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Ask Slashdot: Taking a New Tack On Net Neutrality? 185

An anonymous reader writes "I am the IT director for a large rental property company that owns approximately 15,000 apartments in college towns across America. The board of directors has tasked me with exploring whether we can 'privatize' our network (we provide network access as part of rent in all of our properties) and charge certain commercial entities for access to our residents. Right now the network is more or less open, except that we block access (by court order) to certain sites at the request of various copyright holders. Specifically, they are interested in targeting commercial providers of services directed at college students, such as textbook rental firms, online booksellers, and so on. With approximately 35,000 residents, I guess they are thinking there is a substantial profit to be made here. Personally I don't like it one bit, but I thought I would ping Slashdot for thoughtful opinions. I imagine the phones will start ringing off the hook if students suddenly lose access to places like I think it has 'bad idea' written all over it. What do you think?"
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Ask Slashdot: Taking a New Tack On Net Neutrality?

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  • Re:Captive? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:14AM (#47140825)

    My read is that their intent is a little more targeted: find 10-15 companies that specifically target college students with online services like textbook rental, and find some way to siphon off a portion of those companies' revenue stream in return for "delivering" them access to the 15k users. Then leave the rest of the web unfiltered. This is essentially the model of net-non-neutrality ISPs have been using with Netflix, but in a "softer" sense, where it isn't actually blocked, but service is degraded. They leave most sites alone (because there's no money in them), and go after a handful of potential cash cows for a cut of the revenue.

    My guess is that this company saw what ISPs have been doing with Netflix, and wonder if it's possible to do with other sectors than video streaming, too. It's harder to do with non-bandwidth-intensive sites, though. An ISP can soft-block Netflix by just degrading the access, and even have some plausible deniability (blame Netflix's ISP or servers for the poor performance), which some people will believe. But a textbook rental site doesn't need streaming HD video levels of bandwidth, so you might have to block them entirely to make this scheme work. And people will notice/complain about that much more.

  • Re:site blocking? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:17AM (#47140837)

    > Right now the network is more or less open, except that we block access (by court order) to certain sites at the request of various copyright holder

    Look into the history of DMCA "takedown orders". It can get quite odd: take a look at [] for how mentioning the takedown orders can lead to a takedown order.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:33AM (#47141209)

    That's what I told them everyone would tell us if we started pushing the idea. But, they don't pay me for my initial reactions.

    I've delegated a lot of work to look at implementation costs, and what has flowed back up to me is that they are not that high. However, what I don't have the expertise to gauge are the ongoing costs like lawsuits and such. Our inside counselors are mostly real estate law professionals with a few commercial litigators and my feedback from them has been mostly pages filled with question marks.

    We provide "network access" as part of rent, not "Internet Access." Students are free to use other means such as cellular modems to access the Internet if they do not agree with our ToS, but for the vast majority of them, the network we provide with filtered access to the Internet is sufficient for their needs. The rest of our "network" are basically various Intranet sites they can use to pay rent, order maintenance, report problems with utilities or grounds, manage their lease, and manage Bursar DirectPay, where their rent is paid directly from student loan proceeds received by the school, or Parent DirectPay, where rent is billed directly to their parents via ACH or credit card payment.

    In any case, I intend to give the board an honest assessment, even though I think this is a terrible idea. I hope to God they don't decide to force this steaming pile of shit upon me.

May all your PUSHes be POPped.