THE IRONICALLY TITLED LAND OF THE FREE today will decide if people and companies with money should have better and faster access to the worldwide web.
Giant Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon want to offer better access to corporations that can afford to pay for it. Standing in their way is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has the power to issue regulations to protect net neutrality.
Like we mentioned yesterday, unfortunately for the US the FCC has been keen to listen attentively to corporate interests, and draft regulations written by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski suggest that the telecoms and ISPs will win almost all they wanted.
Today the FCC will be meeting to discuss and vote on chairman Genachowski's draft order. Details of the order have not been made public, but early indications suggest that it is unlikely to do much to protect net neutrality.
Details that have emerged suggest that mobile network operators like AT&T and Verizon Wireless will be able to do whatever they like to throttle, block or charge tolls on Internet traffic.
If the telecoms get their way, you might be blocked by Verizon from using Google maps, even if you don't like Verizon Navigator, which the telco charges money to use and isn't nearly as good.
It would even be legal for a mobile provider that is backing a political party to shut down anything that connects people to information about it or its opponents.
What is surprising is that both chairman Genachowski and President Obama have claimed to support net neutrality. And yet neither seems prepared to stand up to the corporations to enforce it.
We will find out later today whether the former land of the free Internet will become the land of the fee. µ
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