Posts on Network Neutrality

October 24, 2006

Net Neutrality Slow to Enter into European Telecom Regulations Debate


Net Neutrality is overshadowed by wider regulatory problems in Europe. In the most recent EU Telecom regulations review, net neutrality was alluded to only indirectly. The leading issues in EU telecoms debate at present are

  • Unifying Regulatory body accross Europe; debate is dominated by the compromise between a central regulatory body and decentralized powers at national level
  • Curbing the Mobile roaming charge abuse; mobile phone operators currently operate non-competitive tariff arrangements for roaming service
  • Transfer to new technologies , notably IP technology
  • Improved Spectrum Management in recognition of the inefficiency of the current spectrum licence assignment model. The spectrum debate will hopeful give rise to increased ranges assigned to unregulated and market players, which extract huge value with the neutral "end-to-end" data comms technologies like bluetooth and wimax.
  • Reduction of the regulatory burden on companies; if anything the European market is over-regulated and EU commission is charged with increasing freedom of the market gradually.

Net neutrality has entered the debate; finding the right balance between regulation and competitive market mechanisms for the IP data transit services is acknowledged as important by the EU Telecom Commissioner. Alex Blowers, International Director of UK Telecoms Regulator OFCOM, raised the issue in EU Regulatory framework consultation seminar. But the work on assuring the best net-neutrality solution is very much secondary to agreeing on the final EU regulatory bodies. Whom will be charged with investigating and legislating net neutrality in Europe is still an open question.

Regulatory development on net neutrality needs a push lest the markets implement layered net services without waiting for any regulations.

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October 12, 2006

Ridiculous Court Ruling Against Spamhaus Anti-spam Organization

spamhaus anti-spam

Spamhaus is non-profit organization set up by Steve Linford in 1998 whose mission is to track the worst of organized spam operators. It provides anti-spam intelligence to internet services, Law Enforcement Agencies, and government anti-spam legislation. The organization is staffed by the world's foremost anti-spam specialists whose "spammer blacklist" (ROKSO) is widely used in anti-spam filters by ISPs and webmail companies, including

In an astonishingly misguided ruling, e360 Insight LLC a Chicago bulk-emailer won damages against spamhaus for being included in the Spamhaus blacklist. Spamhaus disagree on the facts of the case and on the jurisdiction, but did not appear at the US district court of Illinois; non-profit organizations of limited means cannot defend against disputes in all worldwide jurisdictions.

The bulk mailer won the $11.7m compensation, and Spamhaus was found to be in contempt of court after it failed to pay or remove the company's name from its blacklist.

Furthermore, the order, which is being considered by district judge Charles P Kocoras, proposed that ICANN suspend's domain name until spamhaus comes to rule. ICANN has refused the request,

.... ICANN cannot comply with any order requiring it to suspend or place a client hold on or any specific domain name because ICANN does not have either the ability or the authority to do so. Only the Internet registrar with whom the registrant has a contractual relationship - and in certain instances the Internet registry - can suspend an individual domain name.

And since the internet registrar in question is likely to be outside the Illinois court jurisdiction, Spamhaus should be safe from the courts ridiculous verdict.

Geographical Jurisdiction over the Internet

The issue of geographical and national jurisdiction over the internet is central, again. It is absurd that the Illinois court claim legal jurisdiction over a worldwide case. Few organizations have the legal budget to fight hostile legal claims worldwide. Some form of supra-national organization should be given legal juridiction for this type of internet based conflict. Spamhaus' states

Spamhaus is however concerned at how far a U.S. court will go before asking itself if it has jurisdiction, and is intending to appeal the ruling in order to stamp out further attempts by spammers to abuse the U.S. court system in this way

The particulars of the case exaggerate how badly some local courts approach internet based disputes. A not-for-profit organization like Spamhaus is funded through low service fees from their users, and voluntary contributions by internet companies. Such limited funds do not provide for fighting legal cases in all country and state jurisdictions.

Illinois Court's Competence on Internet Issues

The courts's competence seems dubious also. The authority and competence of spamhaus over their anti-spam blacklist has been praised widely by many instititutions. Spamhaus itself states

....The Illinois ruling shows that U.S. courts can be bamboozled by spammers with ease, and that no proof is required in order to obtain judgments over clearly foreign entities...

