Thursday, September 14, 2006
Broadband Pros & Cons
Defining the Internet for the 21st Century
From StreamingMedia.com, February 14, 2006
By Geoff Daily
The Internet is at a legislative crossroads. The last major telecom legislation passed by the U.S. Congress was the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Its stated goal was to let communications businesses compete in any market against each other.
Since that time, though, the explosive growth and paradigm-shifting nature of the Internet have fundamentally altered the communications landscape. Today, the lines between cable operators and telephone companies are blurring, and a host of Internet-based communications services are quickly gaining mainstream adoption.
As a result, Congress has begun discussions on what will likely generate a complete overhaul of laws that concern communications services. This debate will have a profound effect on the future of the Internet as it will create the environment in which network operators and online service providers will coexist for the foreseeable future.
Finally, a two-tiered Internet has the potential to expand network operators’ role as a gatekeeper in such a way that could harm the foundation on which the Internet was built. “The tiering system destroys the DNA of the Internet, the open architecture that allows everyone to speak equally,” says Scott. “It’s essentially the cable-ization of the Internet. A two-tiered Internet will behave just like cable TV does today where the cable TV provider controls exactly what content is available on their network. You as a consumer don’t have a voice in that and neither do independent programmers.”
The great telecom debate has already begun to pick up steam. A series of draft bills have been circulating for some months now and companies on both sides of the two-tiered coin are making their views known publicly. For BellSouth, the goal is to dissuade the federal government from stepping in and legislating specific provisions regarding network neutrality. “The Internet has developed to where it is today with a very light hand of regulation,” says Morton. “We want to make sure that we continue from a government perspective to have a hands-off approach to the Internet.”
Opponents of the two-tiered Internet, on the other hand, want clear guarantees that the principles of Internet neutrality will be upheld and enshrined in law to ensure that online service providers continue to have open, unfettered access over the public Internet into consumers’ homes. “The real danger of the quiet elimination of common carrier regulations is that it puts you in a regulatory structure where it’s a slippery slope to an environment of complete unaccountability for a monopoly or duopoly,” says Scott. “We tried that once in the late 19th century with the railroad and it didn’t work out. We got robber barons instead
Web of Deceit: How Internet Freedom Got the Federal Ax, And Why Corporate News Censored the Story
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D.
The days are now numbered for surfing an uncensored, open-access Internet, using your favorite search engine to search a bottomless cyber-sea of information in the grandest democratic forum ever conceived by humankind. Instead you can look forward to Googling about on a walled-off, carefully selected corpus of government propaganda and sanitized information "safe" for public consumption. Indoctrinated and sealed off from the outer world, you will inhabit a matrix where every ounce of creative, independent thinking that challenges government policies and values will be squelched. Just a wild conspiracy theory, you say? No longer can this be rationally maintained.