A lot of hubbub have been going on resulting from news that ISPs are considering to adopt a two-tier internet system. Essentially, what this implementation means is that there will be two levels of service performance; one for normal users and another for premium customers. Effectively, if implemented, this will be the end of the Internet as the neutral media that it is now.
While many view this purely from the perspective of cost-benefit analysis, my main concern regarding this issue is much more dramatic. It’s my opinion that this will encourage corporate censorship of the Internet. Think about it for a while, the corporate muscles of corporations are defined by not only by their assets and liquidity, but also their brand value. Let’s imagine the following scenario; The Cola War between Coke and Pepsi.
What if Coke decides to coerce the ISPs in Malaysia to give them the exclusive priviledge of being the sole cola company to run on the ISPs infrastructure as a premium customer? You may think that this is very unlikely, heck, to me it’s even unimaginable, as I’ve grown up on the internet as an egalitarian media. Malaysia has excellent Internet freedom, perhaps it’s the best kind of freedom that a Malaysian can enjoy. Mostly thanks to MSC’s Bill of Guarantees. However, bear in mind that the bill is drafted based on the advise of ultra-powerful multinational megacorps. They want a level playing ground to compete on. However, on a two-tier network, fairness is defined by how successful you are at acquiring preferential treatment.
As in the case of consumers, don’t think that you’re not affected. At present, everybody has equal access to internet service (factoring in service availability and type of service). However, on a two-tier Internet, it wouldn’t take long for the marketing geniuses in local ISPs to come up with packages suited for different consumer demographics.
This is such a big news that even Vint Cerf, considered as one of the Internet’s founding fathers, has his concerns as well.
- Towards a two-tier internet
- Vint Cerf condemns two-tier internet
- Internet ‘father’ calls for neutrality law