Resources to Fight Spam

It is annoying to Spamhaus contributors how funds and resources are wasted at the expense of the internet community as a whole. Spamhaus' non-appearance at the court case is a logical response.

The case mirrors how easily commercial interests manipulate government on Net Neutrality legislation. How Judge Charles Kocoras and the Illinois court fail to balance the bulk mailer's arguments against pressing public interests, as expressed by the CAN-SPAM act, is beyond me.


Spamhaus domain name may be suspended - ZDNet UK News,

Illinois local legal commentary of the case here

ICANN Grants Temporary Reprieve to Spamhaus]

[Disclosure: Eucap portfolio companies invest heavily in anti-spam mechanisms. Plus I hate spam]

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September 20, 2006

Telco Dollars All Powerful in Net Neutrality Debate

Proof that the Telco money is dominating the Net Neutrality debate in Washington is the latest from the Senate Committe on Commerce latest poll; the result of the poll among 800 registered voters is that
.. an overwhelming majority of American voters favor video choice over onerous “Net Neutrality” regulations...

The sampled voters prefer to leave choice to the consumer, believing in the efficiency of the free market, rather than legislate constraints on the abuse of the market by Telco companies.

Unfortunately, the poll merely shows how easily the Network Neutrality issue is distorted. The first aberrant fact about the poll is that it was funded by Verizon ; a leading interested party against Net Neutrality. The poll does not clarify that Net Neutrality is what currently makes the internet successful, and its loss will have an unpredictable affect on the web.

Upon examining the design of the poll, Valleywag is screaming Telco propaganda push

At the same time, more credible and objective institutions are supporting Network Neutrality. The American Electronics Association (AeA), which represents 2,500 companies from every corner of the high-tech industry, released a report yesterday strongly supporting Net Neutrality and urging Congress:

“Don’t stifle competition and innovation by allowing network operators to change and distort what is currently a highly competitive system.”

“The principles of Net Neutrality have created the Internet as we know it — the most dynamic network for communication and commerce in human history,” .

the AeA calls on Congress to “safeguard the competitive nature of the Internet by allowing consumers and content providers to connect with each other in an open marketplace, providing consumers with equal access to all content.”

Allowing the nation’s largest phone and cable companies to tilt the market in favor of larger and better funded content providers would “undermine the fundamental principles of open and free exchange of information across the network,” according to the American Electronics Associationreport on Net Neutrality.

In spite of the vast resources spent by the Telcos in Washington, they are unlikely to have all their own way.

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July 2, 2006

Net Neutrality Threat Puts Central Internet Hubs Under Pressure

Sovereign House in Docklands, one of the Enclick server sites, also houses the London Internet Exchange (LINX). The biggest internet hub, or Internet exchange point (IXP), in the world. The internet traffic resulting from 95% of UK internet users shunts through the LINX IXP as it transits to and from 200 ISP companies. Traffic peaks routinely exceed 100 Gbits.
Enclick Shopping channel Server Racks

Almost half of the total Internet routing table is available by peering at LINX. The LINX "collector" router contains some 57,000 routes which are obtained purely by peering with LINX members.

The Docklands Internet Exchange Point is the most central internet hub in the world, with least degrees of separation from any server or user on the internet.

LINX is a mutual, not-for-profit organization jointly owned by more than 200 members, both ISPs and content delivery service providers, from the UK, mainland Europe, the USA, Africa and the Far East. The picture shows the view outside its Sovereign House datacenter. Docklands Datacenter

As a common infrastructure point, LINX also acts a common discussion and regulation point between content and telecom companies. For the good of the internet is one of its central tenets. An example of this vision is LINX lowering of fees for small ISP to connect to the central internet hub.

LINX's future is in peril though, whether it survives will depend on how it navigates the Net Neutrality debacle. Telecom companies are to acquire the right to charge for transit as well as delivery of internet traffic.. Transit points like LINX have so far been exempt from commercial interests, as all traffic was treated equally. From the moment tariffs can be levied legitimately on traffic transit, internet hubs become commercial battlefields.

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June 14, 2006

Net Neutrality fight continues

The war between large telecom corporation interest and society interests continues. Battles are joined on a wide front, principally in the states where the commercial and society interests are most salient.

