Is Internet access a freedom or a privilege?

There are days when words fail me. On those days I just read folks like David Isenberg. On his blog, he makes an eloquent and compelling case for network neutrality, and comes out swinging against the oxymoron that is tiered Internet.

Telephone companies are fighting back. They have declared their intent to know what travels on their networks and charge discriminatorily based on this knowledge. They have pushed US courts and the FCC to decide that the Internet is an information service but not essential infrastructure, so gatekeepers can decide who has privilege to use their network.

He rails against the legislation that is ill-defined such as the e911 rules, and worries, that innovation is at risk.

They have shaped legislation before the US Congress that would protect telephone company Internet systems with special carve-outs for voice and video services, but burden innovators with federal registration, connection by private commercial arrangement or the threat of banishment to left-over, unregulated, spare capacity.

At issue: Is Internet access a freedom or a privilege? Just as Freedom of Speech means that, with very few limitations, nobody has the right to tell somebody else what to say, so should Internet freedom mean that gatekeepers should not control Internet applications or content.

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