Sunday, April 23, 2006

Net Neutrality

I'm still reading up on this issue, but Net neutrality proponents and opponents alike agree that without Net neutrality,
broadband providers will be free to design their networks as they see fit and enjoy the latitude to prioritize certain types of traffic--such as streaming video--over others.
The problem is not that Verizon's streaming video will get priority over other Web traffic; the problem is that there'd be essentially no further limit to their use of their gatekeeper role in deciding whose voice gets priority, who gets heard through a small pipe, and -potentially - who gets shut off altogether.

This is about as fundamental a small-d democracy issue as you can get. Here on the Web, you can say anything you like, and how much you get heard (not very much yet, in my case :)) depends only on whether people like what you have to say, and link to you. It's a democracy of ideas, and the best ideas can win out.

This is very much unlike anything we've had in the media age, where broadcast and cable TV and radio offer only a limited number of alternatives, and many worthwhile and popular voices can't get on the air. The media gatekeepers decide whose ideas get play, and whose don't.

The Internet has been different, so far at least. It's time to fight to keep it that way.

That Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) was one of the Dems arguing for Net neutrality gives it a great deal of additional cred with me. Boucher's a very centrist sort of Democrat (he has to be; his district is in far southwest Virginia, which isn't exactly a hotbed of liberalism), but he's one of the most knowledgeable persons in Congress with respect to telecom issues. If he thinks this is important enough to fight for, it almost certainly is.

Click the link
for a short animation explaining why this is important.

Sign the petition.

Email your congressperson.

The proposed legislation that would kill Net neutrality. (WARNING: big-ass PDF.)

(Additional warning: I can't make head or tail of the legislation, so far. But supporters and opponents of the legislation agree on what it would do.)

Burns-Inouye Principles
proposed to protect Net neutrality. (Much smaller PDF.) See last paragraph, especially.


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