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Should content providers pay more for access to the Internet’s “fast” lane?

Posted on the February 15th, 2008

No way! says U.S. Congressman Edward Markey. This week he proposed new legislation to bar exactly this from happening in the U.S., according to an AP story on the Wired website (“Bill Bars Web Traffic Discrimination” AP, Feb 13, 2008).

Markey is trying to head off a coalition of major telephone and cable companies, including AT&T and Qwest, who reportedly want to be able to charge whatever the market will bear, in effect, for Internet access.

From the AP article:

Markey, who introduced similar legislation in 2006, said the bill doesn’t regulate the Internet, only makes sure the rules of online engagement are fair. His spokeswoman said he wanted to defuse critics’ arguments that the bill amounts to regulation, which she called inaccurate.

“It does, however, suggest that the principles which have guided the Internet’s development and expansion are highly worthy of retention, and it seeks to enshrine such principles in the law as guide stars for U.S. broadband policy,” Markey said of The Internet Freedom Preservation Act.

The hot issue at the heart of Rep. Markey’s legislative fight is what is known as “Net Neutrality.” Its supporters have their own website, SAVETHEINTERNET.com. Members include Google, most prominently, plus hundreds of websites, small businesses, educators, and public interest groups such as the ACLU, Consumers Union, MoveOn.org, and Common Cause (see list here).

For anyone wanting to learn the basics of this battle, the website offers a Net Neutrality 101 page.

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