Steve Wozniak’s open letter: Keep the Internet Free

“The early Internet was so accidental, it also was free and open in this sense. The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away. Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible,” Steve Wozniak writes in The Atlantic. “Local ISP’s should provide connection to the Internet but then it should be treated as though you own those wires and can choose what to do with them when and how you want to, as long as you don’t destruct them. I don’t want to feel that whichever content supplier had the best government connections or paid the most money determined what I can watch and for how much. This is the monopolistic approach and not representative of a truly free market in the case of today’s Internet.”

“When I was first asked to ‘sign on’ with some good people interested in Net Neutrality my initial thought was that the economic system works better with tiered pricing for various customers,” Woz writes. “On the other hand, I’m a founder of the EFF and I care a lot about individuals and their own importance. Finally, the thought hit me that every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed. Every audience that I speak this statement and phrase to bursts into applause.”

“That’s how the people think. They don’t want this to encroach on their Internet freedom,” Woz writes. “We have very few government agencies that the populace views as looking out for them, the people. The FCC is one of these agencies that is still wearing a white hat. Not only is current action on Net Neutrality one of the most important times ever for the FCC, it’s probably the most momentous and watched action of any government agency in memorable times in terms of setting our perception of whether the government represents the wealthy powers or the average citizen, of whether the government is good or is bad. This decision is important far beyond the domain of the FCC itself.”

Read more in Woz’s full letter here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

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17 Comments

  1. What if the “carbon tax” were extended to include large people who breathe more CO2 into the environment and thus had to pay more “usage”. Just ask Qui bonim?
    Who benefits from charging more for the fast lane? Is it the consumer or the corporation doing the collecting of $? Wozniak is right! This is an issue which will define the information highway for the rest of our lifetime.

  2. I hope that somewhere somehow the FCC will not bow down to the rich internet providers and look out for us, the people, public who use the internet. The providers already screw us monthly for claimed internet speeds they DON”T PROVIDE!
    Always slowing it down whenever they feel like. There needs to be accountability for these providers. If the FCC gives them what they want, watching any video will cost 10 times more and we will have to go back to paying for hard media because the cost of online content will just be to high to afford. Netflix, Hulu and all the rest of the online video suppliers will be forced to shutdown and go back to media renting through the mail. Will go back instead of forward with media content if the FCC screws this up.

    1. FCC look out for the people? Not a chance. The Federal Government is infested with the most incompetent boobs ever to set foot in shoe leather. Sound reasoning doesn’t prevail with these toads. Crony capitalism rules. It’s all about ensuring donors are paid for their support of the administration of the day; with each agency serving as a store front for corporate shoppers. “You pay, we’ll play” is the motto of our government.

      1. Comcast wants you to believe the FCC is incompetent because that way you don’t blame them for bribing public officials who change the rules in their favor. Seems to me that greed overrides incompetence every time.

  3. It’s obvious from the laws we have that politicians represent the wealthy powers and is bad in the sense that it works to make average citizen powerless.

  4. Woz: “What if we paid for our roads per mile that we drove? It would be fair and understandable to charge more for someone who drives more. But one of the most wonderful things in our current life is getting in the car and driving anywhere we feel like at this moment, and with no accounting for cost. You just get in your car and go. This is one of the most popular themes of our life and even our popular music. It’s a type of freedom from some concerns that makes us happy and not complain. The roads are already paid for. You rarely hear people complain that roads are “free.” The government shines when it comes to having provided us pathways to drive around our country. We don’t think of the roadways as being negative like telecommunication carriers. It’s a rare breath of fresh air.”

    The roads are already paid for? By whom? The same could be said for schools. Our hydro plants. Our hospitals.

    And who does he expect to pay to fix the potholes? Of which according to him, people rarely complain.

    Does he expect that a grown man’s pants should cost no more than what his wife pays for their 5 year old son? That driving across the America should cost the same whether using turnpikes/thruways or country dirt roads? Imagine if a 150-car train was fixed with rubber tires and hauled across Route 66 rather than using rail tracks, even if those are already paid for?

    Imagine who would be willing to develop a faster car, plane, boat, or even a computer, if they could only charge anymore than for the slowest product in their lineup.

    Or are we all willing to accept what we were paid in 1984?

    1. The Internet needs to be treated like a utility (i.e. gas, electric or water). And the ISPs should never, ever have the power to decide what kind of data they can speed up or slow down. If they get that power then say goodbye to any data that is not the corporate pablum like what you get from USAToday.

      1. In other words, we should all pay for exactly what we use?

        Are you aware that electrical utility companies to save money, “…shave the peak of their power demand curves by reducing the voltage across their distribution system.”

