For a good amount of time now, Net Neutrality has been on the topic of the US Government. While most popularized be the gibberish speech by Ted Stevens, the problem has been a very serious matter. As a brief recap, the issue at hand is ISP's slowing down or blocking entirely certain content that they don't want or may be competing against them, while giving preference to other content that they want. Something very much against the grain of the function and foundation of the internet, which has always provided all information to anyone who has wanted to look for it.
Finally, the issue is coming to a close, on the side of Net Neutrality, at least as far as the US is concerned. With an announcement today by the Federal Communications Commission, they are adopting new rules for dealings with the internet. These two particular additions, on top of a set of four already in place, are explained as follows: "The fifth principle is one of non-discrimination -- stating that broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications" and "The sixth principle is a transparency principle -- stating that providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices."
The reason we have needed these in place as actual rules have been because of 21st century companies attempting to shape the internet otherwise. Comcast, for one example that was being directly addressed by the FCC, was secretly using packet filtering and slowing techniques to disfavor BitTorrent traffic on their network. Setting piracy aside, BitTorrent is one of the primary distribution methods today for Linux, and is used in numerous other applications by various other companies, including Amazon in their S3 service, and Activision Blizzard for the content delivery for the mega-popular World of Warcraft.
That's just the most plain example. It's also a tactic known to be used by cellular telecom companies, with AT&T filtering and slowing certain traffic for the iPhone, and other cell companies using it for various other phones. At the end of the day, what matters most is these were just the things being tried now, if these rules had not been set, they would only be pushed further and further by internet service providers, to become who knows what in the future.
So I say this, to Chairman Genachowski and the FCC. From the internet, from a user, and from a developer, I thank you. Thank you for allowing a path for us to continue to enjoy and grow the internet in the future, the way we want to see it.
Date posted: 21 September, 2009 Tags: internet
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