Elastos Weekly Updates — 15 June 2018

“The noblest of motives is the public good.”
— Inscribed on the ceiling of The Library of Congress

A Cyber Republic has opened its doors — just as Elastos is setting out for a European Tour.

We are going to build something for the public good, which is what many believe the internet is actually for.

Elastos continued its forward momentum this week. Let’s recap.

Technical Dynamics

1. Trinity has implemented support for running H5 app demos based on IONIC development;

2. Marshal of CAR tool was implemented by C language, which is more convenient to maintain and upgrade;

3. Completed the first version of the java wrapper for mobile spv;

4. Completed support tools for CAR component java language packaging, except interface type support;

5. Completed the main chain and wallet upgrades on June 9 to support exchanges accessing all nodes through no mining;

6. The C++ version of SPV and wallet function coding is completed and white box testing has begun;

7. Assessed high-risk areas in the main chain, and strengthened test cases such as abnormal transactions and blocks;

8. Continued the main sidechain joint mining and cross-chain transaction testing and bug fixes.

Please check out our Github links:

https://github.com/elastos/Elastos.Community

https://github.com/elastos/Elastos.Community.Global

Community News

• Elastos is hosting an ELA 2018 World Cup Game. Link: https://medium.com/elastos/elastos-world-cup-game-9d312598f548

• The Elastos Video Contest deadline is July 15th. https://medium.com/elastos/elastos-video-contest-final-version-5efb9fbebf19 https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=3089082.0#post_a2

• The Fresco Art Award competition is now open. The competition runs through August 22nd https://medium.com/fresco-network/introducing-fresco-art-award-the-worlds-first-blockchain-art-award-f94294925413

June 5th

China International Broadcasting Network (CIBN) and Guo Guangdong Fang Network (Beijing) representatives, exchanged thoughts with Elastos in Shanghai. All parties explored challenges and opportunities brought by blockchain technology and internet TV. All parties agreed that they will utilize each other’s technology, ecosystems, and business advantages in video copyright trading, commercial advertising, as well as other areas for collaboration to create greater values for the industry and users.

Guo Guangdong Fang Network (Beijing) Limited Company is one of the seven internet TV license businesses in China. It is a brand under China Radio and Television Network Company. It is responsible for CIBN’s internet TV integrated broadcast control and operation.

June 8th

Feng Han spoke with MBA students at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, at a preliminary blockchain class for next semester. All of the students showed a great interest in learning about Elastos and being able to create a future P2P smart internet, using blockchain to authenticate every user’s digital assets.

June 9th

Elastos hosted an event with Fresco and ViewChain at the Globe theater in Hollywood, CA.

June 11th

Elastos Ecosystem Community Director, Dinghe Hu, met with Jincheng Tongda & Neal (JT&N) law firm senior partner, Gang Zhao, Feng Zhang, and a representative from a state-owned enterprise international trade department. They discussed how to apply blockchain to bulk commodity trading. Currently, commodity trading involves many parties, and it has complicated work flows, as well as creating a low degree of information. In the future, Elastos, JT&N, and the listed state-owned enterprise will together explore how to use blockchain to lower credit cost and increase trading efficiency on complex trading chains.

June 12th

Elastos Ecosystem Committee Director, Dinghe Hu, was invited to attend the 2018 Digital Asset Investment Summit (DAIS) in Beijing. Many industry pioneers in digital assets and technology, as well as prominent investors attended the summit.

Meetups and Events

Elastos is touring Europe and Asia this summer.

