Lanes on the Information Superhighway?

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In Congress, both the House and Senate commerce committees are promoting new rules on Internet prioritization, which would govern the speed of Web sites’ loading times. In the House, the legislation is called COPE, or the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act, and it would basically do away with network neutrality.

 

At present, your Internet connection allows you to retrieve different sites at the same speed (sophisticated and/or sprawling features notwithstanding), putting your favorite political blogger on the same technical footing as CNN.com.

 

However, telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon, which aren’t getting the profits from this deal that they think they deserve, want to establish a “toll” for Web sites. Under this new arrangement, those who are willing to pay up will be placed into a “fast lane” that loads their sites more quickly, while those who don’t will be put in a slower lane, which would make users wait a lot longer to access their sites, if they ever came up at all. Both COPE and a similar piece of legislation in the Senate would authorize them to do this.

 

Critics argue that this would be a de facto form of censorship, as it permits telecom companies to prioritize the Web with no regard for users. I have to agree: All of the Web should remain accessible to all, and no organization should be allowed to determine what you can and can’t see. If you operate or frequently visit little-trafficked and/or non-revenue-generating Web sites, you should contact your Senators and Representatives in Congress and tell them to just say no to COPE.

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