Outrage: U.S. "Justice" Dept says OK for ISPs to assess surcharges for priority traffic

The same Justice Department that's been headed by U.S.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor on

The same Justice Department that's been headed by U.S. Attorney-firing, Alberto "I don't recall" Gonzales has just expressed its wishes that ISP's should be able to charge fees for priority Internet traffic.

DOJ told the Federal Communications Commission today that it is opposed to Net neutrality principles that all Web sites should be equally accessible to all.

The agency told the Federal Communications Commission, which is reviewing high-speed Internet practices, that it is opposed to "Net neutrality," the principle that all Internet sites should be equally accessible to any Web user.

The Washington Post reports this afternoon that the Justice Department told the FCC in a filing that imposing a Net neutrality regulation could hamper development of the Internet and prevent service providers from upgrading or expanding their networks. It could also shift the "entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers."

DOJ said that such a burden could slow down the pace of broadband network expansion.

The agency said providing different levels of service is common, efficient and could satisfy consumers. As an example, it cited that the U.S. Postal Service charges customers different guarantees and speeds for package delivery, ranging from bulk mail to overnight delivery.

"Whether or not the same type of differentiated products and services will develop on the Internet should be determined by market forces, not regulatory intervention," the agency said in its filing.

Update: Just received this from MoveOn. org:

"Surprise, surprise. The Bush administration that invented the term 'Internets' and that consistently puts the needs of big corporations ahead of everyday Americans opposes Net Neutrality. We call on all 2008 presidential candidates to promise to push for the reinstatement of Net Neutrality during their first year in office. Americans overwhelmingly agree that companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast should not get to decide which websites work properly on people's computers."

Sorry. I'm one of those net neutrality advocates who think these surcharges would throttle an open Internet. But as evident from today's ruling, the broadband access monopolists still call the shots in Washington.

IMHO (In My Haughty Opinion) only thing that will change this is for a net neutrality advocate to be elected President of the U.S. in November, 2008. He or she would presumably be more devoted to appointing DOJ officials and FCC Commissioners who aren't beholden to small-print, fee-wielding DSL and cable Internet providers.

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