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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.
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
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