Christmas is almost here, but with last nights election I have a nice little technology wish list for the next administration.
The concept of Net neutrality spans the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should give traffic neutral passage regardless of protocol and source/destination. What this means is that people shouldn’t have to pay more to get the same speeds from (or even access to) Disney.com and say, Joe’s Gadget Shack. It also means that whether I’m surfing the ‘Net, checking my email, uploading photos to Flickr, or playing a video game with some friends, that data should not be filtered or slowed based upon what I am doing at the time.
I’m looking for Obama to quash the hopes of ISPs to create a tiered Internet where one may have to pay more to reach ‘premium sites’ or content. This is a bad idea for everyone because the mainstays of the Internet are based upon a platform with a level playing field where you have just as much a right to get to ESPN.com as you do to read this post on my site.
For the past ten years, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has been the lawyers delight in beating people over the head for ‘copyright infringement’. From DVDs to music, the DMCA has provisions in there that explicitly prohibit the circumvention of anti-copy protection schemes in an effort to criminalize piracy of digital content.Where the law goes too far is that there isn’t any provision in there that allows for duplication for legitimate archival purposes.
DVDs don’t lend themselves to withstanding much abuse, and a five to twenty dollar price tag per disc makes the media pricey if you have kids putting their peanut butter covered hands all over them. The reality of the situation is that many people do this (software to do this has been around for quite a long time) but any commercial venture to attempt to capitalize on it has found itself vaporized by DMCA wielding lawyers. Let’s get over the fact that people aren’t inherently criminal and are only trying to protect their media investment.
To be clear, Internet access is a privilege and an opportunity, not a right, but the U.S. severely lacks a clear broadband strategy for not just getting access to all those who desire it, but increasing bandwidth to existing users as well. Billions have been poured into the usual telcos and ISPs as a stimulus to innovate and expand offerings, but it seems the service has not scaled to the amount of funding provided.
I’m not calling for a government sponsored ISP, but a certain degree of regulation to promote alternatives and ‘openness’ in our digital destiny. This has some tenuous ties to net neutrality, mentioned above, but this has more to do with legislation to provide an even playing field that doesn’t favor existing broadband networks. The recent C Block spectrum auction earlier this year is evidence that rules and legislation can have a positive influence on how our digital assets are used amongst the masses, but more need be done to encourage things such as municipal networks to compete with the ‘good ol’ boys’ of traditional network service.
So for the next four years, this is what I (and I think a lot of Americans) would like to see on the forefront of the next administration’s tech policy. We’ll see how it goes.