quarta-feira, março 29, 2006
This amounts to nothing less than a fight over the soul of the internet
Like the entrepreneurs behind Google, Yahoo and any number of other successful online start-ups, Mr Lehre was able to count on unfettered access to communications networks that reach anyone with an internet connection – at the last count, more than 1bn people. With that sort of reach, any amateur podcaster, video-blogger or software developer can dream of attracting an instant global audience – even if, in truth, only three other people are paying attention.
Some of the companies that control those networks, however, want to change the rules of the game. Starting in the US, but now also spreading to Europe, telecommunications companies have started to argue that they should have the right to charge internet companies for delivering their videos, e-mails or search results – or, at least, for guaranteeing them a certain level of service quality.
The unspoken threat, critics say, is that non-payers will see the quality of their services degraded, or risk being shut out of the broadband internet altogether. From being a wide-open medium, the internet would instead come to look more like the closed networks run by cable or satellite television companies.
This amounts to nothing less than a fight over the soul of the internet. Created as a network to link academics, its basic architecture was founded on openness. Limiting the ability of users to ride the network could amount to the first serious challenge to that principle, a fencing-in of the intellectual commons.
FT.com / Comment & analysis / Analysis - Why network operators are flexing their muscles