Sadly, the House of Representatives, voting mostly along party lines (Democrats for the measure, Republicans against), managed to defeat the net Neutrality amendment that would have guaranteed the lack of a multi-tiered internet under the hands of telecommunications companies that would charge certain companies and customers extra fees to ensure that they have the best possible connections to the services that they use and take advantage of, and that the companies that deliver content that requires bandwidth like Google, MySpace, Amazon, and eBay, wind up having to pay their service providers extra to ensure that they can get their content to the customers. The very real fear here is that a multi-tiered internet will appear, where access to some sites and some services, specifically those that don’t have a sweetheart deal with the telecomm companies, or with your particular internet service provider, will be blocked altogether or slowed so badly that you cannot access them. And on the other end, those same telecomms and Internet Service Providers will be heavy-handedly demanding more money from the Amazons and eBays of the world, saying that if those companies want their customers to have speedy and reliable connectiosn to the company websites and to do business with them, the telecomm companies want a cut of their profits.
The telecomm companies say that this is necessary for the growth and future of the internet, when in reality it’s a power grab for more money without increasing service. The government was to step in and demand that telecommunications companies and internet service providers practice “network neutrality,” meaning that they don’t prioritize connections and bandwidth based on sweetheart deals and special contracts between them and companies who rely on the internet to do business, thus retaining an internet that’s neutral in scope and no one company has an advantage over another just because they offered your internet service provider more money.
Luckily for us, the measure isn’t over yet, and there are several more opportunities for Congress to actually stand up and represent the will of the people on this issue. There’s more information on Thursday’s vote and the repurcussions at CNet.