Saturday, November 27, 2010

Scientific American presents case by W3C head for network neutrality

Scientific American, December 2010, has an important article on p 80, “Long live the web, a call for continued open standards and neutrality: The Web is critical not merely to the digital revolution but to our continued prosperity – and even our liberty. Like democracy itself, it needs defending,” by Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium W3C, link here.

Berners-Lee distinguishes between the Internet, with is like the electric grid, and the Web, which is like a plug-in appliance. He makes a number of points about neutrality. First, he says that cable companies that offer web tv might want to limit the content on their connection to the content they control. Later, he notes that even major political proponents of net neutrality like Google don’t always support it in a wireless environment, which is all some rural areas have. And he still fears that without net neutrality some ISP’s might slow down access to politically incorrect content. He also covers the controversy over Comcast’s slowing BitTorrent traffic, which a federal court in April 2010 ruled the FCC could not stop Comcast from doing. (Comcast has also pushed more responsibility onto home users by encouraging wireless rather than hardwired multiple routers.)

He also covers several bills or laws in both Europe and the US that would allow ISP’s or governments to pull the plug on infringing users or websites without due process (including COICA).

If you go to the Technology link at Scientific American, you’ll see a series of essays “The Web Turns 20”.

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