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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tim Berners-Lee On Network Neutrality

When, seventeen years ago, I designed the Web, I did not have to ask anyone's permission. [3]. The new application rolled out over the existing Internet without modifying it. I tried then, and many people still work very hard still, to make the Web technology, in turn, a universal, neutral, platform. It must not discriminate against particular hardware, software, underlying network, language, culture, disability, or against particular types of data.

Anyone can build a new application on the Web, without asking me, or Vint Cerf, or their ISP, or their cable company, or their operating system provider, or their government, or their hardware vendor.

It is of the utmost importance that, if I connect to the Internet, and you connect to the Internet, that we can then run any Internet application we want, without discrimination as to who we are or what we are doing. We pay for connection to the Net as though it were a cloud which magically delivers our packets. We may pay for a higher or a lower quality of service. We may pay for a service which has the characteristics of being good for video, or quality audio. But we each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me.
-- Neutrality of the Net

I'm a little bit of a Berners-Lee fanboy, I'll confess. I do, after all, basically owe the guy my livelihood. More than that, when I hear him talk about the Web or the Internet ... I remember why I got into it in the first. It's this geeky coolness of something really complicated and yet really simple that allows for so much versatility that you can never quite tell what it's going to do next. I remember showing my English prof Mapquest when it first launched and he kinda got that look that you expect people have might have had when we started launching things into space.

And it's also why net neutrality is a big deal to me ... because without it all of that could vanish. You'd have fiefdoms and portals and traffic stops in your way. I'm not sure anyone on this planet could have a better perspective on that than Berners-Lee. I suppose you could read Vint Cerf's opinion on the matter ... because sure he works for Google ... but he also has the distinction of having helped invent the Internet itself.

So take a bit of time today and tell Congress to protect one of the most valuable resources we have today.

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1 comment:

Brinstar said...

I signed a petition like this yesterday.

Unfortunately, I have the dishonour of working for an org that lobbies Congress on behalf of the big telecoms companies like the Bells and Verizon... Amongst other efforts that I disagree with. I'm trying to get out, but so far no bites. :-(