My fellow blogger George Ou dug around the blogosphere and, if a firewall manufacturer's explanation for what's going wrong is right, it looks like several Net neutrality activists should be eating crow instead of making hay. Writes Ou:
It appears that the Net neutrality proponents have been caught in a flagrant lie in their effort to scare the public (thanks to The Original Blog and The Lippard Blog for pointing this out). MyDD.com and SaveTheInternet.com along with many other Net neutrality activist sites have accused Cox Communications of deliberately blocking the website Craigslist by quoting a report from our own Tom Foremski. This alleged blockage of Craigslist was supposedly an example of what would happen without the passage of an extreme version of Net neutrality being pushed by Congressman Markey and Senator Snowe and big Internet companies such as Google. The only problem with this accusation is that it is flat out wrong, yet SaveTheInternet.com and MyDD.com are flagrantly lying about it. Even though they have been repeatedly notified of the real situation, they refuse to retract their stories and continue peddling the lie.
If this is true, it could be a blow to legitimate efforts to ensure the neutrality of the Net because of how it might stigmatize all Net neutralists as extremists willing to stop at nothing to make their point. That said, the fact that a bug (or is that a feature?) in a firewall is blocking Cox's customers from accessing CraigsList is a good demonstration of the position that ISPs like Cox are in should they really want to block or slow access to some Web destination. It's their pipe. They can do what they want to.
The problem is that the most high-speed Internet providers are in government sanctioned monopoly or duopoloy situations. In essence, because the US Government has awarded the high-bandwidth carriers such an unusual amount of leverage, it also needs to dictate how and where that leverage can be applied. Until recently, it had policies in place to strip high bandwidth carriers of that leverage. But, then came the lobbyists. And now, we have a mess.