Net Neutrality

Executive Summary

Net neutrality is the clear separation between Internet access and Internet content.

It is the idea that the net works best when ISPs deliver every Internet site's traffic without discrimination, rather than, say, charging Yahoo to deliver its search results faster and more reliably than Google's. At stake is whether new services can be developed and thrive if the big phone companies get to stick toll-booths on the network and give preference to the highest bidders.

Internet protocol co-inventor, Vinton Cerf, has said "When the Internet started, you didn't have to get permission to start companies. You just got on the Net and started your idea."

Up until August 2005 there was a common carrier law in America. This was removed and at this point the net neutrality debate started.

Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee on Net Neutrality covers the subject in simple easy to understand words in 3 minutes 49 seconds.

What is it?

If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.

Net Neutrality is NOT asking for the internet for free.

Net Neutrality is NOT saying that one shouldn't pay more money for high quality of service.

Currently the people who control the Internet's 'backbone' consider all traffic to effectively have equal rights. All bits going over the network are treated the same by the network in terms of who gets priority. The Internet is not one network - it is in fact made of up of lots of connected networks. Whilst this is transparent to the users of the Internet, and any one on the Internet can connect to any one else on the Internet, the network relies on companies agreeing how to interconnect and route traffic between their different networks.

How do the network providers make money currently?

Currently they charge at the access points to the internet. Residential customers normally use ISPs who tend to charge a fixed amount for access at a given speed, some times with a cap on the maximum amount of data that can be sent or received over that month. Content providers are also commonly charged at a fixed rate by hosting companies dependent on the speed of the connection and on the amount of data they send or receive. Dedicated network providers charge ISPs and hosting companies to connect to them and charge them based on the amount of data that passes over their network.

The Threat

Save The Internet.com is the place to find lots of easy to understand information from the pro Net Neutrality point of view.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, says: Control of information is hugely powerful. In the US, the threat is that companies control what I can access for commercial reasons. (In China, control is by the government for political reasons.) There is a very strong short-term incentive for a company to grab control of TV distribution over the Internet even though it is against the long-term interests of the industry.

Art Brodsky says: The anti net neutrality groups argue that any number of horrible outcomes would flow from "net neutrality regulation." You can pick your own fallacies from among the talking points: don’t regulate the Internet because it would create volumes of new regulations governing content, don’t regulate because it would be the first major government regulation of the Internet. Or, don’t regulate the Internet because big Internet companies want access for free, and so consumers will get stuck with the bill in the form of higher prices. None of them are true. Transmission over the Internet has been regulated for years, until 2005 to be exact, when the FCC took away the rules. The Internet grew up in the dial-up days under "common carrier" regulation, when telephone companies had no control over content on their networks. No one wants to regulate the Internet—the regulation is of the services of the telephone and cable companies.

The danger is that the Internet might be split into a fast lane and a slow lane. That's because the telephone and cable companies that supply us with broadband service believe they're getting a raw deal. They say that content providers ought to be willing to pay extra for the high-speed delivery that is now equally available to all, a state of affairs called "network neutrality."

What they're actually proposing is double billing. They want to charge me and you, the consumers getting broadband service, and they want to charge the service providers, so that those willing to pay more get their stuff delivered faster to the end users. That's not a fair business practice, nor is it really healthy for the sort of information and cultural environment and economic playing field that we really want to see on the Internet.

Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee says the web should remain neutral and resist attempts to fragment it into different services. "What's very important from my point of view is that there is one web," "Anyone that tries to chop it into two will find that their piece looks very boring." "It's better and more efficient for us all if we have a separate market where we get our connectivity, and a separate market where we get our content. Information is what I use to make all my decisions. Not just what to buy, but how to vote," "There is an effort by some companies in the US to change this. There's an attempt to get to a situation where if I want to watch a TV station across the Internet, that TV station must have paid to transmit to me."

Anti Net Neutrality

I would warn that although these sites appear to be spontaneous, grass roots behaviour they are not and were set up by a PR company called the Mercury Group. They are very worth seeing the arguments that the anti net neutrality lobby are putting forward.

The arguments they put forward are:

  • No one wants the government to regulate the internet.
  • Large companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are going to make a fortune of the internet but they don't want to pay for improving the internet.
  • Google and Microsoft are urging Congress to pass a law that would prohibit operators of high-speed internet services from prioritizing certain types of traffic -- such as on-line video -- over others.

