What Is Network Neutrality and Why Should I Care?

May 17, 2006 @ 2:59 am | Filed under: Current Affairs

We like our internet. We like being able to get online and clickety click click wherever we like. We pay our monthly ISP fee and then click, the World Wide Web is world-wide open to us.

Some folks want to change that.

AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and other telephone and cable companies would like to be able to control the flow of information on the internet. Here’s how my hubby explains it:

The government is thinking about allowing Internet Service Providers to decide what websites you can or cannot go to, and who can or cannot send you emails. In other words, if this goes through, you may not be able to link to Left of the Dial* unless I’ve paid your specific ISP a fee. Otherwise I’ll get blackballed. Kinda like legalized payola.

* (Or, say, Spunky. Or FUN Books. Or even Google, if they haven’t paid up.)

Net Neutrality is the opposite of that scenario. Net Neutrality is what we’ve got now.

Here’s what’s happening:

The telephone and cable companies are filling up congressional campaign coffers and hiring high-priced lobbyists. They’ve set up “Astroturf” groups like “Hands Off the Internet” to confuse the issue** and give the appearance of grassroots support.

Congress is now considering a major overhaul of the Telecommunications Act. The primary bill in the House is called the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006” and is sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Charles Pickering (R-Miss.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

The current version of the COPE Act (HR 5252) includes watered-down Net Neutrality provisions that are essentially meaningless. An amendment offered by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), which would have instituted real Net Neutrality requirements, was defeated in committee after intense industry lobbying against it.

**Case in point: the ad in my sidebar. What it calls the truth isn’t really.

We mustn’t ignore this issue. You can read more about it here and here.

Tags:


    Related Posts

  • Thirteen Cars
    Thirteen Cars
  • PaperBack Swap Says "Stop the Fires"
    PaperBack Swap Says “Stop the Fires”
  • Dear Amy in Tarpon Springs, FL
    Dear Amy in Tarpon Springs, FL
  • More about the Book Brouhaha
    More about the Book Brouhaha
  • Important Reading: "Will Fracking Impact My Family"
    Important Reading: “Will Fracking Impact My Family”

Comments

2 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. I don’t get it. I can clearly see how the telephone and cable companies would benefit, but wouldn’t this be counter-productive for congress? Limiting access to certain sites would place huge limitations on the economy, slowing small business growth and virtually halting innovation in larger businesses that need the internet to thrive. This fall in productivity would negatively impact the amount of tax revenue generated. To keep many gov’t programs alive, it would be necessary to raise tax rates and that tends to get folks booted out of office quicker than any ole’ war.

    Plus, wouldn’t this be a violation of anti-monopoly law?

  2. I don’t get it. I can clearly see how the telephone and cable companies would benefit, but wouldn’t this be counter-productive for congress? Limiting access to certain sites would place huge limitations on the economy, slowing small business growth

    But, the theory goes, helping the largest businesses. The example often used—and I don’t know if these names were picked because they’re well known or if they’re actually players in this—is that Barnes and Noble might pay a premium to ensure that traffic on a given ISP is slower to Amazon than to their own site, thus increasing B&N’s traffic. So, again in theory, it’s a zero sum game, no? What Amazon loses in revenue Barnes and Noble makes up.

    and virtually halting innovation in larger businesses that need the internet to thrive.

    At the risk of oversimplifying, much of it comes down to the fact that the telecoms are some of the largest campaign contributors and that this would, alas, not be quite the first instance in history of individual congresspeople voting in ways that are perhaps counterproductive to the good of the entire nation but which might (they hope) increase their own chances of getting reelected.

    This fall in productivity would negatively impact the amount of tax revenue generated. To keep many gov’t programs alive, it would be necessary to raise tax rates and that tends to get folks booted out of office quicker than any ole’ war.

    Well, that’s going to have to happen anyway pretty soon—although not nearly soon enough—but now we’re getting into territory that’s mayhap a tad too contentious and far off the beaten path for the idyllic Bonny Glen. 🙂

    Plus, wouldn’t this be a violation of anti-monopoly law?

    Actually, I’m not entirely sure it would be, but perhaps. I hadn’t seen that argument raised, but maybe I just missed it, or perhaps you’re way ahead of the curve. 🙂 With the kinds o’ cabbage the telecoms are tossing at this, I’d have to assume their legal eagles have crossed those i’s and dotted those t’s, but hey, it’d be far from the first time I was wrong.