Monday, June 25, 2007

Network Neutrality

What is Network Neutrality?

Network Neutrality is a policy that aims to equalise the Internet, basically stating that network providers should treat all Web sites equally and serve them to users the best they can. The aim is to enable users to choose sites based on content rather than how fast they receive them from servers.

Who is fighting for it?

In his paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination, Columbia University Professor Tim Wu talks about the eerie idea that network operators could decide which sites open faster for you based on how much they pay the operators. There is also the “Save the Internet” Coalition that aims to unite the world in an effort to protect Network Neutrality.

Why are they fighting?

The US Congress seems all set to pass a law that will send Network Neutrality packing. Operators will then be able to sell their best services to the highest bidder— pay more, and your site will open faster. Web hosts will become like your local cablewallah— deciding what you should see based on what’s profitable.

How does it affect me?

Imagine a situation where your competitor pays a network provider like Sify to optimise performance for their site, and not for yours. Corporate sabotage will go through the roof, and you, the user, will suffer the worst. Your very freedom to surf whatever you want will be threatened: eventually you’ll end up patronising the sites your operator wants you to.

When did this madness start?

On June 8, 2006, the US House of Representatives passed the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006” (COPE)—an act that has no protection for Network Neutrality.

Where can I find more info?

To read Tim Wu’s paper, visit To find out more about the Save the Internet Coalition, visit

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