The counter arguments are covered here:

The Law

UK

Thankfully in the UK there is currently a healthy amount of competition and choice this is currently preventing any company from trying to drop Net Neutrality. Local loop unbundling has had a large hand in bringing about this situation. There is a small amount of traffic shaping happening in relation to ports used by P2P software by some network providers, this should be made more explicate to the customers when they sign up.

U.K. Office of Communications Chief Policy Partner Kip Meek

"The regulatory environment in the U.S. is very different to the situation in the EU where local loop unbundling markets and other wholesale broadband products are regulated to underpin the prospect of sustainable competition in broadband markets,"
The EU regulatory frame-work "provides a degree of (pre-emptive) regulatory intervention in infrastructure markets from the beginning,"
Regulators have the power to handle competition problems in unregulated markets, and are committed to a level playing field in infrastructure

Ofcom chairman Lord Currie of Marylebone is reported by Joe Fay in The Register to have said on 2nd November 2006

"It's as well it hasn't come over here, as it's a somewhat confused debate."
"[I] think it's a thoroughly bad idea not to charge for quality of service,"
"I do see competition law as the answer to many of the issues,"

After the debate, he added that the crucial point was whether providers were attempting to force content providers to pay. A content provider going to a service provider and asking for a guaranteed level of service was OK, he said. Access providers strong arming content providers into paying, was not.

What the net neutrality lobby had done, said Lord Currie, was to turn an essentially economic issue into a moral crusade

Internet Protocol TV is seen as some thing that could start problems as it is introduced. MSN recently made a deal with British Telecom to provide IPTV, with a commercial launch expected in 2006/2007.

IPv6 is also seen as some thing worth watching as is is easier to set so that it discriminates packets.

Ofcom already has the power to punish any network operator that abused a powerful position in the market.

Europe

In spring of 2013, the European Council made a request to the Commission to create a proposal for a single telecommunications market in Europe. In September 2013, the Commission adopted a series of proposed legislation titled "Connected Continent: Building a Telecoms Single Market" aiming at "building a connected, competitive continent and enabling sustainable digital jobs and industries."[1]. The changes are meant to guarantee net neutrality.

View the Commission's Press Release from September 2013.

On April 3 2014, the European Parliament voted in the legislative package after it received a series of amendments. The package still needs to be voted on by the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers) and be approved by national governments.

The amendments passed called for:

  • An end to roaming charges across the continent.
  • Prohibition of ISPs from "blocking or slowing down selected services for economic or other reasons"

(a full list of the amendments to be posted the European Parliament's page shortly.

The European Commission has issued a communication in which it says it plans to "closely monitor attempts to call into question the neutral character of the Internet." [1]

Deutsche Telekom wants to develop a faster DSL connection and says it needs protection from competitors to do so. But the EU warned Germany not to offer it.

DT and Telecom Italia are lobbying the EC to allow charging of Google and others for carrying their content.

Communications Daily (US), June 30, 2006 "In regard to net neutrality, the EC wants to ensure that regulators can impose, in a pan-European way, minimum quality-of-service requirements, in addition to their existing powers to ensure interoperability. The Commission wants to insure that operators in the European Union will not be able to discriminate against customers by offering 2-speed Internet service, officials said. The EU’s concern isn’t as strong as in the U.S., Reding said, voicing hope that competition will address this problem."

Update 22 August The EU commission has backed German regulators and ordered Deutsche Telekom to open its network to broadband competitors. This should increase competition and vastly reduce the risk of anti net neutrality pressure from Germany. Deutsche Telekom forced to open network

USA

Congress is considering several competing pieces of legislation. One bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), embodies the phone company view, while another bill recently introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R., Wisc.) supports net neutrality. Both the House and Senate will hold hearings this week.

Update: (25 May 2006) House Judiciary Committee passed the "Internet Freedom and Non-discrimination Act of 2006″ — a pro Network Neutrality bill. It next moves to the full House after Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess.

Update: (8 June 2006) The pro Network Neutrality option was rejected by the US House of Representatives by a count of 269 to 152. The amendment is not dead as there is still the Senate.

Update: (29 June 2006) The Senate Commerce Committee fell a single vote short of passing an amendment to add Net Neutrality to the Act. Immediately following the Commerce Committee’s vote against a Net Neutrality amendment. Senator Wyden marched onto the floor of the Senate to demand that the legislation include stronger safeguards against phone and cable company discrimination. He threatened to slow down the legislation until the language is fixed.

The issue is now within the grips of party politics. The Democrats seem to have decided that this is their issue.

