Should Internet users have unrestricted access to all “legal” websites? Or should internet service providers be given the opportunity to restrict access to certain sites?
In the Senate this week Google battled it out with broadband providers over the possibility of future net neutrality legislation. Net neutrality legislation, simply put, would allow users unrestricted access to all websites.
It appears that Web based companies, like Google, whose mission it is to provide users with information or services, favor unrestricted access to the contents of the Internet. These companies feel that because broadband carriers provide consumer’s with the connection to the Internet, it would be possible to deny users access to websites in direct competition.
Broadband providers, however, feel that such legislation is currently unnecessary. These companies believe that the Internet, as a marketplace, should dictate the necessity of such legislation. Broadband providers explained that such legislation will stifle the growth of Internet services.
The current situation shows that both sides believe two different things. According to the argument raised by the broadband providers it seems as if they believe that the Internet is currently unrestricted, and that their services do not prohibit users from accessing competitor’s websites. However, John Thorpe, a Senior Vice President at Verizon Wireless commented that many free Web based services use extensive bandwidth and attract consumers for long periods of time. He feels that the "free lunch" broadband providers give to Web based information and services has an impact on their businesses. Thus, it seems that broadband providers would like to begin to limit Internet access to specific Websites. These restricted websites would most likely fall into one distinct category: those websites that are in direct compeition with the broadband provider's interests. By limiting customers access to these services, it will eliminate the consumer's right to choose. Also, such policies will diminish the Internet’s purpose, which is to provide individuals with access to unlimited information.
Google, Telecoms Clash Over 'Net Neutrality'