On 11/30/2014 11:08 AM, MZMcBride wrote:
> I think it's difficult to argue that Wikipedia Zero is
> not, at least in the strictest sense, a violation of net neutrality.

That's perfectly true, but because the traditional definition of "net
neutrality" (and, by extension, the definition of what violates it) is
by and large overly simplistic and unrealistic.

Factors that should be taken into account but aren't include the nature
of the preferential treatment, its exclusivity (or lack thereof),
conflict of interest, and competitive landscape.

One would be hard pressed to argue that giving non-exclusive free access
to a public good to a population in need is harmful (beyond slippery
slope arguments), just as it would be clear that a media conglomerate
giving exclusive free access from an ISP they own to their media is
clearly wrong.

What makes Wikipedia Zero clearly okay, IMO, is that *any* provider is
welcome to approach us and set it up; and we require nor demand any sort
of exclusivity.  Whether they chose to do so is obviously driven by
their business objectives (publicity, competitive advantage, and so on)
-- but their business decision affects them and only them.  They cannot
hinder their competition from doing so or not as they will, nor gain an
advantage they cannot get as well.

So it's clearly neutral in the "equally available" sense of the term.
And it remains neutral in the "competition" sense of the term since they
are welcome to zero-rate any other service they wish alongside ours.

And, finally, it's also neutral from a conflict-of-interest point of
view.  The Wikimedia Foundation (and movement, for that matter) has no
stake in the competitive landscape of telco providers, and and they have
no interest in Free online encyclopedias.  They gain nothing by favoring
us over other educational resources, and we favor no provider over
another (albeit our immediate efforts do seem directed mostly at those
where the population would benefit the most - which is reasonable).

So yeah, this is probably not "net neutrality" as it is generally
defined - but I would argue it means that the definition itself is
inadequate.

-- Marc


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