        Have you not noticed at home, that your water pressure is sometimes slower than normal or that your gas/oil isn’t as efficient.

        MY take: Pay for what we use and how fast we use it. However, whether it is publicly and/or privately owned/run, it should not be at a loss. At a profit yes, but every user, as should every investor, be as a part, a shareholder.

  5. ISPs already have tiered pricing. I am currently paying Verizon for their cheapest FiOS offering (15Gb down / 10Gb up). They do offer several faster packages, to which I could upgrade, if the current one wasn’t enough.

    The point is, we are already paying our ISPs for certain bandwidth. 15Gb should be adequate enough for live HD streaming. Our ISP should be able to provide sustained 15Gbps throughput for our money; if not, they should charge more (if current rates are insufficient to cover bandwidth cost), or reduce the speed. And we’d then have the usual option of choosing with our wallets.

    There are two things to consider here: one is essentially illegal (or should be illegal), the other is the matter of economy.

    When an ISP is also a cable TV provider (like most are), they are now increasingly more often throttling down on-demand video streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon…), even to customers who pay for plenty of bandwidth for such services. The logic behind this is to encourage users to use ISP’s own on-demand services, rather than the competition. If not already, this should be illegal.

    The other issue is ISPs charging premium for preferential treatment of those who pay for it (presumably, on-demand HD video streaming services). With some proper regulation, this might work reasonably well, as long as it does NOT mean trottling DOWN non-paying content providers. In other words, if you pay more, we create a NEW fast lane for you (rather than blocking one of the existing ones and giving it to you).

    Regrettably, the words proper and regulation rarely end up in the same sentence (without some sarcasm wrapping)…

    1. When you say “premium treatment” you are making the claim that ISPs should have to right to know what data and from whom your are accessing it. I don’t want Comcast or any other ISP to be looking into the data I receive and neither do you. Because if they have that power, they and all other ISPs will abuse it.

  6. The three Democratic chairmen at the FCC who voted in favor of the new rules are guilty of a flagrant conflict of interest, having been lobbyists for Internet Service providers. It should be illegal for them to use their power to give favors to Comcast at the expense of all the citizens of the United States and the rest of the internet dependent world.

    1. One Obama planted media lobbyist puppet pawn of the media oligarchy, FCC Chairman:
      Thomas Wheeler

      Two idiot, deceitful Democrap Commissioners:
      Mignon Clyburn
      and
      Jessica Rosenworcel

      Both Clyburn and Rosenworcel have stated and written about their ‘support’ for net neutrality. THEN they voted to murder it. That’s deceit.

      Organizational Chart of the Federal Communications Commission
      http://transition.fcc.gov/images/fccorg-november2013.pdf

      Mr. Thomas Wheeler told this whopping lie:
      “I will not allow the national asset of an open Internet to be compromised…. The prospect of a gatekeeper choosing winners and losers on the Internet is unacceptable.”

      Then he did the exact OPPOSITE, as per the will of his oligarchy masters. Worthless scum, IMHO of course. Throw Wheeler out of the FCC. Throw Rosenworcel and Clyburn. They do NOT represent We The People. They ABUSE We The People.

      IASSOTS.

  7. While I agree with Woz’s underlying concept he gets a couple things wrong and his open statement is difficult to read and rambling.

    1. We have never had a “Free Internet”. Probably never will. People have always paid to move bits around from system to system — dating as far back as when the first four nodes were turned on back in the very late 60s. Claiming we need a “Free Internet” just opens up counter arguments about the fact that it’s NEVER been “Free”.

    2. Talking about people not wanting corporations or the government to encroach upon their Internet freedoms is a separate issue. This goes to privacy and unrestricted sites and such. Nothing about Net Neutrality has anything to do with privacy. And, none of the anti Net Neutrality crowd is saying you CAN’T go to specific sites. They are just saying you’ll have to pay more or suffer slower data rates.

    The optimum solution, if possible is 100% net neutrality. The Internet as a whole has to be “bit agnostic”. To move a gigabit on the internet from one point to another should be a flat rate no matter what the content is. Content providers pay a flat rate, 100% independent of the content (assuming that content is legal!), to get their information onto the Internet. Users pay a flat rate, independent of content, to get the information they desire off the Internet.

  8. OH HELL YEAH!

    Finally, the thought hit me that every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed.

    That’s the point of USEFUL regulation. Or in the case of Net Neutrality, preventing ANY regulation. Shut the ISPs and their $MONEY$ up! This is the country of We The People. It is NEVER the country of We The Big Bucks. Kill that game. It’s nothing but Neo-Feudalism. We don’t need another dark age, do we.

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