Friday, May 19, 2006

Net Neutrality Bill Closer to Becoming Reality

There is a move by some in the private sector to change the way we use the internet today. This is something that is somewhat flying under the radar because, quite frankly, most people have no idea how the net works. Basically, there are a few big companies who’ve built the network all internet traffic runs though…your Verizon’s, AT&Ts, Sprints…mainly the phone companies and cable companies. However, unlike phone calls, internet traffic is routed differently over these lines, and thus everyone has basically operated on the concept that anyone can send data anywhere. Well, some corporate head honcho said, “Hey, wait a second…if you’re using my lines, I want to be able to charge you, and give preferential treatment (think speed) to those who pay more.” In essence, they want to change the internet to be more like phone lines, where a company charges another company for use of their lines when routing calls. Think long distance charges for the internet.

In concept this isn’t a bad thing. I mean, they build the infrastructure, why shouldn’t they reap the rewards? Simple, it’s too late to do so. The internet has grown since the eighties on an idea called “Net Neutrality.” That means you can charge to get access, but once you’re in the infrastructure is fair use to all. This has allowed data to transmit freely, openly, and efficiently, all over the place, and helped create one giant World Wide Web available to all who can get online, regardless of ISP or location. Taking away Net Neutrality in effect has the possibility to create several internets, each run and owned by different interests, and thereby breaking down the efficiency and effectiveness of the internet as we now know it, not to mention stifling commerce and innovation. has an interesting article up today about a bill moving through congress that might have a chance to make sure the Net Neutrality we’ve come to take for granted stays just where it is. I urge you to pay attention to this matter closely because it will affect your life if the media conglomerates get their way.



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