Cory Doctorow on Net Neutrality

Cory Doctorow, best known as the genius behind Boing Boing offers some opinions on the recently approved FCC rules on net neutrality in an editorial called "Net Neutrality for Writers: It’s All About the Leverage." The column is from the January 2011 issue of Locus Magazine.

He starts out by bashing the compromise the FCC accepted when it enacted new rules. For one, the whole transparency thing is worthless because it does not stop service providers from shaping or managing traffic.

"In their view, Internet Service Providers should be allowed to ‘manage’ and ‘traffic shape’ their networks to slow down packets from the sites you’re connecting to, provided they disclose that they are doing it. In the view of the world’s regulators, this is the best we can hope for from our telcoms policy in the 21st century."

While the deal is categorized as "pretty crummy news," Doctorow points out why it really sucks for creative types:

"An open, neutral Internet is one where anyone can start a kick-ass publishing platform merely by coming up with a good idea. Tim Berners-Lee famously invented the Web from his desk at CERN in Geneva as a tool for sharing scientific papers. Merely by distributing web browsers and web servers, TBL was able to invent his revolutionary publishing platform. Notably, he didn’t have to deploy an army of corporate negotiators to book meetings with suits at telcos around the world and work out under what terms every ISP would (or would not) allow the WWW to traverse its lines. Unsurprisingly, Berners-Lee is a staunch advocate of Net Neutrality.

Likewise, the creators of YouTube were able to simply kick-start the biggest, most successful video watching – and distributing – platform the world has ever seen merely by inventing it and shoving it out the door. They built it, we came, and no phone company got a veto over our desire to watch YouTube."

He rounds up his thoughts (which we have greatly abridged here) with this rallying cry:

"Here’s something every creator, every free speech advocate, every copyright maximalist and every copyfighter should agree on: allowing the channels to audiences to be cornered by a handful of incumbents is bad news for all of us. It doesn’t matter that the lame-duck, sellout FCC won’t stand up for us. It doesn’t matter that Canada’s CRTC and the UK’s Ofcom are no better, that regulators around the world are as toothless as newborns. This is the big fight for us – the fight over who gets to decide who will be heard and how."

Read the entire thing here. It is certainly a different approach to the topic.

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