Vietnam

Link: https://www.elastos.org/meetupvietnam/?source=twitter

Hong Kong

https://www.meetup.com/Elastos-ELA-Hong-Kong/

Europe Tour

London

https://www.meetup.com/London-Elastos-Meetup/

Barcelona

https://www.meetup.com/Barcelona-Open-Source-Meetup/

Zurich

https://www.meetup.com/meetup-group-OpQaHyTi/

Berlin

https://www.meetup.com/meetup-group-ShJivxxC/

Amsterdam

https://www.meetup.com/Amsterdam-Elastos-Open-Source-Meetup/

Ghent

https://www.meetup.com/Elastos-Belgium-Open-Source-Meetup/

Paris

Elastos will be in Paris on July 4th.

https://www.meetup.com/Elastos-France-Open-Source-Meetup/

Community Contributions

ioeX posted a Rong Chen interview to their Youtube channel.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=MxUoJdtXKrQ

Tyler of Chico Crypto posted a video about the Elastos Carrier.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx-CZtMpHRM

Coin Central posted an Elastos Beginner’s Guide.

Link: https://coincentral.com/elastos-ela-beginners-guide/

FYIcryptoz posted an article about Elastos.

Link: https://medium.com/@FYIcryptoz/the-great-elastos-ecosystem-2957e05fd1a

Cryptolite posted a review of Elastos to Medium.

Link: https://medium.com/@cryptolite01/elastos-ela-review-a-new-internet-bd98894b673c

Virtual Meetup

Elastos hosted a virtual meetup Thursday night. The topic of the meetup was the beta preview of the artist formerly known as The Elastos Bounty Program.

The new name is — Cyber Republic

More details to come.

Thoughts and Conclusions

In a week that saw the repeal of net neutrality rules go into effect in The United States, internet freedom continues to be at the forefront of public and government debate worldwide.

Net neutrality, or the Open Internet Order, were a series of rules enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015, that required internet service providers to offer equal access to all legal content on the internet. The laws prohibited internet service providers from doing three main things. An ISP could not block or discriminate against the legal content of websites or applications, they could not slow down or throttle the transmission of data of legal content, and they could not create a fast lane for customers and companies who paid additional fees or premiums for prioritization.

At its root, the idea of net neutrality is that whoever provides you access to the internet cannot limit, manipulate, or play favorites with websites and applications and must instead treat all of them equally. The case for and against repealing these laws is not only highly technical, but also leads to philosophical and economic arguments about what the internet is and how it should be treated in its still nascent and permeable state.

On Monday, June 11th, the repeal of those protections went into effect, backdropped by a public and government debate and outcry on the potential consequences Americans will now face when accessing the internet. But if that backdrop were not enough, the very next day, June 12th, a federal judge ruled in favor of AT&T buying Time Warner in a content meets distribution vertical merging. But before any conclusions can be made on the advantages or disadvantages of this repeal of ISP restrictions and what it could mean for the future of the internet, a brief history of the topic is necessary.

But before we truly begin, it is worth saying that this subject has been compared by one television host as, “the equivalent of chasing an Ambien with a shot of chloroform.” This statement, of net neutrality’s banal, even somnambulant nature, which rings at the very least, partially true, is the very reason that it needs to be talked about. So do not prepare to be bored, but instead, informed about the public service you are using to read this article.

We begin with a scene of a burgeoning telecommunications industry in need of regulations for service providers, and a company at its center (now AT&T) with a monopoly on the industry. Republicans and Democrats are arguing in Congress over government oversight verses economic growth in regards to these new technologies…the year…is 1934.

Up until then, America had rules in place to govern radio and telecommunications, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted the government to oversee these technological industries in a more expansive way. The existing laws were combined and organized to create federal regulation for the telephone, telegraph, and radio. Thus, the FCC was born and with it an important piece of legislation.

The issue of net neutrality starts with Title I and Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Title I was a more general classification and had fewer restrictions attached for government influence. Title II was a classification called “Common Carrier.”

Common carrier is the important classification and philosophical concept when thinking about the internet and what it represents in America. Common carrier laws date back as far as ancient Rome. The idea is that certain services and businesses are so essential to public life and the functioning of society that these carriers should be open and accessible to all. In America, prior to 1934, the railroad, electricity, and water were considered services and businesses that carry something from point A to point B, that the public needs. These are public utilities and these services should not be able to discriminate or charge unreasonable prices for what they provide. The telephone joined common carrier status in 1934 in an attempt to control, although many argue cement, the monopoly that Bell System (now AT&T) had on the industry.

