Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Page

If you are reading the comment, you are most likely on the blog and noticing that there have been some changes. Which makes this notification a moot point. Either way, enjoy the new view.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Break

More than a month after I promised to write shortly I am back with too many ideas and too little specifics to write about. First of all, I'm feeling very Robert Goulet-ish while reading next to my mother's fireplace. Very homely. Anyway...

The first topic I will discuss stems from the book I am currently reading. I found myself really intrigued by medical malpractice when we covered the professional standard of care in Torts class. I think the biggest reason why I became so concerned with the topic is because there was so much talk about tort reform before the passage of the health care bill, note I did not call it Obamacare, Republicans are really utilizing the Goebbels rhetoric with that one and this has become one of my greatest pet-peeves. If you have a legitimate problem with the plan, I will likely agree; although senseless name calling is not an intellectual endeavor. Sorry, I digress. Tort reform comes in many different forms and variations. Some measures seem certainly plausible, although I think the focus of the book attacks the more fundamental idea that the system needs changing. I've only just begun the book so I will be sure to write again once I finish.

The second topic focuses more around current events. It seems that Congress thinks they have saved the internet today with a vote to 'promote' net neutrality. I have only recently begun to understand and educate myself on this topic. I am very grateful to be going to a law school that has a Telecom program and a very distinguished scholar on the topic, Marvin Ammori. It seems to me that the advancement made by Congress today was only nominal and did little to actually advance the idea of 'net neutrality'. By the way, I watched the news tonight and two journalists were attacking the name 'net neutrality'. I was not really under the impression that it was such an outdated term. I'm not sure if this is a semantic ploy or if there really is better terminology for the topics, so I will continue to use 'net neutrality' to refer to its original idea.

I have two problems with the legislation as I understand it. First, it still allows companies to block competitor sites. Secondly, it allows device manufacturers to regulate the internet while placing rules on the service carrier. I think this is a good characterization of what I've read so far, although I will read more before I comment on these issues so I can make sure I have my facts straight.

One issue that is clear however, is that Congress believes that certain measures are not as imperative with open-source devices, like Android. This is completely wrong. Open source devices merely allow better control over the software that is on the device. Net neutrality is talking about browsing Apple itunes as opposed to Rhapsody, or using Google instead of Bing. Open-source devices, and what some people refer to as 'rooting', refers to the actual browser on the device you are using or the app. This is completely off point and doesn't really seem to add anything in the discussion.

Great example: I used to be able to use my HTC Incredible as a mobile hot-spot to connect my computer to the internet wirelessly. I had Verizon and did not pay for the broadband service 'tethering' that they wanted me to. Recently, they blocked the internet access to Incredible users by placing the block on the internet and no longer on the device (like when I had an old Blackberry). I have since 'rooted' my phone in efforts to install open-source software, ROMS, and new kernels. I am however, still restricted from using the 'tethering' service through my carrier, Verizon. This is perfectly fine, and I understand the reasoning. It really does take up so much more bandwidth and requires more from their network. The problem I have is that the issue is not with open-source devices or other ones. The issue lies with the Network's right to regulate how much of their network I use.

Very few people have a problem with an internet provider saying "You download content like a University computer lab, we will charge you for all that usage." The problem that net neutrality tries to address is that these companies are trying to say "If you use Bing, your internet will be super-fast. If you use Google, it will be significantly slower. And don't even ask about using Skype, because you cannot." The point becomes, Comcast is engenieering their own internet. They are now offering a limited version of the internet. What if internet completely turned this way? Would it make sense? What if all I could watch was the "bed intruder video" and all my friend on AT&T could see was "Marcel the shell"? What if all you could use on Comcast was MySpace, Facebook on Verizon, and LinkedIn on AT&T? It seems like this would defeat the purpose of the internet.

In closing, I know some of what I said was comical. Although, there are serious implications for this sort of monopolization and manipulation. Free market economics just suggests that we let it happen and everyone sign up for a new carrier that offers the whole internet. Is this necessary? I thought thats why the internet came about; unrestricted, open, a true "market place of ideas" (sorry for the cliche). Congress is in the process of greatly failing the citizens of the United States again. They are about to sell the internet to large corporations in the almighty name of re-election.

Just remember: if you are an AT&T customer, you may only access Democratic websites, MSNBC, and your Iphone can only get Obama themes. If you use Verizon, get used to Fox News, the Palin Network, and Glenn Beck podcasts.

Okay, I promise that the next time I write I will focus on a slightly more philosophical issue and less on some current event. I will also update on my progress in the Medical Malpractice book. Until then