[Linux-aus] US puts internet democracy to a vote - from crikey.com website
ahornby at darlug.org
Mon Jun 26 12:32:03 UTC 2006
Apologies for cross-posting.
Thought this was interesting.
Interested in everyones comments.
US puts internet democracy to a vote - from crikey.com website
Margaret Simons writes:
This Tuesday, the United States Senate is expected to vote on the
principle of network neutrality, or what some call the democracy of the
Meanwhile the local head of Internet research company Hitwise, Sandra
Hanchard, has written a piece
(http://weblogs.hitwise.com/sandra-hanchard/) including figures on how
Australians actually use the internet. Her research makes it clear that
the US decision will have a profound impact on Australians. She also
sheds light on why it is content providers on the internet who are
advocating laws guaranteeing net neutrality, and telcos who oppose them.
Network neutrality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_neutrality) can
mean different things to different people, but in the current debate it
stands for the principle that telcos and ISPs should be prevented from
creating a tiered internet, in which those who pay are given more
efficient ways of reaching audiences. In other words, without network
neutrality the internet becomes a toll road with a priority privileged
lane for those who pay a higher fee.
Opponents of network neutrality argue that the ability to impose
variable charges for different levels of service is necessary if telcos
are to have the incentive to invest in the infrastructure necessary for
the Internet to develop. They compare it to the Postal Service, where
you pay for express service.
On the other side of the argument is a vast coalition that crosses
political boundaries, but has in common a passionate interest in
content, rather than the pipes that deliver content.
They would prefer to see the internet as being like a utility such as
electricity. You pay for what you use, whether you plug in a toaster, or
a television. It is none of the electricity company's business how you
use their product.
As Hanchard explains, big companies like Google will be very vulnerable
if network neutrality becomes a thing of the past. The giant content
providers of the Internet rely on all the little players for their
referral traffic, and their advertising revenue. If big players pay
more, the web of connections that makes the Internet what it is will
If a telco is able to privilege its own content, or the content of its
commercial partners, over the independent players then it is likely to
distort the market, quite possibly stifling the development of new
applications and content.
And Hanchard argues: "The large spread of visits across all websites and
low concentration of overall clickstream traffic may be.considered a
symptom of the rise and popularity of consumer generated media.
Businesses are still exploring the marketing applications of this, and
it could be a great shame if this was nipped in the bud by lack of
legislation to protect net neutrality."
With the first internet television services just around the corner, the
growth of podcasting and the wholesale shift of advertising dollars to
online media, it is hard to imagine a more important issue for those
concerned with media diversity in this country.
Mr Anthony Hornby
Associate Director, Resources and Technology
Library and Information Access
Charles Darwin University (CRICOS 300K)
Phone: +61 8 8946 6011
Email: anthony.hornby at cdu.edu.au.no-spam
(remove the .no-spam)
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