Today's NY Times has an editorial about "Net Neutrality." The editorial gives a nice overview of the problem at hand.
Here's a quick overview, in case you haven't heard about this.
The big telcos and cable companies, not satisfied with conspiring with the government to violate Americans' Fourth Amendment rights, not to mention overcharging yours truly by a factor of 20 for long distance calling, now want to wreck the Internet.
Right now, they are waging a lobbying effort and PR campaign to get permission to make the Internet into a price-tiered system. This would mean, immediately, that it could cost more for you to visit one site than another. You wouldn't have to pay directly, but the host of the unfavored site would. Eventually, cash-poor sites would likely disappear, or at best, would be served up so slowly that no one would visit them.
It's easy to see where this could lead next: the Web would become like FM radio -- a bland and homogenized super-sized serving of pap. Even worse, sites whose content is not favorable to whoever controls the pipes could be out-and-out blocked.
This is a serious enough problem that a new record for strangeness has been achieved in the arena of political bedfellows: the Christian Coalition and MoveOn.org are together on this one.
As Arianna Huffington has wittily noted, the idea that the Web should be kept equally accessible for all who wish to serve up content is a great idea. Unfortunately, it suffers from its MEGO-inducing name: Net Neutrality.
The editorial mentioned at the top of this post contains one chilling fact that I had not known about. It appears that the big telcos and cable companies have branded their nefarious efforts "Hands off the Internet." As with "Healthy Forests," "Clear Skies," and "The PATRIOT Act," the surface appearance is likely to fool many.
So, just a reminder: we want "Net Neutrality," even if it doesn't sound as good. The telco/cable slogan means, "Congress, keep your hands off us, so we can make even more money by screwing up the last bastion of democracy."
The first place to find out more is at SaveTheInternet.com. Click the bumper sticker below.
Vint Cerf's letter to Congress is posted on the Google blog.
Eli Pariser catalogs and debunks some of the rumors that the Internet wreckers are trying to spread.