Tuesday, April 15, 2008

GTFO My Internet

A friend reminded me of something I've been intending to post about for a while.

Net Neutrality: A Tale of Two Internets

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"?

Welcome to the net neutrality debate, a squabble that could forever change our leisurely surfing habits. The idea is that with so much junk shovelled onto the internet every day, there should be a clutter-free VIP pipe that ensures faster downloads and clearer voice over IP calls. The concept has its appeals - for those who can afford it. And if America's phone companies have their way, it could be written into telecoms reforms there to establish essentially two internets - a premium network for the well-off, fabulous and beautiful - and the ordinary net for the rest of us who will presumably have to queue up to access our e-mail and Google.

Virgin Media CEO Says Net Neutrality is “A Load of Bollocks”

Net neutrality really is the hot topic at the moment. Ignited by the Comcast fiasco, the concept of net neutrality has certainly been brought into the mainstream. Most ISPs are never quite forthcoming about their throttling, capping and otherwise interfering behavior, but that crowd certainly doesn’t include the CEO of Virgin Media, the UK’s second largest ISP.

In an interview with the Royal Television Society’s Television magazine, far from covering up their intentions, Virgin Media’s new incoming CEO Neil Berkett - who joined the Virgin Media Board just a few days ago - has launched an attack on the ideas and principles behind net neutrality.

“This net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks,” he said, adding that Virgin is already in the process of doing deals to speed up the traffic of certain media providers.

There are groups out there that are claiming giving ISPs the right to regulate which sites their customers can view is a GOOD thing. Does that make any damned sense to you? It shouldn't. Because it doesn't. All it does is disenfranchise bloggers, filesharers, and basically anybody who can't afford to simultaneously pay for webspace AND bribe all the ISPs to ensure their content is let through at an equal rate.

I know that most of the people reading this aren't used to the idea that they can do anything politically, but if not you... then who? There is ONLY you. However, this isn't the first time this has happened. Internet users have stopped it before, and we have to do it again. If this kind of crap is allowed a toehold, every provider will start doing it, and the internet as we know it (a place where everyone can share information as equals) will be destroyed. But they can be stopped.

Savetheinternet.com has plenty of information. This is from 4 Things You Need to Know on their site.

1. An Open Internet Is Vital to America.
High-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury; it’s a lifeline for every American. The Internet has fueled economic growth and engaged millions in our democracy. No other tool in history has held such promise. When we block citizens from getting online or accessing the content or applications of their choice, we undermine the Internet’s vital democratic potential. We must make sure that every American can benefit from access to a fast, open and affordable Internet. We all should be free to connect to others without censorship or discrimination.

2. Consumers Don’t Have Real Broadband Choice.
The cable and phone duopoly now controls more than 95 percent of the residential broadband market in America. Moreover, a significant portion of the country has only one broadband provider to choose from — or none at all. As a result, America has fallen behind other developed nations in high-speed Internet services. A recent survey by the International Telecommunications Union shows the United States slipping to 16th in the world in broadband penetration (down from fourth in 2001). American consumers now pay far more for slower speeds than consumers in Japan, France, Denmark, South Korea and other countries. Americans must no longer be held captive by a lack of choice.

3. Phone and Cable Companies Plan to Block, Degrade and Filter Web Content.
The top executives of nearly every major telecom company have stated that they intend to start manipu-lating content on the Internet. Some are already carrying out these plans: In 2007, Comcast blocked competing content-sharing applications; Verizon blocked text messages sent by NARAL Pro-Choice America to its own members; and AT&T launched plans to filter all Web traffic for possible copyright infringements. For years, Net Neutrality prevented network operators from interfering with and discriminating against Web traffic in this way. But a 2005 FCC decision — pushed by industry lobbyists — stripped away this protection. Now it’s up to citizens to confront this rising threat and safeguard a free-flowing Internet.

4. You Can Make a Difference.
In 2006, more than 1.5 million Americans urged Congress to take a stand against Internet gatekeepers, stopping legislation that would have gutted Net Neutrality protections. Now, Reps. Ed Markey and Chip Pickering have introduced the bipartisan “Internet Freedom Preservation Act” (HR 5353), a major step toward a forward-thinking communications policy. It ensures that Net Neutrality protections apply to new broadband services. It guarantees that economic innovation and free speech will continue to flourish on the Internet by stopping would-be gatekeepers from discriminatory blocking or interfering. It also calls for a nationwide series of public hearings. By taking the debate beyond the Beltway, we have a rare opportunity to make certain that phone and cable lobbyists no longer set the agenda. Support this important bill by visiting SavetheInternet.com.

For those of you who live in America, here is a letter to send to your members of Congress. All you have to do is fill in your information and Savetheinternet.com will send it for you. I strongly suggest you sign it.

For those of you in Europe, your first task is easy: stop giving Virgin money. Luckily the EU is in favor of Net Neutrality, so let's hope that America doesn't set a precedent that gives assholes like Berkett the room to give you inferior service.

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