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Unpublished Paper
Towards Extending the Equilibrium of Discrimination in the Internet to its Fringes
  • Matthias Bärwolff

The core insight to the history of the dynamics of limitations, restrictions, and discriminations on the Internet is that they are largely a corollary to the futility of obtaining an entirely 'neutral' design of the Internet that is both robust and scalable. The question then is how to arrange the necessary volume of discriminations so as to obtain a design as value free as possible, for only such a design can be in line with the premise of stipulating no values other than (1) good order at large, and (2) the appreciation of the pursuit of local purposes by individuals. We argue that the best way to achieve such an outcome is by not only allowing "tussling" of the stakeholders in the Internet, but also giving all of the parties the proper tools to discriminate against each and everybody else. Thus a market-like structure obtains, along with the according virtues and benefits. While this is a result that has very much held true `inside' the Internet -- in the peer relationships among different networks -, at the 'fringes' discrimination is largely a one-way street - from ISPs to end users. The end hosts' ability to discriminate on their part is largely confined to blunt host level tools such as firewalls and NATs. However, instead of prohibiting ISPs from discriminating against end users (and containing the technical consequences and costs of doing so) we argue that the more effective solution is to increase the set of tools for end hosts to discriminate against networks, too; so that a fair and efficient `equilibrium of discrimination' comes to incorporate the hosts at the edges of the Internet, too.

  • internet architecture discrimination network neutrality user empowerment sharing
Publication Date
Winter December 24, 2009
Citation Information
Matthias Bärwolff. "Towards Extending the Equilibrium of Discrimination in the Internet to its Fringes" (2009)
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