Sunday, April 22, 2007

Net Neutrality

I think its time to start talking more about Net Neutrality . In a nutshell (sorry if you're familiar with it already), the issue is that the big telecom companies that own the cables (the tubes) through which the internet's data flows have found a new way to make a buck. They can charge users differently for priority access to bandwidth - that is they can make websites pay them to allow fast access to their sites, they can make users pay them to have access to all kinds of services. The end result is an internet where, instead of users picking the most well used sites based on their content, internet service providers decide who has access to what based on how much content providers and users pay.

The magic of the internet today is that it allows anybody to contribute high quality content, and it allows anybody to choose freely what content they use. You want to use Google? Fine. Yahoo? Fine. Something else entirely? Hunky dunky. But if the big telecoms have their way, big search engines, for example, would pay for faster access. So if Google payed more than Yahoo, Google would be faster to use, and Yahoo and any other start up search engine would be too slow to compete. Goodbye, fair competition. (Well, competition on the internet is hardly equal now, but imagine how much worse this could make it!)

A much better explanation of the issue was written by Jevon at

And if you are inspired to learn more, and get involved in supporting net neutrality, visit

For the sake of executives' revenues, the internet's cultural, democratic and creative potential could evaporate. Hopefully lawmakers can be brought to their senses first.

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