The week opened with a set back House rejects Net neutrality rules . But the effort on public interests behalf is widening. Google, MSN, Yahoo and now eBay are but a few of the players who have joined the fight.

As the final House vote earlier this week drew closer, lobbyists and CEOs from both sides began stepping up the pressure. eBay CEO Meg Whitman e-mailed more than a million members, urging them to support the concept, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt on Wednesday called on his company's users to follow suit.

The fight continues however. Net neutrality's crowded field

Bill number Lead sponsor(s) What it proposes Status
S.2360 Wyden (D) No two-tier Internet Still in Senate committee
S.2917 Snowe (R) and Dorgan (D) No two-tier Internet Just introduced
HR5417 Sensenbrenner (R) and Conyers (D) Antitrust extended to Net neutrality Awaiting House floor vote
HR5273 Markey (D) No two-tier Internet Still in House committee *
HR5252 Barton (R) and Rush (D) FCC can police complaints Net neutrality rejected
S.2686 Stevens (R) and Inouye (D) FCC will do a study Senate committee vote expected in June

Source: CNET research

While the initial debate was on whether broadband providers could block certain Web sites, it has moved on to whether they should be permitted to create a "fast lane" that could be reserved for video or other specialized content. But as Google's Brin stated, there can't be a fast lane without a slow lane.

Debate will no doubt rage on evolving issues.

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June 8, 2006

Net neutrality impact on startups is being overlooked

Net neutrality effect on online media startups is being overlooked. In Susan Crawford's latest analysis on Explaining net neutrality, she argues that net neutrality will be better for society as a whole. The issue is more critical because it impacts on the seed bed of economic growth; startups, company creation and entrepreneurs.

Small company creation is the biggest contributor of economic growth. Additional telecom fees impact small startups most, and will be a real growth killer for media and technology startups. Net neutrality has a direct impact on this most delicate and important part of society.

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May 17, 2006

Email Delivery Neutrality Gone Forever

Delivering email newsletters to their clients has become a problem for smaller companies. The cause is the absense of email neutrality; the emerging tier system for classing email senders. Large corporations, like yahoo and Microsoft, have formed a top tier of email senders, and the small companies have been relegated to the bottom tier.

The struggle for email neutrality has been fought for years as email senders, like the small company newsletter authors, have fought to be included into the increasing number of email accreditation bodies. The struggle has been fought and ultimately lost.

Spam has forced several tiers of email senders onto the internet infrastructure. ISPs increasingly clear email based on not just blacklists like, but also on white lists (or private accreditation organizations). The latest email accreditation list has been added by Goodmail, another email accrediation provider Goodmail Adds 15 ESP Partners

Goodmail, the e-mail accreditation provider generating controversy through its partnership with AOL, has signed up 15 new e-mail service providers to implement its CertifiedEmail service, including BlueStreak, Acxiom Digital, e-Dialog, Epsilon Interactive, ExactTarget, Harte-Hanks Postfuture, Responsys, Yesmail and Zustek.

On the receiving side, besides AOL, Goodmail is expected to be implemented soon by Yahoo, though no details have been shared.

The reputation space is wide open, with differing methodologies competing to see which can gain ground. Goodmail's per-message fees strike some as the equivalent of e-mail postage, and has legislators and special interest groups whipped into a frenzy. Other reputation providers, like Habeas and Return Path, take a more services-based approach, helping providers improve their sending practices instead of paying to send mail. Which one of these methods will work best? Or will each find its own niche? Let me know what you think in the comments, or drop me a line at kevin-at-clickz-dot-com.
Nowadays large corporate marketing departments can buy good delivery of their mailing lists, whereas smaller company mailing lists do not get through.

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May 15, 2006

Telco Companies Promise Innovation in Exchange for Monopoly Concessions

It is true that the depreciation in telcos impact substantially on their return on equity. The telco infrastructures are expensive to maintain, specially when the investment was ill judged during the 2000 boom. Few ISPs are covering their depreciation with capital investment fully. An unfortunate fact for telco shareholders and directors.

Telcos would generate better profits by abolishing network neutrality, at the expense of profits for society as a whole. Large telco companies, specially encumbent former state companies, are not known for the wealth creation abilities. Small entrepreneurial companies have historically been the biggest source of GDP growth.

