Keep The Net Neutral

Internet inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee is both a worried and happy man. Happy because he just joined a very elite group of people following his award of the Order of Merit, one of Britain’s most prestigious honours. The award is important because it’s Queen Elizabeth’s personal gift, which means that no government ministers or politicians are involved in deciding the recipients. So, there’s no manipulative politicking with this honour, which has previously been bestowed on luminaries like Florence Nightingale, Sir Winston Churchill, Graham Greene, Mother Teresa, and Baroness Thatcher. So what’s making Sir Tim unhappy? His concern is over potential Web developments that could erode the original concept of the Internet. His worry focuses on ideas that are developing in the U.S., whereby charges would be made to create different levels of access to the Web. In my view, to implement this two-tier Web system would totally destroy the information freedom, regardless of monetary interests, that makes the Internet such a world-enhancing system. Fortunately, Sir Tim is director of the World Wide Web Consortium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. He can bring considerable pressure to bear on those organisations that would like to chop up the Web for their own financial gain. So, who are the bad guys in this brewing storm? It’s the U.S. telecom companies who would like to see a two-tier system. Here, data from companies prepared to pay are given priority over those that either can’t or won’t pay. Such a commercially driven Internet system would, of course, obliterate the neutrality of the Web, and eventually make the broadband providers the key holding controllers of the system. This is totally unacceptable. So who are the corporate good guys in all this? Well two real heavyweights that agree with Sir Tim are Microsoft and Google. These major players have called for legislation to guarantee Net neutrality. In fact, the initial moves to implement such law were taken recently in the U.S., when government members of the House of Representatives introduced a Net neutrality bill. Thankfully, it looks like the Internet will remain whole. The system that Sir Tim invented in Switzerland back in 1991 will ultimately not be carved up by corporate bean counters motivated by their perpetual temptation called avarice.

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