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Should the internet be regulated?


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#1 m@d_max

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 10:50 PM

Should the internet be regulated?

I have searched the forums and found other threads which are closely related to my above question. My objective is to put the question out to you all as unbiasedly as possible and raise some further issues which have arisen from abit of my own research and a genuine interest.

I feel that my question is more general than the posts that have gone before it; however I hope that it will be regarded as a seperate issue which warrants an intelectual debate as it raises ethical, moral and political issues.

I will be posting my notes focusing on net neutrality, piracy and liability; however I'm aware that this is not exhaustive and I do not intend to restrict other users input in answer to these questions. I just want to see what happens.

The internet has brought freedom of information to billions of people; it has changed the way we communicate and interact, the way we think, the way we organise our lives, the pace of life, our economy.... the list geoes on. Since it was first started it has stayed relatively neutral with regards to it's content (with some obvious exceptions.) The Open Internet Coalition is an example of an organisation that supports net nutralitiy, but currently the issue of regulating the internet is being looked at very closely and it looks like there will be reform to the web as we know it.

The problem with any resource like the web is that it's open to violation and exploitation, in terms of the service that has become engrained in our day to day lives and our privacy in social networking sites; to the effect of piracy and credit card fraud etc. But where does the liability for the unlawfulness that occurs on the internet lie? How would reform on the net take place. What processes have already been implimented and where is the ship headed?

Liability itself is sometimes not as clear cut as catching the criminals that steal bank details to fund organised crime and prosecuting them.

Take web piracy for example;

Who is as fault? The entertainment and record companies making the availability or thier products unaffordable for less privileged people?
What about the person who is behind the hosting of the pirate websites, or the person that commits the initial act of piracy in the cinema or the intial seeder on a P2P network? Is it the ISP themselves who should take responsibility for thier customers actions, or perhaps the goverment should have thier say?

Would disconecting users from the internet be an effective deterent?

Can the criminal justice system cope with the reality of taking action against the vast number of instances where piracy happens?

What happens if an individual user has been wrongly identified as a pirate? If thier computer has a backdoor and is being used for illegal activity?

Who is responsible for maintaing the current regulations? What if any, amendments should they be implimenting with regards to enforcing the regulations, to better protect all of the different areas that the internet influences in our lives? What can be done to make it better? Could we start afresh now that we have a better understandinf of the effects of the internet? Would starting afresh be a catastrophe to our current progress thus far?

Perhaps this is a seperate issue now, however while we consider reform we must also look at the way that the internet is currently working and how it has changed; ISP's have seen internet traffic increase in recent years due to the popularity and lower start up costs for using the web. They realise that compaines like google and facebook etc are making vast quantaties of money from using thier services and they feel that they have a right to protect thier industry and have a cut of the success that they are providing for. They are the backbone that holds the net together, so are they entitled to share in the revenues that the multi billion dollor/pound companies make using thier services?

What would happen if ISP's were to give favoured prefernce over certain websites and content; for exapmle if they controlled the flow of information to meet thier own needs?
Considering that these compaines are the backbone on which the internet currently operates, what is stopping them from pulling the plug or monopolizing the internet?

What is stopping them from doing exactly that?

How could they do this?

Regulate download speeds, targeted marketing, charging websites for prioritising traffic, holding back traffic from sites that pay less revenue to the ISP's

Shoud all information on the net be treated equally? If not why?

Would this hamper individuals and startup companies with little or no capital ivestment behind them from reaching the mass market?

Bigger companies allready profiting from sucess support net nutrality, but don't want ISP's controlling thier exsisting clients access to thier sites.

Taking this revenue directly from customers is unpopular i.e unlimited service for one monthly fee so they have tried other methods such as tiered pricing.
Should the ISP's be allowed to impose higher prices as thier right to providing the services

Is this shift in power on the net already happening without the consumers realisation?
Shifting bandwith avaiability from consumers that are constantly downloading vast amounts of music, or streaming many movies,to allocate this bandwith to other users whom do not do so? Is this fair on consumers? Is this fair for ISP?

How does this issue effect our economy, future growth, our indivdual rights?


