Government Control of the Internet
One of the biggest enemies to collectivists everywhere is the free flow of information. Totalitarians have always sought to control the media and use it to disseminate it’s propaganda. The mainstream media in America is already owned and controlled by collectivists, but what’s new for them is the flow of information over the Internet. Their real concern is not pornography or terrorism as they claim, but the free flow of information that exposes their globalist agendas.
As information technology becomes increasingly integrated with physical infrastructure operations, there is increased risk for wide scale or high-consequence events that could cause harm or disrupt services upon which our economy and the daily lives of millions of Americans depend. In light of the risk and potential consequences of cyber events, strengthening the security and resilience of cyberspace has become an important homeland security mission.
In their bid to limit the 1st Amendment, Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced a bill to establish the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor—an arm of the executive branch that would have vast power to monitor and control Internet traffic to protect against threats to critical cyber infrastructure. The Cybersecurity Act of 2010 gives the president the ability to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any “critical” information network “in the interest of national security.” The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president.
Senator Joe Lieberman, co-author of a bill that would give President Obama a ‘kill switch’ to shut down parts of the Internet, citing China, a country that censors all online dissent against the state, as the model to which American should compare itself. “Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” Lieberman said. Chinese Internet censorship is imposed via a centralized government blacklist of any websites that contain criticism of the state, porn, or any other content deemed unsuitable by the authorities. Every time you attempt to visit a website, you are re-routed through the government firewall, often making for long delays and crippling speeds. During the anti-government riots which occurred in July 2009, the Chinese government completely shut down the Internet across the entire northwestern region of Xinjiang for days. Similarly, Internet access in parts of Tibet is routinely restricted as part of government efforts to pre-empt and neutralize unrest. Major websites like Twitter, Google and You Tube have also been shut down either temporarily or permanently by Chinese authorities.
The real agenda behind government control of the Internet has always been to strangle and suffocate independent media outlets who are now competing with and even displacing establishment mainstream media, with websites like the Drudge Report now attracting more traffic than many large newspapers combined. As part of this war against independent media, the FTC recently proposing a “Drudge Tax” that would force independent media organizations to pay fees that would be used to fund mainstream newspapers.
In addition, the FCC has rolled a censorship plan into its Net Neutrality scheme in a stealth attempt to impose Internet regulation. Under the FCC’s regulatory control consumers would be forced to buy an Internet/TV/Phone connectivity box that the government approves. “Everyone will pay rates for service that the government sets. And everything passing through your Internet, TV, or phone would become subject to the FCC’s consistent regulatory whim,” writes Americans for Tax Reform’s Kelly William Cobb.
The term “net neutrality” was only coined recently, but the concept existed in the age of the telegraph, maybe even earlier. In 1860, a US federal law subsidizing a coast to coast telegraph line stated that “messages received from any individual, company, or corporation, or from any telegraph lines connecting with this line at either of its termini, shall be impartially transmitted in the order of their reception, excepting that the dispatches of the government shall have priority.” – An act to facilitate communication between the Atlantic and Pacific states by electric telegraph. June 16, 1860
Network Neutrality essentially describes networks that do not favor particular network destinations or classes of applications over others. For example, a neutral network would not give better service to some web sites over others, and it would likewise not favor web-surfing or blogging over online gaming or Voice over IP. Network neutrality violations for political or moral reasons are not uncommon, for example China and Saudi Arabia both filter the internet, preventing access to certain types of websites.
Network providers often enter into peering arrangements among themselves that often stipulate how certain information flows should be treated. In addition, network providers often implement various policies such as blocking of port 25 to prevent insecure systems from serving as spam relays, or other ports commonly used by decentralized music search applications (often called “P2P” though all applications on the Internet are essentially peer-to-peer).
Large American internet content providers have claimed that network neutrality also concerns the question of network providers favoring or disfavoring certain websites (e.g. google.com) or certain brands of Voice Over IP over others. Advocates of network neutrality claim that large telecommunications providers are attempting to unfairly profit from their investment in residential networks: “[These companies] want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all”…”tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data.”…”to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video —while slowing down or blocking their competitors”…”to reserve express lanes for their own content and services.
