DOJ Likes Packet Sniffing, Votes For AT&T

    September 6, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Your first thought may be: What’s the Department of Justice got to do with Net Neutrality? Well, essentially nothing at this point, except that the FCC asked the Antitrust Division for its opinion. The Commission could have saved some time by just jotting down what AT&T said.

It’s interesting that Assistant Attorney General Thomas Barnett and his Antitrust Division saw no real problem with the current duopoly in the broadband market, nor could they find, equipped as they are with discovery materials and aid, any precedent that could sway them into thinking a regulatory approach may actually be beneficial.  

Which is kind of funny, because I didn’t have any trouble finding at least one article about how the Japanese government stepped in to deliver blistering speeds and innovation.

Innovation, by the way, is something, the DOJ said Net Neutrality regulation would stifle. It would also pass the cost of innovation on to you, the consumer, and then AT&T said "Jinx! You owe me a Coke." 

Barnett thinks one or two choices of broadband providers is plenty for Americans, and that "regulators should be careful not to impose regulations that could limit consumer choice and investment in broadband facilities,” despite that incumbents are already investing in fiber anyway, which is the future, which they will control, you know, both of them.

The DOJ goes on in its statement to compare the Internet to the US Postal Service, which we all know to be very efficient, and the varying levels of delivery guarantees and speeds offered, which might sound kind of stupid if you know anything about this debate, but to be fair, that’s how it was explained to them.

They say these different delivery services are responses to market demand and consumer choice. But the truth is you have three choices, two are better than the government’s but are more expensive, and everybody really wants their package there tomorrow but can’t afford it. But this isn’t an argument in favor of shipping neutrality.

Okay, so now that we’re in agreement that the US Postal Service analogy doesn’t really demonstrate that the DOJ had a clear understanding of the concept and that we were already suspicious that Barnett’s voice was coming out surprisingly like John Czwartacki’s, let’s look at what the DOJ has to do with the topic in the first place, because that is kind of confusing.

What could it be? Oh right. They like to subpoena people. For data. ISPs. Like AT&T. Net Neutrality protection would prevent AT&T from being able to sniff around your data packets. Pesky laws.

“It would seem that the President and the Justice Department cannot do enough for AT&T and the other companies that agreed to spy on the American people," said Harold Feld, Senior Vice President of Media Access Project, a 35-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment, in a statement.

"Without network neutrality, companies are free to turn over user information without a warrant or block users from desired content – as AT&T recently did ‘accidentally’ by blocking Pearl Jam’s criticism of the President during a concert performance carried on AT&T’s broadband service."

"Factually, the Department of Justice filing – like the industry filings it shamelessly parrots – is plain wrong. Americans pay more money for less speed than businesses and citizens in comparable developed nations such as Japan, South Korea, England, or France thanks to the policy of ’regulatory restraint’ urged in today’s DOJ filing.”