Other

Various folks including Steve Wozniak, David Reed, Susan Crawford, and Siva Vaidhyanathan have endorsed a unique proposal.

Lawrence Lessig

The answer is not a massive programme of regulation. It is instead a very thin rule for broadband providers that forbids business models that favour scarcity over abundance. That is the aim of the very best “network neutrality” legislation. Network owners would be free to compete in all the ways that push deployment and drive down prices. They would be blocked from models where more profit for them means less broadband for us.

Cogent Communications is a transatlantic neutral internet provider. See the "Net Neutrality" link at the bottom of every page at http://www.cogentco.com :

Cogent practices net neutrality. We do not prioritize packet transmissions on the basis of the content of the packet, the customer or network that is the source of the packet, or the customer or network that is the recipient of the packet.
It is Cogent's belief that both the customer and the Internet as a whole are best served if the application layer remains independent from the network. Innovation in the development of new applications is fuelled by the individual's ability to reach as many people as possible without regard to complicated gating factors such as tiered pricing or bandwidth structures used by legacy service providers. Applications proliferate in a free market economy which is the Internet today.

Siva Vaidhyanathan on Net Neutrality

There are a couple of different ways to look at this. There's the romantic way, right? The romantic way is that we want to have the Internet as the wild frontier for entrepreneurship, and that's a strong case. There's also the liberal free speech argument, which says we want the Internet to be a level playing field so a variety of voices can enter the public sphere. That's a fairly strong argument. But then you've got the economic argument, which is those of us who write checks every month to these companies, we want to be able to know that we are getting decent service for what we're paying. If my broadband company next week starts dialling down my Skype speed so Skype doesn't work as well for me, I might not even know it or notice it for a long time, until Skype starts frustrating me, and out of frustration, I'm just going to pick up my old phone and dial India the old-fashioned way and just pay for it because I know the call's going to go through. That's the sort of frustration and opacity we might start seeing on the Internet. So it is a service question, a competition question, an economic development question, a consumer question. And it really is dollars and cents.

Links

Videos

Songs

The Broadband sing 'God Save the Internet'

Documents

Podcasts

News

2008-06-13 - hothardware.com - Google To Develop ISP Throttling Detector
Author: Daniel A. Begun
Summary: Google, which has vocally supported a form of network neutrality in the past, has announced an intent to create a tool aimed at users, that will allow them to detect traffic throttling on the part of their ISPs.
2008-06-03 - Radio 4
Ofcom CEO Ed Richards appears on the Today programme and discusses how his organisation will facilitate next-generation broadband. No permalink available; partial transcript:

ER: Is there more to be done? Do we anticipate that companies will make further investments and the broadband range of services and propositions available to consumers across the country will continue to enhance and develop? Yes we do. Are we doing everything that we can to set out a clear regulatory framework, to ensure that there are returns where companies take risks? Yes, I think we are doing that as well. We have more to do, other companies have more to do, and this picture will change over the next year or two.

R4: What can you do to encourage or indeed compel companies to make the sort of investments that are needed to change the picture? Because I imagine that the sums of money are very large indeed.

ER: For the next generation of super-fast broadband, the sums of money are indeed very high, and we believe that is a very, very significant turning point; it will take take the country to a different place in terms of its communications infrastructure. So it is absolutely crucial. Our role here is to make sure that we've understood the environment clearly, that we've set out clear principles in relation to how we would regulate such investments, and we have begun to do that, and then companies can know the regulatory framework they will face in order to make those investments.

R4: But you can't do any more than that? You can't say, "Get a move on?"

ER: Well, we can of course exhort, and we can of course describe and set out how important we think the next generation of super-fast broadband is, and we have done a great deal of that. I have done a lot of that myself in speeches. It will be very, very important. It's important to say that Virgin Media have already made clear that they will be investing in very high speed, next generation access. Other companies I know are thinking about this very, very attentively, now, and we would expect there to be development over the next few years. So, it is not a static picture, this a fast-changing environment, and we would expect change over the next few years.

R4: Ed Richards, many thanks.

