Friday, June 30, 2006
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation failed to add an amendment to the "Advanced Telecommunications and Opportunity Reform Act" that would guarantee "net neutrality." The vote, 11-11, means that the amendment didn't get the majority it needs.
Why care? First of all, the bill is basically being bought and paid for by the telephone companies who want the right to offer television over your phone line, while ending local regulation over cable monopolies. But it also makes it possible for Internet service providers -- meaning those same telephone and cable companies, largely -- to offer priority access to Internet sites that are willing to pay for the privilege.
The concern is that will create a two-level (hence "non-neutral") Internet, where sites that pay -- corporate sites, entertainment giants and the big Net players like Google, Yahoo, MySpace and so on -- can send stuff over the Internet and to your computer at a much faster rate than can other sites -- say, newspapers like the JFP, YouTube videos or smaller blogs (or net businesses) -- that would instead be relegated to a second tier of information that gets squeezed through a smaller pipe.
(Incidentally, the voting is going pretty much down party lines on this one, with Republicans voting for big telcos and Democrats voting for a level playing field for the Internet. Shocking, I know.)
For more, check out Save the Internet. The bill has currently been put on "hold" by Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, which signals his intent to fillibuster the bill until the amendment is added to the bill. Senator Stevens, the Republican from Alaska who introduced the bill in the Senate, has reportedly said he doesn't have the 60 votes to break a fillibuster. A similar bill has already passed the House without "net neutrality" language.
I can't believe this issue doesn't have more attention. This ONLY benefits large corporations. There isn't one upside to any single citizen. When will citizens demand that their representatives start actually acting on their behalf?
- Darren Schwindaman
Here's a fun piece on net neutrality: http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2006/06/30/1701702.htm I can't believe this issue doesn't have more attention. This ONLY benefits large corporations. There isn't one upside to any single citizen. When will citizens demand that their representatives start actually acting on their behalf? After seeing An Inconvenient Truth this past weekend, I sometimes wonder if anything of any importance is ever going to breat through the din of the mainstream media...which, of course, might stand to benefit from this bill anyway. I think the salient point is this idea that if Google pays BellSouth more for a faster site than Yahoo! does, then Google *will be* faster, regardless of whether or not you like Yahoo! Seems crazy, but it's one possibility if net neutrality doesn't pass in here somewhere. I also like the point that the author of the above-linked post makes when he argues against the idea that net neutrality "stifles innovation." He rightly points out that telecos don't innovate...I started to try and think of one instance in which one did, and it's hard. That innovation is probably out there, but it's tough. (For the most part, telecos are dragged kicking and screaming into the future...telephone you can own, cheap long distance, VoIP, even DSL and other high-speed data options took years more in the US than in other developed countries.) Is it a truism that big companies don't innovate as frequently or as completely as small companies do? Think of the Clarion-Ledger's website, following ours almost feature-for-feature, but with...really...no vision, no particular interface design to speak of...nothing that would suggest actual innovation. And I'm not just saying that to pick on them -- they're a huge, profitable corporation that probably needs to pin a great deal of its future on its website. So you'd think they'd be in the business of innovating.
- Todd Stauffer