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March 2, 2006

Legislation Introduced to Enforce Net Neutrality

Congress has been busy with technological issues lately.  TMCNet is reporting on a bill introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore) that would guarantee net neutrality.  This is in response to growing pressure from telecommunications companies complaining that companies such as Google and Amazon, among others, are getting a free ride on their networks.  In reality, the telcos are looking to add new revenue streams by offering high bandwidth content and they would like to favor themselves in delivery to their subscribers. 

Senator Wyden takes the position that net neutrality is what made the web successful, in that small mom and pop businesses have the same access to the web as the do Wal-Marts.  Telcos have responded that there have been no egregious abuses of web traffic management, and in the few limited situations where it has occurred, the FCC has stepped in.  Of course, there hasn't been any need to manage traffic when the telcos were not competing with content providers.

The bill would prohibit network operators from interfering with, blocking, degrading, altering, modifying or changing traffic on the Internet.  This effectively precludes the two-tiers approach.  The bill also establishes an appeal process to the FCC who would rule on complaints related to violation of the law (if passed).  It also lets consumers connect any device to the Internet, provided it isn't harmful.  This effectively keeps the Internet consumer hardware from being regulated by the carriers.  The bill is likely to be opposed by the Telecom industry, but supported by consumer advocacy groups and the electronics industry.  Form your PACs and get your lobbying dollars out.

Update:  More materials on Sen. Wyden's Net Neutrality Bill are at ZDNet, and include a summary and links to text from the bill.

March 2, 2006 | Permalink


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