2008-04-25 - ars technica - Who should pay? BBC, UK ISPs argue over iPlayer traffic
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: UK telecoms regulator Ofcom told Parliament this week that the BBC should not have to pay ISPs to upgrade their networks, which are allegedly groaning beneath the weight of iPlayer traffic.
2007-12-07 - BBC - Providers question 'neutral net'
Author: Jane Wakefield
Summary: Simon Gunter, head of strategy at UK ISP Tiscali "Network operators in the US, and increasingly also in the UK, believe that rather than pass all of the costs on to the end user, content providers should also put their hands in their pockets in order to guarantee the best delivery of their services."
2007-11-14 - ZDNet - EU telecoms gets regulatory shake-up
Author: David Meyer
Summary: The European Commission has adopted a raft of proposals that will see Europe's telecoms infrastructure dramatically shaken up. .... Even the thorny issues of privacy and net neutrality are affected by the new framework. Net neutrality relates — among other things — to the ability of ISPs to prioritise chosen traffic. This is something that happens already, because services such as VoIP cannot function well without priority. But critics fear ISPs might start giving priority to content providers that are willing to pay them the most money. "The reform will guarantee that your internet service provider must clearly inform you in advance if they impose limitations on accessing certain sites," reads the Commission's statement. "This information will make it easier for you [end users] to decide whether you want to switch to another provider or not. National regulators will also have powers to intervene when the quality of service for transmission could be at risk."
2007-09-17 - ZDNet - BCS calls for UK net neutrality debate
Summary: The time has come for the UK to join the growing debate surrounding network neutrality, the president of the British Computer Society has told ZDNet.co.uk. Professor Nigel Shadbolt said on Friday that, because so much of the internet's content is derived from the US, the UK and Europe would be affected by any net neutrality-related decisions made across the Atlantic.
2008-09-07 - BBC News - US backing for two-tier internet
Summary: The US Justice Department has said that internet service providers should be allowed to charge for priority traffic. The agency said it was opposed to "network neutrality", the idea that all data on the net is treated equally. The comments put the agency at odds with companies such as Microsoft and Google, who have called for legislation to guarantee equal access to the net.
2008-09-07 - OUT-LAW - Net neutrality law is opposed by US Department of Justice
Summary: The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has said that net neutrality legislation is unnecessary and could harm innovation and investment in the internet. The DoJ has submitted its views to US communications regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
2008-08-13 - Salon - Is network neutrality a fake issue? Not if you want to watch the BBC
Author: Farhad Manjoo
Summary: As several British papers reported over the weekend, large ISPs have threatened to shut down people's access to the BBC's online videos -- unless, of course, the BBC pays the ISPs a fee.
2008-08-13 - Financial Times - ISPs warn BBC over new iPlayer service
Author: Maija Palmer
Summary: Leading UK internet service providers (ISPs) are warning they may have to restrict customers' access to the BBC's new iPlayer service unless the corporation contributes to the cost of streaming videos over the internet. ... Ms Turner said that unless they could agree a strategy with the BBC to share network costs, Tiscali would have to restrict users' access to the iPlayer.
2007-08-13 - ars technica - ISPs to BBC: We will throttle iPlayer unless you pay up
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: While the network neutrality debate can sometimes feel a bit theoretical in the US, it's a live issue in Europe, and this week it hit the pages of newspapers across the UK. What made news was a set of demands by UK ISPs, which banded together to tell the BBC that the ISPs would start to throttle the Corporation's new iPlayer service because it could overwhelm their networks. Unless the BBC pays up, of course. Tiscali appears to be leading the charge, ... The answer, from the ISP perspective, is to start throttling bandwidth used to download content to the iPlayer "catch-up" service. UK users will soon be able to download complete BBC shows for up to a week after they first air; other broadcasters like Channel 4 already offer similar services. Because the BBC's offering is expected to be so popular, ISPs are now concerned that iPlayer traffic will degrade the experience for all users of their networks. But traffic shaping could be avoided should the BBC agree to pay the ISPs cash to help cover the cost of upgrading their networks. Negotiations on the issue are continuing.
2008-08-12 - The Independent - Internet groups warn BBC over iPlayer plans
Author: Andrew Murray-Watson
Summary: Some of the largest broadband providers in the UK are threatening to "pull the plug" from the BBC's new iPlayer unless the corporation contributes to the cost of streaming its videos over the internet.
2007-06-27 - The Register - Spluttering UK net neutrality movement gets breath of life
