Net neutralityJune 2006
One of the effects I’ve experienced from thinking a lot more about the Enron case is having a greater suspicion that corruption permeates our government. It’s hard to ignore the hand that the government had in providing the Enron (and other companies) the means to take advantage of Californians, and their unwillingness to act against Enron while they watched the pillaging occur. Not that I’ve ever been Pollyanna about government, but I’ve always tried to start by giving officials the benefit of the doubt.
The first thing that comes to mind in this light is the fight right now over Net Neutrality. The short of the issue is that telecoms (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, etc.) are starting to abuse their control over delivery of content via the Internet. They want to start setting subjective pricing for companies that provide services over the Internet, and control which sites load faster than others.
For example, if Time Warner decided they wanted to create a service to compete against one of mine, they could ensure that my site uses the “slow lane” while their site loads quickly for users. That is, unless I wanted to pay out the ears for my site to use the “express lane”. This goes far beyond me paying X dollars for each Gb of transmission where I pay more for 10Gbs than I do for 5Gbs.
- In 2004, North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using any rival Web-based phone service.
- In April, Time Warner’s AOL blocked all emails that mentioned www.dearaol.com — an advocacy campaign opposing the company’s pay-to-send e-mail scheme.
Earlier this month an amendment to prevent the telecoms from doing this was voted down in Congress. Why? Was it because Congress really felt that allowing the telecoms this freedom is good for American citizens and the growth of business? Or was it because the telecoms spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress to defeat the amendment? Isn’t it apparent that these telecoms will profit considerably from holding companies at ransom, at the expense of stifling Internet entrepreneurship? Why is this even remotely acceptable?
The fight goes to the Senate right now. There are some people in government who aren’t puppets of big business. Let’s hope there are enough.