Net Neutrality

Network neutrality is a principle that restricts Internet Service Providers (ISP) and governments from giving some internet traffic (email, web, peer-to-peer, BitTorrent, etc.) priority over others. On a completely neutral network, all traffic  is treated equally. On non-neutral network, ISPs could charge for access to types of traffic, instead of for access to the internet in general. Some degree of traffic management is necessary on any network, but where to draw the line is at issue presently. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms.

Vinton Cerf, considered a ‘father of the Internet’ and co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web, and many others have spoken out in favor of network neutrality. Opponents of net neutrality contend that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance. In spite of this claim, some Internet service providers have intentionally slowed peer-to-peer communications. Still other companies have acted in contrast to these assertions of hands-off behavior and have begun to discriminate against P2P, FTP and online games, instituting a cell-phone style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom ‘value added’ services,’ and bundling.

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