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Efforts to get the net neutrality bandwagon rolling in the UK continue, with new predictions that ISPs are set to charge content providers for faster loading. ... Jupiter's report covers an alternative scenario: that ISPs may prioritise their own VoIP and TV services. In fact, BT's already moving this way in an attempt to differentiate itself. In summary: don't panic. Ofcom isn't.
2007-03-27 - ZDNet - Why you should care about net neutrality
Author: David Meyer
Summary: Despite being guaranteed to raise blood pressures in the US, the network neutrality debate has been slow to migrate across the Atlantic.
2007-03-02 - ZDNet - Berners-Lee promotes 'nondiscriminatory internet'
Author: Anne Broache
Summary: World wide web father Tim Berners-Lee told politicians on Thursday that it's critical to shield his seminal innovation from control by a single company or country.
2007-02-01 - ars technica - Does network neutrality mean an end to BitTorrent throttling?
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: Now that BitTorrent is all grown up and has been given the keys to its parents' car, ISPs are faced with the difficult decision about how to handle the protocol. Companies from around the world have been throttling the service, which can sometimes eat up three-quarters of a provider's total bandwidth. Throttling could be seen as a legitimate response to this bandwidth crunch if all BitTorrent content were illegal, but of course, it's not. So what's an ISP to do—especially if they have agreed to run a neutral network?
2007-01-18 - The Register - Father of internet warns against Net Neutrality
Author: Andrew Orlowski
Summary: Robert Kahn, the most senior figure in the development of the internet, has delivered a strong warning against "Net Neutrality" legislation.
2007-01-17 - isen.blog - Notes on Verizon Official Position on Net Neutrality
Author: David S. Isenberg
Summary: David Isenberg took running notes from a running-dog lecture by William Barr, Verizon's General Counsel, on Net Neutrality. Barr advances the proposition that anyone who wants to put a novel service on the Internet should have to pay Verizon for the privilege, and that Verizon should be able to veto which services are allowed to exist.
2007-01-15 - Wired - I Blew It on Microsoft
Author: Lawrence Lessig
Summary: In this debate, too, I am a reluctant regulator. And again, I don't see how it's possible to steer broadband providers away from a business model that – like Microsoft's – may benefit them but could stifle innovation. Every dominant commercial competitor has the same incentive: to build a business that extracts all potential value from the pipes that company owns.
2007-01-10 - ars technica - Bipartisan network neutrality bill introduced in Senate
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: A Republican and a Democrat have joined forces to reintroduce their 2006 network neutrality bill. Known as the Internet Freedom Preservation Act (S.215), the bill would require network operators to run their network in a "nondiscriminatory manner" — certain types of traffic or traffic from certain sources could not be hampered or prioritized, but operators would still be free to offer different tiers of service.
2007-01-10 - The Register - How AT&T chewed up, and spat out Net Neutrality
Author: Andrew Orlowski
2007-01-09 - Multichannel News - Dorgan, Snowe Introduce Net-Neutrality Bill
Author: Ted Hearn
Summary: Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced a bipartisan bill Tuesday that would ban cable operators, phone companies and other providers of broadband Internet access from engaging in discriminatory management of their networks to the commercial disadvantage of Web-based providers of content and applications. The Dorgan-Snowe bill resumes the so-called network-neutrality debate from last summer
2007-01-02 - ars technica - Network neutrality supporters target Congress
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: AT&T made a pragmatic decision to embrace network neutrality this past week. The goal was to grease the skids for the company's proposed merger with BellSouth, of course, but the move could have broad ramifications in the industry. Why? Because the AT&T agreement is the first of its kind, and it has given network neutrality supporters designs on a larger prize—industry-wide legislation.
2006-11-19 - lessig blog - something new in the Net Neutrality debate
Author: Lawrence Lessig
Summary: The effect of losing Net Neutrality on a critical and growing industry — online gaming (and not gambling).
2006-11-15 - Reuters - Japan sets up panel to study Net neutrality
Summary: The Japanese government on Wednesday set up a panel to discuss Internet network neutrality.
2006-11-04 - Boing Boing - Korean ISP commits neutricide
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: Korea -- famed as a kind of net.paradise where the DSL runs to 100 megabits and penetrates every home -- has pioneered a darker Internet phenomenon: a wholesale breach of net neutrality by a cable modem company owned by LG.
2006-11-02 - The Register - Ofcom stays in neutral on net neutrality
Author: Joe Fay
Summary: Ofcom has no intention of lording it over the net neutrality debate, the head of the regulator made clear yesterday.
