[governance] FW: [Netneutrality] Organic Net Neutrality: David Weinberger

Seth Johnson seth.p.johnson at gmail.com
Mon Dec 8 23:37:09 EST 2014

On Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 10:16 PM, Ang Peng Hwa (Prof) <TPHANG at ntu.edu.sg>

> 1. Many people are surprised when I tell them to speed up the Internet,
> traffic is “managed” or “shaped”.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_shaping
> In other words, left to its “organic” self in this Weinberger sense, we
> will actually have slower Internet speed than if we manage the data.

Traffic is often shaped, but only where it's possible.  That is, when you
control policy across routers.  Or you *contract* specialized treatment
with other intermediaries or end networks.

The open network supports flexibility and interoperability.  Specialized
treatment impedes that.  It's a general purpose platform across autonomous

You can see some discussion of various practices that affect the
flexibility of the network in:


The last one is a sort of synthesis.

> I listen to Tim Wu, who coined the term, and found that he was very
> careful about this point. He never says no traffic discrimination at all.
> Some discrimination (i.e. Traffic shaping) in fact is good for the
> community.

Yes, Tim Wu started on his theme, with Lessig and Mark Lemley, when our
regulators eliminated competition at the physical layer.  He is attentive
to the fact that the network of networks is not optimized for particular
apps, and constructs his case in light of that.  However, you don't design
the network of networks to serve particular applications.  That's,
analogically speaking, the difference between a graphics card and a general
purpose computer.

The important thing is to draw the distinction properly.  What you do after
that (and after you distinguish properly) might be a number of things.  I
would stress to you that the important thing is that at bare minimum you
can track the effect of specialized services on the open platform if you
recognize the difference properly.

This goes into that:

Comments on Distinguishing Open Internet from Specialized Services

> But once you do that, it’s a small step to throttling other services that
> are not in your interests.

Yes.  You can address that based on a proper understanding of the network
of networks and of NN in both senses, both the original form and the forms
you take when you've let the physical layer become privatized.

> 2. Net neutrality is an intrusion into the rights of the owner of the
> pipe/system/network. We can intrude into someone’s property rights if the
> benefits to society at large are greater than the costs of the intrusion.
> An example is copyright. It is a monopoly right but there are limits to
> what the owner can do.

Public franchises, right of way and tort law for common carriers are not
that simple.  They don't come down to "who owns what [land[."  First of
all, right of way is not ownership of real property or land; it's a set of
rights secured by the state as an easement across other people's property.
The rights of an incumbent are of that nature.  Yes, in many cases, the
pipe they lay is allowed to be their private property -- as an analog, when
railroads lose their right of way, they will often go in and remove the
ties and rails as their property.  However, their rights in the "way" are
granted and secured by the state, hence public.  They are private in the
sense that a private party holds them (sometimes it's "public right of
way," which simply means the special rights are held by the general
public), but they are not attributes of ordinary private property.

You're always going to have right of way in populated areas, because the
alternative notion of competition would be one where everybody digs their
own trenches.  Long haul transit can generally be treated more close to
"fully private," since indeed each party generally does string their own


