In an opinion piece appearing yesterday in the New York Times (entitled, “The Digital Pileup”), Shelley Podolny makes an interesting observation about the glut of data confronting our digitally-bound culture.
The current volume estimate of all electronic information is roughly 1.2 zettabytes, the amount of data that would be generated by everyone in the world posting messages on Twitter continuously for a century. That includes everything from e-mail to YouTube. More stunning: 75 percent of the information is duplicative. By 2020, experts estimate that the volume will be 44 times greater than it was in 2009. There finally may be, in fact, T.M.I.
1.2 zettabytes – with each ZB equaling 1 billion terabytes. Wow! That’s a lot of traffic, with a lion’s share of it presumably traversing broadband infrastructure.
It’s interesting to me because I think this somehow relates to the current Net Neutrality debate here in Washington. You see, last week, the House held a hearing on Net Neutrality, and during that, representative Eshoo made this observation in defense of the controversial regulations (audio of excerpt here):
It’s been said that there isn’t any reason for…the FCC to have developed these rules of the road. And, that we are operating in theory. That’s not correct. And I don’t think that can stand on the record. The Open Internet Order was a reaction to specific abuses…Those are the facts…This isn’t something that we made up.
Well, thankfully, there’s not a lot to make up here. As Eshoo outlines, since 2005 when Internet services became officially unregulated, she lists just 7 “specific abuses.” ZB’s of data ripping around the globe – and Just 7 “specific abuses” (the FCC’s overlapping list isn’t much deeper)?
The factual underpinning of Net Neutrality “abuses” represents the weakest part of the FCC’s new regulations. There’s no “there” there – especially when one looks at the sheer amount of traffic without a lot of traffic tickets, so to speak.
Where’s the problem? Well, er, there ain’t really, as Rep. Eshoo and others seem to tacitly admit. It’s “in theory” – sort of the opposite of what the Representative stated at the hearing. If this is all they’ve got, it’s yet another reason why the FCC’s Net Neutrality regulations are bad rules of the road.