Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Net Neutrality: Going to the Extreme

I have been discussing Net Neutrality for over five years now. The issue should be simple. First, the packets to and from me should be secure and not open to any form of inspection or discrimination by any intermediary. Second, if I send a hundred pound packet I should pay 100 times more than if I send a one pound packet, thereabouts. Simple.

Not quite. First the FCC has no authority here, really. Yet that has not stopped them from issuing an NPRM and in turn starting the rule-making. Yes it will be thrown out by the DC Circuit. But that has never stopped the FCC before. They have the reputation to keep of being the most Luddite group in DC, and that is truly saying something. One may have thought Martin rather heavy handed, well just look at the crowd now.

Now on to the most recent venture, the attempt to make Google adhere to net neutrality in searching, whatever that is. Yesterday in the NY Times some member of what appears to be a disadvantaged company, also called a flop by some, bemoans the fact that he alleges that Google did not treat him and his company properly, whatever that means. He states:

"Today, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s new Bing have become the Internet’s gatekeepers, and the crucial role they play in directing users to Web sites means they are now as essential a component of its infrastructure as the physical network itself. The F.C.C. needs to look beyond network neutrality and include “search neutrality”: the principle that search engines should have no editorial policies other than that their results be comprehensive, impartial and based solely on relevance."

You cannot make this up! Search Neutrality! How about the First Amendment to the Constitution. Must the Times allow equal time on Page 1 for dissenting opinions? I think not. Google has a service, if you do not like it go somewhere else. The FCC has even less authority here my poor disgruntled young person! At least in net neutrality as I had discussed it there is over a thousand years of common law in bailments to hang your hat on. What is the basis of your claim? Oh I forgot, this is the generation where every student is on the honor roll and every student is a winner at sports. Not like that in life!

This whining young person then continues:

"Google’s treatment of Foundem stifled our growth and constrained the development of our innovative search technology. The preferential placement of Google Maps helped it unseat MapQuest from its position as America’s leading online mapping service virtually overnight. The share price of TomTom, a maker of navigation systems, has fallen by some 40 percent in the weeks since the announcement of Google’s free turn-by-turn satellite navigation service. And RightMove, Britain’s leading real-estate portal, lost 10 percent of its market value this month on the mere rumor that Google planned a real-estate search service here."

Let me tell a short story. I used Rand McNally's map service for years and paid a fee. Then they decided to change it, increased the fee, which I paid, and then destroyed all my old data. I had no reason to stay, I told them as much, went to Google, because it was better, not free, better! If Google had a bad search engine, such as in my opinion the Bing system, I would have gone elsewhere. I use Google, I like Google, I am making an economic decision.

We will watch the FCC go through the movements of being the protector of the consumer in the neutrality of everything wars. Perhaps they should try neutrality amongst religions, having Hindus, Christians, Jews, and the like all have equal footing, perhaps that would eliminate world conflict!

The rules to control net neutrality already exist in common law. They are the common law common carriage rights. We do not need some unbalanced FCC getting in the middle. The Government seems incapable of doing anything except spending money. In my experience the only competent branch of the Federal Executive is the Military, most of the time, not always. For example, just look at the three stooges from last weeks flight to Detroit. We want these minds controlling our information flow now, not really, let the market do that, please.