Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The World Isn't Run By Weapons Anymore, Or Energy, Or Money. It's Run By Little Ones And Zeroes, Little Bits Of Data. It's All Just Electrons

(Alternate subject line: "Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food. Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it'll be beautiful.")

Net neutrality means, basically, keeping the Internet as it is now. As opposed to the big telcos, who are trying to ramrod through legislation that will allow them to create a second tier of privileged content, or block content at their discretion. As the NY Times puts it today:
One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access, and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.

That would be a financial windfall for Internet service providers, but a disaster for users, who could find their Web browsing influenced by whichever sites paid their service provider the most money. There is a growing movement of Internet users who are pushing for legislation to make this kind of discrimination impossible. It has attracted supporters ranging from to the Gun Owners of America. Grass-roots political groups like these are rightly concerned that their online speech could be curtailed if Internet service providers were allowed to pick and choose among Web sites.
Find out more and sign the petition.

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