F2C: Brad Templeton

Brad Templeton, from EFF.

Involved with EFF and Bit Torrent Corporation, but not speaking officially on behalf of that.

Most people here strongly in favour of open networks. P2P is what the internet is, end to end is where it’s at.

Real invention of the internet was not packet switching or email. Not a technological invention. It was the pricing model, which is that i pay for my line to the middle, and you pay for yours, and we don’t worry about the bits in between.

There were other networks, but the internet was the one that worked. It enabled a bunch of applications because it stopped requiring that every application be financially justified. The early networks were in the hands of corporations’ bean counters, which would stifle innovation.

If there had been packet bills for pictures of fish tanks, as per early internet uses, and there’d be no way to justify that. We’d have had a network of timid users; people have a psychological cost to paying money as well as a financial. Even if the amounts are small. But great stuff came from en environment where pricing model not damaging.

Monster in the closet. Everybody oversells their internet capacity, offering unlimited internet or a pipe that’s bigger than they can supply. The expect you not to use your allowance.

Got into a debate of ‘whose pipe is it’? Dissonance between what the customers think they are buying and what vendors think they are selling. DSL, upstream component often unused. That got exploited by P2P, finding a network resource that was unused was a valuable thing in some cases. But getting battles over that.

P2P is clearly the best tech for publishing a file cheaply, so not surprising that copyright violators use it, although that’s not inherent in the technology.

Something new will always be a bandwidth hog, there’s always going to be things that use more bandwidth than others. Worried that the backlash against P2P is that you end up beating down the winner, the most effective tool. If you got rid of P2P, something else would come along.

Law to protect network neutrality is hard to write effectively. All telecom regulation principles have caused more harm than good. They started with good intention in many cases, but before long they did something bad.

One thing they do bad is that as soon as you have a regulation in place, no matter how wonderful it is, simply having paperwork generates a barrier. E.g. export restrictions on encryption methods. Having to do the paperwork make companies take the encryption out of their products. So worried about that.

Like putting out a fire with corn-based ethanol – costs more in energy to make than you get out of it. But because of clever regulation people are going down this route and it’s all a lie.

Universal service, long ago, maybe helped. Today rural wireless can be delivered for less than urban landlines.

Once put a telephone box in the middle of Burning Man. Easy to do now, can bring telephony now to rural areas.

E911 is a case in point, if you want help in an emergency then you have to pay $1 per month per user. This regulation strangles innovation in telephony.

CALEA, regulation that allows the gov’t to wiretap. Companies don’t know if they have to comply. Has cost $500m, but no idea if it’s caught anyone at all. Companies who put this capability into equipment then sell it on to other countries, so giving them built-in surveillance.

2006; 13 digital wiretaps, 1714 of all types, convictions about 1.8x. Very expensive, hardly caught anyone.

Spectrum Allocation, started as a good idea, now is very stupid. Most spectrum not used effectively. Fights over whitespace. Firms bit $50 billion for monopolies. What did we learn from 802.11?

Replace FCC with three words: Don’t be selfish.

One regulation that’s so far been successful is the one EFF are suing AT&T with. Wiretaps – phone companies allowed NSA to put in taps on all traffic without warrants, so one good law told them not to do it, but they ignored it when the White House asked. President tried to get the law nullified, but the Senate said no.

Where is the answer?
– be careful what policies you have
– review all policies after a few years
– default is that they expire
– more bandwidth and competition
– it’s the monopoly, stupid

In many cases, we’ve created these monopolies. 100 years ago perhaps they made sense as a monopoly, but now they don’t. Some say that cable companies are not monopolies, you can move company just by moving your house.

If we can get in the dark fibre, get in the competition. Fibre is going to deliver what we need. Need to let people build from the bottom up. People say the internet can’t scale for video, but that’s wrong. There’s enough bandwidth out there. But P2P really does scale up, especially now there are things being done, part of the Comcast agreement with Bit Torrent, will cause more local peer detection, and it’s the creation of local caches of data from a ground-up tech which is very exciting.

[Note: I have a hideous cold, which is making concentrating very difficult. I know I’ve missed bits out – apologies.]

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