Thursday, May 25, 2006
The bipartisan bill would guarantee our right to "net neutrality" -- the principle that Internet users should be able to access any web content they choose and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service provider. "Net neutrality" may sound obscure and wonky. But it is crucial if the Internet is to remain a forum for us to talk to one another, to access web sites for information, to read, write and comment on blogs, to engage in political forums, or to donate money and learn about political candidates. There is a real risk that telephone and cable companies, which provide access to the Internet for 95 percent of U.S. consumers who go online, will use their market power to transform the Internet into largely a vehicle for selling us things - entertainment, games and goods. And even then, only those goods and commodities from which they can extract the most profit will be most accessible. . . . The nonprofit and noncommercial sector could be distinguished from the for-profit sector of the online community in terms of services offered, and would suffer because they cannot compete in an environment where they have to pay for better service.