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Verizon is killing Tumblr’s fight for net neutrality (theverge.com)
355 points by allthebest on June 21, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 167 comments



They're also forcing all adult-oriented content on Tumblr (which isn't limited to porn, although porn makes up the majority of their userbase) behind a logged-in-users-only wall, blocking it from non-Tumblr users and in turn, external search engine results.

https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/20/tumblr-rolls-out-new-conte...


Oi, I suppose archiving Tumblr is this weekend's project.


They currently have 150B posts (https://www.tumblr.com/about) so I expect that to be quite challenging. If you seriously make any progress though, it'd be cool to see.


Maybe 1:100 of those (being incredibly generous) are actually unique posts and not someone else reposting something from someone else, so maybe it's not such a hard task...


It's fairly common for commentary to be added to a reblog via tags rather than after the quoted post, so even reblogs without commentary may need saving.


This assumes there is commentary on Tumblr worth saving.


I'm guessing you've bought into the meme that Tumblr is literally nothing but left-wing politics.


No, the comment section on an average tumblr page:

X has shared this Y has shared this Z has shared this ....

Actual commentary? Not so much.

On a side note I tried going back there to see if the situation has improved and somehow the interface is even worse now. The blog I was trying to read would only appear as a slide in on the side and would disappear at the drop of a hat. I don't even understand how you are supposed to use it now.


Are you saying that meme is inaccurate?


Are you implying it's not?


Yes. The meme aligns with my own experience of tumblr, so I'm inclined to believe it over contrary anecdotes (of course a more rigorous study would be a different story)


That and porn, and Stephen Universe fans.


Step 1: Hack into a supercomputing center with at least 1Gbps line.

Step 2: Massively-parallel downloading of all the sites using clustered nodes, compression of it, and resulting data stored into high-performance, clustered filesystem.

Step 3: Move it off of there when traffic is low or overnight if system doesn't go offline overnight.


Step 0: Acquire at least ~1PB of storage to store all the data.


I have over 1PB of storage at my disposal.


Business or personal? It's doable but it's a lot of money to buy all those drives.


Personal.


$6k for 600T fully assembled backblaze storage pod: https://www.backuppods.com (no affiliation, just pointing out that ~$12k isn't a massive amount).


Note that hard drives are not included.

1000TB / 8TB = 125 HDDs

125 * $200 = $25k


Aww! Damn my quick posting (and too good to be true!). Thanks.


It's in the supercomputing center. How aboug I modify it where a filterimg step is run deleting everything that doesn't match on desired image festures?


> Step 3: Move it off of there when traffic is low or overnight if system doesn't go offline overnight.

Where are you moving it to? You think that even if you manage to hack into a "supercomputing center" that nobody's going to notice 1PB of storage filled with GIFs?


Having worked in a supercomputing center for a detector at the LHC, yeah, you could probably get away with storing a few hundred TBs for a short period of time without anyone noticing or caring. A whole petabyte might be pushing it.


And I learned about it from you people. All of them said security was lax. Most of them said they personally were using the supercomputer for their own stuff at some point.


What's this "you people" bub? :) in this case, it's not a security issue, it's a resource accounting issue.


People working in and around HPC centers. Obviously. :)

And no, it's both accounting and security issue. One guy I know who does security in ASIC's that stole HPC time in the past did it by modifying the accounting system to not show his jobs. It was easy as it wasnt designed to stop accounting fraud by hackers.



https://github.com/fake-name/xA-Scraper already supports tumblr. Their API has annoying limits, though.

Note: It's a project of mine.


I use grab site, which is a spiritual successor to ArchiveTeam's ArchiveBot.

I have to be careful to give my scraping methods away, as I've had digital targets attempt countermeasures.


I've had similar problems. At this point, I basically run a botnet, albeit one I pay for. I have a rolling swarm of DigitalOcean and Vultr VMs that act as RPC clients for a custom system I wrote.


We should collaborate.



Is archiving a bunch of porn really safe legally? I always had the impression archiving a large number of copyrighted images wasn't.


It goes into cold storage for a later date.


Thanks. :)


Porn makes up the majority of Tumblr's userbase?


Tumblr has a huge porn community, and always has. I don't have actual statistics, but it's huge. In general, people on tumblr might have a regular, personal blog, and then a side blog where they reblog and/or comment on/add captions to pornographic images, gifs and videos. In that sense, they can sort of curate porn that interests and appeals to them. The addition of this personal touch and intellectual component appeals to a lot of people, including a lot of women. But there are also various sex advice blogs, etc., which will be affected by this change as well, artists who do non-pornographic nude artwork, and potentially even various LGBT communities where sex can at times be a topic.

There are various levels of NSFW-flagging on Tumblr: users flagging their own site NSFW, Tumblr marking a blog NSFW and the user having no way to change that, or enough individual posts being flagged NSFW by users and AI that Tumblr decides to call the entire blog NSFW.


Maybe your vision of tumblr's userbase is biased by the kind of people you follow. Personally, I'm on the "computer science/glitch art/study/science" part of tumblr and I don't see much NSFW content (Apart from some bots who follow me which I block automatically).


The areas are kept quite separate, but that doesn't mean that there isn't still a huge porn userbase. Many people on tumblr have multiple blogs on different subjects, and deliberately keep their porn blog(s) separate from the rest.


Sounds a lot like what happened with LiveJournal. About 10-15 years ago LJ was where all the LGBT and niche erotic interests where, like fanfic. It's been bought by a Russian company and they've been turning the screws on the LGBT users for years.


Probably not, all the stats I've seen shown that it's something like 20-25% of total consumption, so certainly a lot, but not a majority.