2006-10-27 - Boing Boing - Big Cable's ridiculous Net Neutrality smear video
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: The neutricidal maniacs at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association have fielded this embarrassing anti-Net-Neutrality advertisement. Net Neutrality is the idea that your ISP should just send you the data you ask for, instead of charging each Internet service for "guaranteed delivery" to your computer.
2006-10-23 - Boing Boing - Former FCC Chairman shills against Net Neutrality
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: Larry Lessig has written a scorching response to former FCC Chairman William Kennard's NYTime op-ed slamming net neutrality. Kennard now shills for a bunch of the companies he used to regulate, the same companies that are pushing for the right of telcos to discriminate against network services that don't pay protection money for a guarantee that their packets will be delivered to the customers who ask for them.
2006-10-18 - Finacial Times - Congress must keep broadband competition alive
Author: Lawrence Lessig
Summary: The question of internet “network neutrality” has been bounced around by Washington policy makers for more than a year. Yet most still have no idea what it means. Google’s gobbling of YouTube should make this critically important policy issue quite clear. For the phenomenal success of YouTube is testimony to the extraordinary value of a neutral internet.
2006-10-11 - BBC - Warning over 'broken up' internet
Author: Darren Waters
Summary: The internet could one day be broken up into separate networks around the world, a leading light in the development of the net has warned.
2006-09-30 - Reuters - Internet freedom reigns in Amsterdam
Author: Lucas van Grinsven
Summary: ... Indeed, the debate over "net neutrality" is one of the biggest issues facing the Web today on both sides of the Atlantic, pitting big cable and phone companies against Internet powerhouses like Google Inc. At issue is whether broadband providers should be allowed to create "toll booths" that would charge Internet companies to move content along fast broadband lines, a move critics say would restrict the freedom of the Web.
2006-09-21 - Reuters - Senate telecom bill still short of votes: Stevens
Author: Jeremy Pelofsky
Summary: U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said on Thursday he was still unable to muster enough votes for his telecommunications bill, which could die if Republicans lose power in the November elections.
2006-09-18 - ars technica - Poll: Americans don't want net neutrality (or maybe they don't know what it is)
Author: Ken Fisher
Summary: A nationwide survey of 800 registered voters is being touted by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation because it purports to show that Americans are not interested in net neutrality legislation. Calling proposed net neutrality "onerous," the Committee's press materials say that the poll makes it clear that Americans prefer "video choice" over such regulations.
2006-09-04 - Los Angeles Times - Snowe Puts Brakes on Toll Lanes on Internet
Author: Jim Puzzanghera
Summary: Olympia J. Snowe is an unlikely Internet heroine. Bucking her own party leadership, she has championed the push by Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other Internet giants to prohibit phone and cable TV companies from charging websites for faster delivery of their data.
2006-09-01 - Web Pro News - Net Neutrality Wins More Senators
Author: Jason Lee Miller
Summary: The Net Neutrality movement is gaining support among U.S. senators. At the close of the August recess, the SaveTheInternet.com coalition added four previously uncommitted legislators to the cause.
2006-08-22 - CNet - FTC chief critiques Net neutrality
Author: Declan McCullagh
Summary: ASPEN, Colo.--The head of the Federal Trade Commission on Monday expressed sharp skepticism toward proposed laws that would levy extensive Net neutrality regulations on broadband providers. Deborah Platt Majoras, the FTC's Republican chairman, said extensive Net neutrality legislation currently pending in the U.S. Senate is unnecessary because there has been no demonstrated harm to consumers, that normal market forces would likely prevent any problems, and that new laws would cause more problems than they solve.
2006-08-12 - BoingBoing - Fake anti-Net Neutrality groups
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: CommonCause has released its second list of fake anti-Net-Neutrality activist groups created by big cable and phone companies.
2006-07-27 - Yahoo - Senator open to TV chat about Internet "tubes"
Author: Jeremy Pelofsky
Summary: Mocked by comedian Jon Stewart for calling the Internet a bunch of tubes, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said on Thursday he is open to going on Stewart's popular "Daily Show" for a rebuttal.
2006-07-26 - Reuters - Microsoft opposes Net neutrality plan on its proxy
Author: Jeremy Pelofsky
Summary: Microsoft Corp. wants to block an effort for a shareholder vote forcing the world's largest software maker to explain its support for Internet network neutrality, according to a company letter obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.
2006-07-21 - CIO - Net Neutrality Advocates Pressure Lawmakers
Author: Al Sacco
