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[ NNSquad ] Re: Civil Rights Groups Wants P2P Throttling to Preserve Rights (or something like that)

At 08:54 AM 3/5/2008, Vint Cerf wrote:

these people don't seem to recognize that the interference of the
broadband providers is an abridgment of their ability to speak.
amazing. welcome to 1984, you have entered a time warp. Maybe this is
the Bizarro planet.

Three very important points.

Firstly, while the Constitution guarantees a right to free speech, it still allows government to regulate the "time, place, and manner" of speech. For example, you might be restricted from speaking in a way that violates others' rights (e.g. by a noise ordinance that prohibited you from driving through neighborhoods with a loudspeaker truck at 3 AM). Similarly, you might be restricted from using BitTorrent, which degrades others' service and thus harms THEIR ability to speak and also to receive speech.

Secondly, the Constitution applies to government, not private parties. You have no Constitutional right, for example, to go into a privately owned theater, get up on the stage, and disrupt the performance, no matter what you have to say. Likewise, you do not have the right to abuse a privately owned network so as to speak.

Thirdly, any speech which can be communicated via BitTorrent or other P2P protocols can also be communicated via other ones. If a speaker chooses to distribute speech exclusively via a protocol which is prohibited by most Internet users' contracts, he or she should expect that it won't reach many people. Anyone can post an ordinary Web site -- and should, if he or she wants the widest distribution for his or her speech. And that site will have the advantage of being able to be indexed by Google. ;-)

--Brett Glass

  [ Brett, get over it.  P2P isn't going away.  I don't care how
    much you cozy up to FTP (which you frequently and amusingly
    cite as an alternative), but P2P in some form is going to be a
    leading content delivery mechanism for the foreseeable future.
    We can argue about technical standards, but P2P and other
    high-volume-traffic generating applications are a fact, and
    attempts to wish them away via rhetoric or often unenforceable
    Terms of Service wording are a waste of time and effort.

    And while it's true that the Constitution doesn't automatically
    extend free speech protections into private contexts, it's also
    the case that society generally recognizes that those
    industries that provide access to communications -- the
    infrastructure on which free speech travels -- have special
    responsibilities, especially in limited competition
    environments.  Those responsibilities can either be approached
    by firms on a voluntary basis, or can be imposed via regulation.

    This holds true whether we're talking about giant
    publicly-owned communications behemoths or tiny,
    sole-proprietor wireless carriers operating in unlicensed

    We've now both had a say, and this thread is closed unless
    something notable is submitted.  Continued discussion in the
    Forum is welcome.

        -- Lauren Weinstein
           NNSquad Moderator ]