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Net Neutrality Ignorance

The Net Neutrality campaign (a.k.a. Save the Internet) to keep the Internet tollgate-free and/or tier-free continues to gain momentum. What's troubling, however, is Om Malik's contention that many start-ups and Silicon Valley companies and fairly of the issue and why it matters. One of the Silicon Valley's weaknesses is a lack of political savviness. Sure, many companies and executives donate money to politicians and political parties but there does not seem to be a well-organized and effective lobbying team that can be turned on in Washington when needed. Peter Chester suggests a reason for the lack of activity among the bigger players such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft is they have relationship with carriers and cablecos that they don't want to damage. As a result, the Net Neutrality "battle" is being won by AT&T and Bell South, which want to slap new fees on content and service providers to cover the costs of building and maintaining their high-speed networks. Net neutrality opponents such as Dave Weinberger argue this fee structure will kill innovation, creativity, free speech and open markets.
   In Canada, the Net Neutrality issue is sitting in limbo as the regulator and the broadband service providers wait to see how things evolve in the U.S. – a typically cautious Canadian approach to anything contentious. There are growing indications, however, carriers such as Telus and Bell and cablecos such as Rogers would love to install downstream tollgates or packet prioritization fees.
  While there are compelling arguments on both sides of the Net Neutrality issue, people should be aware it will have a dramatic impact on how the Web evolves. If bigger service and content providers have an economic advantage in the New Web, it could mean that smaller, more innovative companies will be creatively neutered. What happens when a hot Web 2.0 start-up (e.g. MySpace.com) comes out of nowhere only to discover its success is problematic because of the tollgate fees involved. Before everyone jumps on the tollgate bandwagon, these are issues that need to be thought through.
Update: The Save the Internet coalition is holding a press conference today at 1 p.m. that will include news that Vinton Cerf is coming on board. It is somewhat amusing to read Save the Internet's over-the-top contention that "Without Net Neutrality, issue organizations would essentially have to pay protection money to dominant Internet providers or risk that their Web sites were not as fully functional as corporate sites".
Update II: Public Knowledge has a short video explaining the pro-side of the Net Neutrality debate. (hat tip to IP Democracy)
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