Summary: A group of organizations supporting a net neutrality law have cranked up a pressure campaign on the 11 Republican senators who voted against the net neutrality amendment, which sponsors wanted to add to the broadband bill.
2006-07-17 - The Register - How 'Saving The Net' may kill it
Author: Andrew Orlowski
Summary: The engineer's case against poorly worded Net Neutrality laws. Arguing against any ban on for-fee Quality of Service. He is good company as the main Net Neutrality lobbyists agree with him. Later on he goes on to state some facts I believe to be wrong.
2006-07-15 - ZDNet - Net neutrality is hard to sell -
Author: Phil Windley
Summary: The truth is that lots of factors contribute to how "fast" you see a Web site. The problem is that laypeople tend to conflate bandwidth and latency into a single concept they call "fast." ISP marketers haven't helped matters.
2006-07-12 - Times - Net neutrality: a tale of two Internets
Author: Bernhard Warner
Summary: Would you pay extra for a guaranteed instant e-mail service? What about faster downloads, clearer internet phone calls and uninterrupted web-streamed broadcasts? Or, do you believe such services should be covered by the £20 per month you pay your ISP as a type of "minimum services guarantee"?
2006-07-08 - Reuters - Verizon Warns Financial Sector on Internet Fight
Summary: The financial services industry is weighing whether to wade into a fight over legislation on broadband service, known as "Net neutrality." It fears that without safeguards on pricing for network access, the costs to financial institutions could rise. Verizon, the No. 2 U.S. telephone company, opposes legislation for Net neutrality and sent the memo to its consultants urging them to discuss with banking industry clients the arguments against possible legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
2006-07-04 - Reuters - Google says bill could spark anti-trust complaints
Summary: Google warned on Tuesday it will not hesitate to file anti-trust complaints in the United States if high-speed Internet providers abuse the market power they could receive from U.S. legislators. "If we are not successful in our arguments ... then we will simply have to wait until something bad happens and then we will make known our case to the Department of Justice's anti-trust division,"
2006-07-03 - Boingboing - Sen. Stevens' hilariously awful explanation of the Internet
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: "This man is so far away from having a coherent picture of the Internet's functionality, it's like hearing a caveman expound on the future of silver-birds-from-sky and why we need to keep them from flying so high they anger the gods."
2006-07-03 - The Inquirer - Senator downloads Internet
Author: Nick Farrell
Summary: A US senator who is one the ringleaders against 'net neutrality' provisions in recent US telecom laws shows a staggering lack of technical expertise.
2006-07-02 - Guardian - As TV tunes into the net, the equality principle drops out
Author: John Naughton
Summary: The telecoms firms and network providers who will provide this bandwidth have been very busy in the past two years lobbying US Congress to be allowed to charge differential fees for different levels of service to internet users. Thus, companies providing high-bandwidth video services, and users wishing to receive these services, would be charged more than suppliers and customers wanting other services. This idea runs directly counter to one of the basic axioms of the net, which is that every service should be treated equally. Oddly enough, the arguments in favour of this technological egalitarianism aren't idealistic, but severely practical. The fact that the net was 'neutral' to applications - that it didn't privilege one application over another - is the reason why it has generated such an explosion of commercial and intellectual creativity. The runaway growth of online services has been driven by the ability to deliver services to anyone.
2006-06-29 - BBC - Open net calls fall on deaf ears
Summary: Internet campaigners have failed in a bid to prevent plans for a so-called "two-tier" internet from going ahead. A US Senate committee has approved a bill which aims to let internet service providers provide some customers - and companies - with preferential services.
2006-06-26 - InternetWeek - Protecting Net Neutrality From The Neutricidal Telcos
Author: Cory Doctorow
Summary: How can we stop phone companies from committing "neutricide"--destruction of the neutrality of the Internet?
2006-06-20 - InfoWorld - Groups push alternate net neutrality proposals
Author: Grant Gross
Summary: Civil liberties advocacy group the Center for Democracy and Technology and New Yorkers for Fair Use, comprised of businesspeople and technology advocates, both released net neutrality proposals Tuesday, two days before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is set to debate the issue.
2006-06-13 - ars technica - Network neutrality interests Senators and Moonie-owned newspapers alike
Author: Nate Anderson
Summary: The debate over network neutrality has exploded beyond the boundaries of traditional geekdom in the last few months. It has played out in the halls of Congress and on the editorial pages of major American newspapers, the high level of interest signalling just how important Internet connections have become to people's lives. While both sides have important points to make about the inherent dangers of monopolies, the unintended consequences of government regulation, etc., the level of the debate isn't raised when people get their facts wrong.