There are reports of that upwards of 80% of Tumblr users have been "exposed to porn" occasionally or even accidentally, but that doesn't mean that the majority of Tumblr is porn.


It's an image site on the internet that doesn't outright ban porn, so yes.


This is a direction they headed in shortly after Yahoo acquired them, it's not a new thing with the Verizon acquisition. Blogs marked "adult" and NSFW posts already won't show up in search engines[edit: I stand corrected], by default in searches on the website, or searches on the mobile app (even when logged in).


That is not true at all. All Tumblr blogs, including NSFW blogs, have always been viewable and indexable by external search engines through their public URL (blogname.tumblr.com) unless flagged as private/hidden (a choice of the blog owner). They have only been hidden from Tumblr's search engine if the user has their account set to not see adult content. You can verify this by searching for "tumblr porn" on Google. Five of the results on the first page are porn blogs on Tumblr.


>All Tumblr blogs, including NSFW blogs, have always been viewable and indexable by external search engines through their public URL (blogname.tumblr.com) unless flagged as private/hidden (a choice of the blog owner).

There is definitely something in account settings somewhere that removes you from search results, I may have mixed that up with the NSFW flag.

>They have only been hidden from Tumblr's search engine if the user has their account set to not see adult content

As I mentioned, this is default. And "adult" blogs do not show up at all in search results on mobile.

My point stands, though. Yahoo already started making adult content harder to find (accidentally or intentionally), the momentum is already there.


There are three visibility flags for Tumblr blogs:

- Allow logged-out users to see this blog

- Allow this blog to appear in search results

- Flag this blog as adult-oriented

Either of the first two flags would obscure the blog from search engines, but the latter one has never.


If you're a founder and looking to sell your company, is there anything you can do to guard yourself against these kinds of situations?

I imagine it might be some particular part of a golden handcuff / golden parachute deal, but making it work for everyone involved sounds super hard...


If you sell your company, you lose control of it; that is kind of the definition of 'selling'. If you maintain control, than you at most have 'an investor', not a new owner.


No, there can be contractual terms which allow for the original owners to regain control under certain contingencies


How often is this pursued by original owners and accepted by the prospective new owners?


An options clause, usually - giving the founder the right to buy back the company/brand at a fixed price - it's enticing to new owners too because it mitigates their risk (e.g. if they run it into th ground while the old owner is interested in it, then it will limit their losses) - the difficulty then is not making the buyback price too high that the original owner can't afford it, or if the new owner screws it up so badly that the original owner loses interest.


>giving the founder the right to buy back the company/brand at a fixed price

Selling a call does not allow the buyer to hedge. Buying a put would but not selling a call. You are describing selling a call.


This is light grey. I'm dissapointed in you HN. This is absolutely correct.

One common version: Many sells come with some sort of earn-out. Meaning that the company has to perform at some level over some amount of time in order for the buyer to be on the hook for the full amount of the sell price (or some other bonus).

It is not uncommon to attach a buy-back clause to the earn-out. If you fail to hit the earn out, you have some ability to buy back the company and/or it's assets (there are many different versions). It's a win-win clause. If the company fails to perform under its new leadership the buying company has some hedge against it. It gives the seller a chance to effectively hedge at least some of the risk that they won't be able to fully earn-out the purchase price due to management issues at the new company.

I've been on the executive team for five company sales. Two of them had exactly this clause. Both during earlier stages. We never exercised them.


[flagged]


Don't cry for me, I'm a low quality poster(or rather, I tend to match the quality of posts I respond to, which are frequently low quality posts) who dang has had to put in place multiple times.

But I will say that I originally created this username many years ago to at least try to rebut ridiculously wrong things which were popularly accepted in the comments section, or right things which were down voted, so I am used to this.

I think this site has a problem in that a poorly stated truth is considered a bad post, but nonsense, as long as it is follows a certain style and rhetorical form is welcomed with open arms. But oh well, it isn't my site to run.


A poorly stated truth contributes less to the discussion than a well-formed but incorrect post. Or at least, the end result is that I find the discussion here more valuable than on most of the web (as much as it's declined under dang's niceness policies).


I disagree.


If you're a low-quality poster, you'll have to work on downholding your unstandards. You've had some good comments in the past day or so, at least.

The war between truth and various forms of confirmation bias is an old and long one.


Make a tax-deductible donation to the EFF. Any influence you could have projected with a company you can likely outperform with its value in cash.


Sure. Don't sell your company. Don't take it public, either. Principled moral stands are not compatible with making as much money as possible.


Or to be more precise, making as much money for other people as soon as possible.

Net neutrality is supposed to help small- to medium-sized internet companies do better. Taking a stand on net neutrality is therefore not incompabitible with maximizing profit in the long term. It is, however, usually incompatible with maxmimizing quarterly returns for myopic investors.



Everyone is saying no. I'm going to speculate in opposite in case someone qualified reads the comment to tell us if it makes any sense. :)

My idea is to, either as terms of the sale or in a contract with a 3rd party, guarantee the company will continue doing a specific thing. If it's a contract, the company should be able to do with without much cost and get benefit in return for consideration. After the sale, they're still obligated to do what they said they would do. At the least, they could be sued. Maybe put the amount in the contract to be whatever profit they made for every year they were in violation so controlling company knows ahead of time non-compliance might cost them a lot of money.

So, this is a person that just took a college class in business law a long time ago brainstorming a solution. Needs peer review by more qualified people but that's how I'd at least attempt to do it. Probably in charter, contracts, and terms of sale altogether if I can get away with it.


