Net Neutrality Links
I’ve added these links to the Net Neutrality Page today.
WASHINGTON, May 18 /U.S. Newswire/ — House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.), along with Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and others, today introduced bipartisan legislation to preserve Internet freedom and competition. . . . Internet access has dramatically enhanced the ability of Americans to access this medium and has been a catalyst for innovation and competition. H.R. 5417, the “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006,” would ensure competitive and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet.
Chairman Sensenbrenner remarked, “This legislation is a necessary step to protect consumers and other Internet users from possible anti-competitive and discriminatory conduct by broadband providers. The FCC recently reported that 98 percent of American consumers get their high speed broadband from either a cable company or a DSL provider. This virtual duopoly creates an environment that is ripe for anti-competitive abuses, and for which a clear antitrust remedy is urgently needed.”
“This legislation will provide an insurance policy for Internet users against being harmed by broadband network operators abusing their market power to discriminate against content and service providers. While I am not opposed to providers responsibly managing their networks and providing increased bandwidth to those consumers who wish to pay for it, I am opposed to providers giving faster, more efficient access to certain service providers at the expense of others. This legislation will ensure that this type of discriminatory behavior will not take place, and will help to continue the tradition of innovation and competition that has defined the Internet,” continued Chairman Sensenbrenner.
The Wall Street Journal Blows it Big Time
[Wall Street Journal Article Follows]
The change the providers want to make is hard to describe because the double charging concept is so foreign to us. Basically itÃ¢â¬â¢s without precedent. But IÃ¢â¬â¢m going to try.
It would be like setting up a toll interstate highway system. As it stands now, everyone getting on that highway system would have to pay a toll to each state where you get on the highway. How much you currently pay determines whether you can get into the fast lane, or if you have to stay in the slow lane.
Now imagine a different, additional, toll structure. Say a truck was going from Florida to Wisconsin. Under the new system (what the internet providers want to do), the truck would pay his toll to Florida like he always did and get into which ever lane he paid for. But now he would also have to pay an additional toll to Wisconsin the moment he got on the highway or he wouldnÃ¢â¬â¢t be allowed to get off the highway there.
It might almost sound reasonable except where the analogy falls apart when you translate it to the internet. Be cause with the internet, you put your data on in one place, but it doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t get off in one place, but many. And under the new system you would have to pay an additional toll everyplace you wanted your data to be able to get off the highway.
Under a law like this–variations are floating around both houses of Congress–the country could look forward to years of litigation about the extent and nature of the rules. When the dust settled we’d have a new set of regulations that could span the range of possible activities on the Net. What’s more, the rules aren’t likely to stop with the phone and cable companies that have Mr. Markey and his friends at Moveon.org so exercised.
Non-discrimination cases could well be brought against Net neutrality backers like Google–say, for placing a competitor too low in their search results. Google’s recent complaint that Microsoft’s new operating system was anti-competitive is a foretaste of what the battles over a “neutral” Net would look like. Yet Google and other Web site operators have jumped on the Net neutrality bandwagon lest they have to pay a fee to get a guaranteed level of service from a Verizon or other Internet service provider. They don’t seem to comprehend the legal and political danger they’ll face once they open the neutrality floodgates. We’d have thought Microsoft of all companies would have learned this lesson from its antitrust travails, but it too has now hired lawyers to join the Net neutrality lobby.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
NET NEUTRALITY PAGE