Thursday, June 08, 2006

Internet Neutrality

One of the foremost aspects of the Internet as we know it is that it is neutral. By this I mean that it is free in the sense of being independant from any particular governing agency. It exists as a free medium that can be used in many different ways by many different groups.

Tim Berners-Lee (who invented the technology of the World Wide Web) has said that the neutrality of the Internet is "essential to our society". He goes on to state that "It is the basis of a fair competitive market economy. It is the basis of democracy, by which a community should decide what to do."

Unfortunately, though, this neutrality of the Internet is highly endangered. Two votes are going to happen in the near future. One is in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the other is in the Senate. They could have major ramifications on the control that phone and cable companies can exert on the Internet. One such particular company is AT&T. These monopolies are essentailly lobbying to get control to say who gets access to high-speed pipes on the Internet, and also which particular content gets priority. This has obvious ramifications, but the worst ones are possibly the subtle but dangerous changes it would make to the culture of the Internet. It would change the very environment of the Internet, and could quickly polarize things and cause a very unfair and manipulative playing field.

The First Amendment principle which has always so strongly applied to the Internet could potentially be squashed out due to commercial interests. If you are an American citizen and feel you would like to find out more about this, or if you would like to take action, please go here.

This is an important reminder that the freedom we have traditionally enjoyed in the Western Hemispehre will not be maintained by status quo. There are too many forces working against it. It needs to be asserted and defended.

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