One of Verizon's big arguments against net neutrality rules is that if you have a truly neutral network, the bits managing grandma's pacemaker or services for the deaf
will somehow get lost in the shuffle. That of course is a massive red herring, given that informed neutrality supporters obviously don't oppose reasonable network management, as long as it's fair and transparent.
MIT Media Lab founder, industry veteran and co-founder of Wired Nicholas Negroponte seems a little confused on this subject as well, despite an obviously rich history in technology. Speaking over at Big Think
, Negroponte chimes in on a number of subjects, though it's his comments on neutrality (which begin at the 3:04 mark in this video
) that get interesting.
After claiming that you can't really have a truly neutral network because e-book bits aren't the same as pacemaker bits, Negroponte seems to go off the rails a little bit. Like Verizon (who is a MIT Media Lab donor, coincidentally or not
), Negroponte seems to think that net neutrality is about forcing equality among all traffic and services with a total disregard for reasonable network management, creating this network dystopia where important services get obliterated by your Netflix streaming:
to argue that they’re all equal is crazy. So how do you reconcile that and still say neutral in some sense where some aren’t charged and some are charged and so on. What I can assure you on the topic is those of us who were there at the beginning of the Internet never imagined that Netflix would represent 40 percent of it on Sunday afternoons. It was just off the charts. We just didn’t think that. There is, to me, a certain morality in that because why the hell are you streaming video. Maybe streaming should be illegal. But the point being that all bits aren’t created equal and whether that resolves itself into net neutrality or not net neutrality is a separate story.
Maybe a service that consumers are requesting from their ISPs is immoral and should be illegal
because it consumes a larger portion of the network in a way you didn't foresee? Really? Again, nobody that is actually informed on the issue of neutrality is arguing that there can't be reasonable and transparent network management when it comes to some services. The goal of neutrality rules is to prevent larger ISPs from abusing the uncompetitive last mile with anti-competitive behavior, not to give grandma a heart attack from collective obtuseness.