Netflix is paying Comcast for better data rates for Netflix traffic on Comcast’s network — apparently Comcast has been throttling Netflix traffic and now Netflix is paying to have that throttle removed. This is the opposite of Net Neutrality, and is precisely what we were fighting against when all of us internet activists got up on our hind legs and barked about it. I am in a state of unpleasant ambivalence about the whole thing. One chunk of my brain is screaming that it’s time to cancel my Netflix account because I will not intentionally reward bad behavior. Another chunk of my brain is whining that if I kill the Netflix account we’ll only be able to watch whatever movies we either already own or can rent from the video store in town. Though we think very highly of the woman who owns the video store and want to see her stay in business and succeed at it, we don’t often rent movies because it’s a pain in the ass. When I feel like watching a movie, I just want to watch a movie — I don’t want to haul my heathen ass downtown, spend a half hour or more searching for a movie that we want to see that isn’t already out, spend another five to fifteen minutes waiting at the counter to get checked out, and then be compelled to make a return trip the next day to return the disk. If it’s 4AM or Tuesday when the video store is closed and I want to watch a movie, I don’t want to be limited to watching something we already own.
But I really, really want to dump Netflix for participating in balkanization of the internet. It a classical slippery slope situation. First Netflix (and later other, competing services) pay the toll to get into the ISP’s fast lanes, then some suit monkey at an ISP gets the brilliant idea of further balkanizing the internet, charging first this industry for better bandwidth, then charging that one just for access (to its user base, that is), and before too long users are getting dinged directly. Oh, you want to use encryption? We’ll have to charge you more for that because we have no way of knowing whether or not your encrypted tunnels are carrying traffic we’d surcharge or deny.
This is the thanks we get for subsidizing the build-out of the internet?
[UPDATE:] I spoke with Amethyst about this briefly this morning. Her response: As soon as Netflix raises their rates we shut off our subscription. I’m good with that.