Yesterday on Capitol Hill, two Democratic representatives introduced a House bill that would require broadband ISPs to "interconnect with the facilities of other network providers on a reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis." It also requires them to treat all content, applications and services as the same, with "equal opportunity to reach consumers," says an IDG story in the New York Times. Any ISPs who start messing around with packets could be subject to antitrust enforcement. Republicans weren't so happy with the bill.
The Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act is sponsored by Michigan Democratic Representative John Conyers (who happens to be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee) along with Silicon Valley Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren. Conyers' premise:
"The Internet was designed without centralised control, without gatekeepers for content and services. If we allow companies with monopoly or duopoly power to control how the Internet operates, network providers could have the power to choose what content is available."
It seems like one of those standup routines: Democrats are like "Lalalala" while Republicans are like "Grrrrrrr." In this case, the "Grrrrrrr" comes from the bill's apparent threat to investment in ISPs. Yes, I cry for you, poor downtrodden multibillion-dollar multinationals with borderline monopoly arrangements for persistent and constantly increasing revenues.
The opponents specifically argue that new competition in broadband networks is what keeps ISPs honest in their dealings with consumers. Michigan Republican Representative Fred Upton is quoted as saying, "Our hands-off policy is working." From what we've seen there, Fred, you are either all wrong, mostly wrong or at least partially wrong. [IDG in NY Times via Slashdot]