Yes, you can put all kinds of encumbering conditions on your sale. However, the hard part is getting the buyers/investors to agree to that - especially if they are VCs with an explicit goal of getting an exit, i.e., re-selling the company somehow.

At best, adding such conditions will mean you getting less money for more dilution in every funding round. At worst, at some point near the end of a runway you'll get an ultimatum to drop the condition or not get the next funding round at all.


This is true. One would have to convince them the restriction would have minimal to no impact on their bottom line. An example of selling open software is Red Hat or SUSE where they continue to make lots of money off enterprise sales despite distros like CentOS.


So, you would sue the company you just sold, using the proceeds of the sale to pay attorneys?


The customers could sue it in that model.


The general idea is "poison pill," but generally no, there's nothing the seller can do.


I mean, at the least, can't you make it a deal that you're OK walking away from if you find yourself in this kind of situation?


Sure, you could sell the biz outright and wash your hands of the whole thing once the check clears.


I dream of that moment but can't help but feel I'd be doing something or someone wrong if I just disappeared to a small island somewhere expensive. Is it really possible to just disconnect after a sale? I'd be interested in hearing supporting anecdotes as well as to the contrary; I want to believe!


The company you sell to cannot legally bind you to working for them - that is indentured servitude. You can always leave any contract or job any time you want. The OP mentions "once the check clears" for good reason - because when making acquisitions your payout is usually contingent on staying around for the transition for a fixed amount of time - you don't get your payout until that deadline, and if you leave before then you void the obligation.


How practical is that? I guess more concretely, what kind of discount would you have to accept if you weren't willing to stay on for 2 years or whatever the standard practice is?


This is my biggest qualm with building a company aimed to sell (either to public markets or another company). You are binding yourself to pursue as much profit as possible through whatever legal means possible. Even if those legal means go against everything you stand for, you have to pursue them because you have a fiduciary duty.


> Even if those legal means go against everything you stand for, you have to pursue them because you have a fiduciary duty.

This is not true, and never has been even a little bit true (in the US). It's a commonly misquoted trope.

Assuming your company happens to be public (the only way this matters) - you still can do whatever you like as controlling CEO short of outright fraud or negligence. If you decide to switch your Fortune 500 company to it's sole goal being charity - you could definitely do that without going to jail or being liable for anything.

You might lose your job though.

If you own a private company you started yourself and own the equity? You can do everything up to and including burning the building down.


> You might lose your job though.

That's what I was trying to get at. I didn't mean to make it sound like you'd go to jail.


Burning down a building that you actually for-real own might not be illegal, but be careful what you tell your insurer. The fire marshall might be annoyed as well, so warn him first. I wonder if the EPA would have questions as well...


"Modern corporate law does not require for-profit corporations to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and many do not.": http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/13-354.html


Interesting, I thought you had to be a special type of corporation for that. My language is a bit strong then.


However, if you do not, your investors can sue you and win, no?


They can sue yes, less likely to win. Modern courts really don't want to second-guess management strategies, and instead focus on things like fraud, conflicts of interest, and misrepresentation. If the company openly said that they are going to pursue policy X because they think this is in the long-term best interests of the company, and some shareholders sue to argue that it isn't, courts are rarely going to step in and try to determine that management should've pursued some other strategy. For one thing, they aren't really equipped to determine what would be the right course of action (valuing things like "goodwill" is not really an exact science), and for another, shareholders already have a mechanism for resolving those questions among themselves: shareholder votes.

Instead, to win a shareholder lawsuit you usually need much more of a smoking gun, things like being able to show that the CEO pursued a certain deal because his brother owned the other company, or that a group of controlling shareholders are having their chosen board take certain actions that deliberately screw over minority shareholders, that kind of thing.


Sure; companies are required to generate value for shareholders. That does not necessarily mean profit.


I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure fiduciary obligations don't entail that.


I realize that Verizon and Verizon Wireless are now separate businesses. Nonetheless -- and also because of increasing suckage at Verizon Wireless -- once T-Mobile deploys on its newly acquired lower frequency spectrum and fills in some rural holes I need, I'm going to drop Verizon Wireless like a hot potato.

I wonder how much PR and good will damage/loss Verizon's behavior is generating.


tl;dr: Verizon owns Yahoo now, so it owns Tumblr too.


Buying yahoo was a very dumb move for VZ unless they just want hold assets OR completely overhaul yahoo. Yahoo has been a losing brand since circa 2000. Soon as yahoo took over tumblr it started to suck more.

source : I work on other peoples tumblrs site all the time


AOL does a lot of advertising. Yahoo has a ton of eyeballs. Verizon has data. That already is a good match for all three. Yahoo is still close to a top 5 site. Definitely top 10. Yahoo also owns some advertising infrastructure like Brightroll and Flurry. I have experience in Brightroll myself. It's not that rare to run across people spending close to $100K a week on Brightroll.

It wasn't a bad move at all. They were also able to take off a few hundred million from the price because of the hack. Made the deal even better.

Verizon will definitively be the 3rd biggest advertising platform after Google and Facebook. Not a bad place to be when you already make billions in profit from your Verizon Wireless oligopoly.

About Tumblr. Yahoo has already written off at least $700M of its original purchase price. So Tumblr isn't a big factor when buying Yahoo.

Note: In no way do I like what Verizon will be doing. Using their vast amounts of data on users via their internet/phones services and now all the web properties they own for advertising and targeting is awful for privacy and plain old decency. I just mean strictly business-wise, this is likely to be a great deal for Verizon.


If Verizon can execute, it could even be bigger, given that they also have the FCC in pocket, and they have both mobile carrier data and snooped home internet data.