Giving further market concessions to a mature industry sector with a poor track record, at the expense of the small entrepreneurial company sector is short termism at its best

Quoting Susan Crawford blog it is a question of trust:

Why should we trust them now? We've already given them incentive after incentive, access to rights-of-way (presumably in exchange for common-carrier behavior, as Dan Berninger points out), and the regulatory shirts off our backs.

Helping telco companies make more profits is good for society as whole, or just the unlucky telco shareholders?

May 13, 2006

Cisco Weighs In on the Arm's Race Legislation (Net Neutrality)

An extract from Cisco's letter to congress, Cisco on net neutrality, reads as follows,

"We strongly support the principle of an open Internet," Cisco CEO John Chambers wrote in a letter to Congressman Joe Barton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "We must, however, balance the fact that innovation inside the network is just as important as innovation in services and devices connected to the Internet. Broadband Internet access service providers should remain free to engage in pro-competitive network management techniques to alleviate congestion, ameliorate capacity constraints and enable new services."

I cannot help but think a good arms trading company would issue an identical statement on arm sales limiting legislation.

May 11, 2006

Varsavsky weighs in on Net Neutrality

Martin Varsavsky is the ultimate disruptive innovator for the telecom's sector. His companies have grossed billions of dollars in the retail end of the market. He diagnoses plain short term greed as telecom companies try and squeeze internet media companies for a part of the high margins.

In this case, it is fortunate that Europe regulates its markets more vigorously than the US. France is quoted as a good example of how IP transit business is forced to operate at arms length with its financial sales operation.

May 4, 2006

Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the internet, weighs in on Net Neutrality

In Tim's words

The Internet is increasingly becoming the dominant medium binding us. The neutral communications medium is essential to our society. It is the basis of a fair competitive market economy. It is the basis of democracy, by which a community should decide what to do. It is the basis of science, by which humankind should decide what is true.

Neutrality of the Net | Decentralized Information Group (DIG) Breadcrumbs

Tim identifies addresses the difficulty of design legislation as a worthy undertaking, and cites France with its separation between IP providers and business in other layers as a good example for the US.

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May 2, 2006

Citizen Journalism and net neutrality - great Gillmor speech

Dan Gillmor, the daddy of grassroots independent journalism on the net, has given a seminal speech on the role of blogs in maintaining transparency and independence of journalism. In Dave's words,

The cable and phone companies want to control not just the pipes through which our data moves. They also want to decide what will get delivered, in what order, and at what speed. They haven't pulled this off yet, but they're getting closer every day.

In this age of media consolidation, where newspapers and TV channels are owned by fewer and fewer companies, maintaining a free speech medium like blogs and the internet is imporntant for civil liberties.

April 27, 2006

Net Neutrality - Defending Online Innovation

Net Neutrality provides the freedom that has made the internet a great creative commons. It guarantees that the telecom carriers and ISPs do not interfere with the flow of information on the net; it stops them from interfering with the flow of data for profit. Telecom lobbyists are arguing that they should be allowed to sell different levels of service, at different prices. And CISCO is providing the equipment to filter internet traffic according to commercial rules.

Traffic to big corporate web servers would have the right of way over small company traffic. In clear corruption of the internet early values, as described by Lawrence Lessig , famous for his book Future of Ideas, calls it the end-to-end principle so essential for the internet to continue to be a creative commons, where anybody can connect anything from anywhere on the internet.

The future is being sold to industries of the past.

Yet, Net neutrality is so easy to take for granted. Like free breathable air, freedom of speech, freedom of movement. You only notice them when they are absent or taken away from you. I think many non-militant people will become radicals pro-freedom activists, when big business puts its first filters in.

Small business entrepreneurs are the first into the fray. As a technologist and entrepreneur it is unthinkable that new statups companies should have to ask permission and pay for the privilege of connecting my web servers to the internet. The loss of net neutrality will kill off hundreds and thousands of startups with enormous potential.

The political battle is currently ongoing in Washington. Recently the telecom corporations had a victory, as net neutrality legislation was set back Telecoms groups turn back plans for net price controls, a few organizations lobbying to maintain net freedom are

There is so much we take for granted

Paul Elosegui

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