I’d probably be the person my friends would think most likely to lobby for laws net neutrality, but they’d be wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I’m massively pro-net neutrality and think it’s vital for the continued growth of the Internet and innovation. What I don’t agree with is further legislation.
In England, our current state of play is that the government thinks everything is fine, despite BT capping and throttling. I agree with them. I don’t think that the government should step in and force private companies to follow their morals. The government has no say in how BT should be running their company.
But I’m paying for an 8Mb connection! That’s what I should get.
No, you’re not paying for an 8Mb connection, you’re paying for the service laid out in the terms and conditions you signed up for. Terms which you said you agreed to when you made the contract for your service. Those conditions openly say “we’re going to throttle your connection to 896Kbps for streaming videos”, and everything else Ars is complaining about. If you don’t like that, there’s plenty of competitors who offer different terms. Use them.
There are hidden terms like this all over England; buy one get one free (the cheapest product is the free one) — free calls between 7am and 7pm (if you start a call at 6pm, and then go past 7pm, you’ll be charged for the entire call) — 30% less fat! (30% smaller bag). It just enforces that it’s important to read the small print. That’s all the onus there is, and all that there should be on businesses.
Whilst I don’t think there should be harsher laws about how terms are written, I do think it’d be a good idea for businesses to voluntarily add a simpler version of their terms. Just to make their customers happier. I can’t seem to find it, but I once found a website who had the normal legal text – hard to understand by anyone that’s not a lawyer – but by the side they had simple explanations. In someone like digg’s case, by the side of…
By creating and posting Content to Digg, you warrant that you own all rights to the Content, agree that the Content will be dedicated to the public domain under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication, available at http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ and that you will not object to the use of the Content by Digg in any context. To clarify, the above does not apply to the Content on external sites linked to by the original submission.
They could have “this just means that anything you give us is going to be put into the public domain, so anyone can do anything with it.” Digg’s ToS is actually pretty easy to read already, but other companies could really do with doing that too.
I don’t want to spend half an hour reading something before I can use a product!
That’s your choice, but the business has done everything they need to do in my opinion. You can’t complain when they suspend your account for doing something they don’t want, or when you’re hit with hidden charges. It’s your responsibility to read that stuff.
If the government can’t regulate, then who’s watching for consumer rights?
The consumers. If BT customer doesn’t like something they should leave BT, boycotting it. If enough customers are leaving (so it’s a big problem) BT will change. If you stick around with BT and put up with you, you’re sending the message that you’re okay with it.
That’s why I’m hopeful that if non-net neutrality comes into place, it’ll be fairly quickly kicked to the curb. There will always be some good guys in business. I’ve heard good things about Be. If there’s truly not anyone filling that need, then someone will pretty quickly notice it and set up a business there. (Hey, why not you?)
In sum, quit worrying about net neutrality, it’s here to stay. Government shouldn’t keep regulating businesses, let the customers do that. (You can almost feel Ayn Rand in the room, amirite?)