Argument: Net neutrality prevents discrimination between sites

Issue Report: Network neutrality

Argument summary

Advocates of network neutrality contend that any non-neutral scheme could allow ISPs to unfairly discriminate and control which data they prioritize, such as data from their own sponsors or media interests.

Supporting quotes

Save the – “[These companies] want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all”…”tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data.”…”to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors”…”to reserve express lanes for their own content and services.”

  • Save The Internet, an advocacy organization led by media critic Free Press, has cited several situations as examples of discrimination by ISPs, including some in the US:
  • In 2005, Canadian telephone giant Telus blocked access to, a website supporting the company’s labour union during a labour dispute, as well as over 600 other websites, for about sixteen hours after pictures were posted on the website of employees crossing the picket line.[1]
  • In April, Time Warner’s AOL blocked all emails that mentioned, an advocacy campaign opposing the company’s pay-to-send e-mail scheme. An AOL spokesman called the issue an unintentional glitch.[2]
  • In February, 2006, some of Cox Cable’s customers were unable to access Craig’s List because of a confluence of a software bug in the Authentium personal firewall distributed by Cox Cable to improve customers’ security and the way that Craigslist had their servers misconfigured. Save the Internet said this was an intentional act on the part of Cox Cable to protect classified ad services offered by its partners. The issue was resolved by correction of the software as well as a change in the network configuration used by Craig’s List. Craig’s List founder Craig Newmark stated that he believed the blocking was unintentional.

“Net Neutrality is the Internet’s First Amendment.” Save the Internet on Opposing “Consumers take it for granted that every Web site and application on the Internet is treated equally. That’s because it had been that way for much of the Internet’s early history. Until 2005 we had fundamental protections in the law that guarantee nondiscrimination on the Internet. But that has changed.

Timothy Karr. “Opinion: Neutrality Protects Internet’s Openness.” AOL News. February 2010: “Net neutrality simply means “no discrimination,” and this user-powered architecture is the reason the Internet has become such a powerful engine for consumer choice and democratic empowerment.”

“Access and the Internet.” New York Times Editorial. August 29, 2009″: “On the Internet today, a Web site run by a solo blogger can load as quickly as any corporate home page. Internet service providers, including leading cable and phone companies, want to be able to change that so they can give priority to businesses that pay, or make deals with, them.

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.”