Saturday 15 July 2006

Should The Internet Be Neutral?

Currently there is a heated debate among internet stakeholders on the merits of network or net neutrality. Although the term was only coined in 2005 by Tim Wu, the fundamentals of net neutrality actually dated back to when internet protocol was first conceived to guide data exchange across a global network. At the most basic level, net neutrality guarantees the indiscriminate delivery of information packets across the internet, regardless of their sources or destinations. Proponents of net neutrality, including many academics and Tim Berners-Lee (the father of the World Wide Web), have advocated such unrestricted access as a basic right of freedom to information. Opponents of net neutrality, such as the telecommunication industries, have argued for their right to rely on market economics to prioritize access to information on the internet. The latter is based on existing practice by common carriers, such as in cable television, where consumers are charged to pay differently depending on the level of content delivery. However, such argument ignores the fundamental differences between the internet and traditional media channel on how information reaches its consumers. As an avid consumer, my right to access such information must never be determined by economics or politics. Any challenge to this right is simply censorship, regardless of the regulatory disguise under which this censorship may hide.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Tech
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