There are two sides to the proposed legislation on the internet –
One, as Indiatimes tells us (link via AlooTechie) is against ISP’s charging websites for providing their content faster to the user, effectively creating a payment structure wherein each site can possibly be graded according to the speed of content delivery and charged accordingly. Unfair? Possibly.
Google, Microsoft Corp and other major Internet site operators are not ok with the “pay to get fast” scheme that the ISP’s have proposed but the wesite owners are against it and are all for “net neutrality” as this issue is dubbed.
The other side argues that with costs of regular upgradation and maintenance going up, and charges of providing internet access decreasing or, at best, stagnant, somebody’s got to pay. Either the consumer, or the website. According to this presentation, the big corps like Microsoft and Google make the money, so they should be willing to pay, instead of the consumer being forced to face increased accessing charges. Do they have a point? I guess they do.
My real problem is with the regulation of the internet. Call me cynical, but once you let the Government in, things can only get worse. I’m more comfortable with consumers holding companies accountable, than the government doing that. When ISP’s gang up to charge corporates for access, I see it as a monopolistic practice, but it still leaves space for someone to take advantage of the situation. Slow my speed down and I’ll look for a better ISP, so there is an opportunity in the problem. I find Sergey Brin’s attempt to ask the US Congress for this change in legislation unfortunate. Do see Hand off the Internet
And since we’re talking about Google, see this.
Particularly interesting is this series of questions:
1. Rep. Tom Lantos: Can you say in English that you’re ashamed of what your company and what the other companies have done?
Google: Congressman, I actually can’t, I don’t think it’s fair for us to say that we’re ashamed.
2. Lantos, to Microsoft: Is your company ashamed?
Microsoft: We comply with legally binding orders whether it’s here in the U.S. or China.
3. Drawing parallels with IBM’s collaboration with Nazi Germany, Mr Smith said: “US technology companies today are engaged in a similar sickening collaboration, decapitating the voice of dissidents.” He added: “Women and men are going to the gulag and being tortured as a direct result of information handed over to Chinese officials.”
4. Lawmakers were generally unmoved by this last argument. “If the secret police asked half a century ago where Anne Frank was hiding, would the correct answer be to hand over the information to comply with the local laws?” asked Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey Democrat and chair of the subcommittee on human rights.
While I agree with the US Congress’ stand in this case, I think it’s rather hypocritical coming from a system that has, in the past, financed coups and wars to further their own interests. I don’t think it’s beneficial for Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! Businesses should have a long term perspective; their “compliance with Chinese law” is going to hurt them in the long run.
… While yahoo.cn censors results as strictly as baidu.cn, search engines google.cn and the beta version of msn.cn let through more information from sources that are not authorized by the authorities. In fact both Google and Microsoft, though certainly not squeaky clean in the eyes of Reporters Without Borders, come up in a relatively favourable light compared to their competitor Yahoo.
Reporters Without Borders says it is particularly shocked by the scale of censorship on yahoo.cn, which is even higher than local Chinese search engine Baidu. It found that the search results on “subversive” key words are 97% pro-Beijing. It is therefore censoring more than Baidu. The media watchdog was able to show that requests using certain terms, such as 6-4 (4 June, date of the Tiananmen Square massacre), or “Tibet independence”, blocked Yahoo.cn for an hour before the service could be used again. According to Reporters Without Borders, this method is the same technique used by Baidu, while it is not used by any other foreign search tools.