Mozilla Makes Suggestions to the FCC about Net Neutrality

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2014 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, net neutrality

Recently, the FCC has been moving to give up Net Neutrality. Mozilla, being dedicated to the free (as in speech) and open internet, has offered a simple compromise. Their proposal is that the FCC classifies internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers on the server side, forcing restrictions on them to prevent discrimination of traffic to customers, while allowing them to be "information services" to consumers.

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In other words, force ISPs to allow services to have unrestricted access to consumers, without flipping unnecessary tables with content distribution (TV, etc.) services. Like all possibilities so far, it could have some consequences, however.

"Net Neutrality" is a hot issue lately. Simply put, the internet gives society an affordable method of sharing information. How much is "just information" is catching numerous industries off guard, including ones which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) participate in (such as TV and Movie distribution), and that leads to serious tensions.

On the one hand, these companies want to protect their existing business models. They want consumers to continue to select their cable and satellite TV packages, on-demand videos, and other services at controlled profit margins and without the stress and uncertainty of competing.

On the other hand, if the world changes, they want to be the winner in that new reality. Yikes.

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A... bad... photograph of Mozilla's "UP" anti-datamining proposal.

Mozilla's proposal is very typical of them. They tend to propose compromises which divides an issue such that both sides get the majority of their needs. Another good example is "UP", or User Personalization, which tries to cut down on data mining by giving a method for the browser to tell websites what they actually want to know (and let the user tell the browser how much to tell them). The user would compromise, giving the amount of information they find acceptable, so the website would compromise and take only what they need (rather than developing methods to grab anything and everything they can). It feels like a similar thing is happening here. This proposal gives users what they want, freedom to choose services without restriction, without tossing ISPs into "Title II" common carrier altogether.

Of course, this probably comes with a few caveats...

The first issue that pops in my mind is, "What is a service?". I see this causing problems for peer-to-peer applications (including BitTorrent Sync and Crashplan, excluding Crashplan Central). Neither endpoint would necessarily be classified as "a server", or at least convince a non-technical lawmaker that is the case, and thus ISPs would not need to apply common carrier restrictions to them. This could be a serious issue for WebRTC. Even worse, companies like Google and Netflix would have no incentive to help fight those battles -- they're legally protected. It would have to be defined, very clearly, what makes "a server".

Every method will get messy for someone. Still, the discussion is being made.

Source: Mozilla
May 5, 2014 | 11:27 PM - Posted by brisa117

I think the issue would be less pressing if all ISPs were created equal... or equal enough to at least have a decent choice. For instance, I have one cable company I can use unless I want to move across town (cost prohibitive), switch to DSL or satellite internet (which are ungodly slow)! If I had more choices of real "high speed" internet, then the competition of the free market might keep net neutrality alive. I'm sure the expansion of the fiber gigabit internet providers will help, but not soon enough.

May 6, 2014 | 12:06 AM - Posted by B-Rad (not verified)

Mozilla supports free speech? Are you talking about the same Mozilla that forced their CEO to resign because he supported traditional marriage?

May 6, 2014 | 01:00 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

They support free speech. They appointed him CEO even after a Twitter backlash over the same topic in 2012. They asked him to continue to work with the organization after he chose to resign. On top of that, they also allowed their employees to speak out against their decision to appoint a CEO who happened to support Prop 8, without any fear.

Yes, I am talking about that same Mozilla.

May 7, 2014 | 12:28 AM - Posted by Sophana Aik (not verified)

Thank you Scott. The misinformation that spread is ridiculous.

It was his own decision to re-sign and was NOT forced out by anyone. To add to that, we "Mozilla" are still open to Brendan re-joining the company any time he chooses. And actually he has been keeping in touch with our new interim CEO as well as other Mozilla executives.

And yes I do work at Mozilla as an IT Support Engineer. In fact one day I wish I could join the podcast and talk about the type of tech hardware and software we use. I go on PCper regularly to keep up to date with the latest and greatest.

Best,

-Soap

May 6, 2014 | 09:39 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

They should change USA to USM (united states of Monopoly).

May 6, 2014 | 10:03 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Look Comcast offers telephone service over the coaxial cable, and I am sure the packets are over some internet protocol, just like their internet traffic, so why not regulate them like a common carrier. It is time that there be laws that do away with the single internet franchise in some communities, and allow all providiors access to the last mile. Real competition means that consumers have more than one service providor for their location, and not these only game in town Monopolies that exist today. The same goes for being forced to buy third party PC/laptop/mobile hardware with a forced copy of one OS company's product. There needs to be some serious Trust busting in the US, just like there was for the Oil/railroad trusts in the past.

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