Rulers of the Internet

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is a concept that all services and content on the Internet should be treated equally. Proposed new rules would seek to prevent Internet service providers from acting as gatekeepers.

Examples of how Internet service providers and wireless phone providers have allegedly acted as gatekeepers of services:

-- Comcast allegedly blocked a video-and-music sharing site called BitTorrent.

-- Verizon Wireless allegedly rejected a text messaging program from NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion-rights group. The program would have allowed people to sign up for text messages from NARAL.

-- The FCC is examining whether AT&T and Apple deliberately blocked Google's voice application for the iPhone. Google Voice gives users one phone number that they can connect to their home, office and mobile phones.

-- Skype has complained that many wireless service providers have rejected its Internet voice service. For example, iPhone users can't connect to the 3G network and use Skype; they must also be linked to the Web through a WiFi connection.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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