Note: Also covered by slashdot. Senators, ISPs, and Network Neutrality
2006-06-08 - The Washington Post - No Tolls on The Internet
Author: Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney
Summary: Congress is about to cast a historic vote on the future of the Internet. It will decide whether the Internet remains a free and open technology fostering innovation, economic growth and democratic communication, or instead becomes the property of cable and phone companies that can put toll booths at every on-ramp and exit on the information superhighway.
2006-06-08 - ars technica - Net neutrality goes up for a vote in Congress
Author: Eric Bangeman
Summary: There are two proposals on the table. The first modifys US antitrust law to ensure network neutrality. The second proposal would allow ISPs to do some traffic prioritization, but it would have to be offered for all services.
2006-05-30 - Newsnight - BitTorrent: Shedding no tiers
Author: Adam Livingstone
Summary: Newsnight's ubergeek talks to BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen and finds him distinctly equivocal about fears of a two speed internet. Also covered in the Newsnight podcast.
2006-05-28 - New York Times - Why the Democratic Ethic of the World Wide Web May Be About to End
Author: Adam Cohen
Summary: "Freedom of the press, as the saying goes, belongs only to those who own one. Radio and television are controlled by those rich enough to buy a broadcast license. But anyone with an Internet-connected computer can reach out to a potential audience of billions." "The companies fighting net neutrality have been waging a misleading campaign, with the slogan 'hands off the Internet', that tries to look like a grass-roots effort to protect the Internet in its current form. What they actually favour is stopping the government from protecting the Internet, so they can get their own hands on it." "One group, Savetheinternet.com, says it has collected more than 700,000 signatures on a petition. Last week, a bipartisan bill favouring net neutrality, sponsored by James Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, won a surprisingly lopsided vote in the House Judiciary Committee."
2006-05-25 - CNN - Coming soon: The Web toll
Author: Tim Folger
Summary: Welcome to the brave new Web, brought to you by Verizon, Bell South, AT&T and the other telecommunications giants (including PopSci and CNN.com's parent company, Time Warner) that are now lobbying Congress to block laws that would prevent a two-tiered Internet, with a fast lane for Web sites able to afford it and a slow lane for everyone else.
Note: Also linked to by Slashdot. The Cost of a Tiered Internet
2006-05-24 - Wall St. Journal - Should the Net Be Neutral?
Summary: Craig Newmark of Craig's List, for net neutrality, and Mike McCurry, taking the telecoms' position, debate the issue.
2006-05-23 - BBC - Web inventor warns of 'dark' net
Author: Jonathan Fildes
Summary: The web should remain neutral and resist attempts to fragment it into different services, web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said.
Note: Tim Berners-Lee's blog post on Neutrality of the Net and then later his talk at WWW2006. Also covered by ZDNet UK Berners-Lee calls for Net neutrality, ZDNet UK Berners-Lee looks for Web's big leap, Silicon.com Father of the web backs net neutrality, WebProNews The Inventor Of The Internet Weighs In, Security Pronews Web Inventor Slams Telecoms, Indiatimes Inventor spins Web, says world will be even smaller, CIO News Alerts Berners-Lee: Neutrality Preserves Net Openness (Al Sacco)
2006-05-02 - The New York Times - Keeping a Democratic Web
Summary: Net neutrality is a concept that is still unfamiliar to most Americans, but it keeps the Internet democratic. ... One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.
2006-05-01 - Slate - Why You Should Care About Network Neutrality
Author: Tim Wu
Summary: The Internet is largely meritocratic in its design. If people like instapundit.com better than cnn.com, that's where they'll go. If they like the search engine A9 better than Google, they vote with their clicks. Is it a problem, then, if the gatekeepers of the Internet (in most places, a duopoly of the local phone and cable companies) discriminate between favoured and disfavoured uses of the Internet? To take a strong example, would it be a problem if AT&T makes it slower and harder to reach Gmail and quicker and easier to reach Yahoo! mail?
2006-04-25 - CNET News.com - Democrats pledge fight over Net neutrality
Author: Anne Broache and Declan McCullagh
Summary: WASHINGTON--Partisan wrangling over Net neutrality heated up on Tuesday, with Democrats pledging a fight over a broadband bill they say will mean extra fees and content restrictions on the Internet.
2005-12-22 - BBC - Towards a two-tier internet
Author: Michael Geist (holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.)
Summary: The egalitarian nature of the internet is under threat. In recent months ISPs have begun to chip away at the principle, shifting toward a two-tiered internet that would enable them to prioritise their own network traffic over that of their competitors.


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