US Justice Department opposes equal Internet access for all

By staff writers
September 13, 2007

The Bush administration has come out against the idea of equal access to Internet communications. The US Justice Department has declared that ISPs should be allowed to charge a fee for “priority web traffic” – a notion which critics say opens the door to a two-tier system divided between "information rich information poor".

As part of a review of high-speed Internet practices, the agency told the Federal Communications Commission that it is opposed to "net neutrality," the principle that all sites should be equally accessible to any web user.

A number of American telephone and cable companies, such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have in the past indicated said they want to be able to charge some users more money for loading certain content or websites faster than others.

The Justice Department said imposing a Net neutrality regulation could hamper development of the net, something that other web experts hotly contend. They say it is a stitch up between government and corporate interests.

The agency claimed that “providing different levels of service is common, efficient and could satisfy consumers.”

In their report, they declare: “Whether or not the same type of differentiated products and services will develop on the Internet should be determined by market forces”.

Some ten weeks ago the Federal Trade Commission’s chair Deborah Platt Majoras cautioned policy makers to enact net neutrality regulation.

Supporters of a regulatory network say that it is necessary to keep the web open, discrimination against certain web sites and services (particularly ones critical or corporate interests) and guard against anti-competitive practices by effective monopolies.

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