Net Neutrality? Nope say ConDems

Net Neutrality is a slightly technical matter, so I'll borrow from this excellent Guardian piece, comparing it to allowing broadcast news being allowed to ditch impartiality. It means that internet service providers would be able to put the brakes on certain content on the internet. For example, (to borrow again from the Guardian) if the News Corp-BSkyB merger goes through we could see the BBC's online video crawling along, while Sky's content speeding along.

This is exactly what the Government should be looking to protect on the internet - and I'm usually against most regulation online - the impartiality that makes the internet so important. In fact, Ed Vaizey the communications minister has announced yesterday that he believes ISPs should be allowed to abandon net neutrality in the favour of big business.

To see who's been influencing Ed Vaizey I had a quick look on Who's Lobbying - an excellent site from the folks behind MySociety - and it turns out that he's met the British Phonographic Industry 4 times since July 2010, various ISPs 4 times and many other traditional old-media companies many times. He met with those supporting net neutrality - Google, the BBC and the Open Rights Group to name a few - exactly zero times. Not an exactly balanced view I'd say.

Vaizey has said that ISPs would have to "present information about their service, including the nature and extent of their traffic management policies and their impact on service quality in a clear, visible and easy to understand form for all their customers". This is total bollocks in an industry that rarely if ever has correct metrics - we supposedly get "up to" 10Mbps at home, a laughable suggestion.

While we're going backwards the US, where net neutrality is much more of an issue, is making noises about progress. Comcast, a US ISP, recently said that a "consensus on net neutrality is on hand". I just wish that our ISPs were forward looking enough to protect their customers in such a way.

PS Sorry for being a bit late for my NaBloPoMo post - I was exhaused yesterday

UPDATE (19/11/2010 21:51):
Tom Watson MP put forward an Early Day Motion on Wednesday supporting Net Neutrality.