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Net Neutrality Is Hypocrisy

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Net neutrality is a concept that the tech industry rallies around, but it is hypocrisy.

The idea is that the transport layer, operated by telephone companies and cable companies, must transport all bits across their lines at the same rate and cost. Nice idea, but it's hypocritical to demand that of their vendors when they don't provide it to their users. For some reason they are never called on this hypocrisy by the tech press.

At the PDFleaks conference in NYC last Saturday I said that after Amazon booted WikiLeaks from EC2 that signaled very clearly that there is no such thing as net neutrality. Here's a service provider, very analogous to Comcast and Verizon, that decided it wasn't in its economic interest to carry a user's bits. It wasn't just about the level or cost of the service, they cut them off totally. Without adequate explanation of why. Saying they were doing something illegal is no explanation at all. That's not for Amazon to decide, that's for the courts. Due process is required to prove that something illegal is happening. And many legal experts believe that there's nothing illegal about WikiLeaks.

Something like this happened to UserLand in April 2000. We were having serious problems with our ISP, our T1 line was dead for most of a month. When I had connectivity, I was writing about the problems on my blog. I had to, people needed to know why we weren't on the net. We had our own customers, and they weren't being very patient, nor should they have been. I don't think the supplier ever understood that we had customers, even though we said it repeatedly.

Out of the blue, without any explanation, they terminated our service. That cost us hugely, not only in human time, but in startup fees with a new ISP. We were a small, thinly financed company, so it really hurt.

But that's reality. Most of us live with anything-but net neutrality. When the tech industry asks us to stand up for them, they're really pushing the chutzpah.

Read your user-agreements carefully. Most of them give the vendor the right to terminate your service at will without any appeal possible. That's not net neutral. Not even close.

This post originally appeared at Scripting News.

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