In essence, what this act established was that Americans could now consider affordable and non-discriminatory access to the telephone and the radio as rights regulated by the new FCC. This classification by the government was saying that the data and information being carried by these providers was a public good that needed to be provided in an agnostic way with equal access and regulatory oversight.

In the 1990’s, the Act got an update in the form of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This act regulated phone service providers with stricter common carrier status or Title II, and included things like government price fixing and requirements to share their infrastructure with competitors, while classifying the emerging cable and internet sector as information services or Title I. This distinction of telecommunications services and information services, with less government regulations for the internet, was the basis for achieving the goal of increased investment into the space and providing the means for massive growth. Those in favor of the new rules, or lack of them, sensed that the internet had enormous potential and could one day converge with phones and cable and that the government should not stand in its way. These are the “Clinton-era” internet rules that proponents of the net neutrality repeal cite today as a successful deregulatory approach for innovation. They believed then, and now, that the markets should sort themselves out and allow for economic growth while trusting that the companies involved will not take advantage of consumers. This made sense in the late 1990’s, to allow the new cyber market to grow and not to slow it with regulations. The market was completely new at that point. But at what point would that growth be sufficient for the government to revisit how it classified an internet that would become part of every American’s life?

These issues began to emerge when cable companies began offering broadband internet access that was less regulated than the telephone companies DSL service because it fell under stricter regulations. DSL used the same copper wire to transmit data as it did voice transmission for telephones and this required the phone companies internet access to be classified as common carrier, and this meant sharing their infrastructure to competitors or “unbundling,” and deterred them from investing heavily into the technology. There was a problem, how do you get phone companies to invest in better infrastructure if they have to share it with their competitors?

In 2002, the FCC deemed cable internet providers to officially be information services, freeing them of many restrictions and placing them firmly outside of a common carrier label. They would not have to worry about sharing infrastructure.

That same year, a Columbia Law professor named Tim Wu, coined the phrase “network neutrality” in a paper he wrote responding to Comcast banning access to virtual private networks (VPNs), AT&T banning the use of Wi-Fi routers, and additional charges being added for certain applications by ISPs. Wu saw these restrictions as, ironically, hurting innovation, and called for a non-discriminatory framework for the internet and ISPs.

By 2004, the FCC spoke on “Preserving Internet Freedoms,” and in 2005 released its “Internet Policy Statement,” a series of four principles, not rules, that said customers had the freedom to access legal content, the freedom to use applications, the freedom to attach personal devices to their internet access, and the freedom to obtain service plan information from their provider. Providers could have tiers of internet plans with varying bandwidth options. But how would these principles be enforced?

In a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, referred to as Brand X, the courts upheld the notion that cable modem providers were information services and could not be held to common carrier standards. That same year, the FCC reclassified DSL as information services, now putting them on equal footing with the cable modem providers and laying the groundwork for deregulations for the entire internet provider space. The phone companies would no longer have to unbundle, or share their internet infrastructure, and this meant less competition. At the time, there was much talk of internet freedom for the consumer while deregulating the internet providers.

Now, free of the common carrier regulations for the entire space, America could finally see if ISPs would act on good faith as planned.

In 2007, the public learned that Comcast had been slowing traffic to peer-to-peer applications BitTorrent and Gnutella for two years. This practice is known as throttling. Comcast defended itself by saying that it needed to slow these sites for overall network quality during peak hours. However, the FCC found out through a study that Comcast was throttling the sites at all hours of the day and sometimes shutting them down completely and that this was in violation of its principles in its Internet Policy Statement. The FCC told Comcast that it needed to create a new management plan that did not involve throttling. Yet when Comcast took the FCC to The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the court ruled that the FCC did not have the legal authority to enforce network neutrality rules because Comcast was not a common carrier.

