Net Neutrality is established on the idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. It is the decentralized and neutral, and unrestricted nature of the internet that accounts for its success. Tim Burners Lee, one of the founders of the internet, argues that "if I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level."(1)(2)

There are several countries where net neutrality is not the norm. The Great Firewall of China, a product of the state-owned Chinese telecommunication companies, is responsible for Chinese interenet users being restricted from sites like Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. Iranian and Ethiopian citizens are also not new to the idea of a heavily restricted and censored internet experience.(3)(4)

It is only recently that a free and open internet came under threat on U.S shores. The opponents of net neutrality are the 'gatekeepers' or ISPs like AT&T. They not only want to concentrate bandwith for their own services, but charge companies for "priority" service. HandsOffInternet.com (a website funded by AT&T, Alcatel, 3M, and Citizens Against Government Waste) has studies and letters amongst other things that argue against net neutrality. It states that the mere introduction of net neutrality laws suggests more regulation on the internet. The need for more investment for internet architecture and infrastructure, to cope with the immense growth, is another point made to forward the opponents' case. (4)(5)

The debate has made its way to congress. While arguments have been made on both sides, the final decision of the commission remains to be seen. The full proposal is yet to be released and can be found at OpenInternet.gov. (6)

Footnotes:
(1) http://timwu.org/network_neutrality.html(2) http://dig.csail.mit.edu/breadcrumbs/node/144(3) http://wirelessbay.blogspot.com/2009/10/net-neutrality-in-china.html
(4) http://www.knightcentercommunityconnection.org/net-neutrality-across-the-globe/
(5) http://www.handsoff.org/blog/
(6)http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/fcc-begins-crafting-rules-on-network-neutrality/
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