7.05.2006

Your Own Personal Internet

The Senate Commerce Committee deadlocked 11 to 11 on an amendment inserting some very basic net neutrality provisions into a moving telecommunications bill. The provisions didn't prohibit an ISP from handling VOIP faster than emails, but would have made it illegal to handle its own VOIP packets faster than a competitor's.

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) explained why he voted against the amendment and gave an amazing primer on how the internet works.

There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service is now going to go through the internet* and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

So you want to talk about the consumer? Let's talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren't using it for commercial purposes.

We aren't earning anything by going on that internet. Now I'm not saying you have to or you want to discrimnate against those people [¿]

The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says "No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet". No, I'm not finished. I want people to understand my position, I'm not going to take a lot of time. [¿]

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense internet now, did you know that?

Do you know why?

Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can't afford getting delayed by other people.

Now I think these people are arguing whether they should be able to dump all that stuff on the internet ought to consider if they should develop a system themselves.

Maybe there is a place for a commercial net but it's not using what consumers use every day.

It's not using the messaging service that is essential to small businesses, to our operation of families.

The whole concept is that we should not go into this until someone shows that there is something that has been done that really is a viloation of net neutraility that hits you and me.


I got a copy of the internet that Senator Ted Stevens's staff sent to him, and which, as he told the full Commerce Committee as proof that net neutrality was bad, took almost five days to get to him because the internet's pipes were so full of traffic.

I admit to a little skepticism, so I asked the Senator's office to send me a copy of the internet via Fed-Ex (to avoid internet rush hour). After signing for it this morning, I unwrapped it and set out to test it forensically to make sure the senator was telling the truth (turns out it was just an internet letter, not an entire internet).

(For you eggheads out there, I used a command line tool called Bioforensic Unfragmenting Logistical Level Systemic Hopping Information Tracerouter, which is open-source.)

Turns out he was right.

After his staffers sent the internet letter and the letter shattered into pieces by the internal sledgehammer encased in the congressional mail server, the pieces were slingshotted into the internet's pipe (to visual this, think of how a potato gun works and then simply reverse the process in your head).

According to my analysis of the pieces:

One packet made its way up north along the jagged border of New Hampshire and Maine, eventually landing on the Canadian side of Niagara falls, where the packet met a very nice portion of a picture of a lovely, and busty Canadian woman named Sue (you don't know her) and spent a romantic weekend in a posh Cisco router.

Another was waylaid after bumping into 419 packets which all claimed to belonging to a family member of a recently deceased Nigerian finance minister and over a period of three days, the packet gave away all of its contents to a fake bank in Nigeria in hopes of striking it rich.

One other packet got sandwiched in Norfolk, VA between a YouTube video of a cat adoption video gone bad and a Google Video of a carbon fiber mountain bike disintegrating under its rider. After splitting itself in two from laughter, the packet was sued by the recording industry since one of the maker's of the videos once downloaded a Britney Spears song as a joke.

Yet another accidentally got routed through a Pakistani server and was subsequently sucked into AT&T secret room, where it was strapped down and water-motherboarded. AT&T denies any knowledge of the packet, while the government says that even it if it did water-motherboard the packet, such interrogation is legal under Article II and to boot, ICANN is a tool of the French.

One entrepreneurial bit of the internet letter decided to start its own social networking site called Paketr where packets can make friends and post snapshots of the insides of the routers they pass through, giving Michael Arrington a minor blogasm which led Rupert Murdoch to promptly buy the company and have his engineers figure out a way to put Flash ads in packet headers.

Intriguingly, another was flagged and strip-searched by a TSA screener since the packet was using a serif font that made it's 1's too sharp for travel post-9/11.

Luckily enough of the packets finally made their way back to the congressional mail server that the email was able to be re-assembled.

The message: "Dear Senator, Our extensive research (based on briefings from the largest cable companies) demonstrates that That Internet must stay as empty as the $320 million "Bridge to Nowhere" or the terrorists will win. Sincerely, Your Staff."

Ryan Singel - Wired Magazine

1 comment:

Reach Upward said...

Ya know, I read Sen. Stevens' speech, and I still don't know what the heck is trying to say. Oh, like all politicians, he says a lot of stuff, but I'm still not certain what it all means. What's more, is that I'm not certain that *he* is at all certain about what it all means. Or even if he cares about it.