Blog Archive

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Internet At Risk: Net Neutrality and the Stimulus Bill

Net Neutrality, the principle that the Internet be free of mediation from corporations wishing to act as gatekeepers to the web, has been a hotly debated issue amongst the tech-savvy, and an important one that many people are not aware even exists. Over the last week there was quite a bit of action as the Congress debated their various economic stimulus plans. President Obama has stated that he supports Net Neutrality.

The Senate version of the bill would have allocated $7 Billion to the building of high-speed networks in rural and other areas without access.

However, it also would have included troubling wording, coming from two prominent California democrats: Diane Fienstein and Henry Waxman: "In establishing obligations under paragraph (8), the assistant secretary shall allow for reasonable network management practices such as deterring unlawful activity, including child pornography and copyright infringement." The troubling part being what one would interpret "reasonable network management practices" as. This could be anything from packet inspection (allowing the ISP to look at the information being sent/received and determine whether it goes through and if so at what speeds) to varying speed rates (favored sites, or corporately friendly sites would load faster than competetors, etc).

Luckily, this particular part of the bill was not added to the stimulus package. But this series of events shows the precarious nature of Internet Access, and if we're not watchful similar wording can be put into any sort of bill.

To find out more about Net Neutrality: Google has a nice statement here (of course they support it)

To take action and support Net Neutrality you can visit here, here or here.

Above is Net Neutrality in a nutshell

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