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[ NNSquad ] Re: Neutrality in Perspective

One way to look at services like port 25 blocking, email relaying, virus checking etc is that they are optional services you could request from an SP. I say SP, not ISP because it's just about services and not access to some Internet out there.


I'm even willing to accept some of the services as a default but should be able to elect to get those services from any SP. I now use a third party for my mail filtering and not my IAP (Internet Access[sic] Provider). I use another to vouch to AOL et al that my email is well-behaved.


The rational for port blocking -- with Verizon it's 80, but 25 is open, is that ... oh, who cares ... it's just a damn inconvenience and doesn't prevent me from running a server. After all, everything on a peer network is a server so their definitions, like much of the ToS, are nonsense or self-serving like the artificial scarcity which makes Comcast look like a hero with Powerboost for temporarily removing some of their restrictions.


Note that today’s NAT/routers are an interesting example of optional port blocking. Because too many of today’s computers (not just Windows!) default to being too exposed it’s useful to block all ports by default and then open them selectively. Thus if I do a NET USE I’m not automatically sharing to the world. But we must be very careful in understanding their accidental utility with architecture and not confused these logical paths with the physical both. Future services listening on ports must be cognizant of the net ecology – too bad Microsoft (and others) seem to be redoubling their efforts to treat the firewall as architecture.


Ultimately the solution is local ownership of local (physical) infrastructure and a focus on the First Square Mile (FSM) rather than the First (or Last) mile access to the emergent property we call “The Internet” or, worse, “Internet”.


The advantage of NN as a meme is that it is a proxy for  insidious structural problems that allows reporters and other children to understand that something is wrong even if they can’t quite say what.



-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+bob19-0501=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org [mailto:nnsquad-bounces+bob19-0501=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of Lauren Weinstein
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:07
To: nnsquad@nnsquad.org
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Neutrality in Perspective



It seems to me that when we get down to brass tacks, there isn't as

much disagreement about what network neutrality really is as some

players would have us believe.


In essence, most of the arguments are indeed about how much

non-neutrality is "necessary" or otherwise should be permitted by

ISPs, and how much collateral damage to innocent users should be

permitted under any given scenario. 


For example, there is absolutely no good reason why a well-behaved

residential dynamic service user shouldn't be able to operate their

own mail servers over port 25.  There are utterly valid privacy and

security reasons for wanting to do this, not to mention much better

control over mail handling overall.  The problem comes up when ISPs

simply declare that an entire class of users can't use this port

or that protocol as designed, without taking into account the

variation between users. 


It might be argued that blocking port 25 for dynamic IP addresses

*by default* may not be unreasonable, so long as that block would

be removed upon request by a well-behaved, obviously non-spamming

user.  There are some ISPs that will do this, but they are way in

the minority, as far as I know.   So the good guy customers are

treated in advance like crooks in most cases in this respect.


The same reasoning extends to many other aspects of the neutrality



Many of these problems have been created by the artificial scarcity

in real choice of last mile high speed (broadband) ISPs for most

users.  In major metro areas you can typically choose among the

giant phone company and the giant cable company, who tend to impose

their own rules often on a nationwide basis.  Satellite Internet is

relatively expensive and suffers severe bandwidth limitations at the

consumer level.  Telcos and cable companies have in general fought

to make it difficult for third party resellers to make use of their

outside physical plant, thereby ensuring that third party resale

access services remain limited and in some cases of questionable

longterm viability.


In more rural areas, high speed Internet access choices are

typically even more constrained, sometimes reaching zero.


Perhaps the best recent hope of additional options in these regards

was Google's original spectrum resale proposal, but the vested

telecoms successfully fought that back tooth and nail at the FCC.


So when we talk about what sorts of restrictions on users are

reasonable for ISPs to impose, and whether or not any given

restriction or similar activity by an ISP should be viewed as

unacceptable, I believe that it's important to keep in mind that the

ISPs are by and large not innocent bystanders being victimized, but

to a major extent have themselves created the present environment by

virtue of their various business-related decisions and motives over




NNSquad Moderator