A Wall Street Journal article claims that Google is trying to strike an exclusive deal with Internet carriers for a so-called fast-lane. The article also says that Obama and his principal adviser on the issue, Lawrence Lessig, have become less adamant about network neutrality.
Lessig, however, blogged a thoroughly convincing denial this morning.
Meanwhile, the authors of the Journal piece displayed contempt for their readers, deciding they are so ignorant that they could bamboosel them half-truths:
For computer users, it could mean that Web sites by companies not able to strike fast-lane deals will respond more slowly than those by companies able to pay. In the worst-case scenario, the Internet could become a medium where large companies, such as Comcast Corp. in cable television, would control both distribution and content -- and much of what users can access, according to neutrality advocates.
I'm sorry... "computer users?" Is that something you do on the interweb?
The Journal authors then hop, skip and jump to their sensationalistic conclusion:
But Lawrence Lessig, an Internet law professor at Stanford University and an influential proponent of network neutrality, recently shifted gears by saying at a conference that content providers should be able to pay for faster service. Mr. Lessig, who has known President-elect Barack Obama since their days teaching law at the University of Chicago, has been mentioned as a candidate to head the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the telecommunications industry.
Unfortunately for them, Lessig knows how to use the Interweb.
Missing from the article, however, is the evidence that my view is a "shift" or "soften[ing]" of earlier views. That's because there isn't any such evidence. My view is the view I have always had -- whether or not it is the view of others in this debate.
The Journal authors aren't exactly lying--they're building a premise (that Obama has shifted his stance on network neutrality) on a series of logical leaps that could earn them 10s for style but 0s for basics.
For what it's worth, I do think Lessig is wrong about this: no one should be able to get access to a faster Internet because they can afford to pay for it.
Even huge content producers (like Yahoo, Amazon and eBay) that would gain from being faster than the little guys agree. It would be bad for the ecology of the Internet.
The likes of AT&T and Comcast say network neutrality is socialism--and that they need this two-tiered system in order to earn a return on their investments.
But the truth is that the Internet is socialism--we built this Internet with our tax dollars. We paid for it--we should get to use it at the same rates and with the same technologies as anybody else. And it's not as if the carriers don't charge for bandwidth--they do--so they do earn more money from heavier users.