Yeah def they can be a legitimate powerhouse with web properties and ads. It's hard to guess how much revenue and profit Oath will be doing in 5 years. We won't know anything too soon since first Yahoo needs to be fully acquired and some time needed to adjust to Oath being the parent company.


This is how the Fox News of the internet is made.


Net neutrality? Don't make me laugh. Yahoo was one of the biggest PRISM benefactors.


What does PRISM have to do with Net Neutrality?


Not only is the OP wrong to try to link them (?) but they are wrong about Yahoo being a beneficiary (??)

Yahoo fought hard against Prism and only gave up when threatened with a $250,000/day fine.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/11/yahoo-nsa-laws...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/technology/secret-court-ru...


Yahoo was also the only (?) company that stood up to NSA.


I strongly suspect that an economic collapse is going to come less than a year after these sales (not just talking about Yahoo). That would be a good time for Verizon to begin selling off its utilities. AOL and Time Warner was another example that happened just before the bubble burst: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Warner#Merger_with_AOL I think this is partly because of how the economy is based on consumption and debt.


Net neutrality makes internet more expensive for everybody so Torrent and Netflix users can be subsidized.

It looks right, but it is WRONG to "defend" it using law and force.


I want to downvote you because of how intensely I disagree with everything you're saying, but you're saying it nicely so I won't.

Instead - The major concern about losing NN is that instead of just paying for volume of data, I'll also be required to pay based on type and/or source of that data, and that the entities providing the data will also be required to pay based on type and/or destination.

Do you think this concern is not valid? Why? Do you think this concern and there is a better way to address it? What?

If defending it using law is wrong, what would be a right way to defend it?

And if "free market" is part of you answer, can you talk about the handling of last-mile connections?

Finally, I just straight up don't understand what you mean by "defend it using... force". Can you explain?


> Finally, I just straight up don't understand what you mean by "defend it using... force". Can you explain?

It's a common refrain from some types of libertarians. The basic logic is that all laws are morally equivalent to holding a gun to someone's head, therefore it's immoral to pass laws regarding anything that's not worth killing over.


It isn't that the law is morally equivalent to holding a gun to someone's head, but that the law has penalties that are enforced on pain of greater penalties, which will eventually lead back to violence being used.

Say you get a fine over some law. Doesn't matter what, but let's say it is a minor fine over a law you disagree with. So you refuse to pay it. Now perhaps it ends there, with the law not being fully enforced (with sometimes does happen). But what else could happen is that you are summoned to court concerning the fine. Now the punishment for the fine includes a court summon. So in protest of the fine being wrong, you choose to not go to court or go to court and refuse to court order to pay the fine. Either way, the court will either drop it (unlikely at this point) or you could be arrested for refusing a court order (you don't go to prison for a debt, you go to prison for refusing a court order to pay a debt, which seems to be an important distinction for some reason I can't see). Now you either submit to being arrested, or violence will be used against you.

Under this reasoning, that original law is backed by violence. Either a law ends up not being enforced or being enforced with an eventual threat of violence. There are cases where there is little chance of it ever having someone protest it.

One example people use to counter with that seems to work at first is government restrictions on limiting licensing. For example, take a law that says government has to approve a license for some activity if it doesn't given a definite disapproval within a week of application. In this case, breaking the law would be done by someone at the government either refusing to give approval at all or giving a no after the deadline to give a no has passed. One likely result is someone who didn't follow the law getting fired, but in this case it is the government overriding itself and eventually following the law. But assuming that every manager approved of violating the law such that no one was fired and the office in question maintained its stance, then the party that requested approval will have cause to sue the government. At which point the court will make specific orders (such as demanding testimony or demanding certain actions be performed), and any person directly disobeying those will now face possibly being arrested, which is when violence comes into play. Or the court could choose to not make any demands, at which point the government is choosing to not enforce the law. A practical example of this is to look at the individuals who refused to give marriage license to same sex couples. Either someone higher overrode them and someone else (representing the government) gave out the license or they were sent to jail (with the threat of violence if they did not obey).


I'm not opposed to NN, but your phrasing piqued my curiosity:

Why is it bad that ISPs charge us based on type/source of data? Should grocery stores charge us by volume (mass?) of food instead of by type/source/etc? If aggregating costs is indeed more moral, why should it be enforced by law (as opposed to the food example)?

Providing robust answers to these questions should strengthen the NN position.


Different types of food require different handling, etc. The grocery store is not a dumb pipe for food. It's a distributor. For products that dont require special handling (eg, refrigeration), a food shipping company is a more accurate analogy. They should not be charging by much other than volume/weight.


It's not quite the same though. It would be more like if the store said you could pay $50 to enter and fill a cart with whatever you want, but you can use as many other carts as you want but only for their store brand items.

Then the local government comes in and says that they are the only store allowed in town.

Now, is it fair to General Mills that they have to compete with the store brand cereal when the store brand is effectively free and there is no way for General Mills to get their cereal to you any other way?


My thoughts are that the proper solution would be to outlaw regional monopolies, and that a store is entitled to whatever pricing model it sees fit.


That would be ideal. Then competion would sort it out.

But the FCC doesn't have that authority and it's a nonstarter in congress. So the stop gap is to force the government granted monopolies to play nice as a condition of their monopoly status.


The problem with that is that the current internet architecture inherently favors monopolies.


I was just in Lima, Peru. This is what you see if you're on Facebook on someone's phone (I was tethering), and click a link that takes you outside of Facebook:

https://s22.postimg.org/lilkrmo4x/Screen_Shot_2017-06-21_at_...

What do you think your chances of competing against Facebook, or Facebook-based businesses, are, when clients see this before accessing your site?


