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Net Neutrality has become a heated topic over the last few years. The debate is whether an Internet Service Provider (ISP) should be allowed to decide what their customers are allowed to use the service for. Examples are many, and range from the Norwegian ISP Telenor attempting (however unsuccessful that attempt might have been) to charge content providers (notably the Norwegian Broadcasting Company) for Telenors clients to gain access to content.
Other recent examples include North Carolina telco Madison River’s blocking of Vonage VoIP traffic, for which Madison was fined by the Federal Communications Commission in 2006, and anti-union actions of the Canadian ISP Telus, which stopped on-site employee’s access to a labor union Web site set up to publicize disputes with the company and Canadian ISP Shaw Communications’s proposal to charge a CA$10 “quality of service enhancement” tax on VoIP streams.
A coalition of European and US-based consumer organisations, TACD, have recently published a resolution declaring: “Net neutrality is a state in which users have the freedom to access the content, services, applications, and devices of their choice.” TACD, representing 65 groups in Europe and the US, have clearly invested a lot of time in the resolution, notably Seven rules for Net Neutrality, as well as a clear(er) definition of what Net Neutrality actually is.
One of the problems with arguing for Net Neutrality has been that there is no good, clear and logical explanation of what up to now has been a vaguely defined concept. TACD defines a “neutral internet” as one in which consumers have three basic rights:
-To attach devices of their choice
-To provide and/or access private content, services and applications of their choice
-The ability to use these rights without discrimination according to source, destination, content, or type of application
Thomas Nortvedt with the Norwegian Consumer Counsel commented, saying: “The Consumer Council has been involved with the formulation of the TACD resolution, and Net Neutrality is one of the points on our plan of operations for the year. In connection with this Net Neutrality is a separate point in our contributions to the BEUC consultative statement to the Norwegian Department of Communication Telecompackage.”