By 2009, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications were becoming very popular, especially as smartphones became mainstream, and providers began blocking them. In a now famous case, when Skype became available on iOS in 2009, AT&T, who had an exclusive contract for the iPhone, asked Apple to block these calls and openly admitted it was because Skype was a competitor.

2010 saw the first detailed FCC net neutrality rules, the Open Internet Order. The rules said that providers could not block content, had to be transparent in their practices, and could not practice unreasonable discrimination. It was also the year that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile announced plans for an unfortunately named mobile payment system called Isis. When Google tried to launch its own wallet on Samsung Galaxy phones, Verizon made claims that it was not compatible and blocked Google’s wallet in an effort by all three companies to block Google.

In 2012, Verizon was caught blocking people using tethering applications that could help them circumvent Verizon’s $20 tethering fee. Tethering is a practice that allows people to turn their device into a hotspot for internet access. That same year, AT&T announced that it would disable FaceTime from its customers iPhones unless they paid for a more expensive plan.

By 2014, the FCC found itself back in court, this time with Verizon over its ability to enforce its 2010 rules on net neutrality. Verizon openly admitted to the court that if given the chance, it would pursue the practice of preferring some services, content and sites over others. The courts ruled that because the FCC did not classify internet service providers as Title II Common Carriers, they had no legal footing to enforce their rules. This would set the stage to bring back the original debate of common carrier verses information services.

The FCC opened the debate to the public: fast and slow lanes, or reclassify the internet as a public utility common carrier. The debate was heated, breaking all records of public comments to the FCC for a single issue.

When the FCC proposed a tiered approach, backlash was felt across the country, including from large internet companies. To exemplify to the public what fast and slow lanes could do to people psychologically, sites like Reddit, Netflix, Vimeo, and Twitter purposely slowed down on September 14th, 2014. President Barack Obama saw the division and suggested that ISPs be reclassified as telecommunications, or common carriers, but with less restrictions than their telephone counterparts.

The FCC decided to apply the common carrier classification to the internet as part of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and the Open Internet Order, or net neutrality, was for the first time, actually real.

Arguments against the rules at the time, and still being made today, said that the rules for telecommunications could not be applied to the internet, and that investment would pay the price. But the FCC made clear that very few of the Common Carrier rules would be applied, and that investment would not be effected because these laws were a light-touch approach that merely allowed the FCC to legally enforce rules that it already had. The reclassification was so the FCC could do its job and not have its decisions overturned in court. Statements from the FCC regarding the new rules were clear on this.

“Today, our forbearance approach results in over 700 codified rules being inapplicable, a ‘light-touch’ approach for the use of Title II. This includes no unbundling of last-mile facilities, no tariffing, no rate regulation, and no cost accounting rules, which results in a carefully tailored application of only those Title II provisions found to directly further the public interest in an open Internet and more, better, and open broadband. Nor will our actions result in the imposition of any new federal taxes or fees; the ability of states to impose fees on broadband is already limited by the congressional Internet tax moratorium. This is Title II tailored for the 21st century.”
“Unlike the application of Title II to incumbent wireline companies in the 20th Century, a swath of utility-style provisions (including tariffing) will not be applied. Indeed, there will be fewer sections of Title II applied than have been applied to Commercial Mobile Radio Service.
History demonstrates that this careful approach to the use of Title II will not impede investment. First, mobile voice services have been regulated under a similar light-touch Title II approach since 1994 — and investment and usage boomed.”

