Take note- this affects us!

Gordon C. Snelling (72203.127@compuserve.com)
13 Jul 94 21:54:26 EDT

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Subj: Take note- this affects us!

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>>Subject: Metered Usage of the Internet: JSN
>>Please forgive the mass mailing, but I feel this is a subject
>>which is of great importance to anyone who benefits from the
>>bountiful resources of the Internet.
>>A very bad storm is brooding on the horizon.
>>In the future, you might have to pay a charge for every E-mail
>>message you send or receive, every Usenet article you read,
>>every kilobyte of data you transfer with ftp, every hypertext
>>link you follow with NCSA Mosaic or Gopher...
>>Hopefully this frightens you as much as it does me.
>>But it will happen, unless YOU do something about it.
>>Please read the attached, fill out the requested info, and
>>mail it back to mike@essential.org. It also wouldn't hurt to
>>forward a copy of this to everyone you know on the Internet.
>>Thanks for your support.
>>Craig Smith, <bcs@cs.tamu.eduor <craig@stat.tamu.edu>
>>Texas A&M University, Dept. of Computer Science
>>205 HRBB, 862-2084 (CPSC). [PGP2 Public Key Available on Request]
>>May 7, 1994
>>- Request for signatures for a letter to NSF opposing metered
>>pricing of Internet usage
>>- Please repost this request freely
>>The letter will be sent to Steve Wolff, the Director of
>>Networking and Communications for NSF. The purpose of the letter
>>is to express a number of user concerns about the future of
>>Internet pricing. NSF recently announced that is awarding five
>>key contracts to telephone companies to operate four Internet
>>"Network Access Points" (NAPs), and an NSF funded very high speed
>>backbone (vBNS). There have been a number of indications that
>>the telephone companies operating the NAPs will seek permission
>>from NSF to price NAPs services according to some measure of
>>Internet usage. The vBNS is expected to act as a testbed for new
>>Internet pricing and accounting schemes. The letter expresses
>>the view that metered pricing of Internet usage should be
>>avoided, and that NSF should ensure that the free flow of
>>information through Internet listserves and file server sites is
>>preserved and enhanced.
>>Jamie Love, Taxpayer Assets Project (love@essential.org; but
>>unable to answer mail until May 15). Until then, direct
>>inquires to Michael Ward.
>>If you are willing to sign the letter, send the following
>>information to Mike Ward of the Taxpayer Assets Project
>>(mike@essential.org, fax: 202/234-5176; voice: 202/387-8030;
>>P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036):
>>Names: ___________________________
>>Title: ___________________________ (Optional)
>>Affiliation: ____________________________________
>>(for purposes of identification only)
>>Address: ______________________________________
>>City; St, Zip ________________________________
>>Email Address: _____________________________________
>>Voice: __________________________________
>>for verification)
>>The letter follows:
>>Steve Wolff
>>Division of Networking and Communications
>>National Science Foundation
>>1800 G Street
>>Washington, DC 20550
>>Dear Steve:
>>It is our understanding that the National Science Foundation
>>(NSF) and other federal agencies are developing a new
>>architecture for the Internet that will utilize four new Network
>>Access Points (NAPs), which have been described as the new
>>"cloverleaves" for the Internet. You have indicated that NSF is
>>awarding contracts for four NAPs, which will be operated by
>>telephone companies (Pac Bell, S.F.; Ameritech, Chicago; Sprint,
>>NY; and MFS, Washington, DC). We further understand that NSF has
>>selected MCI to operate its new very high speed backbone (vBNS)
>>There is broad public interest in the outcome of the negotiations
>>between NSF and the companies that will operate the NAPs and
>>vBNS. We are writing to ask that NSF consider the following
>>objectives in its negotiations with these five firms:
>>We are concerned about the future pricing systems for Internet
>>access and usage. Many users pay fixed rates for Internet
>>connections, often based upon the bandwidth of the connection,
>>and do not pay for network usage, such as the transfer of data
>>using email, ftp, Gopher or Mosaic. It has been widely reported
>>on certain Internet discussion groups, such as com-priv, that the
>>operators of the NAPs are contemplating a system of usage based
>>We are very concerned about any movement toward usage based
>>pricing on the Internet, and we are particularly concerned about
>>the future of the Internet Listserves, which allow broad
>>democratic discourse on a wide range of issues. We believe that
>>the continued existence and enhancement of the Internet
>>discussion groups and distribution lists is so important that any
>>pricing scheme for the NAPs that would endanger or restrict their
>>use should be rejected by the NSF.
>>It is important for NSF to recognize that the Internet is more
>>than a network for scientific researchers or commercial
>>transactions. It represents the most important new effort to
>>expand democracy into a wide range of human endeavors. The open
>>communication and the free flow of information have make
