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Congress tries again to keep the Internet a fair playing field; telcos oppose

The topic of Internet neutrality continues to boil in Congress this week as congressional members debate over a new bill called the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. The new bill is a refined version of last year's mostly failed petition that did not gain majority house support due to Verizon and AT&T lobbying the stance that net neutrality is a non-issue. Content providers like Google feel differently, saying that a law must be passed to prevent network access providers from charging for prioritized network speeds and access. In fact, Google has taken its stance very strongly, previously announcing that it would take any network provider to court for anti-net-neutrality practices.

The new Internet Freedom Preservation Act proposes the same laws that many members of Congress feel American consumers want: no prioritized access to specific content providers and that all content providers should be treated equally. The new bill takes a step further and requires that network access providers allow purchasing of network services without requiring the purchase of other services.

Despite its incarnation as a new bill, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act faces the same challenges as its predecessors. Network service providers have begun lobbying against the act, claiming that Congress is wasting time fighting a problem that does not exist. Verizon for example, determined through a corporate funded survey that most Americans do not even know what net-neutrality is, nor are they concerned with it. Most people indicated on Verizon's survey that they were more interested in getting better programming for TV.

In an interview, Senator Bryon L. Dorgan said that he supports net-neutrality to the fullest and believes that without such a law, consumers would be hurt. "The success of the Internet has been its openness and the ability of anyone anywhere in this country to go on the Internet and reach the world. If the big interests who control the pipes become gatekeepers who erect tolls, it will have a significant impact on the Internet as we know it," said Dorgan.

Most service providers disagreed with Dorgan's statement, indicating that without corporate ability to charge for different tiers of network access or speed, it would impede and discourage network upgrading. This in turn would harm consumers in the end.

Despite the ongoing battle, a non-partisan group called Free Press is working to increase public awareness of net-neutrality and is also trying to involve public influence in law and policy making in Congress. Ben Scott, policy director at Free Press, told press reporters that he fully supports the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. "The American public has an overwhelming interest in seeing this bill pass into law, ensuring that the online marketplace of ideas remains open and vibrant," said Scott.


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RE: The debate is on all over the world.......
By Christopher1 on 1/18/2007 6:37:02 AM , Rating: 2
The problem isn't that the market in Britain is overregulated. The problem is exactly the OPPOSITE, in that the United States and other countries are under-regulated.

Britain has the right idea: centralized health care (just like Canada), centralized transportation (buses, subways, etc.), and a bunch of other things.

The reason that Britain and other EU countries has problems is that everytime they get a good idea, they implement it too fast for the rest of the world to keep up, therefore they get socked when companies realize "Hmm...... I can go to the United States or another country, and I don't have to follow this STRICT laws on fair competition and other things..... I think I'll move here!"

The EU has to start mandating that newer ideas don't come into effect until 50% or more of the world mandates those policies, and start putting pressure on the United States and other countries to get them to fall in line and do what is best for the world.


By Christopher1 on 1/18/2007 6:38:06 AM , Rating: 2
What in the world? I pressed the button once, and it posted twice? Strange.


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