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Net Neutrality... Seriously this Time
May/June 2008 (vol. 12 no. 3)
pp. 86-89
Daniel J. Weitzner, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Discriminatory disruption of certain Internet communications protocols, and the recent truce between Comcast and BitTorrent, has caused much debate. At the root of the matter is a very basic question about how Comcast's action relates to the fundamental technical and institutional agreements that make the Internet work. A closer look at what Comcast did, along with the legitimate operational problems that certain types of traffic cause in networks, help explain the challenge the Internet community now faces.

1. D.P. Reed, "Opening Statement of Dr. David P. Reed," Testimony before the Federal Communications Commission Hearing on Network Management Practices, 25 Feb. 2008; www.reed.com/dpr/docs/PapersReed%20FCC%20statement.pdf .
2. S. Floyd, Inappropriate TCP Resets Considered Harmful, Internet RFC 3360, Aug. 2002; www.ietf.org/rfcrfc3360.txt?number=3360.
3. "Comcast and BitTorrent Form Collaboration to Address Network Management, Network Architecture and Content Distribution," Press Release, Comcast, 27 Mar. 2008, www.comcast.com/About/PressReleasePressReleaseDetail.ashx?PRID=740 .
4. "'FCC Should Be Court of Last Resort for Internet,' McDowell Says," Warren's Washington Internet Daily, vol. 9, no. 61, 28 Mar. 2008.
5. To Authorize the National Science Foundation to Foster and Support the Development and Use of Certain Computer Networks, H.R. 5344, 102nd Congress, 1992.
6. R.J. May, "H.R. ____, a Committee Print on the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006," Testimony before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Committee on Energy and Commerce, US House of Representatives, 30 Mar. 2006; www.pff.org/issues-pubs/testimony060330telecom.pdf .

Index Terms:
Internet, net neutrality, Comcast, BitTorrent, protocol blocking, standards, technology and society
Citation:
Daniel J. Weitzner, "Net Neutrality... Seriously this Time," IEEE Internet Computing, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 86-89, May-June 2008, doi:10.1109/MIC.2008.59
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