>>government and private organizations more accountable, and
>>allowed citizens to organize and debate the widest range of
>>matters. Federal policy should be directed at expanding public
>>access to the Internet, and it should reject efforts to introduce
>>pricing schemes for Internet usage that would mimic commercial
>>telephone networks or expensive private network services such as
>>MCI mail.
>>To put this into perspective, NSF officials must consider how any
>>pricing mechanisms will change the economics of hosting an
>>Internet electronic mail discussion groups and distribution
>>lists. Many of these discussion groups and lists are very large,
>>such as Humanist, GIS-L, CNI-Copyright, PACS-L, CPSR-Announce or
>>Com-Priv. It is not unusual for a popular Internet discussion
>>group to have several thousand members, and send out more than
>>100,000 email messages per day. These discussion groups and
>>distribution lists are the backbones of democratic discourse on
>>the Internet, and it is doubtful that they would survive if
>>metered pricing of electronic mail is introduced on the Internet.
>>Usage based pricing would also introduce a wide range of problems
>>regarding the use of ftp, gopher and mosaic servers, since it
>>conceivable that the persons who provide "free" information on
>>servers would be asked to pay the costs of "sending" data to
>>persons who request data. This would vastly increase the costs
>>of operating a server site, and would likely eliminate many
>>sources of data now "published" for free.
>>We are also concerned about the types of accounting mechanisms
>>which may be developed or deployed to facilitate usage based
>>pricing schemes., which raise a number of concerns about personal
>>privacy. Few Internet users are anxious to see a new system of
>>"surveillance" that will allow the government or private data
>>vendors to monitor and track individual usage of Information
>>obtained from Internet listserves or fileserves.
>>We are also concerned about the potential for anti-
>>competitive behavior by the firms that operate the NAPs. Since
>>1991 there have been a number of criticisms of ANS pricing
>>practices, and concerns about issues such as price discrimination
>>or preferential treatment are likely to become more important as
>>the firms operating the NAPs become competitors of firms that
>>must connect to the NAPs. We are particularly concerned about
>>the announcements by PAC-Bell and Ameritech that they will enter
>>the retail market for Internet services, since both firms were
>>selected by NSF to operate NAPs. It is essential that the
>>contracts signed by NSF include the strongest possible measures
>>to insure that the operators of the NAPs do not unfairly
>>discriminate against unaffiliated companies.
>>As the Internet moves from the realm of the research community to
>>a more vital part of the nation's information infrastructure, the
>>NSF must ensure that its decisions reflect the needs and values
>>of a much larger community.
>>1. The NSF contracts with the NAPs operators will include
>>clauses that determine how the NAP services will be priced.
>>It is important that NSF disclose and receive comment on all
>>pricing proposals before they become final. NSF should
>>create an online discussion list to facilitate public dialog
>>on the pricing proposals, and NSF should identify its
>>criteria for selecting a particular pricing mechanism,
>>addressing the issue of how the pricing system will impact
>>the Internet's role in facilitating democratic debate.
>>2. NSF should create a consumer advisory board which would
>>include a broad cross section of consumer interests,
>>including independent network service providers (NSPs),
>>publishers of Internet discussion groups and distribution
>>lists, academic networks, librarians, citizen groups and
>>individual users. This advisory board should review a
>>number of policy questions related to the operation of the
>>Internet, including questions such as the NAP pricing, NAP
>>operator disclosure of financial, technical and operational
>>data, systems of Internet accounting which are being tested
>>on the vBNS and other topics.
>>3. NSF should solicit public comment, though an online
>>discussion group, of the types of safeguards against
>>anticompetitive behavior by the NAPs which should be
>>addressed in the NSF/NAPs contracts, and on issues such as
>>NAPs pricing and Internet accounting systems.
>>TAP-INFO is an Internet Distribution List provided by the Taxpayer
>>Assets Project (TAP). TAP was founded by Ralph Nader to monitor the
>>management of government property, including information systems and
>>data, government funded R&D, spectrum allocation and other government
>>assets. TAP-INFO reports on TAP activities relating to federal
>>information policy. tap-info is archived at ftp.cpsr.org;
>>gopher.cpsr.org and wais.cpsr.org
>>Subscription requests to tap-info to listserver@essential.org with
>>the message: subscribe tap-info your name
>>Taxpayer Assets Project; P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036
>>v. 202/387-8030; f. 202/234-5176; internet: tap@essential.org

Sean O'Donnell \
Department of Entomology \\
University of California at Davis \\
Davis, CA 95616 USA <((()=(X)O<
Phone (916) 752-5456 //
FAX (916) 752-1537 /
email sodonnell@ucdavis.edu