The FCC was clear that they had no interest in hurting investment or using antiquated rules that were not adapted to modern times. In fact, the 2015 net neutrality rules were very light on actual new rules, and were more an attempt to give the government legal footing to enforce the rules it already had. A case could be made that DSL had more regulations before 2005 than the phone companies had in 2015. This was common carrier status more in name than in actuality. The concept of unbundling, or forcing companies to sell access to their infrastructure because they are common carriers, was not even included, and this concept has proven to help create ISP competition in other countries. This is a complicated issue though, because while selling access helps create competition which could be what drives the markets to work themselves out, thus not needing as many laws in theory, it can also hurt the companies who have to sell the access, thus decreasing incentive for their own investment. But the fact that this essential part of common carrier law was not even going to be included in 2015, and the fact that maybe it should, is never mentioned by the new FCC. If competition between ISPs would help solve these issues, and the new FCC says that they would, and that is why they have repealed the 2015 laws, then this issue, which could possibly hurt the big ISPs but help the smaller ones, should be discussed more in public. By not mentioning this concept, it seems that the big ISPs are being favored, with or without net neutrality laws, and that helping the little guy and creating competition is merely political rhetoric. The public does not read fine print FCC documents, nor do they know the term unbundling, but for most Americans, choices for internet service providers can be very limited. For about 46 million Americans, there is only one high speed choice available in their area.

Back to the companies that said they could be trusted without rules, now, under actual rules.

The lead up to 2015 saw AT&T data capping its unlimited data customers, who once they reached a limit, throttled their data transmissions and failed to notify them they were doing it.

In 2016, AT&T was caught using what is called “zero-rating,” a practice that allows some content to not count against a data plan. The content that AT&T was not counting for its customers use, however, was access to DirecTV, a company they own. This practice, of data exemption, was not illegal in all of its forms under the new rules, but by a case by case basis. In this case, AT&T was unfairly favoring its own company’s streaming service over the competition, or picking winners and losers.

But the conversation completely changed in 2017, when Ajit Pai became the new Chairman of the FCC, as appointed by President Donald Trump. Pai quickly announced that he would be reclassifying the internet once again, and would roll back the regulations which he claimed hurt investment into the space and threatened national security. In December of 2017, the FCC voted to remove the common carrier status for all broadband providers as well as remove rules against blocking and throttling content. ISPs would now only have to release their management practices but would not be required to give equal access to the internet. Enforcement of internet rules now moved from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission, an agency that could not create rules, but only enforce them after they had already been broken.

At present, the Senate has passed a vote to overturn the FCC’s December vote and a House of Representatives vote is still waiting on the required number of votes to create a vote on the measure. If the House does pass the measure to overturn the FCC, the measure would then go to the President who has openly supported the new FCC policy.

More than twenty states are now suing the FCC while some governors have passed executive orders to protect net neutrality in their state. This week saw the state of Washington become the first state to pass its own net neutrality laws in reaction to the FCC. A tech industry group that represents Netflix, Google, and Facebook, along with other internet companies has announced it will join the legal fight to restore net neutrality. It appears that the public, many of the state governments, and even the big tech companies, want to keep net neutrality.

Those opposed to the FCC repeal say that service providers could start to bundle the internet into varying price packages much like how American cable companies stagger prices that include more channels for a higher monthly rate. Many politicians, including Rep. Ro Khanna, have pointed this possibility out. An example of this would be that customers would now have to pay more to access popular sites like Netflix or Facebook. This could create the equivalent of a premium cable package and leave lower income people without access to much of the internet.

Another concern is that if fast lanes are created, only large companies and wealthier households and individuals would be able to afford it, thus creating a slow lane for the majority of websites and customers accessing the internet. By being able to offer a “pay-for-play” option, small businesses and start-ups along with average people would likely suffer the consequences of being left in a slower internet lane further cementing financial divide and the chance at upward mobility. Those opposed to the repeal argue that the internet is for everyone, and giving preferential treatment to those with money will corrupt the internet and demolish a level playing field, hurting Americans freedom and the economy, not helping it.

With all of the unified reaction against the repeal, many people are asking what the argument for the repeal is. Ajit Pai has stated that he is for a fair and open internet, and not only will these deregulations create more competition and a faster internet, but it will restore the FTC to protect consumers from ISPs that perform anti-competitive acts. He also states that by making ISPs transparently provide management practices on their own website or the FCC’s website, consumers can make informed decisions.

