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Document Brief

Net Neutrality Implications for the Future of the Internet...

W. Scott Nainis, Ph.D....

Net neutrality arose several years ago as a political issue regarding operation of the Internet and the potential for some actors within the Internet, mostly the major network providers, to practice forms of Internet traffic discrimination that could be judged harmful to specific Internet users and to the Internet community overall. 1 Net neutrality refers to the general property of the Internet today insofar as it handles all data traffic in the same manner, i.e., with equal and non-discriminatory priority. The definition of net neutrality is controversial because there is no across-the-board agreement that the Internet operates fully in a neutral or non-discriminatory manner today, and whether or not it is in the best interest of the Internet community that it continue to operate in a fully neutral or non-discriminatory manner today and in the future. Discussions on net neutrality today focus on how neutral the Internet should be, and whether or not attempting to maintain or achieve the strictest form of net neutrality is in everyone's best interests. 2 Net neutrality covers many important and emerging issues on how the Internet should be operated in the future. Although specific federal legislation protecting net neutrality has been considered for the past three years, there is some risk that premature legislation could overly constrain or wrongly direct Internet development. Perhaps the best approach for now is to continue the network monitoring and multi-community dialogues that are grappling with net neutrality issues as they occur. The Federal Communications Commission should continue and redouble its support and guidance of these efforts....

Introduction...

In 2006 and 2007, legislative initiatives were proposed within the U.S. Congress in attempts to design and implement legislation that could control and curb the Internet in order to preserve net neutrality. 3 Though no form of net neutrality legislation passed at that time, a new bill--H.R. 5353, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008--was introduced in the spring of 2008 by Representative Edward Markey. 4 As this paper will discuss, perhaps there are some needs to protect fundamental aspects of how the Internet operates today so that the benefits it has already provided for society can continue. On the other hand, there are reasons to be concerned with attempts to legislate the operation of the Internet...

Document Keywords

Net Neutrality: Implications for the Future of the Internet news publications publications technical publications telecommunications review documents tr2008 03 nainis

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