Net Neutrality Fight Heats Up in Congress
Legislation was introduced in the House May 2 that reportedly was designed to prevent telecom operators and broadband service providers from selling favored access to some websites or video stream connections for an additional fee. The Network Neutrality Act of 2006 (H.R. 5273) states that companies may not “block, impair, degrade, or discriminate against the ability of any person to use a broadband connection to access the content, applications, and services available on broadband networks, including the internet.”
Drafts of several telecommunications bills said to be aimed at enabling phone carriers to get into the video business are currently making their way through the House and Senate, Reuters reported May 2. None of them specifically address “net neutrality,” or the idea that telephone or cable companies should provide services to all customers at the same cost, the system basically in effect now. Telecom companies have argued that they deserve the right to charge premium rates for faster, unrestricted service to make their investment in new technologies viable, the Cnet online news service reported May 2.
“Those who cannot afford the premium rates—nonprofits, the public sector, libraries, schools, and colleges—would be relegated to the equivalent of third-class mail,” American Library Association Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff told American Libraries. “This legislation has an impact not only on libraries and their ability to deliver first-class service to patrons, but to the general public as well.”