Americans stand against UN internet-tax plan
Can't find any reds, so socialists will have to do
Comment The idea of taxing internet traffic has got the twitterverse into a tizzy. Apparently socialists monsters want pay for their carriage, and the UN has cooked up a secret plan to get the money.
Having failed to find evidence that blue-helmeted geeks are poised to invade cyberspace, the US internet community is now up in arms about ITU plans for a mandated tax on web traffic, backed up by evidence laid out by CNET – and ignoring the fact that the evidence doesn't in any way support the claims.
"The European proposal ... would amend an existing telecommunications treaty by imposing heavy costs on popular Web sites and their network providers for the privilege of serving non-U.S. users, according to newly leaked documents", huffs CNET, under a threateningly black version of the UN logo.
But the documents linked to only permit companies operating networks to negotiate with content providers for a contribution to the cost of carriage, with nothing mandated and no governments involved at all.
This is the old debate about net neutrality, with ideological proponents arguing that all content should be delivered equally, while sceptics point out that YouTube (being carried over Google's private 'net) already arrives faster any other video service, making a mockery of the idea that all packets are treated equally.
The UK has a particularly useful example in the form of the BBC's iPlayer video-on-demand service. iPlayer provides TV free to anyone in the UK, the cost being covered by the licence fee Brits pay annually for the right to own a TV set.
But the licence not only covers the creation of content, but also its delivery, and while that is normally in the form of radio transmissions it can now equally be over ADSL wires, and the UK ISPs want to know why they shouldn't get some licence-fee cash.
He who does not pay the piper
That's an extreme example, but the question of whether those who profit from the content should contribute to the cost of delivering it is one of business, not ideology or politics, and the proposal before the ITU simply permits that possibility. The idea that allowing carriers to negotiate deals with content providers will cut developing countries off the internet is fanciful, to say the least.
The first document presented by CNET – a proposal for debate leaked to Wcitleaks – does indeed talk of "respecting the principle of sending party network pays". The second document contains nothing so interesting, but is so long and dull that few people will notice. The principle is mentioned in the context of commercial negotiations between companies, and there's no mention of any mandated payments, but the idea is mooted.
The principle of caller-party-pays is common in telecommunications outside the USA; in Europe we don't pay to receive phone calls and the principle has served developing nations well over the last hundred years or so.
Ergo: a poor country builds a phone network, and collects the termination fees from incoming calls to pay back the investment. CNET points out these fees cost the US $5.4bn in 1996, without mentioning that American almost certainly made more than that on the same basis. But with the internet things are different: a poor country building internet infrastructure must pay foreign peers to carry its traffic.
The meter is running
CNET's assertion that the proposal "would spell an end to the Internet's long-standing, successful design based on unmetered 'peered' traffic" would only be true if peering was indeed unmetered. But when the peers are unbalanced - as foreign surfers consume US content - then money changes hands, and almost all of it flows towards the USA.
So bad is that problem that the ITU's General Secretary has stated that countries which don't speak English will do better in the internet economy as they don't consume so much US content.
ETNO, the body behind the leaked proposals, says it was referring to potential deals on quality of service. Such deals would allow an ISP to negotiate a deal with, say, NetFlix, to provide guaranteed bandwidth to its customers in exchange for a cut of the subscription fee.
Such deals are anathema to the ideologically dogmatic, who feel it necessary to talk of Balkanisation and "a radical re-engineering of the Internet ecosystem and allow[ing] governments to monitor or restrict their citizens' online activities" whenever the UN's telecommunications arm is mentioned.
Quite why the US and the Obama administration feel it necessary to repeatedly attack the ITU in this way is a mystery. Perhaps they really believe the internet is under threat from the UN, or perhaps it's just an election year – and as the internet is still something about which Americans can feel justifiably proud, there's no harm in being cast as its protector. ®
From what I see you have vastly over-estimated how much NI we pay. The cheapest I can find any cover in the US is in California at $205 per month (subsidised by your employer) and that comes with clauses about you having to pay the 1st x amount of your treatment and doesn't cover dental. Admittedly I haven't done a full search, but looking quickly I can't see anything anything like as low as NI, you are looking at about $1000 per month for a family of 4 and I pay about £100 a month NI and don't need to worry about cover for my family. We have looked at going private and even here with the NHS as competition we are looking at a cost 3 or 4 times higher than that for the whole family for decent cover so it's not going to happen.
No hospital is allowed to discharge patient if (and that's a big IF, there are ways insurance companies and accountants can legally kick people out even if they will die) doing so would endanger their life. But what they can do is diagnose a problem that if left untreated will become life threatening but without insurance off they go. Medicaid will only kick in once the condition does become life threatening costing you as a tax payer far more to deal with it than if the hospital had just treated the original condition.
Ahh yes, the last refuge of the die-hard republican - look we provide mercy hospitals for those without insurance. Again look how much extra it is costing treating people with critical illness than if they had just been treated in the 1st place.
As for the insurance, no they can't terminate coverage based on previous history or refuse it because of a pre-existing condition but what they can do is refuse to cover that condition and you are only covered if something unrelated to your condition happens and if the insurers can find any way to link the new problem to the old then they will and you are no longer covered. They can also base your premium based on those conditions and give you stupidly high quotes for the insurance. They haven't refused to cover you, you just can't afford what they are asking.
Apart from that your comment was................ well, rubbish really. Americans have just been brainwashed into believing they are well cared for.
I don't know why the Americans defend their system so much. They pay over the odds for medical insurance (they have the highest medical costs in the world), their treatment is in the hands of insurance companies who will do all they can not to pay out, hospitals will refuse to take you in if you don't have the right cover and will sling you out as soon as the insurance runs out regardless of your physical state.
And where does spending all that money on health care get them? World class services, longer life spans, better quality of care? Not at all. They are rated 37th in the world by the WHO and they are supposed to be one of the most advanced developed nations on the planet. How pathetic
One nation, driven by greed, powered by selfishness with an ego larger than their collective arses and crumbling from within yet they think the world should look to them as a model of how a country should be.
Let’s go through *your* comments one by one:
“As a percentage of salary I pay no more for the best health insurance here in the states than you do for NI.”
Possibly, but note that if you pay personal Vs. via your company, you will pay a higher rates – madness of tax codes.
Next, you may not, but somebody does – the US spends 16% of its GDP on health care, Vs. 8% by countries with higher life expectancy. And you might get better care, but a large number for a highly developed country don’t.
“No hospital is allowed to discharge patients - no matter their financial condition - if doing so would endanger their life.”
And yet, they do:
Now, *you* may not regard the homeless as “patients” and therefore skate on your statement, but others know better.
“No major population area is without a hospital designated as caring for the indigent.”
And yet the Catholic Church in the US is considering not treating non-Catholics because they have to allow their (non-religious) employees birth control choices. And that is just that issue - don't pretend it doesn't occur for the poor.
“Under the recent health care legislation, no insurance company is allowed to terminate coverage because of previous health history or refuse it because of pre-existing conditions.”
Unless a minor pre-existing condition was not disclosed, in which case insurance coverage is terminated, even if the condition does not relate to the current health issue.
And yes, they cannot refuse to grant you insurance for a pre-existing condition – you just have to be able to afford the cost of such. Good luck with that, because:
“Harvard researchers say 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems—and 78% of those filers had insurance”
Why folks believe that there is no problem because they themselves don’t have a problem is beyond me. They certainly like it when other folks put their lives on their line when they are in danger.
"Apart from that your comment was................ well, rubbish really."
Yes, yes your comment was.