3. So between #1 and #2, we have a tricky question of balancing needs,
> demands and interests. It also indicates that net neutrality is not an
> absolute. Some non-neutrality is good. Where it crosses to bad, and IMHO
> only when it does so, should we say that the owner’s right to do what it
> wants with its pipe ends and society’s interests override.
>  My 2 cents.
>   Regards,
> Peng Hwa ANG
> *Peng Hwa ANG (Professor)* | Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and
> Information | Nanyang Technological University *|* WKWSCI 02-17, 31
> Nanyang Link, Singapore 639798  | Tel: (65) 67906109 GMT+8h | Fax: (65)
> 6792-7526 | Web: http://www.sirc.ntu.edu.sg/Home@SiRC/Pages/Team.aspx
>  President Elect-Select 2014 ICA
> [image: confbanner] <http://www.icahdq.org/conf/index.asp>
>  On 9/12/14 10:23 am, "michael gurstein" <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:
>  -----Original Message-----
> From: Netneutrality [mailto:netneutrality-bounces at intgovforum.org
> <netneutrality-bounces at intgovforum.org>] On Behalf Of Seth Johnson
> Sent: Monday, December 08, 2014 11:14 PM
> To: netneutrality at intgovforum.org; nncoalition at mailman.edri.org; bestbits
> Subject: [Netneutrality] Organic Net Neutrality: David Weinberger
>  David Weinberger coins a term and makes a critical point:
>  Organic Net Neutrality
> https://ting.com/blog/organic-net-neutrality/
>  There are two types of Net Neutrality. Supporters of it (like me) spend
> most of their time arguing for Artificial Net Neutrality: a government
> policy that regulates the few dominant providers of access to the Internet.
> In fact, we should be spending more of our time reminding people that
> before Artificial Net Neutrality the Internet came by its neutrality
> naturally, even organically.
>  To see the difference, you have to keep in mind, (as my friend Doc
> Searls frequently reminds me) that Net Neutrality refers not only to a
> policy but to a fundamental characteristic of the Internet. The Internet is
> an inter-network: local networks agree to pass data (divided into packets)
> without discriminating among them, so that no matter what participating
> network you’re plugged into, you can always get and send information
> anywhere else on the Net. That’s the magic of the Net: It doesn’t care how
> you’ve plugged in, where you are, or what sort of information you’re
> looking for. It will all get to you, no matter where it’s coming from, what
> it’s about, or what type of application created it.
>  In fact, it’s because the creators of the Internet didn’t try to
> anticipate what people would use it for that it has become the greatest
> engine of creativity and wealth in recorded history. For example, if the
> Internet had been designed primarily for connecting static pages, it would
> have become less suitable for phone calls or video. If the current Internet
> access providers decide that videos are their highest priority traffic,
> then online games might suffer, and it would be harder to establish the
> next new idea — maybe it’s holograms or some new high-def audio stream or a
> web of astronomers working on data shared around the world.
>  In short, we don’t want the businesses that sell us access to the
> Internet to have the power to decide what gets priority on the
> Internet…especially since many of them are also in the content business and
> thus would be tempted to give preference to their own videos and music
> streams. Artificial Net Neutrality as a policy is intended to preserve the
> Internet’s non-discriminatory nature by regulating the access providers.
>  Even the most fervent supporters of Net Neutrality policies usually
> favor it only because we now have so few access providers (also known as
> Internet Service Providers, or ISPs). Before a series of decisions by the
> U.S. Federal Communications Commision beginning in 2002, and a ruling by
> the Supreme Court in 2005, there were more than 9,000 ISPs in that country.
> Now the ones that remain are either serving small, often remote, areas or
> are one of the tiny handful of absolute giants.
>  When you talk about Net Neutrality with Seth Johnson, a tireless
> advocate presently working at the international level to defend the
> Internet, he explains that before 2005, when there was a vibrant,
> competitive market for ISPs, the Internet was naturally neutral. Back when
> the Internet was composed of relatively small local networks, if an ISP
> wanted to promise its subscribers that it would provide a “fast lane” for
> movies, or games, or singing telegrams, or whatever, it could only provide
> that favorable discrimination within its own small network. The many other
> networks those packets passed through wouldn’t know or care about that one
> network’s preferences. Zipping packets through the last couple of miles to
> your house would be like speeding up a jet for the last hundred meters of
> its flight: it wouldn’t make any noticeable difference.
>  That was then. We need a Net Neutrality policy now because the giant
> ISPs’ own networks are so extensive that a packet of data may spend most of
> its time within a single network. That network can institute discriminatory
> practices that are noticeable. A Net Neutrality policy prevents them from
> giving in to this commercial temptation.
>  Many of us Net Neutrality advocates, including Seth and Doc, would far
> rather see the Internet’s natural infrastructure restored — a big network
> composed of many smaller networks — which would in turn restore natural Net
> Neutrality. We lost that infrastructure through a political process. We
> could get it back the same way, by once again treating the wires and cables
> through which Internet packets flow as a public resource, open to thousands
> of competing ISPs, none of which would be able to effectively discriminate
> among packets.
>  It’s a shame that we’ve let the market for ISPs become so
> non-competitive that we have to resort to government policies to preserve
> the Net’s natural neutrality. As with peaches and whole grains, an
> organically neutral Internet would be even better for the entire system.
>  _______________________________________________
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> Netneutrality at intgovforum.org
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