Some broadband providers proposed to start charging content providers in return for higher levels of service. Packets originating from providers who pay the additional fees would in some fashion be given better than “neutral” handling, while those content providers who do not pay the higher fees would get a lesser level of service. Given this ability to accelerate the handling of selected packets, the service providers would perhaps give Quality of Service guarantees to given senders or recipients. This points out that once the net moves away from common carrier rules there are at least two levels of pricing: the price an ISP charges consumers for access and the price the ISP could charge Websites by varying bandwidth.
In 2004, a small North Carolina telecom company, Madison River Communications, blocked their DSL customers from using the Vonage VoIP service. Service was restored after the FCC intervened and entered into a consent decree that had Madison River pay a fine of $15,000.
Many broadband operators have imposed various contractual limits on the activities of their subscribers. In the best known examples, Cox Cable disciplined users of virtual private networks (VPNs) and AT&T, as a cable operator, warned customers that using a Wi-Fi service for home-networking constituted “theft of service” and a federal crime. Comcast blocked ports of VPNs, forcing the state of Washington, for example, to contract with telecommunications providers to ensure that its employees had access to unimpeded broadband for telecommuting applications.
Save The Internet, an advocacy organization led by media critic Free Press, has cited several situations as examples of discrimination by ISPs.
- In 2005, Canadian telephone giant Telus blocked access to voices-for-change.ca, a website supporting the company’s labour union during a labor dispute, as well as over 600 other websites, for about sixteen hours.
- Shaw Cable, a major Canadian internet provider, offers a “quality of service” upgrade for their VoIP service. A number of competing VoIP providers have issued complaints that Shaw may be downgrading competitor’s traffic. No evidence has been offered to support any such claim.
- In April, Time Warner’s AOL blocked all emails that mentioned www.dearaol.com, an advocacy campaign opposing the company’s pay-to-send e-mail scheme. An AOL spokesman called the issue an unintentional “glitch.”
- In February, 2006, some of Cox Cable’s customers were unable to access Craig’s List because of a so-called software bug in the Authentium personal firewall distributed by Cox Cable to improve customers’ security. Save the Internet said this was an intentional act on the part of Cox Cable to protect classified ad services offered by its partners. The issue was resolved by correction of the software as well as a change in the network configuration used by Craig’s List. Craig Newmark acknowledges this was not intentional.
I have personally encountered discrimination on the part of Cox Cable as they have violated net neutrality by blocking certain emails being sent through their SMTP servers. Although Cox will not disclose the criteria for blocking emails and denies the violations, I have demonstrated they do, in fact, censor a certain class of email messages sent by their customers.
Even though Cox Communications has implemented improvements in networking technology, which make providing broadband service cheaper, they still found a way of increasing their fees for broadband access by 5% in 2006. Was this perhaps a reaction to the competition for audio telecommunications over the Internet (including Voice Over IP technology) which threaten their revenues? Cox has been aggressively advertising their own VoIP service at a much higher cost than their competitors and since they have so far been banned from blocking their competitors traffic, perhaps they have found a way to charge everyone higher fees to make up the difference.
In the US Broadband services were once regulated differently according to the technology on which they were delivered. While cable Internet has always been classified by the FCC as an information service free of most regulation, DSL was once regulated as a telecommunications service. As the two types of networks have increasingly provided the same services, it has become difficult to justify different sets of rules, leading to the question of which rules should apply to both. In 2005 the FCC re-classified DSL according to the more permissive cable rules.
Proposals for network neutrality laws are generally opposed by the cable television and telephone industries, and some network engineers and free-market scholars from the conservative to libertarian. Opponents argue that (1) Network neutrality regulations severely limit the Internet’s usefulness; (2) network neutrality regulations threaten to set a precedent for even more intrusive regulation of the Internet; (3) imposing such regulation will chill investment in competitive networks (e.g., wireless broadband) and deny network providers the ability to differentiate their services; and (4) that network neutrality regulations confuse the unregulated Internet with the highly regulated telecom lines that it has shared with voice and cable customers for most of its history.
By late 2005, network neutrality regulations were included in several Congressional draft bills, as a part of ongoing proposals to reform the Telecommunications Act of 1996. They would generally require internet providers to allow consumers access to any application, content, or service. However, important exceptions allow providers to discriminate for security purposes, or to offer specialized services like “broadband video” service. These regulations generally forbid ISPs from offering different service plans to their customers.
Here’s another good article: What is Net Neutrality and Why Is It Important?