Op-Ed

Op-Ed
Verizon vs. Net Neutrality Part 3

Russ Pitts | 26 Jun 2006 17:09
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More big-time upper-echelon technology experts are stepping up to voice their concerns over the current debate in Congress over whether or not to legislate a guarantee for net neutrality. This time though, we've got word from the only man who can really claim to be an expert on the world wide web: the man who invented it.

Tim Berners-Lee posted last week on net neutrality, and his post is short enough, simple enough and correct enough for anyone to read it and understand why net neutrality is such a big deal. Even members of the US House of Representatives. Maybe.

When I invented the Web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission.

This comes to us via an article at Ars Technica, the author of which has this to say:

What the opponents of net neutrality are pouring millions into lobbying for is a world where, when someone offers a new high-bandwidth service over the Internet, they have to go around to each of the last-mile providers and ask, "may I have permission to compete on a level playing field with the other services that go over your pipes?" And if entrepeneurs can't come up with enough funding to appease the troll that guards that particular bridge, then they could effectively lose access to the customers at the other end.

It's really that simple, people. Right now you have the right to access anything and everything available on the internet, provided you've paid your bill. While content providers (everyone from TimeWarner's cnn.com to my own personal website) have the right to broadcast whatever legally-owned content they wish provided they, too have paid their bill. That is the way the internet has worked from Day One, and it works.

What the telco companies would like now is the right to set limits over what kind of signals may be sent over the pipe, and how, effectively inserting control between you and the content provider. The idea that the companies in question may never use this new-found control to capitalize on their regional media monopolies is irrelevant (if not naive). If the possibility exists, someone will take advantage of it. That is, after all, what legislation is for: to set boundaries, and prevent misuse.

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