“Why am I confident that this approach will work? Because it was a tremendous bipartisan success for two decades. At the dawn of the commercial internet, President Clinton and a Republican Congress agreed on a light-touch framework to regulating the internet. Under that approach, the internet was open and free. Network investment topped $1.5 trillion. Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, and Google went from small startups to global tech giants. America’s internet economy became the envy in the world.”

“But then in 2015, the FCC chose a different course and slapped heavy-handed regulations from 1934 — known as “Title II” — on the internet. This was the wrong decision. Rules designed for the Ma Bell monopoly during the era of rotary phones were a poor fit for the greatest innovation of our time, the internet. Following the FCC’s decision, network investment fell by billions of dollars — the first time that had happened outside of a recession in the broadband era.”

Ajit Pai is painting a very bleak picture of net neutrality rules. He is making claims that the rules that already existed long before 2015, in the days when he says the internet thrived, but were merely unable to hold up in court, are bad for America. This contradicts many timelines and facts. The FCC already tried to enforce net neutrality rules, they just lost in court to big companies like Verizon, and used the one solution at their disposal, a reclassification that did not include any 1934-esque ideas, but simply the framework to hold up their rules legally.

Ajit Pai is trying to use rotary phones as clever marketing to smear an old law that he fails to mention was updated in 1996. But America has a history of old laws, like the Bill of Rights. The real comparison is not about rotary telephones and their temporally short lifespan, but about what they represented at the time, a public utility, and that is a universal concept that does not age poorly like clever marketing by a corporate-government conflation who used to work for Verizon.

Ajit Pai was previously a lawyer for Verizon and many of his arguments sound like thinly-veiled talking points from ISPs themselves.

Pai also says that ISPs will not do anything against the public interest, as if the history of their wrongdoing is merely a misunderstanding. This idea ignores the fact that these companies have consistently been caught breaking neutrality rules and then taking the government to court over them. Even now, when the ISPs themselves say they will practice in a fair and open internet system, simply trusting them ignores the basis of why laws exist. Operating under the assumption that we do not need laws because corporations say they will not do anything wrong could only be delivered by someone who used to work for one of the exact corporations that would benefit from such a policy. This is called lobbying. It is how corporations control American politics and ISPs spend millions per year on it. For the Senate to agree on this issue, and now half the states to agree on this issue, and for the big tech companies to agree on this issue, and for most of the public to agree on this issue, it seems oddly suspicious that the person who does not agree on this issue worked for the one groups of people who will most likely benefit from this issue.

But merely taking reactionary sides does not help. The real question is how do we allow investment and growth in the private sector of the internet while also allowing open access and relatively agnostic transmission of data? How do we create competition among ISPs? Is this even possible at this point?

There is also the issue of trying to argue all of the points of both sides: there are many, and many are legitimate, and it would take far too long to do them all justice. The state of the internet is complicated and no one has figured out the ideal solution yet. Take for example the argument that the internet can never totally be neutral by the very nature of its framework. Special arrangements have already been going on for years between heavy bandwidth sites like Netflix and Google and ISPs. Google has routers inside data centers that ISPs use to allow direct access in a practice known as peering. Google also has routers inside of the ISPs themselves to help deliver content even quicker in a practice known as a content delivery network. All of this is legal. Even still, take backbone internet providers, a term most have never heard of that are even more fundamental to the internet than ISPs. ISPs merely deliver content to customers. Backbone internet providers or transit network providers, like Level 3, are independent companies that form the core of the internet that resembles a mess of wires more than a simple series of tubes. These companies also allow peering, or direct access, to anyone. Companies like Netlfix, Facebook, and Apple will or have already built their own arrangements for faster delivery.

Peering itself is the idea that a streaming video needs to arrive faster than an email, not much faster, but faster. Peering is part of the argument that net neutrality cannot exist in some utopian way, and it’s true. Yet peering agreements remained legal during net neutrality because the internet needs certain arrangements to run properly. Those arrangements make sense for everyone. But slowing down a competitor does not. What net neutrality laws did protect in regards to peering deals were that they had to be fair to everyone that wanted them. You may have to pay more to get a special and larger package of data to arrive at a faster rate, but you need to offer the same fair pricing to everyone, much like another common carrier, the postal service.

