I received an email from John Unger today describing the Net Neutrality Bill that is currently being debated in the US Congress Gutting this bill would allow Internet providers to specify which websites would receive priority on their bandwidth.
James Surowiecki in an article in The New Yorker sums the issue up like this:
Until recently, companies that provided Internet access followed a de-facto commoncarriage rule, usually called "network neutrality," which meant that all Web sites got equal treatment. Network neutrality was considered so fundamental to the success of the Net that Michael Powell, when he was chairman of the F.C.C., described it as one of the basic rules of "Internet freedom." In the past few months, though, companies like A.T. & T. and BellSouth have been trying to scuttle it. In the future, Web sites that pay extra to providers could receive what BellSouth recently called "special treatment," and those that don't could end up in the slow lane. One day, BellSouth customers may find that, say, NBC.com loads a lot faster than YouTube.com, and that the sites BellSouth favors just seem to run more smoothly. Tiered access will turn the providers into Internet gatekeepers.
Brian Clark from Copyblogger has an exceptional piece on the Net Neutrality issue as well!
What to do?
- MoveOn has detailed information about the bill as well as an online petition you can sign
- Read the letter to the US Senate signed by over 3 dozen Internet companies
- Enter the "Save the Net" viral marketing contest
- Download a blog badge and send an email to providers at Common Cause