Yahoo News is reporting that the Justice Department has given approval for telephone and cable companies to start charging different rates to customers based on the particular websites and services they visit. Internet service providers in the US have been seeking to change their fee and technical structure so that they can change customers more for, say, accessing YouTube versus the CBS online videos or Skype internet phone versus Verizon phone services.
This is in direct opposition to the principle of "Net Neutrality" — that all net traffic be treated equally regardless of source or application — which internet activists like the Save the Internet Coalition have maintained is a core principle that has led to the rapid growth of the internet.
According to the story, the DOJ commented that providing different levels of service is "common,
efficient and could satisfy consumers." As an example, it cited that the post office charging customers different rates
for package delivery, from bulk mail to overnight delivery.
This seems to me to be a bad analogy. The correct analogy is if the US Postal Service charged you different rates for getting packages from Amazon versus your mother, or letters to your best friend versus letters to your local newspaper editor. Privileging packets means that the destination and application of your internet usage suddenly becomes yet another charge in our already over-charged internet access fees, compared to other countries. And that’s just bad news all around, for the consumer, for new innovators and businesses, and for the future of the net.