Network neutrality draws the kind of zealous attention that activists
like me have been hoping for years we’d get for Internet policy. I
don’t think any cyber-issue has ever excited as much interest among
the general public. Nor, unfortunately, has any been described in so
many confusing and inconsistent ways.
My latest policy foray has been a small attempt to fix some of that.
I’m inviting everyone with an interest in network neutrality to view
and edit a wiki at the O’Reilly Commons site: Network Neutrality: Distinctions and Controversies.
Check the table of contents to get a sense of why polemics over
“network neutrality” get so tangled up. The term can mean at least
half a dozen different things, and there is just as much variety in
the practices that it’s supposed to stop. So far as I know, this wiki
is the first disciplined attempt to distinguish the various threads.
I started the wiki because I think we need it. Just over the past few
weeks we’ve been treated to news coverage of a
joint proposal from Google and Verizon, which I found muddled
in ways that show why we need a finer understanding of the many topics
involved. The FCC has released a request
for comments that shows they’re trying to hone in on the
distinctions. And a recent article
where I made an initial stab at dissecting the arguments was well
received and summarized in Forbes
The next step is up to you. The wiki just digs down one or two levels,
and can benefit from lots of alternative viewpoints. It should also
have more references. The license
on the wiki is pretty permissive about copying and reuse, and I’ll
be happy to donate my contributions to any other worthy project. I ask
you to help me moderate it to cut down on the all-too-common
rhetorical tricks that muddy the issues instead of delineating them. I
know that many philosophical positions and intriguing proposals are
hard to fit within the existing format of the wiki, and I think those
positions and proposals need to be outlined elsewhere. Let’s try to
make the wiki rich but brief.