Congress is expected to vote this week on the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006,” which, in all its Orwellian glory, is written to allow internet companies to compartmentalize the web, restricting access to domains that can’t or won’t pay a fee to be able to load at full speed. It undermines the concept of net neutrality, whereby internet users have equal access to any and every website, be it a corporate media node or a personal blog.
My fear is that, as written, this bill would do great damage to the Internet as we know it. Enshrining a rule that broadly permits network operators to discriminate in favor of certain kinds of services and to potentially interfere with others would place broadband operators in control of online activity. Allowing broadband providers to segment their IP offerings and reserve huge amounts of bandwidth for their own services will not give consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need. Many people will have little or no choice among broadband operators for the foreseeable future, implying that such operators will have the power to exercise a great deal of control over any applications placed on the network.
So why is this on Gristmill? Because your access to “leafy green commentary” and “gloom and doom with a sense of humor” could very well be at stake, my friends.