Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, has been fighting for the idea of net neutrality, which he describes as the principle that “[i]f I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.”
He has made two blog posts on the subject:
The issue of net neutrality in the United States has largely turned into a partisan issue, with Democrats generally backing the idea and Republicans generally opposing it. Predictably, web service providers such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft have supported the idea while telecommunications companies have opposed it, effectively arguing that they are due additional earnings from websites that profit on their infastructure rather than getting a “free ride”, despite already paying the often higher bandwidth costs.
The absense of net neutrality legislation may allow for telecommunications companies to manipulate the transfer speed for websites because they haven’t paid a new additional fee, because they are considered a threat to the respective telecommunications company’s business model (for example, if the company has interests in a certain video purchasing site, it may forcefully reduce the performance of competing websites), or for other arbitrary reasons. Supporters of net neutrality argue that the absense of proper legislation would create a two-tiered Internet that would compromise freedom and innovation on the Web.