Ignorance and Internet Bliss

The biggest threat to the internet today is intelligence. This
is not to say that telecommunication companies are stupid. In fact,
they might not be stupid enough. Companies like AOL and AT&T
are trying to create an intelligent network that discriminates
between different types of information and customers. Internet
gurus such as Vinton Cerf, who helped develop the internet as the
co-designer of the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet
Protocol), believes that

these efforts put the internet at serious risk
. The only way to
preserve the web as a catalyst for innovation is to create a
network that doesn’t discriminate. In other words, a stupid
network.

‘Net neutrality,’ according to

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!
, ‘is the concept that
everyone, everywhere, should have free, universal, and
non-discriminatory access to all the internet has to offer.’ In
some ways, that is what we have right now. The internet is a way of
sending bits of information from one computer to another. Under the
principals of net neutrality, it doesn’t matter how important these
bits are, all information is going to be sent at the same speed.
David Isenberg, author of the prophetic 1997 paper
The Rise of the Stupid
Network
,’ calls this a ‘Stupid Network’ because the network
doesn’t know what the information is or who is sending it.

An intelligent network, on the other hand, is based on
assumptions and preferences. The best example right now is
AOL’s
proposed system of ‘CertifiedEmail.’
If AOL has its way,
customers will be given the ‘option’ to pay a fee in order to
ensure delivery of their emails. AOL’s network would then
discriminate between paying and non-paying customers, starving out
the non-paying customers with undeliverable messages and wait
times. There already have been abuses that demonstrate the dangers
of the intelligent network. The

Electronic Frontier Foundation
, a digital freedom advocacy
group, accused AOL of censorship when it failed to deliver emails
containing links to
www.dearaol.com, a
website
critical of AOL’s ‘CertifiedEmail’
plans.

The big telecom companies argue that they have the right to
charge customers for internet services. According to this logic,
the telecoms already have made a significant investment in wiring
the country, so they should be able to charge for usage like email.
Internet experts like
Bruce
Kushnick
call this argument disingenuous. According to
Kushnick’s organization Tele
Truth
, the major telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T
agreed in the 1990s ‘to rewire ALL of America with fiber optic
wiring, replacing the 100-year-old copper wire.’ In exchange, the
telecoms were paid $200 billion in taxpayer money. The money was
paid, but the telecoms never delivered on their promises.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to fall behind in
broadband. The
International
Telecommunication Union ranks the United States 16th in terms of
broadband penetration
. Countries like Japan and Korea have
faster internet connections at cheaper prices, while the
telecommunications companies stifle innovation with efforts to
protect their national hegemony. Vinton Cerf, widely considered one
of the founding fathers of the internet, believes that the
discriminatory policies of intelligent networks are a huge threat
to the future of the internet. According to Cerf, ‘Nothing less
than the future of the Internet is at stake’

Go there >>

The End of the Internet? Net Neutrality Threatened by Cable,
Telecom Interests

Go there too >>

‘Father of the Internet’ Asks for Network Neutrality

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