Is the regulation of the internet, realistically viable? If so how could this be done to make it a level playing field and address all of the issues
that it might raise?

Is the regulation a necessity which has failed to have been implimented due to the scale of the numbers of users, or are the current status of affairs acceptable? Can we prevent the reform which looks likey to take place? Should we, the user have say in how it is implimented to protect our own personal rights?

Or should the internet be left as it is due to it's present sucessful achivements in advancing our economical growth, social interaction, organisational benifits and ease of access to information?

I'm just asking questions, I have tried really hard not to state my opinion but I knew that it would be impossible to be completely on the fence....... Yet I still have not made my mind up :flowers: I understand that this is a truely complex issue and I haven't covered all the bases. (In fact I might of made it more confuzing! :thumbsup:) But I know that there are many of you out there that would be better qualifed than I to give an answer and opinion...........

Should the internet be regulated?

Yes or No

Edited by m@d_max, 14 February 2010 - 01:56 AM.


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#2 Bezukhov

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 02:01 AM

As to the economic issues raised it should be left to the market place to decide. Perhaps the ISPs should go to a metered system like an electric company, with a base amount of gigabytes per month and a charge per gigabyte over that. If the physical resources in place to connect the internet is not up to the task for what is demanded of it then it needs to be upgraded, and that takes money. And the only ones who should pay for it are those that are using it. For example, I was in the market last year for a net book that came with a service that charged for a certain amount of bandwidth per month and if you went over that they would come and claim your firstborn, so I decided against it.
Another good point that you cast some light on is "Should all information on the net be treated equally?" In a perfect world, yes. But one must never forget that the physical apparatus that sends this information is the private property of others. I have no claim that my "free speech" is being violated because my local newspaper refuses to print my letter to the editor on the grounds that it is libelous, vulgar or even a victim of atrocious grammer. It is their printing presses and only they should have the final word as to what is published. The same can be said for ISPs.
What bothers me the most is the whole idea of 'regulated'. Regulation is the province of governments. Supreme Court justice John Marshall once said that "The power to tax is the power to destroy". The same can be said for regulations. No one would countenance our government telling what a newspaper can or cannot publish; neither should we put up the same nonsense with the internet. If you think it can't happen here read this. Granted, it is from Alex Jones, but you may want to explore the links in the article.

Edited by Bezukhov, 14 February 2010 - 02:25 AM.

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#3 Galadriel

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 02:03 PM

The short answer to the regulation question should be obvious to anyone who's been using the Internet for a time, be it for research, entertainment or news. The freedom of being able to look up anything on any subject and decide for yourself what is relevant or not to your interests is not something we should discard lightly.
Being involved in internet security and privacy issues for many years, I take issue with any kind of future regulation of the internet by any government.

"Regulation is the province of governments. Supreme Court justice John Marshall once said that "The power to tax is the power to destroy". The same can be said for regulations. No one would countenance our government telling what a newspaper can or cannot publish; neither should we put up the same nonsense with the internet."

Totally agree. It's a small step from regulation to censorship and controlling the flow of information. What right do ANY government have to decide what we can or even should access online? What right do they have to control what games your kids or you, yourself play on the internet. Shouldn't that be your personal prerogative? The more personal privacies we let slip, the more freedom we give up. What makes the internet great and valuable is the freedom it gives people to find what they want, when they want it. Why would anyone want to give that up is completely beyond me.
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#4 Layback Bear

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 04:47 PM

It's a very scary thought that a government would regulate the freedom of information but some do. The only reason I can think off that in America there would be regulation is to tax. I.E. When you buy gas we all pay taxes per gallon. This could be the more your on the internet you will pay more taxes and of course that would probably some sort of monitoring to make sure we all pay our share. Now if that isn't scary what is when it comes to information.

#5 BlackSpyder

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 08:10 PM

@ Layback Bear: We already pay Local, State, and Federal taxes on internet, just look at your bill. It's already figured in with the communications taxes (the ones that drive a $40 a month cell phone plan up to almost $50)

Regulation is impossible, users are faster smater and more flexible than governments. Look at the things governments have tried to regulate thus far, Drugs, alcohol, etc. Government has failed because it is far to large to maintain pace with individuals working separately to defeat regulation. Where there is a will there is a way.

