Net Neutrality Debate Heats Up

March 07, 2008 12:43 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A congressional bill to prevent telecom companies controlling the content of the Internet follows a recent FCC hearing into Comcast's activities.


Representatives Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Chip Pickering, R-Miss. introduced a congressional bill called the Internet Preservation Freedom Act of 2008 on Feb.12.

The legislation is for Net neutrality, or “the idea that network providers shouldn't discriminate against Web sites or various types of traffic,” as PC World puts it.

The bill follows the Nov. 25 Federal Communications Commission hearing, held at Harvard Law School, which examined complaints that Comcast barred the use of the BitTorrent file-sharing program.

The FCC has not yet made any decisions on the matter, but FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has sought more hearings.

The debate regarding Net neutrality has pit the telecommunications and cable companies, like AT&T and Comcast, against content providers like Google and Amazon, as well as various nonprofits.

Content providers worry that without Net neutrality, telecom and cable companies, which provide the bandwidth for the content providers, are free to “punish companies that won't pay up” by slowing or halting connections to their sites, HowStuffWorks explains. The Comcast-BitTorrent case exemplifies that conflict.

The other argument in favor of Net neutrality is that telecom and cable companies have the ability to control the content of the Internet, curtailing the very freedom that the Web has come to represent.

Opponents of Net neutrality claim that government regulation would thwart competition and impede the technological advances that thrive in a free marketplace. The Comcast case, they argue, is an exception in a system that has been quite successful since the inception of the Internet.    

Headline Link: Comcast hearing fuels debate

Reference: What is Net neutrality?

The 2006 Net neutrality bill

Opinions & Analysis: The arguments

‘Beyond Net neutrality’

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