Any viable competitor will necessarily have the resources to strike a similar deal. I think your argument boils down to "is unfair that Facebook has more resources than a competing startup", which is no truer without NN (in my mind, anyway).


Facebook competitor may be unlikely, but newspapers striking local deals with Facebook vs. newspapers which don't, is likely.

It's a huge, huge fallacy to claim "this thing would happen regardless, so who cares how difficult we make it for it to happen". Your mind is wrong.

I'm proud of India for rejecting Zuckerberg's ploy, and I wish Peru was wise enough to do the same.


I don't think I made any such fallacy. I'm simply not convinced by your claim that NN favors competition. In particular, you seem to think Facebook can strike a deal for free with ISPs in a way that a competitor could not. Obviously such a deal is available to both the incumbent and the Challenger, but it's more likely that the incumbent will have the resources to afford it. In this sense, it's merely a matter of resources, and your pro-NN argument could be applied to any industry with a strong incumbent (it's not really about three internet, you just think wealth and success are bad, or something like that anyway). In other words, your argument could be applied to Apple paying for adverts that it's competition couldn't afford.


The fallacy is "it's just a matter of resources, so those resources will advantage them in some other way if not this one". It's a bad argument.


It is not bad per se, but it is not what the internet is. The moment they start charging based on content is the moment that it becomes something different.

Right now is like a public road, with free and equal access for every body, and thus, an economy can be built around it. If you change it to the store model, it morphs from an economy to a business, and businesses are not capable of supporting an entire economy built on top, so it won't.


Ahem. I think public roads sometimes have, e.g., limits for heavy vehicles or various dedicated lanes. ;)

My actual point is, analogies just don't work.


Roads have the limits of the infrastructure and the law, not "limits" determined by the current operator of the road (that can be bypassed with payments, and thus not limits in the same sense).

The grocery store analogy doesn't work. The road or electric grid analogies are perfectly apt.


Oh, oh, this is good question!

And actually, I think an unusual answer is:

Grocery stores kind of suck, actually. I know I'm not able to get the best need/product fit, because of all the presentation that goes into it (display case arrangement, psychology of product locations...).

You can pay the grocery store to make me think your product is better, instead of having a better product. You also have to get your product into the grocery store in the first place, which is a serious hurdle.

On the other hand, 90% of everything is crap, and you actually need special skills to navigate the free-for-all street markets... which still have a lot of the same problems.

Under such a view, it's not that NN is great, it's that everything else (that's known) is worse.

The real answer is they're really not analogous enough to compare this way, even if comparing them yields interesting thoughts.


Grocery stores are directly selling things to you, and they cost different amounts based on their costs to the grocery stores, handling requirements, etc.

ISPs are like mail services: a letter is a letter is a letter. A package is a package is a package. And a packet is a packet is a packet.


Thank you for not downvoting me. Free market would be part of my answer if I had one.

I'm not well-informed enough to say much, but imagine you have a local link in a small rural town that only support some absolute number of packets or whatever: if you have one big consumer that is eating the major part of that every day, making the others miserable, isn't it reasonable to limit that consumer's bandwidth somehow?

Then if some law is enacted to prevent you from limiting that consumer, then you'll either make the lives of the others miserable or you'll be forced to spend more on your link and luckily pass the cost down to all your consumers. Right?

Please correct me if I'm assuming things wrong (I'm likely doing it).

> The major concern about losing NN is that instead of just paying for volume of data, I'll also be required to pay based on type and/or source of that data, and that the entities providing the data will also be required to pay based on type and/or destination.

I don't understand what is the problem of that. In every other situation of life you pay for the "type" of the thing you're consuming. When you go to a restaurant you don't pay for volume of food, but for the types of food you're asking. There are indeed restaurants where you pay for mass of food, but you don't have all the expensive options available. I can see a world where you would have to pay a little more for Netflix and a little less for sshing to your VPS.


The problem with that statement is the internet is massively, massively, MASSIVELY NOT a free market in any way shape form or kind.

If there was actual competition for broadband internet access, maybe net neutrality would be superfluous. However, there is basically zero competition in the internet access market (at least in the US), so the hypothetical "free market" can't do shit.

> I don't understand what is the problem of that. In every other situation of life you pay for the "type" of the thing you're consuming. When you go to a restaurant you don't pay for volume of food, but for the types of food you're asking. There are indeed restaurants where you pay for mass of food, but you don't have all the expensive options available. I can see a world where you would have to pay a little more for Netflix and a little less for sshing to your VPS.

I don't pay for access to specific sites, I pay for access to a network.

The internet is, structurally, a buffet, in your restaurant analogy. Paid prioritization is basically going to an all-you-can-eat buffet, paying for entrance, only to discover that all entrees other then the rice are charged individually.


I don't think your 'small rural town' metaphor is solved by removing net neutrality. From the provider's point of view, who cares if someone is using up 1000 packets of youtube or 1000 packets of nytimes? They cost the same from the provider's stand point (unlike 1kg lobster vs 1kg of bread for a restaurant). Filtering by content doesn't change anything, network providers can already charge by amount of traffic. If they can't provide enough, they can raise prices, free market style.

The issue with removing net neutrality is that it enables censorship and removes 'the free market' of the internet. The internet provider doesn't like your political blog? Well now they can wall it off under a addon package just like cable TV. Facebook makes an exclusive deal with the internet provider? Now Twitter is locked behind an addon package or completely unavailable.

You might say, "well people will just use a different internet provider!". The problem with that is that many places in the USA only have one, maybe two providers to chose from; So it's not like a restaurant where they can just go somewhere else.

