June 04, 2006
eBay stumps for Net Neutrality

This ought to make a few waverers on Net Neutrality sit up and pay attention.

eBay this week unleashed a political machine that should make politicians envious: a national e-mail blast over Net neutrality.

Meg Whitman, chief executive of the Internet auctioneer, called on more than a million eBay members to get involved in the debate over telecommunications laws and "send a message to your representatives in Congress before it is too late."

"The telephone and cable companies in control of Internet access are trying to use their enormous political muscle to dramatically change the Internet," Whitman wrote. "It might be hard to believe, but lawmakers in Washington are seriously debating whether consumers should be free to use the Internet as they want in the future."

This is the first time that eBay has used e-mail to urge its members to weigh in on a national issue and the first time Whitman has sent an e-mail to members under her own name, the company said Thursday.

eBay--which has been active in a pro-Net neutrality coalition for years--confirmed that more than a million e-mails have been sent out so far, but declined to offer a more specific number. The campaign is ongoing.

If a company like eBay frames this issue to its customers as "Take a stand or risk not being able to use services you love like ours", I think that would be pretty darned powerful. Keep an eye on this one. Via MyDD.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 04, 2006 to National news | TrackBack

Obviously it's in the interests of eBay and other mega e-commerce sites to support net neutrality. Otherwise, some ISPs could create Mafia-style "protection rackets" whereby the ISPs promise to "protect" the quick processing of their network packets...for a (possibly steep) price.

Having said that, I agree with their position completely.

Posted by: Tim on June 4, 2006 12:24 PM

I'd like to refute your claim that ISPs will create "mafia style protection" if I may. First, I work with Hands Off the Internet, a coalition opposing net neutrality legislation.

Second, despite what many people believe, the ISPs don't plan to extort "protection money" or block access to any content. What has been proposed is creating a "super fast" tier to accomodate the growing demand for VOIP and video service which requires more bandwidth. By creating this faster lane, those who want to download movies and video clips can be assured they will get the fastest service possible. This upgraded service will cost a lot of money and it's only fair that the content providers should share the financail burden.

If net neutrality legislation passes, this will be impossible.

Mark Cuban has a entry on his blog about the benefits of a tiered internet.


Posted by: Wilson on June 5, 2006 3:09 PM