September 10, 2007 |
The topic of Net neutrality was recently looked into by the US Justice Department, after the battle in the states over pros and cons reached noise levels warranting its comment on the matter. Unfortunately, the promoters of an equal-for-all Internet landscape for content owners, content distributors, and content consumers alike have seen Washington’s legal department play its hand opposite their own. While the decision is hardly set in stone (again, it was only a "comment"), it surely comes as a significant hit to those that wish to keep things “equal” and ensure that they don’t pay more for the things they produce and enjoy than they should.
Among those fighting to maintain Net neutrality are, naturally, big Internet businesses like Google and Microsoft, small- and medium-sized companies that record high traffic numbers and use great amounts of bandwidth, and, well, just about every fair-minded consumer of Web-based digital content alive today. The Net neutrality naysayers – in other words, the ones that would very much like to have a two-tier system put in place – are ISPs.
Hmm, looks like Verizon, AT&T and the rest are hard at work lobbying D.C. for some good ol’ telco-friendly legislation, eh? Something tells me they won’t have such an easy time getting such an asinine idea writ into law, no matter how slyly they try to do so.
Why? It’s pretty simple, really. Because the Net neutrality folk have Google and Microsoft on their side. (I do understand that other notable companies do also share the same such neutral-minded ideals, but for the sake of keeping things simple, both Redmond and Big G will represent the base here in this piece.)
Now, I know, Google and Microsoft can’t do everything. But considering the companies’ respective sizes and the amount of cash each has on hand to make their various points heard by Washington, I find it hard to believe the ISPs will simply get their way.
As cozy as the temples of big telecom in America are with those in the US Capitol, they now have to contend with forces as large as or even greater than themselves. And even if it were possible to spend more than Google and Microsoft to get votes (it’s no doubt disturbing that that is the way of Washington, but if it’s for a good cause, I guess I can shelve my deep detestation for K Street temporarily in this particular instance and root for the tech world’s wealthiest giants), the word that the existence of a neutral Internet was coming to an end would spread like wildfire, leading to congressmens’ and congresswomens’ offices being inundated with calls, emails, and letters demanding that they practice elementary sense and throw out any bills that so much as hint at a two-tiered “solution”.
I have every reason to believe neutrality will remain a principal element of the Internet in the US. Whether it takes the power of Google or Microsoft or the power of the people to ensure the playing field remains as level as is possible, it’ll stay as it is today. Open and universally accessible is the way things are now, and the way they will continue to be in many years to come.