Net Neutrality: the end of Internet as we know it?

Net Neutrality: the end of Internet as we know it?

19 Junio 2007
The biligual column by Alla Abramov.
Alla Abramov >
authenticated user Corresponsal
There’s been some recent good news and bad news on the issue of net neutrality, the principle that high-speed Internet should be available to all citizens, and not be restricted in use or content by self-interested corporations.
Net neutrality is crucial for several reasons – it allows for freedom of speech and expression on the Internet, and it eliminates the threat of Internet providers discriminating against any specific sites or content, and prevents them from speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.
Because of these reasons, net neutrality promotes democratic participation where free and open Internet service allows for citizens from all walks of life to post their ideas and information that can be viewed by anyone and everyone. Net neutrality also promotes economic innovation in terms of originality of products, competition amongst companies, and access to information, which would all be limited if this free market on the Internet was put in the hands of a few. (
Essentially, without net neutrality, the Internet as we know it today would be a thing of the past. It would be subjugated into being just another public commodity that is controlled by multi-million dollar corporations with only monetary incentives in mind.
Now, the good news. Maine has just enacted the first net neutrality resolution in the United States, a resolution that recognizes the importance of free and fair access to the Internet. This legislation “affirm[s] that Internet providers should not be allowed to discriminate by speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination” (
This brings us to the bad news. Due to a 2005 decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), this principle of free and open Internet was put in jeopardy and lobbyists for cable and phone companies are pushing to end net neutrality under the euphemism of ‘deregulation’. These cable and phone industries spend millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the FCC to abolish the laws that allow for net neutrality. They have also been “wag[ing] a misinformation campaign that distorts the issue” by arguing that the government can’t regulate “their pipes,” even though taxpayer’s money is what allowed the Internet to come into existence in the first place (
This brings us to more good news. In 2006, Congress rejected legislation that phone and cable companies and their supporters paid $175 million to pass. The legislation, called the Communication Opportunity Promotion and Enhancement Act, didn’t pass because of “more than a million concerned citizens [who] wrote and called Congress opposing any bill that didn’t protect net neutrality” ( This shows that there is power in numbers, and the diligence to fight for net neutrality must continue.
To get to the heart of why it is so necessary to preserve net neutrality, it is important to understand what the cable and phone companies plan to do once the restrictions of net neutrality are out of the way. The cable and phone companies, which serve as the network operators, want to charge content providers (sites such as Google, eBay, MySpace and YouTube) a huge fee to have their material delivered to Internet users. Those content providers that can’t afford the fee (such as non-profit and civic organizations, small businesses and bloggers) would be put in the ‘slow lane’, where their web content would load at a much slower speed. The companies that would be in the ‘fast lane’ include the cable and phone companies themselves (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner), as well as the providers they are affiliated with (
This ‘screening process’ would make everyday Internet activities such as sending pictures, using online banking, planning a trip, and talking to people online, very slow and frustrating. There is also the potential that these ‘slow lane’ sites will fall victim to the consequences of a society that thrives on fast service (from fast food to fast news to fast check-out at the grocery store); these ‘slow lane’ sites, along with the sites that can’t afford to pay the high fees, could be taken off the Internet for good due to the inevitability of supply and demand.
Those who first invented the Internet and chaperoned it into the age of technology “always intended the Internet to be a neutral network,” and this is, unarguably, the way it should be ( The only reason the cable and phone companies want to deregulate the Internet is for very clear purposes – in order to promote their own company’s products and services and make more money.
The cable and phone companies’ desire to control the Internet is a selfish one. They want to create a monopoly on one of the most important technologies of our age, a monopoly that would destroy the most fundamental principles of the Internet, a free and open space that exists by the people, for the benefit of the people.
Read it in Spanish.
Photo: Rev_Bri.


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jbHBtw for Thanks up. the

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