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Mr. Cerf Goes To Washington

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Vint Cerf, co-creator of the Internet will be in Washington on Wednesday. He was asked to speak at a House Committee meeting but blew them off to go hang out at the White House. It’s something about some Presidential Medal of Freedom. Anyway, while’s he not going to talk to Congress, he did send them a letter and it’s posted on Google’s blog.

The committee was the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. They asked Cerf to speak on “network neutrality” and telecommunications legislation currently in the pipeline. His letter said much however and he continues to advocate no central control on the Internet.

The remarkable social impact and economic success of the Internet is in many ways directly attributable to the architectural characteristics that were part of its design. The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services. The Internet is based on a layered, end-to-end model that allows people at each level of the network to innovate free of any central control. By placing intelligence at the edges rather than control in the middle of the network, the Internet has created a platform for innovation. This has led to an explosion of offerings – from VOIP to 802.11x wi-fi to blogging – that might never have evolved had central control of the network been required by design.

Cerf, also serving as Google’s Internet Evangelist, is the best advocate for keeping a free and open Internet. A number of companies are looking to create choke points on the Internet to control content and the access to content. He went on to say:

My fear is that, as written, this bill would do great damage to the Internet as we know it. Enshrining a rule that broadly permits network operators to discriminate in favor of certain kinds of services and to potentially interfere with others would place broadband operators in control of online activity. Allowing broadband providers to segment their IP offerings and reserve huge amounts of bandwidth for their own services will not give consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need. Many people will have little or no choice among broadband operators for the foreseeable future, implying that such operators will have the power to exercise a great deal of control over any applications placed on the network.

As we move to a broadband environment and eliminate century-old non-discrimination requirements, a lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive. Telephone companies cannot tell consumers who they can call; network operators should not dictate what people can do online.

Congratulations to Vint Cerf and Rober Kahn for receiving the awards and continuing to speak out for a free and open Internet. There is no better place to foster a free exchange of literally everything, not the least of which is ideas. It’s crucial we keep this an open market.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Mr. Cerf Goes To Washington
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