iOS app Android app More

Timothy Karr

Timothy Karr

Posted: August 29, 2009 09:12 AM

NYT: Time to Make Net Neutrality the Law


The New York Times gets Net Neutrality right again, and again, and again. In their fourth editorial in support of Net Neutrality the newspaper's editors write:

"A good bill that would guarantee so-called net neutrality has been introduced in the House. Congress should pass it, and the Obama administration should use its considerable power to make net neutrality the law. "

Why? According to the Times, we can't let Internet service providers prioritize certain content over others.

Allowing these companies to become the Internet's gatekeepers would undermine the democratic nature of the Web, which has made it such a great engine for free speech and economic growth.

"[I]t would be bad for everyone but the service providers," the Times editors write. "Businesses could slow down or block their competitors' Web content. A cable company whose leaders disapprove of a particular political or social cause could block sites supporting that cause."

The Web was invented using open, decentralized architecture in a way that allows anyone with a computer and a connection to begin receiving and sending information. This opened up the world to a new concept, "innovation without permission," whereby every idea had an equal chance to be heard, and to rise to the top free of gatekeepers or corporate and government discrimination.

Net Neutrality is the principle that keeps the Internet's great marketplace of ideas churning.

Saturday's editorial echoes earlier efforts by the Times. In 2006, the paper wrote:

[The] democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access, and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.

Later in the same year the Times' Adam Cohen wrote that the phone and cable companies fighting Net Neutrality have been waging a "misleading campaign" using slogans like "hands off the Internet" and phony spokespeople like Mike McCurry and Scott Cleland to pose as genuine grassroots and private-sector voices against Net Neutrality.

(To expose the depth of telco Astroturfing, visit www.freepress.net/astroturf)

"What they actually favor is stopping the government from protecting the Internet, so they can get their own hands on it," Cohen wrote.

On Saturday, the Times' editors wrote that the fate of Net Neutrality may lie with the Obama administration, which has been outspoken in its support of the principle:

"A good bill that would guarantee so-called net neutrality has been introduced in the House. Congress should pass it, and the Obama administration should use its considerable power to make net neutrality the law."

The article also calls on Julius Genachowski, Obama's new chair at the FCC, to adopt stronger rules that could also have the force of law.

The Times is not alone among major US dailies in support of Net Neutrality. The list of supporters includes the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg Times and the Houston Chronicle.

Follow Timothy Karr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TimKarr