Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Also sprach Zarathustra

Via Kevin Hayden at The American Street comes the distressing but unsurprising news that the FTC
has decided to abandon net neutrality and allow telecoms companies to charge websites for access.

The FTC said in a report that, despite popular support for net neutrality, it was minded to let the market sort out the issue.
What this means, in essence, is that the telcoms can charge different information providers different amounts for access. The usual scenario is that the companies establish multi-tier services, where those who pay the premium prices will get the best and fastest access. Or, to bring it to the user level, websites of big, rich corporations will come up fast and easy, while those of smaller and not-so-rich outfits (which could easily include nonprofits and political groups) will be slower and less reliable - thus giving the already-powerful an added advantage and giving telcoms, in effect, the ability line their pockets by playing favorites, promoting some and stomping others.

Because, of course The Market, praise be its name, rules over us all, its holy beneficence and infinite wisdom to be worshipped and adored. For lo! It must not be questioned:
The report also counsels against net neutrality legislation.

"This report recommends that policy makers proceed with caution in the evolving dynamic industry of broadband internet access, which is generally moving towards more, not less, competition," FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras wrote.
Of course, such competition exists only because of net neutrality, which was specficially intended to promote and protect the existence of a wide range of voices - i.e., competition - on the Internet. Which means that, according to the FTC, net neutrality is unnecessary preceisely because, uh, well, because it works. Which is like saying that, for example, food safety laws are unnecessary because they help keep unsafe foods off the market.

Away, unbeliever! My ears are closed to you!

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