Net Neutrality – the principle that all Internet sites should be equally accessible to any Web user, is under attack once again. The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department has come out in opposition to the idea of Net Neutrality and endorses the idea that Internet service providers should be allowed to charge a fee for priority Web traffic. This in light of several telecom and cable companies stating that they want to have the ability to charge select users for the right to access certain content on the Internet or to do so at higher speeds than others.
The idea of protecting net neutrality is summed up in an open letter Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, issued a while back:
Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can’t pay.
However, aren’t we already paying more for faster speeds and premium content? For example, one pays more for broadband access than dial up. So why are the telecoms and cable companies so concerned over the policy of Net Neutrality anyway? The real fear of those who are fighting to protect it is giving the large telecoms and cable companies control where they could act as “gatekeepers” to information online.
Tish Grier from the Constant Observer had the following to say:
Let’s face it, folks–the telcos want to have control not just over who’s allowed to have service (which they already do with their feigned inability to wire rural areas) but what those who do have service are allowed to access. In an odd way, it can also be seen as some bizarre form of parentalism–as if they’re saying to various sites “When you grow up enough (make enough money to pay us), you can have access to all those people out there. Otherwise, we can’t allow them to see you…”
The DOJ uses the United States Postal Service as an example in its opposition to regulation stating that USPS already charges various rates for different guarantees and speeds for package delivery. They also feel that imposing a Net Neutrality regulation could hamper development of the Internet and prevent service providers from upgrading or expanding their networks, shifting the “entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers.”
Nick Gonzalez from TechCrunch writes that “this is good news for telecoms, like by AT&T Inc., Verizon and Comcast, who argue that high-volume uploaders should pay for part of the cost of upgrading internet infrastructure to handle the new load. It’s bad news for the internet companies (Google, eBay, Yahoo, Microsoft) ISPs have seen get rich off their networks.” He goes on to point out that the Telcos don’t want to charge for access to public sites, but want to offer private Internet-based services with faster
speeds for uses such as downloading movies.
Seems to me like the old strategy of big business trying to use government muscle to protect their right to more profits. I’m for a free Internet even though I already pay premium fees for broadband access. I would sure hate to be singled out because I am downloading or pushing more content than the next guy or be restricted to certain content because the telecoms and cable companies can close the gate.
I have written about this subject in them past. If you want to work to protect a free Internet, an organization called Save The Internet.com will tell you how. If you don’t care, then simply do nothing ad let companies such as AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp control how and when the Internet is accessed.
Additional coverage of the DOJ’s latest statements can be found at Techmeme. You can also read their
official statement on the subject.