A couple of weeks ago a colleague of mine, Jeff Kuhns, was in Washington D.C. testifying to the U.S. Senate on the topic of Internet Neutrality. His message was strong, clear, and to was aimed at helping people understand why it is important for Higher Education to play on fair ground. I get the opportunity to listen to Jeff discuss this kind of thing on a regular basis and have formed a relatively informed opinion on the topic due to his conversations, those of others in Higher Education, and now from Tim Berners-Lee. Not sure if you recall what Sir Tim did, but it was fairly significant. At any rate, I thought I would share a link to his thoughts on the subject … it is an important, if not a critical issue for us all. His opening salvo pretty much paints the picture from his post … “When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried that that is going end in the USA.”

So we are all on the same page here, he defines Net Neutrality as:

If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.

I like the Internet. A lot.

4 Thoughts on “Staying Nuetral”

  • There really are two sides to this debate. For one, I feel that to some degree Congress is chasing boogeymen with these laws they’re trying to pass to change the way the internet is regulated. Even Google’s own VP, Vint Cerf, chief evangelist, admits that we may all be getting upset over nothing: “If the legislators … insist on neutrality, we will be happy. If they do not put it in, we will be less happy but then we will have to wait and see whether or not there actually is any abuse…”

    Bottom line is that putting something like this in the hands of the government really is asking for problems. The government is notoriously slow to react, and the internet is notoriously quick to change. Makes for a dangerous combination, particularly when, as Mr. Cerf points out, we have no reason as of yet to be concerned. The free market has done a great job of managing the internet historically, and there’s no indication that this will change anytime soon. Just last week we had news that internet giants AOL are considering a total overhaul of their service to offer free, ad-based service rather than their current pay structure. This is just one example of how the consumer drives the industry currently–putting it all in the hands of Washington could jeopardize this harmony.

  • Hands Off:

    I seriously doubt whether there is enough competition in the isp space for the free market to preserve net neutrality.

    Berners-Lee address the regulation question:

    “Yes, regulation to keep the Internet open is regulation. And mostly, the Internet thrives on lack of regulation. But some basic values have to be preserved. For example, the market system depends on the rule that you can’t photocopy money. Democracy depends on freedom of speech. Freedom of connection, with any application, to any party, is the fundamental social basis of the Internet, and, now, the society based on it. “

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