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[ NNSquad ] Definitions: "Network Neutrality" (and "National Security")


As you might expect, I agree with those who suggest that the wording on
the NNSquad home page ( http://www.nnsquad.org ) gives a quite specific
and useful focus to what we want to accomplish.

I also believe that a universally accepted, formal definition of
"network neutrality" is no more possible -- nor necessary -- than
one for a term like "national security" or the like.  Yet these
terms are still useful so that people quickly understand the general
topic area under discussion, so long as we direct our concerns at
specific *actions* and don't try to hide behind too much
philosophical gobbledygook.

For example, I believe we all likely agree that we want national
security as a general concept, but different people will have
varying ideas on what that means at the detailed level.  We all want
to be safe from attack, but how far should we go to ensure that end
in terms of invasion of privacy, handling of captured prisoners, and
the like?  So we see the various arguments relating to national
security focused on these sorts of specific actions and questions.
There isn't a lot of time spent arguing for a concise definition of
national security in a broad sense.

Similarly, I'd like to see NNSquad devote its energies as much as
possible to *specific* issues relating to how the Internet is
managed, operated, used, and related topics, rather than what might
be characterized as philosophical meanderings -- perhaps more
appropriate for other venues -- however intellectually interesting
those latter discussions may be.

There are plenty of specific issues for us to deal with.  As it
stands now, just to choose one example, when a consumer pays extra
for a "higher speed" tier of Internet service, what are they
actually getting?  The ISP will usually define speeds in terms of
"last mile" behavior, while Terms of Service (ToS) will usually
routinely disclaim *any* performance guarantees overall.  This
situation strikes me as rather interesting.

I believe that it would be worthwhile for consumers to have tools
that could be used to help figure out what sort of Internet they're
really getting for their money, in terms of performance, actual
capabilities, restrictions, and the like.  We can work to develop
and deploy such tools, and help to analyze the resulting data for
consumers and the world at large to see, without getting everyone to
agree on a universal definition of network neutrality.

There's a financial services firm that runs a commercial showing a 
guy choking on food while eating.  As he continues to choke, the other
folks at his table discuss what's happening to him and how the
Heimlich Maneuver works.  As the choking continues, a man comes over
from another table, performs a quick Heimlich, and saves the day.
The tagline for the spot is "Less talk, more action."

I'll leave it at that.

NNSquad Moderator