One Web hoster's wonderfully trollish FCC protest

Neocities slows down the FCC to dialup speeds and asks for more money to restore the bandwidth. Perhaps this will actually get Tom Wheeler's attention?

I learned two things this weekend: a pig-hunting, heat-sensing drone is not an appropriate Mother's Day gift, and that there really is a God and she doesn't like FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

And boy, is that Wheeler thing an absolutely succulent little nugget! In response to his turning on us and officially supporting the fast lane/slow lane plot instead of taking the Net neutrality-preserving tighter regulation stance like any sentient homo sapien, Web hosting service Neocities.org decided to rate-limit the FCC by slowing their bandwidth down to 28.8Kbps. The company's boss, Kyle Drake, even posted a blog entry that stated if Wheeler likes the fast/slow-for-pay nonsense so much, he was just going to keep the FCC at '90s dial-up speed until Wheeler agreed to pay him more for faster access. He described this as the slightly-too-geeky Ferengi plan, named after a shady alien race on one of the umpteen Star Trek spin-offs that look like Don Sterling if he licked a light socket.

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This is a plan aimed exclusively at the FCC, and will cost them $1,000/year. But that's just to Neocities. If it catches on (and I so hope it does) that won't be all they pay, since the not-so-confidential IP address block Neocities used to create its chokehold apparently got posted to Hacker News, and Neocities posted the code it used on its GitHub site.

Drake slapped an explanatory post about his Net neutrality stunt on Neocities' blog on Friday. In it, he states that he intended the move to highlight just how bad things could get if the FCC's current proposal is passed. Any organization with some control over Web bandwidth could choose to throttle the speed, and by extension the business model, of any other entity. In his mind, this situation will quickly devolve into "internet civil war."

I agree with the premise, though I'm skeptical of the conclusion. It seems extreme. But that's just based on an uncharacteristically optimistic spike in my faith in the basic decency of man, even those greed-infected billionaire pipe owners. I could be wrong.

I'm not sure if the rumor that the FCC is backing away from its original proposal is in response to Neocities or because over the last week it's been condemned as diabolically mollusk-minded by everyone from Al Franken (and any other political player Comcast forgot to pay off) to Mark Zuckerberg's nanny. Then again, if the rumored changes are true, Wheeler is somehow trying to reconcile support for a bigger-bucks fast lane while also somehow disallowing a slow lane, which makes about as much sense as saying black is a very dark shade of white. If there's a fast lane that sucks up more of the ultimately finite bandwidth that our penny-pinching pipe owners are upgrading about as quickly as the Taliban is accepting women's rights, how will there not eventually be a slow lane?

On the plus side, Wheeler should be able to retire soon and get out of our hair since the new language allegedly also states that the FCC will rule on each case individually. That'll give his ex-brethren lobbyists plenty of chances to slip him bribe money, so he should very quickly be settled into a lovely Bangkok condo. Hopefully someone with sense and a conscience will take over for him, but again, I could be wrong. 

Regardless of the FCC's next move, I still love Neocities' protest. Although if Wheeler does decide to post a revision to his original stupidity, it's going to take us a few days to find out.

This article, "One Web hoster's wonderfully trollish FCC protest," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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