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Obama pledges Net Neutrality, Ewok safety

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Comment Politicians long ago gave up on politics. Instead of articulating great ideas, the choice that faces voters today is between identikit managerial bureaucrats who've never had a job outside politics. Most of their adult lives have been spent in the hermetic world of wonkdom. So it's little wonder, then, that they have trouble distinguishing between fiction and reality.

And it's no surprise at all to hear that a virtual Presidential candidate is throwing his electrons behind a virtual cause, to repeal a virtual law that never existed.

What else would a cypher do?

Asked whether he'd "re-instate Net Neutrality" as "the Law of the Land", trailing Presidential Candidate Barack Obama told an audience in Cedar Rapids, Iowa pledged that yes, he would.

He also said he'd protect Ewok villages everywhere, and hoped that Tony Soprano had survived the non-existent bloodbath at the conclusion of The Sopranos.

(So we made the last two up - but they wouldn't have been any more silly than what the Presidential Candidate really said.)

There are several problems with Obama's pledge.

Firstly, the network of networks we call the internet has never been neutral in any technical sense - it wouldn't work if it was. Network managers have always performed "shaping".

Nor has this "neutrality" ever been "the Law of the Land". Campaigners like to point to the ominous portents of a Federal court decision known as Brand X, from 2005. But guess what? This turns out to be a fiction, too: the court simply maintained the status quo, upholding FCC cable regulations that permitted cable to share their pipes with ISPs. So no change there.

Campaigners say comments by AT&T boss Ed Whitacre indicated he wanted to charge different prices for different websites. This is something Obama picked up on.

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