You might say, "well more internet providers will be created if no-one likes the current ones!". But its very expensive to create a network of fiber optic cables. Billions of dollars, maybe trillions. A start-up can't just 'interrupt' the market. And usually when a new internet provider is created, they have to lease the big-company lines just work. And you can bet if they make that deal with existing companies they'll have to accept big-company's traffic policies.


Right.

> A start-up can't just 'interrupt' the market

...like they can on the Internet. Unless... Even on the Internet... They have to fight themselves into a preferable "package" as created as the result of no net neutrality.


But the person who makes the decision as to what ends up in the pipe (i.e. the end user, Netflix doesn't just spam people's routers) is the one who is already paying. Netflix isn't crowding anyone out (especially if they have a server within the ISP's perimeter), every bit of that bandwidth is requested by a user. Users crowding each other out is already handled by prioritizing based on how much they pay.

Mass of food is a false equivalence; cost of food per kg varies widely based on food, but cost of transmission of bulk traffic (the only kind ISPs are proposing to charge the entity on the other side of the connection for) is largely identical to the ISP. The cost may vary depending on where it comes from (network wise, not precisely geographically), but ISPs are already able to deal with that by having different sized links to other ISPs.


Right. After reading yours and basically all other replies to my comment I understand that NN isn't supposed to prevent ISPs from limiting individual users' bandwidth or charging more per heavy usage.

In those terms I think I can support NN and take back my comments.


Thanks for this. It's good when people can admit they've changed their minds.


You're convinced!

Maybe your name is an acronym-alias for Ajit and something, and we're all now in the clear :)


I apologize for calling your opinion vapid in my other post. Thank you for taking the time to articulate your ideas in this post.

I too am a proponent for free markets, but I have to point out that the telecommunications industry could care less about free market principles.

For the last hundred years telcos have consistently lobbied the federal government for regulations that lock out competition. They pretend regulation prevents them from performing as well as they could, but the last thing they want is a minimally regulated market with a low barrier to entry.

The only reason we're even having this conversation is because there was a small window of opportunity in the 90's to pass smart Telco laws that both regulated and deregulated divergent aspects of the industry. First, because the incumbent telcos enjoyed monopolies for nearly 50 years, they were obligated to lease parts of their networks to resellers like local ISPs.

Had this not happened, the larger telcos and service providers could have choked the early Internet and giving us networks like AOL/MSN instead.

If you truly believe in the virtue of free markets, you need to understand that powerful politically connected companies do not and they can be some of the biggest opponents of free markets while they pretend they are.


Right, I understand that the telecommunications industry is not a free market in any sense.

But imagine that you think NN is wrong (I no longer believe that), but since it is better than the current state of non-free-markets-plus-telcos-doing-anything-they-want, you defend NN.

That just makes things worse, since it shifts the focus out of the real underlying problem (markets aren't free) and tells everybody the problem is this other one (no NN being enforced).

Since imposing NN will not solve all the problems, and may as well create some new problems, the next time a problem appears the State will be prompted to introduce a new regulation, and we'll be each time farther from the free markets. Regulation brings regulation.

I don't know if the above applies to this situation in particular or if we should oppose a measure that looks better just because in principle it is not the best measure.


First, thank you for stepping up the level of discourse.

> Since imposing NN will not solve all the problems, and may as well create some new problems, the next time a problem appears the State will be prompted to introduce a new regulation, and we'll be each time farther from the free markets. Regulation brings regulation.

You bring up a good point. It too bothers me that we've resorted to NN. We shouldn't have too, and we wouldn't if we didn't already have a nearly 100 year history of corporate socialism in the telco industry, where for nearly 50 of those years, the federal government literally picked one winner.

The problem is this: Money is really good at influencing politics and policy. You claim regulation brings more regulation. That's not untrue, but I suspect money in politics creates more regulation because nothing protects a market from competition than regulatory capture. Not only that, it cultivates entire industries that specialize in sucking on the government teat and rent-seeking politicians who make sure they contribute to their campaigns.

Our extremely polarized voting base (I don't blame the politicians) is current incapable of sending a common coherent message to their representatives based on common American values because they can't agree on a single fucking thing. These polarized idiots are simply too emotionally immature to realize they're being emotionally manipulated. Not only that, they're too clueless to tell their politicians that they want a telecommunications industry that's based on free-market principles because they're too busy parroting talking points rather than understanding how they're being played an manipulated by special interests.

Because there's not one fucking thing these right-wing and left-wing assholes can agree on, I'm not convinced we'll ever have a coherent telecommunications policy, let alone a solution to our growing problem of the influence of money in politics.

NN isn't ideal, but it's a lot better giving the telcos everything and asking for nothing in return. It will only embolden them to come back and ask for more. They literally have a history of asking for federal dollars to build next generation networks and then not following through on their promises. They are trolls who live under bridges. Don't empower them. Provide incentives for them to be competitive and opportunities for new companies to challenge them.


> you have one big consumer that is eating the major part of that every day, making the others miserable, isn't it reasonable to limit that consumer's bandwidth somehow?

NN doesn't force ISPs to not have bandwidth caps on consumers. They are free to do this. The fact that most ISPs in the world are able to provide unlimited bandwidth should provide you some hint on how cheap bandwidth is.

> I can see a world where you would have to pay a little more for Netflix and a little less for sshing to your VPS.

Unlike a restaurant, ISPs are in the delivery business. It should not matter what is being delivered.


Hmm. Not a bad analogy / question.

I think -

So first up, the "types" metrics don't analogize well. AFAIK, there are legit types of traffic - high bandwidth, low bandwith; burst, continuous; high latency OK, low latency required. Seems pretty reasonable to charge based on this (although, slippery slope and all that.)

