Big Brother Service Provider

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog - Tehrani.com
Rich Tehrani
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Big Brother Service Provider

If I told you a book distributor with a virtual monopoly in most of the US was blocking the distribution of books it found inappropriate, what would you say? What would our government do if such a practice took place? I realize today this scenario can’t happen because we have open access to information on the internet but what if it happened fifteen years ago when the internet did not exist?
 
Wouldn’t you be horrified? Would you speak out against such practices? I certainly would.
 
But today I learned Comcast is blocking some of the traffic on its broadband service, specifically slowing the uploading of files on their network via popular file sharing programs.
 
On the one hand I am 100% for Comcast using technology which reduces their network costs. At the same time I am scared we are going down what lawyers call a slippery slope. If Comcast is slowing some applications today, what will they do tomorrow?
 
Are we supposed to trust service providers to do what they want? These are some of the concerns we need to deal with as part of the net neutrality argument. The US government is divided over the issue of net neutrality and there are real reasons to keep from over-regulating service providers. The question we need to keep asking is, at what point do service providers overstep their bounds, blocking competitive services or at least slowing them in a manner which negatively affects consumers?
 
It seems to me if a service provider is going to block or slow some traffic; they need to at least disclose this information to their customers in advance. After all, having to read stories from the Associated Press is not the way to find the internet service you pay for is being purposely slowed down.
 
Most service providers have onerous service agreements customers are forced to agree with. Shouldn’t the provider too be held to a basic disclosure clause to ensure customers know exactly what they are getting in advance?
 


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