April 08, 2008

Call for "ISP Point of Contact" Database for Neutrality "Event" Concerns

Greetings. When I initiated NNSquad (Network Neutrality Squad), one of my primary concerns was that many seemingly reportable "events" that can occur on the Internet -- and that might seem on their face to be network neutrality "violations" -- might actually be caused by innocent technical issues related to ISP operations, testing anomalies, or misinterpretation of test or otherwise observed data. Analysis of these situations -- which may invoke security and privacy concerns -- can be quite complex, and without a reasonably complete picture of events can also be considerably problematic.

It is particularly troubling that there generally is no routine mechanism available for early contact by neutrality researchers with appropriate high level ISP representatives during investigations of network issues that may relate to neutrality concerns. Wide publication of possibly alarming test results followed by ISP denials in innocent cases is decidedly suboptimal for everyone.

While it's impossible to deny that there is considerable antagonism and distrust between some ISPs and elements of the Internet community, I strongly believe that there would be major positive benefit for all parties if better communications between these groups was available.

I hereby offer NNSquad's services to establish a database of individuals who would be the designated ISP point of contacts in cases of detected network events that are suggestive of possible network neutrality concerns in a broad sense.

This would not be a public list, but would rather be maintained for the use of legitimate researchers and analysts working in this field, who would be able to query associated ISPs directly for their input in the course of event analysis.

The existence of such a database would not obligate anyone to use the database to contact ISPs in advance of major notice publications, nor would it obligate ISPs to provide any information in response to related queries. However, I feel that the responsible handling of these investigations would behoove all relevant parties to participate.

Inclusion in this database will be open to all ISPs globally of any size, large or small. Assuming sufficient interest, the database will ultimately be Web browser-based with a self-service portal to allow ISPs to keep their own contact information up to date.

I don't view this proposal as any sort of panacea, but I do think that it could help to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and confusion in many innocent situations, and the whole area of network neutrality is complex enough without such situations making life more difficult for everybody involved.

Interested ISP representatives and any other parties can contact me directly for more information and discussion. Let's see if we can make this fly!

Thanks very much.

Lauren Weinstein
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800

Posted by Lauren at April 8, 2008 09:10 AM | Permalink
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