The main argument, though, that investment in the space will go down, does not have much proof. In the small sample size while net neutrality existed after 2015, the FCC reports there were losses to the industry. Yet Comcast, the biggest provider, and some others, reported gains. Of the losses, it is unclear if government regulations had any influence at all.

What seems to be clear, and is becoming a reoccurring theme, is that the public and the government do not know how technology works. The internet infrastructure is a vastly complicated and technical space that most people know absolutely nothing about. Ask someone what happens when they play a movie on Netflix and see if they can answer how the process works. It is easy to take sides on an issue at surface level, saying this is fair or this is not fair, this hurts me or this hurts the economy. But the simple truth is that instead of trying to just squeeze the internet into a box like the Title II label, the internet may need its own label altogether. Most people can agree that helping grow the economy and helping innovation is a good thing. Most people can also agree that we should have equal access to the internet and that simply trusting companies who have violated the public trust multiple times when given the chance, or simply trusting people like Ajit Pai who used to work for an ISP, is not enough assurance. When framed smartly and politically, and when said with a best case or worst case scenario in mind, both arguments can sound reasonable. But the internet and our society is far murkier than that. The real question to ask yourself when considering each side of the debate is, who benefits?

What is clear is that the internet of the early 2000’s did not work perfectly and in fact has led to the serious vulnerabilities and monopolies that we see today. To say it was wildly successful without regulations is to only focus on a dollar amount. Those two years of net neutrality in 2015–16 did not destroy the internet either. They were a good start in creating equality, but they did not solve all of the internet ills and they were not heavy on the regulation part. It is becoming clearer and clearer as the internet grows and includes more devices and more people who want fair and open access to what is considered a public utility, that there needs to be a serious and thoughtful discussion on how to treat the internet. We do not understand how the internet works. We do not understand how our data works. We do not understand what happens when we volunteer our data on the internet to access massively popular sites. We do not understand how to shift the tides of absurd income inequality between Silicon Valley and the rest of the country. We do not understand what blockchain and cryptocurrency are. We do not understand so much about what goes on regarding the internet. We need an Internet Bill of Rights.

So, with that dark cloud of a backdrop in mind, let’s get some fresh air and talk about Elastos.

In framing a conversation about Elastos in regards to net neutrality, there is the specific, and the more general and philosophical. First, the specific.

Whether ISPs will or will not control the flow of traffic, thus creating super fast lanes for certain websites while creating slow lanes for other websites, we now know that legally, in America, they can. This is because internet service providers work with IP addresses.

The Elastos carrier is a decentralized peer to peer network that lets anyone from any device in the world host a micro-website to serve files or sell digital assets. Usually, in order to host a website, you need an IP address assigned by an ISP or you need to go through an Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud. An average person could have 10 devices in their home but they would only have one public IP address to use when information is sent out to the internet. While these 10 devices have only one IP address, they are all assigned private addresses that are not accessible from the internet. With that, a technique called Network Address Translation (NAT) is used when these devices need to talk to the outside world. Elastos Carrier allows you to host as many micro-websites as you want in any number of devices you want each behind their own firewall. What is unique, is that none of these websites need to have a public IP address because Elastos Carrier does not contact an IP address directly. Instead, the Carrier accesses a resource, and this resource could be hosted in any device in the entire world. Therefore, because these websites or Elastos DApps do not have an IP address, an internet service provider can neither create a fast lane nor a slow lane for them. There would be no way to do this unless an ISP attempted to throttle all traffic going to a particular place. Even then, it would be very hard to recognize such traffic.