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#6 Nawtheasta

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 06:32 PM

Regulation per say is very complicated. As a start maybe every computer should come with some real life do’s and don’ts. All electrical devices have some safety info. attached that no one ever looks at.
“Never use your toaster in the shower, Don’t open your computer case with out knowing what you are doing,” etc.
Computers are the first devices that someone can buy, plug in and with a click of the mouse commit a federal crime. You can channel surf your TV and no one cares, But if Grandpa Jones goes to a big box store, buys a PC and treats it the same he could end up in jail.
May be a list of “Absolutely do not under penalty of Law go looking for or do this:” should be included with every pc purchased.

Do not download music or movies that you have not purchased.

Do not engage in inappropriate communications with anyone under 18. The burden is on you if you are wrong.

The list could be quite long. Unfortunately some people just don’t understand the trouble they can get themselves into with the web.
Best Regards
Nawtheasta

#7 Layback Bear

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 06:27 AM

Yes there are taxes on my bill,DSL but it's not figured by the amount of time I'm on line. At least I don't think so. I will have to look more carefully on my next bill.

#8 brooksey!!!

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 04:33 PM

I reckon it should be regulated to a very slight degree: i mean taking the really really dodgy things off. You can guess what i'm getting at. I sincerely hope everyone will agree with me on this.

#9 groovicus

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 05:24 PM

@brooksey!!!
Who gets to decide what is 'dodgy'?

#10 Budapest

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 09:35 PM

Although I'm basically against any from of censorship their are other issues to consider. As in most complex problems such as this there is no "black and white" solution - only infinite shades of grey.

The right of free speech does NOT give one the right to slander, the right to publish child pornography, the right to shout "fire" in a crowded cinema, etc.

Edit: I left the "NOT" out of the sentence above, which totally made me look like a fool :thumbsup:

Edited by Budapest, 21 April 2010 - 10:16 PM.

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#11 groovicus

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 10:11 PM

One does not have the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. Free speech only extends to the point where one does not cause a situation that is harmful for the public. And as I have said countless times, if you think speech is free, tell a judge to f*ck off. ;)

Also things like child pornography and slander are prohibited by law and are not covered by free speech. Or maybe you are being sarcastic and I am not understanding?

#12 Budapest

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 10:17 PM

groovicus, I wasn't trying to be sarcastic, it's just that my blood caffeine levels were dangerously low and I made a BIG typo, which I have now fixed.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#13 Monty007

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 10:27 PM

I can't wait until the Internet in my country is legislated, regulated and what ever else a politician feels we don't need to be exposed too. :thumbsup:
MCP
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#14 RustyHavoc

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 02:03 AM

@m@d_max
"What would happen if ISP's were to give favoured prefernce over certain websites and content; for exapmle if they controlled the flow of information to meet thier own needs?"
They already do this. My step-mom's company pays Google a lot of money to make sure that when you search "glass," (She works for a glass factory) their site is one of the first you see. Who ever pays the most money get's the top spots.

@Bezukhov
"No one would countenance our government telling what a newspaper can or cannot publish; neither should we put up the same nonsense with the internet."
My thoughts exactly!


@Layback Bear
"Yes there are taxes on my bill,DSL but it's not figured by the amount of time I'm on line. At least I don't think so. I will have to look more carefully on my next bill."
Everyone pays taxes for public schools, but not everyone has a child enrolled in a public school. It's the same Socialist concept.


I don't know why it's not letting me do multiple quotes. Keep getting an error saying I had too many quotes. I'm such a newbie. :thumbsup:
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#15 Drovers Dog

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 02:07 AM

@ grovicous

I can relate to this

if you think speech is free, tell a judge to f*ck off.)

Years ago my Brother, who was connected to Corrective Services in an Exectative way until his Retirement, once passed this Gem past me.

Young man stood before the Magistrate and had a six month Sentence delivered. He replied, "I can do that, just standing on my head". Magistrate replied and ruled, "Seeing as you can, I give you six more months to consider how you should feel!"

That is Life?

@Monty.

Who knows where it will lead?

I don't like it.

Ray.
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