Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Will broadband providers control Net content in the U.S.?


Will broadband providers control Net content in the U.S.?

By Scarlet Pruitt

IDG News Service, Boston Bureau


NEW YORK -- As the U.S.' Internet architecture moves from dial-up access to broadband, some speakers at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy (CFP) conference in New York Thursday expressed concern that the major cable operators that provide the high-speed networks will control users' access to content.

"If we don't do something now broadband access will be based on the TV model -- it will all be about directing marketing and advertising to your household," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

Chester's fear is of a broadband world where cable operators steer users to content, services and applications that they or their partners own, and impede access to competitors' offerings, by slowing down users' connection rates to those sites or blocking them altogether.

"It's about bucks and bites, not about free speech," he said.

However, Michael Schooler, deputy general counsel of the National Cable Television Association, dismissed claims that broadband providers would control users' access to Web offerings.

"(Cable operators) don't do this now, and I don't think it's going to happen in the future," he said.