These types then correlate to food items; the steak, the veggies, the pasta.

The first issue you run into is that "brand" is not "type". Classic: Hulu should not be a different type of traffic than Netflix; Bing vs Google, etc (if there are any other pairs like those...). The follow-up problem here is then actually enacting categorization; Netflix is subscription only, Hulu has ads, and I wouldn't be surprised if the tech resulted in importantly different kinds of traffic (according to above metrics).

The second issue is that it's not analogous, because I don't pay the restaurant to attend, and the chefs don't pay the restaurant to cook. Now, you could twiddle these nobs - "internet" is free, but all offerings aren't (and then Yahoo! News becomes the free bread...); or the ISP pays the sites it makes accessible (TV cable style, with all it's flaws).

So I think the real issue with the comparison is that it either doesn't compare (restaurants), or it does compare and the other thing, well, kinda sucks (TV cable), and NN becomes the fight to keep this great thing we've got from becoming this mediocre thing we tried to abandon.


The restaurant business is very competitive in any town with more than, say, 1000 people. Not so with Internet access. In Silicon Valley, for example, most cities have 1 or 2 providers of broadband (>25Mbps).

I don't think anyone complains about paying more if they stream a lot of video online. But people ask for NN so they do not have to pay more if they stream from Netflix instead of Hulu.


> I'm not well-informed enough to say much, but imagine you have a local link in a small rural town that only support some absolute number of packets or whatever: if you have one big consumer that is eating the major part of that every day, making the others miserable, isn't it reasonable to limit that consumer's bandwidth somehow?

> Then if some law is enacted to prevent you from limiting that consumer, then you'll either make the lives of the others miserable or you'll be forced to spend more on your link and luckily pass the cost down to all your consumers. Right?

Yes but the consumers of the bandwidth are the locals in that small rural town, not netflix. Charge the locals for using more bandwidth because they are the ones requesting it.


ISP already can and do throttle based on volume, right?

At least one problem with charging by type is my ISP doesn't know what type of thing I'm consuming. I'm streaming Netflix over SSH, but they don't know this. Do I get the high or the low price?


if you have one big consumer that is eating the major part of [the pipe] every day, making the others miserable, isn't it reasonable to limit that consumer's bandwidth somehow?

The "somehow" is key here. There is a neutral solution called per-customer fair queueing but most equipment doesn't support that so some ISPs end up using non-neutral "solutions" like just banning Netflix and BitTorrent.

Also, I want to caution people about reasoning by analogy since ISPs aren't analogous to restaurants or grocery stores or really anything else. A real argument doesn't require analogies.


Netflix pays it's bills like everyone else.

Net Neutrality means that if you were to start a compelling competitor to Netflix, as long as your technology was sound enough, and you could keep up with the bandwidth bills, you would be able to offer the service to your customers without any subjective political negotiation with ISPs and entrenched market leaders.


This isn't a very good argument, since Comcast (or whoever) wants to charge Netflix more--a challenger wouldn't have to pay the Netflix premium. Maybe in some hypothetical scenario ISPs would charge incumbents less, but the real-world scenario is the opposite.


The thing is, Netflix is the analogous Netflix competitor, since Comcast owns competitors to Netflix, which it could deliberately provide an advantage to if NN were removed.


Not if Netflix makes a special exclusivity deal. You can bet that some businesses will make as many deals as possible to keep down the competition, if it's legal.


Yes, this would be the hypothetical scenario which is the opposite of the current scenario that everyone is so concerned about.


I upvoted this vapid opinion because I think it needs to be addressed rather than censored by lazy thinkers.

Making the Internet more expensive today so we can accommodate high traffic use is a smart long term strategy.

The first incentive ISPs should have is to be able to provide a high level of service for bandwidth demanding applications.

Over time these costs will drop as the bandwidth naturally expands because networking technology is subject to similar price/performance trends we see with transistors.

Here's the point: At some future point in time, torrent and video traffic will be negligible faction of the total amount of bandwidth available.

It's better we get there sooner rather than later, right?

So what do you think is the fastest way to get there? Do you want to incentive the mono/duopoly ISPs to nickle and dime over limited service, or do you want to incentive them to compete with each other to provide the best service that connects everybody to the whole internet?

We're going to get to the point where bandwidth is incredibly cheap and available soon enough. The question is are you really going to give up a common carrier network because you falsely believe it's going to get you here marginally faster?

If you believe that, you have no sense of history of the telecommunications industry. They've already pulled the "let me abuse my monopoly status and I'll give you better service" scam time and time again.


> Here's the point: At some future point in time, torrent and video traffic will be negligible faction of the total amount of bandwidth available.

What will be taking the rest of the bandwidth? It certainly won't be idle or it won't get built out at all.


That's a very good point and even better pointed question!

Part of the value of the network is how much bandwidth one can use in a month. The other part is simply the convenience of being able to send/receive lots of data in short bursts.

I'd argue most people don't need to consume lots of data to appreciate 1 Gb connection when it's available. I think you'll find most people are willing to pay a premium for convenience and optionality, even when they don't use it.

Now, if they're not using more total bandwidth, then your point stands. If the network is idle, it's more than likely not to get built out at all, but I'm not sure that rule applies to last mile networks.


> I think you'll find most people are willing to pay a premium for convenience and optionality, even when they don't use it.

Not much of a premium. CenturyLink offers 1gbps in my area. I only know one person who's subscribed to that level of service. Cost has been cited as the deciding factor every time.


> Not much of a premium.

Good point. I think I overstated it.


