Today, in response to "It’s The Internet Stupid”, Richard Bennett highlights (on the IP List) something I've noticed even among other advocates of 'Net Neutrality' (and how I've come to detest the term after its widespread and misguided overuse).
Richard Bennett Writes:
"...the side-effects of such a regime are enormous, reaching not only into the prohibition of business contracts that would give consumers real choice in voice and video services, but banning necessary network management practices to prevent DOS attacks, Spam, and other exploits."
Legislating against the concepts of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) or other preferential treatment of packets is not the brightest thing to do. I've seen others draw analogies to gun control using the 'guns don't kill people' argument. Network algorithms don't kill people either but that's the most I'll take that line of argument forward, it is loaded and the traps are 'easy' to find for people on both sides of the argument.
Much as I agree with other parts of what is a very well constructed and persuasive argument, that is the reason I am not going to sign it. Though I do see several friends with far more network clue and background than I do have signed it — I'll beg to differ with them in this case.
What follows next is a comment on the entire Net Neutrality debate so far — and it is emphatically not targeted at David Isenberg. Kind of a summary, I'd say.
That doesn't appear to stop people opposed to these concepts, or to spam filtering, or to various other things. It is a tactic I dislike — and one which has an uncomfortable resemblance to that old Goebbels quote about repeating a lie often enough so that people start to believe it.
Which is one reason why I've had rather long arguments with various users of this tactic — for example the EFF about spam filtering. Very similar rhetoric indeed if you read through old Politech/IP posts. It was a nasty and disagreeable surprise for me to see that same tactic recycled with Susan Crawford, whose knowledge and opinions I have a deep respect for, believing enough of it to liken DPI to "the sidewalk eavesdropping and wanting money".
As I said in my comment on that article, "DPI is a tool - And a very useful tool for security. Feel free to blame its abuse if you wish. But don't knock DPI for that." I wanted to say rather more but left it at that, having gone through a rather long series of such arguments only a few years back with the late and unlamented dearaol.com group and its "goodmail is blackmail" campaign.
End result — dearaol.com is dead in the water after a lot of noise for a few months, and the argument (from my perspective) is summarized here… my comments on propaganda and its abuses in that CircleID article hold good even here, I'm afraid. That and various other efforts to completely eliminate server side spam filtering (which is — these days — based on user reports, and so while there's a chance that solicited email may get blocked if enough people report it as unsolicited, well… there's always a chance you might get obama as president even if you voted for George Bush).
Note: I have been involved in spam filtering from a volunteer perspective long enough that I tend to react more strongly about spam filtering than about Net Neutrality ...not just because it is my day job ... my involvement in CAUCE predates any day job I've had at an ISP or spamfilter provider.
The quality of the arguments being advanced has either gone down or has grown boringly familiar from being recycled several dozen times. So, besides being inaccurate, the arguments have become boring not to mention plain silly. Which is why you haven't seen me post as actively about these long Net Neutrality threads as I have about spam filtering.
This argument lacks the silliness of various other arguments put forward against net neutrality. And it has been put forward by a person that I respect and signed by other people that I respect. Which is why I rebutted it and then posted in this level of detail rather than simply ignore it, or in one or two cases, wax sarcastic about it. I will still disagree with it though. Because I think the approach is wrong — and it is the sane end of a spectrum of wrongness.
By Suresh Ramasubramanian, Architect, Antispam and Compliance
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