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    John Scholz
    ================================================== =====================
    >From Wed May 25 15:27:41 1994
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    From: (William Mace)
    Subject: Potential Internet changes
    content-length: 10364

    This is of primary interest to U.S. members. Because it could surely
    affect everyone sometime, I thought I'd leave the mailing list intact and
    let each person decide whether or not to do anything right now. We use the
    network a fair amount and it seems relevant to pass along information that
    could have a large affect on what we do.


    -----------From Washington, D. C. organization --------------

    Please forgive the mass mailing, but I feel this is a subject which is of
    great importance to anyone who benefits from the bountiful resources of the
    Internet. A very bad storm is brooding on the horizon. In the future,
    you might have to pay a charge for every Email message you send or receive,
    every Usenet article you read, every kilobyte of data you transfer with
    ftp, every hypertextlink you follow with NCSA Mosaic or Gopher... Hopefully
    this frightens you as much as it does me. But it will happen, unless YOU
    do something about it. Please read the attached, fill out the requested
    info, and mail it back to It also wouldn't hurt to
    forward a copy of this to everyone you know on the Internet.Thanks for your


    NOTE May 7, 1994- Request for signatures for a letter to NSF opposing
    metered pricing of Internet usage- Please repost this request freely. The
    letter will be sent to Steve Wolff, the Director of Networking and
    Communications for NSF. The purpose of the letter is to express a number of
    user concerns about the future of Internet pricing. NSF recently announced
    that it is awarding five key contracts to telephone companies to operate
    four Internet "Network Access Points" (NAPs), and an NSF funded very high
    speed backbone (vBNS). There have been a number of indications that the
    telephone companies operating the NAPs will seek permission from NSF to
    price NAPs services according to some measure of Internet usage. The vBNS
    is expected to act as a testbed for new Internet pricing and accounting
    schemes. The letter expresses the view that metered pricing of Internet
    usage should be avoided, and that NSF should ensure that the free flow of
    information through Internet listserves and file server sites is preserved
    and enhanced.

    Jamie Love, Taxpayer Assets Project (

    If you are willing to sign the letter, send the following information to
    Mike Ward of the Taxpayer Assets Project(, fax:
    voice: 202/387-8030; P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036):

    Names: ___________________________Title: ___________________________

    (Optional) Affiliation: ____________________________________(for purposes
    of identification only)

    Address: ______________________________________

    City; St, Zip________________________________

    Email Address: _____________________________________

    Voice: __________________________________(for verification)

    The letter follows:
    Steve Wolff
    DirectorDivision of Networking and Communications
    National Science Foundation
    1800 G Street
    Washington, DC 20550

    Dear Steve:

    It is our understanding that the National Science Foundation (NSF) and
    other federal agencies are developing a new architecture for the Internet
    that will utilize four new NetworkAccess Points (NAPs), which have been
    described as the new"cloverleaves" for the Internet. You have indicated
    that NSF is awarding contracts for four NAPs, which will be operated by
    telephone companies (Pac Bell, S.F.; Ameritech, Chicago; Sprint,NY; and
    MFS, Washington, DC). We further understand that NSF has selected MCI to
    operate its new very high speed backbone (vBNS)facility. There is broad
    public interest in the outcome of the negotiations between NSF and the
    companies that will operate the NAPs andvBNS. We are writing to ask that
    NSF consider the following objectives in its negotiations with these five
    firms:PRICING.We are concerned about the future pricing systems for
    Internet access and usage. Many users pay fixed rates for Internet
    connections, often based upon the bandwidth of the connection, and do not
    pay for network usage, such as the transfer of data using email, ftp,
    Gopher or Mosaic. It has been widely reported on certain Internet
    discussion groups, such as com-priv, that the operators of the NAPs are
    contemplating a system of usage based pricing.We are very concerned about
    any movement toward usage based pricing on the Internet, and we are
    particularly concerned about the future of the Internet Listserves, which
    allow broad democratic discourse on a wide range of issues. We believe that
    the continued existence and enhancement of the Internet discussion groups
    and distribution lists is so important that any pricing scheme for the NAPs
    that would endanger or restrict their use should be rejected by the NSF.
    It is important for NSF to recognize that the Internet is more than a
    network for scientific researchers or commercial transactions. It
    represents the most important new effort to expand democracy into a wide
    range of human endeavors. The open communication and the free flow of
    information have make government and private organizations more
    accountable, and allowed citizens to organize and debate the widest range
    of matters. Federal policy should be directed at expanding public access to
    the Internet, and it should reject efforts to introduce pricing schemes
    for Internet usage that would mimic commercial telephone networks or
    expensive private network services such as MCI mail.To put this into
    perspective, NSF officials must consider how any pricing mechanisms will
    change the economics of hosting any Internet electronic mail discussion
    groups and distribution lists. Many of these discussion groups and lists
    are very large,such as Humanist, GIS-L, CNI-Copyright, PACS-L,
    CPSR-Announce or Com-Priv. It is not unusual for a popular Internet
    discussion group to have several thousand members, and send out more
    than100,000 email messages per day. These discussion groups and
    distribution lists are the backbones of democratic discourse on the
    Internet, and it is doubtful that they would survive if metered pricing of
    electronic mail is introduced on the Internet. Usage based pricing would
    also introduce a wide range of problems regarding the use of ftp, gopher
    and mosaic servers, since it is conceivable that the persons who provide
    "free" information on servers would be asked to pay the costs of "sending"
    data to persons who request data. This would vastly increase the costs of
    operating a server site, and would likely eliminate many sources of data
    now "published" for free.We are also concerned about the types of
    accounting mechanisms which may be developed or deployed to facilitate
    usage based pricing schemes., which raise a number of concerns about
    personal privacy. Few Internet users are anxious to see a new system
    of"surveillance" that will allow the government or private data vendors to
    monitor and track individual usage of Information obtained from Internet
    listserves or fileserves.


    We are also concerned about the potential for anti-competitive behavior by
    the firms that operate the NAPs. Since1991 there have been a number of
    criticisms of ANS pricing practices, and concerns about issues such as
    price discrimination or preferential treatment are likely to become more
    important as the firms operating the NAPs become competitors of firms tha
    tmust connect to the NAPs. We are particularly concerned about the
    announcements by PAC-Bell and Ameritech that they will enter the retail
    market for Internet services, since both firms were selected by NSF to
    operate NAPs. It is essential that the contracts signed by NSF include
    the strongest possible measures toinsure that the operators of the NAPs do
    not unfairly discriminate against
    unaffiliated companies.

    Recommendations:As the Internet moves from the realm of the research
    community to a more vital part of the nation's information infrastructure,
    theNSF must ensure that its decisions reflect the needs and values of a
    much larger community.

    1. The NSF contracts with the NAPs operators will include clauses that
    determine how the NAP services will be priced. It is important that NSF
    disclose and receive comment
    on all pricing proposals before they become final. NSF should create an
    online discussion list to facilitate public dialog on the pricing
    proposals, and NSF should identify its criteria for selecting a particular
    pricing mechanism, addressing the issue of how the pricing system will
    affect the Internet's role in facilitating democratic debate.

    2. NSF should create a consumer advisory board which would include a broad
    cross section of consumer interests, including independent network service
    providers (NSPs),publishers of Internet discussion groups and distribution
    lists, academic networks, librarians, citizen groups and individual users.
    This advisory board should review anumber of policy questions related to
    the operation of the Internet, including questions such as the NAP pricing,
    NAPoperator disclosure of financial, technical and operational data,
    systems of Internet accounting which are being tested on the vBNS and other

    3. NSF should solicit public comment, though an online discussion group, of
    the types of safeguards against anticompetitive behavior by the NAPs which
    should be addressed in the NSF/NAPs contracts, and on issues such as NAPs
    pricing and Internet accounting systems.

    TAP-IN FO is an Internet Distribution List provided by the TaxpayerAssets
    Project (TAP). TAP was founded by Ralph Nader to monitor the management of
    government property, including information systems and data, government
    funded R&D, spectrum allocation and other government assets. TAP-INFO
    reports on TAP activities relating to federal information policy. tap-info
    is archived at; and

    Subscription requests to tap-info to with the
    message: subscri be tap-info your name
    ------------------------------------------------------ ---------------

    Taxpayer Assets Project; P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036
    v. 202/387-8030;
    f. 202/234-5176;