time surely he must have been able to read this little bill that he claims to support.
There’s some other stuff in the interview about democracy and the Internet that’s incredibly silly. The Internet can certainly be used to advance democracy, but it can also be used for oppression, crime, and terrorism. In that sense, it’s certainly “neutral”. Is that a good thing?
Look, all I’m asking is that these “figures” like Berners-Lee, Cerf, and the rest of them do a little diligence before popping off. Read the bills, try to learn how the modern Internet works, learn about the requirements of new applications, and develop a reasonable investment model for the ISPs to follow. If you do all that, and do it honestly, you will come to the conclusion that the regulations on the table will do way more harm than good. If we need to protect the Internet from greed and corruption we’re going to need much more specific definitions than we have now.
The argument for regulation because “telcos are bad people” that the lefty blogs make is ridiculous, and Berners-Lee’s claims aren’t much better.