United States International

How the Grinches Stole ‘Net Neutrality’

How the Grinches Stole 'Net Neutrality'
by: Wayne MacPhail

Until recently, net neutrality was a difficult issue to explain at a dinner party. It was even more of a struggle to get anybody worked up about it. Now, thanks to the major Internet service providers (ISPs) Comcast and Bell-Sympatico, the stakes are crystal clear and the acrid scent of a smoking gun hangs in the room.

In October, the Associated Press ran a series of tests that demonstrated that U.S. broadband provider Comcast was interfering with its customers' ability to download files stored on what are called peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.

In Canada, a forum supervisor for Bell-Sympatico has admitted the Canadian carrier does likewise.

So what? Peer-to-peer? Customer interference? Read on.

Peer-to-peer networks allow Internet-connected computers to distribute the burden of storing and transferring honking big digital files. Those files are often, but not always, music and videos. You might have also heard of it as sharing files via BitTorrent.

You might also have heard that BitTorrent is only used by scofflaws, pedophiles, university students and pirates illegally swapping Hollywood movies, pictures of naked children and Dan Hill tunes. So, at first glance, you might say, "Hey, what the carriers did makes sense. I mean, why should bandwidth-sucking evildoers who like sappy folk ballads get to download a metric buttload of pornography and bad music, all the while slowing things down for the rest of us?"

That's exactly what the carriers want you to think. But, that's just so wrong on so many levels. Let me explain.

Read the entire article here: http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2007/12/27/NetNeutrality/

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