Net Neutrality doesn't say ISPs can't charge customers for data usage. Which is what my answer would be: charge customers for data usage.

Some ISPs do this if you go beyond a certain amount per month. But if a tiny portion of users are hogging a massive amount of bandwidth (as is oftentimes claimed), it seems like an ISP could make a killing by offering cheaper bandwidth but charging for data usage, which would drive these high bandwidth users to other ISPs, which means you can provide your remaining users on average better bandwidth for a lower price.


I'm guessing that Netflix and video generally have somewhat democratized high data usage. At least they've probably shifted it from torrenting to hours and hours a day of video and music streaming. Haven't seen a breakdown recently though.


There is no basis for your contention that "internet" would be cheaper without NN.


Given that reduced upstream costs typically translate into reduced downstream costs, and that regulation typically increases downstream costs, I think the onus is on NN-proponents to prove why the reverse is true.


> regulation typically increases downstream costs

This is a common claim that is rarely supported with data. Why does enforcing net neutrality increase downstream costs?

If you mean that it shifts costs (you pay more for Netflix because they have to pay Comcast for fair service), then sure. I don't see any evidence that net neutrality actually changes the underlying cost of net service, though.

There's a great counterpoint to your claim in the USPS. Their prices are regulated by congress. Those prices are pushed down artificially to the point that it's slowly bankrupting the USPS. So service is definitely cheaper than it would be without regulation. (Send a letter via FedEx and see what the free market charges for this service.)


I didn't posit that NN will increase costs; only that the onus for demonstrating otherwise lies with NN-proponents. I don't have data to support conventional wisdom; only that the conventional wisdom is reasonable given that compliance adds overhead.


Compliance with net neutrality doesn't actually add overhead. Neutrality is the default. Treating different traffic differently requires effort.


This isn't really a cost argument, but ISPs are currently double-billing for traffic, so presumably their revenue would go down under NN. Presumably under NN ISPs would raise prices to maintain profit margin.


Sure. That double billing is just shifting costs, though. You end up paying for their double billing anyway.


Data caps or outright banning traffic to certain IP ranges does not necessarily reduce the costs for the ISP. For many ISPs, you are negotiating on bandwidth, not on total data rendered to the backbone, and you find your peak bandwidth needs are being generated when everyone is online and saturating their access between 7-10pm every night.

Bandwidth usage whales are just those that constantly use the bandwidth they paid for - which, outside of those peak traffic windows, isn't actually costing you anything to provide, because you aren't saturating your bandwidth anyway.

If ISPs want to cut costs, they rate limit customers (globally or during their peak usage times). That reduces the amount of routing hardware they need and the amount of backbone bandwidth they need to buy. If they institute data caps or try to break the Internets P2P architecture, they are just destroying the intent of the Internet while still having the same peak bandwidth rates they always did. Their routers just run cold now at night because nobody is using them for anything.


How would you respond to the fact that A lot of ISPs have local monopolies and they have 0 incentive to pass on any savings they materialize to customers? Also, many ISPs are also media companies, and sabotaging internet based entertainment is beneficial to them?


I think we should prohibit monopolies. Anyway the incentive isn't zero, we needn't exaggerate. ISPs aren't the only company to participate in multiple markets, I don't see why we should be more concerned about them than Amazon.


>Given that reduced upstream costs typically translate into reduced downstream costs

Can you go into a little more detail about "given" here? I'm not under the impression that it's true.


If business A can make a widget for $1.00 less than business B, business A will in all likelihood pass some of that savings onto the consumer to incentivize them to buy widgets from business A. Business A makes a little extra and the customer saves a little extra.

Again, this is the typical scenario; there are certainly cases that don't fit this mold, but they would be atypical.


The widget being a rivalrous good doesn't affect this?


Facebook gives away Free Basics "internet". Although I'm not sure I'd call that internet...


Could you explain yourself better? You make assumptions with no evidence.


Upvoted because we need more diversity of opinion here.


If we need diversity of opinion, perhaps you could up-vote someone that believes that the earth is flat or black is white. There are out there some readily determinable facts, and it is perfectly fine for all of our opinions to be the same as it concerns those facts.

For example, almost everyone on earth will be of the opinion that fire is hotter than ice. Do we all suffer from group think? If someone believes that fire is cool, is he a brilliant free thinker, or just a moron that is about to get his hand burned?

It is well known and readily verifiable that net neutrality as defined by the previous FCC rules and as defined by the EFF allows for providers to charge more for people using more data. So no net neutrality would not require anyone to subsidize heavy data users.


Do you consider your position so weak that it can't withstand a debate?

I've phrased this bluntly for effect. If you say an idea is mistaken, then you've said the worst thing you can say about it. Censoring it only pushes inquisitive minds further into their camp.

If HN has become a place where mistaken ideas are no longer tolerated (in the sense that you can't lay out your reasoning without being attacked) then we've all lost something valuable.

I don't think we're anywhere near that point yet -- in this case, the downvotes were due to the flimsy nature of the comment -- but it's worth watching for.


Some things don't need to be debated every day.


> It is well known and readily verifiable that net neutrality as defined by the previous FCC rules and as defined by the EFF allows for providers to charge more for people using more data. So no net neutrality would not require anyone to subsidize heavy data users.

You're being patronizing. Why do you assume that the OP is referencing this point in his "diversity of opinion" quote? A charitable interpretation would be "the subject of whether or not NN is a social good is a subjective matter, and we need more diversity of opinion on this topic".


That is the only point the grandparent made.


In addition, constantly re-discussing the same points weakens the signal-to-noise ratio.


How many upvotes did this receive?


The score is at -4 now.




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