The Internet was brought to us by the United States (when it was probably the best thing to come out of the cold war). Then Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web. Now we all rely on it and the telcos want to set up a two-tier Internet (maybe that really should be called Web 2.0!) with additional charges for access to high-speed content provision (we already pay more if we want a faster connection, now we may have to pay “tolls” for the extra lane on the “information superhighway”).
The cartoon below is the best illustration I’ve seen so far of what they are trying to do:
Various websites feature a recording of Senator Ted Stevens speaking in the US Senate on net neutrality (if you thought George Bush or Tony Blair were bumbling idiots, beleive me they have nothing on this guy). It’s worth listening to the whole clip but particularly from the 8′ 45” seconds point (“the Internet is a series of tubes” etc.) to see just what a poor grip on technology the US Senate has on this subject.
For, quite simply, the best-written desciption of why this is a big problem that affects all Internet users, read Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s blog post on net neutrality. There’s more information at Save the Internet.