Thursday, April 27, 2006

The empires strike back

As an antithesis of my last post on Google’s attempt to equalize the flow of information through the internet, NPR reports on how internet service providers are musing over the idea of creating tiered access to the internet, effectively providing slower and faster lanes for webpages to get to one’s computer. Large companies that would be willing to shell out a premium expense would get a higher priority and quicker load times to their consumers. A non-audio version of this topic can be found on the New Yorker.

Some may argue that offering newer, better features is a part of capitalism. If a company makes a better car, they should have the right to charge a higher price, and I agree with that. But abolishing the current "network neutrality" just doesn’t seem to fit in the same category as luxury cars. The proposed system would most likely give large corporations more power and allow the ISPs to exert too much influence. Libraries don’t offer better library cards that let you get more access to books than regular library card holders.

The revolutionary aspect of the internet is that is an open field. Anyone with a computer and internet access can (in most cases outside of China) get the same information as anyone else in the world. But broadband companies want to change that because they want more money. They try to justify it through other reasons, but their lust for more is so apparent that there’s no way to hide it. If they weren’t making any money then I could see the rationale that they need to be compensated for laying the pipelines and maintaining the servers, but everyone pays for the service already, and at monthly intervals. They’re creating a need solely so that they can provide the solution, which is despicable.

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