Elastos Carrier can also work cross border across firewalls. Let’s say there are two nodes, node A and node B, and they are trying to directly connect for a transfer of assets. But, in this case, there is a firewall preventing this direct transfer. With Elastos, there is a high probability of penetrating this firewall. In this example, node A is trying to send a movie to node B, but node B has a firewall to block traffic from node A. On the traditional internet, there is no way to get around this issue other than whitelisting node A on node B’s firewall. However, the way Elastos Carrier’s P2P network works, is that it then tries to find yet another node, node C, and then maybe node D, that might have direct access to node B. In this case, the transfer of the movie would go from node A to node C, to node D, and then to node B, instead of node A to node B, thereby getting around the firewall being put up by an ISP or a third party. It is also important to note that in this example, node C and node D cannot intercept the traffic they are facilitating the transfer of, because it can only be decrypted by node B.

But besides the technical advantages of avoiding potential manipulation by internet service providers, there is a growing international movement for a more fair, open, and transparent internet, and Elastos is the shining symbol of that idea.

Technology writer, Farhad Manjoo wrote in the New York Times this week,

“Today, the internet is run by giants. A handful of American tech behemoths — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — control the most important digital infrastructure, while a handful of broadband companies — AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon — control most of the internet connections in the United States.”
“The very idea that large companies can’t dictate what happens online is laughable now. Large companies, today, pretty much are the internet. In this world, net neutrality didn’t have a chance.”

While there is currently a sense of hopelessness surrounding the internet, or, some would say, a sense of realism about the state of the internet, there is also a tangible desire now for something better. When things get bad, and people get fed up, great change can propel itself to happen. Elastos is emerging at a very auspicious time.

When people talk about net neutrality, many are referring to the internet being a public utility that should be agnostic to how it delivers content, much like when you turn on your sink, water comes out regardless of who you are. Sweetheart deals, and paid prioritization, and manipulation, should not be allowed for services that the public use and rely on. The internet is a lot more complicated than water, but in some ways, it is better to frame it like a universal building block to society than a place where the only concern is investment. There are two kinds of investment on the internet, the financial infrastructure one that leads to innovation and expansion, and the moral one that leads to an internet that is for everyone, including the companies yet to be born who can only succeed on a level playing field. Google and Netflix did not have to compete with Google and Netflix, but the next generation of innovators will. If the internet itself cannot be an open platform for innovation and fairness, and it is becoming increasingly clear that it is not, then Elastos will become the internet within the internet that is not only safer, and this concept of safety cannot be emphasized enough, but also more open and fair. One of the setbacks of treating all data as the same, or even with the repeal, not the same, is that there is no way to verify access. Repeal or no repeal, the internet will continue to be a dangerous place where people do not control their data and cannot create an economy for themselves outside of the internet giants control of digital assets. Net neutrality is a great concept, and in theory, so is innovation on the internet, but neither of these proposals fix the inherent problems with the internet and the ever-pressing upgrade it needs. Elastos provides actual safety and verification of identity, it can stop cyber attacks, it allows people to fairly own their own content and if they choose to, charge others to buy it from them. Elastos allows anyone to build on top of the platform, and incentivizes those who do with ELA. Elastos has a model of decentralization and horizontal, not vertical power, where everyone exists on a level playing field from the start. Elastos avoids IP addresses and prevents manipulation of access. Elastos is an internet of neutrality, neutralizing viruses and attacks, neutralizing monopolies, neutralizing lack of data ownership, neutralizing IP address vulnerability, and neutralizing the now antiquated and inelegant design of the internet that is begging for society to make it over. We have a long way to go in educating society and creating laws to protect citizens from big money and big data and create an internet that works for everyone. But the backlash against net neutrality repeal, the backlash against Facebook data selling, the establishment of neutrality laws in Europe, in South America, the growing shift to decentralized models of power utilizing the internet, and the incoming innovation in blockchain and the internet of things, signals that society is ripe for a new platform and a new way of thinking about and using the internet.

So let’s give them another one. Let’s give them Elastos.

Onward! Upward! Elastos!

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